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Najjar,Ahmad (2337) – Nataf,Igor Alexandre (2565)

In today’s article, I am going to present to you, dear reader, a game played in the first round of Calvia Olympiad 2004 in the match between France and Lebanon.

The Lebanese Fide Master Ahmad Najjar is conducting the white pieces against the famous Grand Master Igor Nataf, widely known for his tactical and attacking skills. Of course the French player was expecting an easy win. But…

1.d4 Nf6

2.Nf3 c5

3.e3 g6

4.Be2

 

Ahmad is very known that he treats each game (à la Najjar), I mean he has his own way, regardless of the theoretical evaluation of the position before his eyes. He feels the position, relying on the activity of his own pieces, and of passivity his opponent’s.

  4…Bg7

5.0–0 b6

 6.b3 Bb7

7.Bb2 0–0

 8.c4

 

The game reaches now a position that can arise from the symmetrical variation of the English opening. Was it planned? I don’t think so. At least this type of treatment of the opening has the advantage of putting the player (or both of them) out of their opening book. And it was played in the first round of the highest chess team event ever!  

 

8…cxd4

 9.Nxd4 d5?!

 

Black wants to eliminate or at least to reduce any pressure from his opponent on the central squares. But this pawn could be more useful on d6, increasing control on the central e5 square. It was better to develop immediately with 9…Nc6 and play patiently, instead of trying to punish White for his modest (!?) approach of the opening.

 10.Nd2 Nbd7

 11.Rc1 Rc8

 12.cxd5

After a calm development, Ahmad wants to clear the situation. But it was better to play 12.b4 or 12. a4 preparing the secure the c4 square for the d2-knight.

12…Nxd5

13.Nc4 a6

 

 Keep an eye on this little move.

14.Qd2 Nc5

 

Do you like the position of the knights? For sure it deserves a diagram.

 

15.Rfd1 e5

 

 Igor didn’t like that his opponent shares with him the center. He is trying to gain some space by pushing away one of the centralized white knights.

16.Nf3 e4

17.Bxg7 Kxg7

18.Ne1?!

 

 Why not return home to d4? then a possible plan could be: 19.b4 pushing away the black knight to the edgy a4, keeping a slight advantage. After White’s move, Black takes over the initiative.

18…Qf6!

 19.Qd4 Rfd8?

 

How could a tactical mind be pushed into a mistaken evaluation of the position? Was it too complicated to evaluate that after 19…Qxd4! 20. Rxd4 Ne6 followed by centralizing the king, will keep the advantage in the Black’s hands? Or how possibly to miss White 21st  move? Nobody is perfect.

20.Qxf6+ Kxf6

 

21.Nxb6!!

 

You see. You have to be careful when pushing pawns. As a consequence of Black’s 13th move, the b6 square is not protected anymore. As Nimzowitsch said: A combination can happen in good position and in bad one!  

 

21…Nxb6

22.Rxd8 Rxd8

 23.Rxc5 Rd2

24.Rc2 Rd7

25.h4 Nd5

26.Rd2 Ke7

27.Bc4

 

Give Ahmad an extra pawn, and he will stuck to it,  more than what Korchnoi will.

 

27…a5

28.Nc2 f5

29.a3 h6

30.b4 axb4

31.Nxb4 Nc3

32.Rxd7+ Kxd7

 33.Kf1

 

 First step: Exchange the rooks to kill any activity the opponent can dream of. Done. Second step: activate the king. Under-going. Third step: promote the pawn. Sit and watch.

33…Kd6

34.Ke1 g5

35.hxg5 hxg5

36.Nc2 f4

37.Kd2 Nb1+

38.Kc1 Nc3

39.Nd4 Kc5

40.Bb3 f3

 41.gxf3 exf3

 42.Ne6+ Kd6

43.Nxg5

 

 2 extra pawns !? and on Ahmad Najjar ‘ side !? Who is playing against him ?

43…Ne2+

44.Kd2 Ke5

45.Bd1 Ng1

46.Ke1 Kf6

47.Kf1 Ne2

48.Nxf3

 

3 pawns ?! are you sure that his opponent is still continue playing?

 

48…Nc3

49.Be2 Nb1

50.a4 Nc3

51.a5

 

1-0

 

A nice and deserved win by Ahmad.

With all respects, if you hide the name of Ahmad’s opponent, no one will guess that Ahmad was facing the player who beat the famous John Nunn in 1999. (See the game below). I don’t know if Ahmad knows that game, otherwise could he play in the same coolness as he did against Igor? Only Ahmad knows the answer.

Date :1999, White Nunn (2600), John, Black Nataf, Igor Alexandre (2480)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e5 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Be7 7. N1c3 a6 8. Na3f5 9. Bd3 f4 10. g3 Nf6 11. gxf4 exf4 12. Bxf4 O-O 13. Bg3 Ng4 14. Be2 Nxf2 !!! 15.Qd5+ Kh8 16. Bxf2 Nb4 17. Qh5 Rxf2 18. Kxf2 Bh4+ 19. Kg2 g6 20. Qf3 Qg5+ 21.Kf1 Bh3+ 22. Qxh3 Rf8+ 23. Bf3 Qe3 24. Qxh4 Nd3 25. Nd5 Qxf3+ 26. Kg1 Nf2 27.Kf1 Qxh1+ 28. Ke2 Qxa1 0–1

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