Harikrishna, Pentala(2706) – Nakamura, Hikaru(2789) [B51]

An impressive postional achievement, which was crowned with a nice tactical blow at the end.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Harikrishna did not want to test himself in a sharp line of Nakamura, he rather goes for the recently popular Bb5 check, where White is aiming for a positional game with a small advantage.

3…Nd7 The most dynamic answer by Black. 3…Bd7 leads to much simpler positions.

4.O-O a6

5.Bd3 I have commented the Svidler-Papaioannau game several CEWNs ago, which had seen the same continuation. This ugly-looking move is actually very logical, White wants to occupy the center with c3, Bc2 and d4.

5…Ngf6 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 Bb7 8.Re1 We have reached the critical position from the opening point of view, where it is still unclear how Black should play. The mentioned Svidler game continued with 8…e6. Nakamura’s reaction is the most common move.

8…e5 [A third option is 8…c4 to fight against d4 with the en passant, but the black pawns become slightly weakened after all… 9.a4! e5 10.axb5 axb5 11.Rxa8 Qxa8 12.Na3!

The most direct play against the b5 pawn. 12…Be7 (Black cannot hold the pawn for long with 12…Bc6 13.d4 or 13. d3 might be more forcing. 13…cxd3 14.Bxd3 Qb7 15.Qe2 and Black is in trouble.) 13.Nxb5O-O. Black decided to sacrifice his weakness for compensation. He has a target on e4 and the c1 bishop is locked, but White succeeded to consolidate. 14.Qe2 Rc8 15.d4 cxd3 16.Bxd3 White was better in Karjakin-Cheparinov, Rhodes 2013]

9.d4 Suddenly we have reached a Ruy Lopez structure from the Sicilian defense. The plans for both sides will already be familiar for us. Black might be a tempo up, but with the c5-d6-e5pawn structure the bishop on b7 is misplaced. White is going to close the center with d5 and then the bishop will be locked out from the actions and it will take Black some time to drive it back to d7.

9…Be7 10.Nbd2 White employs the Spanish maneuver of transferring the knight to g3. Opening the center with taking twice on d4 usually favors White, the knight might jump to f5.

10…O-O11.Nf1Re8 Typical Spanish moves. Black gets ready to release the tension in the center and also strengthens his e5 pawn to free his pieces.

12.Ng3 Bf8

13.d5! Harikrishna chooses the right moment to close the position. [After another useful move like 13.h3 Black already opensthegamewith13…cxd414.cxd4exd415.Nxd4(15.Qxd4 15…Rc8) 15…d5! This was not working before without the preparation of Re8 and Bf8 because of e5!]

13…g6 Black takes the f5 square under control. Otherwise White would have settled his knight on f5 and it is not easy to kick it out since g6 always runs into Nh6!

14.b3! The Ruy Lopez middlegames are extremely complex, one must study them very deeply to understand. The fight is usually going on on both sides. White sometimes tries to provoke weaknesses on the queenside with a4, Bd3, Qe2. If Black wants to keep the structure he must transfer his pieces to this side, but then a kingside attack with h3, Nh2 and f4 could be very effective. With his last move Harikrishna prevented Black’s typical counterplay of c4, Nc5, a5, Ba6, b4 and Nd3 and he also prepares himself for the queenside play. [14.a4 was bad in view of 14…c4 White loses control over the b3 square and he cannot put pressure on the b5 pawn, like it happened in the 8…c4 line. Black consolidates with Nc5 next move.]

14…Nb6! The knight stands well on b6 against the upcoming ideas on the queenside.

15.Rb1! A deep subtle move, which tries to make use of the misplacement of the b7 bishop with the x-ray. At the moment there are many pieces between them, but in the forthcoming moves both sides are intending to play such moves as c4 or a4, after which the opening of the b-file is already in the air. [15.a4!? is another known plan in such positions. Black has a couple of options here as well, but it is not easy to assess which one is the best. 15…bxa4(15…c4 transposes to the game after 16.bxc4 Nxc4 17.Rb1; 15…Bc8 is a logical move to keep the tension and strengthen the b5 pawn with Bd7.) 16.bxa4 a5!? is also interesting with the idea of c4, Ba6 and driving the b6 knight back to c5, from where it could jump to d3 and b3.]

15…c4 Nakamura tries to sharpen the position, but White is better prepared for the direct actions. [It was probably more advisable to leave the x-ray with 15…Bc8 although White has an easier game after 16.h3! followed by Nh2 and f4.]

