The Pawn or the Initiative?

Round six of the super-open in Qatar saw one of the most complex battles. Trying to catch up with the world champion Anish Giri squeezed the maximum (almost) of his position in his game against the former second of Anand- Sury Shekhar Ganguly:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.26"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"]
[Black "Giri, Anish"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2648"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "130"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:05:10"]
[BlackClock "0:01:04"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 {
[%csl Yf1][%cal Rh5g4,Yg2g3,Yf1g2] Diagram [#] The modern Najdorf player will
surely not allow and "advanced version" of the fianchettoe line. Although both}
(7... Be6 8. g4 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Bg2 Bb4 11. O-O Bxc3 12. Nxc3 Nxc3 13. bxc3
{Kamsky,G (2733)-Shankland,S (2512) Saint Louis 2011}) ({And} 7... Be7 {
are still playable, but it seems as Black is suffering here. One example} 8. g4
O-O 9. Be3 Nbd7 10. Ng3 b5 11. g5 {with advantage for White, Swiercz,D (2629)
-Kempinski,R (2647) Poland 2015}) 8. Bg5 {White on his term tries to prove
that h7-h5 was a weakening move.} Be6 9. Bxf6 {And then switches to play for
the d5 outpost.} Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Qd3 Nd7 12. O-O-O g6 {Still, Black has
two bishops and harmonious development in return for the powerful knight on d5.
} 13. Kb1 Nc5 $146 {[%csl Gc5] Diagram [#] A novelty in comparison to} (13...
Rc8 {which was played not long time ago. In a game that both adversaries knew
well. One of them played at this same tournament and Ganguly was a long-time
second of the former world champion Anand and possibly has worked this line
with him some time ago-} 14. Nec3 Rc5 15. Be2 b5 16. a3 Nb6 17. g4 hxg4 18.
Nxb6 Qxb6 19. hxg4 Rxh1 20. Rxh1 {and Anand went on to win a modal endgame in
Anand,V (2803)-Topalov,V (2803) London 2015}) 14. Qf3 Bg7 ({Naturally, anytime
Black captures on d5 White will recapture with a piece} 14... Bxd5 15. Rxd5 $14
) 15. Nec3 b5 16. Be2 Rb8 {[%csl Rc3][%cal Rb5b4] Impudently intending to trap
the white knight on c3 after b5-b4.} 17. a3 ({As otherwise White may have
problems with his e4 pawn-} 17. Rd2 b4 18. Nd1 Qh4) 17... Bd7 $1 {A nice
maneuver that prepares both a6-a5 and b5-b4 as well as Nc5-e6-d4.} 18. Qe3 {
Ganguly decided to defend vigorously.} ({Another idea was to swap the roles of
the knights but after} 18. Ne3 Bc6 (18... a5 19. Rxd6) 19. Ncd5 Ne6 20. Bd3 Nd4
21. Qg3 h4 22. Qh2 {Diagram [#] White's pieces are awkwardly placed.}) ({
Objectively best might be} 18. g4 {with the idea to meet} Ne6 {with} ({Black
can also try} 18... a5 $5 {which may lead to tremendous complications after}
19. gxh5 (19. b4 {is still an option for White} Ne6 20. gxh5 Rxh5 21. Qg3 Rh8
22. h4 {with unclear play.}) 19... Rxh5 20. Qg3 {and now} b4 $1 21. Bxh5 bxc3
22. Bxg6 Rxb2+ 23. Ka1 Qb8 {Threatens mate in two after 24...Rb2-a2+} ({Not}
23... fxg6 $2 24. Qxg6+ Kf8 25. Qxd6+ Kg8 26. Qxc5 $18) 24. Qxc3 Na4 25. Qc4
fxg6 {[%csl Ya1,Ye8] Diagram [#] When everything is unclear and my computer
claims 0.00...} 26. Nc7+ Ke7 (26... Kd8 27. Rxd6 Qxc7 28. Qg8+ Ke7 29. Rxg6 Bf6
30. Qh7+ Ke6 31. Qg8+ $11) 27. Rhg1 $13) 19. gxh5 Rxh5 20. Qg3 Rh4 21. Bg4 {
which will be much better version that the game continuation for White.}) 18...
