Stubborn Defense

Fabiano Caruana significantly improved his tournament situation in Shamkir after an important win with the Black pieces against the former world champion Vladimir Kramnik.The Italian GM had to survive at first the strong pressure that his opponent put on him. The moment in which Kramnik decided to open up the game was not chosen right and the tables have turned into Caruana's favour.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Shamkir Chess"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.04.23"]
[Round "6.5"]
[White "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2802"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "108"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:10"]
[BlackClock "0:09:02"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 {Just like Carlsen the other day, Vladimir Kramnik also
decided to avoid the Gruenfeld.} g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. c3 O-O 5. Nbd2 d5 {This is
considered the most reliable move against teh Torre Attack.} 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Be2
c5 {Diagram [#] The Torre Attack represents in this case the reversed Slav
defense. To which Caruana replies with something like a reversed Catalan. My
tongue got reversed as well.} 8. O-O b6 9. a4 {A standard reaction to the
fianchettoe similar to the one that Carlsen used against the same Caruana in
round three.} a6 ({Alternatively} 9... a5 {weakens the light squares and the
pull for White} 10. Bb5 Ba6 11. Bxa6 Rxa6 12. Qe2 $14 {Petrosian,T (2649)
-Gopal,G (2522) Golden Sands 2013}) 10. b4 {White shows aggression on the
queen's flank but his plan is deeper than that. Kramnik wants to force his
opponent to close that side of the board in order to concentrate his forces in
the center and the kingside.} Bb7 11. a5 $146 {Diagram [#] A novelty, in the
spirit of the above-mentioned plan. Previously only} (11. bxc5 bxc5 12. Qb3 {
has been tried without much success for White} Bc6 13. Qa3 h6 14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15.
dxc5 e5 {with good compensation for a pawn in Bogdanovski,V (2435)-Mista,A
(2579) Paracin 2013}) 11... cxb4 {Now Caruana will have at least one open file
to keep his opponent busy .} 12. cxb4 b5 13. Rc1 Ne8 {Carlsen already proved
in his game with Mamedyarov earlier that the structure arising after} (13...
Ne4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Nd2 {favours White.}) 14. Nb3 Nd6 {Both parties seek and
find the optimal squares for their pieces.} 15. Ne1 Nc4 16. Nd3 $14 {Diagram
[#] It becomes apparent that White has a lot of small advantages in comparison
to his opponent. To start with- the space advantage. The little pawn on a5
takes away the b6 square from the black Nd7 while the white knights are
feeling very comfortable. White's bishops are also more active and all of
this leads us to the conclusion that Kramnik succeeded with his opening
strategy. Now he starts slowly torturing his opponent. The grand plan is to
prepare and carry out the e3-e4 advance. Caruana's position lacks any
weaknesses, but is passive and it is overall quite unpleasant to play.} Ra7 (
16... Rc8 {is less precise as after} 17. Nbc5 Nxc5 18. Nxc5 {the pawn on a6
will hang.}) 17. Bh4 Ba8 18. Bf3 ({Also interesting is} 18. Re1 {intending
Be2-f1, f2-f3 and later e3-e4 but the former world champion prefers a more
aggressive set up.}) 18... Nf6 19. Qe2 Ne8 20. g4 $5 {[%cal Gh4g3,Gf3g2,Rf2f3,
Re3e4,Rf3f4] Diagram [#] Intending Bf3-g2, Bh4-g3 (the point behind g2-g4) and
further advance of the f and e pawns.} Ned6 21. Bg2 Qc8 22. Nbc5 Re8 23. Bg3
Qd8 {Caruana prepared his position as much as he could for the possible
assault.} 24. Rcd1 ({White could have also provoked a weakening with} 24. Be5
$5 {as} Nxe5 25. dxe5 Ne4 26. f4 {is good for him.}) 24... e6 25. f3 Qe7 26.
Kh1 Bh6 {Black does not want to change the pawn structure and play with
isolated pawn after} (26... e5 $5 {but this definitely interesting.}) 27. Nf4 {
The time trouble is approaching and Kramnik decided that this is a good moment
to complete his idea. However, as he later confessed at the press-conference
he missed an important tactical detail.} ({He did not like} 27. Bf2 {due to} f5
{"and Black holds" (Kramnik), but White still has better position without any
risk after say} 28. Ne5 fxg4 29. Nxg4 Bg7 30. e4) 27... Nb7 28. Ncd3 {Or else
Black might take on c5 and put his bishop on c6.} Nd8 $1 {Strong maneuver
before the decisive central clash.} 29. e4 Nc6 $1 {Diagram [#] The point. Now
it is not clear who attacks more.} 30. exd5 (30. Qf2 {simply loses a pawn} Nxb4
) 30... Nxb4 31. dxe6 {Only here did Kramnik realize that he had missed a
strong queen sacrifice.} ({His original intention was} 31. d6 {but then he saw}
Nxd3 $5 ({Caruana on his turn thought that} 31... Qf6 {is also good for him.