16.bxc4! Nxc4

17.a4! The x-ray start s to work. It is suddenly not easy to deal with the b5 pawn. Nakamura decided to sacrifice it, but he does not get enough compensation. It is worth mentioning that if Black could play Bd7 now, he would be completely fine!

17…Qc7 [Nakamura was probably initially (before playing 15…c4) intending to play 17…Qa5 but White has the very strong 18.Nd2! Rec8 (18…Qxc3 drops a piece after 19.Ne2! Qa5 The only square for the queen. 20.Nxc4bxc421.Rxb7h) 19.Nxc4 Rxc4 20.Bd2! Bd3 is coming next and Black cannot avoid losing the b5 pawn. 20…Bc8 21.axb5 axb5 22.Bd3 Rc5 23.c4!c; 17…Qd7 is also too passive. The d7 square should be occupied by the bishop.

18.Bd3 Rec8

19.Qe2 The c4 knight looks nice, but actually it is a clear target. Black cannot remove it because the b5 pawn is always hanging and White is threatening to simply win a pawn with Rb4. 19…Rc7 20.Rb4 Rac8 White can further improve his position by bringing the e1 rook into the game. 21.Bg5! Be7 22.axb5 axb5 23.Ra1c Black is in trouble.]

18.axb5 axb519. Rxb5 Na3 Nakamura takes the bishop pair, but a pawn is still a pawn!

20.Rb3Nxc221.Qxc2Nd7This is the idea. Black would like to create a solid blockade on the c-file with Nc5, Ba6 and Rec8, Rab8. If he could achieve all this he could still be fine, but of course White also has his ideas…

22.Be3! After Nc5 the knight could be taken now as recapturing with the pawn is positionally not an option for Black. White would play c4 (to avoid c4-Bc5) and both bishops are bad. Black would have no compensation for the pawn.

22…Ba6 23.Ra3! Threatening to pin the bishop, which forces Black to simplify the position.

23…Bb524.Rea1Rxa325.Rxa3Whiteisreadytoinvadethe 7th rank. 25…Rb8 [25…Nc5 26.c4c is also bad.]

26.Ra7 [26.Nd2!? was also possible, but it is only good if White foresees the following brilliant idea. White wants to play c4, so Black should try to parry it: 26…Nb6 and here

27.c4!! Nxc428.Ngf1!! After this shocking move, Black cannot avoid losing a piece. The threat is Qc1!! and then Rc3! Black is simply unable to leave the pin on the c-file. It is important to play Qc1 first, because Rc3 could be met by the intermediate move Nxe3! (28.Rc328…Nxe3) 28…Rc8 is refuted by (28…Qc8 already runs into 29.Rc3! because the rook is hanging in the end: 29…Nxe3 30.Rxc8 Nxc2 31.Rxb8h) 29.Rc3 Nxe3 30.Rxc7 Nxc2 31.Rxc8h]

26…Qc8 Black did not want to leave the annoying rook on a7, but otherwise White could have played c4! [26…Rb7 27.Rxb7 Qxb7 28.c4 Ba6 29.Nd2c White slowly but surely converts his advantage.]

27.h3 Opening the backrank, just in case. A good prophylactic move.

27…Nb6

28.Qc1! Another very subtle move! After Black has focused all his pieces on the queen side in order to fight against c4, the black king is a bit alone and Harikrishna exploits it with a very nice attack.

28…Nc429.Bh6 Suddenly all of White’s pieces are ready for a final blow!

29…Qc5 [29…Rb7 also leads to a lost position, but at least Black is not getting mated. 30.Rxb7 Qxb7 31.Bxf8 Kxf8

32.Qh6+ Kg8 33.Ng5 f6 34.Ne6c]

30.Nh5!! And suddenly the game is over! Black cannot avoid getting mated, which is actually not a big surprise. Only the f8 bishop is defending, while all white pieces are around the king…

30…Bg7 [30…gxh5 leads to forced mate after 31.Qg5+ Kh8 32.Qf6+ Kg8 33.Qxf7+ Kh8 34.Qxh7#; 30…Qxa7 is refuted by31.Nf6+Kh832.Bxf8Qh6 is coming next and the diagonal closing combination does not help either: 32…Ne3 (32…Rxf8

33.Qh6h) 33.Bxd6h Black collapses.]

31.Bxg7 Qxa7 32.Qh6 It is just too much to hold.

