Julian Way takes us through two great Planinc games

Tuesday 16 February, 2021

This evening, FM Julian Way very kindly hosted an online seminar for us on Zoom, where he presented a couple of games by the Slovenian player Albin Planinc.

The session was well attended, and gave us an opportunity to socialise which is sadly all too rare under lockdown!

Several of us had heard of Planinc before, though few were aware of the quality of his games, which Julian opened the session by jokingly describing as “like Tal on acid”!

Below are the two games that Julian took us through. He made the session very interactive, encouraging ideas from the audience, and I’ve included some of the lines we looked at together.

We’d like to thank Julian very much indeed for a tremendously fun session - hopefully the below provides a flavour for those who weren’t able to make it!

[Event "Rovinj/Zagreb"] [Site "Zagreb"] [Date "1975.05.14"] [Round "11"] [White "Minic, Dragoljub"] [Black "Planinc, Albin"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Medworth,Andrew"] [ECO "C78"] [EventCategory "11"] [EventCountry "CRO"] [EventDate "1975.05.01"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventType "tourn"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] [SourceQuality "1"] [SourceTitle "MCD"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "1999.07.01"] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 { This Arkhangelsk variation of the Spanish is back in vogue again at the top level, so it was interesting to see how they handled it in decades gone by. } 7.d4 { This isn't a very common move though. } ( 7.d3 Be7 8.Nc3 O-O { was the continuation of Nepomniachtchi - Carlsen, in the Opera Euro Rapid Prelim just last week! } ) 7...Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.e5 Ne4 10.c3 d3 { An interesting way to interfere with White's development. } 11.Qf3 Qe7 12.Nd2 { Now comes the first big "wow" moment of the game! } 12...O-O-O $5 ( 12...Nc5 { was the boring way to play it } 13.Bd5 Bxd5 14.Qxd5 c6 15.Qd4 d6 $11 ) 13.Nxe4 Qxe5 14.Re1 f5 15.Qg3 { Black has obviously obtained a significant initiative for the piece, but at first sight, this move looks strong. } 15...Qe8 { The only move, but Black is about to have to give his queen. } ( 15...Qe7 $2 16.Bg5 $18 ) ( 15...d6 $2 16.Bf4 $18 ) 16.Nd6+ Bxd6 17.Rxe8 Rhxe8 $1 { A very important detail. } ( 17...Rdxe8 $2 18.Bf4 d2 19.Rf1 Re1 20.Qxg7 $18 { is a vital contrast to the game - here White wins a tempo against the Rh8. } ) 18.Bf4 ( 18.f4 { was another defensive try that we didn't have time to delve into, though Stockfish does think it should bring White some advantage. } ) 18...d2 $1 { This powerful response ensures Black is OK here. } 19.Rf1 ( 19.Kf1 { is also possible, and wasn't discussed in much depth during the session. } 19...Re4 $1 20.Bxd6 Rde8 $1 { is again the critical idea. } ) 19...Re1 20.Bxd6 ( 20.Qh4 Re4 21.g3 Bxf4 22.gxf4 { is the preferred defensive try of Stockfish } ) 20...Rde8 $1 { An amazing concept, just completely ignoring d6. } 21.f3 { Now for another eye-opening moment: } ( 21.Qd3 { was another move we spent some time analysing } 21...Rxf1+ 22.Qxf1 cxd6 { and Black will win material back with ...Re1. } ) 21...Bd5 $3 { A nice deflection, trying to undermine White's control of d1. ...Bc4 is also a killer threat. } ( 21...Rxf1+ $2 22.Kxf1 Re1+ $2 { doesn't work due to } 23.Kf2 $1 $18 ( 23.Qxe1 $2 { is not so strong } 23...dxe1=Q+ 24.Kxe1 cxd6 $11 ) ) 22.Qf4 $2 { Attacking the d-pawn was White's only chance, but this wasn't the way to do it. } ( 22.Bc2 Bc4 $19 ) ( 22.Bf4 Bc4 23.h4 Rxf1+ 24.Kh2 Bxb3 25.Bxd2 Bxa2 $17 { was White's only real hope of survival, but Black is still better here. } ) 22...Bc4 ( 22...Rxf1+ 23.Kxf1 Bc4+ $19 { was also very strong here. } ) 23.h4 ( 23.Bxc4 d1=Q $19 ) 23...Rxf1+ ( 23...Bxf1 { was stronger here } 24.Qxd2 R8e2 $19 ) 24.Kh2 Re2 25.Bxc7 Rff2 { This was White's last real chance to defend. } 26.Qd6 $2 ( 26.Bb8 $2 Rxg2+ 27.Kh3 Rh2+ 28.Qxh2 ( 28.Kg3 Reg2# ) 28...Rxh2+ 29.Bxh2 Bxb3 $19 ) ( 26.Bd1 $1 Rxg2+ 27.Kh1 $1 ( 27.Kh3 $2 Be6 $1 { is a nice variation - the threat is ...Rh2+ followed by ...f4+ } 28.Bxe2 Rxe2 29.Bb6 { White appears to have a deadly mate threat, but... } 29...d6 $3 { and White collapses at once, since } 30.Qxd6 f4+ $19 { and White must give his queen. } ) 27...Bd5 ( 27...Ref2 $2 28.Bb6 Rh2+ 29.