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