Dominguez Perez, Leinier(2754) – Aronian, Levon(2812) [C84]

Aronian was in irresistible form in Wijk aan Zee. Let’s examine his 6th win, with which he secured his tournament victory with a round to go…

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 Earlier in this tournament he successfully employed the Berlin (3…Nf6), but this time he goes for his other pet line, the Marschall gambit.

4.Ba4Nf65.O-OBe76.d3 We can already consider that this as the new main line to 6.Re1. Dominguez scored a nice win over Caruana several rounds ago.


7.Bb3 O-O

8.Nc3 d6

9.a3 This is the latest fashion. After Black has protected his e5 pawn, he was threatening to grab the strong b3 bishop with Na5, therefore White frees the a2 square. 9.a4 is the alternative for White.

9…Na5 [The mentioned Caruana game continued with

9…Be6 Dominguez prepared the interesting novelty of

10.Be3!? and he managed to get an edge later on 10…Qd7 11.Nd5 Bd8 12.Bg5 Bxd5 13.exd5 Nd4 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.a4 Qf5 16.Bd2 Rb8 17.axb5 axb5 18.h3 h5 19.Ra7 h4 (19…Nxd5? drops a piece after 20.g4! hxg4 21.hxg4 Qe5 22.f4! Qe6 23.Re1h) 20.Qf3 Qxf3 21.gxf3 The endgame was slightly better for White due to the weaknesses of the d4, c7 and b5 pawns.]

10.Ba2 Be6 11.Bg5 Dominguez improves his own game against Karjakin, which he just lost a few weeks ago in rapid chess. Black plays the Na5 move in order to control the center with c5, therefore the novelty is very logical, White fights for the d5 square. [11.Bxe6 11…fxe6 It is always hard to know whether the doubled pawns will become weak in the future or if Black’s strengthened center will start to work effectively.

12.b4 Nc6 13.Bd2 d5! 14.Re1 Qd6 15.h3 Nd7 16.Ne2 a5 17.Rb1axb418.axb4Rfb819.Ng3d4! Karjakin nicely overtook the initiative and won the game later on. The b4 pawn became a real target. 20.c3 dxc3 21.Bxc3 Ra4 22.Qb3 Kh8 23.Red1 White succeeded in saving his pawns, but Black obtained an excellent pawn structure after 23…Nd4! 24.Nxd4 exd4 25.Bd2 c5=+ Creating a strong passed b-pawn.]

11…c5 12.b4 This is the novelty. In combination with the next move it looks like a really decent one! [12.Bxf6 12…Bxf6 13.Nd5 g6 14.c3 happened in the previous games, which also looks playable.] 12…Nc6

13.Nd5! A concrete move, which seems to be tactically justified in all the lines.

13…Bxd5 Usually giving up the bishop like this is considered to be an achievement for White, but as we will see, one inaccuracy might change the entire evaluation. [13…Nxd5 leads to a clearly worse position after 14.exd5 Bxg5 15.dxe6 fxe6 16.Bxe6+ Kh8 17.Bd5 In case of opposite colored bishops, the principle says that the side who’s bishop is more active is better. In this position the white bishop is clearly better. 17…Rc8 18.bxc5 dxc5 19.Bxc6 (19.Be4!+= might be even stronger in order not to change the positional advangtage into material one. White continues with c3, Re1 and Ra2-e2 is necessary, winning the e5 pawn in better circumstances.) 19…Rxc6 20.Nxe5+=]

14.exd5 Nd4 15.bxc5! Forcing Black to give up his d4 knight, otherwise the e5 pawn falls. White also opens the position for his two bishops.

15…Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 dxc5 We have reached the critical position, when Dominguez plays the most natural move, which gives away his advantage. According to Aronian it even passes the initiative to Black.

17.Rfe1? White activates his rook with tempo, but the position required more concrete measures. [Aronian considered 17.a4 to be the critical move, which disturbs Black’s plan with Nd7. Although bxa4 and b4 both destroy the healthy pawn structure, they don’t really come into consideration… 17…Qd6 seems like the best, but then Black cannot get his nice piece arrangement, like it happened in the game. (17…Nd7? does not work here because after 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.axb5 axb5 20.d6! the a8 rook is facing problems due to the Bxf7 discovered check idea.) 18.Bb3; The machine suggests the extremely deep idea of 17.Rae1! seems like the strongest move and the point is that after 17…Nd7 18.Bxe7 Qxe7

19.d6! the blocked a2 bishop suddenly becomes a really strong piece. 19…Qxd6 20.Bxf7+! Kh8 21.Qd5! White leaves the pin and obtains a clear advantage. We will soon realize the difference to the game…]

17…Nd7! 18.Bd2 Keeping the pair of bishops is a good idea, but White has problems with the one on a2, which can hardly be activated due to his own d5 pawn. [In comparison to 17.Rae1,in the same line with 18.Bxe718…Qxe7 the a2 bishop becomes really poor if Black plays Qd6. 19.d6 does not work because of 19…Qxd620. Bxf7+Kh821. Qd5Qf6!e andt he f2 n falls! This is the reason why White needs to go to e1 with the a-rook.]

18…Bd6! Black creates a strong blockade and is ready to launch a dangerous attack with f5! Suddenly it is not easy to suggest a good plan for White, which is why Aronian considered Black’s position more comfortable after 17.Rfe1 Nd7 and suggested instead 17. a4! Great understanding!

19.a4 White tries to open the queenside to get his bad bishop into the game.

19…f5 20.Bb3?! The most natural move is a mistake again. White would like to create tension on the queenside between the rooks and also wants to activate the bishop with axb5 cxb5 and c4! Finally the bishop could join to the game through a4! However the position was more concrete again… [20.Qh3 was more circumspect to anticipate Black’s plan.]

20…e4! A breakthrough which suggested itself a lot. Black opens the bishop’s diagonal and frees the e5 square for the knight.

21.dxe4 [21.Qh3 was still stronger, although Black is more than fine here as well.]

21…c4! The whole idea to improve the light squared bishop has collapsed.

22.Ba2 Qh4! 23.e5! A clever simplification, which leaves White in an only slightly worse position. [23.g3 directly would have run into 23…Ne5! with real problems for White.; 23.h3 was losing after 23…fxe4 24.Rxe4 Rxf3 25.Rxh4

Ra3!i White cannot deal with the pin!]

23…Bxe5 24.g3 Qg4! Another very deep move by Aronian! Two moves later it all becomes clear.

25.Qxg4 fxg4 26.c3 White wanted to take the d4 square under control and also to have a chance to bring back the a2 bishop through b1. [26.Rab1 was also bad in view of 26…Bd4

27.Be3 Bxe3 28.Rxe3 Rf6e blocking the d-pawn and the a2 bishop is stuck.]

26…Bf6!! And now the idea behind Qg4 becomes clear. Black has created a hole on f3 for his knight! White has no good way to deal with it. Dominguez tries to control it with an e4 bishop, but it creates new problems…

27.Bb1 b4! White is not attacking the c4 pawn anymore, which is why Black uses the pin on the f6-a1 diagonal to create a b3 passed pawn.

28.Re3 Rad8 Black prepares to win the d5 pawn with Nb6 and also protects his knight against Bf5.

29.Bf5 h5 30.Rd1 White has left the pin and threatens to playcxb4,therefore it is time to create the powerful protected passed pawn.

30…b3! 31.Bc1 Aronian eliminates the blockader of the b3 pawn.

31…Bg5! 32.Be6+ Kh8 33.Re2 Bxc1 34.Rxc1 Black has reached a winning endgame. His pawns are just very strong and the knight also dominates the bishop. It looks nice on e6, but it actually doesn’t do anything. The rest is only the easy technical part of the game.

