On a High Note

The battle for the first place at the Norway Chess finished early with a quick draw between the leader and his closest pursuer. Veselin Topalov played solidly in the opening and left no chance to his opponent Vishy Anand. However, Hikaru Nakamura found a way to try his luck with the black pieces and managed to outplay Levon Aronian to take joint second place.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Norway Chess"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.06.25"]
[Round "9.4"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2780"]
[BlackElo "2802"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "1:00:34"]
[BlackClock "1:07:22"]

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 Bc5 4. Bg2 d6 5. e3 a6 {Diagram [#] Sooner or later
Black will have to saveguard his bishop.} ({Also possible is} 5... Nf6 6. Nge2
Bf5 7. d4 Bb6 8. h3 O-O 9. O-O h6 10. Kh2 Re8 {Erdos,V (2621)-Wojtaszek,R
(2742) Germany 2015}) 6. Nge2 Ba7 7. a3 h5 {[%cal Gh5h4,Rh8h1] This is why
Nakamura kept his knight on g8, he wants to create play along the h file. This
plan is possible because the center is closed.} 8. d4 ({The problem with the
move} 8. h4 {is that Black can use the g4 square for his bishop} Bg4 9. b3 Nge7
10. Bb2 Rb8 11. Qc2 Qd7 12. d3 O-O {and Black is solid, Mwali,C (2250)-Anton
Guijarro,D (2624) Tromso 2014}) (8. h3) 8... h4 9. b4 $146 {[%csl Ya7][%cal
Gc4c5] Diagram [#] A novelty by Aronian. He plans to lock the bishop on a7.} ({
In the only predecessor White played rather inconsistently} 9. d5 Nce7 10. e4
$6 {Opens the bishop on a7 for no good reason.} Nf6 11. h3 $6 hxg3 12. fxg3 c6
13. b4 cxd5 14. Nxd5 Nfxd5 15. exd5 Qb6 $17 {and White's position is on the
verge of colapse, Felser,M (1913) -Jorczik,J (2333) Schwaebisch Gmuend 2010})
9... Nge7 10. c5 Bf5 {The first critical moment of the game as both the
players mentioned later.} ({Nakamura also considered alternative closure of
the white bishop after} 10... h3 11. Bf3 d5 12. O-O (12. dxe5 Nxe5 {followed
by c7-c6 and Ba7-b8 is good for Black.}) 12... e4 13. Bh1 ({The USA GM was
also afraif of the position sacrifice} 13. Nxe4 $5 {Diagram [#]} dxe4 14. Bxe4
{as the Ba7 needs plenty of moves to get into the game.}) 13... f5 {but he was
afraid that he cannot hold the line after} 14. f3 {Indeed} Be6 15. Nf4 Qd7 16.
Nxe6 Qxe6 17. Bd2 {followed by Qd1-b3, a3-a4 and b4-b5 looks easy for White.})
11. Bb2 ({Aronian was considering the sharp play after} 11. d5 $5 Nb8 12. f4
dxc5 13. d6 {to which Black react with an exchange sacrifice} cxd6 (13... Nec6
{is also possible though.}) 14. Bxb7 Nbc6 {(Nakamura)} ({Or} 14... Nd7 {In
both cases Black will have plenty of play on the light squares for the
exchange.})) 11... Qd7 {Diagram [#]} 12. Qb3 ({Once again} 12. d5 {does not
yield White anything} Nd8 13. e4 Bh3 14. Bxh3 Qxh3 15. Qa4+ Qd7 $11 {but this
