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Khairallah,Faisal (2323) – Lupu,Mircea Sergiu (2450)

Khairallah,Faisal (2323) – Lupu,Mircea Sergiu (2450) [B42]


In today’s article, I am going to show to you, my dear reader, a nice game played by Fide Master Faisal Khairallah. Faisal is known for his positional and scientific approach to the chess game. The game was played in the Paris Championship, and his opponent is the French Grand Master Mircea Sergiu Lupu.

1.e4 e6

2.d4 c5

No d5 ?! Why? is it preparation? In avoiding the French defense, Lupu is risking entering the Franco-Benoni variation, and challenging Faisal to enter the Sicilian maze. The Franco-Benoni is well known as a variaion that gives White a space advantage, but with possibility of counter-chances for Black.   




 Faisal accepted the challenge, a great sign for his fighting mood.


4.Nxd4 a6


A Sicilian- Kan arises at the chess board, which can transpose to a lot of other main variations of the Sicilian defense



 One of the most aggressive approaches against the Kan.



Now Black invites White to enter the Taimanov(!) taking profit that the white bishop is obstructing the queen from defensing the d4-knight. The most common Kan move here is Qc7, keeping the flexibility of the structure.


The best. Usually Black accepts this exchange of knights in the Taimanov when his queen is already on c7, or his pawn is still on a7! To understand more deeply what is going on, I recommend to you, dear reader, to see 2 typical games on this theme: the first one, is the most famous win of Fischer over Petrosian in their 7th game of their 1971 match. The second one is Anand-Morovic, Sao Paolo 2004, though it is a rapid one, but it is full of excitement and strategic ideas.


7.0–0 d5

8.c4 Nf6



Usually cxd5 is played here, but Faisal likes to keep the tension in the center, not seeding a tiny space or relief to his opponent.


10.Re1 g6


 Interesting move, though weakening the king side pawn structure to a certain extend. Black is trying to attack white e5-pawn by fianchetto-ing his bishop. Better was to play 10. … Qc7, followed by Rb8, a5, and/or c5, generating some play on the queen side, keeping the king-side pawn chain more compact.

11.Nd2 Bg7

12.Nf3 0–0


This is much aggressive than the more positional Bf4, though it pushes the black queen to a more ambitious square.


14.b3 a5


 Atypical reaction on the queen side: Black wants to activate his light squares bishop on the f1–a6 diagonal, putting some pressure on c4. Possible a better plan was to play 14…Bb7, provoking White to prove  his dark-squares strategy: Be7, Bd6, Rc1, and penetrating on the c7 square. In that case, white will have to exchange on d5, releasing the central tension, and facilitating Black in generating some exchanges and counter-play on the queen side. Psychology? Possible. Nothing is new under the sun.


15.Be7 Re8

16.Bd6 Nc5


Though my deep engine gives it as equal, I prefer to take the White side. Why? Firstly, (equal) doesn’t mean equality!! As most of the experienced players know, most of the time a professional player choses to play a line or variation, not because it leads to equality, but because it suits its style, and in which he has more experience in it, i.e., knows the hidden nuances of the position. Secondly, White is better developed, not to mention that Black has left his dark squares bishop in a solo-job to defend his king. And thirdly, which is important in my view, Faisal didn’t release the tension in the center, that means that his opponent is always in a guess-mode, pressurizing on his nerves, and Black has to calculate in every variation any release of the tension in the center.



Fianchetto-ing the knight?! Possible. But do you like it? The Spanish players feel very happy when their opponents put their knights on b7 in the Chigorin variation, a sign of the coming victory.

 18.Ba3 Qd8?!


I am not making it a habit of criticizing every Black’s move, but developing is better of un-developing. 18…Bd7 or 18..Rd8 are much better alternatives.



Faisal is applying a central strategy, connecting the rooks and avoiding any exchange of the queens are the mottos behind Faisal’s queen move. Simple. Isn’t it?  



20.Rad1 d4


Finally Black couldn’t resist anymore. He releases the tension, hoping that his d4-passsed pawn may create some counter-play in the far-future. I hear Black’s knight and c8-bishop crying: Help! Help! Get us out of here!



Reculer pour mieux sautter! The knight jumps backward, giving the f-pawn his role to play, and emphasizing the weakness of the move by Black: The e4-square is a juicy pivot for White’s pieces. It is a sign of attack.


 22.f4 f5


 A nervous reaction, as it weakens the protection of the Black king. It was better to keep the pawn on f5, and seek salvation with some play on the queen side by 22..a4, followed by ..Bd7.   




Of course.



 Indeed, it is a very strong move. Did you notice that the rook on e8 is not protected? if yes, then good for you.


25.Bxf5 Nd6


Defending the rook and attacking the bishop.



Be my guest.


It is your turn: White to play and win.


27.Bxh7+ Kxh7

28.Nxd6 Qxd6



Also possible to play 29.Qh5 + Kg8 30 Bxc5 reminding Black that about another weakness : the c5 pawn, x-raying the rook on f8.




 the result of not developing the c8-bishop.



31.h3 Bg3


 Black resigned.



1. Studying the classical games is a must for every serious player.

2. Play the variations that  you know and like to play.

And finally,

3. Please, develop your pieces.

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