34…Nc5 35.a5 Rfe8 36.Kf1 g6! Trapping the bishop. Black simply wants to bring his king to f6. White cannot create any counterplay as the b3 pawn restricts his abilities.

37.Rce1 Kg7 38.d6 A desperate attempt to complicate the matters, but it does not help.

38…Rxe6 39.Rxe6 Nxe6 40.Rxe6

40…Rd7! b2 immediately would have been met by Re7-b7.

Now Black simply wants to play Kf7 or just push b2… The game is over.

41.Re8 Rxd6 42.Ke2 [There was no time for 42.Rc8 42…b2 43.Rb8 Rd1+i]

42…Rd3 With this victory, Aronian has beat his personal best and improved his live rating to 2834! 0-1


Akopian, Vladimir(2682) – Chatalbashev, Boris(2522) [B07]

We will see an interesting fighting game where White sacrificed an exchange and even went to b4 with his king, but somehow still won the game!

1.e4 d6 Chatalbashev is one of the few players who love to play the Pirc.

2.d4Nf63.Nc3g64.Be3 This is one of the main lines. White does not hesitate and develops the queenside pieces quickly in order to be able to castle queenside.

4…Bg7 [4…c6 and; 4…a6 are the two other main lines here.]

5.Qd2 White’s idea is simple, to play Bh6 at some point or to castle queenside, followed by an attack in the center.

5…c6 [White should not be afraid of moves like 5…Ng4 because of the simple 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 and White

is better.]

6.h3 I am not sure about this move. We would be back in the main lines after 6.Bh6.

6…O-O Now Black can comfortably castle kingside. Usually White’s idea would be to play h4-h5, but it is clear that after 6.h3 it would at least be a loss of a tempo.

7.Nf3 e5 Black tries to immediately create some play in the center. [Personally I think a move like 7…b5 followed by Nbd7 and only later e5 also gives Black a playable position.]

8.O-O-O Now White already wants to play dxe5 next.

8…exd4 9.Bxd4 [After 9.Nxd4 9…b5! we end up in a very unlcear position.]

9…Re8 10.Qf4 A very logical move, protecting the e4 pawn and also putting extra pressure on the d6 pawn.

10…b5 Black finally plays b5. He wants to play b4 next.

11.e5!? White is entering deep complications. [Another interesting try could have been 11.Bc5 11…Qa5 12.Bxd6 and now Black has the nice 12…Nh5! (12…b4 was losing to 13.Bc7!) 13.Qg5 And White might be better, but things are pretty unclear.]

11…Nh5 The white queen has to take a passive place.

12.Qh2 dxe5 [Including 12…b4 would not bring anything for Black. 13.Ne4]

13.Bxe5 Nd7! A good move. At first sight White’s position looks much better, but things are pretty unclear. Black can be very fast with Qa5 and b4 and the white queen on h2 is not a great piece.

14.Bxg7Nxg715.Bd3 White is planning to play Ne4 after b4 and he develops a piece at the same time.

15…Qa5 Now b4 move is a threat.

16.Rhe1! There is no time to lose! [After the usual 16.Kb1 16…Nc5 the position should be around equal.]

16…Rxe1 [After the tempting 16…b4 17.Ne4! looks very strong. 17…Qxa2 18.Qd6! Another very strong move. The position is complicated, but White should be better.]

17.Rxe1 Nc5 Black almost finished his development.

18.Qd6 There is no better try for White.

18…Nxd3+ 19.cxd3 Be6!        Black    is            done    with      his development, all pieces are in the game and he has a solid structure. Black can’t be much worse here.

20.Ne5? A very tricky move, but probably a mistake. [White should have tried to get control over the black squares by playing 20.a3!  followed by d4 and Qc5. White’s position might be a bit better.]

20…b4! Now things are getting pretty forced.

21.Nxc6 The only move.

21…Qg5+ 22.f4

22…Qh4! This is probably the move that Akopian missed when he played 20.Ne5?. Both the rook on e1 and the knight on c3 are attacked, so White already has no choice but to give up the exchange.

23.Rxe6 Nxe6 24.Nd5! A good practical move. White doesn’t care about “gambling” anymore and is ready to run with his king, in the hope to get good play on the dark squares. As we know, the queen and knights can be very dangerous pieces in the attack.

24…Qe1+ A logical move. The white king needs to run now.

25.Kc2 Qe2+ 26.Kb3 Qxd3+ 27.Kxb4 So far everything was forced.

27…a5+! Another nice move by Black. The position is still very tense. Black needs to play very precisely because the white pieces could become very dangerous.

28.Ka4 Kg7? This is a serious mistake! Black hands the initiative over to White. [It was much easier to play 28…Qc2+ 29.Ka3 Qc5+ and reach an endgame where Black is clearly better.]

29.Qe5+ Now it is White’s turn to attack!

29…Kh6 30.Ne3 Ng4 is a deadly threat.

30…f5?? Black panics… [After 30…Qe4+! 31.Qxe4 Nc5+ 32.Kb5 Nxe4 we would still reach a very interesting endgame. It is hard to say who is better here… ]

31.Qxe6 Simple and strong! The game is over now…

31…Ra6 32.g4 What a sad end of a fighting game for Black!


Mista, Aleksander(2582) – Najer, Evgeny(2641) [B90]

Najer is known as a very aggressive and fighting player. His results with White are great, but sometimes he is also just getting crushed, especially when he is Black. We will face a great attacking game by Mista, who evaluates the situation perfectly, sacrifices a rook for 2 pieces and simply mates the black king.

1.e4 c5 As for most fighting players, Najer’s main opening is the Najdorf.

2.Nf3 d63.d4 cxd44.Nxd4 Nf65.Nc3a6 6.Be3 So we are in the main line and now Black has to choose whether to play 6…e6 or 6…e5.

6…e6 When I was younger I had a discussion with one of my chess friends about whether the position after 6…e6 is still a Najdorf or a Sheveningen. I myself only played 6…e5 and always have been very stubborn in my opinion that in the Najdorf the pawn has to be placed on e5 and that the rest is Sheveningen! 🙂

7.g4!? One of the most aggressive lines. [7.f3 is the most played move here, with the idea of Qd2, g4 and 0-0-0 with many thousands of games being played here before.]

7…h6 is probably the most solid move, but it already gives White nice play. [7…e5 would lead to very forced lines. 8.Nf5 g6 (The other main line is 8…h5 9.g5 Nxe4 10.Nxg7+ Bxg7 11.Nxe4 d5 With an unclear position.) 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 Things are far from clear here, even after many years of computer analyses.]

8.Bg2 A tricky move. Usually White plays 8.h3, defending against Black’s e5 push.

8…g5?! A very typical and logical move with the idea of taking control over the dark squares, but now White sort of saved a tempo. [Black already had to go fo r8…e59. Nf5g6 Now White has quite a few moves and one of the main ones is 10.h4 gxf5 11.exf5 With a very complicated position.]

9.h4! This is exactly why g5 was a bit too early. White immedaitely launchs very dangerous play.

9…Rg8 Nothing else to do, Black needs to protect the g5 pawn.

10.hxg5 hxg5 11.Qe2 White is getting ready to castle queenside.

11…Nbd7 12.O-O-O Qc7 It is hard to blame Black for such a move. [But 12…Ne5 first would probably have been a better option.]

13.Nf3! An excellent move by Mista who tries to open the position as much as possible, using the fact that Black is still undeveloped.

13…Nxg4 14.Bxg5 Nge5 Black continues trying to keep the position on the dark squares. [Even if it looks very dangerous 14…Qc5 might have been a better try. 15.Bh4 b5 Black’s position is looking very shaky, but maybe things are still more or less OK. 16.a3 Bb7 17.Nd4 White is better, but the position is complicated.]

