Sharp Endgame

The following sharp endgame appeared after a quick opening skirmish in the Alekhine defense. My long-time student Brad could not orientate well in the arising situation and soon lost the thread.
Instead of chasing pawns, he should have chased the king.

Every Tempo Matters

In position with opposite castlings the main question is "Who is faster?" Every tempo counts and the speed of the attack is richly awarded at the end. This is what the Polish GM Dariusz Swiercz managed to prove in round five of the Qatar Chess Masters. In a sharp Gruenfeld the former junior world champion managed to grind down the fearsome Anton Korobov from Ukraine:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.24"]
[Round "5.8"]
[White "Korobov, Anton"]
[Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2713"]
[BlackElo "2646"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:07:01"]
[BlackClock "0:02:29"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 {Diagram [#] A popular move order.} d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5.
e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Qd6 10. Nb5 {Mamedyarov
introduced this move in the modern practice back in the distant 2004...} ({
White can postpone the jump and go first} 10. Kb1 Rd8 {and only then} 11. Nb5
Qd7 12. d5 a6 13. Nc3 Na5 14. Bd4 {with unclear play in the blitz game Aronian,
L (2784)-Volokitin,A (2639) Berlin 2015}) 10... Qd7 ({Noone had ever tested
the computer move} 10... Qd8) 11. f4 Qe6 {[%csl Ra2][%cal Ge6a2] Diagram [#]
The point behind Black's previous move. He needs to counter attack as quick as
possible.} 12. Nc3 ({With his kingside undeveloped White cannot afford the
McDuck's approach} 12. Nxc7 $2 Qxa2 13. Nxa8 Na5 $1 {[%csl Rb2,Yc1][%cal Ra5b3,
Ra2a1,Rf8c8,Rc8c1,Rb6c4,Rg7b2] Diagram [#] leads to lethal attack for Black.})
12... Nc4 13. Qe2 N6a5 (13... Nxe3 14. Qxe3 {is aslo possible and was tested
in the game Wang Hao-Svidler, Stavanger 2013.}) 14. Bf2 $146 {[%csl Gf2]
Diagram [#] Korobov decided to keep this bishop. Since Black did not take it
on the previous move some players believed that he may never take it.} ({
Afresh example is} 14. Nf3 c5 15. e5 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Qb6 17. Nf5 Nxe3 18. Nxe3
Nc6 19. Ned5 Qd8 20. g3 Be6 21. Bg2 {with advantage for White, Karjakin,S
(2780)-Giri,A (2720) Wijk aan Zee 2013}) 14... c5 {A sharp position occurred.
Both sides castled in different flanks and in these situations the main
question is who is faster. Swiercz tries to open files as early as possible
and he has every right to do so. Even the rough, mechanical calculation
reveals that he is already ahead in the development. The other logical
possibilities are} (14... b5 $5) ({And} 14... Rd8 $5) 15. Nf3 ({Bad is} 15.
dxc5 $2 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Qf6 {[%csl Rc3,Rf4][%cal Rf6c3,Rf6f4] Diagram [#] with
double attack against c3 and f4.}) (15. d5 {fails to impress neither after} Qb6
) ({However, the immediate} 15. e5 {is interesting with the idea to meet} b5 {
with} 16. d5 Qf5 17. g3 {The threat is Bf1-h3 when White wants to make use of
his knight on g1. But Black may pretend that he did not see it and go for} b4 {
when} 18. Bh3 $6 {Bumps into} bxc3 $1 19. Bxf5 $2 cxb2+ 20. Kc2 Bxf5+ 21. Kc3
Rab8 {[%csl Rc3] Diagram [#] and Black wins. Such sharp lines are typical for
positions with open kings.}) 15... b5 16. e5 {Building some barricades seems
more useful at the moment} (16. Kb1 $5 Qa6 17. Qc2) 16... Qa6 ({White would be
happy to close the position after} 16... b4 17. Ne4 b3 18. a3) 17. Ne4 $2 {
[%csl Ya2,Rc1] Diagram [#] It is not that obvious, but White badly needed this
knight in the defense of his king. Correct was} (17. dxc5 Bf5 (17... Bh6 18. g3
Bg4 {is another possibility.}) 18. Nd4 {with unclear play.}) 17... Bf5 $1 {
A cold shower. Instead of defending, Swiercz brings another piece in the
attack.} 18. g4 ({Probably here Korobov realized that on the planned} 18. Nxc5
{Black has the killer} Nb3+ $3 {[%csl Rc1] Diagram [#]} 19. Nxb3 (19. axb3 Qa1#
) 19... Qxa2 20. Rd3 Rac8 {and White has to resign.}) ({White is clearly worse
after both} 18. Kb1 Nc6 $17) ({Or} 18. g3 Nc6 $17) 18... Bxg4 19. Nxc5 {
Now that the bishop is away from the b1-h7 diagonal it seems as White can do
this. But...} Nb3+ $1 {[%csl Ra1,Ra2,Rc1][%cal Ra6a1] Diagram [#] Comes anyway.
} 20. Kb1 {There is no choice} (20. axb3 Qa1+ 21. Kc2 Qxb2+ 22. Kd3 Bf5+ 23.
Ne4 Qxb3#) ({Or} 20. Nxb3 Qxa2 {we do not count.}) 20... Nxc5 21. dxc5 {
The smoke had cleared. Black kept all his active pieces and White has no
defenders of the queenside, nor development. With natural play Swiercz
converts his indisputable advantage.} f6 {[%cal Rg7a1] Diagram [#]} (21... Rad8
{was quite convincing too.}) 22. Rg1 Bh5 23. Qe4 fxe5 24. Bxc4+ bxc4 25. Rd7 ({
Computer claims White's best chance is the endgame after} 25. Nxe5 Bxd1 26.
Rxd1 Rad8 27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Qxc4+ Qxc4 29. Nxc4 Kf7 {but Black is obviously
winning here as well.}) 25... Bxf3 26. Qxf3 Qe6 {[%csl Rb2][%cal Ga8b8,Gf8c8,
Rg7b2] Diagram [#]} 27. Rgd1 ({Or} 27. Qg4 {when Black has a pleasant choice
of winning continuations} Rf5 $19 ({And} 27... Qxg4 28. Rxg4 exf4 29. Rxe7 Rab8
$19)) 27... e4 $1 28. Qe2 Rfb8 29. R1d4 c3 $1 {Diagram [#]} ({Even better than
} 29... Bxd4 30. Rxd4 c3 31. b3 Rd8 {which also wins.}) 30. b4 ({In case of}
30. b3 {Swiercz can enjoy another sac on the b3 square} Rxb3+ $1 {[%csl Rb1]
Diagram [#]} 31. axb3 Qxb3+ 32. Kc1 (32. Ka1 c2 $1 $19) 32... Qa3+ 33. Kc2 Qb2+
34. Kd1 Qb1#) 30... Bxd4 31. Rxd4 a5 32. b5 c2+ $1 {[%csl Yb1][%cal Rb8b5,
Re6a2] Diagram [#] It is over.} 33. Qxc2 (33. Kxc2 Qxa2+ 34. Kd1 Qb1+ 35. Kd2
Rxb5 $19) 33... Rxb5+ 34. Kc1 e3 35. Re4 exf2 0-1



A blunder or not?

The Polish Grandmaster Radoslaw Wojtaszek is known for his strong white color. After his loss in round three against Anish Giri in Qatar he wanted to recover as quick as possible with the white pieces. Things did not go so well for him at the beginning of his game against the yesterday's hero D. Vocaturo:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.23"]
[Round "4.14"]
[White "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"]
[Black "Vocaturo, Daniele"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2723"]
[BlackElo "2597"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:09:06"]
[BlackClock "0:01:36"]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Bb4+ {Diagram [#] How to name this opening? Advanced
Bogo-Indian? Or flexible Bogo-Indian?} 3. Bd2 Bxd2+ 4. Qxd2 Nf6 5. Nc3 d5 6. e3
{Wojtaszek wants to develop his knight on e2.} ({Now} 6. Nf3 {will switch
into proper Bogo-Indian and this move was a choice of Mamedyarov and Bacrot
among others.}) 6... O-O 7. cxd5 ({The move} 7. Nf3 {is still possible, for
example} Qe7 8. Qc2 c6 9. Bd3 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nbd7 11. O-O e5 12. Bb3 exd4 13.
exd4 {and White was better in Riazantsev,A (2646)-Roiz,M (2600) Berlin 2015})
7... exd5 8. Bd3 Nc6 {[%csl Yc8,Yd3][%cal Gc6e7,Gc8f5] Diagram [#] This was
played only once before but seems very, very logical. In the arising Carlsbad
pawn structure Black would love to swap off the light-squared bishops. In
the usual Carlsbad the black queenside knight is already on d7 and in order to
achieve the desired trades the knight has to take the long route via f8-e6-g7
and on the top of this Black has to spend time on Rf8-e8 and g7-g6. Vocaturo
is more clever, he creates the positional threat in just two moves.} 9. Nge2
Ne7 10. Qc2 {Stops Bc8-f5.} g6 $146 {Diagram [#] A novelty. Black consistently
plays for Bc8-f5.} ({The only predecessor saw} 10... b6 11. b4 c6 12. Rb1 Bd7
13. O-O {with slight but long-lasting advantage for White, Vaisser,A (2555)
-Bricard,E (2460) France 1993}) 11. h3 {Agressive play. White wants to prove
that g7-g6 was not perfect and that the kingside is weak as well.} (11. O-O Bf5
{should be fine for Black.}) 11... Bf5 12. g4 Bxd3 13. Qxd3 {"I thought this
position is promising for me" Wojtaszek "but Black's next move is very strong."
} Nc8 $1 {[%csl Ge4][%cal Gc8d6,Gd6c4,Gd6e4,Gf6e4] Diagram [#] The knight is
heading for the optimal d6 square and then it will have the pleasant choice
between the e4 and c4 beauties.} 14. O-O-O Nd6 15. f3 {If White had now the
time to play Ne2-g3 followed by g4-g5 everything would be great, but...} Re8
16. Nf4 {White found nothing better than this move, but it has a flaw.} ({
It transpires that} 16. Ng3 {is too slow due to} b5 $1 {[%csl Re4][%cal Rb5b4]
Diagram [#]} 17. e4 ({Worse is} 17. Nxb5 Nc4 $1 ({Or} 17... Nxb5 18. Qxb5 Rxe3
{in both cases with advantage for Black.})) 17... dxe4 (17... b4 18. Nxd5 Nxd5
19. exd5 Qg5+ $17 {is even stronger.}) 18. fxe4 b4 {with Black's edge
(Wojtaszek)}) ({Black is also doing great after} 16. g5 Nh5 17. Nxd5 Qxg5 {
(Wojtaszek)}) 16... c6 17. h4 Nc4 $1 18. e4 Qd6 $1 {[%cal Rd6b4,Rb4b2,Rd6f4]
Diagram [#] A very nice maneuver, missed by the Polish GM.} 19. e5 Qb4 {
With the double threat of checkmate in one and Nc4xe5! Wojtaszek thought for a
moment that he is lost, but then managed to put himself together and found an
excellent resource.} 20. Qe2 $1 {[%csl Rf4][%cal Ga2a3] Diagram [#]} ({White
also calculated the line} 20. Qc2 Ne3 21. Qd2 Nxd1 22. Kxd1 Nd7 23. h5 {
but came to the conclusion that there is not enough compensation after} c5 ({
Or first} 23... Nb6)) 20... Nxe5 21. a3 {The black queen feels overburdened.}
Qc4 22. g5 $1 {Diagram [#]} Nfd7 (22... Qxe2 23. Ncxe2 {drops a piece.}) 23.
Qc2 $1 {Suddenly, the black knight is in danger.} ({Wojtaszek dismissed} 23.
Qd2 {due to the pretty resource} Nc5 $1 {Diagram [#]} 24. dxc5 Nxf3 $17) ({
He also did not like} 23. Qh2 $5 {for the same reason-} Nc5 {but here he
missed a simple move for White in the line} ({However, Black can play for
compensation with} 23... b5 $5 24. Kb1 (24. dxe5 Nxe5 25. Kb1 a5) 24... a5 {
and nothing is clear at all.}) 24. dxe5 (24. dxc5 Nxf3 25. Qg3 Re3 {is indeed
good for Black (Wojtaszek)}) 24... d4 25. Qe2 $1 {and White wins a piece.})
23... Nxf3 ({The familiar trick} 23... Nc5 {was still there when Black can
save the knight but lose precious time. Wojtaszek planned} 24. Kb1 Ned7 {
and now either} 25. Nfxd5 ({But not} 25. Ncxd5 cxd5 $1) (25. h5 $1 {with
strong attack is also great for White.}) 25... cxd5 26. dxc5 {with advantage
for White.}) ({Black can sacrifice the knight for three pawns in the line}
23... Nf8 24. b3 Qa6 25. dxe5 Qxa3+ 26. Qb2 Qxb2+ 27. Kxb2 Rxe5 {but it is
clear that White has the better chances.}) 24. Qf2 $1 {[%csl Rf3] Diagram [#]
The queen dance is over, the knight is trapped.} Nde5 25. Kb1 (25. dxe5 $2
Qxf4+) 25... Nxd4 $2 {A time-trouble blunder.} ({White expected} 25... Rad8 {
(to stop the knight sacrifice on d5)} 26. dxe5 Nxe5 (26... Qxf4 27. Rd3 {
In both cases White has the upper hand but there is plenty of play ahead.}))
26. Rxd4 Qc5 27. Ncxd5 {The correct idea, but in the wrong move order.} ({Not}
27. h5 Nf3 $1 {(Wojtaszek)}) ({However, the preliminary} 27. Rc1 $1 {and only
after} Qf8 28. Ncxd5 $1 {Diagram [#] was the correct move order.} cxd5 29. Nxd5
) 27... cxd5 28. Rc1 (28. Nxd5 Nf3 $1 {is again good for Black.}) 28... Qf8 $2
{Now the attack is unstoppable.} ({Correct was} 28... Qb5 $1 29. a4 (29. Nxd5
$2 Nd3 $1) 29... Qa6 30. Nxd5 Nd3 31. Nf6+ Kh8 {when nothing is clear. Most
likely the players should split the point after something like} 32. Qf3 Nxc1
33. Nxe8 Rxe8 34. Qxf7 Qe2 35. Kxc1 Qe1+ 36. Kc2 Rc8+ 37. Rc4 Qe2+ 38. Kb3 Qd3+
39. Rc3 Qd1+ 40. Ka2 Qxa4+ 41. Ra3 Qc4+ 42. Qxc4 Rxc4 43. Rxa7 Rxh4 44. Rxb7
Ra4+ 45. Kb3 Ra5 46. Rb8+ $11 {Diagram [#]}) 29. Nxd5 {Once that the knight
occupies f6 outpost, the "h" pawn will rush in and open the file for the heavy
pieces.} Rec8 30. Re1 Nc6 31. Rde4 (31. Nf6+ Kh8 32. Rd7 $18) 31... Rd8 32.
Nf6+ {[%csl Gf6,Yg8,Rh7][%cal Rh1h7] Diagram [#]} Kh8 33. h5 gxh5 34. Rh1 Rd6
35. Rxh5 Rxf6 36. gxf6 (36. Qxf6+ Qg7 37. Reh4 $18) 36... Qd6 37. Rxh7+ $1 Kxh7
38. Qf5+ {[%csl Rh7] Diagram [#] Black resigned as it is mate in three.} (38.
Qf5+ Kh8 39. Rh4+ Kg8 40. Qg4+ Kf8 41. Rh8#) 1-0



