A Good Start

The start of the super-tournament Wijk an Zee could not have been better! Three games in the Master section were decisive and none of teh Challengers games ended in a draw! Probably the most exciting battle of this first round was the following one:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.16"]
[Round "1.5"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Eljanov, Pavel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2787"]
[BlackElo "2760"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:03:18"]
[BlackClock "0:01:00"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 {Diagram [#] Caruana was a bit
surprised by this capture. "I do not think he had ever played this way."} 5. e4
Bb4 6. Bxc4 {A topical pawn sacrifice in the Vienna variation. The main line
goes} (6. Bg5 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Qa5 {which leads to huge
complications, heavily explored by both men and machines. The result of this
co-operation- most often a draw.} 10. Bb5+ Nbd7 11. Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12. Kf1 gxf6 13.
h4 a6 14. Rh3 Qb4 15. Be2 Ne5 16. Rb1 Qd6 $11 {Giri,A (2773)-Aronian,L (2780)
Stavanger 2015}) 6... Nxe4 7. O-O Nf6 ({The other approach for Black is to try
and delay 0-0 until he is certain in king's safety. One fresh example went}
7... Nxc3 8. bxc3 Bd6 (8... Bxc3 {looks too greedy, although Black held
confidently after} 9. Rb1 c5 10. dxc5 Qxd1 11. Rxd1 Bf6 12. Bb5+ Bd7 13. Bxd7+
Nxd7 14. Rxb7 Nxc5 15. Rc7 Na6 16. Rb7 Nc5 17. Rc7 Na6 18. Rb7 Nc5 {1/2-1/2
(18) Chandra,A (2495)-Bodek,M (2425) Saint Louis 2015}) 9. Bd3 Nd7 10. Qe2 Qe7
11. Re1 h6 12. c4 c5 13. d5 e5 14. Nd2 O-O 15. f4 f5 {with excellent prospect
for Black in Korobov,A (2709)-Naiditsch,A (2689) Reykjavik 2015}) 8. Bg5 O-O 9.
Qe2 {[%csl Yc7] Diagram [#] Funnily, similar position without the c7 pawn will
arise in plenty of lines- the QGA, Nimtzo-Indian and Panov attack in the Caro
Kann. As a compensation for that pawn White has some extra tempos though.} h6
(9... Be7 {at once is also possible with the idea} 10. Rad1 Nbd7 11. Ne5 Nd5 {
(Caruana)}) 10. Bh4 Be7 11. Rad1 Nbd7 12. Ne5 Nb6 ({In case of the immediate}
12... Nd5 {Caruana planned} 13. Nxd5 Bxh4 14. Nf4 Nxe5 15. dxe5 {with nice
development and attacking possibilities.}) 13. Bd3 Nfd5 {Just like in the
lines where Black plays against the isolated pawns he is happy to trade as
many pieces as possible.} 14. Bg3 Bd7 $146 {Diagram [#]} ({A novelty in
comparison to the risky} 14... f5 15. h3 Bd6 16. Rfe1 Qg5 17. Qf3 Nf6 18. Bf4 {
with strong pressure for White, Mamedyarov,S (2719)-Kramnik,V (2772) Moscow
2009}) 15. Ne4 {Slightly provocative move.} (15. Qe4 $2 f5 16. Qf3 f4) 15...
Ba4 $1 {[%csl Rc3][%cal Rd5c3,Yb2b3,Yd1c1] Diagram [#] And a provocative
answer in return. Eljanov wants to kick the rook away from the "d" file or to
provoke the weakening b2-b3 move.} ({Black cannot win a piece after} 15... f5
$2 16. Nc5 f4 17. Nexd7 $18) 16. Rc1 (16. b3 Be8 {with the threat f7-f5 and
Nd5-c3 is annoying.}) 16... Nd7 $1 {The knight was doing nothing on b6 plus
you remember that the second player wants to trade pieces, do not you?} 17. b3
{At this stage of the game Caruana did not quite like his position.} (17. Nc5
Bxc5 18. dxc5 Nxe5 19. Bxe5 Bc6 {is not fully compensating for the pawn
(Caruana)}) 17... Nxe5 18. dxe5 Bc6 19. Rfd1 $6 {Diagram [#]} (19. Bb1 $5 {
with the idea to build battery on the b1-h7 diagonal seems more dangerous for
Black. The ultimate goal is to weaken the black king} Ba3 (19... a5 20. Qc2)
20. Rcd1 Qe7 21. Qc2 {[%csl Rh7][%cal Rc2h7,Gd1d5,Ge4f6] Diagram [#] when
either g7-g6 or f7-f5 is forced now.} Nb4 $4 22. Nf6+ gxf6 23. Qh7#) 19... a5 {
The effect of the provocation. Interestingly Caruana considers this a mistake
as he is not getting a tempo after his next move.} ({Instead the American GM
suggested the immediate} 19... Qe8 {with the idea to meet} 20. h4 {with} h5 21.