15.Nxe5!? Mista starts a very direct attack with a nice sacrifice, but there was actually no need for it. [The more simple 15.Rh7 would keep a big advantage and of course Black can’t play 15…Nxf3? since after 16.Qxf3 Rxg5 17.Qxf7+ Kd8 18.Bh3 White has a mating attack.]

15…Rxg5 16.f4 This was White’s idea. A sacrifice of 2 pieces for the rook and a try to overroll Black’s defence lines. 16…Rxg2 Black has to take… 17.Qxg2 dxe5

18.f5! Exactly! White is weakening Black’s pawn structure even more. Now all the white pieces will join the attack.

18…exf5 This move is losing, but it hard to find a better one… White’s attack is just too strong.

19.Nd5 Qc6 [There might be a tougher fight after 19…Qd6 but after the simple 20.Qg5 b5 21.Qxf5 White’s attack is still deadly.]

20.Rh8 b5 Too late Mr. Najer, too late…

21.Qg5 Threatening to mate on e7.


22.Rxf8+! Mista is finishing the game with a nice final blow.

22…Kxf8[22…Qxf8 23.Nc7# would have been a prettier end of the game.]

23.Qd8+ Kg7 24.Rg1+ Followed by mate in a couple of moves. We saw a really great attacking game by White and another good example on how dangerous and how quickly it can be over after the smallest inaccuracy in the Sicilian! 1-0

Rapport, Richard(2691) – Nakamura, Hikaru(2789) [A04]

Rapport has been playing a lot of strange openings and it usually went very wrong. This game is not an exception. After the opening White is quickly getting into trouble, but Nakamura decided to go into even deeper complications, for which there was no need, which gave White some attacking chances and finally a missed opportunity by Rapport ended the game on the spot.

1.Nf3 c5 2.b3 Well, what to say to such about move… It can’t be the right way to fight for any opening advantage.

2…d6 It seems very logical to me to put d6-e5 against White’s bishop on b2.

3.e3 White is preparing the d4 move.

3…e5 4.Bb5+! A strong check. [4.d4 wouldn’t lead to anything for White as after 4…e4 5.Nfd2 d5 the position is at least equal.]

4…Nc6 Nakamura is going for the complications. [4…Bd7 was a more simple move. 5.Bxd7+ Nxd7 6.O-O Ngf6 With an about equal position.]

5.Nc3 White is preparing the d4 push which was not possible now because of Qa5.

5…Nf66.d4 We already have a very strange position on move 6. It is clear that White’s pawn would be even better placed on b2 than on b3, but the position is very dynamic.

6…e4 A correct and typical move.

7.d5 White has nothing else left, it is not an option for White to let Black play d5.

7…a6! This little move makes it all work for Black! [Of course not 7…exf3?? 8.dxc6 and White is winning.]

8.Bf1 The white bishop needs to return to his starting position. [8.dxc6? would lead to a very bad position as after 8…axb5 9.Nd2 bxc6 Black has the bishop pair and a strong


8…Ne7 9.Nd2 Bf5 Now it is all about whether Black is in time to keep the pawn on e4 alive. In case he manages to, Black just has much more space, which means a clearly better position.

10.Bb2 The b3 move finally has some sense now. The bishop on b2 is somehow in the game.

10…b5! A good move. Black continues playing on “sqeeze” mode. [10…Nexd5 didn’t make much sense because of the following great tactical trick: 11.Ndxe4! Nxc3 12.Nxc3 d5

13.Bd3 White almost managed to equalize.]

11.h3 h5 Not letting White play g4.

12.a3 Black wanted to play b4 and win the d5 pawn.

12…Nc8? This logical move could have turned out to be a serious mistake. [It was more simple for Black to play 12…h4 followed by Rh6 and Rg6 with a pressure on g2. I think Black is clearly better here.]

13.a4? White is returning the favor.. . [13.f3! While the black knight is in a passive position on c8, it was time for White to take strong actions. 13…exf3 What else to play?! 14.Qxf3 And suddenly all white pieces are great. The next white move is 0-0-0 followed by e4-e5. Right out of nothing, Black’s position is really looking bad!]

13…b414.Ne2Nxd5!? After this move we are entering crazy complications. [14…Be7 was much more solid and I think Black is better here.; After the careless 14…h4? 15.g4! is a nice tactical move.]

15.Ng3 Nxe3 Black said “A” so he needs to say “B”… [After

15…Bg6 16.Ndxe4 White is better.]

16.Qe2! I have a feeling that Nakamura underestimated this move. [16.fxe3 wouldn’t lead to anything good for White as after 16…Qh4 17.Kf2 d5 Black already has 2 pawns and a strong attack. 18.Nf3 is an attempt to complicate the game. (18.Be2 18…Bd6 19.Nf1 Ne7 20.Qe1 Rh6 And White just cannot move!) 18…exf3 19.Qxd5 Bd6 Black should be winning here.]

16…Nxc2+ 17.Kd1 Bg6! A strong move! [After 17…Nxa1 18.Nxf5 d5 19.Nxg7+ Bxg7 20.Bxg7 Rh7 21.Bxa1 we have

reached a position which is really difficult to evaluate.]

18.Ndxe4! Rapport correctly takes his chances. [After 18.Kxc2 18…d5 Black’s initiative should be crushing.]

18…Qe7?! In a very complex position Black doesn’t choose the best move… [18…Ne7 was better and after 19.Qxc2 d5 20.Ke1! the position is very unclear.]

19.Qf3? A bad move. White is going for a “beating” when it was time to think objectively. [After the more concrete

19.Qxc2 19…d5 20.Bd3 dxe4 21.Bxe4 White is clearly better.]

19…Nxa1 The black material advantage is becoming huge.

20.Bc4[20.Bxa1 was also leading to  abad position for White. 20…d5 21.Nf6+ gxf6 22.Bxf6 Be4]

20…Nb6! Now Black has only moves, but these only moves lead to a winning position.

21.Nf6+ There was nothing else left, it is all or nothing now for White.

21…gxf6 22.Bxf6 Qc7 Nakamura stays cool. The black king will feel quite safe on d7.

23.Re1+ Kd7 24.Bxa1 It is too late to win back the material. Black is still a full rook up.

24…Qc6! A very good technical way to convert the advantage. By giving a full rook back Black is exchanging the queens and entering a totally winning endgame.

25.Qxc6+ Kxc6 26.Bxh8 h4 Chasing the knight.

27.Nf1 Nxc4 28.bxc4 Bd3 Black is a pawn up, he has a passed b-pawn, the bishop pair and many other plusses. The game is over.

29.Nd2d5 Two connected passed pawns are better than one!


30.cxd5+ Kxd5 31.Re5+ I guess that White could have resigned the game now.

31…Kc6 32.Rh5 Bg6 We just saw a crazy game with a very rare opening and in an unclear position Nakamura proved to be the better played. 0-1

Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter(2674) – Kolbus, Dietmar(2302)

An amazing game where the experienced International Master who leads the black pieces employs a shocking plan in the middle game, allowing Nisipeanu to conclude the game in style.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 So far nothing extraordinary has happened. We are at the initial position of the Classical Sicilian variation, where instead of the main line 6. Bg5 (Rauzer variation), White chooses the very sharp Sozin variation…

6.Bc4 Bd7!? A rather new direction. Black would like to play a Dragon-like game with g6-Bg7. [6…g6 immediately is considered to be a mistake because of the following tactical trick: 7.Nxc6! bxc6 8.e5! and 8…dxe5?? blunders the queen after 9.Bxf7+!h; 6…e6 is the main move.]