32…f5 [32…f6 does not change anything.                33.Nxf6+ Kf7

34.Ng5+ Ke7 35.Ne6h White will mate soon.]

33.Ng5 1-0

 

 

 

Areshchenko, Alexander(2714) – Rustemov, Alexander(2538)

We will see a game where Black was too greedy and found himself under a heavy attack. What is nice about the current game is that White was not forcing a direct tactical win, but attacked “positionally” until Black’s position practically fell apart.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Areschenko decides to go for a complicated game. [After 3.Nd2 or 3.Nc3 Rustemov is always taking on e4. 3.Nc3 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 And Rustemov probably played this position over 10.000 times. He has a lot of games in normal chess, but what he especially likes is to play it against computers. On his different ICC accounts he probably has over 100.000 games played against the machines!]

3…c54.c3Qb6 [It is more usual for Black to start with 4…Nc6 here, but Black has another idea: 4…Nc6 ]

5.Nf3Bd7 This is quite a rare move. Of course Black’s idea is to exchange the bishop on b5, but it takes quite some time.

6.Bd3 White has a lot of different options here but 6.Bd3 seems to be the main one. Areschenko played in his previous game again L‘ami here: [6.a3 6…Bb5 7.Bxb5+ Qxb5 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.b4 Bb6 10.a4 Qd7 and Win won after an unclear game.]

6…cxd4 Black tries to first exchange the c-pawn before playing Bb5. [After the immediate 6…Bb5 7.Bxb5+ Qxb5 White has the important 8.a4! Qa6 9.Na3 followed by Nb5 and 0-0, after which he should have a clear advantage.]

7.Nxd4! This is still theory, but a nice move anyway. The idea is simply not to let Black play Bb5.

7…Bc5 Black is chosing a very risky line and going for the d4 pawn.

8.O-O Bxd4 9.cxd4 Qxd4 This is still a theoretical position. White is a pawn down, but a clearly better development, the bishop pair and a chance to dominate on the dark squares are worth it!

10.Nc3 Nb5 is a threat now.

10…a6 This is also a standard move in this position, avoiding the main threat of Nb5.

11.Re1 Bc6

12.Ne2! A strong move which has been played lately in the game Grischuk-Morozevich from the World Cup tiebreak.

12…Qxe5? This move is too risky and Black almost immediately ends up in a lost position. [12…Qg4 13.h3Qh5 14.Bf4 Bb5 15.Qb3 Ne7 16.Bxb5+ axb5 17.Qxb5+ Nbc6 18.Qxb7 O-O 19.Qb3 happened in the game Grischuk-Morozevich with a better position for White, but things are far from clear.]

13.Ng3! Simple andong. White is almost fully developed and starts his initiative by attacking the pawns on the kingside.

13…Qc7 14.Qg4! Weakening the dark squares even further.

14…g6 [14…Kf8 was not any better. 15.Nh5 Black cannot defend the g7 pawn in an appropriate way. 15…g6 16.Qd4 e5 This attempt to win a piece leads to a deadly attack for White: 17.Rxe5 gxh5 18.Qb4+ Kg7 19.Rg5+ Kf6 20.Bf4 With an easily winning position.]

15.Qd4 Winning a pawn back.

15…f6 Black already doesn’t have anything better.

16.Rxe6+ Kf7

17.Bf4! White develops the last piece with tempo.

17…Qc8 18.Re3 [18.Rd6 also looks very strong. 18…Nd7 19.Re1 With a winning attack.]

18…a5 Pretty strange play by Black, who doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to finish his development. [18…Qd7 was needed. 19.Rae1 Bb5 With the idea of playing Nc6 next. White’s position is of course close to winning, but Black is fighting.]

19.Rae1 Qd7 White has a lot of very nice moves here and it is clear that the position should even somehow be tactically winning, but Areschenko finds a very elegant way of not giving his opponent the slightest chance.

20.h4! A great move. White does not hurry to force things and enjoys his postion by creating an extra weakness on the g6 square.

20…Na6 21.h5 The g6 pawn is under attack. It is difficult to say anything else about Black’s position than it just being ugly!

21…Nc7 And finally Areschenko decides that it is time to finish the game:

22.Bxc7 Qxc7 23.Qg4 Black has no way to defend the g6 pawn. To play g5 is of course not a solution because of Nf5.

