This super-quick article is in our Engine Snacks series! Ethereal catches Stoofvlees with a combination of 2 tactical themes: diversion and trapping. The position is so full of drama, that once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget these tactical ideas!
Some positions have a lasting impact on you because they contain so much drama! These are the best games to learn and remember ideas from: both tactical and positional. One such position occurred in the game between Stoofvlees and Ethereal during the recent Viewer Submitted Openings bonus event in TCEC Season 21.
The first thing that you notice is the lineup of White’s major pieces on the closed h-file! The second thing you may notice is the mechanism Ng6+ that White might use to open the h-file, paired with the realisation that Black doesn’t need to capture it and can meet Ng6+ with …Kg8. However, then it strikes you that White’s queen on h6 is very short of squares and that …Nf7 is a severe threat! Stoofvlees’ evaluation after its next move was a massive 2.62 whereas Ethereal maintained a cool -0.01! Someone was missing something…
43.Ng6+ Kg8 44.f4
This was Stoofvlees’ idea, forking the knight and rook. 44…Nf7 does indeed trap the queen but is met by 45.Qxf8+ forcing the exchange of queens. If only there were a way for Black to move its queen from d8 with temp to protect f8 with its rook… Ethereal finds it!
The queen vacates the back rank with tempo at the cost of a rook… That’s a lot of material for a tempo, but not if you’re trapping the queen!
46.Kh1 Ng4 47.Ne7+ Kf7
The knight on f8 covers h7 which allows the black king to escape away from the corner. Stoofvless had nothing better than the losing
47…Kh8 would allow the stunning 48.Qg6 Nxg6 49.hxg6 h6 50.Rxh6+ Nxh6 51.Rxh6+ Kg7 52.Rh7+ Kf8 53.g7+ Ke8 54.g8Q+ Kd7 55.Ng6#
48.Ng8 Nxh6 49.Nxh6+ Kg7 50.Ng4 Qd4
which Ethereal converted without any problems.
51.Rg2 Qxf4 52.Ne5+ Ng6 53.Nf3 Qxf5 54.Rg1 Qe4 55.Rg2 Qf5 56.Rg1 Qe4 57.Rg2 Qb1 58.Kg1 Qf5 59.Rgg3 cxb5 60.cxb5 Qc5+ 61.Kh2 Qf2+ 62.Bg2 Qxa2 63.Nd4 Qf2 64.Ne6+ Kf7 65.hxg6+ hxg6 66.Rf3 Qb2 67.Re3 Kg8 68.Rh6 f5 69.Ng5 a2 70.Rxg6+ Kf8 71.Nh7+ Kf7 72.Rxd6 a1Q 73.Rd7+ Kg8 74.Rg3+ Kh8 75.Ng5 Rf8 76.Ne6 Qf2 77.Rh3+ Kg8 78.Rg3+ Qxg3+ 79.Kxg3 Qe5+ 80.Nf4 Kh8 81.Rd3 Rg8+ 82.Kf3 Qe4+ 83.Kf2 Qxf4+ 84.Bf3 Ra8 85.Rd7 Ra2+ 86.Ke1 Qg3+ 87.Kd1 Qg1# 0–1