Activity in the Endgame

I teach my students three easy steps to evaluate and play endgames.
1) Activity of pieces.
2) Activity of kings.
3) Pawn structure.
Pieces are priority as they have the power and can compensate for material deficit.
Have a look now how Vladimir Kramnik (not my student;) used the force to save himself in his round three encounter against the Italian GM Daniele Vocaturo in Doha:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.22"]
[Round "3.6"]
[White "Vocaturo, Daniele"]
[Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2597"]
[BlackElo "2796"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:04:30"]
[BlackClock "0:05:23"]

1. e4 e5 {It seems as Kramnik had given up the Pirc for good. Against the
talanted and sharp Vocaturo he wants to play it save.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 {
Diagram [#] What else would you expect from Italian GM?!} Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3
d6 6. Bb3 a6 7. O-O h6 {Black often retreats the dark-squared bishop early in
the game, but Kramnik is not afraid of the d3-d4 advance.} 8. Nbd2 {Black has
no problems at all after} (8. d4 Ba7 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 dxe5 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8
12. Nd2 (12. Bxf7 Rf8 $1) 12... Ke7 13. h3 Be6 {Bisby,D (2288)-Jones,G (2644)
England 2013}) 8... O-O 9. Re1 Be6 10. Bxe6 {An ultra-solid aproach by White
too.} ({Roughly two months ago Ivanchuk preferred to swap the bishops off on
b3, but got nothing out of the opening after} 10. Nf1 Bxb3 11. Qxb3 Re8 12. Be3
Bxe3 13. Nxe3 Qd7 14. h3 Ne7 15. Nh2 c6 16. Rad1 d5 {Ivanchuk,V (2726)-Kramnik,
V (2777) Skopje 2015}) 10... fxe6 11. b4 Ba7 12. Nf1 $146 {Diagram [#] A
novelty which does not change the evaluation of the position-it is equal. The
predecessor saw a quick draw after} ({Predecessor:} 12. a4 Qd7 13. Nb3 Rf7 14.
b5 Ne7 15. bxa6 bxa6 16. d4 Nc6 17. h3 Rb8 {1/2-1/2 (17) Bok,B (2587)-Vishnu,P
(2477) Moscow 2015}) 12... Qe8 {Black's plan is easy- Nf6-h5-f4 or
Nc6-e7-g6-f4 and attack along the half-open"f" file. If White is not careful,
he may easily get into big trouble. Fortunately, A. Karpov is here to help.
The former world champion demonstrated the optimal set-up on the kingside
which every "Italian" player knows.} 13. a4 Ne7 {[%cal Ge7g6,Gg6f4,Yf6h5,Yh5f4]
Diagram [#]} ({Also good is} 13... Nh5 14. Be3 Nf4 ({As if} 14... Bxe3 15. fxe3
{takes away the f4 square from the black knight.})) 14. Be3 Bxe3 15. Nxe3 ({
Here} 15. fxe3 {is also possible but Vocaturo is more ambitious.}) 15... Ng6
16. Ra2 {[%csl Yf2][%cal Ga2d2,Gd3d4,Yd2f2] Diagram [#] To shift the rook in
the center. White could have already started Karpov's set up with.} (16. g3)
16... Rd8 17. Rd2 Qf7 {White's reply would be the same no matter what.} (17...
Nh5 18. Kh1) (17... Nf4 18. Kh1) 18. Kh1 {[%cal Gf3g1,Gf2f3,Gg2g3] Diagram [#]
The king steps away to free the g1 square for the knight. Then once that it
goes back White can repel the active black knights with f2-f3 and g2-g3. This
is what Anatoly Yevgyenievich did against Artur Jussupow in 1986.} b5 {Kramnik
plays all over the board.} (18... Nf4 19. Ng1) 19. Qc2 Nf4 20. axb5 {White
opens the file only to abandon it.} (20. c4 $5 {makes more sense to me.}) 20...
axb5 21. Ng1 (21. Ra1 Ra8 $11 (21... Qh5)) 21... d5 {Now the more experienced
player enjoys some initiative. Still, the game did not leave the boarders of
equality.} 22. f3 ({Or} 22. g3 Ng6 23. f3 $11) 22... Qd7 {Keeps the tension
and creates an obvious threat of capturing on e4.} ({Black could have taken
the open file too} 22... Ra8) 23. Nf1 $1 {[%csl Rd5,Ye5][%cal Re4d5,Ge1e5]
Diagram [#] A nice maneuver which forces Kramnik to clarify his intentions in
the center. Vocaturo threatens to capture on d5.} d4 {This was Kramnik's
general idea. The pawn will separate the b4 trooper form the remaining forces.}
(23... dxe4 24. dxe4 $11) 24. g3 {Better than both} (24. cxd4 Qxd4) (24. Rc1 $6
dxc3 25. Qxc3 Nxd3 {when the black knight is too active on f4.}) 24... Ng6 25.
Rc1 $1 {Vocaturo plays with great precision.} Ra8 $6 {[%csl Yb5,Yc7] Diagram
[#] This leads to difficulties for Black. It was time for Kramnik to think
about equality with} (25... Ne7 26. cxd4 Qxd4 {when} 27. Qxc7 $2 {drops
material to} Rc8) 26. cxd4 Qxd4 ({Or else Black's pawn structure will be
horrific-} 26... exd4 $2 27. f4) 27. Qc5 $1 {One more precise move and White
proves that he has the better pawn structure.} (27. Qxc7 Qxb4 {should be OK
for Black.}) 27... Qxc5 (27... Rfb8 28. Qxd4 exd4 29. Rxc7 $16) 28. Rxc5 Rfb8
29. Rxc7 Ra4 30. Rb2 Ra3 31. Nd2 Rxd3 32. Nb3 {[%csl Yb5,Ye5,Ye6,Rf6,Rg6][%cal
Gc7h7,Gc7a7,Rb3c5,Rc5e6] Diagram [#] The forced play is over and White enjoys
serious advantage thanks to his more active pieces.} Nf8 33. Nc5 Rd1 34. Re7
Re8 {An inaccuracy which could have costed Kramnik dearly. The immediate
activation of the rook was mandatory} (34... Ra8 35. Kg2 Ne8 $1 ({Better than}
35... N6d7 36. Nxe6 Nxe6 37. Rxe6 Rd3 $16) 36. Nxe6 Nxe6 37. Rxe6 Nd6 {[%cal
Gd6c4] Diagram [#] with serious chances to survive.}) 35. Rb7 Ra8 $1 {Better
late than never. The former world champion is too good to stay passive and
wait.} 36. Kg2 g5 {Activity is the slogan for Black's survival.} ({It is too
late for} 36... Ne8 37. Rxb5 Nd6 38. Ra5 $16) 37. Rxb5 Rad8 ({Or} 37... g4 38.
fxg4 Nxg4 39. Nf3 {and White is close to winning.}) 38. Nb3 ({My bet is that
Kramnik would have chosen the solid} 38. Nh3 $5 R8d2+ (38... g4 39. Nf2) 39.
Rxd2 Rxd2+ 40. Nf2 {if he had had the white pieces here.}) 38... g4 $1 {
The best practical chance, or else White will consolidate (both positionally
and on the clock!)} 39. Rxe5 Ng6 40. Rxe6 Kf7 {[%csl Gb4,Ge4,Gf3] Diagram [#]
Black is three pawns down but is ready to show his knights.} 41. Nc5 ({Perhaps
White needed to swap offf a pair of rooks to relieve the pressure} 41. Rc6 Ne5
42. Rc1 (42. Rc7+ Kg6 43. Rc1) 42... Rxc1 43. Nxc1 Nc4 44. Rb3 gxf3+ 45. Nxf3
Nxe4 46. b5 ({Or} 46. Ne2 {in both cases White should be winning.})) 41... h5
42. e5 $2 {Only this move can be definitely claimed a mistake. Why give these
knights squares?} (42. f4 R1d2+ 43. Rxd2 Rxd2+ 44. Kf1 {looked way easier.})
42... Nd5 {[%csl Re6,Rg2][%cal Rg6f4,Rd5f4] Diagram [#] All of a sudden
Kramnik has a threat.} 43. Kf2 ({Say} 43. b5 $2 {and there it comes} Ndf4+ 44.
gxf4 Nxf4+ 45. Kf2 Nxe6 $17) ({White will be very happy to activate his rook,
however} 43. Ra2 {is met by} Rb8 $1 ({But not} 43... Nxb4 $2 44. Ra7+) (43...
Ndf4+ $2 44. gxf4 Nxf4+ 45. Kf2 Nxe6 46. Ra7+ $18)) ({Finally,} 43. fxg4 {
leads to another draw after} Ndf4+ 44. gxf4 Nxf4+ 45. Kf2 Nxe6 46. gxh5 $11)
43... Ra8 $1 {[%csl Rf2,Rg1][%cal Ga8a1,Rd1f1,Rf1g1,Ra1g1] Diagram [#] All the
black pieces are active, he is save now.} 44. Ra6 ({A bit better was} 44. fxg4
hxg4 45. Ra6 Rxa6 46. Nxa6 Nxe5 {but should be also a draw.}) (44. b5 Raa1 45.
b6 Rxg1 46. b7 Raf1+ 47. Ke2 Rg2+ 48. Kxf1 Rxb2 {and Black is better.}) 44...
Rxa6 45. Nxa6 Nxe5 46. Nc5 {The alternatives leave no winning chances to White
neither} (46. Rb3 Rd2+) (46. Rc2 Rb1 $11) 46... Nc4 47. Re2 Nce3 {Diagram [#]
The mating threat forces either perpetual} 48. Re1 ({Or all the material will
disappear after} 48. Rxe3 Nxe3 49. Kxe3 Rxg1 50. fxg4 hxg4 51. Kf4 Rg2 $11)
48... Rd2+ 49. Re2 Rd1 50. Re1 Rd2+ 51. Re2 1/2-1/2


