Kindred’s Special: Canadian GM Kevin Spraggett Found Happiness in Spain

Ten years ago the Spanish city of Seville held a grand open tournament over January 9-17, 2004.  Canada’s Kevin Spraggett edged out on tie-break GM Daniel Campora (Argentina) and GM Vladimir Epishin (Germany) in the final round 9 with a masterful achievement over IM I. Khamrakulov from Uzbekistan.

White:  GM Kevin Spraggett   vs.   Black:  IM  I. Khamrakulov

Opening:  Sicilian Defense = The O’Kelly Variation  2…a6

Seville, Spain Open Tournament 2004

1. e4  c5   2.  Nf3  a6

The objective of the O’Kelly is to meet 3. d4  c:d4  4. N:d4  Nf6  5. Nc3  e5 that hopefully meets 6. Nf5 d5! or 6. Nb3 Bb4 with good play out of the opening.  Spraggett chooses to initiate the Maroczy Bind that suits his positional style.

3. c4

3. … Nc6  4. d4  c:d4  5. N:d4  e6  6. Nc2

I have pointed out that moving a piece more than once in the opening could lead to lost tempi with a plus in square count for the opponent.  This move has a clear purpose. It stops exchange and also blunts an active …Bb4.

6.  …  Bc5

This move was a favorite of Dr. Marchand for a time and certainly fits my square count planning. Another idea is to set up a hedgehog type defense which has it’s merits also.

7. Be3  d6  8.  Nc3  Nf6  9. Be2  Qc7  10.  O-O  O-O   11.  Bg5  Nd7  12. a3  h6  13. Bh4  Re8  14. Kh1!

This switch to the corner foretells a plan for a King-side attack and regroup toward an aggressive posture.

14.  …. Nce5  15.  f4  Ng6   16. Bg3  Nf6  17. Bd3  Bd7

Avoiding what might appear to be a logical 17….b6 intending to fianchetto the Bishop.  If this was your thought, then 18. b4 wins a piece.  Stay alert and think before moving.  The negative side effect of this move though is it clogs movement by the Knight from repositioning to d7.  Now, White expands square count on the Q-side gaining a spatial superior position.

18. b4 !   Ba7

Marchand played this same idea though earlier against me and wound up in trouble.  Perhaps it is a sign that Black is slowly finding active defense is becoming a burden. White drives in the center with the pawn advance; Black sees he cannot safely recapture the e-pawn.

19. e5!  d:e5  20. f:e5  Nd7  21. Ne4  N:e4  22. Nd6  N:d3  23. Q:d3  Rf8  24. N:f7  e5  25. N:h6+  Kh8  26. Nf7+  Kg8  27. B:e5 Qc6  28. Qg3  g5   29. N:g5  Qg6  30. Nf7 Black Resigns  (1-0).

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