Yasser Seirawan’s Secrets From the Vault (Part One)


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We are delighted to see one of our favourite Grandmasters back in Chessable action and to celebrate the impending release of his next course we are presenting Yasser Seirawan’s Secrets From the Vault.

We are looking at games in which the American Grandmaster used unusual ideas and moves to help him on the way to victory.

Our first dip into the vault takes us back to 1990.

A Match Against the Best in the West

Grandmaster Jan Timman, considered the ‘Best in the West’ for some years, played a series of six-game matches from 1982 onwards, sponsored by the Dutch radio station KRO. His opponents included Viktor Korchnoi, Boris Spassky and Garry Kasparov.

It was Yasser’s turn in 1990 and the match was co-sponsored be the Dutch insurance company, Interpolis.

Yasser had not beaten Timman in almost nine years and fell behind in the match after he drew the first game and lost the second one.

The fortunes changed from the third game onwards. Yasser won three games in a row. The sixth game was a draw, giving Yasser the winning score of 4-2.

Here are some interesting moments from the games.

Which Pieces are the Most Effective?

Yasser Seirawan Jan Timman Match 1992

Seirawan – Timman

Game Three

White to play

It looks like White is trying to melt the long diagonal in order to increase the scope of the bishop on g2. Therefore Yasser’s next move comes as a surprise.

19 Bxe4! The alternative, 19 cxd5, allows 19 …Na5 with some fuss coming on c4.

This unusual exchange demonstrates how the top players appreciate the respective values of the pieces and how they understand the advantages of the pieces that are left on the board. It is the other bishop that turns out to be the more useful of the two.

19 …fxe4  White’s kingside attack is too strong after 19 …dxe4 20 Rhg1.

20 cxd5 Ba6

21 Nc3 Na5

22 d6 Nc4

23 Qd4

Yasser Seirawan Vault 1992 Match

Timman resigned here (1-0). Yasser’s passed-pawn is going to cost Black a serious amount of material. Note how the bishop on h4 protects the pawn’s queening square.

Following the Clues

Yasser Seirawan Jan Timman Match 1992

Timman – Seirawan

Game Four

Black to play

What exactly is happening here!?

Timman has some threats involving Rc1, catching the king or queen on the open file. Yasser is ahead on material but appears to have problems with the development of his pieces. Time-trouble is becoming a factor for both players too.

After putting together the clues of the position, Yasser found the startling move 22 …Ba3!

Suddenly, all ideas of Rc1 are ruled out for White and 23 …Bb2 is in the air. 23 Qxg7 looks like trouble but then 23 …Rh7! – magically protected by the queen, all the way from c2 – would gain an important tempo.

Tactics now erupted all over the board.

23 Rd1 Bb2 24 Nb5 Kb8 25 Nd6 Nd4+ 26 Ke3

Yasser Seirawan Jan Timman Match 1992

Black to play

Now what?

26 …Rxh4! Deflecting the queen from the defense if the rook.

27 Qxh4 Qxd1 28 Bg4 Nc2+ 29 Kd3 Ne1+ 

Yasser Seirawan's Secrets From the Vault

Timman resigned here (0-1). His king is trapped in a very strange box. If 30 Ke3 then 30 …Ng2+ forks the king and queen. Black’ queen is under attack too, but it can save itself with a check (31 Kd3 Qb1+) before playing 32 …Nxh4.

Tactical Flair

The fifth game brought a third consecutive win for Yasser and this time there was a hint of Paul Morphy in the air.

Yasser Seirawan's Secrets From the Vault

Seirawan – Timman

Game Five

White to play

14 Rxd7! There are certain similarities here to the famous Opera Game.

14 …Rxd7 14 …Kxd7 15 Qa4+ Ke6 would be a shade too ‘romantic’.

15 Bb5 Pinning the rook and guaranteeing an advantage to White.

Fast forward a few moves and we find Yasser is a pawn up and tactical opportunities are on the agenda.

Chess Tactics

White to play

What would you do here?

The tempting 24 Qxd6 – to set up a knight fork on f7 – fails to 24 …Qc8+! and Black will capture the queen on the next move.

Yasser was fully aware of the nuances of the position and played a much better move.

24 Ne6! Qc8+ 25 Kb1 Rd7

Queen SacrificeWhite to play

Timman is defending well but the next move ends all resistance.

26 Qxd6! 1-0

After 26 …Rxd6 27 Rxd6 the threat of 28 Rd8+, regaining the queen and remaining a knight and pawn up, cannot be successfully countered.

We shall return with another examination of Yasser Seirawan’s Secrets From the Vault as soon his new Chessable course is released.

Meanwhile, Yasser’s Chessable course on Winning Chess Strategies is already available, as is a free lesson on the same subject.

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