GM Vassily Yemelin - GM Sergey Dolmatov;

Russian Championships, 2003.

This is mostly a text page with just a few diagrams, I highly recommend you use a chess set.

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V. Yemelin (2550) - S. Dolmatov (2605) 
56th National Championships
Krasnoyarsk, RUS; (Rd. # 9), 12.09.2003


An absolute smoker. An extremely rare game ... 
from the last round of the Russian Championships. 

An incredible contest that is nearly a true modern miniature. 
(This is very rare at this level, especially considering the ratings of the players 
 involved, and the fact that BOTH players are GM's!!) 

This game is also already famous. It has been mentioned by dozens of chess news 
services and chess servers. (Like GM Khalifman's on-line chess news-letter, 
ChessBase, and the London Chess Center's, "Chess Express.") 

I have probably received somewhere between 35-to-50 emails, all asking basically 
the same question: "Where did White lose this game?" 

(The ratings are exact - those of FIDE.)

 ---> I have offered a (slightly shortened) version of this game to  FL CHESS  
        for possible publication. 


1.e4 e6{Diagram?}  
Dolmatov is one of the world's leading experts in the French.

2.d4 d53.e5!?{Diagram?}  
The Advance Variation, championed by A. Nimzovich. 
But this game won't do much to promote this line!

One of the biggest Hyper-Modern contributions to chess theory, and especially those 
of Nimzovich ... were the understanding of certain positions and the correct way to play 
them. (His insights into the structure of positions with long pawn chains, the ideas of 
prophylaxis and square control, and also the correct strategies in these types of 
positions - were really new and certainly revelations to the average player!)

     [ The move:  3.Nd2{Diagram?}  
        leads to the Tarrasch System against the French. ]  

In the Advance System, it is important to play the break ...c5; and then focus on d4. 
(The new base of the pawn chain.) Naturally Dolmatov does this without delay.
3...c54.c3 Nc65.Nf3 Qb6!?{Diagram?}  
This is probably the most aggressive move and also the most thematic. 

      [ Lately theory has smiled on  5...Bd7!?;  {Diagram?} 
         as the main try for the second player from this position. ]  

6.a3!?(Maybe - '!')  {Diagram?}  
Believe it or not, theory long has said this is the best line for White. 
(Many opening books give this move an exclam!) 

     [  I prefer the move  6.Be2!?{Diagram?}  
        developing a piece, over pushing a pawn.  

        [ See MCO-14; page # 200, column # 1, & notes # (a - f.). ]  ]  

First of all this is NOT a new move! 
{As one on-line  'newspaper'  has actually suggested!!}
(French Defense players have been using the idea of  ...Nh6-to-f5;  
 a lot in the last 5-10 years.) 

I checked the CB on-line database, and it found 628 games with this position!!
(I found it in one or two games earlier, but it was really the Russians who pioneered 
this move in the 1970's.) See the game:  Eduard Zelkind - Evgeny Mochalov; 
43 BLR Ch, Minsk, U.S.S.R1978

I like ...Nh6; and was even tempted to give it an exclam. 
(One of my books brands it as inferior.) 
But the move  6...c4!;  is best here according to the many books I have, 
especially one brand-new book on the French. 

     [  According to many books, Black should play (instead): 
        >/=  6...c4!{Diagram?}  
        I guess the main idea here is to close the center and try to expose 
        the weakness of White's b3-square. 
        7.Nbd2 Na58.Be2 Bd79.0-0 0-0-0!?{Diagram?}  
        This looks potentially risky.  


            ( Black could try something like:  9...Ne7!?10.Rb1 Nf5;   {Diagram?}  
              This looks like the best try for Black, g4 for White looks too loosening to me.  

                  (Or  10...h6!?;  11.Re1, "+/="  {Diagram?}        
                    with a very small advantage for White in this position.      

                    [ See the book, "Nunn's Chess Openings," (NCO); page # 262,    
                      and line/row # 3. ]     

                    There are 74 games in the (CB) on-line database with this position,      
                     but the authors do not give a game reference in this particular line.)      

              11.h3 Be7; "~{Diagram?}  with a very playable game.  

              Analysis line, (I could find no games with this position in the database). 
               - LM A.J. Goldsby I. )  


          (Returning to the main line {of analysis} here.)    
        10.Rb1 Qc7!11.Re1 Bc612.Nf1 h6{Diagram?}  
        The end of the column.  
        13.Ng3 Qd714.Nh5 Ba415.Qd2 g616.Nf6 Qc7; "="  {Diagram?}  
        MCO, (and GM Nick de Firmian); rates this position as being fairly 
        balanced, I think Black might even be a shade better. {A.J.G.}  

        "Unusual maneuvering by both sides is called for by both sides in this closed 
          position."  - GM Nick de Firmian (& W. Korn)  

        K. Dabrowska - Z. Peng(FIDE) Women's Interzonal Tournament
        Jakarta, Indonesia,  1993.  

        [ See MCO-14;  page # 200,  column # 2, and also note # (k.). ]  ]  


(Returning now to the actual game.)
7.b4!, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
Again book ... and also supposedly the best move for White. 
(The Pawn on b2 is no longer a target.) 