23…Kf8 24.hxg6 hxg6 25.Bxg6 The material is equal, but White’s attack is deadly…

25…Rd8 26.Qd4 Areschenko continues keeping the black pieces very passively.

26…Rh6 Other moves are not much better.

27.Qc5+! This is the most direct way to put an end to Black’s suffering…

27…Qd6 [27…Kg7 is of course losing: 28.Re7+ Nxe7 29.Rxe7+ Qxe7 30.Qxe7+ Kxg6 31.Qxd8]

28.Re8+ Bxe8 29.Rxe8+ And the game is over because of 29…Kg7 30.Nf5. Avery easy win for White which clearly shows that being under-developed is very risky, even when you’re a pawn up. 1-0

Bobras, Piotr(2518) – Anand, Viswanathan(2775)

It is never easy to beat a Grandmaster who wants to make a draw with White, even if you are an ex World Champion. Clearly, in case of a match of 4 games the outcome would be easy to guess, but at a one game at 10 in the morning anything might happen!

1.e4 c5 Judging from Anand’s latest games, 1…e5 is his main move.

2.Nf3 e6 And of course the Paulsen is a choice for a fighting game. For so many years Anand was the biggest expert on the Najdorf, but the fear of 2…d6 3.Bb5 probably made the ex World Champion choose the Paulsen, where the game quickly gets out of theory.

3.d4cxd44.Nxd  4.a65.Bd3 [5.Nc3 is the other main move.]

5…Bc5 For people who don’t play the Sicilian this move might look strange, but in fact it is very logical. Before developing the bishop on e7 or a7, Black is chasing the white knight from d4 which leads to a win of half a tempo. The knight is clearly better placed on d4 than on b3.

6.Nb3Ba7 A rather rare line. [6…Be7 7.Qg4g6 8.Qe2 would lead us to the main position of the line.]

7.Qe2 [A slightly more popular setup for White is 7.O-O 7…Nc6 8.c4 Nf6 9.Nc3 d6 10.Kh1 with the idea of playing f4 next.]

7…d6 This move is needed anyway.

8.Be3 Nc6 Taking on e3 doesn’t make much sense as the black rook is often taking a quite good position on a7 because of b5-Rd7-Bb7 ideas.

9.Bxa7 Once again White chooses the most solid plan. Nc3 followed by 0-0-0 would have led to a much more complicated position.

9…Rxa7 10.Qe3 White is not playing for an advantage, but just trying to be solid. A very good strategy against a much stronger opponent.

10…Nf6 11.O-O White is also quite tricky here and doesn’t hurry with developing the knight from b1, keeping both options of playing Nc3 or N1d2 in mind.

11…O-O A solid move. [Maybe Black could have tried to bring the game onto sharper territory by playing 11…b5 12.a4 White needs to act against Black’s pawn structure: 12…b4 And this position is a bit more unbalanced.]

12.c4 And again White is not trying to play for “anything”.

 

12…e5?! This can’t be the right way to go on… [Anand probably didn’t want to play 12…d5 because of 13.exd5 exd5 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Qg3 and the position is very close to a draw, but I still think he would have had better chances than in the game here.; another way to go on could be 12…Re8 with the idea of playing next d5]

13.Nc3 Now White’s position just looks more pleasant.

13…Be6 Black has to reactivate the rook.

14.Rfd1 Bobras continues playing solid-safe moves, not even pretending to try and achieve an advantage. [14.Rac1 followed by Nd5 next could have been an attempt to get the upper hand.]

14…Ra8 15.Be2 White wants to double on the d-file.

15…Rc8 In a slightly worse position with no clear play, even such great players like Anand can’t do much…

16.Rd2 And Bobras continues with his safe and logical moves.

16…Qc7 17.Rad1 Rfd8 Black of course managed to defend the d6 pawn, but he is still a bit worse.

18.Nd5 This move is basically fixing the draw for White and this is clearly what Bobras was trying to reach. [18.f3 would keep the game alive with a small edge for White because of the better pawn structure.]

18…Bxd5 This move is forced.

19.cxd5Ne7 The black knight doesn’t have a better square…

20.Rc1 White is winning control back over the c-file.