7.Bb3 Na5 It is very logical to take the pair of bishops, but it costs too much time. Black should have first focused on developing his pieces. [7…g6 is the right move to follow the original plan. White’s main choice is 8.f3 and here Black can choose between two moves: 8…Bg7 (8…Nxd4!? is perhaps the strongest. 9.Qxd4 Bg7 10.Be3 O-O 11.Qd2 b5 With a typical Dragon-type position with mutual chances.) 9.Be3 O-O 10.Qd2 transposes exactly to the Dragon!]

8.Bg5! Actively developing the pieces could be the only refutation of Black’s opening handling.

8…Nxb3?! [It was clearly better to not hurry with the capture,buttoplay8…e6! and in this case White cannot make use of the opened a-file.]

9.axb3 Of course White takes towards the center and at the same time opens the file for his rook.

9…Ng8? This and the next move are something one should not even consider for a moment. I don’t think it requires any explanation as to why this move is bad. [Black was probably afraid of the line 9…e610.Bxf6!? and he has no good recapture in view of 10…Qxf6 (10…gxf6 11.Qh5c is more than dangerous. White castles queenside and launches a decisive attack with f4-f5.) 11.Ndb5! attacking both the a7 and d6 pawns. This is the reason why Black should not have taken onb3… 11…Bxb512.Nxb5c; Maybe Black should have played some move like 9…a610. Bxf6(10.f4 also looks good.) 10…gxf6 11.Qh5 White is better anyway, but still anything is better than retreating a developed piece to its initial position.]

10.Nf5 Nisipeanu immediately tries to punish his opponent for his passive play. He creates the threat of Nxd6. Bxf5 exf5 would further squeeze Black’s position. Afterwards it would be even more difficult to finish the development.

10…f6? Another terrible-looking move. Black cannot hold with such a damage on the pawn structure and it also makes it even harder to finish the development of the kingside pieces. [Again any other move should have been preferred. The most natural one is 10…Bc6 preventing the Nxd6 threat and preparing to send away the bishop with h6. 11.O-O (The move would also have set a small trap. If White attacks two pawns at once with 11.Qd4 11…e5! saves Black!) 11…h6 12.Bf4 White is better of course, but the game goes on.]

11.Be3 Qb8 A third passive move in a row, but at least this one has its logic. The a7 pawn had to be protected and Black would like to kick out the f5 knight with e6 but he protected the d6 pawn first. But of course it is easy to feel that it will end up badly for Black.

12.O-Oe6 Temporarily pushing back the pieces, but Black still needs plenty of moves to develop the kingside.

13.Nd4 Ne7 Black can only use the e7 square for developing the pieces, but it means that he loses further tempi to evacuate this square for the other minor piece.

14.f4! There is no time to waste. White plans to open the central lines in front of the king.

14…a6 Another waste of tempo, but we can already consider the position to be objectively hopeless. [14…Nc6 would have been met by the same as the game: 15.f5! Nxd4 16.Qh5+!h forcing the king to move.]

15.f5! Working out the e6 and d5 squares for the knights! This f4-f5 is the standard idea of the Bc4 systems, but of course here the circumstances to fulfill this plan are excellent.

15…e5 16.Qh5+! Taking away the right to castle. The end is near.

16…Kd8 [16…g6 17.fxg6 Nxg6 is also over. White wins for instance after 18.Nd5 exd4 19.Nxf6+ Kd8 20.Bxd4 There are too many threats in the air, even such ones as Qa5, but of course there is nothing against the simple Nxd7 and Bxh8 either.]

17.Ne6+Bxe6[17…Kc8 18.Qf7h Black is totally paralyzed.]

18.fxe6 g6 [18…Qc7 loses in many different ways, one of them being 19.Nb5 Qc6 20.Nxd6!h; 18…Kc7 19.Qf7h followed by Nd5 is also over.]

19.Qh4 Bg7 20.Rxf6! The most direct finish of the game. With such superior piece, there is not much to calculate if the exchange is worth its value. Black collapses.

20…Bxf6 21.Qxf6 Re8

22.Bb6+ [Black resigned in view of 22.Bb6+ 22…Kc8 23.Qf7 And mate in few moves… Poor black pieces, but this is a good example that developing the pieces in the opening is very important, otherwise the punishment might be this painful if we face such a strong attacking player like Nisipeanu.] 1-0

Carlsen, Magnus(2872) – Aronian, Levon(2812) [A29]

Carlsen and Aronian were dominating the super-tournament inZurich. Let’s examine the encounter between the world Nr.1 and Nr.2.

1.c4 It is impossible to predict the first moves of the top players nowadays. Carlsen decided to go for the English opening today.

1…Nf62.Nc3e53.Nf3Nc64.g3d55.cxd5Nxd5 Following the main lines. Actually we have a Sicilian defense with reversed colors, where White has an extra g3 tempo. This prevents Black from playing the sharpest Dragon variations with opposite side castling, but Be7 and 0-0 leads also to a very complex game with chances for both sides.

6.Bg2 Nb6 A necessary prophylactic move before finishing the development. [6…Be7? immediately would drop a pawn after the small tactics 7.Nxe5! Nxc3 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.dxc3c]

7.O-O Be7 White has a wide range of setups here, all of them with many subtleties. Carlsen plays the classical plan with a3-b4, known from the Dragon.

8.a3 O-O 9.d3 a5 now or at the previous move is considered to be less accurate as it gives an excellent post for the knight on b5!

9…Re8!? Aronian follows the latest fashion. Black intends to overprotect his e5 pawn with Bf8 in order to play Nd4. This is also the main plan in the reversed color Sicilian line, but for some reason, here the most common move is Be6 followed by f6.

10.b4 Bf8 11.Rb1 A rare move. I doubt that it was a prepared one as Carlsen thought for quite some time. White probably wants to strengthen his b-pawn, knowing that Black is going to play a5 next. [11.Bb2 with the idea of Rc1 and Ne4-c5 is the main line, but Black replies in the same way as he did in the game.]

11…a5! Before occupying the d4 square, Black makes the standard weakening on the queenside.

12.b5 Nd4

13.e3 [13.Nd2 is a common reaction in such situations. White keeps all the pieces on the board and kicks out the annoying d4 knight with e3 next. 13…a4 14.e3 Ne6 Nc5 next with an unclear game.; 13.Nxd4?! never really comes into consideration from a positional point of view because after 13…exd4 White ends up with a backward weakness on e2, which could be attacked with Bg4 and also the hole on c3 might tell later on, when Black puts his knight on d5.]

13…Nxf3+14.Bxf3a4! Fixing the targets on a3 and b5. White would have gotten rid of them by playing a4 himself. Black also wishes to install a bishop on b3!


15…Ra7! Black had to protect the b7 pawn to develop the c8 bishop. It would have been more natural to do it from b8, because later on that rook should go d8, but in this case the a4 pawn would become more vulnerable. White could have immediately attacked it with Qc2.

16.Bb2 Be6 17.Rfc1! Both sides are activating their pieces. White would like to improve his position with Ne4-c5. The other plan to open the position with Rfd1 and d4 made no sense now because it would give up the c4 square and it also moves into the Bb3 tempo.

17…Qd7 [Aronian pointed out that it would have been a great achievement to transfer the knight to c5 17…Nd7?!

but it would have allowed a nice positional sacrifice: 18.b6! Making use of the misplacement of the a7 rook. 18…cxb6

19.Nb5 Ra5 20.Bc3 Ra8 21.Bxb7 Rb8 22.Bc6+= White gets a clear edge.] 18.Ne4

18…Ba2! Another standard plan. White has attacked the e5 pawn and intended to gain the bishop pair with Nc5, therefore Black transfers his bishop to d5, but first he sends the rook to a slightly worse square.

