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

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

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

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

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

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.

21…Qd6

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

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!

1-0

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.

5…e6

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.. .

13…Qc7

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

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