20…Qd7 21.Rdc2 Bobras doesn’t even leave Anand the smallest hope and by those exchanges on the c-file the game is slowly coming to a peaceful end…

21…Rxc2

22.Rxc2 Rc8 23.Rxc8+ Many hobby players are often shouting: “How can somebody over 2750 make a quick draw against a 2520GM”, but in fact we all play with the same pieces and yes, lower rated GMs are weaker than the Top 10 players in some areas, but the difference is not that big and simple positions can be handled almost at the same level even by a player who is over 250 ELO points lower. 1/2-1/2

Caruana, Fabiano(2782) – Naiditsch, Arkadij(2718) [A05]

At this moment I was having the worst tournament of my chess career. Why? This I asked myself as well, maybe I am just getting older!? 🙂 Caruana was on the second place and it was clear to everybody that anything else than a full point would be a disappointment for the World Nr5. Well, sometimes life is funny. Last year I played Caruana 3 times, I had 3 winning positions and out of those I scored 0.5 points, whilenow, being in such horrible shape, I somehow managed to win quite a smooth game. How to explain it-no idea!

1.Nf3 Caruana’s main move is 1.e4 but I was expecting any opening given the tournament situation.

1…Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 So now I had to choose whether to play a Reti after 3…Bf5 or 3…Bg4 or 3…c6, to play the same as against Karjaking which would go into a Catalan after 3…e6 but somehow I thought these openings are too boring and decided to play something more funny.

3…g6 4.c4 The quick 4.c4 is quite a tricky move because of many move orders which are coming after it.

4…dxc4 A more or less rare continuation. [4…Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.O-O Nb6 would lead to the main KID with g3.]

5.Na3 A very logical move. The white knight will take a great position on c4.

5…Bg7 6.Nxc4 c5 I need to stop White from playing d4, a move after which Black would be a bit worse.

7.Nfe5?! Caruana made this move after thinking for quite a long time. Personally I don’t like it, it is just too early. I think White’s position should be a bit better after the simple 0-0,d3, Bd2, Rc1.

7…O-O8.d3Nd59. Qb3e610. O-OQc7 Now we can see why Nfe5 was a bit too early. It is difficult for White to keep the knigh to ne5 and to go back would just mean a loss of a tempo.

11.f4 White doesn’t have a choice.

11…Nd7 12.Bd2!? A little provocation.

12…b6 I just continue playing simple move. To develop the bishop on b7 can’t be a bad idea. [To go for the pawn would have been a bad decision: 12…Nxe5? 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.fxe5 Qxe5 15.Rf2 followed by e4 and I would probably be crushed on the dark squares.]

13.Nf3Bb714.e4 White needs to do something. I had an easy plan, to play Rac8-Rfd8 next with a very comfortable position.

14…Nb4 14…Ne7 was also possible, but somehow I thought the position of the knight on b4 is a bit more active and of course White cannot play Bxb4.

15.Bc3 White needs to exchange the black squared bishops. If I was in time for Nc6-Nd4 my position could even already be better. [Of course talking the pawn would have been a big mistake as after 15.Bxb4 15…cxb4 16.Qxb4 Nc5 the black pieces are just great!]

15…b5 During the game I was not sure if this was the right decision. My c5 pawn is getting a bit weak now, but on the other hand my pieces are getting a bit more active. [15…Rad8 would have been a solid move and I think the position is quite complicated.]

16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Qc3+ f6 Black’s position is looking a little strange with pawns on g6-f6-e6 but it is very solid.

18.Ncd2 [After 18.Ne3 18…Rad8 Black is fine as well.]

18…Qd6[Maybe 18…Qb6 would have been a better place for the queen, but it is hard to say.]

19.a3! The only move to keep the game in an unclear area. [During the game I thought that after 19.d4 19…Rac8 my position should be at least equal.]

19…Nc6 [Once again it would have been a mistake to take the pawn as after 19…Nxd3 20.e5! my whole position is falling apart. 20…b421.axb4cxb422.exd6bxc323.bxc3 With a clearly better endgame for White.]

20.Nb3 Rac8 21.Rac1 Ne7 So far all the moves were pretty logical. The position is very complicated. It is a pity for me that I never have the e5 move because of Bh3! but it is also difficult for White to create any concrete threats.

22.e5? This looks like a serious mistake to me. Now my knight is gaining a great square on d5. [It would have been better for White to play 22.Bh3 with a very complicated position.]

22…Qb6 23.exf6+ Rxf6 24.Kh1 In many lines I wanted to play c4 so Kh1 is almost forced.

24…Nd5 I now have a really great knight on d5!

25.Qd2c4! Caruana was slowly getting into time trouble and I felt that c4 should be the right move. Anyhow it was too tempting for me not to transport my knight from d7 to d3, even if I destroy my own pawn structure.

