Maxime's Revenge

Starting from yesterday I will do regular analyzes on the most interesting event for chess.com
Currently the attention is focused on the Grand Prix tournament in Tashkent which gathers together some of the top players in the world.
The game that everyone expected was between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana. The French GM is showing constant progress in his play but was defeated twice recently by Caruana (in Saint Louis). Maxime also had a birthday that day and he obviously decided to take care of the present himself.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Tashkent FIDE GP"]
[Site "Tashkent UZB"]
[Date "2014.10.21"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Caruana, F."]
[Black "Vachier Lagrave, M."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2844"]
[BlackElo "2757"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "102"]
[EventDate "2014.10.20"]

1. e4 c5 {In Saint Louis Maxime tried to surprise Fabiano with the Caro-Kann.
This did not work very well and he quickly sank into the home analyzes of
Caruana. In this game the Frenchman returns to his beloved Najdorf.} 2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 {The English
Attack is Fabiano's main weapon.} Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12.
Rg1 {Diagram [#] Caruana deviates from a game that he played the last year.
Against Gelfand he tried the main line:} (12. g5 b4 13. Ne2 Ne8 14. f4 a5 15.
f5 a4 16. fxe6 {Here instead of the most common 16.Nbd4, he chose the second
most popular move:} axb3 17. cxb3 fxe6 18. Bh3 Rxa2 19. Bxe6+ Kh8 20. Ng3 Nc7
21. Bc4 Qa8 22. Rhf1 Rxf1 23. Rxf1 Ra1+ 24. Kc2 Rxf1 25. Bxf1 d5 {and produced
a novelty-} 26. h4 {which was correctly met by Gelfand with} d4 $1 {and Black
went on to win this game, Caruana,F (2774) -Gelfand,B (2755) Moscow 2013})
12... Nb6 {A reasonable move with the idea Nb6-c4.} ({The point behind the
move 12.Rg1 becomes clear in the line} 12... b4 13. Nd5 {and Black has to part
with his light-squared bishop as} Nxd5 $2 (13... Bxd5 14. exd5 a5 15. g5 Nh5
16. Kb1 a4 17. Nc1) 14. exd5 {leaves no way out of the black piece-the pawn is
still on g4.}) 13. Na5 {The knight is heading for the c6 square.} Rc8 (13...
Qc7 {is the other interesting move when White can, for instance, sacrifice a
pawn with:} 14. g5 Nh5 15. Nd5 $5 Bxd5 16. exd5 Nxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. Kb1 Qc7
19. Rg4 {Jakovenko,D (2723)-Givon,A (2449) Yerevan 2014 The total control of
the light squares and the misplaced knight compensate White for the sacrificed
pawn with interest.}) 14. g5 Nh5 15. Kb1 Qc7 {Not yet a novelty but a very
rare move.} (15... Nf4 {was tested in Anand, V (2783)-Topalov,V (2793)
Stavanger 2013}) ({As Kr. Szabo indicates-} 15... b4 {is too early, as after:}
16. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 17. exd5 Qxa5 18. dxe6 fxe6 19. Bh3 {Black cannot protect the
e6 P.} Kf7 $2 20. g6+ $1 hxg6 21. Qg2 {and White wins.}) ({And:} 15... g6 {was
a tried by Karjakin}) 16. Nd5 {Diagram [#] Technically speaking, this most
obvious move turns out to be a novelty according to my Megabase. However, we
have already seen the idea above in the game Jakovenko-Givon.} (16. h4 $2 {is
quite unfortunate at the moment as:} d5 $1 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 (17... Bxd5 $1 18.
exd5 Nxd5 {was basically winning for Black as the knight is untouchable-} 19.
Qxd5 $2 Rfd8) 18. exd5 Bxd5 19. Qf2 Bxa2+ 20. Kxa2 Qxa5+ 21. Kb1 {1/2 (21)
Damjanovic,V (2320)-Arsovic,G (2330) Belgrade 1993}) ({While the natural:} 16.
Qf2 $2 {is also a mistake-} Na4 17. Nxa4 Qxa5 18. Nc3 Qb4 ({as Black could
have won on the spot with:} 18... Rxc3 $1 19. bxc3 Bxa2+ 20. Kb2 b4 21. cxb4
Qxb4+ 22. Kxa2 Rb8 {with mating attack.}) 19. Bb6 {1/2 (19) Chesterkine,
V-Elistratov,S Vung Tau 2008}) 16... Nxd5 17. exd5 Bxd5 {Maxime has no choice
but to accept the challenge.} (17... Bd7 18. Bd3 g6 19. Be4 {leads to a very
pleasant position for White without any risk.}) 18. Qxd5 Qxa5 19. Bd3 g6 {
Diagram [#]} 20. c4 $6 {This looks dubious as it allows too many open files
for the black pieces. Jakovenko treated the position is a more tranquil way.
He placed the rook on g4, then slowly improved the bishop with c2-c3,
Bd3-c2-b3. I suspect that this was the correct plan.} (20. Rg4 Qc7 21. c3 {
