GM Peter Prohaszka annotates game from 42nd Ikaros International Chess


The 42nd Ikaros International Chess tournament was held between 9–17 July in Agios Kyrikos, the capital of Ikaria. As the legend says in Greek mythology, this was the place where Ikaros fell from the sky - hence the name of the island. From 15 countries more than 120 players participated in the two groups of the tournament, with 80 players playing in the stronger group. The games - with the exception of the last round - started at 7 pm, leaving the participants plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful beaches, the excellent cuisine, the thermal spring in the sea(!) at the village appropriately named Therma, and the stress free environment that is typical for the island.

This carefree attitude of the inhabitants is perhaps a major contributor of why Ikaria is one of the rare places on earth, called Blue Zones, where people tend to live exceptionally long and healthy. I love to return here, in fact this was the fourth time I visited the island in the Aegan Sea. I always played successfully, and with luck also not avoiding me I won the 2012 edition with 7.5/9 and in 2014 and 2015 I scored 9/9. I managed to repeat 100% this year too, scoring 34.5 of the 36 games I played in Agios Kyrikos winning the last 28 of them.

As always, the organizers, arbiters and the tournament director Dimitris Skyrianoglou did an excellent job, providing live coverage on the first ten boards and making sure the tournament ran smoothly. Before the 5th round early in the day a special event took place, a puzzle solving competition: Murdzia vs all. IM Piotr Murdzia is an eight time World Champion in puzzle solving. I was in his opposing team, trying to compete with him in solving four puzzles in 75 minutes.

We eventually managed to solve all four correctly, however it required all of our time while the World Champion finished faster, clinching a well-deserved victory. I was facing him in round six, after both of us won the first five games. This tense game was crucial in the outcome of the whole tournament.

Murdzia, Piotr (2412) - Prohászka, Péter (2598) [E01]
Ikaros Chess Festival (6), 14.07.2019
[Text and and analysis by GM Peter Prohaszka]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.g3 [A surprise for me. My opponent very rarely goes for the Catalan.]

4...Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd6 6.Bg2 [6.Nc3 is the test of this line, when Black might not equalize, like in the following high profile game: 6...0–0 7.Bg5 c6 8.Bg2 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.0–0 Qd8 11.c5 Bc7 12.e4 b6 13.b4 bxc5 14.bxc5 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Ba6 16.Re1 Bc4 17.Qa4 Bd5 18.Re3 Qc8 19.Nc3 Bd8 20.Rb1 1–0 (40) Ding,L (2797)-Topalov,V (2747) Wenzhou 2018]

6...c6 [6...0–0 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Qb3 0–1 (50) Grischuk, A (2782) - Caruana, F (2799) Saint Louis 2017]

7.0–0 Nbd7

8.Qb3 [not the most common reply, but a sensible one]

8...a5 [I wanted to avoid the exchanges connected with Bd2–b4]

[8...0–0 9.Bb4 (9.Nc3) 9...Bxb4 10.Qxb4 a5= Black of course has no problems here, but I wanted to keep more pieces on the board.]

9.Nc3 0–0 [9...a4? does not work unfortunately 10.Nxa4 dxc4 11.Qxc4 b5 12.Qxc6 Ra6 13.Qxb5+– white just takes everything...]

10.c5 [10.e4 I was somewhat afraid of this during the game 10...Nxe4 (10...dxc4 11.Qxc4 e5 12.Rfd1) 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Ng5 Be7! an important move 13.Nxe4 f5 14.Nc3 Nc5 I did not see this resource when my opponent was contemplating his move, so I was concerned if he gets an edge playing like 10.e2–e4 15.dxc5 Qxd2 16.Rad1 Qh6 17.Na4 e5 18.Nb6 Rb8 and Black should be OK.; 10.a3 was the continuation in the only other (blitz)game that has reached this position so far. 10...Be7 11.Bf4 a4 12.Qa2 0–1 (50) Grischuk,A (2782)-Caruana,F (2799) Saint Louis 2017 12...Nb6= is perhaps an improvement; 10.Rfe1 is a logical try, when perhaps Black needs to anticipate e2–e4 with 10...Be7 and now 11.e4 a4! 12.Qc2 dxc4 13.Nxa4 b5 14.Nc3 e5 leads to interesting play]

10...Bc7 11.Bf4 [Here I was disappointed first that my dark squared  gets exchanged, but then I started to remember about a motif that I once saw from Kamsky in the Schlechter, and got excited!]

11...b5 [11...e5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 15.Na4 Nxe5 16.Nb6 this must be worse with the weak pawn on a5]

12.cxb6 [12.Bxc7 Qxc7 13.e4 b4 14.e5 bxc3 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Qxc3 Ba6 Black is comfortable here, too.]

12...Bxf4 13.gxf4

13...Ba6! [Black doesn't need to take back the pawn immediately. b8–xb6, or c6–c5 could be ideas depending on White's response.]

[although 13...Nxb6 14.Ne5 Ba6! still works]

14.Ne5?! [I was glad to see this move, since it weakens his pawn structure and also his king's position.]