The other nice thing about this move is that Black is forced to clarify 
 the pawn structure. 

      [ Not  </=  7.Bxh6? Qxb2!; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
         and Black is already better. ]  

Black continues to target d4. 
7...cxd4!?;  8.cxd4,  {Diagram?}  
The most straight-forward, although the move Bxh6 now also comes 
under serious consideration. 

      [ Or  8.Bxh6!? gxh69.cxd4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
         and White is already a little better here. ]  

8...Nf5;  9.Bb2! Be7!?;  10.h4!?,  {Diagram?}  
I guess the idea here is to prevent Black from playing ...Nh4; but the whole concept 
looks a little bit dubious to me. (Where will White's King go? Will it spend the whole 
game in the center?)

The book move here is Bd3!, "+/="  ... trying to tempt Black into taking on d4. 
  (Bd3, 0-0;  0-0!,  etc.)   

     [  Better was:  10.Qd2!?;  or even  >/=  10.Bd3!, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
         with a slight edge for White.  ]  

Black's next move is positionally forced. 
(Without levers, White's big edge in space cannot be effectively challenged.) 
10...a5;  11.b5 a4!?;  ('!')    {See the diagram just below.}     
I like this ... Black is fighting for the initiative and trying to keep White 
a little off-balance. 


   The position just after Blacl plays ...a4. How should White continue? (yem-dol_pos1.jpg, 25 KB)


This is the position at hand ... 
White now takes radical steps to try and force Black back.

     [ After the moves: 11...Na712.Nc3, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        Black may soon wind up feeling very cramped as White tries  
        to run him out of space. ]  

12.g4!,  {Diagram?}  
The most aggressive, and if it was followed up properly, this should have led 
 to a  fairly large advantage for White. 

     [ I guess the move:  12.h5!?{Diagram?} 
        was possible for White.  

        Of course not:  12.bxc6? Qxb2; "/+" {Diagram?}  
        and Black is close to winning. ]  

12...Nh6;  {Diagram?}  
The only square that did not lose a piece. 

13.Rg1!?,  {Diagram?}   
This is OK - I guess. But Bc1! was much sharper and probably would have resulted 
in a position where the first player holds a fairly sizeable edge.  

     [ It seems it would have been much better for White to play: 
       >/= 13.Bc1! Na5!?; 14.Bxh6 gxh6!?; 15.Qxa4, "+/=" 
       (Maybe "+/")
  and White is a solid pawn up. 
       (Black's 'comp' looks to be a little weak in this position.) ]  

Black's next is nearly forced, if he goes passive now he will be 
pushed right off the board. 
13...Na5;  14.Nc3?!,  (Maybe - '?')  {Diagram?} 
This is both cowardly and bad, the simple capture on a4 looks to be 
at least a little better for White.  (White may have felt the capture of    
 the pawn was overly risky.)   

This is the turning point of the game, but I am not even sure if both players 
were completely aware of it. 

     [ It seems that after the moves: >/= 14.Qxa4 Bd715.Bc1 Ng8;  
        16.g5, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        White could have maintained a small advantage. ]  

Now the Black Knight invades on the b3-square with great effect. 
14...Nb3;  15.Ra2!?,  {Diagram?}  
This looks to be very un-natural. ('?!') I never figured out a refutation 
 for the simple "Rook-to-b1." 

The problem is that White faced a very difficult decision at this point. 
There are no easy answers, and the position will not resolve itself for many, many 
 more moves. In such a complex position, it is common for any class of player to 
 make an error in judgment. 

     [ Better was Rb1, but after:  >/=  15.Rb1 Qa5{Diagram?}  
        Black still has a solid edge. ]  

15...Qa5!;  {Diagram?}  
This alert pin saves Blacks QRP.  

16.Bd3 Bd7;  (evaluation-time)     {See the diagram just below.}    
White's position now looks to be over-extended, but now he really falls apart. 



   Black has just played his 17th move. It is now White to play and move ... what should the first player do here?  (yem-dol_pos2.jpg, 38 KB)



In such positions, an extremely tough mental outlook is needed. You must 
confess (to yourself) that your plan has turned out poorly and failed, and then be 
willing to  "batten down the hatches"  and ride out the storm. 
(A young Korchnoi was very good at this particular approach.) 