Giri's Short King

Carlsen's reluctance to stay on board one in Doha brought there Kramnik, who on his turn freed it to the young and shiny Anish Giri. The Dutchman played a brilliant game to outplay another young diamond- Nils Grandelius from Sweden to secure the top position at least for the next round. In a certain moment Giri was brave enough to walk with his king in the middle of the board a la Short:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.21"]
[Round "2.2"]
[White "Grandelius, Nils"]
[Black "Giri, Anish"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2632"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:32:06"]
[BlackClock "0:04:36"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {Diagram [#] Giri
generally prefers the Taimanov Sicilian, but every once in a while he opts for
the Najdorf too.} 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f4 ({Another plan is} 8. Be3 Be7 9.
Qf3 O-O 10. g4 a5 11. O-O-O a4 12. Nc5 a3 {as in the recent masterpiece
Khismatullin,D (2654)-Sjugirov,S (2646) Khanty-Mansiysk 2015}) 8... Be7 {
Diagram [#] Giri revealed at the press-conference that he was not sure about
his memories of the line and mentioned two recent games, important for the
line:} (8... b5 9. f5 Bc8 10. Bg5 Bb7 11. Qf3 Nbd7 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Kb1 Rc8 {
Grischuk,A (2785)-Wojtaszek,R (2701) Riga 2013}) ({And} 8... Nbd7 9. f5 Bxb3
10. axb3 d5 11. exd5 Bb4 12. Bd2 O-O 13. Qe2 Bxc3 14. bxc3 e4 {Sutovsky,E
(2635)-Shirov,A (2712) Poikovsky 2015 Although White won both these games
Black did reasonably well out of the opening.}) 9. f5 Bd7 $146 {A novelty. The
bishop is heading for the c6 square.} ({A Najdorf specialist chose instead}
9... Bc8 {trying to fianchettoe the bishop asap and keeping the queenside
knight's options open-} 10. Qf3 b5 11. a3 Bb7 12. g4 d5 $1 {and Black was
already better in Sutovsky,E (2632)-Wojtaszek,R (2736) Bilbao 2014}) 10. Be3 b5
{The fight for the d5 square is fierce. Black dismissed the immediate} (10...
Bc6 11. Qf3 d5 {due to} 12. Nxd5 $1 ({Giri also calculated the cunning line}
12. exd5 Bxd5 $1 13. Qg3 $6 Ne4 $1 14. Qxe5 Nc6 15. Qxd5 Bh4+ {[%csl Rd5]
Diagram [#] and all of a sudden Black wins the queen} 16. Ke2 Nxc3+) 12... Bxd5
13. O-O-O Nxe4 14. Bc4 $1 {where Black's position falls apart.}) 11. Qf3 ({
Perhaps Grandelius should have gone for} 11. a3 Bc6 12. Qf3 {which seems more
stable.}) 11... b4 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 {Now that the d5 outpost disappeared
Black should be fine.} Bg5 {[%csl Ye3,Yg5] Diagram [#] In order to trade the
"poor bishop". This however leaves the queenside somewhat poorly placed.} (
13... a5 14. Nd2 {would have been somewhat better for White.}) ({But} 13...
O-O {looks quite good for him. I suspect that Giri did not want to show where
is his king going yet. He often leaves it in the middle in the Taimanov and if
you remember his game again Saric in Wijk this year you might find a lot of
similarities to the one you are following right now.}) 14. Bxg5 ({White has
nothing after} 14. Bf2 O-O 15. Bd3 Bb5) 14... Qxg5 15. Bd3 Bb5 16. h4 {
Grandelius is a very strong attacking player and remains true to his style.
Objectively though a better approach would have been the one suggested by the
top commentator P.Svidler:} (16. Nd2 Nd7 17. Ne4 Qe7 18. O-O {followed by the
opening of the queenside with a2-a3} Nf6 19. a3 {[%csl Ya6,Yb4,Yb5][%cal Ra1a8]
Diagram [#] Giri believed this should not be too bad for Black but the
impression is that he is worse.}) 16... Qd8 17. g4 Nd7 18. g5 $6 {"A mistake
that gives the "h" file to Black." (Giri).} (18. O-O-O $11) 18... h6 $1 {
[%cal Rh8h1,Rh1h8] Diagram [#] Or else White's initiative on the kingside
might become annoying-} (18... Qb6 19. O-O-O a5 20. Nd2 Nc5 21. Bxb5+ Qxb5 22.
h5 {and White is ready to open files (Giri).}) 19. Rg1 {One more timid move.
The Dutch GM believed that White should do better if sacrifices a pawn:} (19.
f6 gxf6 20. g6 fxg6 21. Bxg6+ Ke7 22. O-O-O {intending Rh1-e1 and Nb3-d4-f5
with compensation for a pawn.}) 19... hxg5 20. hxg5 Bxd3 21. Qxd3 Rh5 $1 {
[%cal Gh5g5,Yd3e3] Diagram [#] "A strong move that forces the white queen to
be misplaced" (Giri). Things are not that simple though...} 22. Qg3 ({Black is
indeed doing great in the endgame after} 22. Qe3 Qb6 $1 $17 {as the white
pawns are overstretched.}) ({Also in the line} 22. Qd2 a5 $1 {when the knight
is deprived of the d2 square.}) ({However, there was a third possibility that
Giri did not mention:} 22. f6 $1 {Diagram [#] with the idea} gxf6 ({Safer is}
22... g6 23. O-O-O {but then the white queen would not have to leave.}) 23. g6
$1 {This looks like an improved version of the pawn sacrifice from above.}) ({
And even} 22. O-O-O $5 {was interesting with the idea to get the file back
after} Rxg5 23. Rh1 $132) 22... Qc7 23. O-O-O Rc8 {[%csl Rc2,Gc7,Gc8,Yd7,Gh5]
[%cal Gh8h1,Gc8c1] Diagram [#] Now Black has almost all his pieces wonderfully
placed. Only the knight can do better and once that the "a" pawn starts moving
White's position will become critical.} 24. Rd2 a5 25. Kb1 ({Giri was a bit
afraid of the line} 25. f6 g6 26. Qe1 a4 27. Nd4 {but it fail tactically due to
} Nb6 28. Nc6 Nxd5 {and Black nets a pawn.}) 25... a4 26. Nc1 Qc4 $1 {Better
than} (26... Nb6 27. Qg4 $1 {that forces the black rook back} Nc4 28. Re2 Rh8 {
(Giri)}) 27. Qf3 ({Here} 27. Qg4 Rh4 28. Qxc4 Rcxc4 {leads to perfect endgame
for Black.}) 27... Rh4 28. f6 g6 {Black controls all the files and does not
need to open more.} 29. Rh1 Nc5 {This brings the last piece into the action.} (
{Svidler mentioned} 29... e4 {but it is not better due to} 30. Re1 Ne5 31. Qd1
{Diagram [#]}) (29... Nb6 $5 {deserved attention too.}) ({But the preliminary}
29... a3 $1 30. bxa3 Nc5 {with huge attack seems best.}) 30. Rdh2 Ne4 {Diagram
[#] The critical moment of the game.} ({The computer believes} 30... Rxh2 31.
Rxh2 Kd8 {was best for Black, but I am not sure I understand a thing here.})
31. Qd1 ({Both players missed that in the line} 31. Qe3 a3 {White does not
have to go for} 32. Qa7 {which is indeed winning for Black after Giri's
recommendation} ({But can free himself of the mating threat with} 32. c3 $1 {
[%csl Gb1,Rc2,Re8][%cal Rh1h8] Diagram [#] which takes over the initiative for
him. For example} Rxh2 33. Rxh2 {is already losing for Black-} bxc3 34. Rh8+
Kd7 35. Qh3+) 32... Kf8 $1 $19 (32... Rc7 33. Qa4+ Kd8 34. Rxh4 (34. Qa8+ Rc8
35. Qa5+ Ke8 36. Qa7 {returns to the main line where Black can still find the
move} Kf8 $1) 34... Nd2+ 35. Ka1 axb2+ 36. Kxb2 Qc3# {Diagram [#]})) 31... Rxh2
32. Rxh2 Kd7 $1 ({Avoiding the cunning trap:} 32... Nxg5 33. Qg1 Nf3 34. Rh8+
Kd7 35. Qa7+ Rc7 36. Qxa4+ {and White wins.}) 33. Qg1 Qxd5 34. Qa7+ Ke6 $1 {
[%csl Ge6][%cal Ge6f5,Gf5g5] Diagram [#] Too many Short followers...} 35. Qg1 {
With the innocent threat of a check from g4.} ({The barce black king will eat
all the white kingside pawns after} 35. Qe7+ Kf5 36. Qd7+ Qe6 37. Qxa4 Kxg5 ({
Or} 37... Qc4 {first.})) 35... Kd7 36. Qa7+ Ke6 ({There was an alternative}
36... Rc7 37. Qxa4+ Ke6 38. Qe8+ Kf5 {with serious advantage for Black.}) 37.
Qg1 Qc4 $1 {Frees the d5 square for the king!} 38. Re2 $2 {This loses. For
good or bad Grandelius should have gone for the complications} (38. Qg4+ Kd5
39. Qd7 Rc7 ({Carlsen showed a sense of humor with his suggestion} 39... Kd4 {
[%csl Rd4] Diagram [#] but it is doubtful he would have used it in his own game
} 40. Ne2+ Ke3 41. Qh3+ $18) 40. Qxa4 {and here instead of the suggested by
Giri} Nxg5 {that leads to a mess after} ({Black has a safer try} 40... Ke6 $1 {
with good winning chances.}) 41. Rd2+ Ke6 42. Qe8+ Kf5 (42... Kxf6 43. Qd8+ Re7
44. Qxd6+ Qe6 (44... Re6 $2 45. Qd8+ Re7 46. Rf2+) 45. Qxb4 $13) 43. Rf2+ Kg4 {
Still messy, but objectively much better for Black.}) 38... b3 $1 {[%csl Rb1]
[%cal Rc8c1] Diagram [#]} 39. axb3 {Allows a nice finish of the game.} ({
We already know where is the king heading to after} 39. Qg4+ Kd5 $1) ({
Objectively best was} 39. cxb3 axb3 40. a3 Nc5 $19) 39... axb3 40. cxb3 Qxe2 $1
{A pretty final strike. White resigned due to the mate:} (40... Qxe2 41. Nxe2
Nd2+ 42. Ka2 Ra8+ {Diagram [#]} 43. Qa7 Rxa7#) 0-1



How to Attack the Benoni?

A Good Finish

Magnus Carlsen had a very bad tournament in Reykjavik,with some horrible moments including a one-move piece blunder against Pelletier. His final game though was typical for his style:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.22"]
[Round "9.1"]
[White "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2850"]
[BlackElo "2748"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:24:24"]
[BlackClock "0:02:04"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 {Diagram [#] Carlsen did not have great tournament in Iceland
but remained true to his search of fresh opening lines.} d5 3. e3 c5 4. c3 {
A Reversed Slav defense arose on the board.} Nc6 5. Nd2 cxd4 6. exd4 {Now we
have typical Carlsbad pawn structure. Similar position can easily arise from
the exchange Caro-Kann after 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c3.} Bf5 7. Qb3 Qc8
{In case of} (7... Qb6 {White will leave his queen where it is} 8. Ngf3 {
and enjoy the possible trade after} Qxb3 9. axb3 {as he has the clear plan
b3-b4-(b5) and Nd2-b3-c5(a5).}) 8. Ngf3 e6 9. Nh4 Be4 {[%cal Yf2f3] Diagram [#]
Motylev decided not to provoke the f2-f3 move and played solidly against
Grischuk in Berlin:} (9... Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. h3 Be7 12. Bd3 Bd8 $1 13. Nf3
Bc7 {with approximate equality, Grischuk,A (2774)-Motylev,A (2649) Berlin 2015}
) 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Nf3 Bd6 {Not only finishes the development but reduces
White's attacking material on the kingside. In the Carlsbad the first player
is looking for piece attack there as he owes the nice e5 outpost and can
easily shift heavy pieces along the third (fifth) rank.} 12. Bxd6 Nxd6 13. Bd3
Qc7 14. Qc2 $146 {[%csl Ge1,Rh7][%cal Rd3h7] Diagram [#] A novelty. The idea
is clear- to prevent the immediate castling and to provoke kingside weakness
by Black.} ({The straightforward} 14. O-O {gave a chance to Black to castle at
once} O-O 15. Qc2 g6 (15... h6 $5 {looks safer.}) 16. Rfe1 b5 17. Qd2 Kg7 {
with mutual chances in Sandipan,C (2594)-Kasimdzhanov,R (2700) Dubai 2014})
14... O-O-O {Wojtaszek decided to avoid any kingside attacks and simply went
on the opposite wing.} ({If} 14... h6 {White can wait for his opponent's
castling with an useful move like} 15. Qe2) ({While} 14... g6 {can be answered}
15. h4 $5 O-O-O 16. h5 {and White is using his rook from its initial position.}
) 15. O-O h6 {Quite unusual situation arose. Instead of a minority attack,
Black will attack on the kingside himself, while White will push the pawns
against the enemy king as well.} 16. a4 Kb8 ({The line} 16... g5 17. a5 g4 18.
Ne5 Nxe5 19. dxe5 Nc4 20. Bxc4 Qxc4 21. a6 b6 22. Ra4 {is favourable for the
first player.}) 17. Rfe1 ({Black will reply in the same way after} 17. b4 Rc8)
17... Rc8 {[%cal Gc6b4] Diagram [#] The threat Nc6-b4 forces White to retreat
temporarily.} 18. Qd1 Rhe8 $1 {Wojtaszek switches to central play. A wise
decision that should nivilate White's aggressive intentions on the queen's wing.
} (18... g5 19. Ne5 h5 20. Nxc6+ Qxc6 21. a5 g4 22. a6 {looks better for White.
}) 19. Bf1 Re7 (19... f6 $5 {followed by e6-e5 is also good.}) 20. Rc1 Rd8 21.
Re2 $1 {[%cal Gf3e1,Ge1d3,Gd3c5] Diagram [#] A deep maneuver. The rook frees a
square for the knight that wants to get on the best square ever- c5.} Ne4 22.
b4 Ng5 23. Ne1 {The point behind Carlsen's maneuver. If Black manages to trade
the knights, he will be out of danger.} e5 $1 {This is the proper moment to
hit the center, all the pieces are either on the first or the second rank.} 24.
b5 Na5 25. Rxe5 Rxe5 26. dxe5 Qxe5 {Diagram [#] The Polish GM played
energetically and almost equalized completely. Now he wants to put pressure on
the backward c3 pawn, thus next move is forced:} (26... Nc4 $5 {was an
interesting pawn sacrifice} 27. f4 Ne6 {when Black has compensation thanks to
the weakened dark squares.}) 27. c4 Ne6 28. Nf3 Qf4 $2 {[%csl Ya5] Diagram [#]
But this is wrong. Black needed to try and trade the queens instead} (28... Qd6
29. cxd5 Qxd5 30. Qxd5 $6 (30. Qe1 $5 {might still give some hopes for an
advantage to the first player.}) 30... Rxd5 $11) 29. cxd5 Rxd5 30. Qxd5 Qxc1
31. g3 {Takes away the f4 square and prepares the development of the bishop.
Black's position is very unpleasant to say at least.} (31. Qd7 Qf4 {is less
precise.}) 31... Qc5 32. Qd7 Qf8 33. Ne5 {[%csl Ya5,Yb8,Yf8] Diagram [#] All
of a sudden the black pieces are completely helpless. The knights lack
co-ordination, the queen is extremely passive.} Nc5 34. Qd5 {With the major
threat Qd5xc5.} Kc7 35. Nxf7 Nxa4 36. Qe5+ Kb6 (36... Kc8 37. Bh3#) 37. Nd6 Nc5
38. Ne8 {Diagram [#]} ({The threat Qe7-c7 mate can be stopped only with} 38.
Ne8 Qf7 {but that loses a whole piece after} 39. Qd6+) 1-0