Indeed after} 32. Nh5 gxh5 33. Nxb4 Bf4 34. Nd3 Bxd6 35. Be5 Bxe5 36. dxe5 Qg5
{Black seems in good shape.}) 32. dxe7 Nxf4 {[%csl Gc4,Ye2,Gf4] Diagram [#]
and Black in complete control.}) 31... Nxd3 32. Rxd3 {The black pieces came
into life and his position is stronger now.} fxe6 ({Even better was} 32... Qf6
33. Re1 Rae7 {with clear advantage for the second player.}) 33. Qe1 Qd8 {There
are too many weaknesses in White's camp and he tries to compensate with
kingside activity.} 34. h4 Rf7 ({Kramnik suggested a more simple alternative}
34... Bxf4 $1 35. Bxf4 Bd5 36. Qg3 Qxa5 37. h5 Rf7 {with clear edge for Black.}
) 35. g5 Bg7 36. Bh3 $6 {In time trouble Kramnik blunders for the second time.}
({However, his position is already difficult even after his analyzes suggestion
} 36. Rd1 Qxa5 37. Qe2 (37. Qxa5 Nxa5 38. Ra1)) 36... Rxf4 $1 {Diagram [#] A
powerful central blow. Caruana opens the archers.} 37. Bxf4 e5 38. Bg3 e4 39.
Rd1 Bd5 ({Not} 39... exf3 $2 40. Be6+ Kh8 41. d5 $16 {which they both saw.})
40. Be5 exf3 41. Qf2 (41. Kg1 $5 {was suggested by Black as a more tenacious
alternative, but Black is much better anyway.}) 41... Qxa5 42. Bg4 Rf8 {For
the exchange Black has two pawns and strong central grip.} 43. Rd3 ({Instead}
43. Rfe1 {allows "my most typical trick" (Caruana)} Nb2 $1 44. Rd2 Nd3 $1 45.
Rxd3 {Diagram [#] with the idea} Qxe1+ $1 46. Qxe1 f2+ {and wins.}) 43... Qb4
$1 {Kramnik spend a lot of time here calculating pretty much everything but
could not find salvation. Below are given some of the beutiful lines that the
opponents calculated during the game:} (43... Bxe5 $6 {may lead to a darw after
} 44. dxe5 Nxe5 45. Qd4 Qa2 46. Qxd5+ Qxd5 47. Rxd5 Nxg4) (43... Be4 $2 {loses
to} 44. Be6+ Kh8 45. Bxg7+ Kxg7 46. d5) (43... Nxe5 44. dxe5 Bc4 $6 {stumbles
on} 45. Rxf3 Rxf3 (45... Bd5 46. Be6+ $1) (45... Rd8 46. e6 $1) 46. Qxf3 Bxf1
$4 47. Be6+ Kh8 48. Qa8+ {and mate (Kramnik)}) 44. Bg3 {Some more lines by
Kramnik and Caruana:} (44. Bxg7 Kxg7 45. Bxf3 (45. Qg3 Qe7 $1 46. Bxf3 Qe2 $3 {
is especially cute.}) {and now the key move is} 45... Be4 $3 {Diagram [#]} ({
Rather than} 45... Rxf3 46. Rxf3 Nd2 47. Qe1 $1)) (44. Bxf3 {is answered in a
similar way} Rxf3 45. Rxf3 Bxe5 46. Qg2 Ne3 47. Rf8+ Qxf8 48. Rxf8+ Kxf8 $19) (
{Black also wins after} 44. Bf6 Bxf6 45. Bxf3 Bxf3+ 46. Rxf3 Bg7) 44... h5 $1
45. gxh6 Bxh6 {Now the knight gets a chance to come closer to the kingside
with Nc4-e3(d2). The end is getting closer.} 46. Kh2 {Nothing helps:} (46. Ra1
Nd2 $1) (46. Bxf3 {is simlar as above} Rxf3 47. Rxf3 Nd2 48. Qe1 Qf8 (48... Qb3
{also wins})) 46... Nd2 $1 47. Ra1 Ne4 {Diagram [#] Without the dark-squared
bishop White's position falls apart.} 48. Qc2 Nxg3 49. Rxa6 Be4 50. Bxf3 Qe1
51. Qb3+ Kh8 52. Bxe4 Rf2+ 53. Kh3 (53. Kxg3 Qg1+ 54. Kh3 Rh2#) 53... Qf1+ 54.
Kg4 Rf4+ {Kramnik resigned before the mate. Overall, he had the advantage,
led the game, but a couple of inaccuracies proved enough for Fabiano Caruana
to show his best qualities- stubborness in defense and iron nerves. I believe
that this was Black's first win in the event.} (54... Rf4+ 55. Kxg3 Qf2+ 56.
Kh3 Rxh4# {Diagram [#]}) 0-1


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