This game shows two top players deciding to fight it out on a slippery precipice where the loser falls on sharpened bamboo stakes. Quite gruesome. This game shows how the Najdorf has little margin for error.Elliott wastes little time in punishing the errors of Matthews.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 The first critical juncture of the game. The battlefield has been chosen and the players are signalling their willingness to dive into the swirling vortex of variations and uncharted territory of the Najdorf.
6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 An invitation to the Poisoned Pawn variation which Shane politely declines ( 7...Qb6 would lead into the Poisoned Pawn variation.)
7... Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O White deploys his forces as rapidly as possible and black organizes a defence against central advances such as e4-e5.
9... Nbd7 10. g4 White wishes to initiate a pawn storm and chase the knight on f6 with an eventual g4-g5 and also clear the way for the Queen to the h5 square.
10... b5 Many chess players prefer more peaceful positions. The position requires strong nerves and the coolness of an accountant in checking over lines. Much energy is required over the next set of moves.
11. Bxf6 Nxf6 12. a3 White spends a tempo trying to slow black's counter punch.
12... Rb8 12... Nd7 13. f5 Ne5 14. Qg3 Rb8 15. Na2 Bd7 was unclear in Mochalov vs. Maeder corr. 1977
13. f5 O-O?! Shane does not play the most energetic continuation. His move dates back to the game Pares vs. Quinteros , Torrelimos 1975 ! This can be found in Informant 19/478. Interestingly , Grantel was to follow this game more closely a little later against Elliott. More energetic is 13...b4.
14. g5 Nd7 15. Rg1 This rook can be deployed later on h3 via g3.
15... Ne5 16. Qh5 Shane is in a critical position where accuracy is at a premium. Elliott's evil plan is easy to spot, f5-f6 or Rg3-h3. Shane has not begun his counter attack. Shane finds a lateral defensive idea which allows Elliott to set up an interesting Queen sacrifice.
16... Qc5 It is hard to find better moves. 16...b4 and 16...f6 come to mind.
17. f6 Bxf6 18. gxf6 Nd3+ The point of 16...Qc5. Warren has seen a little further.
19. Rxd3 Qxh5 20. Rxg7+ Kh8 21. Rh3 Qg6 22. Rxg6 fxg6 at this point the Fritz 6 program evaluates the position as in favour of Elliott.
23. Rf3 Kg8 24. Bh3 Kf7 25. e5 d5 26. Nxd5 Elliott is always to the point.
26... exd5 27. e6+ Bxe6 28. Bxe6+ Ke8 29. Nc6 Shane fell on the bamboo stakes by the thirteenth move . Interestingly Grantel improved with 14...Ne8. More of that later.
[ John Tobisch]