[Event "1. Poikovsky"] [White "Volokitin,A"] [Black "Shirov,A"] [Site ""] [Round ""] [Annotator "Cyrus Lakdawala"] [Result "0-1"] [Date "2008.??.??"] [PlyCount "75"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 {We of the Sveshnikov clan are not fussily neat about our structure and the holes we voluntarily create, as long as we receive compensating piece activity. I have played the Sveshnikov for over two decades and don't recall a single game I ever lost due solely to White's control over the d5-hole, or my backward d-pawn. Believe in the magic of our piece activity. It will never let you down.} 6. Ndb5 {Now we enter the "real" Sveshnikov lines.} d6 ({The assumption is that Black should prevent 7 Nd6+, which is advice I have ignored for 20+ years! I specialize in two odd side lines: -- a)} 6... h6 {- the Ulfie, which I named after GM Ulf Andersson, whose online blitz games drew me to the variation decades ago. This line is covered in the final chapter of 'Sveshnikov: Move by Move'.} )({b)} 6... Bc5 $5 {- the Mamba, with which I score around 90%, despite its sleazy outer shell. We cover this radical line in the final chapter of this book.} )7. Bg5 {White logically goes after Black's main defender of the d5-hole. This move is overwhelming White's most popular choice.} ({Let's look at the numerous side lines, only the first of which is dangerous for Black: -- a) Caruana tried} 7. Nd5 {twice against Carlsen in their World Championship match. We devote an entire chapter to this line later in the book (see Chapter Four).} )({b)} 7. a4 {is played with the intention to suppress Black's ...a7-a6 and ...b7-b5 break. Play can continue} a6 8. Na3 Be6 9. Bc4 Rc8 10. O-O Be7 11. Be3 O-O 12. Re1 Nb4 $1 {(b4 is an artificial hole for Black's knight, since White is in no position to engineer c2-c3)} 13. Nd5 Nbxd5 14. exd5 {(mission accomplished; the d5-square is now sealed with a white pawn - one of Black's key goals in the Sveshnikov)} Bd7 15. Bb3 Ng4 16. Bd2 f5 {and Black already looks better, since his majority is more fluid and therefore more dangerous than White's on the queenside, B.Escalante Ramirez-E.Cordova, Montevideo 2018.} )({c)} 7. Be3 a6 8. Na3 b5 {(threat: ...b5-b4)} 9. Nd5 {(threat: Bb6 and Nc7+) } Rb8 10. Nxf6+ Qxf6 11. c4 b4 12. Nc2 Qg6 13. Qd5 (13. f3 b3 {offers Black decent play} )Bb7 14. Qd3 Be7 15. f3 O-O 16. Qd2 a5 17. b3 {, L.Aguero Jimenez-S.Himanshu, Badalona 2016. Chances are equal after} Nd8 {, intending ...Ne6.} )({d)} 7. Na3 Be7 8. Bg5 O-O 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. Nc4 Be6 $1 11. Qxd6 Qc8 { and Black had excellent compensation for the pawn, with the bishop pair, dark square control and a development lead, C.Bauer-J.Lautier, French League 2002.} )({e)} 7. Bd3 a6 8. Na3 Bg4 $1 9. f3 Be6 {, when both ...d6-d5 and ...b7-b5 are in the air and I already prefer Black.} )({f)} 7. Be2 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Nxe4 10. Bf3 Nc5 11. Nf6+ ({after} 11. O-O Rb8 {I don't see enough compensation for White for the sacrificed pawn} )gxf6 12. Bxc6+ Bd7 13. Bxa8 Qxa8 { , Z.Daleczko-K.Klim, Barlinek 2007. For the exchange, Black has huge compensation and stands better. He has a pawn, controls the centre, leads in development and may later be able to make use of the open g- and c-files.} )a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 {This is White's strategic line and, from my observation at club level, White's most popular choice, since it's relatively safe and easy to play. I also think this line is the most dangerous challenge to the Sveshnikov.} ({We look at White's major alternative} 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 {in Chapter Three.