C99 Hoffer-Garcia, Ruy Lopez Chigorin

GM Gildardo Garcia

Michael Hoffer

Hoffer, Michael (2609) - Garcia, Gildardo (2455)

C99 Ruy Lopez, Chigorin – Internet 2006 [Notes by Hoffer]

Grandmaster Gildardo Garcia is a worthy opponent. At the time of this game, he was both the Colombian Champion and Florida State Champion. He has won the Colombian Championship 11 times since 1977. He tied for 1st place in the 1989 World Open. In the 90′s, he qualified for the World Championship eliminations.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Nb3!

White usually doesn't move his knight to the queenside in the Ruy, yet this is the best answer to 13…Nc6. It allows White to develop Be3 and encourages Black to rush his a-pawn, when the backward pawn at b5 may become a target.

14…a5 15.Be3 a4 16.Nbd2 Re8

The text move usually transposes to 16…Bd7 17 a3! Rfe8 as listed below in a) Shmuter-Moroz. I feel White has a comfortable game in all of these variations. His plan is clear and easy to play. Black attempts queenside counterplay while White intends to stymie it. The entire text game is played on the left side of the board, an anomaly in the Ruy! Black has many options here:  

a) 16…Bd7 17.a3! Rfe8 (17…Rfc8!?N 18.Bd3 Qb7 19.b4 Nxd4?! (Better is19…exd4 20.Nxd4 Ne5 +=) 20.Nxd4 exd4 21.Bxd4 Bc6 22.Qf3 Nd7 23.Qg3± Hoffer-Bashen, cr. 1992) 18.Bd3 Qb7 19.b4! axb3 20.Qxb3 exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Bc6 23.Qb2 += Shmuter-Moroz,A., USSR 1991;

b) Egyptian IM Mahen Himdan tried 16…a3!? 17.bxa3 Rxa3 18.Qc1! with three ways for Black to continue:

b1) 18…Rc3? 19.Nb1 Rc4 20.Na3 Ba6 21.Nxc4 bxc4 22.Rb1 Rb8 23.Qa3 Ra8 24.d5 Nb8 25.Rb4 Nbd7 26.Ra4 Qc8 27.Rc1 Ne8 28.Bd3 Nc7 29.Bxc4 Qb7 30.Bxa6 Nxa6 31.Qb3 Qxb3 32.axb3 1–0 Hoffer-Himdan, Internet 2009, Himdan resigned due to the threat of losing the Na6 with 33 Rc6;

b2) 18…Ra5 (Black's best line, yet White has room to improve as noted.) 19.Bb3 (19.Bd3!? Qb7 20.Qb2+=)19…Qb7 20.Qb2 (20.d5!?+=) 20…exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Be6 23.Bxe6 (23.Re3!? Rc8 24.a3+=) 23…fxe6 24.e5 (24.a4!? Qd7 25.axb5 Rxb5 26.Qc3+=) 24…Nd5 25.exd6 Bxd6 26.Rxe6 (26.Ne4!?+=) 26…Nf4 27.Re4 Ra3  [27...b4 28.Be3 Ne2+ 29.Kh1 Rh5 30.Qb3+ Rd5?  (30...Qd5 31.h4!?+=) 31.Nc4+- Bc7 32.Re7 Kh8 33.Re1 Rh5 Kritz-Sorin, Mallorca 2004, 1–0 (54) 34.Bd2!] 28.f3 Qf7 29.Nf1 (29.Nb3!?) 29…Qg6 30.Kh1 Nxh3 31.Rg4 Ng5 Stopa-Thinius, Olomouc 2005, ½–½ (46);

b3) 18…Qa5 19.Bb3 Bb7 20.Qb2 exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Qa8 23.e5± 1–0 Aronin-Lisitsin, USSR 1947;

c) 16…Qb7 17.Rc1 (17.a3 Bd7 18.Bd3 Rfe8 19.b4! transposes to line a.) 17…Bd8 18.Qe2 Re8 19.Bd3 Bd7 20.dxe5 (20.Bxb5!? exd4 21.Bxd4 Nxd4 22.Nxd4 Ba5 23.Bxd7 Qxd7 24.Nc6 looks viable for White.) 20…Nxe5 21.Nxe5 ½–½ Zagrebelny,S.-Agdestein,S., Arco 2005;

d) 16…Ba6 17.Rc1 (17.a3!?) 17…Qb7:

d1) 18.Nf1 Bd8 19.Bb1 Re8 20.Ng3 g6 21.Bg5 Na5 22.d5 Qd7 23.Bd3 Kg7 24.Qd2 Nc4 25.Bh6+ Kg8 26.Bxc4 bxc4 27.Nh4 Kh8 28.Bg5 Ng8 29.Bxd8 Qxd8 30.Nf3 Rb8 31.Rc3 ½–½ Luckis-Najdorf, Mar del Plata 1945;

d2) 18.a3 Bd8 19.b4 axb3 20.Nxb3 Bb6 21.Nh4 g6 22.Bb1 ½–½ Boleslavsky-Reshevsky, Zurich 1953/Candidates. Reshevsky offered the draw, yet Boleslavsky should have forced him to find the right move before shaking hands: 22…exd4 (22…Rfc8 23.dxe5 dxe5 24.Nc5 & White has an edge.) 23.Nxd4 Ne5=;

