In my book, Pawn Sacrifice!, I note that one of the most difficult types is the “Deflecting Sacrifice” where “a pawn is offered to deflect an enemy piece from the main battle” and I further comment that “I don’t have a quality deflective sacrifice among my games—but I will be looking for my chance!”
I’m happy to say that a few nights ago I spotted my chance: should I ever write Pawn Sacrifice 2, I’ll definitely be putting this game in the Deflecting chapter!
Villanueva, S – Taylor, Timothy
La Palma Chess Club Championship
La Palma, April 28, 2012
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 g6
With White, I would play 5.Nc3 here, which is a natural and strong developing move. Instead, my opponent played …
Which blocks his own development—according to the Megabase, this move has never been played by a master. What this pawn move means is that after my next Black is actually ahead in development, and already stands slightly better … but how best to take advantage of this opening misplay?
As I have been studying Karpov for my new book, “Slay the Sicilian,” I wondered at this point, “What would Karpov do?”
After some thought, I decided that Karpov would not rush—indeed, most of his games are decided between moves 30 and 40. Therefore I simply stabilized the center and remained content with a slight edge.
6…d6! 7.0–0 Nf6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6
White almost has to give up the two Bs, for if 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nxe4 11.Re1 0–0! 12.Rxe4 d5 and the delayed fork trick is good for Black.
9…Bxf6 10.Na3 0–0 11.Nac2 Re8 12.Re1 Bd7 13.Nxc6 bxc6
Best, for after 13…Bxc6 14.Bd5 White exchanges a B and has chances to equalize, while after my played move the b file is a big asset for Black.
14.Qf3 Rb8 15.Rab1 Qe7!!
By defending f7, Black plans to improve his game in Karpovian style by playing … Bg7 and … Qf6, when if Queens are exchanged the ending tilts ever more heavily in Black’s favor, due to the b file and two Bs. So much for the positional ideas—but tactically I offer a deflecting sacrifice!
The best thing about my move is that it looks like a blunder—Black allows a fork. The hidden point is that if White accepts the sacrifice, his Q is lured, or deflected out of play.
White can’t resist! But even the more solid 16.Ne3 Bg7 17.Ng4 h5 18.Ne3 Qf6 is better for Black with a typical Karpovian edge.
Of course Black saves the a pawn, doubling down the b file in the process.
At this point my opponent took a long think, perhaps smelling a big rat—but in the end he “consistently” captured the pawn—but after enjoying this meal his Q will never move again in the game, and never be in play either.
Now 17…Bg5?? would trap the WQ except for the “minor detail” of 18.Qxg6+, but after the text that trap is threatened, e.g. if 18.Na3? Bg5 wins.
The key position of the deflecting sacrifice: Black’s compensation is clear. The WQ has nothing to say, while the White queenside is on the verge of collapse. Relatively best is to give back the material and bring the Q back immediately, though even this does not fully equalize, e.g. 19.Qd2 Qxa2 20.Nb4 Qc4 with a small plus for Black.
But White wants to keep his ill gotten gain!
By wasting a tempo to keep his pawn, Black in turn gains a tempo to double on the b file.
There is nothing better, e..g 20.Qc1 Bxc3! and Black crashes through.
20…Bxd4 21.cxd4 Rxb2
Black penetrates to the seventh rank while regaining his pawn; White’s only hope is to exchange rooks, limiting the number of attacking pieces.
Beset by “Sacrificial Shock” White makes a final error.
It’s too late for the WQ to come back, for if 23.Qe3 R8b3 24.e5 Qf5 wins.
23…Qxd4 24.Rae1 c5!
Passed pawns must be pushed!
25.h4 Qe5 26.f4 Qd4+ 27.Kh1
With the WQ still deflected, cut off from any defensive purpose, it’s clear a combination is possible—even a full rook can be sacrificed, as after all, White is playing down a Q!
Beware the deflection!
White resigned after a long thought—indeed, all variations lead to a clear win for Black: White must either take the rook on this move or the next. Let’s take a look at the variations, starting with the delayed capture:
A. 28.h5 (hoping to make the WQ useful) 28…Rh2+! Black insists! 29.Kxh2 Rb2+ and now:
A1. 30.Kh1 Qd2 and mates
A2. 30.Kg3 Qc3+ 31.Kh4 (if 31.Kg4 Rg2+ 32.Kh4 Qg3# or White can last longer with 31.Rf3 but after 31…Qxe1+ 32.Kh3 Qh1+ 33.Kg4 Rg2+ 34.Rg3 Qxh5+ 35.Qxh5 gxh5+ 36.Kh4+ Rxg3 37.Kxg3 h4+! 38.Kxh4 c4 the pawn ending is no fun for White as his K is out of the square) 31…Rh2+ 32.Kg5 Rg2+ 33.Kh4 Qg3#
A3. 30.Kh3 Qc3+ 31.Kh4 Rh2+ 32.Kg5 Rg2+ (note that the BQ’s position on c3 prevents White from fleeing to f6) 33.Kh4 Qg3#.
B. Since the delayed capture fails, White may as well take the R right away, but then Black wins with similar play: 28.Kxg2 Rb2+ and now:
B1.29.Kh1 Qd2 and mates
B2.29.Kf3 Qd3+ 30.Re3 (30.Kg4 Rg2#) 30…Qxf1+ 31.Kg4 Rg2+ 32.Rg3 Qe2+ 33.Kg5 (33.Kh3 Rh2#) 33…Qxe4! 34.Rxg2 (34.Kf6 Qe6+ 35.Kg5 Qf5#) 34…Qf5#
B3.29.Kg3 Qc3+ 30.Kg4 (30.Rf3 Qxe1+ 31.Kh3 Qxe4 32.Rg3 [32.Kg3 Qe2 and mates] 32…Qe6+ 33.Rg4 Rb3+ 34.Kh2 Qxg4 and the extra R is good enough) 30…Rg2#
B4.29.Kh3 Qc3+ 30.Kg4 Rg2#
Note the utter helplessness of the deflected White Q in all these variations!