14 Oct

Naming the Game

Some games through the ages have established the reputation of being the best of their time or the most brilliant by a particular master of his generation.  And many of these famous games from the annals have established their own titles, such as “The Immortal Game” (Anderssen v Kieseritzky, London 1851), “The Evergreen Game” (Anderssen v Dufresne, Berlin 1852) and “The Immortal Zugzwang” (Sämisch v Nimzowitsch, Copenhagen 1925), to name but a few of the famous ones.

After 17...Nd5!

But in 1956, arguably the most famous game by a prodigy went to the untitled 13-year-old Bobby Fischer, who made big news around the world with his stunning queen sacrifice against the highly-experienced IM Donald Byrne, played at the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament of 1956, that was dubbed as “The Game of the Century”, as it was reproduced in newspaper columns and chess magazines throughout the world.

Sadly, these days we don’t add such grandiose titles to modern-day brilliancies - and in any case, most of the suitable titles have already been taken! And that’s a pity because - exactly sixty years on from Fischer’s famous game (My 60th Memorable Anniversary, if you like) - an even younger pre-pubescent prodigy with a bright future produced a strikingly impressive sacrificial king hunt recently to beat one of the world’s leading grandmasters.

India’s R. Praggnanandhaa is just 11-years and two months old, but already he’s the world’s youngest-ever International Master, one rung down from the Grandmaster title. And in the last round of the chess.com Isle of Man Masters, he amazed the fans with his highly-energetic and imaginative sacrificial takedown in just 18 moves (and with Black!) of GM Axel Bachmann, the highly-experienced Paraguayan with a lofty rating of 2645.

The veteran chess writer Leonard Barden of the Guardian newspaper - regarded as the chess journalist’s chess journalist, who has chronicled the rise of all of the world’s leading prodigies from Fischer through to Kasparov, and on to upcoming title contestants Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen - posted on the English Chess Forum: "India's 11-year-old youngest ever IM with the unpronounceable name has this afternoon won an 18-mover against a 2645-rated GM which will go round the world and be compared to Fischer's Game of the Century."

IM R. Praggnanandhaa | © Chess.com IoM Masters

The comparison to Fischer’s famous game (on this, its 60th anniversary) is perhaps a bit fanciful, as many have pointed out that the quality of Fischer’s game was of a higher standard - and certainly, his opponent (the younger of the famous chess-playing Byrne brothers) put up greater resistance. However, Fischer was 13 years old when he played Byrne and Praggnanandhaa has just turned eleven!

But there's no doubt that young master R. Praggnanandhaa looks destined to be a future star of Chess.

GM Axel Bachmann - IM R. Praggnanandhaa
Chess.com IoM Masters, (9)
Barry Attack
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.Nc3 The "Barry" is a line developed and pioneered by the veteran English GM Mark Hebden as a way of avoiding the King's Indian Defence. Hebden's normal move order is 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4, and here White got an improved version in which he was very quickly able to get in Bh6 to exchange off the KID bishop. But Praggnandhaa manages to generate queenside counterplay that proved decisive. 3...d5 4.Qd2 Bg7 5.Bh6 0-0 6.Bxg7 Kxg7 7.0-0-0 c5! Black has to react quickly and energetically to hold off White from the automatic attack with h4 or g4. 8.e3 If 8.dxc5 Qa5 9.Kb1 (9.Nxd5?? Qxa2 wins.) 9...Nc6 10.Nxd5 Qxd2 11.Rxd2 Ne4! wins the exchange, as Rd3 or Rd1 will be followed by ...Nxf2 winning the whole rook on h1. 8...Nc6 9.f3 c4! Black - rightly -commits himself to storming the queenside with an all-out attack. 10.e4 b5! 11.exd5 Wrong is 11.Nxb5? Rb8 12.Nc3 Qa5 13.e5 Ne8 14.Qe3 f6! and the game is opening up to Black's advantage. 11...Nb4 12.Nxb5? It was wrong in the note to the last move, and it is equally wrong here. Perhaps White was working on the misconception that Black could not take on a2? Either way, alarm bells have to be ringing that there is something wrong with it. Instead, 12.g4 (to hold off ...Bf5) 12...Nfxd5 13.Nge2 and White at least is still in the game. 12...Nxa2+!! 13.Kb1 Qxd5! 14.Na3?? 14.Nc7 Qb7 15.Bxc4 (15.Nxa8?? c3!) 15...Rb8 16.Nb5 Bf5 and Black has an overwhelming attack with ...Rfc8 coming. The lesser evil of the knight retreats was 14.Nc3 Nxc3+ 15.Qxc3 Ba6 16.Qa3 Qd6 17.Qxd6 exd6 and the danger has gone with the queen's exchanged off , but Black's pieces and rooks will soon dominate the board;  the rooks going to e8 and b8 and the knight into d5. White's pieces, in comparison, have no scope to develop. 14...c3! 15.bxc3 Rb8+ 16.Ka1 Qa5! Bachmann makes Praggnanandhaa's task all the easier, but full credit to the youngster for finding all of these the clinically accurate moves to relentlessly pursue his quarry of the White king. 17.Kxa2 There's no time for 17.Nc4 Qa4 18.Nb2 as it falls to 18...Rxb2! 19.Kxb2 Bf5 and an unstoppable mating attack. 17...Nd5! (See Diagram) The knight hitting c3 with a deadly check is the final, decisive blow. 18.Ne2 Be6 0-1 Bachmann resigns, faced with the prospect of 19.c4 Nb4+ 20.Kb2 Nd3+ 21.Ka2 Bxc4+ 22.Ka1 Qxa3#

1 Comments October 14, 2016

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  • […] Praggnanandhaa hit the chess headlines with a scintillating 18-move sacrificial win with the Black pieces over an experienced Grandmaster, Axel Bachmann (2645), in the final round of […]