d3) 18.Bb1 Bd8 19.b4!± Keres;

e) 16…Nb4 17.Bb1 Bd7 18.a3 Nc6 19.Bd3 Na5 20.Qe2 Qb8 21.Rac1 Re8 22.Rc2 h6 (22…Bd8 23.dxe5 dxe5 24.Nb1! Nb3 25.Nc3 b4 26.axb4 Qxb4 27.Bc4! Rc8 28.Nd5± Gufeld-Koshashvili, Biel 1989) 23.Rd1 Bf8 24.Nb1 Nb3 25.Nc3 Ra5 26.dxe5 dxe5 27.Na2 Qb7 28.Nb4 Raa8 29.Nd2 Nxd2 30.Bxd2 += Gufeld-Vasiukov, USSR 1979.

The late GM Eduard Gufeld was an opening virtuoso, prolific author, and trainer of many Soviet champions. He was allowed extensive traveling privileges. I had the pleasure of meeting Eddie (also affectionately called 'Goofy') in Miami. He had a great sense of humor, a hearty appetite, and enjoyed the trappings of Western life. So many Soviet Grandmasters used to wear Reebok sneakers and Jordache jeans, I began to think they were "The official sponsors of the Soviet school of chess!"


Cementing the backward b5 pawn.

17…Bd7 18.Bd3 Qb8 N

This novelty is inferior because it disconnects Black's rooks. Better is 18…Qb7 19.b4! (Transposing to Shmuter-Moroz.) 19…axb3 (19…exd4!? 20.Nxd4 Ne5 21.Bc2 Rac8 22.f4 Ng6 23.Bd3 +=) 20.Qxb3 exd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxd4 Bc6 23.Qb2 += Shmuter-Moroz,A., USSR 1991.


Black is strategically busted.


Black's entire queenside is blockaded if he fails to exercise his option to capture en passant. 19…exd4 20.Nxd4 Ne5 21.Bc2 Rc8 22.f4 Ng6 23.Bd3 +=

20.Qxb3 Na5?!

This move ultimately loses the b-pawn, although Black's isolated pawn island weaknesses are difficult to defend anyway. Better is 20…Rc8 21.Rec1 Na5 22.Qd1 Rxc1 23.Qxc1 exd4 24.Nxd4 +=

21.Qb2 Bd8

Black has no way out. White simply hammers away at the b-pawn until it bleeds!

a) 21…Nc4 22.Nxc4 bxc4 23.Qxb8 Rexb8 24.Bxc4±;

b) 21…Nc6 22.d5 Na5 (22…Na7 23.Reb1±) 23.Rab1 Nc4 24.Bxc4 bxc4 25.Qa2 Qc8 26.Nxc4 Bxh3 27.gxh3 Qxh3 28.Nh2 Nxe4 29.Rb6 f5 30.Qe2±

22.dxe5 dxe5 23.Rab1 Qd6

23…Bc7 24.Bxb5 Bd6 25.a4±

24.Bxb5 Bxb5 25.Qxb5 Qxa3?!

This move loses, yet Black's position was already in ruins. For example, 25…Bc7 26.Rec1 Reb8: a) 26…Rab8 27.Qa4 Rxb1 28.Rxb1+-; b) 26…h6 27.Nc4 Qe6 (27…Nxc4 28.Qxc4 Ba5 29.Rb7+-) 28.Nxa5 Bxa5 29.Rc5 Nxe4 30.Rxe5 Qc8 31.Rc1 Qd8 32.Qc6 Nf6 33.Bd4+-; 27.Qxb8+! Bxb8 (27…Rxb8 28.Rxb8+ Bxb8 29.Rc8+ Qf8 30.Rxf8+ Kxf8 31.Bc5+ Ke8 32.Kf1+-) 28.Rc8+ Qf8 29.Rxf8+ Kxf8 30.Rb5 Nc6 31.Kf1+-


This flashy move was a little too obvious. Better is 26.Ra1 Qe7 27.Nc4 Nxe4 28.Rec1 Nxc4 29.Rxa8 Ncd6 30.Qxe5+- eliminating any hope for Black.

26…Qa2 27.Ra1 Qe6

Not 27…Qc2?? 28.Rec1+- trapping the queen.

28.Nc4 Nd7

28…Qa6? 29.Qxa6 Rxa6 30.Bb4 Nxc4 31.Rxa6+-

29.Nxa5 Rb8 30.Qc6  1–0

The prospect of forcing the wood off the board gained a resignation from the Colombian, rather than playing out the lost endgame with 30…Qxc6 31.Nxc6 Rc8 32.Nxd8 Nxc5 33.Nxf7 Kxf7 34.Rad1 Kf6 35.Rd5 +-

DECISIVE FACTORS: GM Garcia chose an opening variation which I feel is simply answered by White with the a3 & b4 plan, rendering Black's weak isolated pawns into targets. By leaving book with 18…Qb8, Black inaccurately disconnected his rooks. 20…Na5?! banished a knight to the edge of the board, never to return. 25…Qxa3 was sheer desperation. Even Grandmasters are not immune from violations of fundamental principles and can quickly find themselves in a lost position out of the opening.

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