Eljanov's Icelandic Masterpiece

Pavel Eljanov is having the probably best chess year of his live. At least this far. He made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, lifted his rating again above the 2750 mark and above all, played a lot of great games. A game with a creative player like Grzegorz Gajewski of Poland suggests an interesting, colorful battle. This game in round eight of ETCC indeed became a candidate of a best game in Reykjavik:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.21"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Gajewski, Grzegorz"]
[Black "Eljanov, Pavel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2647"]
[BlackElo "2753"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "90"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:02"]
[BlackClock "0:03:19"]

1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. Qc2 {Diagram [#] A popular Anti-Slav
move order. Another one goes:} (5. h3 $5 e6 6. b3 c5 7. Bb2 Nc6 8. cxd5 exd5 9.
Rc1 {Kovalenko,I (2700)-Malakhov,V (2694) Berlin 2015}) 5... e6 6. b3 c5 {
Since White did not occupy the center Black has every right to lose a tempo
and fight for t.} 7. Bb2 d4 $146 {[%csl Ya8,Yb8,Yc8,Gd4,Yf8][%cal Gd5d4]
Diagram [#] Looks risky as Black is not yet prepared for the open play and
indeed none had tested this move before. All the games so far saw the move:} (
7... Nc6 {For example} 8. a3 Be7 9. Bd3 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Ne2 g6
13. Nf4 O-O 14. h4 $5 {with irational position, Janssen,R (2520)-Buhmann,R
(2603) Germany 2010}) 8. Ne4 Nc6 9. Nxf6+ Qxf6 10. exd4 {Gajewski wants to
take the maximum of the position. Another way to play is:} (10. Bd3 e5 11. Be4
Bd6 {although here Blck consolidates the position.}) 10... cxd4 {Better than} (
10... Nxd4 11. Nxd4 cxd4 12. Qe4 Bc5 13. Bd3 {Diagram [#] with advantage for
White.} ({Or} 13. b4 $14)) 11. Bd3 Bd6 {Catching up with the development.
Black would be happy to take the bishop pair with} (11... Nb4 {but after} 12.
Qb1 Nxd3+ 13. Qxd3 e5 14. O-O Bd6 15. Rfe1 O-O (15... Bf5 $2 16. Qxd4) 16. c5 {
Diagram [#] White firmly seizes the initiative.}) 12. O-O (12. Be4 $5 $14 {
also makes sense.}) 12... h6 {Once more} (12... Nb4 13. Qb1 Nxd3 14. Qxd3 e5
15. Rfe1 {transposes into the line above.}) 13. Be4 e5 {Gajewki is at
crossroads. To continue playing for initiative, or to cash in his lead in
development. In the game he chose the latter.} 14. Bxc6+ $6 {[%csl Gc8,Gd4,Gd6,
Ge5] Diagram [#] This wins a pawn but gives too much compensation for Black in
return.} ({Both} 14. Rfe1 O-O 15. a3 {followed by c4-c5 and b3-b4.}) ({Or the
immediate} 14. a3 O-O 15. b4 {expanding on the queenside should give some
advantage to the first player.}) 14... bxc6 15. Qe4 O-O 16. Qxc6 Bg4 {[%csl
Yb2,Yc6,Gd4,Ge5][%cal Ge5e4,Gf6g6,Gf7f5,Gg4h3,Gd6h2,Gf8e8] Diagram [#] In
return for the pawn Black has more space, strong center (thus opportunity for
a kingside attack) and bishop pair. Eljanov must have been happy of the
opening suprise that he had uncorked earlier.} 17. Rfe1 Rac8 18. Qe4 Bf5 19.
Qe2 {Forced as} (19. Qh4 g5 $1 {works well for Black.}) 19... Rfe8 20. d3 Bb4
$1 {[%csl Ya2,Yb3,Yc4][%cal Ga6a5] Diagram [#] A nice idea. Eljanov blocks the
queenside pawn majority of his opponent and prepares the storm on the opposite
wing.} 21. Red1 a5 22. a3 Bc5 ({Also interesting was} 22... Bc3 23. Bxc3 dxc3
24. Rac1 {with the idea} e4 25. dxe4 Rxe4 26. Qa2 a4 $1) 23. Re1 {Back into
"e" file control. Black is better after} (23. Nd2 Rb8 $1 ({Even better than}
23... Qg6 24. Ne4 Bf8 25. f3 $15) 24. Qf3 Qg6 $17) 23... Bg4 {Black continues
the preparation. The central break was already in the air:} (23... e4 $5 24.
dxe4 Bxe4 25. Rad1 Qg6 {with initiative on the center and the king's flank.})
24. Rab1 ({The result of the Black queenside operation can be seen in the line
} 24. Qe4 Bxf3 25. Qxf3 Qxf3 26. gxf3 Rb8 {and Black wins a pawn.}) 24... Rb8
25. Bc1 Qd6 {[%csl Ra3,Rb4][%cal Gf7f5,Ge5e4,Rd6b4,Rb4a3] Diagram [#] With the
obvious intention f7-f5 and e5-e4 (or sometines e5-e4 at once).} (25... Qc6 $5
{deserved attention too as if White tries the same idea as in the game} 26. h3
(26. Nxe5 Bxe2 27. Nxc6 Bxd3 {is clearly better for Black.}) 26... Bh5 27. g4 (
27. Bd2 {is the right move.}) 27... Bg6 28. Nxe5 (28. Nh4 {is still playable.})
28... Qc7 29. f4 f6 {Black would simply win a piece.}) 26. h3 Bh5 27. g4 Bg6
28. Nh4 e4 $1 {Diagram [#] Eljanov forces things. He opens the king's flank
and the center and goes directly for the white king.} (28... Bh7 {would lead
to risk-free advantage for Black.}) 29. Nxg6 fxg6 $1 {Black needs every open
file!} 30. Bd2 ({In case of} 30. dxe4 d3 31. e5 Qd4 32. Qe3 $2 {Black has the
fantastic resource} (32. Qb2 {is better although Black's attack is ovious here
as well.}) 32... Rxe5 $3 {Diagram [#] with decisive attack after} 33. Qxe5
Qxf2+ 34. Kh1 Qf3+ 35. Kh2 Bd6 36. Qxd6 Qf2+ 37. Kh1 Qxe1+ 38. Kh2 Rf8 $19)
30... e3 31. Bxa5 (31. fxe3 dxe3 32. Bxa5 Rf8 {does not help neither.}) 31...
exf2+ 32. Qxf2 Re3 33. Rxe3 dxe3 {The critical moment of the attack. Gajewski
chose the obvious defense} 34. Qh2 {This is possibly White's best practical
chance. White's intentions are obvious- to trade the queens, but Eljanov have
foreseen something ingenious.} ({In case of} 34. Qf3 {Black has another
fantastic resource} Kh7 $3 {[%csl Rh7][%cal Gf3d5,Yg8h7] Diagram [#] to move
the king away and to prevent the exchange of queens.} (34... Qxd3 $2 35. Qd5+
Qxd5 36. cxd5 e2+ 37. Kg2 {is in fact better for White.})) ({The blockading}
34. Qe2 {would give White chances for survival after} Qg3+ ({But} 34... Rf8 $1
35. Be1 Qc6 {is nevertheless a very strong attack for Black.}) 35. Kh1 Qxh3+
36. Qh2 Qf3+ 37. Qg2 Qf6 38. Bc7 {with chnaces to survive.} ({But not the
greedy} 38. Qd5+ Kh7 39. Qxc5 Qh4+ 40. Kg2 Qxg4+ 41. Kh1 Qf3+ 42. Kg1 Qf2+ 43.
Kh1 Rf8 $19)) 34... e2+ 35. Kh1 {It seems as White is achieving what he wants
but...} Qxd3 $3 {[%csl Yb8,Yg8,Rh1][%cal Rd3b1,Rd3f3,Rf3h3] Diagram [#] A bolt
out of the blue! Eljanov gives away the rook with a check!} 36. Qxb8+ Kh7 {
But now White misses his queen on the kingside. And the rook is hanging. And
the black pawn is getting promoted. Oh, my!} 37. Rg1 ({Or} 37. Kg2 Qxb1 38. Qf4
e1=Q {and wins.}) 37... Bd6 $1 {Diagram [#]} ({Avoids the temptation} 37...
Qxh3+ 38. Qh2 Qf1 39. Qg2 Bxg1 40. Qxg1 Qh3+ 41. Qh2 Qf1+ 42. Qg1 $11) 38. Qxd6
Qxd6 {The rest is easy for the queen and the position is too open.} 39. Bb4 (
39. Be1 Qxa3) 39... Qd3 40. Kg2 Qxb3 41. c5 h5 42. gxh5 gxh5 43. Kh2 Qc2 44.
Rg2 Qe4 45. Be1 (45. Rg1 g5) 45... Qf4+ {Diagram [#] Gajewski resigned due to
the lines:} (45... Qf4+ 46. Bg3 (46. Rg3 h4) (46. Kh1 Qf1+ 47. Rg1 Qxh3#) 46...
Qxg3+) 0-1