} )Be7 10. Bxf6 (10. Nxe7 Nxe7 11. Bxf6 (11. Bd3 Nd7 12. c4 b4 13. Nc2 a5 {is about equal, A.Morozevich-M.Carlsen, Moscow 2006} )gxf6 12. c4 Qa5+ 13. Qd2 Qxd2+ 14. Kxd2 b4 15. Nc2 Rb8 {and White had nothing from the opening, C.Bauer-P.Tregubov, Belfort 2003.} )Bxf6 11. c3 {Other 11th moves are examined in the next chapter.} ({One minor exception is} 11. Nxf6+ {(White is blatantly playing to simplify and draw; in general, this exchange nearly always benefits Black)} Qxf6 12. c3 O-O 13. Be2 Bb7 14. O-O Rad8 15. Bf3 {, D.Larino Nieto-V.Kotronias, Budva 2009. I already prefer Black's position after} Ne7 16. Qe2 d5 {.} )Bg5 12. Nc2 {The once offside knight hopes to shift back into play, via either e3 or b4.} ({White can also play} 12. Be2 {first, and then} O-O 13. Nc2 {. We'll look at this later in the chapter.} )O-O 13. a4 {This is by far White's most important option. It breaks up Black's queenside and saddles him with an isolated a-pawn.} ({Others: -- a)} 13. Be2 {transposes to 12 Be2 0-0 13 Nc2, mentioned above.} )({b)} 13. h4 Bh6 ({let's hope nobody falls for} 13... Bxh4 $4 14. Qh5 {, when Black can resign} )14. g4 f6 {(safer than the older try of moving the bishop to f4)} 15. Rh3 Ne7 16. Ncb4 Be6 {(remember to constantly challenge d5)} 17. Rd3 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 Kh8 19. Bh3 Bg8 20. a4 bxa4 21. Qxa4 a5 22. Rad1 Rb8 23. b3 Rf7 $1 24. b4 axb4 25. Nxb4 Qc7 {and White's position is overextended, E.Sutovsky-L.Lenic, Austrian League 2017.} )({c)} 13. Bd3 Ne7 14. Nce3 Be6 15. Bc2 Nxd5 16. Nxd5 Rc8 17. O-O {was V.Ocnarescu-J.Konnyu, Eger 2005. Black stands no worse after} a5 {.} )({d)} 13. Nce3 Be6 14. Be2 Ne7 15. O-O Nxd5 16. Nxd5 {is similar to the previous note. Black is just fine.} )bxa4 14. Rxa4 a5 15. Bc4 (15. Bb5 {has been played but is illogical to my mind for two reasons: -- 1. The fight is for d5, so White's light-squared bishop belongs on c4, not b5. -- 2. With 15 Bb5, White chases the knight to exactly where it wants to go (e7) to challenge White's d5-knight. --- Play can continue } Ne7 16. Ncb4 {(White takes advantage of the pinned a8-rook)} Bh3 17. Nxe7+ Qxe7 18. Bc6 {. The game is dynamically balanced after} (18. Nd5 Qb7 19. Bc4 Bd7 { is equal} )Bxg2 19. Rg1 Rac8 20. Rxa5 Bh3 21. Qh5 Bh4 $1 22. Nd5 Qd8 23. Qh6 g6 24. Ra6 Be6 {.} )Rb8 16. b3 {White secures the b-pawn and the c4-bishop.} ({Later on we look at} 16. Ra2 {.} )Kh8 {This move is in preparation for our only break, with ...f7-f5. The major decision we must make is: -- 1. Do we want to back it up with ...g7-g6 and then ...f7-f5 - ? -- 2. Do we want to play f5-f5 without ...g7-g6 - ? If so, then White will play e4xf5 and may try and utilize the newly-created hole on e4.} 17. Nce3 ({Or: -- a)} 17. O-O f5 18. exf5 Bxf5 19. Nce3 Bg6 20. Bd3 Bxd3 21. Qxd3 Bxe3 22. fxe3 Rxf1+ 23. Qxf1 Rxb3 24. Rc4 Rb5 25. Nc7 Rb6 26. Nd5 Rb5 27. e4 Rc5 28. Rxc5 dxc5 29. Qf7 {, when White had full compensation for the pawn but I would rather play Black, R.Kasimdzhanov-B.Gelfand, Tashkent 2012.} )({b)} 17. h4 Bh6 18. g4 Bf4 $1 ({this time} 18... f6 {is slightly inaccurate; White stands better after} 19. Nce3 Bxe3 20. Nxe3 )19. Nce3 Ne7 20. Nxe7 Qxe7 21. Nd5 Qd8 {and the game is dynamically balanced, J.Overgaard-T.Klausen, correspondence 2007.} )g6 $5 {This is one of the most important tabiyas in the book. The plan is to play ...f7-f5 and, if White plays e4xf5, Black recaptures with the g6-pawn. This is Black's main line, which allows White a dangerous and completely sound pawn sacrifice. The positions go haywire and are probably the most baffling in the entire book.} ({ If the thought of entry into such craziness gives you pause, then try the far safer idea} 17... Be6 {, which is covered later in the chapter. The move avoids the weakening (or dynamic) ...g7-g6 and sidesteps White's h2-h4 pawn sacrifice.} )18. Qe2 ({This move is not as dangerous for Black as the immediate push of the h-pawn to the fourth rank with the critical} 18. h4 $1 { , which we cover in the next three games.