Perfect Play

Wesley So's slow start in Dortmund prevented him to play for the highest spot in the event. Despite the fact that he was the only player to defeat the future winner Fabiano Caruana he struggled to find his optimal play, but towards the end of the event he showed what he is capable of. His game against Vladimir Kramnik was one of the jewels in the event.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.07.05"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2778"]
[BlackElo "2783"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "151"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:26:58"]
[BlackClock "0:02:17"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {Diagram [#] Some years ago when Vladimir
Kramnik prepared the Berlin for his historical match with Garry Kasparov there
was a popular story in the chess circles. Kramnik's second and guiding light
in the line was GM Aleksej Aleksandrov of Belarus. His friends would regularly
ask him "Aleksej, what will happen after Garry tears your Berlin into small
pieces? You will be left with no Black opening?" To which he will reply "I am
not even sure that the move 1.e4 will exist after the match."} 4. O-O Nxe4 5.
d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 Ne7 10. Nc3 Bd7 ({A recent
example goes} 10... h6 11. Ne4 b6 12. b3 Bd7 13. Bb2 Kc8 14. Rad1 a5 {Caruana,
F (2772)-Carlsen,M (2843) Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012}) ({While Kramnik previously
preferred} 10... Ng6) 11. Ng5 $146 {Diagram [#] Wesley So tries to prove that
it still exists.} ({In comparison, one of Aleksandrov's games saw} 11. Ne4 Ng6
12. Nfg5 Ke8 13. f4 Nh4 14. Kf2 Be7 15. Be3 h6 16. Nf3 Bf5 {Zhigalko,A (2600)
-Aleksandrov,A (2617) Minsk 2010}) 11... Ke8 12. e6 {The point behind White's
play. The typical pawn sacrifice opens the road for the white rooks.} Bxe6 ({
Better than} 12... fxe6 13. Re1 {when White regains the pawn at once.}) 13.
Nxe6 fxe6 14. Re1 Kf7 {[%csl Yc6,Yc7,Ye6][%cal Ge1e8,Gd1d8] Diagram [#] For
the pawn White has obvious compensation, but it is much more difficult to
regain it than it seems at a glance.} 15. Ne4 h6 16. Rd1 e5 {Black develops in
an active way.} (16... Ke8 $2 {drops the pawn after} 17. Nc5) ({There was
another possibility} 16... Nd5 {when} 17. c4 Nf6 18. Nxf6 Kxf6 19. Bd2 {is
compensation for a pawn without much risk for White.} (19. Rd7 Bd6)) 17. Rd7
Rc8 18. Bd2 b6 ({Once more} 18... Ke6 $2 19. Nc5+ {is bad for Black.}) ({And}
18... Ke8 19. Rd3 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Kxd8 {was possible with approximate equality
after both} 21. Bc3 ({Or} 21. Nc5 Kc8 22. Re1 Ng6 23. Nd3 Bd6 24. Bc3 Re8)
21... Ng6 22. Rd1+ Kc8) 19. Re1 {In the following stage of the game both
players find optimal moves. White develops naturally and puts pressure in the
center, Black carefully finishes the development of his troops.} Ke6 20. Rd3 c5
21. f4 Nc6 22. Rg3 Re8 {[%csl Ge8][%cal Ge8e6,Ge6e5] Diagram [#] An excellent
defensive move.} 23. fxe5 ({The point of Black's maneuver is revealed in the
line} 23. Rg6+ Kd7 24. Rd1 Re6) 23... g5 $5 {Kramnik sacrifices the pawn back
and takes the initiative. This is better than} (23... Nxe5 24. Bc3 ({Similar is
} 24. Nf2 Kd7 25. Bc3 Nc6 26. Rxe8 Kxe8 27. Bxg7 Bxg7 28. Rxg7) 24... Kd7 25.
Nd2 Nc6 26. Rxe8 Kxe8 27. Bxg7 Bxg7 (27... Rg8 28. Re3+) 28. Rxg7 Kd8 {and
White is better in the arising endgame.}) 24. h4 Bg7 25. hxg5 Bxe5 26. Rf3 hxg5
27. Bxg5 ({Simlar to the game is} 27. Nxg5+ Kd7) ({While the computer suggest
the curious} 27. Nf6 $5 {to take away the d7 and d5 squares of the black king,
and thus win time to stop Be5-d4 check. The game is about even after} Re7 28.
c3) 27... Bd4+ 28. Nf2+ Kd5 {[%csl Yg1][%cal Ge8e1,Gh8h1,Rd4g1] Diagram [#]
Now Black enjoys some pressure although there is nothing concrete yet.} 29. Rd1
Rhg8 {If Black wants, he can force a draw with} (29... Ne5 30. Rf5 Rhf8 31.
Rxf8 Rxf8 32. c3 Rxf2 33. cxd4 Ng4 34. dxc5+ Kxc5 35. Rd2 $11) 30. Bf4 Re2 {
Kramnik sacrifices a piece. Instead:} (30... Kc4 31. c3 Bxf2+ 32. Kxf2 Ne5 33.