19.Ra1 Bd5 Black is not threatening to play Qxb5 because c7 is the more valuable pawn, but he wants to attack it once more with Ra5. Carlsen finds a clever way to disturb the well-placed black pieces.

20.Bg4! Qd8! An excellent response. Black keeps the tension without weakening his position. [20…f5 would have given Carlsen some targets. 21.Bh3! Maintaining the pin and after 21…Qf7 22.Ng5 Qg6 23.e4! the position opens up and the two bishops start to work. White takes the initiative.]

21.Bc3 Anticipating the Ra5 idea. Black must look for another plan.

21…Nd7! Black grabs his chance to improve his knight. This maneuver was not working in the 17th move, but the circumstances have changed a bit, which allows Black to change the character of the game with b6 and Nc5!

22.Bf3 b6 The a7 rook protects both weaknesses from now on. Black should not worry about the c7 pawn anymore. The drawback could be that White might be able to settle a knight or a bishop on c6, but this will probably never happen. On the other hand Black is ready to trade some pieces with Nc5! [There was a pretty trap if Black plays 22…f5?

23.Nd6! White gets the very strong light squared bishop as 23…Bxf3? leads to a forced mate after 24.Qa2+!! Kh8 25.Nf7+ Kg8 26.Nh6+ Kh8 27.Qg8#]

23.Bb4!? A double edged move. White creates a doubled pawn, which could be weak, but actually controls the c-file. Black also gets a passed pawn on a4, which might also become a weakness after the opening of the a-file. A few moves later things will become clearer…

23…Bxb4 24.axb4 Qe7 25.Nc3 Carlsen has pinned his hopes to this move. He wants to gain some initiative along the c-file and the d5 square.

25…Bxf3 26.Qxf3

26…Nf6! A calm move to neutralize the important d5square. [After the greedy 26…Qxb4?! 27.Qc6 is quite unpleasant. Nd5 is coming next and the c7 pawn will fall.]

27.Rxa4! A clever simplification into a drawish endgame. Carlsen correctly judged that if he continues playing for an advantage Black might overtake the initiative. [27.Qc6 27…Rea8 could also only be better for Black. Black has easier play against the b-pawns and d3 than White against a4. 28.Qc4 Qd7 Keeping an eye on the h3 square connected with Ng4 forces White to play 29.Kg 2a330. Ra2Ne8! 31.Rca1 Nd6 Maybe Black had something better here… 32.Qd5 Qe8 We have reached a kind of mutual zugzwang. Neither side has an useful move. Perhaps Black could try something like Kf8, f6 and Qf7.; The passive 27.Rcb1?! does not really come into consideration. Black gets an easy game. 27…Rd8=+]

27…Rxa4 28.Nxa4 Qxb4 29.Nc3 Qb2 30.Qd1! White is in time to consolidate his position and control all the weaknesses.

30…Rd8 31.Kg2 h6 Opening the back rank.

32.h3 White also gives some extra air to his king and also prevents ideas like Ng4 just in case. A kind of waiting game could have started, but the position is balanced. Aronian decided to force a draw by perpetual check.

32…Rxd3 33.Qxd3 Qxc1 34.Qd8+ Kh7 35.Qxc7 Ne4

Seems to win a piece, but of course both players had foreseen the end of the game…

36.Qxe5! Nxc3




40.Qc8+ Kh7 A hard-fought positional battle with many subtleties and a deserved result. 1/2-1/2

Shimanov, Aleksandr(2658) – Rasulov, Vugar(2534) [A45]

White wins a very nice attacking game after Black’s dubious opening choice.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 The Trompowsky variation. White likes using this weapon when he wants to get his opponent to less theoretical areas. Black reacts with an ambitious setup. 2…d5 is considered to be the most solid.

2…Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.Nd2 cxd4 7.Nb3 All these moves are well-known with thousands of games in the database. Here Black has a wide range of choices. Qd8 and Qb6 are the main moves. The text is the most ambitious and has also been tried in many games, but it seems rather suspicious to me…

7…Qf5?! Forcing White to give up his strong bishop in order to restore the material balance, but White gets too many free tempi by attacking the wandering queen.

8.Bxb8! Quite unusual moves for both sides, but what to do, this is an unusual opening.

8…Rxb8 9.Qxd4! Gaining an important tempo again by attacking the a7 pawn. Black has no b8 knight anymore to develop with Nc6 tempo and White is intending to castle queenside to launch his attack as quickly as possible.

9…b6 10.e4 The queen has no good square to leave, it must move into another tempo to finally get away from the danger zone.

10…Qf4 11.Nh3 Qc7

12.e5! Pushing back all the black pieces to the 8th rank.

12…Ng8 Many great players – such as Ivanchuk and Svidler have played like this as Black, but is it really worth the bishop pair to have such a passive position?! If White does not play accurately, things might quickly go in Black’s favor.

13.Nf2! This looks like the most accurate move! [13.O-O-O is more common, but in this case Black is able to solve the problem of his g8 knight with 13…e6 followed by Ne7-c6.]

13…Nh6 Trying to activate the knight through f5, but after White’s strong reaction the knight ends up at the edge of the board. [Now on 13…e6 White has 14.Ne4 preventing Ne7 because of the check on d6.; Maybe 13…f6 to undermine the annoying e5 pawn was an option, but I doubt that Black could objectively play like this.]

14.g4! White is going to castle queenside anyway, so such moves are easy to make. Of course with the knig on g1 we would have a different story…

14…Bb7 15.Ne4

15…f5 The only way to get back the h6 knight to the game through f7 and to try and finish the development. However it also has the drawback that the position is going to open and then the king on e8 who will be stuck in the center is becoming more vulnerable.

16.exf6! gxf6 17.O-O-O White’s main attacking idea is Bb5 followed by Rhe1, quickly punishing the king. With the following couple of moves Black would like to trade queens to avoid getting mated…

17…Qf4+ 18.Kb1 d5 The endgame would be excellent for Black as he would have no more worries about his king and also the two bishops would soon start to work. However White is not forced to move his knight…

19.g5!! White creates the threat of Nxf6 and the pawn cannot be taken as the rook is hanging on h8. Therefore Black is forced to accept the sacrifice.

19…dxe4 20.Qd7+ Shimanov sends the opponent’s king on a long run.

20…Kf7 21.Bc4+ Such checks, developing with tempo, should always be given.

21…Kg6 22.gxf6!? A new file opens on the king. [Actually 22.gxh6 was also perfectly fine. The g-file opens for the rook. Even materially White is holding the balance, but of course the situation of the black king plays a more important role.]

22…Bc8       [On     22…exf6     the     best     is           23.Rhg1+ Kh5

24.Rg3h intending to mate with Rh3 followed by Rg1.;

22…exf3 23.fxe7 should not last long for Black.]

23.Rhg1+ [23.Qe8+!? to force Black to take on f6 would have been even more precise. 23…Kxf6 24.Qc6+ e6 25.fxe4 and Rhf1 next was also just a simple win for White, but the text move is also good. ]

23…Kh5 The only move! It seems to be completely winning, but White should continue finding the best attacking moves. [23…Kxf6 24.Qc6+ e6 25.fxe4h is over.]

24.Qe8+! Haunting the king, but it continues his journey at the rim of the board.

24…Kh4 25.fxe7! Usually the simplest moves are the strongest ones… White will get a new queen soon.

25…Bf5 [25…Bg7 is met by 26.Qxh8 Bxh8 27.e8=Qh]

26.exf8=Q What an amazing position with three queens and an h4 king on the board!

26…exf3+ 27.Ka1 Rxf8 28.Qe7+ Kh5 [On 28…Kh3 White has several wins. An easy one is 29.Rd2 and it is difficult to parry the Bf1 mate threat.]

29.Rd4! White continues attacking with tempo. The end should be close!

