Monday, January 19, 2009

Corus 2009. Round 3. Group C. GM Wesley So 's game against FM Giri was drawn after thirty-eight moves. Perhaps, it wouldn't be wrong to say that So got away with a draw since Giri launched an attack along the H file that looked pretty bad for So. Giri, playing white of a Slav defense, pegged his winning chances on So's weakened kingside squares plus sole control of the open H file. I was worried for So especially when the weak h6 square looked like an open door for white's queen.

Here's the position after 26. Qb2. Above. Here, So found what probably is the only life-saving move which was 26...e5. Maybe So always had this move in mind, but it looked to me like So was giving up his last dollar to the mugger and hoping he goes away. It's a good idea, to give up the extra pawn in order to displace the rook on e5. Ok, 27. Re5 Rd4 and there you see the point of it all. Not only is the white rook on a less favorable square on e5 but black has blocked the white queen's wonderful avenue of attack along the a1-h8 diagonal. Earlier, So faced a similar now or never move in the position you see below.

After 24. Rh1, you can taste danger in the air. It's counter-intuitive to give up the bishop that controls the dark squares around the king, but So did just that to relieve the pressure on his king. It went 24...Bd4 25. Qd2 ( eyeing the h6 square ) Bb2 26. Qb2 and you come to the first position above. Play continued with ( from the first diagram ) 28. Qe2 c5 29. Re8+ Kg7 30. Rd8 Rd8 31. Qe3 Qc6+ 32. f3 Qf6 and later on queens and rooks were exchanged for a drawn king and pawn ending.

Tomorrow, So faces A. Gupta who has lost two of his three games, both losses with the white pieces.


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