26.dxc4 bxc4 27.Nbd4 Nc5 28.Rc2! A strong defensive move. Now the rook will defend the b2 pawn and at the same time protect the bishop on g2.

28…Nd329.b3Nb2! A very nice way to defend the c4 pawn. [I was calculating for a long time to play 29…N5xf4 30.gxf4 Nxf4 31.Rxc4 Rxc4 32.bxc4 e5 and I could really not evaluate this position. It is hard to say if I have enough power to really mate the white king. The position is very unclear.]

30.Ne5 c3 31.Qf2

31…Rd8! A good move. It is clear that White’s position is already very dangerous. I have a strong c3 pawn and the white king could also get in trouble if I could somehow get rid of the g2 bishop. My main enemy is the knight on d4 so it is time to get rid of him.

32.Re1? After this move the game is already over. [My opponent had to find the amazing 32.Qg1!! a move which is very hard to play during a practical game. 32…Nxf4 33.gxf4 Rxd4 34.Rxc3 It seems like Black has no direct win and the position remains very complicated.]

32…Nxf4 Now the game is over.

33.gxf4 Rxd4 34.Rxc3 Nd1! This is why the white queen should have been on g1.

35.Rc7+ Kg8 A lot of white pieces are hanging now.

36.Qc2

36…Rdxf4! The most simple way of ending the game.

37.Rxb7 [37.Rxd1 37…Rf1+ 38.Rxf1 Rxf1#]

37…Nf2+

38.Kg1Nh3+

39.Kh1Rf1+ I was very happy to win such a game, although it just improved my mood a little bit. I don’t even want to imagine how Caruana felt after such a disaster in such an important 12th round. 0-1

Mista, Aleksander(2584) – Balogh, Csaba(2654)

Mista is a very dangerous attacking player and in this game he also tried to simply outrun the defence lines of your weekly commentator. But as a true Hungarian player, Csaba is very solid and good in defence, which makes him very hard to beat. In the game we are going to watch White sacrificed, Csaba took, White tried to be creative, but again Csaba was careful and ended up being a full piece up.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 A solid opening for a solid player. Csaba has already been playing the Berlin for many years and he shows very good results in it.

4.d3 This is probably the most fashionable move lately, because Carlsen plays it too.

4…Bc5 5.c3 This is also one of the main lines. The idea is simply to avoid Nd4 next. [Probably the main move sofar was 5.Bxc6 5…dxc6 and now White has a wide range of choices like 6.h3, 6.0-0, 6.Nc3, 6.Be3 and some more.; After 5.O-O 5…Nd4 6.Nxd4 Bxd4 the position is close to equal according to the current theory.]

5…O-O 6.O-ORe8 The funny thing is that Csaba scored 2 wins with this position in the current Bundesliga, one with White over Rene Stern and the one we are watching now. A true expert of the Anti-Berlin! 🙂

7.Re1 [Maybe 7.b4 7…Bb6 8.Bc4 d6 9.a4 a6 10.Qb3 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.a5 Ba7 13.Be3 Bxe3 14.fxe3 is the right way to fight for an advantage?! Balogh-Stern, Bundesliga 2014]

7…a6 The idea of the line with 6…Re8 is not to hurry with the d6 move, because in a good moment Black might save a tempo and play d7-d5 at once.

8.Ba4 [After a move like 8.Bxc6 8…dxc6 White’s position can never be better because of the weak pawn on d3 and a move like d4 can usually only bring an advantage to Black.]

8…b5 9.Bb3 Another option is to play 9.Bc2, but usually White’s bishop is better placed on b3.

9…Bb6 Once again Black does not hurry with the d6 move but maybe it was already time to play it and Mista finds the right plan to make use of this. [9…d6 is the main continuation and has already often been played often on the top level.]

10.a4! Mista chooses what is probably the best plan against Csaba’s Berlin. The black b5 pawn is a little weakness now.

10…Bb7 11.Bg5 I think this move might be a bit premature. [An interesting option for White could have been 11.Na3!? White doesn’t attack b5 directly, but now a move like Bg5 could already be a threat. 11…d6 (After a waiting move like 11…h6 12.Bd2 would put Black into quite an unpleasant situation as axb5 is now a threat and it is hard for Black to find a good way of defending the b5 pawn.; 11…d5 is probably not the best option either.