White can always meet the move:} Nf4 {with-} 22. Bxf4 exf4 23. h4) 20... Nf4 $1
{[%csl Yd3,Ge7] Diagram [#] Very strong! Black returns the pawn but gets the
INITIATIVE. This is the key word whenever you play with opposite-colored
bishops. The opposite castlings would not hurt neither!} ({In case of:} 20...
Rb8 21. cxb5 axb5 22. Rc1 {Black will keep the extra pawn but his opponent
will have all the remaining joy-files, diagonals, light squares...}) 21. Bxf4
exf4 22. cxb5 {Consistent, or else Black can try something radical, like:} (22.
h4 Rc5 23. Qe4 Rb8 $5 24. Qxe7 bxc4 {with strong attack, for example:} 25. Be4
c3 26. Rg2 cxb2 27. Qxd6 Rc1+ 28. Rxc1 bxc1=Q+ 29. Kxc1 Qe1+ 30. Kc2 Rc8+ 31.
Bc6 Qe8 $17) 22... axb5 23. Qxb5 ({Naturally not} 23. Bxb5 $2 Rc5) 23... Qa7 $1
{[%csl Ra7][%cal Gb8b1,Gc8c1,Ga8a1] Diagram [#] Remember, activity! The
endgame is clearly better for White as he can bravely push the pawns:} (23...
Qxb5 24. Bxb5 Rc5 25. a4 Rxg5 26. Rxg5 Bxg5 27. a5) 24. Be4 {Fabiano decided
to get some control of the a and b files.} ({The line:} 24. h4 Rb8 25. Qa6 Qf2
26. b3 Ra8 {demostrates his point.}) 24... Rc7 25. Bd5 Qf2 {This wins a pawn.}
(25... Rb8 {was not bad neither. After:} 26. Qd3 Bf8 {the bishop will be very
happy on the long diagonal.}) 26. Qb3 ({Black's previous move created an
additional threat:} 26. h3 Bxg5 $1 {and the back rank is weak} 27. Rxg5 $4 Qc2+
28. Ka1 Qxd1#) 26... Qxh2 27. a4 Qf2 28. Rc1 {Caruana decided to take care of
the active rook.} ({Alas, with the queens on the board the pawns are not
moving easily-} 28. a5 $6 Qa7 29. Qb6 Rb8 $1 30. Qxa7 Rxa7) 28... Ra7 $1 {with
the idea Qf2-d4.} 29. Qb4 {White stops it, but Maxime regroups in a different
way.} ({I suspect that Fabiano did not like the fact that the black bishop is
getting active after-} 29. Qb5 Bd8 $5 (29... Qd4 30. a5 $1)) 29... Qe3 {with
the obvious threat Qe3-d3+} 30. Rcd1 ({Now:} 30. Qb5 $5 {was much more
tempting, for example:} Qe5 31. Rce1 Qf5+ 32. Be4 Qxb5 33. axb5 Rb8 34. Bc6 {
and this endgame should be OK for White.}) 30... Qe5 {and the not-so-obvious
attack against the g5 pawn. Black is mounting the pressure.} 31. Qb5 {A tricky
way to defend the pawn.} Kg7 ({The pawn is not yet tasty-} 31... Bxg5 $4 32.
Rxg5 Qxg5 33. Bxf7+) 32. Bc6 Rc8 33. Rg2 $2 {[%cal Yg1g2] Diagram [#] Caruana
blunders. Up to this moment he defended flawlessly and could have continued
doing this with:} (33. Rde1 Qd4 34. Rd1 Qf2 35. Rdf1 Qd2 36. Rd1 {Black is
still better, but most likely not winning.}) 33... d5 $1 {A nice tactical shot
that swaps off the excellent g5 pawn for the backward d6 one.} 34. Bxd5 (34.
Rxd5 {is no better-} Qe1+ 35. Ka2 (35. Kc2 $2 Rac7) 35... Qe6 36. Rc2 Bxg5) ({
However, I suspect that the best practical chance was to enter the endgame
with the rooks on the board. The active rooks!} 34. Qxd5 $5 Qxd5 35. Bxd5 Rxa4
36. Bb3 Ra5 {Now the pawn on g5 inevitably falls, but after:} 37. Rd7 Re5 38.
Rg1 Rf8 39. Rc1 Bxg5 40. Rcc7 Rf5 {White might have some practical chances
thanks to his active pieces.}) 34... Rc5 35. Qb3 Bxg5 (35... Rd7 $5 36. Be4
Rxd1+ 37. Qxd1 Bxg5) 36. Bc4 Bf6 37. Re2 Qf5+ ({Probably:} 37... Qg5 {is more
precise and then Black can push the h pawn.}) 38. Re4 {Black could have now
simply advanced the h pawn, but he chose a different way.} (38. Bd3 Qg5) 38...
Re5 39. Rde1 Rxe4 40. Rxe4 Re7 {MVL calculated that the endgame is won for him.
} 41. Bd3 Rxe4 42. Bxe4 Qd7 43. Qb5 Qxb5 44. axb5 Bd4 {[%csl Rb6][%cal Rd4b6,
Gd4g1,Gh7h5,Gg6g5,Gh5h4,Gh4h3,Gh3h2] Diagram [#] The best square for the
bishop. From here it both stops the b pawn and helps the king's side passers.}
45. Kc2 h5 46. b6 ({Nothing changes:} 46. Kd3 Be3 $1 ({Black should not be
greedy-} 46... Bxb2 $2 47. b6 Be5 48. Ke2 h4 49. Kf1 h3 50. b7 f5 51. Bd3 Kh6
52. Kg1 Kg5 53. Kh2 Kh4 54. Bc2) 47. Ke2 h4 48. Kf1 h3 49. Bc6 f5 50. Bd7 Kh6 {
with the idea Kh6-g5-h4-g3 and h3-h2.}) 46... Bxb6 47. Kd1 f5 48. Bc6 g5 ({The
plan from above is also possible-} 48... h4 49. Ke2 h3 50. Kf1 Kf6) 49. Bd7 Kf6
50. Ke2 g4 51. Kf1 Kg5 {The advance of the h pawn decides. A very convincing
win by the French GM against the world's number two! The main lesson from the
game: Whenever you have an opposite-colored bishops on the board, do always
prefer the initiative to the material!} 0-1

You can read the complete article by Peter Doggers here.

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