17.Nd2?,  (desperation)  {Diagram?} 
White wishes to evict the Knight at all costs, but the loss of the Pawn in the center 
of the board has very serious repercussions. (Was White trying to set a trap?) 

The move 17.Kf1, avoided any immediate disaster. 
(Even playing the move g5, was better than this turkey.) 

     [ Much better for White was the continuation: 
       >/=  17.Kf1 Rc8; 18.Qe1 0-0; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
       when White's game is still very disorganized, but at 
       least no forced win is immediately evident for Black.  ]  

17...Nxd4;  18.Nxd5 Bxb5!?;  {Diagram?} 
Flashy ... and completely UN-necessary! The simple capture of the Knight 
on d5 leads to a clear advantage for Black. (Maybe - '?!') 

     [ Much better was: >/=  18...exd5; 19.Bxd4 Bxb5; "/+"  {Diagram?}  
       when Black is clearly for choice. 
       (Black is a clear pawn up and White's pawn structure is full of holes - 
        his pieces do not work well together.) ]  

19.Bc3?,  (Horrible!)  {Diagram?}  
This is VERY plausible ... but it is also  VERY,  very, very wrong!!! 

     [ After the continuation: >/= 19.Nxe7[]19...Bxd3!20.Bxd4 Rd8;  
        21.Qa1 Kxe7; "+/="  {Diagram?}  Black is at least a little better. 
        (Maybe - '/+'   Black is a Pawn ahead, but the position is very 
         un-balanced.) ]  

Now White must have missed that his Knight that winds up on the e7 
square, will not be able to escape. (Thus there is no rush to capture it.) 
19...Qd8;  {Diagram?}  
Simple, practically forced, and also quite good for Dolmatov. 

     [ Not  </= 19...Qa7??20.Bxd4!, "+/-"  {Diagram?} 
        and it is White who will win. ]  

20.Nxe7 Bxd3!{Diagram?}  
A nice  "in-between"  move.  

     [ White must have only seen a continuation something like:  
       </=  20...Qxe7!?21.Ne4, "~{Diagram?}  and the first 
       player does not appear to be too badly off in this position. ]  

21.Bb4!?,  {Diagram?}  
White may as well try something tricky here - practically everything is 
completely losing for him. 

     [  No good for White was: </=  21.g5!? Nhf522.Nxf5 Nxf5;  
        23.Qg4!? Rc824.Qxa4+!? b525.Qb4 Qc7!; ("-/+")  {Diag?} 
        and White loses a piece. (or more)   
         (25...Qc7!; 26.Bb2? Qc1+!!; 27.Bxc1 Rxc1#)   ]  

Now comes a VERY surprising tactical sequence. 
(And a very rare two zwischenzugs in a row!) 

The really odd thing is I don't think any human even seriously considers the move, 
'Knight-to-the-g8-square,'  yet most boxes and programs spot this move fairly quickly. 
21...Ng8!!;  22.Nxg8!?,  {Diagram?}  
It is difficult to suggest any real or meaningful improvements for White at this point in 
the game.  (Did he expect ...Rxg8; when the move Rg3!, "+/="  gives him something 
to play for?) 

     [  After the plausible moves:  
        22.Nf3!? Be2!23.Qxd4 Bxf324.Rd2 Qxd4;  
        25.Rxd4 Nxe7; ("-/+")  {Diagram?}  
        White has reached a position where the Queens are off the 
        board ... and he is a whole piece down. ]  

22...Qd5!!;   {See the diagram just below.}     (Hits a2, f3, e5, etc.)    
(With simply too many threats! Qa1 or Nf1 now looks forced for White.) 



   Black has just played his brilliant and decisive 22nd move - there is no good defense for the first player. (yem-dol_pos3.jpg, 33 KB)



Now while White is probably lost, (no matter what move he plays); but nonetheless, 
his next move is an error. (If you are not going to resign, you have an obligation to 
play the move which offers the greatest amount of resistance.) 

23.Rg3? Qh1+!{Diagram?}  

White ...  RESIGNS!!  

(White will come out down a lot of material from this position. 
 Nf1 looks forced, when ..Qxf1+; followed by ...Qxf2+ wins a whole 
 box of pieces.) 

A brilliant expose of tactics by  GM Sergey Dolmatov.


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003, and 2004.  
Copyright (
) A.J. Goldsby, 2004. All rights reserved.  


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  Page (first) posted:  September, 2003.     Last up-date:  Saturday;  April 03rd, 2004.  

Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I;   
 Copyright ()  A.J. Goldsby,  2003 & 2004. 

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2005.  All rights reserved.