The Smothered Rook

Sergey Karjakin joked on twitter after the third round of ETCC in Iceland that Russia may win the event without Alexander Grischuk. Indeed, the top GM did not take part in the first three matches but came in time for the decisive one in round seven against France:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.20"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Black "Fressinet, Laurent"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2750"]
[BlackElo "2712"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:22:13"]
[BlackClock "0:28:57"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {Diagram [#] The Berlin is not as solid as it
used to be on Icelandic soil.} 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 h6 10. Rd1+ Ke8 11. Nc3 Ne7 12. b3 Bf5 13. Nd4 Bh7 14. Nce2
Rd8 15. Bb2 a6 $146 {[%cal Gc6c5] Diagram [#] To prepare the c6-c5 advance.
Fressinet definitely knew something about the other game in this line:} (15...
Nd5 16. c4 Nb4 17. Nf4 Rg8 18. g4 Na6 19. Nf5 {with pressure for White in
Caruana,F (2805)-Carlsen,M (2876) Stavanger 2015}) 16. c4 c5 17. Nf3 Nc6 18.
Nf4 Bc2 {That forces the capture on d8 to which Black wants to reinforce the
control over the critical e6 square.} ({Worse is} 18... Rxd1+ 19. Rxd1 Nd8 {
Due to} 20. e6 $1 {[%csl Yc7,Re5][%cal Ge5c7] Diagram [#] Anyway!} Nxe6 (20...
fxe6 21. Be5) 21. Nxe6 fxe6 22. Be5 $16) 19. Rxd8+ Nxd8 20. e6 {[%cal Ge1e8]
Diagram [#] The main theme in the Berlin. If this break works, Black can never
finish the development and will play without his kingside rook and bishop.} f6
$2 {This pawn should not be allowed to stay there.} ({For good or for bad
Black should have taken the pawn-} 20... Nxe6 21. Re1 (21. Nxe6 fxe6 22. Re1
Kd7 23. Ne5+ Ke8 {looks OK for the second player.}) 21... Kd7 (21... Rh7 $5 22.
Nxe6 fxe6 23. Rxe6+ Kd8 24. Re1 g5 {may also be fine for Black.}) 22. Ne5+ Ke8
{White can repeat moves if he likes or transpose into the line from above} 23.
Nxe6 fxe6 {when Black is fine.}) 21. Rc1 (21. Re1 $5 {made sense too.}) 21...
Bf5 {One more inaccuracy after which Black can hardly save the game.} (21...
Be4 {was not ideal neither due to} 22. Nh4 Rg8 23. Nh5 {with the threat Bb2xf6
when the bishop on e4 is another target.}) (21... Bh7 {seemed best though,
moving it away from the white pieces and eventually defending the rook on g8.
After} 22. Re1 Nc6 ({But not} 22... Bd6 23. Nh5 Rg8 24. Bxf6 $1) 23. Nh4 (23.
Nh5 Rg8 {and if} 24. Bxf6 Bg6 25. e7 Bxh5 26. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 27. Be5 Bxf3 28.
gxf3 Nxe5 29. Rxe5 $11) 23... Bd6 {White is better, but not winning, say} {Or}
24. Nhg6 (24. Nh5 Rg8 25. Bxf6 gxf6 26. Nxf6+ Kf8 27. Nxg8 (27. Nxh7+ Kg7)
27... Kxg8) 24... Rg8) 22. Re1 Bd6 ({In case of} 22... Nc6 23. Nh5 {Black has
difficulties with the development of the flank as} (23. g4 $5) 23... Rg8 {
runs into} 24. Nh4 ({Not the hasty} 24. Bxf6 Bg6 $1) 24... Bd3 25. Bxf6 $1 gxf6
26. Nxf6+ {and wins.}) 23. Nh4 Bc2 ({Without the bishop pair Black's position
will be a mess} 23... Bxf4 24. Nxf5) 24. Nh5 Rh7 ({Or} 24... Rg8 25. f4) 25. f4
{[%cal Gf4f5,Gg2g4] Diagram [#] Grischuk is building a solid pawn chain on the
kingside to support the e6 pawn.} Nc6 26. g4 Nd4 27. f5 {On a high level, the
game is over. The rook is excluded from the game on h7 and White has decisive
advantage on the other side of the board.} a5 28. Kf2 a4 29. bxa4 {To open a
file for the rook.} (29. Rc1 $1 {Diagram [#] was actualy easier. After} axb3 (
29... Be4 30. Ke3 Bc6 31. Bxd4 cxd4+ 32. Kxd4 {wins without any chances.}) 30.
axb3 Bxb3 31. Bxd4 cxd4 32. Ra1 {[%csl Ye8][%cal Ga1a8,Gh4g6] The rook gets
the open file and intends to mate with Ra1-a8+ and Nh4-g6.}) 29... Bxa4 30. Re3
{The point behind White's last move. Re3-a3-a8 is on the agenda.} b6 31. Ng6
Kd8 32. Rd3 Kc8 33. Ke3 {In time trouble Grischuk forces matters. Another win
was} (33. Ra3 Bc6 34. e7 Kb7 35. Re3 Be8 36. Nf8 Rh8 37. Nxg7 $18) 33... Bc2
34. Ra3 {If White had more time he might have chosen the line} (34. Rd2 Nxf5+
35. gxf5 Bxf5 36. Rxd6 $1 Bxg6 37. Nf4 cxd6 38. Nxg6 {[%csl Ge6,Yf6,Gg6,Yg7,
Yh6,Yh7][%cal Re6d7,Re6f7,Rg6e7,Rg6f8,Rg6h8] Diagram [#] with picturesque
position where the rook on h7 is still in a super-secure prison.}) 34... Nxe6
35. fxe6 Bxg6 36. Ra8+ Kb7 37. Rg8 {White regains the pawn with interest and
the passer on e6 decides the game.} f5 ({Or} 37... Kc6 38. Nxg7) 38. Bxg7 Bxh5
39. gxh5 Kc6 40. a4 Kb7 41. Bf6 Kc6 ({The rook endgame leave no hopes for Black
} 41... Be7 42. Bxe7 Rxe7 43. Rg6) 42. Rg7 Rh8 43. Rxc7+ {Diagram [#]
Fressinet resigned due to the line} (43. Rxc7+ Kxc7 44. Bxh8 Kd8 45. Bg7 Ke7
46. Bxh6 Kxe6 47. Bf4 Be7 48. Bc7 {A crucial win for Grischuk and Russia!}) 1-0



Tomashevsky Attacks

After the free day the ETCC in Iceland entered the decisive matches. In the men section Russia managed to score one more important win. The big Man in this match was Evegeny Tomashevsky. Known for his clean positional style, the Russian champion proved that he is also a dangerous attacker.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.19"]
[Round "6.2"]
[White "Tomashevsky, Evgeny"]
[Black "Mchedlishvili, Mikheil"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2743"]
[BlackElo "2618"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:08"]
[BlackClock "0:00:34"]

1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 6. e3 c5 7. Bxc4 Nc6 8. O-O
cxd4 9. exd4 Be7 {[%csl Gd4] Diagram [#] From the Slav defense the game went
into a typical QGA position with an extra tempo for White (in the Queens
Gambit the black pawn is on a6). Evgeny Tomashevsky's knowledge in these
positions should be huge thanks to his great coach Yuri Razuvaev.} 10. Qe2 {
A typical regroupment. The rook gets on the d file, ready to be shifted along
the third rank for a kingside attack.} (10. Bg5 O-O 11. Re1 Bd7 12. Qe2 Rc8 13.
Rad1 Nb4 14. Ne5 Nfd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bxg5 17. Bxb7 Bxa4 18. Ra1 Rc7 $11
{Onischuk,A (2662)-Rublevsky,S (2702) Berlin 2015}) 10... O-O 11. Rd1 Nb4 12.
Bg5 h6 {This move prepares the development of the black light-squared bishop.
A famous mistake is the hasty:} (12... Bd7 $2 13. d5 $1 {[%cal Gd1d8] Diagram
[#]} exd5 14. Nxd5 Nbxd5 15. Bxd5 Nxd5 16. Rxd5 Bxg5 17. Nxg5 {with serious
advantage for White. White recent example goes} h6 18. Qd2 hxg5 19. Rxd7 Qf6
20. Rxb7 {with a solid extra pawn for White in Rodshtein,M (2660)-Duda,J (2591)
Jerusalem 2015}) 13. Bxf6 {White decided to trade the bishop. This is
obviously a concession as the first player wants to have as many pieces as he
can for the future attack. But at the same time White gets some important
squares for his knights.} ({In case of} 13. Bh4 {Black can already proceed
with the development} Bd7 14. Ne5 ({As the line} 14. d5 exd5 (14... Nbxd5 {
is also possible.}) 15. Nxd5 Nbxd5 16. Bxd5 Nxd5 17. Rxd5 Bxh4 $11 {is no
longer dangerous for Black.}) 14... Bc6 15. Bg3 Nbd5 16. a5 Rc8 17. Bb3 a6 18.
Rdc1 Bb4 19. Bh4 Qd6 20. Qd1 Bb5 21. Nxb5 axb5 22. Rxc8 Rxc8 23. Qf3 Qc7 24. h3
Ra8 25. Qd1 Bd6 {1/2-1/2 (25) Ivanchuk,V (2748)-Tkachiev,V (2639) France 2010})
13... Bxf6 14. Ne4 b6 {The most natural development.} (14... Be7 15. Ne5 Nc6
16. Nxc6 bxc6 17. a5 $14 {Van Wely,L (2654)-Van Foreest,J (2519) Vlissingen
2015}) 15. Ne5 Bh4 {In case of the natural} (15... Bb7 {White has} 16. Nxf6+
Qxf6 17. Nd7 Qg5 18. f4 {winning the exchange.}) 16. Ra3 {The other rook also
does not mind to get shifted on the kingside.} Bb7 17. Rh3 Bd5 $146 {[%csl Yc4,
Yd5][%cal Yd5c4,Yc4d5] Diagram [#] A novelty. Mchedlishvili is happy to trade
a pair of light pieces. I am curious to see what did Tomashevsky prepare
against:} ({Black did well after} 17... Nd5 18. Qg4 Bg5 19. Nxg5 Qxg5 20. Qxg5
hxg5 {in Ikonnikov,V (2527)-Van Foreest,J (2514) Dieren 2015}) 18. Nc3 Bxc4 19.
Qxc4 Be7 {Careful defense. The knight is more valuable than the bishop in the
line:} (19... Nd5 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Qd3 $14) 20. Qe2 Rc8 (20... Nd5 {can be
met in a similar way} 21. Qg4 Nxc3 22. bxc3 {with pressure for White on the
kingside.}) 21. Qg4 {[%csl Yg8][%cal Gg4g8,Gh3h8] Diagram [#] A common picture
in the isolated pawn positions. Thanks to his extra space White can lift his
heavy pieces in front of the pawn chain to attack. Hoever, since Black's
pawn structure is almost intact his resources should prove sufficient to hold
the attack.} Kh7 22. Rg3 Bf6 ({The weakening moves are punished at once} 22...
g6 $4 23. Nxf7) 23. Ne4 {The threat is to capture on f6 and fork on d7 with
the second knight, thus} Rc7 24. h4 $1 {Razuvaev's trademark. The pawn is
getting ready to worry the black king anytime he goes g7-g6.} Qe7 {It is
somehow strange, but Black lacks good moves. The computer suggestion} (24...
Nd5 25. Kh2 g6 (25... Rc2 $4 26. Nxf6+) 26. h5 g5 {is hardly any human
player's choice.}) 25. Kh2 $3 {[%csl Gh2] Diagram [#] A deep preparatory move.
The king moves away from the possible checks along the first rank and White
ask his opponent-"What are you doing next?"} Nd5 $6 {Probably the first real
mistake that Mchedlishvili committed in the game. The knight is getting closer
to the black king and on a wonderful outpost, but it lets the second white
rook join the attack.} ({The natural} 25... Rfc8 $2 {to trade the rooks with
Rc7-c1 is concretely bad due to} 26. Nxf6+ Qxf6 27. Rf3 $18) ({But Black could
have been equally prophylactic with} 25... Kh8 $1 {Diagram [#]}) 26. Nxf6+
Qxf6 27. Rdd3 {Logically follows the plan of kingside attack. The threat is
Rd3-f3! But I like one other idea that reveals the idea behind the deep Kh2
move:} (27. Rc1 $1 {[%cal Gg1h2] Diagram [#] which will force the black rook
to abandon the open file as} Rxc1 {loses the queen after} (27... Rfc8 {also
loses due to} 28. Rxc7 Rxc7 29. Rf3) 28. Nd7 $16) 27... Ne7 28. Rgf3 Nf5 29. g3
Kg8 ({Nothing changes} 29... Rd8 30. Qe4 Kg8 ({Black loses the knight in the
line} 30... Rd6 31. g4 Qxh4+ 32. Kg2 Kg8 33. Rh3) 31. d5 $1) 30. Qf4 {The
threat is d4-d5 and there is nothing that Black can do to stop it!} Rd8 31. d5
$1 {[%csl Gd5,Rf5][%cal Gd4d5,Yf3f8] Diagram [#] The most typical IQP break
spells trouble for Black.} Rc2 $2 {This hangs material.} ({Naturally, Black
cannot capture the pawn} 31... Rxd5 32. Rxd5 exd5 33. Qxf5) ({Most resilent was
} 31... Rcc8 32. dxe6 fxe6 {Although here too, White has large advantage after
the simple} 33. Qe4 $16 ({Or he may win a pawn with} 33. g4 g5 34. Qe4 Rxd3 35.
Nxd3 Nd6 36. Rxf6 Nxe4 37. Rxe6 $16)) 32. Nxf7 $1 {[%csl Rd8,Rf5] Diagram [#]
Small combination a'la Capablanca which crowns the great technical job of
Tomashevsky.} Rf8 (32... Qxf7 33. dxe6 {loses everything.}) (32... Kxf7 33.
dxe6+ Kxe6 34. Rxd8) 33. dxe6 Rc5 ({Or} 33... Qxe6 34. Qxf5 Qxf5 35. Rxf5 Rxf7
36. Rd8+) 34. b4 {Diagram [#] A very important win for Russia!} 1-0



