GM Alonso Zapata – IM Fidel Corrales

Mexican Open, Aguascalientes

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6

For some players, Sveshnikov Sicilian is like Crazy Frog, the most annoying opening on the world.

7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 O-O 12. Nc2 Bg5

This is a very common setup in the Sveshnikov. The most popular continuation is 13. a4 but 13. h4 has been played as well. The idea is to sidekick the dark-squared Bishop to h6 and prevent possible Bd8-b6 in some lines. The drawback is that White’s pawn structure on the kingside is weakened.

13. h4 Bh6 14. g3 Ne7 15. Ncb4

Usually, the Knight from c2 goes to e3, where it works against f5 as well. But after deciding to go for the dark-squared Bishop exclusion, White doesn’t want to allow the exchange with Ne3 Bxe3, keeping the “weak” Bh6 on the board.

15… Be6 16. a4 bxa4!

The only game with 16.a4 in the database is the one of Zapata’s own. 16.a4 Nxd5 17.Nxd5 bxa4 18. Rxa4 a5 19.Bc4 Rb8 20.b3 Kh8 21.Qe2 g6 with a transposition to other lines was seen in Alonso Zapata – Nelson Gamboa, 1999. Corrales is choosing a better move order. The regular 17.Rxa4 a5 18.Nxe7 Qxe7 19.Nd5 Qb7! wins a tempo compared to Gamboa’s play. Since b2 is hanging, there is no time for Bc4, and after 20. b3 f5! Black is grabbing the initiative, as Bc4 is not possible anymore.

17. Bxa6 Nxd5

Perhaps 17…f5 was better because the game keeps its complexity. The idea behind 17…Nd5 is clear, Black is using the fact that Nb4 is tied to protect ba6 and White has
to recapture on d5 with the pawn. Next, Black is playing fast f5-f4, breaking White’s pawn chain on the kingside.

18. exd5 Bd7 19. Bb7 Ra7 20. Bc6 f5

According to the plan. Corrales doesn’t care about the a4 pawn because all the action will happen on the other side of the board.

21. Rxa4 Rxa4 22. Bxa4 Bc8!

A wonderful move! When f4 was to be expected, Black takes his time to save the light-squared Bishop for future usage on the entire complex of weak squares.

23. Bc2

23.Nc6 with possible c4 was more in the spirit of the position. White has to try with counterplay through the center and on the queenside.

23… g6

But not 23… f4 24. g4 g6 25. Nc6 with g5-h5 and now White has strong attack!

24. Qe2

24.h5 was much better. Black has nothing better than 24…g5 and then a blockade over the light squares might have been possible.

24… f4 25. Be4

This was the last chance for Nc6 or g4. Now Black wins with nice Queen maneuver.

25… fxg3 26. fxg3 Qa5!

There is no defence, Black is threatening Qa1, Ba6 and Be3 (should White Queen move away).

27. Qc2 Qa7! 0-1

Funny, but Black won the game even without moving the “locked” Bh6. Zapata might not have proven his plan to be worthy, but there is room for improvement and we can expect further discussion in this line. 22…Bc8 turns out to be very smart move, as that Bishop provided the final threat of Ba6.

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