} )({A quieter option,} 18. O-O { , eschewing the idea of h2-h4 altogether, is examined in Game 5.} )f5 19. h4 {The only move. As already emphasized, the h2-h4 pawn sacrifices are one of Black's biggest challenges.} (19. exf5 $6 {has been tried twice, with two losses for White. After} gxf5 20. O-O $5 ({I would play} 20. f3 )f4 21. Nc2 f3 $1 {White's king is under assault and unlikely to survive, S.Novikov-R.Pommrich, correspondence 2010.} )Bxe3 20. Qxe3 f4 $1 {This way Black clogs lines and his king is far safer than in the 18 h4 lines.} 21. Qd2 Bd7 22. Ra1 {White is rightfully anxious about knight discoveries.} (22. h5 {is well met by} g5 {.} )Be6 {White is confronted with a problem - where he should place his king. GM Volokitin decides to walk across to the queenside. I already think Black is doing well, with equality at a minimum.} 23. Kd1 $5 { The king will not find safety on the queenside.} ({However,} 23. h5 {is no improvement as after} g5 24. Qd3 g4 {White's artificially isolated h-pawn may later be picked off if pieces begin to come off the board, N.Pascual Perez-E.Kopasov, correspondence 2009.} )Ne7 $1 {Black's strategy remains the same as always - challenge d5. I already prefer Black, whose king safety supersedes his wobbly structure.} 24. Kc2 ({After} 24. Nxe7 $2 Qxe7 {White has trouble defending b3. For example,} 25. Bd5 Rfc8 26. Kc2 Bxd5 27. Qxd5 Rc5 { and White's king is in danger.} )Nxd5 25. Bxd5 Bxd5 26. Qxd5 Qb6 { Black eyes up b2 and f2. Notice how Black isn't tied down to defence of either the a5- or d6-pawns, since his threats against White's king takes precedence. We see this phenomenon over and over in the Sveshnikov, where our pawns are weak/not weak, since White lacks the time and resources to actually capture them.} 27. Rhf1 Rfc8 28. Ra4 {When on defence the natural tendency is to flinch at every shadow. Passive defence is not White's best path.} ({White may just barely hold the game with the radical} 28. Rfd1 $1 Qxf2+ 29. Rd2 Qe3 30. Rd3 Qb6 31. Rxa5 Qf2+ 32. Rd2 Qe3 33. Rd3 {with a likely repetition draw.} )Rc5 (28... Kg7 {is slightly more accurate.} )29. Qe6 {White should hold the game due to Black's exposed king.} Rc7 30. Qd5 $6 {Principle: Passivity is death in major piece endings.} ({White should activate the sleeping f1-rook with} 30. Rd1 $1 Qxf2+ 31. Rd2 Qe3 32. Qf6+ Kg8 33. Qe6+ Kg7 34. Rc4 $1 Rxc4 35. Qe7+ {, when White's queen delivers perpetual check.} )Rbc8 $1 { Now White is in deep trouble.} 31. Qxa5 $6 {This compounds the problem.} (31. c4 {is better, though after} Rb8 32. Qd3 Rcb7 33. Rd1 Qxf2+ 34. Rd2 Qb6 35. Ra3 Rd7 {Black has winning chances.} )Qxa5 ({Also strong is} 31... Rxc3+ $1 32. Qxc3 Rxc3+ 33. Kxc3 Qb5 34. Rc4 Qa5+ 35. Kb2 Qd2+ 36. Rc2 Qd4+ 37. Kb1 Qxe4 38. Rd1 d5 {. It's one of the great joys to push the d-pawn to the fifth rank. White is unable to hold the game due to Black's surging central pawns.} )32. Rxa5 Rxc3+ 33. Kb2 Kg7 34. Rd1 ({After} 34. Ra7+ Kh6 35. g4 fxg3 36. fxg3 Rxg3 37. Rff7 Rh8 38. b4 Rg4 39. Kc3 Rxe4 40. b5 d5 41. b6 Rc4+ 42. Kd3 Rb4 43. Rab7 Rxh4 44. Rfe7 Rd4+ 45. Ke3 Re4+ 46. Kd3 Rc8 47. Rxh7+ Kg5 {, White's b-pawn isn't getting through, since his rook is in front of the pawn.} )Rc2+ 35. Ka3 Rxf2 36. Rxd6 Rc7 37. Rxe5 Rxg2 {Our destination seems far away when we are exhausted. White's rooks are out of alignment to halt the push of the f-pawn and everything about Black's position suggests imminent death.} 38. Ree6 ({After} 38. Ree6 Rf7 39. e5 Re2 40. Rd3 Re3 $1 41. Rd1 f3 42. Rf1 Rf4 43. Kb2 Rxh4 {, the g-pawn rolls forward and Black wins.} )(38. Rd3 {didn't work either, as after} Rf7 39. Rf3 h6 40. Ka4 Rg3 41. Rf1 f3 42. Rc5 Rg4 43. Kb5 Rxh4 44. e5 Re4 45. b4 g5 {, Black's pawns are too fast.} )0-1