Following Botvinnik

Every match in Reykjavik is a tough one as there are practically no underdogs. The value of a single win is enormous and one can see how solidly some teams play, looking for someone to win and the others to keep the balance.
The French teams had huge psychological pressure after the disastrous 13-th of November. But they showed that they are strong, powerful team. Take a look at one of the games of their leader:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.17"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2684"]
[BlackElo "2765"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:03:07"]
[BlackClock "0:22:23"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Ng4 {Diagram [#]
Ever since Rashkovsky revived this line it remains a problem for the first
player in the English Attack.} 7. Bc1 Nf6 8. Be3 Ng4 9. Bg5 h6 10. Bh4 g5 11.
Bg3 Bg7 12. h4 {Diagram [#] Quite a rare line.} ({The main move remains} 12.
Be2 {One recent example went} h5 13. Bxg4 hxg4 14. Nd5 Nc6 15. Nf5 Bxf5 16.
exf5 Bxb2 17. Rb1 Qa5+ {and the impression is that the line is almost
exhausted, Jakovenko,D (2759)-Karjakin,S (2753) Chita 2015}) ({The French GM
has some bitter experience in the second most popular line after} 12. h3 Ne5
13. Be2 Nbc6 14. Nb3 b5 15. a4 $5 $146 {Ivanchuk,V (2715)-Vachier Lagrave,M
(2757), 2015}) 12... Nc6 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Bc4 Qa5 15. Qf3 Ne5 $3 $146 {
[%csl Rf7][%cal Rf3f7,Rc4f7] Diagram [#] A novelty in the spirit of Botvinnik!
True, he sacrificed a pawn for bishop pair in an endgame against Suetin,
Vachier Lagrave does it in the middlegame.} ({All the seven predecessors saw}
15... Be6 {which solved Black's problems as well. One example-} 16. Bxe6 fxe6
17. Qxg4 Bxc3+ 18. bxc3 Qxc3+ 19. Ke2 Qc4+ 20. Kd2 Qd4+ {and a draw was agreed
in Ivanchuk,V (2731)-Dominguez Perez,L (2754) Beijing 2013}) 16. Bxe5 Qxe5 17.
Bxf7+ ({The position of the white queen on f7 will only help Black build his
initiative-} 17. Qxf7+ Kd8 18. O-O-O Rf8) 17... Kd8 18. hxg5 {There is no time
to castle due to the pin} (18. O-O-O Rf8 {when White will lose the bishop
sooner or later.}) 18... Rb8 {For the pawn Black has total domination on the
dark squares, diagonals and files for all his pieces.} 19. Bb3 ({King's safety
comes first, but after} 19. O-O-O Qxg5+ 20. Rd2 Rf8 $1 {Diagram [#] Black has
various ways of developing the initiative-} 21. Qh5 Qxg2 ({Either the aggressive
} 21... Be5 22. g3 ({Or else White loses the exchange} 22. Qxg5 hxg5 23. Rh7
Bf4) 22... Bg4 {with similar endgame as in the game.})) ({Believe it or not,
the computer quickly put the 0.00 evaluation. Here is his main line} 19. gxh6
$1 Rxb2 20. hxg7 $3 {[%csl Ra1,Re1,Gg7,Rh1][%cal Gg7g8] Diagram [#]} Rxh1+ 21.
Kd2 Qd4+ 22. Qd3 Qxf2+ 23. Ne2 Qxf7 24. Qg3 $1 (24. Rxh1 $2 Qxg7 {is clearly
better for White.}) 24... Rxa1 25. g8=Q+ Qxg8 26. Qxg8+ Kc7 27. Qg7 Raxa2 28.
Qxe7+ Bd7 29. Nd4 c5 30. Ne6+ Kc6 31. Nd8+ {Yeah, go find this over the board..
.}) 19... Rf8 20. Qe3 Qxg5 $1 {[%csl Yb2,Yb3,Yc2,Yc3,Gc8,Gg7] Diagram [#] So,
it is Botvinnik after all who inspired the sacrifice.} ({The middlegame is
better for White} 20... hxg5 21. O-O-O {as his king is safer.}) 21. Qxg5 hxg5 {
Although White is a clear pawn ahead and has seemingly better pawn structure
it is only Black who can play for a win. The white bishop and knight are
occupied with the defense of the queenside and Black can start advancing his
own "a" and "c" pawns to break the defense there. This is not everything- he
can make use of the kingside too.} 22. f3 g4 $1 23. Ke2 a5 $1 {Diagram [#]} 24.
Na4 {Now Vallejo's pieces will remain passive till the end of the game.} ({
The best resource was} 24. Rad1 Ba6+ 25. Ke3 {intending to meet} Be5 {with} 26.
Ne2 $1 Bxb2 27. Nd4 $1 {when Black will have to trade the dark-squared bishop
for the knight with approximate equality.}) 24... Ba6+ 25. c4 ({Or} 25. Ke3 c5
26. c3 Bb5 {in either case the white king is quite uncomfortable.}) 25... Rb4
26. Rac1 gxf3+ 27. gxf3 Bd4 28. Rc2 c5 {All the black pieces occupied
commanding positions.} 29. Rh2 Rg8 30. Rc1 Bc8 $1 {[%cal Gc8e6] Diagram [#]
But some can get even better!} 31. Nc3 Be6 32. Kd3 $6 {Makes things easier for
Vachier.} ({An interesting defense was} 32. Nd5 {with the idea} Bxb2 ({However,
Black can improve with} 32... Bxd5 $1 33. cxd5 a4 34. Bd1 Rxb2+ 35. Rc2 a3 $19)
33. Nxb4 Bxc1 34. Nd5 {which should be holdable endgame for White.}) ({Perhaps
the best defense was} 32. Rd1 Bxc4+ 33. Bxc4 Rxc4 34. Kd3 Rb4 {although
Black's advantage is huge here as well.}) 32... Rg3 33. Ke2 {The pawn is
doomed anyway:} (33. Rf1 Bh3 34. Rd1 Bg2 $17) 33... Bxc4+ 34. Kd2 ({This time
White cannot deprive the opponent of the bishop pair} 34. Bxc4 Rxb2+ $1) 34...
Rxf3 35. Bxc4 Rxb2+ {Diagram [#] Hats off to Maxime Vachier Lagrave and the
whole French team!} ({Vallejo resigned due to the line} 35... Rxb2+ 36. Rc2
Rxc2+ 37. Kxc2 Rxc3+) 0-1



The Modern Game of Zugzwang

In Reykjavik everything is expected. More and more excellent games are produced, like the following one:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Open European Team Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.16"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Jobava, Baadur"]
[Black "Saric, Ivan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2668"]
[BlackElo "2652"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:38:47"]
[BlackClock "0:29:55"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 {Diagram [#] You did not expect Jobava to play the
Ruy Lopez, did you? Ponziani is so much more fun than 20-25 moves of theory...}
Nf6 {The main move. According to my Megabase Saric had never played against
this opening in official game. But he live-witnessed Carlsen's win against Hou
Yifan in Wijk.} 4. d4 Nxe4 ({Actually, Jobava had a game in Ponziani this year
already, but opponent deviated from the main paths with} 4... d6 5. Bd3 Be7 6.
O-O O-O 7. Re1 Bg4 8. d5 Nb8 9. Nbd2 a5 10. h3 Bh5 11. Nf1 Na6 12. Ng3 Bg6 13.
Nh4 $14 {Diagram [#] Jobava,B (2683)-Benidze,D (2491) Ureki 2015}) ({Carlsen
chose} 4... exd4 5. e5 Nd5 {Hou-Carlsen, Wijk an Zee 2013.}) 5. d5 Ne7 6. Nxe5
Ng6 7. Qe2 Qe7 8. Qxe4 Qxe5 9. Qxe5+ Nxe5 10. Bf4 {This particular line has
the reputation of an ultra solid weapon where White can hardly ever lose (or
win). Jobava has his own way instead of the conventional development:} (10. Be2
Bc5 11. Nd2 d6 12. Nb3 Bb6 13. a4 a6 14. a5 Ba7 15. Nd4 Bxd4 16. cxd4 Nd7 {
with slight advantage for White in Lu,S (2606)-Wang,H (2710) Xinghua 2015})
10... Bd6 11. Bg3 f5 12. Nd2 O-O 13. f4 $146 {[%csl Yf4] Diagram [#] Boom, the
novelty! White sacrifices a pawn! Not a move that the computer will suggest.} (
{All the twelve predecessors saw} 13. f3 {when after} b6 14. O-O-O Bb7 15. Nc4
Nxc4 16. Bxc4 f4 17. Bf2 Rae8 {trades are about to happen along the e file,
and a handshake.}) 13... Ng6 14. O-O-O Bxf4 (14... b6 $1 {was probably better.
The pawn on f4 has nowhere to go. After} 15. Nc4 Bxf4+ 16. Bxf4 Nxf4 17. d6 {
White has compensation for the pawn, but hardly more.}) (14... Nxf4 $2 {
is bad due to the simple} 15. Nc4 {when White regains the pawn and keeps
pressure for free.}) 15. d6 $1 {[%csl Ya8,Yc8] Diagram [#] The point behind
the sacrifice. Jobava tries to seal the bishop on c8.} cxd6 ({Another way to
defend is} 15... Bxg3 $5 16. hxg3 (16. Bc4+ Kh8 17. hxg3 cxd6 18. Nf3 Ne5 19.
Bd5 {makes sense as well.}) 16... cxd6 17. Nf3 Ne5 18. Rxd6 Rf6 19. Rd4 Nxf3
20. gxf3 ({Black can give back the pawn in case of a need-} 20. Bc4+ d5 21.
Bxd5+ Be6 {with approximate equality.}) 20... d6 {Just like the line above,
White has compensation, but hardly advantage.}) 16. Bxf4 Nxf4 17. g3 Nh5 {
The other retreat seemed more natural} (17... Ne6 18. Nc4 d5 19. Rxd5 f4 20.
Nd6 b6 {although it is not clear how will Black develop his bishop from b7.})
18. Nc4 $1 d5 $1 {A freeing attempt.} (18... b6 19. Nxd6 Rb8 20. Bc4+ Kh8 21.
Rhf1 {is horrendous, while}) (18... Nf6 19. Nxd6 Ne4 20. Bc4+ Kh8 21. Nxe4 fxe4
22. Bd5 $16 {is a solid advantage for White.}) 19. Nd6 $1 {[%csl Gd6] Diagram
[#]} ({Or else Saric will come out of the trouble} 19. Rxd5 Nf6 $1 (19... d6 $5
) 20. Rd6 b5) 19... Nf6 20. Bg2 {Jobava is not interested in the f5 pawn. The
blocked queenside is his mantra.} Ne4 21. Rxd5 Nxd6 22. Rxd6 {A very pleasant
situation for White arose. His four pieces are free in their motion and have
the fun part beating the black king and rook.} Re8 {If Black trades his last
active piece} (22... Rf6 23. Rxf6 gxf6 {his position will get critical after
either} 24. Rd1 (24. Rf1 {is not bad neither.})) 23. Rf1 g6 24. Bd5+ {Diagram
[#]} Kh8 {Or else White will win two pawns after} (24... Kg7 25. Bxb7 Bxb7 26.
Rxd7+ Kh6 27. Rxb7 $16) 25. Kd2 a5 26. Rf4 {Prepares the next maneuver and
discourages the queenside rook sortie.} Re5 (26... Ra6 27. Rxa6 bxa6 28. Ra4 {
regains the pawn for White and keeps stable advantage.}) 27. Rc4 Rb8 28. Rc7 {
Now the bishop is out of the picture for good and White is looking for the
decisive improvement.} b6 29. c4 {[%csl Gd5,Rd6][%cal Gc4d5,Rd6f6,Rf6f7,Rf7f8]
Diagram [#] To free the other rook.} Kg7 30. a4 ({There is absolutely no need
to force matters} 30. Bb7 Rxb7 31. Rxb7 Bxb7 32. Rxd7+ Kh6 33. Rxb7 Re6 {
when White is definitely better but Black has chances to survive.}) (30. Bc6 $6
Rc5) 30... Kf8 (30... Re7 $5 {might have been more stubborn.}) 31. Rf6+ Ke8 32.
Ra7 {[%csl Yb8,Yc8,Re5,Ye8] Diagram [#] Zugzwang # 1! Only the e5 rook can
move.} Re7 (32... Ke7 33. Rf7+ Kd6 34. Rxh7 $18) 33. h4 $1 {Once that the
White pieces have been activated to the maximum, the pawns march forward in
order to create weakneses.} Rg7 ({Or} 33... Re5 34. h5 gxh5 35. Rh6 Re7 36.
Rxh5) 34. Ke3 Ke7 35. Re6+ Kd8 36. Re5 h6 ({Otherwise the king may get in}
36... h5 37. Kf4 {followed by Kf4-g5.}) 37. Kd4 {[%csl Yb8,Yc8,Yd8,Rg7][%cal
Gh4h5] Diagram [#] Zugzwang #2! The white pawn cannot be stopped from breaking
the kingside pawn structure.} Rh7 (37... g5 38. h5 $1 f4 39. gxf4 gxf4 40. Rf5
$18) 38. h5 $1 {The kingside collapses and the white pieces invade the
opponent's camp.} Rg7 39. hxg6 Rxg6 40. Re3 {The last move before the
additional time made the win a bit complicated. The simplest solution was} (40.
Rxf5 $1 Rxg3 41. Rf7 {[%csl Rc8][%cal Gf7h7,Gh7h8,Ga7c7,Gc7c8] Diagram [#]
followed by Rf7-h7-h8+ and Ra7-c7xc8.}) 40... Rg7 41. Rf3 Rg6 42. Rxf5 Rxg3 43.
Rf8+ Ke7 44. Rf7+ Kd6 {Or else the game might transpose to the winning line
from above with} (44... Kd8 45. Rh7 Rh3 46. Rh8+ Ke7 47. Rc7 {trapping the
bishop.}) 45. Rf6+ Ke7 46. Rxh6 {Pawns are even, but four white pieces are
still beating two...} Rg4+ 47. Ke5 Rg5+ 48. Kf4 Rg1 49. Be4 Re1 50. b3 $1 {
Diagram [#] The final touch. The hasty} (50. Ke5 Bb7 $1 {would have ruined a
true masterpiece} 51. Rh7+ Kd8 52. Kd6 Rxe4 53. Rxd7+ Ke8 54. Raxb7 Rxb7 55.
Rxb7 Rxc4 56. Rxb6 Rxa4 $11) 50... Re2 51. Ke5 {Now White can.} Kf7 (51... Bb7
{does not help this time as in the line} 52. Rh7+ Kd8 (52... Kf8 53. Rh8+ Ke7
54. Rxb8 Rxe4+ 55. Kf5 Bc6 56. Rxb6 $18) 53. Kd6 Rxe4 54. Rxd7+ Ke8 55. Raxb7 {
the c4 pawn is defended and White wins.}) 52. Kd6 $1 Rxe4 53. Kc7 {[%csl Yb8,
Yc8] Diagram [#] A wonderful finish of a great game!} Rb7+ 54. Rxb7 Bxb7 55.
Kxb7 Re6 56. Rxe6 dxe6 57. Kxb6 e5 58. Kxa5 1-0