Bxe5 Rxe5 $11 {was a draw.}) 31. c3 Rxb2 32. cxd4 Nxd4 33. Be3 Rxa2 34. Rf4 Ra4
{For the piece Black has three pawns and this is usually more valuable in the
endgames. Any of the three can become a queen, something that the knight is
obviously not capable of. On the other hand White's forces are very active
and the pawns too far from the promotional squares.} 35. Ne4 {[%csl Yd5][%cal
Rd1d5,Rf4d4,Rf4a4] Diagram [#] The pin is annoying, which means that Black may
part with one of his pawns.} Kc6 36. Nc3 Ra3 37. Bxd4 cxd4 38. Ne2 d3 {This
one went too far from the supporting team and will be soon off-board.} 39. Rf3
Ra2 40. Nf4 d2 41. Kf2 b5 42. Rc3+ Kb7 43. Nd5 Rg7 44. Rb3 a6 45. Nb4 Ra4 46.
Rxd2 {[%csl Ga6,Gb5,Gc7] Diagram [#] White won one of the pawns but the
remaining started moving.} c5 47. Nd5 Rd7 ({Also good is} 47... Rag4 48. Ne3
Rf7+ 49. Ke2 (49. Kg1 Re4) 49... Re4 $11) 48. Rf3 {So finds a very nice way to
activate his pieces.} Re4 ({In the line} 48... Rd4 49. Rxd4 cxd4 50. Rf5 {the
d pawn gets separated fro the remaining pawns. We already know what happens in
similar situations.}) 49. Rf6 $1 {Creates a strong hidden threat.} Ka7 $1 {
Which Kramnik avoids.} ({For example, the natural} 49... c4 50. Rb6+ Ka7 51.
Ra2 $1 {[%csl Ra7] Diagram [#] will lead to mate.}) 50. Rd3 $1 {One more great
maneuver to improve the second rook and saev it from the pin.} c4 ({The rook
is defended in the line} 50... Re5 51. Nb4 Rxd3 52. Nxd3 Rd5 53. Nf4) 51. Rh3
$1 Rd4 ({Thanks to the active rook, the knight is untouchable} 51... Rxd5 $4
52. Rh7+ Kb8 53. Rf8+ {Diagram [#]}) 52. Nb4 R4d6 53. Rhh6 Rxf6+ 54. Rxf6 {
White did great and forced his opponent into defense.} Rd2+ 55. Kf3 {Diagram
[#] So's play in the endgame is perfect and his opponent starts to experience
problems. But Black's resources are not over yet.} a5 ({One way to defend the
position was} 55... Kb7 $5 {with the idea} 56. Nxa6 (56. Rxa6 $6 {will still
lead to a draw but it will be White who has to find it after} Rb2 57. Nd3 cxd3
58. Rd6 d2 59. Ke2 $11) 56... c3 57. Nc5+ Kc7 58. Nb3 c2 $11) 56. Ra6+ Kb7 57.
Rxa5 {A second pawn disappears from the pawn and nevertheless, Black is still
not losing.} Kb6 58. Ra2 Rd7 59. Ra8 Kc5 {It is only after this move that we
can say definitely that Black is in trouble. Instead Kramnik should have opted
for} (59... Rf7+ $1 {[%csl Gb5,Gc4,Yf3,Rg2][%cal Gf3e3,Gf3g3,Gc4c3,Gb5b4]
Diagram [#] In order to force the white king to make a decision. Since it is
needed for both kingside support and to help in the fight against the passers
the game should stay undecided. For example} 60. Ke3 Rg7 $1 61. Nd5+ ({Or} 61.
Kf2 Rf7+ 62. Kg1 Kc5 {and in comparison to the game the white king is far away.
}) 61... Kc5 62. Nf4 Re7+ 63. Kd2 Rd7+ 64. Kc2 b4 {Now the white king does not
help the g pawn and Black should be able to capture it in return for his two
pawns at some moment.}) 60. Nc2 $1 {White achieved the perfect queenside
set-up.} Rc7 61. Rf8 c3 (61... b4 62. Rf5+ {drops the pawn at once.}) 62. Rf5+
Kb6 ({Or} 62... Kc4 63. Ne3+ Kb3 (63... Kb4 $2 64. Nd5+) 64. Rxb5+) 63. g4 {
Diagram [#] The black pawns are stopped and the white one is faster.} Ka5 64.
g5 Ka4 65. Ke3 Rd7 {Nothing changes} (65... Re7+ 66. Kd3 Rd7+ 67. Nd4 c2 68.
Rf1) ({Nor} 65... Kb3 66. Kd3) 66. g6 b4 67. Rf4 Kb3 68. Nxb4 Re7+ 69. Re4 Rg7
{The pawn endgame is lost for one tempo} (69... Rxe4+ 70. Kxe4 Kxb4 71. Kd3 Kb3
72. g7 c2 73. g8=Q+ {check!}) 70. Rg4 Re7+ 71. Kf3 Rg7 72. Nc6 Rg8 73. g7 c2
74. Nd4+ Kc4 75. Nxc2+ Kd5 76. Rg6 {Diagram [#] A great achievement for Wesley
So who managed to outplay Vladimir Kramnik on his own territory!} 1-0


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