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Strategy: Beautiful Knight Outpost, Good Knight vs Bad Bishop

Hou, Yifan (2673) - Mareco, Sandro (2583) [B90]
Gibraltar Masters (6) 2015

Notes by Boris Schipkov

1. e4 c5
The Sicilian Defence.
2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6
The Najdorf Variation.
6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Qd2 Be7








   
9. O-O-O
Sandro Mareco played in 2006 9. f3 Nbd7 10. O-O-O Qc7 (10...b5! is better) 11. g4 h6 12. Kb1 (12. h4) 12...b5 13. Nd5 Bxd5 14. exd5 Nb6 15. Bxb6 Qxb6 16. Na5 Rc8 17. Nc6 Nxd5= 18. Nxe7 Nxe7 19. Qxd6 1/2, a draw in Mareco,S - Baramidze,D, Yerevan 2006.
9...Nbd7
After 9...O-O 10. f4 Ng4 11. g3 Nxe3 (11...Nd7) 12. Qxe3 Nc6 13. Kb1 Qc7 White had a small advantage in Hou, Y - Nakhbayeva, G, Ha Long City 2009.
10. f4 b5
White attacks in the centre and on the kingside, Black counterattacks on the queenside.
11. f5 Bc4 12. Kb1








   
12...Rb8
Or 12...Qc7 13. g4 h6 14. Rg1 (14. a3) 14...Rc8 (14...b4) 15. a3 Bxf1 16. Rdxf1 Qb7 17. Qd3 b4?! (17...Nc5) 18. axb4 Qxb4, with a small edge to White in Morozevich, A - Nepomniachtchi, I, Tal Memorial Blitz, Sochi 2014. Or 12...Rc8 13. g4 Nxg4 14. Rg1 Ndf6 15. Bg5 Bxf1 16. Rdxf1 b4 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. Bxe7 Kxe7 Yu,Y -Zhou,J Las Vegas 2014, and here correct is 19. exd5! Nf6 20. Qxb4, with a slight edge to White.
13. g4!
White sacrifices a pawn to take the initiative on the king's wing.
13...Nxg4
A novelty. After 13...h6 14. Qg2 Qc7 (14...b4 15. Bxc4 bxc3 16. Rd3 cxb2 17. h4) 15. h4 Bxf1 (15...b4) 16. Rdxf1 b4 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. exd5 Rb5 (18...a5) 19. g5 White had the better chances in Felgaer,R - Ricardi,P, La Plata 2008.
14. Rg1 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 Bxf1?!
15...Qb6 deserves attention.
16. Rdxf1 Bf6 17. Rd1!
White pressures on the weak d6-pawn and controls d5 square.
17...Nb6 18. Qd3








   
18...Ke7
Or 18... O-O 19. Na5 Qc7 20. Qxd6 Qxd6 21. Rxd6 Be7 22. Rdd1, with a small edge to White.
19. a3!
A strong move. Women's World Chess Champion Hou Yifan stops the ...b4 advance and plans the knight manoeuvre Nc1-a2-b4 to seize the central square d5 completely.
19...Re8
If 19...Qc7 then 20. Nd2 Rhd8 21. Nf1 d5 22. Nxd5+ Nxd5 23. exd5.
20. Nc1
20. Na2! is more precise, 20...Kf8 21. Nb4, with a small edge to White.
20...Qd7 21. N1a2 a5!
Black stops the regrouping of the white cavalry. This is the best continuation.
22. Qxb5 Qxb5 23. Nxb5








   
23...Rec8?
A mistake. Here Black can sacrifice a pawn with the great 23...d5!! and after 24. exd5 Black opens the way for the bishop with 24...e4! Black has excellent compensation for the pawn thanks to counterplay on the queenside and can draw. After 24...e4! Black has a good bishop, so the strategic pawn sacrifice is necessary in this position.
24. Nac3 Na4 25. Rd3 Nxc3+ 26. Nxc3 Kd7 27. b3 Rc6 28. Kb2 Rbc8 29. Rg2 h6 30. Nd5!
What a beautiful knight outpost on d5! We see a classic example of a confrontation "a good knight" vs "a bad bishop".









   
30...Bg5
White has a strategically winning position.
31. a4 Ke8 32. c3!
Hou Yifan plans to advance pawns to queen.
32...Kf8 33. b4! axb4 34. cxb4 Rc4 35. Re2 Rd4 36. Rxd4 exd4 37. Rc2!
White seizes the only open file.









   
37...Ra8
And White wins: the pawns are unstoppable.
38. a5 d3 39. Rc3 d2 40. Kc2 g6 41. f6! h5 42. a6
Black resigned. 1-0










Move
   

Hou, Yifan (2673) - Mareco, Sandro (2583) [B90]
Gibraltar Masters 2015/Caleta (6) 2015

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Qd2 Be7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. f4 b5 11. f5 Bc4 12. Kb1 Rb8 13. g4 Nxg4 14. Rg1 Nxe3 15. Qxe3 Bxf1 16. Rdxf1 Bf6 17. Rd1 Nb6 18. Qd3 Ke7 19. a3 Re8 20. Nc1 Qd7 21. N1a2 a5 22. Qxb5 Qxb5 23. Nxb5 Rec8 24. Nac3 Na4 25. Rd3 Nxc3+ 26. Nxc3 Kd7 27. b3 Rc6 28. Kb2 Rbc8 29. Rg2 h6 30. Nd5 Bg5 31. a4 Ke8 32. c3 Kf8 33. b4 axb4 34. cxb4 Rc4 35. Re2 Rd4 36. Rxd4 exd4 37. Rc2 Ra8 38. a5 d3 39. Rc3 d2 40. Kc2 g6 41. f6 h5 42. a6 1-0


Hou Yifan, Gibraltar Chess Masters 2015, Round 6
Hou Yifan, Gibraltar Chess Masters 2015, Round 6. Photo by John Saunders.

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© 2015 Boris Schipkov