a5 {Simple and strong, although} (18... Ne6 {was also interesting. True, Black
has to sacrifice a pair of pawns in the line} 19. Qa7 a5 20. Qa6 b4 21. axb4
axb4 22. Na2 b3 23. cxb3 O-O) 19. b4 $5 {[%csl Rc5] Diagram [#] This was
Ganguly's idea. He believes that his central construction is solid enough to
survive any flank attacks.} ({Safer was} 19. Na2) 19... Ne6 20. g3 Nd4 21. Bd3
Be6 {Giri is not afraid of f2-f4, but perhaps it made good sense to avoid that
option with the preliminary} (21... h4 $5 {[%csl Rg3] Diagram [#]} 22. g4 (22.
f4 hxg3 23. f5 Qh4 {looks good for Black.}) 22... O-O {with good play for
Black.}) 22. f4 {Obviously White cannot sit and wait until his opponent opens
the game on the queenside.} axb4 23. axb4 Ra8 {Once again "Show me what you've
got" approach.} ({Instead} 23... exf4 24. gxf4 Ra8 25. e5 {is a mess.}) 24. f5
{[%csl Rf5] Diagram [#] White is consistently trying to reach the black king.}
gxf5 25. exf5 Nxf5 {Better than} (25... Bxf5 26. Bxf5 Nxf5 {When White has a
choice of attacking options} 27. Qd3 ({Or} 27. Qf3 Nd4 28. Rxd4 exd4 29. Re1+
Be5 30. Nxb5) 27... Nd4 28. Nxb5 {and as the black Rh8 is not joining the game
soon, White should be better.}) 26. Bxf5 Bxf5 27. g4 {The same policy again-
no shelter for the black king as in the line:} (27. Nxb5 O-O 28. g4 Bh7 {
However, it seems as Ganguly forgot that Giri likes to keep his Monarch in the
center. Somewhere around the e6-d5-f5 squares...}) 27... hxg4 28. hxg4 Rxh1 29.
Rxh1 Be6 $1 {Diagram [#] The pawn is anything but yummy} ({After} 29... Bxg4 $6
30. Qe4 $1 Be6 {Now best is the preliminary} 31. Rh7 $1 {Diagram [#]} ({
White can reagin the exchange at once with} 31. Nc7+ Qxc7 32. Qxa8+ {but this
is less appealing due to the simple} Ke7 33. Nd5+ (33. Nxb5 $5) 33... Bxd5 34.
Qxd5 Qc3 {with e5-e4 coming White will have to force perpetual sooner or later.
}) 31... Bf8 32. Nxb5 Rc8 33. Rh8 {when White is dominating.}) 30. g5 ({If} 30.
Qe4 Kf8 {stops any Nd5-c7 fork ideas.}) 30... Kf8 {Giri repelled the attack
and is now in command. Still, the vulnerable position of his king and the
naughty white knights prevent him of winning smoothly.} 31. Nf6 $1 {[%csl Rf6,
Yf8] Diagram [#] White's best chance is to keep this bishop away from his king.
The other one is not that dangerous.} Ra6 {Defends the d6 pawn and prepares
the doubling of the heavy pieces along the "a" file.} (31... Qc7 32. Qd3) 32.
Qf3 Qc7 ({Premature is} 32... Qa8 33. Qxa8+ Rxa8 34. Rd1 Ke7 35. Nxb5 ({Or even
} 35. Nfd5+ Kd8 36. Nxb5) 35... Bxf6 36. gxf6+ Kxf6 37. Nxd6 {when White
should get the draw.}) 33. Nh7+ Ke8 34. Nf6+ Bxf6 {In mutual time trouble Giri
saveguards the king. Also possible was} (34... Kd8 {with the idea to meet} 35.
