There is a special story connected with this game. Legendary grandmaster Ljubojevic was one of the greatest chess grandmasters in modern time. He was ranked among the top five to 10 in the world for a long time.
However, he has voiced his view with the organizers that they should not be inviting female participants (former Women’s World Champion Chiburdanidze and me) in such a prestigious event. He claimed that the tournament was too strong for women!
I have fought all kinds of discrimination such as gender, religious, and age, since I was 4 years old, and I would never back down to this kind of intimidation. Therefore, his comment gave me the extra motivation to beat him. And I did! Ironically, he lost against both women!
So the message that I would like to give to all the young boys and girls is they will likely face barriers, obstacles, and difficulties in life. Don’t use this as an excuse to fail. Use these challenges as a motivation to succeed and do better.
1.d4 In the mid to late 1980’s, I started most of my games with this move.
1…Nf6 The Queen’s Pawn openings (1.d4 d5) are considered more peaceful.
2.Nf3 One of the ideas of this move order is to avoid the Benko Gambit which I have used as Black against F. Portisch (see Game 1).
2…d6 This is a less often used setup than 2…e6 followed by 3…b6 to play the Queens Indian or 2…g6 to play the Gruenfeld or Kings Indian defense.
3.g3 At that time of my career, I had a special liking to fianchetto my Bishop(s). Naturally 3.c4 is also possible with more focus on play in the center.
3…Bg4 Black still has the option to transpose to the King’s Indian defense with 3…g6.
4.Bg2 Developing and preparing to castle.
4…Nbd7 With this move, Black prepares e7-e5. Another interesting plan is 4…Qc8 with the idea of trying to trade Bishops with Bg4-h3. If White answers with 5.h3, Black could play Bd7 and White would have some difficulties castling (without losing the h3 Pawn).
5.c4 Now that Black is about to approach the center with e7-e5, I have to prepare to deal with it.
5…e5 With this Pawn advance, Black prepares to develop the Bishop on e7.
6.Nc3 Developing move to control the central d5 and e4 squares.
6…c6 This is a typical move that makes sense in this position. It takes control of the d5 square and also reduces the potential power of White’s Bishop on g2.
7.0-0 In most of my games it is my first priority to me to put my King in safety.
7…Be7 Now after 7…e4 8.Ng5 d5, I planned to open the e file with 9.cxd5 cxd5 followed by10.f3 and White is better developed.
8.h3 After this move, Black cannot keep his pair of Bishops.
8…Bxf3 After 8….Bh5 White would continue with 9.Nh4 followed by g4 or Nf5 trading the Knight for one of the Bishops.
9.exf3 The normal recapture of course would be with the Bishop. I do not think that what I played is bad. However, if I have the same position today, I probably would choose the more conservative way.
9…exd4 There was no need to rush with this trade. I would prefer 9…0-0.
10.Qxd4 Now, White’s target is quite obvious: the weakened d6 Pawn on the half open d file.
10…Qb6 Black would like to trade Queens and then after 11.Qxb6 Nxb6 12.b3 play 12…d5 and get rid of the weakness.
11.Qd2! At first, this looks like a weird place for the Queen, being right in front of the Bishop. However, this is an exception from the rule. In this position, Black cannot take advantage of the temporary awkwardness of White’s position. My next move would be 12.b3 to develop the Bishop along the c1-a3 diagonal.
11…0-0 It is time for Black to castle. Castling on the Queenside would be far too risky because the Black c7 Pawn already moved to c6. White would start a Queenside attack after 11…0-0-0 with 12.Rb1 and then b2-b4.
12.b3 Preparing for the development of the Bishop.
12…Nc5 12…Ne5 would not make sense as after 13.f4, the Knight would need to leave.
13.Re1 Occupying the open file by attacking the Bishop.
13…Rfe8 Naturally, the Bishop did not have to move.
14.Bb2 Finally, both sides are fully developed and the strategic middlegame phase starts. After the immediate 14.Ba3 I did not like 14…Qa5 15.Bb2 and 15…d5!
14…a5 A good idea! The threat is a5-a4 to destroy White’s healthy Pawn structure on the Queenside.
15.Ba3 This now works better because the Black Pawn on a5 prevents the Queen from going there. The idea of the move is to meet 15…a4 with 16.b4.
Perhaps 15.Ne4 right away is even more accurate. For example, 15…Nfxe4 16.fxe4 a4 17.b4 and now 17…a3 loses because of the pin with 18.Bd4.
