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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Corsica Miniature

Dear Chess Friends,

Several people have asked me to show them the second game I played in Corsica this last week against French women's chess champion Sophie Milliet.

It was a very particular game since of the 18 moves I played 8 of them with my Queen... something definitely not to be recommended to beginners. This is only for seasoned Grandmasters who can value the exception that validates the rule "Always develop your minor pieces first, Knights and Bishops, don't move your Queen out too early".

Here it the game:

Let me first say the match was called "Match des Championnes" since it had me on one side (the reigning Women's World Champion) and on the other Sophie Milliet, who became French Women champion last year for the second time. The playing room was beautiful. The hundreds of kids who watched our match gave us the loudest cheering I have ever heard in my life.

After such wonderful ovations we were all in a good mood before the start of the game, here we're shaking hands in the photo below.

1. e4 d5

I won the first game in a very solid style so in the second game I was able to let myself opt for something risky - the Scandinavian Defense. This must have been a surprise for Sophie, as I have never played the Scandinavian Defense in tournaments these last years. I prepared this line specially for this match.

2. exd5 Qxd5

My Queen comes out already on the second move...

3. Nc3 Qd6

This is one of the several continuations. Also possible are 3...Qa5 and 3...Qd8. The move I played is the most modern now.

4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 c6 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Bf4!?

Sophie chooses a very interesting and sharp line. The other worthy alternative for White here is 7. Nc4

7. ... Nd5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5 9. Be2!?

The sharpest continuation in this position - White sacrifices a pawn trying to use her better development.

9. ... Nxe5 10.Bxe5 Qxg2

Black had to accept this offer, otherwise I could have ended up in a worse position with the same amount of material. Now at least I know what I'm suffering for. Of course it's dangerous as I don't have any pieces developed at all. But I did quite good home work: before the match I spent several hours at home analyzing this position many moves ahead. Sophie had less than 15 minutes to try to prove that her initiative is worth a pawn. Below you can see a photo taken exactly at that moment and you can see my Queen is on g2.

11. Bf3 Qg6

12. Qe2!

Anand in his game against Tiviakov in 2006 played 12. d5?! and after 12. ... Bg4! Tiviakov didn't have any problem since the main strategical idea for Black in this position is to trade the light-squared bishops. If Black manages to do so, the most of his problems will be solved.

12...h5 13. h3!

Again not letting trade the light-squared bishops. In a recent game of the European Championship in Budva in March, 2009 Fabiano Caruana played here 13. 0-0-0?!, his opponent Milanovic replied with 13. ... Bg4! and on the 42nd move Black won that game. Actually, before the match I thought that this line is the most dangerous for Black in the Scandinavian with 3. ... Qd6.

13. ...f6

Black has to continue to play in a very risky style, since a normal develolpment scheme such as 13. ... e6 will be met with 14. d5! and Black's position is very precarious.

14. Bc7

Most of the attention during my home preparation I paid to the line with 14. Bh2, in which case I would have played 14...Bxh3, taking a second pawn. After which White has two interesting continuations 15. d5 and 15. Bg3 I'm sure in the near future we will see many interesting games in this line.

14...Qf7 15. 0-0-0?

A blunder, at home I analyzed 15. d5!? after which after 15. ...e5 16. dxc6 Qxc7 17. cxb7 Bxb7 18. Qb5+ Ke7 19. Qb4+ Ke6 20. Qb3+ Ke7 perpetual check is possible and that could have been a draw.

15... Qxa2!

Probably playing 15. 0-0-0 Sophie overlooked that here 16. Bxh5+ is not possible due to 16. ... Kd7 and after White retreats her bishop, for example, 17. Bg3, Black has 17. ... Qa1+ 18. Kd2 and 18. ... Qa5+! and the bishop on h5 is hanging.

16. d5


This move is not only defending the h5 pawn, but at the same time threatens to play ...Bh6 check with devastating effect. It's funny, here Black has not a single developed piece apart from the Queen, but White is already in a very difficult position since the position of her king is much worse than mine.

17. dxc6??

The decisive blunder. Sophie forgets about the next move of Black. White could have defended from this check by playing 17. Bf4 or 17. Bg2 but White's position is still worse since after Qa1+ and Qxb2 Black will be already three pawns up.

17. ... Bh6+!

And here Sophie realized that there is nothing to do, the only way to avoid getting checkmated the next move is to lose her Queen, but that's no fun and leads to certain defeat, so she allowed...

18. Rd2 Qa1 checkmate.

After this game was ended, we gave some short comments to the organizer Léo Battesti (watch the short Quicktime video in French), we got our prizes,

and then there were lots and lots of autographs signed.

The next day Léo took us (with my little daughter Francesca who is 2 years old) to have a stroll in the beautiful village of Bonifacio, below are some photos of that outing. The full photo album is on Chesspics at this address.

Thank you Corsica for this great chess feast!

Posted by Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Champion

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  • At May 20, 2009 at 3:47 AM , Anonymous Hans said...

    That variation seems too risky to play for black, at least for normal people. Congratulations to the Chess Queen! I'm glad to see you don't afraid of risk and change openings.

    Will you have such match in Germany one day? Against Paehtz? When you come back to Mainz?

  • At May 20, 2009 at 3:48 AM , Anonymous Muki said...

    Very, very, very nice game. Your comments are very instructiv!
    I am very impatient to get your DVD...

  • At May 20, 2009 at 7:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thanks for sharing ...

  • At May 21, 2009 at 9:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    All I can say is... bravo!

  • At May 21, 2009 at 3:25 PM , Anonymous Jean said...

    I saw your interview in French on YouTube, good you said that it's not good for children to play so much with their queen in the opening, its very risky in fact.

  • At June 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM , Blogger Chessdevil said...

    Scandinavian defence is very risky my national teammate played that and I checkmated him in 16 moves


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