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