12.exd5 Na5 (12…Nxd5 13.Bg5! A very strong “zwischenzug”! 13…f6 14.Bd2 and White should be better.) 13.Bc2 Qxd5 14.b4 Nc6 And once again after the unpleasant 15.Bg5 White is better.) 12.Bg5 b4 Playing this move is not so nice, but what else to do?! 13.Nc4 bxc3 14.bxc3 Bc5 I think White should be better here, maybe not much but a small and stable plus.]

11…h6 To include h6 is always a good idea.

12.Bh4 d6 Black does not hurry with the g5 move as it has time, but maybe right now the d6 move was not the best option either. [12…Na5!? 13.Bc2 c5 would have been an interesting option for Black, to have Bc6 after Na3.]

13.Bd5? White clearly miscalculates his chances. [13.Na3! would again have caused quite some problems to Black. 13…b4 (After 13…g5 14.Nxg5 (14.Bg3 leads to unclear play because of the misplaced bishop on g3.) 14…hxg5 15.Bxg5 Kg7 it seems like Black doesn’t have anything better than

Kg7. 16.axb5 axb5 17.Qf3 Rh8 18.Nxb5 Rxa1

19.Rxa1 White has 3 pawns for the piece and quite an unpleasant pin with the bishop on g5. I think White should be clearly better here.) 14.Nc4 bxc3 15.bxc3 Ba7 16.Ne3 And once again White should be the one who dominates the game.]

13…g5! Csaba evaluates the complications totally correctly.

14.Nxg5 There is no way back for White as after 14. Bg3 Nxd5 his position would be horrible.

14…Nxd5 15.exd5 [15.Nf3 15…Nf6 and Black is just a piece up.]

15…hxg5

16.Qg4?! This move is already losing a piece. [16.dxc6 was probably better and after 16…Bxc6 17.Qg4 f6 Black is of course much better as he has the bishop pair and a great pawn structure, but maybe White could defend a bit more tenaciously here.]

16…Bc8! Maybe this is the move that Mista missed. Black is forcing the white queen to take away the last square of the h4 bishop.

17.Qg3 f6 Such a move is too easy to miss for Csaba. The white bishop on h4 is lost now.

18.dxc6 Kf7 Black is just a piece up and the great bishop on b6 even gives Black some attacking chances on the kingside. The game is basically over.

19.Bxg5 Rg8 Csaba continues playing the most precise moves. After19…fxg520. axb5 White would at least have some little compensation.

20.h4 White has no choice, as allowing Black to play Rxg5 is not an option.

20…fxg5 21.h5 Qf6 Black is threatening with the very unpleasant Qf4 next.

22.d4 [After 22.axb5 22…Qf4! 23.Qxf4+ gxf4 White can just resign.]

22…Qf4 23.Qd3

23…Bf5 Csaba develops his last piece with tempo.

24.Qd1 exd4 The game is totally over but White decides to check Black’s conversion powers.

25.Qb3+ Kf6 The king is taking a very safe position on f6.

26.g3 Qf3 27.Nd2 Qxh5 Cool and strong. Now Black is already threatening to mate by playing Rh8 next.

28.Ne4+ Kg6 29.Nxd6 cxd6 Thank you for the piece.

30.Qd5 Raf8 This was a very interesting opening and White probably twice missed the Na3 idea after which Black would have to solve quite some difficult problems. 0-1

Maze, S.(2536) – Navara, D.(2702) [B40]

We will see a nice fighting game with some mistakes, but that is normal. After a slightly unusual opening the game quickly turned into a complicated position. Black managed to reach a solid advantage and was even close to be “much” better, but a very nice queen sacrifize saved the game for Maze.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 In an open tournament like Gibraltar the fighting spirit of the players is especially high. The first price in this tournament is 20.000 Pounds! That’s why often openings like the Paulsen are being played, instead of for example the rock solid Berlin.

3.d3 Maze decides to quickly leave the main lines. Actually this is often a wrong decision for the “weaker” player. In an unclear position it is easier for the “stronger”player to outplay his opponent than in a long line of theory, where the game starts much later.

3…Nc6 4.g3 Nge7 A rarely played setup. [More usual is 4…d5 5.Bg2 Nf6 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.O-O O-O and we are back to a position with thousands of games being played.]

5.Bg2 g6 Black wants to get an even nicer version by putting the bishop on g7 and later playing d5.

6.h4!? A very interesting idea by White to try and gain a tempo by provoking the h6 move.

