Shutting the Back Door

B. Villavieja (2337) – R. Vrana (2201), Paul Keres Memorial, 2012

In this position, both kings find themselves under fire from their adversary’s heavy pieces. Black’s last move, 1. … Nf4, was a mistake, allowing white a thematic blow.

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Make use of the unguarded back rank.

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White played 2. Nc5! Threatening mate on the back rank. 2. … Rxc5. Black has no other move; after 2. … Kd8, White plays 3. Qh8+ Kc7 4. Rxe7+, when the king hunt will land White the full point. 3. bxc5 Qxc5 4. Qh8+ Kd7 5. Kb1! Securing the king’s position and not allowing any counterplay on the a file. In the game, white played 5. Rd2, which allowed Black the unpleasant 5. … after which the activity of Black’s queen gives Black chances of saving the game. In fact, after further inaccuracies from White, it was Black that managed to score.