15…Bf8 Getting away from the cute threat of 16.Rxe7! Rxe7 17.Qxd6.
16.Ne4! This forces the trade of Knights which enables me to get rid of my doubled Pawns on the f file.
16…Nfxe4 If Black would trade with the other Knight then the d6 Pawn would be under pressure right away.
17.fxe4 No more doubled Pawns! That is certainly an achievement for White.
17…Rad8? This is the most obvious looking move but it leads to long term passivity. Black was better of sacrificing the d6 Pawn with 17…g6 18.Bb2 and now 18…Bg7 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Qxd6 Rad8 21.Qf4 Nd3. White can escape from the fork by playing 22.Qe3. However, Black has decent compensation after 22…Qd4. Black will get control of the d file and some important dark squares like d4, c5 and b4.
18.Bb2! The Bishop has fulfilled its mission on a3, time to get back to the long diagonal.
18…Qc7 Now 18….g6 is too late as 19.Qd4 would get Black in big trouble.
After 18…a4, 19.b4 is next.
19.Rad1 White is centralizing the Rook. The nice part about these types of positions is White has all the time in the world to slowly improving the position without needing to worry much about Black’s counter play.
19…Rd7 Getting ready to double the Rooks on either the e or d files!
20.Bc3 Provoking further weakening of the Queen side.
20…b6 In this position, I had to make perhaps the most difficult decision of the game. I had to find a plan to open up the position. To my biggest surprise, my world famous opponent offered a draw here. Normally, I would consider a draw against someone his caliber acceptable. However, I felt that my position was already too good to accept a draw. After some thought, I decided to continue the fight and go for the win.
This move protects the a5 Pawn but weakens the one on c6. As ugly and passive as it looks, it maybe better to play 20…Ra8.
21.Kh2 My plan was to prepare f2-f4 and eventually breaking through with e4-e5 at the perfect moment. That is why the reason why I wanted my King out of the g1-a7 diagonal.
21…Qc8 Black has no productive plan.
22.Re3 To double the Rooks on the e file and improving my position.
22…Rde7 Putting pressure on the e4 Pawn.
23.Rde1 Protecting the e4 Pawn. It would be a blunder to take the Pawn with 23.Qxd6 because Black can do a skewer with 23…Rd7.
23…Qc7 Protects the d6 Pawn.
24.f4 In the last few moves my goal was to slowly but surely improve the positions of my pieces. The first step of the plan has been accomplished.
24…f6 Black is trying to prevent the e4-e5 plan. By doing so, Black has considerably weakened the light squares on the Kingside. If Black would have played 24…g6 instead then the natural 25.Qd4 would be a mistake because after 25…f6 26.Qxf6 Bg7 27.Qh4 Bxc3 28.Rxc3 Nxe4 29.Rce3 d5 Black is OK! However, with 25.Qb2 and not letting the Black Bishop to get to g7, I could still keep the advantage.
25.Qf2 Relocating the Queen to f3 to keep one eye on the c6 Pawn as well as on the Kingside.
25…Re6 Black is just making waiting moves.
26.Qf3 Following up on the plan of the previous move.
26…Kh8 After 26…Qe7, 27.f5 would suffocate the Rook on e6. If Black plays 26…R6e7, White would have a choice between the immediate 27.e5 or to continue similarly to the actual game.
27.Kh1 To get out of the second rank while keeping it available for the Rooks as you will see why in the next few moves.
27…Kg8 Here, my opponent was already under time pressure. He made some “waiting moves” to get closer to the time control. But no matter what, Black is in a difficult position.
28.h4! A multipurpose move! It prepares the activation of the Bishop via h3-f5 as well as the h4-h5-h6 advance of the h pawn.
28…Kh8 When these are the best moves (moving the King back and forth between g8 and h8) one can safely say that it usually is a bad sign.
29.Bh3 Finally, the up to now modest light squared Bishop gets an important role.
29…R6e7 There is no other place for the Rook to go.
30.h5 This Pawn advance of h3-h4-h5 greatly improved White’s position.
30…Rf7 Continuing to wait since there is really nothing better.
31.Bf5 Threatening with the beautiful combination of 32.Bg6! hxg6 33.hxg6 and then checkmating on the h file with the Queen.
31…Rd8 By moving away from the h5-e8 diagonal, 31.Bg6 lost its threat as the Rook on f7 can simply move away without losing the Rook on e8.