Great Chess from Iceland

Reykjavik has is all for a top-level chess event. The history, the passion for chess and even the climate. Since the historical match Spassky-Fischer in 1972 no Icelander is indifferent to the game of chess. The country is a proud owner of a chess record- it has the largest number of GMs per capita of the population. And is currently running another great event- the European Team Championships. Here is a game from round one:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "European Team Championship - Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.11.13"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Kveinys, Aloyzas"]
[Black "Ivanisevic, Ivan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2510"]
[BlackElo "2662"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:17"]
[BlackClock "0:00:54"]

1. Nf3 {Aloyzas Kveinys is a frequent played at the famous Reykjavik open and
good friend of the local chess players. At least one of Iceland's best GMs is
his student and the Lituania's top board feels at home in Reykjavik as this
game shows.} d5 2. d4 Bf5 3. Bg5 f6 {[%csl Yg5][%cal Gg8h6,Gh6f5] Diagram [#]
Black often plays this move without his bishop on f5, the idea being to trade
the white bishop in case it retreats to h4 after the maneuver Ng8-h6-f5.} ({
The alternative} 3... h6 {led to highly interesting position after} 4. Bh4 c6
5. e3 Qb6 6. b3 Qa5+ 7. c3 Bxb1 8. b4 Qa3 9. Rxb1 Qxc3+ 10. Nd2 Qa3 11. Rb3 Qa4
12. Nb1 {in the game Papaioannou,I (2622)-Stevic,H (2607) Khanty-Mansiysk 2010}
) 4. Bf4 ({The bishop has hardly much to do on h4} 4. Bh4 {and Black can still
go for} Nh6 {followed by Bf5-g6 and Nh6-f5.}) 4... Nc6 5. e3 e6 6. Nh4 {
Only six moves were played and the position became extremely unusual and
complex. Original too- according to Megabase there were only three games
played so far.} Be4 {Another interesting try was} (6... g5 $5 {Looks risky as
Black loses the right to castle after} 7. Qh5+ Kd7 8. Nxf5 gxf4 9. Qf7+ Nge7
10. Bd3 $5 {[%csl Yd7,Rf7][%cal Gd8e8] Diagram [#] But the immediate trade of
queens solves all the problems-} Qe8 (10... exf5 $4 11. Bxf5+ Kd6 12. Qe6#) 11.
Qxe8+ Rxe8 12. Nxe7 Bxe7 $11) 7. f3 Bg6 8. Nxg6 hxg6 9. c4 e5 $5 $146 {Diagram
[#] A sharp, rich novelty-Ivanisevic fights for the initiative. Previously
another logical move was tried:} (9... Bd6 10. Bxd6 Qxd6 11. c5 Qd7 12. Bb5
Nge7 {with approximate equality, Rufino Bengoetxea,A-Sion Castro,M (2390)
Mondariz 1995}) 10. cxd5 {The only attempt to get something out of the opening.
} ({Black is fine after} 10. dxe5 fxe5 11. cxd5 exf4 12. dxc6 Qxd1+ 13. Kxd1
O-O-O+) 10... Qxd5 (10... exf4 11. dxc6 bxc6 12. exf4 $16 {is better for White.
}) 11. Nc3 Bb4 12. dxe5 Qc5 {[%csl Rc3,Ye3,Re5][%cal Rb4c3,Rg6g5,Yc5e3,Rc5e5,
Rc5c3] Diagram [#] The point behind Black's play. Ivanisevic is ready to
sacrifice a pawn but to keep the white king in the center.} 13. Qd3 $1 {
The lines after} (13. exf6 Nxf6 (13... Bxc3+ 14. bxc3 Qxc3+ 15. Kf2 Rd8) 14.
Qd3 g5 15. Bxc7 Rc8 16. Bg3 Rd8 17. Qg6+ Kf8 {are too risky for White.}) 13...
g5 14. exf6 (14. e6 $1 {was objectively stronger as Black cannot take the piece
} gxf4 ({After the correct} 14... Kf8 15. Bxc7 Rc8 16. Qd7 Qxe3+ 17. Be2 Nge7 {
Black has good compensation for the pawn.}) 15. Qd7+ Kf8 16. Qf7#) 14... Nxf6
15. Bxc7 Rc8 16. Bg3 Ke7 {Ivanisevic misses a golden chance. The incredible} (
16... Rd8 17. Qg6+ Ke7 $3 {Diagram [#]} 18. Qxg7+ (18. Qc2 {is objectively
better when Black has rich compensation after} Nd5 ({Or} 18... Ne5)) 18... Ke6
{is a resource that would make any living person proud. The black king laughs
at the efforts of the white queen, while without it around it will be the
white king that will suffer.}) 17. Rc1 a6 18. Be2 {[%cal Ge1g1] Diagram [#]
Now White is in control.} Rhd8 19. Qc2 Qxe3 20. Bf2 Qe5 21. O-O {Kveynis
saveguarded the king and is ready to attack through the center. The extra pawn
and bishop pair would not hurt neither.} Nd4 {Black's only chance is connected
with kingside attack.} 22. Bxd4 Qxd4+ 23. Kh1 Rh8 {Creates a mating threat.}
24. g3 (24. Rfe1 $4 {walks into it} Rxh2+ {Diagram [#]} 25. Kxh2 Rh8+ 26. Kg3
Qh4#) ({Worse is} 24. h3 Qf4 25. Qg6 Bd6 {Diagram [#] when White needs to find
the cute} 26. Qxf6+ $1 ({But not} 26. Qxg7+ Ke6 $1) 26... gxf6 27. Nd5+ Kf7 28.
Nxf4 Bxf4 {although due to the opposite-colored bishops this should wnd
peacefully.}) 24... Bd6 25. f4 $1 {A counter-attacking signal. Kveynis needs
that tempo to get his queen close.} (25. Qg6 $4 {would be answered in another
checky-matie-fashion} Rxh2+ {[%csl Yh1][%cal Rd4h4] Diagram [#]} 26. Kxh2 Qh4+
27. Kg2 Qxg3+ 28. Kh1 Qh2#) 25... gxf4 26. Qg6 Rcg8 27. Rcd1 {Now White has
all the fun.} Qb6 {Black's last chance was} (27... Qc5 28. Nd5+ Nxd5 29. Qe4+
Kd8 30. Rxd5 Re8 31. Qd3 Rxe2 32. Rxd6+ (32. Rxc5 $4 Rhxh2+ 33. Kg1 Reg2#)
32... Kc7 33. Qxe2 Qxd6 34. Qc4+ Kb8 35. Qxf4 {although the extra pawn should
give be sufficient for the full point here as well.}) 28. Bc4 {[%csl Ye7][%cal
Ge1e8,Gd1d8] Diagram [#] Strangely enough, it is the black king that gets in
trouble now in the middle of the board.} fxg3 29. Rfe1+ Kd8 30. Qxg3 $1 Qc6+ (
30... Kc7 31. Re7+ ({Or first} 31. Rxd6)) 31. Kg1 Qc5+ 32. Re3 {Checks are
over, Black loses the bishop and the game.} Kc8 33. Be6+ {Not the hasty} (33.
Rxd6 Qxc4) 33... Kc7 34. Rxd6 $1 {[%csl Rc5,Rc7] Diagram [#] A nice finish of
a beautiful game.} Qxd6 35. Nb5+ {Ivanisevic resigned due to the checkmate} (
35. Nb5+ axb5 36. Rc3+ Kd8 37. Qxd6+ Ke8 38. Rc8#) 1-0



Belgium Chocolate

This sweet game was played in Belgium on Sunday. White sacrificed a pawn in the opening for better development and open files/diagonals and after one single inaccuracy from his opponent managed to convert the initiative into decisive material advantage.
Enjoy the chocolate!


The Miracle is a Fact!

Perhaps nobody believed this after the disastrous start of the match (0-2) that Karjakin will make it to the rapid and blitz tie-breaks. None, but his wife I suspect, maybe even Sergey had huge doubts.
But he did it, in style in the last, fourth classical game in Baku:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.10.04"]
[Round "58.1"]
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2753"]
[BlackElo "2727"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:12:23"]
[BlackClock "0:15:27"]