[14.Rfc1 was what I expected 14...c5 15.Na4 c4 16.Qa3 Nxb6 (16...Bb5 17.b7 Rb8 18.Nc5) 17.Nc5 Bb5 18.Ne5 Nfd7=]

14...Nxe5 15.fxe5 Nd7 16.Rfc1 [16.Rfe1 c5!]

16...f6?! [I couldn't resist making this move.]

[objectively 16...c5 would have been the best, continuing the play on the queenside. 17.dxc5 Nxc5 18.Qa3 Nd7! 19.Qxa5 Nxe5 with an imbalanced position which is favorable for Black.]

17.e4? [it is tempting to break the center, however it doesn't quite work out for White.]

[17.Na4! was the critical test 17...Bb5 Black needs to protect the c6 pawn, as it holds the position together. 18.Nc5 (18.e4!? I wasn't considering this move here, however it is quite relevant 18...fxe5 19.exd5 exd5 (19...Bxa4 20.Qxa4 cxd5 21.Rc7 Nxb6 22.Qc6 Nc4 23.b3 (23.Qxe6+ Kh8 24.Rxc4 dxc4 25.Bxa8 Qxa8 26.Qxe5=) 23...Nd6 24.dxe5 Nf7 25.f4 Qb8 26.Rc1 Nd8 27.Qc5 Rxf4 with a reassuring evaluation of 0.00 ...) 20.Bxd5+ cxd5 21.Qxb5 is a mess. For example: 21...Qg5+ 22.Kh1 Nf6 23.Rg1 Qf4 24.Raf1 Qxd4 25.f3 Rac8 26.b7 Rc2 27.Rg2 Rxg2 28.Kxg2 Ng4 29.Kh1 Nf2+ 30.Kg2 Ng4 with an interesting repetition) 18...Nxc5 19.dxc5 fxe5 20.a4 Ba6 White has a protected passed pawn on b6(!) which would be painful in an endgame. Black controls the center however and has hopes building up an attack against the White king. I couldn't evaluate this position during the game, but decided to go for it anyway, since it leads to interesting play with lots of chances playing for a win.; 17.Nd1!? Rc8; 17.exf6 Qxf6 18.Nd1 Bb7 19.Qg3 Rf7]

17...Nxb6! [It took a long while to find this move. Though it is logical to support the important d5 square.]

[17...fxe5 is playable, but clearly worse than the game continuation 18.exd5 cxd5 19.Nxd5 a4! (19...exd5? loses 20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Qxa8 Qxa8 22.Bxa8 Rxa8 23.b7 Bxb7 24.Rc7 Bc8 25.Rac1 Nb6 26.R7c6+–; 19...Rb8!?) 20.b7 Rb8 21.Qh3 Bxb7 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.dxe5 Re8 24.Qd6 Nxe5 25.Qxd8 Rexd8 Black should hold here]

18.Re1 [18.exd5 cxd5 19.exf6 (19.Re1 Nc4) 19...Rxf6; 18.Nd1 Rc8]

18...Bc4 19.Qc2 [19.Qd1 fxe5 20.b3 Ba6 21.exd5 exd5 22.Rxe5 Ra7 with a clear initiative]

19...fxe5 20.exd5 Nxd5! [

This is a curious position, but unfortunately for White, nothing really works for him.]

[20...exd4? 21.dxe6!]

21.b3 [21.Ne4 Bb5 (21...Nb6 22.dxe5 Bd5) 22.a4 Ba6 23.Qxc6 Nf4 24.dxe5 Ra7; 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.Bxd5 exd5 23.dxe5 Qg5+ 24.Kh1 Qf4; 21.Nd1 Bb5! (21...Nb6 22.Ne3 Bd5 23.Nxd5 Nxd5 24.Qxc6) 22.a4 Nb4 23.Qb3 Bd3 24.Qxe6+ Kh8–+; 21.dxe5 Nf4–+]

21...exd4! [21...Nxc3 22.Qxc3 Bd5 23.Bxd5 cxd5 24.Rxe5 Qh4 25.Rf1 Rf6 26.Re3 White might holds this]

22.bxc4 Nxc3 23.Rxe6 Qg5 [23...Qd7!?]

24.Rae1 Rad8 25.R6e5 Qf4 26.c5 [26.Rxa5 Rfe8!–+ with a crushing attack]

26...Kh8 [going out of the a2–g8 diagonal, just in case]

27.Bxc6? [the last mistake of the game, blundering a small combination]

[27.a3 h6–+]

27...d3! 28.Qxc3 Qxf2+ 29.Kh1 d2 30.Rd1 Qf1+! [the move my opponent missed. It is game over now]

31.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 32.Kg2 d1Q 33.Qe3 Rff8 34.Bf3 Qd2+ 35.Kg3 Qxa2 36.c6 Qf7 37.Qe4 Rd4! [Anything is winning of course, but it is always a pleasure to put a piece en prise like that.]

38.Qe3 Qg6+ 39.Rg5 Qd6+ 40.Kg2 Rd2+ 41.Kh3 Rd3 0–1

[With this win I took the sole lead of the tournament for the first time. After some more adventures I took gold, while my opponent finished second after beating our closest rivals, GM Neuman Petr from the Czech Republic and the talented Greek Youth Champion Alexakis Dimitris who I am sure we will hear about more in the future.