In the fourth round of the recently completed 2022 Denker Invitational, Expert, soon to be Master, Tommy Wen sat down behind the white pieces after scoring 2 1/2 out of 3 possible points facing IM Arthur Guo,
who had earlier drawn with FM Sandeep Sethuraman. After 38 moves this position was reached:
It is rare to see the knight on g7 and the bishop on f6. The same can be said of the same pieces on the queenside of the board. Most, if not all, players who have made it to class “B” would tell you white has an advantage. For those readers who do not understand the reason I will explain by first saying white has a POSITIONAL advantage because he controls more space, In addition, his pieces are better placed. Contrast the white knights with those of the black army. Then there is the unfortunate black squared bishop, jailed by pawns of the same color. which the white prelate is well positioned IN THE EVENT THE POSITION IS OPENED. Therefore, both players need the position opened to free the black squared bishops. Given the opportunity black will play h5 followed by g4. Unfortunately for black it is white to move.
I was riveted to the screen after having stopped looking at any other game as I awaited Mr. Wen’s next move. For the younger, and new to Chess, readers I would highly suggest you take some time to cogitate on the position, preferably on a real set and pieces. It would be even better if you would take time to go over the whole game, taking notes as you go, before checking the game out at Lichess.com, one of the greatest gifts ever given to the Royal Game.
While waiting for the next move I reflected upon a time many decades ago when a similar position was reached and I did not pull the trigger. After showing the game to the man who became the only player to earn the title of Georgia Chess Champion and Georgia Senior Chess Champion, NM David Vest, the High Planes Drifter, the first coach of young Mr. Guo, said “You have a problem with trying to hold on to your material. How about we play and I will make an sacrifice in every game,” Dave said. Well now, the AW was always up for a challenge ‘back in the day’ so we sat down to play. One fifteen minute game after another followed and damned if the Drifter did not make a sacrifice in each and every game! I learned the lesson and after that day I was always looking out for the possibility of making a sacrifice.
In Chess there comes a time when your position is as good as it is ever gonna get and there is one move, and only one move to be made. If you do not play that move your position will deteriorate. You are locked and loaded and simply MUST PULL THE TRIGGER! The position above is one of those occasions. Expert Wen, a non-titled player, by only six points, had an opportunity that was missed. He will undoubtedly learn from the missed opportunity.
I could attempt showing you what move should have been played and explain why, but what is the point when the Stockfish program at Lichess can do a much better job? I give the game, followed by something using the analysis board at Lichess;Stockfish vs Stockfish. By now you should know what move should have been played, what with all the hints, so what I did was utilize the SF program to play out how the game could possibly have gone, with best play, so you can see how the position is transformed after the sacrifice.
Wen (2194) vs IM Arthur Guo
- e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 d6 9. c3 h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a3 Bd7 13. Bc2 g6 14. Nf1 Bg7 15. Ng3 a5 16. d5 Ne7 17. b3 Nc8 18. Be3 c6 19. c4 Nb6 20. Nd2 a4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. bxc4 Qc7 23. Rb1 Reb8 24. Qc2 Rb7 25. Rb2 Rab8 26. Reb1 Nc8 27. Ne2 c5 28. Nc3 Rxb2 29. Rxb2 Ra8 30. Nb5 Qd8 31. Nb1 Nh5 32. N1c3 Nf4 33. Bf1 f5 34. f3 Nh5 35. Nxa4 f4 36. Bf2 g5 37. Nac3 Bf6 38. a4 Ng7 39. Be2 h5 40. Qd1 Ra6 41. Kf1 Ne7 42. Ke1 Kh7 43. Kd2 Ng8 44. Kc1 Nh6 45. Kb1 Qc8 46. Be1 Bd8 47. Ra2 Ne8 48. Ra3 Nf7 49. Na2 Nf6 50. Nc1 Kg7 51. Nb3 g4 52. hxg4 hxg4 53. Nd2 Qa8 54. fxg4 Ba5 55. Bf3 Bb4 56. Ra2 Qc8 57. Nf1 Ng5 58. Bh4 Nfxe4 59. Qc2 Be8 60. Kc1 Bg6 61. Qe2 Qh8 62. Bxg5 Nxg5 63. Nxd6 Rxd6 64. Qxe5+ Kh7 65. Qxd6 Qc3+ 66. Kd1 Qe1#
Wen vs Guo with Stockfish analysis from move 39
- e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 d6 9. c3 h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Nbd2 Bf8 12. a3 Bd7 13. Bc2 g6 14. Nf1 Bg7 15. Ng3 a5 16. d5 Ne7 17. b3 Nc8 18. Be3 c6 19. c4 Nb6 20. Nd2 a4 21. Bd3 bxc4 22. bxc4 Qc7 23. Rb1 Reb8 24. Qc2 Rb7 25. Rb2 Rab8 26. Reb1 Nc8 27. Ne2 c5 28. Nc3 Rxb2 29. Rxb2 Ra8 30. Nb5 Qd8 31. Nb1 Nh5 32. N1c3 Nf4 33. Bf1 f5 34. f3 Nh5 35. Nxa4 f4 36. Bf2 g5 37. Nac3 Bf6 38. a4 Ng7 (SF vs SF begins here) 39. Nxd6 Nxd6 40. Bxc5 Nf7 41. Bb6 Qf8 42. c5 Bd8 43. Kh2 Bc8 44. d6 g4 45. fxg4 f3 46. Bc4 Ne6 47. Qf2 fxg2 48. Qf5 Neg5 49. Qg6+ Qg7 50. Qxg7+ Kxg7 51. Kxg2 Ne6 52. Bd5 Bxb6 53. Rxb6 Ra5 54. Nb5 Nxc5 55. Rc6 Nxa4 56. Rxc8 Nb6 57. Bxf7 Kxf7 58. Nc3 Nd7 59. Rh8 Ra3 60. Nd5 Kg6 61. Re8 Ra6 62. Re6+ Kg5 63. Kf3 Ra3+ 64. Ne3 Rd3 65. Re7 Rxd6 66. h4+ Kf6 67. Rh7 Rd3 68. Rxh6+ Ke7 69. Ke2 Rb3 70. Nf5+ Ke8 71. g5 Nc5 72. Rh8+ Kd7 73. Rh7+ Kc6 74. g6 Ne6 75. Kf2 Rd3 76. Re7 Nc5 77. Ke2 Rd8 78. Rxe5 Nb3 79. Ke3 Kb6 80. g7 Nc1 81. h5 Rd3+ 82. Kf4 Rd8 83. Kg5 Nb3 84. h6 Nd4 85. Nxd4 Rg8 86. Re7 Rd8 87. h7 Rxd4 88. h8=Q Rd1 89. Qc8 Rg1+ 90. Kf6 Rf1+ 91. Ke6 Rf6+ 92. Kxf6 Ka5 93. Rb7 Ka4 94. Qa8#