Malcolm Pein examines the art of gaining compensation in return for a pawn sacrifice in today’s Daily Telegraph column.
Malcolm Pein on…Compensation
Three extra pieces in play during the opening phase of the game is usually good compensation for a pawn, as this recent game from the Russian Team Championships demonstrates.
Black should have declined the offer with 10…e3! 11.fxe3 Bb6 Samusenko-Riazantsev, Sochi, 2020.
M. Samusenko – D. Pershin
1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6 (A solid line, Black’s light-squared pawns set up a barrier to White’s light bishop) 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0–0 Bc5 8.Rd1 Bd4 (Preventing d2-d4, after 8…d4 9.e5 Nfd7 10.Ne4 Be7 11.Qg3 0–0 12.d3 White was better in Nepomniachtchi–Ding, Chess24, 2020. The rook on d1 is misplaced, but White has more space and plays Bd2 and f2–f4 next) 9.Qf4 dxe4 (9…e5 10.Qg3 dxe4 11.d3 exd3 12.Bxd3 Nbd7 13.Ne2 0–0 14.Bf5 Nc5 15.Bh6 Nh5 16.Qg4 Qd6 17.Qxh5 Qxh6 18.Qxh6 gxh6 19.c3 1-0 was Vachier-Lagrave–Navara, FIDE GP, Riga 2019, and 9…Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nxe4 11.Rb1 gives White lots of play) 10.d3! exd3?! 11.Bxd3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 (White has four development points, three pieces in play and he has castled. Black has one. The threat is Ba3) 12…Qe7 13.Qg3 0–0 14.Rb1 b6 15.Bg5 Nbd7 16.Rb4! Rfd8 (16…Qc5 was better and if 17.Qh4 h6 18.Bxh6 Qh5) 17.Rf4! e5 (After 17…h6 18.Bxh6 Nh5! 19.Qg4 Ndf6 20.Rxf6! Rxd3! (20…Qxf6 21.Bg5) 21.Rxd3 Qxf6 22.Qxh5 Qxh6 23.Qxh6 gxh6 24.Rd7 Black can fight for a draw) 18.Bxh7+!!
Test Your Strength
For today’s puzzle, how does White continue after 18…Kxh7?
18…Kf8 19.Rh4 (Or 19.Rf3 Ke8 (19…Qe6 20.Bf5) 20.Bf5) 19…Qe6 20.Be4 Nc5 (20…Nxe4 21.Rh8#) 21.Re1 Ncxe4 22.Rexe4 Re8 23.f4 exf4 24.Bxf6!
24…gxf6 (24…Qxf6 25.Rh8#; 24…fxg3 25.Rh8#) 25.Rh8+ Ke7 26.Rxe6+ Kxe6 27.Rxe8+ 1–0
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer:
18…Kxh7 19.Rxd7! exf4 20.Qh4+ or 19…Rxd7 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Rh4# and if 20…Qxf6 21.Rxf6 gxf6 22.Qh4+ Kg8 23.Qg4+ Kf8 24.Qxd7 and the cute point is that inserting Rd7–d1+ makes no difference