Rh7 $2 ({White should better defend with} 35. Qd3 Qa7 36. Kb2 {with good
chances of survival.}) {with} 35... Qa7 $1 {and Black wins.}) 35. gxf6 {
The only move as the counterattack} (35. Qxf6 {fails to} Qc4 $1 ({Even the
rook endgame after} 35... Qxc3 36. Rh8+ Kd7 37. Qd8+ Kc6 38. Qc8+ Bxc8 39.
Rxc8+ Kd7 40. Rxc3 Ra4 {is won for Black.}) 36. Rh8+ Kd7 {and if anyone is
mated, it not going to be Black.}) 35... Kd7 {Diagram [#] Misses a good chance
to increase the advantage after} (35... Qc6 $1 {Black should try to get rid of
the queens.} 36. Qxc6+ (36. Rh8+ Kd7 37. Qd3 Qc4) 36... Rxc6 37. Nxb5 Rb6 {
and Black is close to winning.}) 36. Rd1 Qa7 37. Kb2 Bc4 38. Qe4 Kc7 39. Nd5+
Kb8 ({But not} 39... Bxd5 $2 40. Qxd5 Kc8 41. Rh1 {when White is better.}) 40.
Nc3 Kc7 {Giri repeats the moves for the second time to get the additional time
after move forty.} ({If} 40... Qf2 41. Rh1 Qxf6 42. Qg4 {creates the threat
Qg4-g8+ followed by Rh1-h8 with strong attack. Nothing is clear after} Qd8 43.
Qg7) ({However, Black can deviate from the repetition with} 40... Qb7) 41. Qf3
{Knowing the latter, Ganguly deviates first. He then tries to get in the
opponent's camp with his queen.} Qa8 42. Qe3 Qc6 43. Qg3 Ra8 44. Ra1 $1 {
[%csl Rc3,Yc4,Yc6,Rg3] Diagram [#] Weakens the eight rank and leads to a
favorable pair or pieces.} Rxa1 45. Kxa1 Qb6 46. Qh4 d5 47. Kb2 ({Tricks do
not work} 47. Qxc4+ $2 dxc4 48. Nd5+ Kc6 49. Nxb6 Kxb6) 47... Qd6 48. Kc1 {
Diagram [#] The culmination of the game. Black is up a pawn but the position
of his king is insecure. It is quite obvious that he cannot make progress
without advancing his pawns.} Qa6 {Now the white queen gets too much activity.
Correct was} (48... d4 49. Ne4 {and now not} Qxb4 $6 ({Here strong is} 49...
Qc6 $1 50. Qg4 Be6 51. Qe2 Qc4 {with excellent winning chances for Black.}) 50.
Qg3 $1 {when Black loses the important e5 pawn.}) 49. Qg5 $1 Kd6 50. Qg8 $1 {
[%csl Rd6][%cal Rg8f8,Rf8d8] Diagram [#] The queen is ready for the perpetual.}
Qa3+ ({Perhaps Giri intended to go for the f6 pawn and realized only now that}
50... Ke6 51. Qg4+ Kxf6 52. Qh4+ {will force him to abandon the e5 pawn in
order to avoid the perpetual.}) 51. Kd2 Qa7 52. Qe8 Qd7 53. Qg8 Qb7 54. Qe8 Qd7
55. Qg8 e4 {There is practically no choice.} (55... Qc7 56. Qe8 e4 57. Nxb5+
Bxb5 58. Qxb5 $11) (55... d4 56. Ne4+ Kc7 57. Qf8 $11) 56. Qg3+ Kc6 57. Qe5 Qc7
58. Qe8+ Kb6 59. Qe7 Qf4+ 60. Kd1 Qf1+ 61. Kd2 Qf4+ 62. Kd1 e3 63. Qd8+ Ka6 {
[%csl Ra6,Rd8] Diagram [#] The perpetual is a fact as} (63... Qc7 64. Nxd5+
Bxd5 65. Qxd5 $11 {draws as well.}) 64. Qa8+ Kb6 65. Qd8+ Ka6 {Fundamental
battle!} 1/2-1/2


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