Qxh5 ({However, Caruana missed in his preliminary calculations the pretty
sacrifice} 21. Nf6+ $1 gxf6 22. Qxh5 f5 23. Rc4 $3 {[%csl Yg8][%cal Rc4g4]
Diagram [#] with the unstoppable Rc4-g4+ and mate.}) 21... f5 22. Qxe8 Raxe8 {
and Black is good.}) 20. a4 $1 {Naturally, Caruana does not want to allow any
counter-play on the queenside. In the future he wants to swing his rook along
the fourth rank for kingside attack with Rc1-c4-(g4) and he is happy that
Black has no Bc6-b5 resource.} Qe8 21. h4 ({In case of} 21. Nf6+ {Diagram [#]
Eljanov has a pleasant choice of playing on with} Nxf6 ({Black can accept the
draw if he wishes} 21... gxf6 22. Qg4+ Kh8 23. Qh3 Kg7 $11) 22. exf6 Bxf6 23.
Bxc7 $15) 21... Rd8 22. h5 (22. Nf6+ Nxf6 23. exf6 Bxf6 24. Bxc7 Rd5 $15) 22...
Nb4 $1 {Clears the road for the rook and takes away the c2 and d3 squares for
the battery.} 23. Bb1 Kh8 {Not a bad move but there was a better one! After
great defense Eljanov starts to play over cautiously and this will finally
lead him to real problem. The king stepped away from the check on f6 and this
is useful, but it was far more useful to regroup with} (23... Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1
Qa8 $1 {[%cal Gb7b6,Gf8d8,Ra8h1] Diagram [#] followed by Rf8-d8 and b7-b6.
Black's position will be clearly better in this case.} ({Now instead of the
suggested move by Caruana} 24... Bd5 {which might lead indeed to a forced draw
after} 25. Nf6+ gxf6 26. Qg4+ Kh8 27. Qf4 Kg7 ({But not} 27... f5 28. Qxh6+ Kg8
29. Rd4 $1 {with the familiar checkmate after Rd4-g4!}) 28. Qg4+ Kh8 $11)) 24.
Bf4 {With the idea to sacrifice on h6.} Rg8 25. Bd2 Rd5 $6 {Diagram [#]
Inaccuracy.} ({In case of} 25... Rd4 {Caruana planned} 26. Bc3 ({Not} 26. Bxb4
Rxb4) 26... Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1 Nd5 28. Bxa5 f5 29. exf6 gxf6 {with unclear play.})
(25... Qf8 $5 {would be a good follow up of Black's kingside regroupment.}) 26.
Bxb4 axb4 ({White believed} 26... Rxd1+ {is a bit more accurate} 27. Rxd1 axb4
28. Qd3 g6 (28... f5 {is better}) 29. Qe3 (29. Nf6 $5 Bxf6 30. exf6) 29... Qf8
{Although it seems as he missed the strong move} 30. Nf6 $1 {with clear edge
for White.}) 27. Rxd5 exd5 (27... Bxd5 28. Qc2 $1 {is strong for White. For
example} Bxe4 29. Qxe4 g6 30. Qxb7) 28. Ng3 {[%csl Rh7,Yh8][%cal Gg3f5,Ge5e6,
Ge2d3,Ge2c2,Rc2h7,Yc6d5,Ye7b4] Diagram [#] "This is positionally very
desirable for me" (Caruana)} Bg5 29. Re1 g6 30. Qg4 (30. hxg6 fxg6 31. e6 {
was unclear.}) 30... Qe7 {Perhaps Eljanov had to give the pawn back-} (30...
Qe6 31. Qxb4 $11 {Diagram [#]}) 31. Qd4 $1 {An excellent spot for the queen.}
b6 {The losing move.} ({White is better after} 31... Rg7 32. e6 $1 (32. hxg6
fxg6 33. Ne2 $1 {with the idea f2-f4.}) 32... fxe6 33. hxg6 {when the black
king is not safe enough.}) ({But it was not too late for} 31... Qe6) 32. e6+ {
Diagram [#]} Bf6 (32... Kh7 33. Nf5 $1 {is brutal.}) ({In case of} 32... Rg7 {
White has the fabulous sacrifice which would make Mr Afek happy} 33. exf7 $3 {
Diagram [#]} Qxe1+ 34. Kh2 Qe7 35. hxg6 Bf6 36. Nf5 Bxd4 37. Nxe7 {Diagram [#]
and this is perhaps the line that Caruana saw during the game and which he
could not remember at the press conference...}) 33. Qf4 g5 (33... Kg7 34. hxg6
fxg6 35. Bxg6 Kxg6 36. Qf5+ Kg7 37. Nh5+ {Diagram [#] is another pretty finish.
}) 34. Qf5 Rg7 35. Qc2 Qc5 36. Qxc5 bxc5 37. Nf5 Rg8 (37... Bc3 38. Re2 {
changes nothing.} Rg8 39. exf7 Rf8 40. Re6 {with lethal threats.}) 38. exf7 {
Diagram [#]} 1-0


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