6…h6 [6…h5 would abandon the g5 square. 7.Bg5 Bg7 8.c3 And White might be a bit better.]

7.O-O Bg7 8.c3 To “kill” the g7 bishop is usually a good idea.

8…O-O 9.Re1 White’s idea is to play e5 next. [After 9.Be3 9…b6 10.Qd2 we can see that the h6 pawn is under attack, giving White a development tempo. 10…Kh7 11.d4 Ba6 It seems like Black also has good play here.; 9.d4 would lead to another unclear position: 9…cxd4 10.cxd4 d5 11.e5 Black quickly opens the f-line. 11…f6! With very unclear play.]

9…e5 is directed against White’s e5 and d4 moves. [Another option was to play 9…d5 10.e5 b5 With an unclear game. Now White’s plan would probably be Nbd2-Nf1-Nh2-Ng4 andBlack would rush on the queenside.]

10.Be3b611.Qd2 And now we see why the h6 pawn is useful for White: he could play Qd2 with a tempo.

11…Kh7 12.d4 There is no time to waste! [After a slow move like 12.Na3 12…d5! only Blackcould probably be better here.] 12…exd4! A good move. Black activates his bishop from g7.

13.cxd4 d5 That is the idea. White’s center is starting to get shaky.

14.e5 [14.exd5 was not better as after 14…Nxd5 15.Ne5 Bb7 White can be in trouble.]

14…Bg4 Black continues putting pressure on the d4 square.

15.Na3! A good move. White wants to play Nc2 or Nb5 next to gain control over the d4 square.

15…Bxf3 And Black is going for the forced continuation. [Another idea could have been 15…Nf5 16.dxc5 Now Black has a lot of complicated options but the most simple one is 16…Nxe317.Qxe3bxc518.Qxc5Rc8! Black’s initiative should give him some plus here.]

16.Bxf3 Nf5 17.dxc5 White’s moves are forced.

17…Nxe5[17…d4? isofcourseverybadbecauseof18.Bf4h]

18.Bg2?! Maze shows too much respect for his stronger opponent. [White was just in time for 18.Qxd5 18…Qf6 and now the very difficult to find 19.Nc4! probably saves the game for White. The position should be close to equal.]

18…Ng4! Excellent play by Navara! The black knights are basically crushing White’s position.

19.Nc2 There is no other way for White to go on.

19…Bxb2 Cool and strong.

20.Rad1Qf6 Another move with tempo. Black’s threat is Bc3 now.

21.Qe2 It is easy to see that White is in big trouble but the game is still not over and Black needs to continue playing accurately to keep the advantage.

21…Ngxe3 22.Nxe3 Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Bc3 [23…Rae8 would lead to a similar position as in the game: 24.Qxe8 Rxe8 25.Rxe8 Bd4]

24.Re2 Rae8? A very logical looking move, but probably the final mistake. After this the game is a draw. [Black would keep winning chances after 24…d4 25.Qd3 Rae8 and the game would be either a draw or a win for Black.]

25.Qxe8! An excellent decision by White. At first sight the position looks lost, but in fact it is very close to a draw.

25…Rxe8

26.Rxe8 Bd4 This is what Navara was hoping for, but White had another strong move up his sleeve…

27.Rxd4! This is the only move that saves the game. [27.Rf1 would lose immediately after 27…bxc5 28.Bxd5 Qd6! followed by Qg3.]

27…Qxd4

28.c6 If there was no white c-pawn the game would immediately be over, but there is this “beast” and Black objectively doesn’t have anything better than a draw.

28…Qd1+ Navara plays the best move but it is already not enough.

29.Kh2 Qc2 30.Bxd5 Protecting the c6 pawn.

30…Qxf2+ 31.Bg2 White still wants to play c7.

31…Qc5 32.Rd8! A good plan and the most simple! Black has no defence against White’s draw idea.

32…Kg7 33.Rd7 b5 The b-pawn is running…

34.c7 b4 35.Bb7! White is forcing a draw.

35…Qc2+

36.Kh1 [36.Kh3 36…Qf5+ 37.Kg2 would also lead to a draw after 37…Qc2+]

36…Qb1+

37.Kh2 Qxa2+

38.Kh1 Qb1+

39.Kh2 Qc2+

40.Kh1 Qc1+

41.Kh2 Qc2+ And Black doesn’t have anything better than to give a perpetual check. A lucky survival for White, but we learned a very useful queen sacrifice idea.

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