29…f2 30.Be2+! Bg4 31.Rf1 Blocking Black’s last hope. White loses one attacking piece, but continues attacking with three, which should still be enough. [According to the machine 31.Bxg4+ 31…Nxg4 32.Qxh7+ Qh6 33.Rd5+! Kh4 34.Rxg4+! Kxg4 35.Qxh6 f1=Q+ 36.Nc1h was even stronger and Black has no defence, but Shimanov’s choice is more human and looks much simpler.]

31…Qg5 White finds a pretty way to obtain a decisive material advantage: [31…Rbe8 leads to a lost endgame after

32.Qxe8+ Rxe8 33.Rxf4 Rxe2 34.R4xf2h; On 31…Rf7 which would have been the best practical chance, the strongest and the most beautiful is 32.Qe6!! Rf6 33.Qd7! Rf7 34.Qb5+! Qg5 (34…Rf5 loses to 35.Rxf4 Rxb5 36.Bxb5h) 35.Bxg4+ Nxg4 36.Rd5h wins decisive material.]

32.Rxg4!! Nxg4 [32…Qxe7 33.Re4+ Kg6 34.Rxe7h White is a piece up.]

33.Qxh7+ Qh6 34.Bxg4+ Kg5 White is even materially ahead, but the f2 pawn could create some counterplay if he makes a mistake. The next move is extremely important in order to continue the haunt of the king!

35.h4+! Qxh4 The only move, but now new unpleasant checks are coming…

36.Qg7+ Kf4 37.Nd4!? Bishop moves were also strong, but White brings a new attacker to the game!

37…Qh8 A desperate attempt to trade queens, but of course the mate is coming soon. [37…Qxg4 is refuted by 38.Rxf2+ Kg3 39.Rg2+ Kxg2 40.Qxg4+h Everything is falling with check, so Black cannot make use of the weak back rank.]

38.Ne2+ Ke4 39.Qg6+ Kd5 40.Qe6+ [Black resigned in view of 40.Qe6+ 40…Kc5 41.b4+ Kb5 42.Nd4+ Ka6 (42…Ka4 43.Qb3#) 43.Be2+ Kb7 44.Qc6# An entertaining game!] 1-0

Ivanisevic, Ivan(2626) – Acs, Peter(2569) [D10]

Ivanisevic is a strong attacking player. He wins many nice games, especially with the white pieces, thanks to his sharp and dangerous openings.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 Acs chooses his favorite Slav opening with 4…a6.

5.Bd3 A rare move, which probably wants to avoid the recently popular line of 5. Nf3 Bf5. Black has several options here, the most common being b5, but the text move is also a very natural reaction.


6.b3!? We are already in a more or less new position from a theoretical point of view. As White has already developed his light squared bishop, Black was ready to take on c4 to win the tempo, followed by the standard b5-c5 operation. From now on White intends to recapture with the b-pawn to strengthen his center and also to develop the bishop to b2 later on. [6.Nf3 would transpose to a main line after 6…dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 followed by c5.]

6…c5 This looks like a loss of a tempo, but it is actually one of the main ideas of this line. Black takes some ground by freeing his position. He intends to challenge the center with Nc6.

7.Nf3 Nc6

8.O-O! Very deep preparation, involving a pawn sacrifice.

8…dxc4 [8…cxd4 9.exd4 Be7 was an option to avoid the complications, but then White might get a better position with 10.c5 Because of the a6 move Black has no good way to undermine the c5 pawn with b6 and it might also be unpleasant to deal with 10…O-O 11.Na4! Nd7 12.Bf4+=; 8…Be7 loses a tempo, so White clarifies the situation in the center: 9.dxc5! Bxc5 10.cxd5 exd5 11.h3! Preventing Bg4, followed by Bb2 and Ne2-d4, with a typical fight against the isolated pawn, where White’s chances are better.]

9.bxc4 cxd4 10.exd4 Nxd4 There was no way back, Acs had to grab the material, otherwise Black has just given up the center.

11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Bb2 This game was played next to me.

Ivanisevic was still blitzing out his moves. Black is seriously behind in development and he needs to lose a further tempo to move away with the queen. If he succeeds to play Be7 and 0-0 on the other hand, he will end up with an extra pawn.

12…Qb6 Black brings back his queen into safety. [12…Qd8!? would probably be met similarly to the game: 13.Qf3 Be7

14.Rad1 White always brings his pieces with tempo. 14…Qc7 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16.Bxe4 O-O

This position arises after very natural play by both sides. It might be a critical one also from the opening point of view. Black is ready to consolidate with f5 or e5, pushing back the pieces and keeping an extra pawn. Therefore White must use the moment to gain something… 17.Bxh7+! is the standard series of sacrifce, but it seems to only lead to a draw: 17…Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Bxg7! Destroying the kingside, followed by bringing the rook along the 3rd rank. 19…Kxg720.Qg4+Kf6! (20…Kh6 21.Rd3 Bg5! might also be playable, although it looks very suspicious after 22.f4) 21.Rd3 Bd6!

With the idea to run away with Ke7. 22.Qh4+ Kg6 23.Qg4+! (The mate can be prevented after 23.f4 23…Qc5+ 24.Kh1 f6! 25.Rg3+Kf7 26.Qh7+Ke8i The king escapes and Black has two extra bishops.) ; 12…Qh4!? is the computer’s suggestion but for a human it looks suspicious because the queen might get stuck out of the game.]

13.Rb1 And the queen needs to move again.. .


14.Ne4! White trades a defender and opens the diagonal for the b2 bishop. It is not easy to finish the development because of the g7 pawn and the pressure on the f6 knight.

14…Be715.Qf3 Over pressing the f6 knight, so Black is forced to open the long diagonal. [Another attacking option was 15.Nxf6+ 15…Bxf6 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Qh5 followed by Rfe1. The black king will stay in the center forever, although the final breakthrough is still far away. Black will try to shelter his king one e7.]

15…Nxe4 16.Bxe4 f6?! After a long thought, Black decided to keep the king in the center. [16…O-O! should have been played. We have the same position as in the 12…Qd8 line, with only the rook standing on b1 and not on d1. Once again the critical continuation is 17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Bxg7! This could be the only reason why Acs refused to castle kingside, but it again seems to lead to a perpetual, just as in the 12… Qd8 line. 19…Kxg7 20.Qg4+ Kf6 21.Rb3 Bd6 22.Qh4+ Kg6 23.Qg4+=]

17.Qh5+ Avoiding castling forever.

17…Kf8 White cannot lead a mating attack directly, he must continue with some prophylactic measures. Black has only one dream in this position, to finish the development of the queenside, for example with Bd7-c6. Therefore White puts pressure on the b7 pawn. [17…g6? is obviously a blunder because of 18.Bxg6+]

18.Qf3!? [Another strong move was 18.Rfd1!? 18…Rb8 (The idea is that after 18…Bd7 19.Bxf6! Bxf6 20.Rxb7 wins.) 19.Bd4 Preventing Bd7 again, this time White could play Ba7. 19…b6 White has a very deep move here: 20.h3!? Not necessary of course, but the point is to still keep the bishop on c8. Black has no useful move with any other pieces and 20…Bd7 allows 21.Bxb6! Rxb6 22.Rxb6 Qxb6 23.Rxd7c With a big advantage and here we can see that h3 is a very useful move to have the back rank opened.]

18…Rb8 19.Bd4 White opens the rook’s file and intends to confuse Black with Ba7 or Bb6.

19…f5 [Ivanisevic’s point of bringing back the queen to f3 becomes clear after the most obvious 19…b6 Now White plays 20.Qe3! and Black has problems with the b6 pawn. To grab the c4 pawn is of course always too optimistic. With a king on f8 one should never grab pawns and open new files for the rooks. 20…Qxc4 loses to 21.Rfc1 Qa4 22.Qf4!h trapping the b8 rook.]