32.Rd1 Perhaps not necessary but I just wanted to kill even the idea of a possible counter play by a breakthrough with d6-d5. I did not want to give Black any chances.
32…Be7 Black had to be careful which waiting move to make. For example 32…Re7 would leave to f6 Pawn weak and the 33.h6 gains strength.
33.Re2! The Rook is a lot more flexible on the second rank. It can have potential on the d, g or h files.
33…Rff8 Black had seven more moves to make to reach the time control (move 40) when he would have more time to think again. Therefore, he just tried to make a logical, obvious and safe move.
34.Rh2 At this point I was also short on time. Therefore, I made moves that may not be the most energetic or aggressive but would still allow me to maintain the advantage until I have more time to calculate deeper.
34…Rfe8 Clearing the f8 square for another piece.
35.Rhd2 I still was not comfortable with allowing d6-d5. Although looking at it some years later, perhaps 35.Qg4 was more accurate. Then if 35…d5 36.exd5 cxd5 37.cxd5 Ne4. The game would have ended in spectacular manner with 38.Qg6!! hxg6 39.hxg6+ Kg8 40.Be6+ Kf8 41.Rh8 checkmate.
35…Nd7 Bringing the Knight to f8 for defense.
36.Bb2 I was hoping that the g7 and f6 Pawns will be gone (from their current positions) and I can get some mating threats along the a1-h8 diagonal with Qc3.
36…Nf8 Now, at least the h7 and g6 squares are covered. But the problem comes on the dark squares.
37.h6! Finally! “Action time”!
37…g6 After 37…gxh6 38.Qh5 Black is in even more trouble.
38.Bh3 A temporary retreat.
38…Kg8 Getting out of the pin.
39.g4! It is crucial to open the a1-h8 diagonal. Therefore, I need to get rid of Black’s f6 Pawn.
39…Ne6 On most other moves, 40.g5 would be the answer anyway.
40.g5 With a discovered attack on the Knight.
40…Nc5 Trying to put pressure on the e4 Pawn.
41.gxf6 is much better than 41.Bxf6. The Bishop on b2 is the jewel of White’s position. It would be a waste to trade it off.
41…Bf8 A discovered attack on the e4 Pawn and on the h6 at the same time.
42.f7+! A very important sacrifice! I wanted to get rid of the Pawn on f6 to open up the deadly a1-h8 diagonal.
42…Kxf7 After 42….Qxf7 43.Qc3 and the White Queen is unstoppable on the a1-h8 diagonal.
43.f5 Now all the files and diagonals opened up to expose the weakness of the Black King. There is no hope left for Black.
43…Kg8 The King is trying to run to safety.
44.fxg6 to further opening up the position. It is better than 44.Qc3 Re5.
44…hxg6 After 44…Bxh6, White would play 45.Rg2.
45.Qf6 White is threatening 46.Qh8+ Kf7 47.Qh7+ Bg7 48.Qxg7 checkmate.
45…Qh7 Protecting the h8 square and the g6 Pawn.
46.Rg2 Black resigned due to the deadly threat on g6 (1-0). This and many other annotated games, can be found in my best-selling chess book “Breaking Through.”
Polgar, Zsuzsa (2495) – Ljubojevic, Ljubomir (2620) [A53]
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.g3 Bg4 4.Bg2 Nbd7 5.c4 e5 6.Nc3 c6 7.0–0 Be7 8.h3 Bxf3 9.exf3 exd4 10.Qxd4 Qb6 11.Qd2 0–0 12.b3 Nc5 13.Re1 Rfe8 14.Bb2 a5 15.Ba3 Bf8 16.Ne4 Nfxe4 17.fxe4 Rad8 18.Bb2 Qc7 19.Rad1 Rd7 20.Bc3 b6 21.Kh2 Qc8 22.Re3 Rde7 23.Rde1 Qc7 24.f4 f6 25.Qf2 Re6 26.Qf3 Kh8 27.Kh1 Kg8 28.h4 Kh8 29.Bh3 R6e7 30.h5 Rf7 31.Bf5 Rd8 32.Rd1 Be7 33.Re2 Rff8 34.Rh2 Rfe8 35.Rhd2 Nd7 36.Bb2 Nf8 37.h6 g6 38.Bh3 Kg8 39.g4 Ne6 40.g5 Nc5 41.gxf6 Bf8 42.f7+ Kxf7 43.f5 Kg8 44.fxg6 hxg6 45.Qf6 Kh7 46.Rg2 1–0
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