was perhaps the best that he had.}) 12... h3 $1 {It is time to worry the white
king before it escapes from the center. If this happens, the locked bishop on
a7 might become the key factor of the position.} ({Better than the preliminary
trade} 12... exd4 13. exd4 h3 {when after} 14. Be4 Bxe4 15. Nxe4 Qf5 {White
has the important move} 16. f3 {(Nakamura)}) 13. Bf3 ({The line} 13. Be4 Bxe4
14. Nxe4 Qf5 {looks good for Black (Nakamura)}) ({White cannot evacuate the
king from the center} 13. Bxc6 Qxc6 14. O-O-O {because if the strong} Qf3 {
(Aronian)}) 13... exd4 {Diagram [#] Dynamic play.} (13... d5 14. O-O e4 15. Bh1
$11) 14. Nxd4 {Black clears too many lines in case of} (14. exd4 dxc5 15. dxc5
$6 Ne5 $17) 14... Bg4 15. Bxg4 Qxg4 16. Nxc6 ({The immediate} 16. Qd1 Qxd1+ 17.
Rxd1 {sacrifices a pawn but after} dxc5 18. Nxc6 bxc6 19. bxc5 f6 20. Ne4 {
White has compensation for it. Both Aronian and Nakamura considered this
position good for Black on the account of the excellent d5 square for the
black knight.}) 16... Nxc6 17. Qd1 $1 {[%csl Re1] Diagram [#] Aronian
correctly seeks trade of queens.} (17. cxd6 O-O-O {looks very dangerous for
White with the king in the middle.}) 17... Qg6 $1 {And Nakamura rejects it.}
18. cxd6 {Now Black's attack is very dangerous. The lesser evil was to chase
the black queen with} (18. Qb1 $5 Qxb1+ (18... Qh5 19. Qe4+ $1) 19. Rxb1 dxc5
20. b5 {when White should have enough compensation for the pawn. The excluded
bishop feels worse with less pieces on the board.}) 18... O-O-O 19. Rc1 $2 {"A
terrible move." (Aronian)} ({Close to equal was} 19. Qb1 Qh5 (19... f5 {can be
answered by} 20. b5 $1 axb5 21. dxc7) 20. Qd1 {although I would definitely
prefer Black after} Qe5 {The white king is still not safe.}) 19... Rxd6 20. Qc2
Qh5 $1 {[%csl Yd1,Yd3,Ye2,Yf3,Yg2] Diagram [#] Now White's weakened light
squares are a pain in the neck.} ({"Somehow I felt} 20... Rd3 {was kind of
forced." (Aronian) Indeed, White will be OK after} 21. Ne2 Qe4 22. Rf1 Rhd8 23.
Nf4 {as the sacrifice} Bxe3 24. fxe3 Rxe3+ 25. Ne2 {is not decisive.}) 21. Qe2
Ne5 {Also missed by Aronian. Now the weakness of the white squares decides the
game.} 22. Qxh5 {White loses the exchange as} (22. O-O Nf3+ 23. Kh1 Rd2 {loses
the house.}) 22... Nd3+ {Diagram [#]} 23. Ke2 {In case of} (23. Kf1 Rxh5 24.
Rc2 {Black has the nice} Bxe3 $1 25. fxe3 Rf5+ 26. Kg1 (26. Ke2 Rf2+ 27. Kd1
Nxb4+) 26... Rdf6 {Diagram [#] with unstoppable mate.}) 23... Nxc1+ 24. Rxc1
Rxh5 {The extra exchange wins easily.} 25. g4 Re5 26. Rg1 Re8 27. Rg3 Bd4 $1
28. Na4 (28. Rxh3 b5 {dominates the knight.} (28... Bf6 {with the ideas Rd6-c6
and Re8-d8 would also do.})) 28... Bxb2 29. Nxb2 Red8 {Diagram [#] The rooks
enter the second rank and it is all over.} 30. Nc4 Rc6 31. Ne5 Rc2+ 32. Ke1 f6
33. Nf3 Rh8 34. g5 Ra2 35. Nd4 Rxa3 36. Ne6 Ra1+ 37. Ke2 Rh1 38. gxf6 gxf6 39.
Nf4 b6 40. Nxh3 Rb1 0-1


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