Ilan Meerovich vs Warren Harper
Board 4, Chicago vs Arizona, 08/25/08
Annotation by Chicago Blaze Manager Glenn Panner
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3
Here Ilan surprises the Arizona preparation, which was looking for 4. e3.
4. … Bxc3 5. bxc3 c5 6. f3 d5
The Saemisch variation, from a different move order. Normally White will play f3 on move 4, with the idea of pushing e4 and getting a rolling pawn mass in the center. Black’s plan would be to play b6 and Ba6 to pile up on the weak doubled c pawn.
7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qd3
Protecting c3 and reinforcing the e3 push. The Q also is now in a better spot to get to black’s kingside if needed.
8. … f5?
While this move can be played in e3 Nimzo-Indians, here it does not prevent the e4 push and weakens the e6 pawn, and can even create a super-highway to the kingside.
9. e4 fxe4 10. fxe4 Ne7 11. Nf3 0-0
White is free to develop here naturally without much pressure and a choice of plans, either to roll his pawns down the center or to attack kingside. Black does not have a clear plan here, and is cramped.
12. Be2 Nec6 13. O-O Nd7
I believe the Black plan here is to try to force e5 to get some counterplay. Blockade the d6 square, allow the B to activate, and perhaps find some holes for the Ns to park in.
14. Be3 Qe7 15. e5!
Ilan has decided here that the e5 push seals off several black pieces from getting to the kingside to defend, cements the e6 pawn as a permanent weakness, and takes clear advantage of the more mobile white pieces. This is a great example of when to lock up the center for White.
15. … h6
Harper had to stop White from playing Ng5 not only with the idea of the Qxh7 mate threat but the nearly as threatening N tour from g5 to e4 to land on d6 crippling Black. The problem now for Black is the weakening of the light squares.
16. Qg6! Qf7 17. Qg3! Qh5
Two very accurate moves preparing for the lightning and thunder.
I would call this a sacrifice, but Ilan gets the material back so quickly I don’t know that I can. This pretty move deflects the lone black defender from the king.
18. … Qxe2 19. Bxh6 Rf7 20. Rxf7 Kxf7
Removing the defender.
21. Qxg7+ Ke8
Meerovich puts Harper out of his misery very efficiently here.
22. Qg8 Nf8 23. Qxf8 Kd7 24. Qd6+ Ke8 25. Rf1
Black resigns. 1-0
photo: © Betsy Dynako
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