20.Rfd1 Activating the last unemployed piece. [It would also have made sense to transfer the bishop back to e3 first with 20.Ba7 20…Ra8 21.Be3 Rb8 22.Rfd1 Threatening Bf4. But of course the text move is more human.]

20…Bf6 The e4 bishop is suddenly hanging and Black is ready to trade some pieces to easen his defensive task. White needs to continue precisely.

21.Bb6! [21.Ba7? could be met by 21…fxe4]

21…Qe5 [21…fxe4 is refuted by 22.Qa3+! Qe7 (22…Be7

23.Bxc7 Bxa3 24.Rd8+ Kf7 25.Rxh8h) 23.Bc5h; 21…Qxc4 22.Qg3Ra8 White has many tempting options. A spectacular attacking move is 23.Bd8!h trying to free the d8 square for the rook.]

22.Bc2 Kf7 Black is one step closer to connecting his rooks, but developing the c8 bishop still looks like a hopeless task.

23.Rb3! White further improves his pieces.

23…h5 Black cannot move with his pieces, so he at least prevents the checks on h5. But of course it is already a bad sign if somebody has to make such moves.

24.Re3 Qb2 The only square for the queen.

25.Bb3! might look a bit strange, but the bishop is actually going to stand extremely well after c5, getting a new target on e6!

25…g5 Black tries a clever attempt to make some artificial safety for his king on g6, but in a bad position all moves are just bad.

26.c5 Kg6 27.Bc7! Ivanisevic continues with his precise and energetic moves! [27.Bxe6? immediately would only help Black: 27…Bxe6 28.Rxe6 Rhe8 Suddenly Black connects his rooks and gets rid of his poor c8 bishop.]

27…g4 [27…Ra8 loses to 28.Bxe6! Bxe6 29.Rxe6 And the difference of having the Bc7 move included is that 29…Rhe8 30.Be5! wins.]

28.Qf4 Ra8 [28…Bg5 was Acs’s intention when he pushed g4, but it has a beautiful refutation!

[29.Qe5! Qxe5 30.Bxe5 Bxe3 31.fxe3h Black loses a full rook.]

29.Be5! Trading the only defender of the king. Black cannot save himself…

29…Bxe5 30.Rxe5 Kf6 Allowing White to finish the game in style. [30…Re8 31.Rde1h The e6 pawn will fall and it also means the end of the game as Kf6 allows Qh6.]

31.Rxf5+! exf5 32.Rd6+ Ke7 33.Qg5+ Black resigned in view of Rd8 mate. A great attacking game! 1-0

Bacrot, Etienne(2730) – Gonda, Laszlo(2535)

Etienne Bacrot won a nice positional game with many deep ideas.

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 The Cambridge Springs variation is becoming more and more popular nowadays. Mamedyarov has started to play it permanently and we might possibly see the development of this opening during the Candidates tournament next month.

6.e3 Qa5

7.cxd5 7.Bxf6 and 7.Nd2 are the other two huge main lines with thousands of games for both. It is still unclear where White should search for the advantage.

7…Nxd58.Qd2 [Kramnik invented the interesting novelty of 8.Rc1 and in 2010 he scored a nice win against Shirov, but since then Black has already found an adequate way to counter this move. 8…Nxc3 9.bxc3 Ba3 10.Rc2 b6 followed by Ba6 with similar stories to what will happen in our game. Carlsen had beaten Gelfand with the black pieces in last year’s Candidates tournament.]

8…Bb4 9.Rc1 h6 10.Bh4

14…Ba6 After the trade of the bishops Black seems to be alright. White has the better center, but Black stands without any weaknesses and he is ready to create his counterplay after placing the rooks on e8 and c8 with c5 or sometimes e5.

15.Rfd1 It is unclear whether this rook should stand on d1 or on e1. Both have its plusses. With the rook on e1, White can sometimes launch an attack with e4-e5 and Re4-g4, while now White intends to counter the c5 idea with d5. [If White avoids the trade of the bishops with 15.c4 the trade of the queens eases Black’s position. 15…Qxd2 16.Nxd2 does not change the character of the position. Black tries to execute the same ideas. 16…Rfe8= followed by Rac8 and e5 or c5.]

15…Rfe8 Since Black is familiar with the plans, he has a very easy task at this part of the game.

16. Bxa6 Qxa6 17.Qc2 With the idea to advance in the center with c4! In this case the c5 move could always be met by d5. This is the first moment when Black has to solve a positional problem.

17…Be7!? The most natural move to trade the bishops. It was clearly misplaced on a3 because the c5 break could not be executed properly as after d5 the bishop remains out of the game. [The alternative was 17…b5!? A slightly committing move, but it also looks decent to create a blockade on the c4 square. Black can continue his plan with Rac8 and c5. The game could follow up with 18.Bg3 Rac8 19.Qe2 Trying to delay the c5 break a bit, but Black can improve his position with 19…Nb6 20.e4 Na4 21.Rb3 Bf8 and the c3 pawn is very weak. Black pushes c5 next. ]

18.Bg3 White would like to keep all the advantages of his position. His bishop is superior to the one on e7 because it controls many important squares along the h2-b8 diagonal, but it gives time for Black to play c5 before he could prepare to that with c4. [The alternative was 18.Bxe7 18…Rxe7 19.c4 both c5 and e5 could now be met by d5. White might claim a slight edge, but of course the position remains completely playable for both sides. Still, I believe 17…b5 was better than this.]

18…c5! Very good timing! Otherwise White plays c4 and after c5 d5 he can take back with the pawn. Bacrot obviously expected this move, but he had a very deep idea in mind before he played Bg3.

19.d5! Otherwise after cxd4 and Rac8 Black is completely fine.

19…exd5 20.c4! This was the tactical point of White! If he manages to play cxd5, he achieves the same as if he had time to play c4. However Black also has his resources.

20…d4! Excellent counterplay.

21.exd4 Bf6? But this is a big positional mistake, allowing White to create a protected passed pawn and obtain an advantage. [Obviously Gonda knew that the right positional move is 21…cxd4! but after 22.Nxd4 it looks a bit dangerous. There are some tactical ideas, the d7 knight is in the x-ray and Nb5 is threatening with the very unpleasant Nc7 triple fork. However Black has an ideal response: 22…Nc5 (The simple and more human 22…Qb7 23.Nb5 Rac8= also seems to be fine.) 23.Nb5

23…Qa4! Solving the problem tactically. If the tension goes down, Black will have excellent chances due to his better pawn structure. 24.Qxa4 Nxa4 25.Nc7 Nc3 is the point and Black is OK!]

22.d5+= Now White ha s achieved what he wanted. The d5 pawn is going to be a long-term problem for Black.

22…Re7 23.Bd6! Preventing the doubling of the rooks.

23…Ree8 24.Bc7!? A positional trick move, which proves to be successful.

24…Qb7 The queen stands badly on b7 for two reasons. First of all it allows White to play Qa4-c6 and it also stands in the motif in the event of activating the knight with Nd2-e4 (heading to d6). [24…Rac8 should have been played. White wanted to retreat with 25.Bf4 and on (25.d6? is a positional mistake to lock the bishop out from the game. Black could simply go around it with 25…Re6) 25…Re7 26.Re1 Rce8 27.Rxe7Rxe728.a4+= followed by opening the back rank with h3. White has a long-term advantage due to the d5 pawn.]

25.Bg3Ne5 [Black should have gone back to 25…Qa6+=but positionally it is already a difficult move, since we had the same position after 22.d5, but it was Black to move.]

