Sacrifice in the Sicilian

The following game illustrates both bad and good sacrifices in the Sicilian. NM Scott Massey, playing White, sacrifices his Bishop for two pawns with 10.Bxb5 axb5 11.Ndxb5, but it is clear that Black can refute the idea with best play. Finding best play for Black in such positions is quite a challenge, however, and Massey does his best to create problems for his opponent, until he finally gains more than enough compensation for the piece. Desperate to quell the attack, Black reduces the position to an ending with equal material, but Massey demonstrates that it is a win for White due to his better pieces and pawns. This was the top board game from our recent match with the West Orange Chess Club. The notes are based on analysis by Massey and FM Steve Stoyko, with a little bit of Fritz thrown in to complete the lines. --Michael Goeller

Scott Massey - Peter Radomskyj [B66]

Kenilworth CC at West Orange CC Team Match/West Orange, NJ USA 2006

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. Be2!?

A non-commital move that shows White's indecision as to how to play the f-pawn: the safe center-supporting 9. f3 or the aggressive 9. f4 . But Be2 does appear to commit White to f4 at some point...


9... b5 10. Bxb5?!

A thematic but quite risky sacrifice that does not seem fully logical following Be2. However, White gets some pawns and lots of play for the piece and challenges Black to a difficult defensive task.


10... axb5 11. Ndxb5 Ne5?

Scott pointed out the likely refutation of the sacrifice in the post-mortem: 11... Nb4! 12. Bxf6 (12. a3 Na2+!! 13. Nxa2 Bxb5) 12... gxf6 13. Nxd6+ Bxd6 14. Qxd6 Nxa2+ 15. Nxa2 Rxa2 16. Kb1 Ra7 and White's compensation is insufficient.


12. Nxd6+ Bxd6 13. Qxd6 Nc4



14. Qd4?

Scott had planned to play the much more incisive 14. Qb4! Qc7 15. Rxd7!! Kxd7 16. Rd1+ Kc8 but he could not find 17. Rd4! (the immediate 17. Nb5 Rxa2! did not look so good, and was the reason Scott rejected this line, though White is probably fine after 18. c3 Rxb2 19. Na7+! Qxa7 20. Qxc4+ Qc7 21. Qxc7+ Kxc7 22. Kxb2 Nxe4 23. Bf4+) 17... Na5 (17... Ne5 18. Nb5 Nc6 19. Nxc7 Nxb4 20. Nxa8 Nc6 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Rd6 Kb7 23. Rd7+ Kxa8 24. Rxf7) 18. Nb5 Qb6 19. Bf4 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Qxd8 21. Qc5+ Kd7 22. Nc7 and White will emerge with at least an ending where he has three passed pawns for a piece, with Black's remaining Knights not well-suited to defense in these positions. The Queen at b4 would powerfully stop Black from castling while allowing the Rook and Knight a more active role in the attack.


14... Qc7 15. b3

15. e5 Nd5 (15... Nxe5? 16. Bf4) 16. Nxd5 exd5 17. e6 Bxe6 18. Qxg7 Rxa2!! 19. Qxh8+ Kd7 20. b3 Na3 21. Rd2 Rxc2+ 22. Kd1 Rc1+ 23. Ke2 Rxh1


15... Na3?!

Black's last best winning chance was 15... Qa5!! 16. Kb1 (16. Bxf6?? Qa3+ 17. Kb1 Qb2#) (16. Qxc4 Qxg5+) 16... Na3+ 17. Kb2 Qxg5 18. e5 Nd5 (18... Nxc2!? 19. Kxc2 Nd5 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Qxd5 Rxa2+ 22. Kb1 Ra7) 19. Nxd5 exd5 20. Qxd5 O-O! 21. Qxd7 Qxe5+ 22. Qd4 Qf5 and Black is in control.


16. Qb4 Rc8?!

Planning the liquidation that follows, but this turns out not to be such a good thing for Black. Perhaps 16... Qa5 17. Qxa5 Rxa5 18. Be3 Nb5 19. Nxb5 Bxb5 20. a4 Bc6 21. Bb6 Ra8 22. f3 Nd7 23. Rd6!? unclear.


17. Kb2 Nxc2!? 18. Kxc2 Qxc3+

18... Nxe4?? 19. Qe7#


19. Qxc3 Rxc3+ 20. Kxc3 Nxe4+ 21. Kd4 Nxf2

Going into the line, Peter might have misevaluated 21... Nxg5 22. h4! e5+ 23. Kxe5 Ne6 24. Kd6 and White's connected passed pawns will have an easy time making progress supported by White's powerful King.


22. Rhf1 Nxd1 23. Rxd1 f6 24. Be3 Ke7 25. Kc4 Rc8+ 26. Bc5+! Ke8

Though material is equal, White's pieces and pawns are vastly superior to their counterparts. White now plays the ending very incisively, using the attacking potential of the opposite-colored Bishops to his advantage and creating threats on both wings to take home the full point.


27. Rd6!?

27. a4! gets those doggies rolling.


27... e5 28. g3 Bh3 29. a4 e4 30. b4 Ra8 31. a5 Bf1+ 32. Kd4 Bd3

Not 32... Rd8 33. Kxe4 Rxd6 34. Bxd6 Kd7 35. Kd5


33. Re6+ Kf7 34. Re7+ Kg6 35. Bd6 Rc8 36. Bc7 f5 37. Be5 Rc4+ 38. Ke3 Rxb4 39. Rxg7+ Kh6 40. Rg8 Kh5 41. Bf4 h6 42. Rh8 Kg6 43. Rxh6+ Kg7 44. Rc6 Ra4 45. Bc7 Ra2 46. h4 Re2+ 47. Kd4

Keeping an eye on the Bishop and inhibiting Black from advancing his pawns right away.

47. Kf4 Rf2+ 48. Kg5 e3 is less clear.


47... Rd2 48. Be5+ Kg8 49. Rc8+ Kf7 50. Rc7+ Kf8

50... Ke6 51. Bf4


51. Bf4 Rd1 52. Ke5 Ra1 53. Kf6 Kg8 54. Rg7+! Kh8 55. Ra7

and Black resigned since White now has a mating attack developing.


Game in PGN