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 30.Kxh2 $18 ) 28.Bb8 Rh2+ 29.Qxh2 Bxf3+ 30.Kg1 Rxh2 31.Kxh2 Bxd1 32.Bf4 $17 { This was clearly the way to play. Black is a couple of pawns up but the opposite-coloured bishops give some drawing chances. } ) 26...Rxg2+ 27.Kh3 Rh2+ 28.Kg3 ( 28.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 29.Bxh2 Bxb3 $19 ) 28...Reg2+ 29.Kf4 Rxh4+ 30.Kxf5 Rh6 { Here White resigned, as the White queen will be lost shortly. Qd4 runs into ...Rh5+ followed eventually by ...Rh4+ with a skewer (possibly with ...Re2+ in between). An extraordinary game! } ( 30...Bxb3 31.axb3 Rh6 $19 { also does the job } ) 0-1
[Event "Varna-09"] [Site "Varna"] [Date "1970.06.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Planinc, Albin"] [Black "Gerenski, Hristo"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator "Medworth,Andrew"] [ECO "B90"] [EventCountry "BUL"] [EventDate "1970.06.02"] [EventRounds "15"] [EventType "tourn"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1998.11.16"] [SourceQuality "1"] [SourceTitle "EXT 1999"] [SourceVersion "1"] [SourceVersionDate "1998.11.16"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 { We often think of this as a very modern response to the Najdorf, so it's good to be reminded that it isn't really all that new! } 6...b5 7.Nd5 $5 { Already an eyebrow-raiser on move 7! This gambit is considered quite sound by modern engines. It was also played by Fischer, as Mike Bennett pointed out to me afterwards. } 7...e5 ( 7...Nxe4 8.Qf3 Nc5 9.b4 Na4 { happened in a couple of Internet blitz games in 2020 between Jeffery Xiong and Alexey Sarana. Both were won by Black. However, Stockfish is rather impressed with White's position here! } ) 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 9.Ne2 { A remarkable manoeuvre - the knight is headed for d5! } 9...Bb7 10.Nc3 Qg6 11.Be3 Nd7 ( 11...Bxe4 12.Nxe4 ( 12.f3 { is stronger according to Stockfish } ) 12...Qxe4 13.Be2 { was analysed quite a bit during the session, though nobody noticed } 13...Qc6 { when } ( 13...Qb4+ $2 14.c3 Qxb2 15.Bf3 e4 16.Bxe4 Qxc3+ 17.Ke2 Qc4+ 18.Qd3 $18 ) 14.Bf3 { is well met by } 14...e4 ) 12.h4 { A remarkable move, which again Stockfish approves of! } 12...f5 13.Be2 { Another dynamic move, threatening Bh5. } ( 13.exf5 { is slightly preferred by Stockfish, it must be said. } ) 13...Nf6 14.Bg5 fxe4 15.O-O { Continuing the attack. Stockfish doesn't approve, but who cares? } 15...Qf7 ( 15...h5 { is the machine's choice, when it says Black is better. } ) 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.a4 Qe6 $2 ( 17...b4 { was essential according to the machine, keeping the queenside closed. } 18.Nd5 Qf7 19.Bc4 Rc8 20.Ba2 Rc5 21.Ne3 d5 { Black's king is still awkwardly placed, but he is still well in the game. } ) 18.axb5 a5 { Trying to keep things closed, but it's too late now. } 19.Bg4 Qf7 20.f4 { Powerful stuff! } 20...d5 ( 20...exf4 21.Qd2 $1 f3 ( 21...e3 22.Qd4 $18 ) 22.Nxe4 $1 Bxe4 23.Rae1 d5 24.Qd4 $18 { Black's king is about to face the hurricane! } ) 21.fxe5 Bc5+ 22.Kh1 Qe7 23.Nxd5 { The centre collapses and the end is nigh. } 23...Qxe5 ( 23...Qxh4+ { was a better chance } 24.Bh3 Rd8 25.Rf4 Qxf4 26.Nxf4 Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 { At least Black has exchanged some pieces and avoided being mated, but White is still much better in this ending. } ) 24.Rf5 Qg3 25.Nc7+ { Not the only way to win, but very nice! } 25...Qxc7 26.Rxc5 $1 Qe7 ( 26...Qxc5 27.Qd7+ Kf8 28.Rf1+ { mates, similarly to the game } ) 27.Re5 $1 Qxe5 28.Qd7+ { And Black resigned, as mate follows shortly. Amazing stuff! } 1-0