26.Nd2! It is very important to keep the minor pieces on the board. In the rook endgame the advantage might easily disappear, but now the knight is going to e4, threatening on f6 andd6!

26…Qd7 27.Ne4Ng6 Black decided to allow the weakening of the king side. [27…Bd8 was too ugly to consider it seriously. White is better anyway after let’s say 28.a4 then h3, opening the back rank. White now has time for everything.]

28.Nxf6+gxf6 Bacrot had foreseen that his opponent wants to get his bishop out from the game with f5-f4 and he prepared a very deep trap…

29.h4?! [It would have been much stronger to play 29.a4! 29…f5 30.f3 f4 31.Bf2c and a5 next move. White can trade a pair of rook with Re1 and later he transfers his bishop to c3. White has a big positional advantage.]

29…f5? Falling into the trap. [29…Qg4! could have suddenly given Black good counterplay. He probably did not want to leave the blockade of the d-pawn, but 30.d6 Rad8 is not clear at all.]

30.h5 f4

31.Rb3!! This brilliant move was so shocking that Black, maybe slightly prematurely, resigned.

[31.Rb3 The game could have continued with 31…fxg3 32.Rxg3 Kg7 33.hxg6 f6 Black needs to keep the g-file closed. White is a pawn up and he has a winning position, but some further technique would still have been required. White could play 34.Qd2h with the idea to trade rooks with Re1.

All pawn endgames are winning due to the d5 protected passed pawn. We can be sure that Bacrot would have easily converted the advantage, but still the game could have lasted a bit longer.; On 31.Bh2 31…Nh4 32.Bxf4 Qg4 33.Bg3 Nf5 was in Black’s mind with counterplay.; 31.hxg6 31…fxg3 32.fxg3 fxg6 33.Qxg6+ Qg7 White has an extra pawn, but the win is far from obvious because the doubled g-pawns don’t have full value.] 1-0

Anand, Viswanathan(2773) – Nakamura, Hikaru(2789) [C65]

It seems like almost everyone is playing the Berlin nowaday.

In Zurich it was one of the main openings of Carlsen, Aronian, Anand and Nakamura, 4 out of 6! However, after the opening Anand managed to reach a very comfortable advantage but after the logical but maybe premature 15.d4 move the game went into totally unclear areas where Nakamura just managed to hammer the Ex-World Champion away.

1.e4e5 2.Nf3Nc6 3.Bb5Nf6 4.d3 Sowe have an Anti-Berlin with 4.d3. If any of our readers know how to get any advantage in this opening, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately! 🙂

4…Bc5 5.Bxc6 Strangely White has almost stopped trying

5.c3 or 5.0-0.

5…dxc6 6.h3 One of the main moves. Actually I have never been sure if it is really necessary to avoid Bg4…

6…Be6 Nakamura chooses quite an aggressive line, which I would actually not advice to play. [6…O-O followed by the usual Nd7-Re8-f6 looks very solid.]

7.Nc3 Qd6 Black is going for the long castle.

8.O-O O-O-O So we have reached quite a tricky position. It is clear that White will try to create some play on the queenside and Black on the kingside. White’s idea should also be to play Na4 somewhere to exchange the dark squared bishop.

9.a3!? Quite a tricky move by Anand. [9.Na4 of course didn’t work because of 9…Nxe4!]

9…Nh5?! is too direct. [A flexible move like 9…Kb8 could have been one of the options to go on. The king is better placed on b8 than on c8 anyway and White still doesn’t have Na4.]

10.Na4! It is very important for White to get rid of the black squared bishop.

10…Bb6 I am not sure why Nakamura decided to lose one more tempo. [It might have been better for Black to play 10…f6 11.Nxc5 Qxc5 12.Be3 Qd6 and White is probably a bit better because of the nice pawn structure, but nothing too dramatic has happened.]

11.Nxb6+axb612.a4! Another strong move by Anand. White is planing to play a5 and afterwards a6 to try and open the a-file.

12…f6 looks a bit slow, but Black probably didn’t have anything better.

13.Be3 [Why not immediately 13.a5 ]

13…Nf4 Now Black is threatening to play g5 next.

14.a5 b5 To open the a-file would of course be deadly for Black.

15.d4?! This move is quite a serious mistake as it gives Black a nice chance to complicate the game. [White should have played 15.a6! asking Black the big question whether to take on a6 or not. 15…b6 (15…bxa6 was not much better as after 16.Rxa6 g5 17.d4 the black king on c8 is in terrible shape and White is close to winning.) 16.d4c And we have a similar position as in the game, only a6 is included, which is very important because White has the very important a7 move in a lot of lines.]

15…Nxh3+! Nakamura is taking his chance! Black needs to take extreme measures! [After the slow 15…Bc4?! 16.Re1exd4

17.Nxd4 it is clear that White is much better.]

16.gxh3 Bxh3 So what to do now?!

17.dxe5 What else to do?! [17.a6 doesn’t bring anything here because of 17…bxa6!; And after 17.Re1 Black has the very strong 17…Bg4! with the idea of playing f5 next, with a very unclear position. (17…Qe6 18.Nh2 exd4 19.Bd2 would lead to a clear advantage for White.) 18.c3]

17…Qe6 18.Nd2 Protecting the g4 square and the queen.

18…Bxf1 19.Qxf1 Qxe5 The position has dramatically changed. Black has 2 pawns and a rook against a bishop and aknight. This time it is White who has to be in a hurry to create some direct play on the black king as otherwise Black will be more than fine.

20.c3 Protecting the b2 pawn and securing the Bd4 move, which is a logical decision. [20.a6 Once again White could have included 20…b6 but it would only lead to the position in the game.]


21.a6 b6

22.Qg2! A nice move by Anand. The queen is perfectly placed on g2. White always has the f4-e5 idea in mind and Qxg7 could also be a possible threat in some lines as well as to play Nf3-Nd4 next, even sacrificing the e4 pawn.

22…Rd6?! A very direct move with the threat of playing f5 next followed by Rg6. [22…Rhe8 with a very unclear position was probably a better option.]

23.Nf1? This is already a serious mistake. Such a passive move just can’t be right. [Much better was 23.Nb3 What can be more natural than to put the knight on d4? 23…f5 24.exf5 Qxf5 25.Nd4 Qg6 26.Bf4 White should be better here.]

23…f5! Now Black is on a roll.

24.exf5 Qxf5 25.Ng3 Qd7! The black queen is taking an excellent position on d7. The idea of Black is simple, to play h5-h4 followed by Rg6 and mate.

26.Qe4 It is really hard to find a plan against h5-h4 for White.

26…Ka7! Very cool and strong play. Black is securing his king’s position before starting the final attack.

27.Kg2 Anand probably wanted to bring his rook to h1-it is hard to give a better advice.

27…h5 28.Qf5 A very strange move. White starts to panic. [Following the idea was of course the right choice: 28.Rh1

28…Rd5! Black is of course better, but White is fighting.]

28…Qe8 There will be no exchange of queens!

29.Qe4 Qf7 The hide and seek game is over. White can’t attack the black queen any longer.

30.Kh1 This move loses but the position was probably already lost anyway. [30.Qf5 30…Rf6 is winning for Black.]

30…h4 Chasing the knight from g3.

31.Ne2 Re8 All black pieces are joining the attack.

32.Qg4 Another problem of White is that even after the exchange of queens Black’s position would still remain much better.

32…Rg6 33.Qh3 This move gives Nakamura the chance to finish the game with a beautiful tactic:

33…Qd5+ 34.Kh2

34…Rxe3! A nice final blow!

35.fxe3 Qd2 White can’t defend the e2 knight in a normal way.

36.Qf1 Rf6 White resigned because of 37.Qg2 h3! All in all a fighting game, but White could surely have done much better.