1. Nf3 {Diagram [#] In the decisive game of the match Karjakin decides to
avoid the open games. Wise decision, especially taking into account the fact
how well Svidler did there at this tournament. Another argument about
Karjakin's opening choice is the fact that he also avoids the Gruenfeld.} d5 2.
d4 c5 {Svidler had already played like that, in a rapid game against
Nepomniachtchi.} 3. c4 cxd4 4. cxd5 Nf6 5. Qxd4 {The above-mentioned game saw:}
(5. Nxd4 Nxd5 6. e4 Nf6 7. Nc3 e5 8. Ndb5 a6 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. Na3 Be6 {and
Black solved his opening problems, Nepomniachtchi,I (2702)-Svidler,P (2740)
Nizhnij Novgorod 2013}) 5... Qxd5 6. Nc3 Qxd4 7. Nxd4 {Diagram [#] Curiously,
this position was discussed in the match for the world championship between
Lasker and Tarrasch, roughly 100 years ago!} Bd7 {The second main move and the
beginning of Black's problems. Tarrasch reacted with} (7... e5 {but this also
allowed the white knight the b5 squre. After} 8. Ndb5 Kd8 9. Be3 Nc6 10. g3 Bd7
11. Rd1 Kc8 12. Bg2 {White had an edge, Lasker,E-Tarrasch,S Berlin 1916}) ({
The main move is} 7... a6) 8. Ndb5 Kd8 {Or} (8... Na6 9. Bf4 g6 10. e4 Bg7 11.
O-O-O Bc6 12. f3 {with advantage for White, Lindberg,B (2426)-Berkell,P (2249)
Sweden 2004}) 9. Be3 $1 {[%csl Ya7,Rb6][%cal Re3b6,Rb6a7] Diagram [#] Support
the white knight on b5.} Nc6 ({Black does not have the move} 9... a6 10. Bb6+
Kc8 11. Nc7) 10. f3 $146 {A novelty. The idea is to limit the black knights.} (
{A recent GM game saw Black demolished in mere seventeen moves after} 10. g3
Ng4 11. Bd2 Nb4 ({However, Black had plenty of improvements along the way, for
example here} 11... a6 12. Na3 e5) 12. Rc1 Nxa2 13. Nxa2 Bxb5 14. Bg2 e6 15.
Ba5+ Ke8 16. Bc7 Bc6 17. Rxc6 {[%csl Ya8,Ye8] Diagram [#] 1-0 (17) Grigoriants,
S (2606)-Gleizerov,E (2501) Dresden 2015}) 10... h5 {Stops the positional
threat g2-g4.} 11. O-O-O Kc8 12. Bg5 {[%csl Gb5,Gd1,Yf8,Gg5,Yh8] Diagram [#]
White can be very happy with the opening. He has better development, extra
space and on the top of this Black has huge difficulties in bringing his
dark-squared bishop out.} g6 {A sad choice but the alternatives were no better:
} ({Bad is} 12... e6 13. e4 Be7 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. Rxd6 $16) ({Even worse is
the attempt to get rid of the annoying knight:} 12... a6 13. Na4 axb5 14. Nb6+
Kb8 15. Nxa8 Kxa8 16. Bxf6) 13. Nd6+ exd6 14. Bxf6 Rg8 15. e4 {[%csl Yd6]
Diagram [#] One more advantage is added to white's position- the isolated d6
pawn.} Be6 16. Kb1 Kd7 17. Nd5 Bg7 18. Bxg7 Rxg7 19. Bb5 {The pins along the
a4-e8 diagonal and the half-open d file make Black's position very difficult.
White intends to double his rooks along the d file (or sometimes along the c
one too!) The e4-e5 threat is always in the air and the g7 rook is stuck on
this ugly square.} Kd8 $1 (19... Rd8 20. Rd2) (19... Bxd5 $2 20. exd5) 20. Rd2
Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Kc7 22. Rc1 Re8 $1 23. Rd4 ({Another idea was} 23. Bd3 {
intending to meet} Re5 {with} 24. f4 Re6 25. b4 $1) 23... Re5 {[%csl Yc1][%cal
Ga8e8,Ge8e5,Ge5c5] Diagram [#]} 24. Ba4 {The bishop is clearly superior to the
knight and Karjakin wants to keep it on board. The endgame of this game has
similarities with the one that the Russian GM won against P. Eljanov at the
decisive second rapid game of their tie-break.} ({The rook endgame promises
good drawing chances to Black} 24. Bxc6 bxc6 25. Rdc4 c5 26. f4 Re6 27. e5 g5
28. exd6+ Kxd6 29. Rxc5 gxf4) 24... b5 25. Bb3 Rc5 26. Rd5 Rxc1+ 27. Kxc1 a6 {
Svidler did the best that he could-traded one of the active white rooks, got
rid of the pins, but his position still remains clearly worse.} 28. Rd3 g5 {
Black plays for fortress.} (28... f5 $1 {[%csl Rg1][%cal Rg8g1] Diagram [#] to
exchange pawns and open files was better, for example} 29. Bd5 (29. exf5 gxf5
30. g3 h4) 29... Nb4 30. Rc3+ Kd7 31. Bb3 fxe4 32. fxe4 Re7 {with excellent
chances for a draw.}) 29. Kd2 h4 30. Rc3 Kb6 31. Rd3 Kc7 32. Ke3 f6 33. Rc3 Kb6
34. Rd3 {Karjakin does not hurry.} Kc7 35. Rc3 Kb6 36. Bd5 Ne7 37. Kd4 Rh7 38.
Be6 $1 {[%csl Rc8,Yd6,Rf5][%cal Gd4d5,Gd5d6,Re6c8,Re6f5] Diagram [#] All the
white pieces are optimally placed. The bishop took under control important
squares (c8 in particular) and opened the road for the white king. It is time
to somehow break the black fortress.} Rh8 39. a3 Rd8 {Perhaps Black should
have tried to take the open file with} (39... Ra8 40. Rc2 Ra7 41. g3 hxg3 42.
hxg3 Rc7) 40. Rc2 $1 {[%cal Gc2f2,Gf3f4] The idea is to open a second front
after Rc2-f2 and f3-f4!} Rh8 41. Rf2 Ng6 $1 {The best defense. Otherwise f3-f4
would be played but now the white king gets in.} 42. Kd5 Rd8 {With the threat
Ng6-f4xe6.} 43. Bf5 Nf4+ 44. Kd4 {Diagram [#]} Re8 $2 {This loses. The
critical line was} (44... d5 $1 45. e5 fxe5+ 46. Kxe5 d4 {It seems as Black
will soon lose this pawn and the last hope, but the position somehow holds.
For example} 47. Rd2 Kc5 48. Rc2+ Kb6 49. Be4 d3 50. Rd2 Kc5 51. g3 hxg3 52.
hxg3 Nh5 53. Bxd3 Nxg3 54. Rc2+ Kb6 {Diagram [#] A lot of pawns have been
traded and what is best, White does not have time to win the g5 one-} 55. Bg6
Rf8 {and Black should hold this.}) 45. g3 Ne6+ 46. Bxe6 $1 {Diagram [#]
Probably Svidler has spent most of his time calculating the line} (46. Kd5 hxg3
47. hxg3 Nc5 48. Kxd6 g4 $1 49. Bxg4 (49. fxg4 Rxe4 50. b4 Nb7+ 51. Kd7 $16)
49... Rxe4 50. fxe4 Nxe4+ 51. Ke6 Nxf2 52. Bf5 Kc5 {and maybe he found a draw
there, but Karjakin found a better way.} (52... b4 $5)) 46... Rxe6 47. Kd5 {
White wins a pawn which together with the active pieces secures him the win.}
Re5+ 48. Kxd6 hxg3 49. hxg3 g4 50. fxg4 Rxe4 51. Rf4 $1 {[%cal Gg4g5,Gg5g6,
Gg6g7,Gg7g8] Diagram [#] Much better than} (51. Rxf6 Rxg4 52. Ke5+ Ka5 53. Rf3
Rg8 54. Kf5 Rf8+ 55. Kg4 Rg8+ 56. Kh3 b4) 51... Re3 52. Rxf6 Rxg3 53. Ke5+ Kb7
54. Kf5 Rb3 55. g5 Rxb2 56. g6 Rg2 57. Ke6 {[%csl Yg2][%cal Ge6f7,Gg6g7,Gg7g8,
Rf6a6] Diagram [#] Followed by Ke6-f7 and wins the rook. An important detail
is that the white rooks cuts the black king along the sixth rank and Black
cannot create a dangerous passer.} 1-0



Miracles in Game Three

Those of you who have followed closely the matches from the World Cup remember how easily Svidler went through the semi-final. After a win with the black pieces in game one against Anish Giri, he simply did not let a single chance to his opponent in game two by choosing an ultra-solid opening line as White. Soon many of the pieces disappeared and the Russian GM comfortably went into the final.
Many people expected a similar scenario in game three of the final match. Svidler needed only a draw to win the event outright after the furious 2-0 start. At the beginning everything seemed fine with his strategy, although Karjakin tried to complicate matters at an early stage of the game:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.10.03"]
[Round "57.1"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2727"]
[BlackElo "2753"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:12:32"]
[BlackClock "0:16:45"]

1. e4 c5 {In a must-win situation Karjakin probably did not even consider the
Berlin as an option.} 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 {Diagram [#] The last time
Svidler played this solid was back in 1999 against Garry Kasparov.} a6 5. c4
Nc6 6. Qe3 Nf6 7. h3 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Be2 Nd7 {[%cal Gg7a1] Diagram [#] Sooner
or later this knight will step back to open up the bishop and get to a better
position. Black can also start with the castling:} ({Relevant:} 9... O-O 10.
O-O Rb8 11. Rd1 Nd7 12. Rb1 Qb6 13. Qd2 Nde5 {as in Lagarde,M (2540)-Edouard,R
(2634) Saint Quentin 2015}) 10. Rb1 {White carefully finishes the development.}
Nde5 11. O-O O-O 12. Rd1 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 {Both sides achieved what they wanted-
approximate equality. However, we should not forget that Karjakin is in a
must-win situation.} f5 {The typical Accelerated Dragon counter-play.} 14. exf5
$146 {[%csl Re7][%cal Re1e7,Rd1d8] Diagram [#] And a standard reply which
appears to be a novelty. Svidler does not want to allow the f5-f4 advance. In
correspondence game another player with the white pieces did:} ({Predecessor:}
14. Nd5 e6 15. Nf4 e5 16. Ne2 f4 17. Qa3 Qg5 18. Rxd6 Bxh3 {with complications
in Szymanski,R (2372)-Chomicki,H (2229) ICCF email 2011. Karjakin definitely
would not mind these.}) 14... Bxf5 15. Be4 Qd7 16. Nd5 Qe6 17. Bxf5 Qxf5 {
Diagram [#] One more light piece disappeared. At least Black got some activity
along the half-open f file.} 18. Bd2 {Of course not} (18. Nxe7+ $4 Nxe7 19.
Qxe7 Rae8 20. Qxd6 Qxf2+ 21. Kh1 Re1+ 22. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 23. Kh2 Be5+ $19) 18...
Rae8 19. Bc3 e6 20. Nb6 d5 $1 {[%csl Yb6,Rg1] Diagram [#] The only chance to
complicate matters. Black starts an attack through the center while the white
knight is away from the main battlefield.} 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 {Third light piece
leaves the board...} 22. Qc5 ({Black is somewhat better in the endgame after}
22. cxd5 $6 exd5 23. Qc5 d4 24. Qxf5 Rxf5 25. Rd2 $15) 22... Rf6 {A risky
decision, the only real chance to play for a win! If this was an ordinary game
Karjakin would have opted for} (22... dxc4 23. Qxf5 exf5 24. Nxc4 Re7 $11 {
Diagram [#]}) 23. b4 {With the idea b4-b5. Once again the d5 pawn is poisoned
due to} (23. cxd5 exd5 24. Nxd5 Re2 25. Qb6 Qxf2+ 26. Qxf2 Rfxf2 {and the
rooks rock.}) 23... Ne5 24. cxd5 Nd3 {This was the position that Karjakin had
in mind. He will regain the pawn on f2 and open up the white king. True, in
the process his knight might get trapped, but did he have anything to lose?}
25. Qe3 ({Another way to defend is} 25. Qc7+ $5 {when Black has to choose
wisely where to go with the king. The obvious square} Kg8 $2 {is a bad choice
because of} (25... Kh8 {is better but then the line} 26. Qc3 Nxf2 ({White has
risk-free advantage in the line} 26... Qxf2+ 27. Kh1 e5 28. Qxd3 Qxb6 29. d6
$14) 27. Nd7 {is good for White.}) ({According to the computer, the best move
is} 25... Kh6 {but then White can win a tempo with a timely check against the
enemy king as in the line} 26. Qg3 Nf4 27. Qh4+ $1 {(away from the fork on e2)}
Kg7 28. dxe6 g5 29. Qg4 $11) 26. Nd7 Qxf2+ 27. Kh2 Rf7 28. Rf1 Qxf1 29. Rxf1
Rxf1 30. dxe6) 25... Nxf2 {The match situation is not about rational decisions
any more! Once again, from objective perspective best was} (25... Qxf2+ 26.
Qxf2 Nxf2 27. Re1 Nd3 28. Re3 Nf4 {Diagram [#] with a draw.}) 26. Rf1 {The
knight is trapped.} Qe4 27. Rbe1 {Svidler plays according to the position. He
had probably calculated the line which happened later in the game. A draw
could have been achieved by simple means with} (27. Qxe4 Nxe4 28. dxe6 Rfxe6
29. Nd5 Nd2 30. Nc7 $11) 27... exd5 (27... Ref8 28. Qxe4 Nxe4 29. Rxf6 Nxf6 $16
{leaves Black no hint of a chance.}) 28. Rxf2 $6 {Diagram [#] Not yet a
mistake but a huge step forward it. White could have won the knight with} (28.
Qd2 Nxh3+ 29. gxh3 Rxf1+ 30. Rxf1 {Diagram [#] when Black has chances for a
draw. But only in this game, not in the match...}) 28... Qh4 {Probably Svidler
was hoping for the nice line:} (28... Qxe3 29. Rxe3 Rxe3 30. Rxf6 Kxf6 31.
Nxd5+) 29. Qd2 $4 {[%csl Re1] Diagram [#] Unbelievable! The exhausting matches
and the final pressure came too much for Svidler. He blunders the game away.} (
{Instead} 29. Qxe8 Qxf2+ 30. Kh2 Qxb6 {would give some winning chances for
Black but should be still a draw with careful play. For example} 31. Re7+ Kh6
32. Rd7 Qxb4 33. Qg8 Qf4+ 34. Kh1 Qe5 35. Rxh7+ Kg5 36. Qd8 {followed by
Rh7-d7. Black cannot win with his king that exposed.}) 29... Rxf2 30. Qc3+ (30.
Qxf2 Rxe1+) 30... d4 {Diagram [#] Svidler resigned due to} (30... d4 31. Qc7+
Rf7) 0-1



Almost There

Peter Svidler made a huge step towards the overall win at the FIDE World Cup 2015. He was successful in the second game against Sergey Karjakin. Excellent opening preparation gave him a chance to almost effortlessly equalize and when the game was heading to the logical result...Karjakin blundered badly:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "FIDE World Chess Cup"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.10.02"]
[Round "56.1"]
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2753"]
[BlackElo "2727"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:14:23"]
[BlackClock "0:02:37"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 {Diagram [#] The Ruy Lopez was the most expected
opening in this game. It served very well Svidler so far and Karjakin would
not mind the complex, rich positions that he can get.} a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7
6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d6 9. h3 Nb8 {Diagram [#] Today's choice is the
Breyer line. Black reroutes the c6 knight to d7 and opens up the bishop on b7.
The other one may go to g7 in order to open the e file and put more pressure
on white's center. This line was a favorite one to the twelfth world champion-
Anatoly Karpov in the mid-seventies and the beginning of the 1980-ties.} 10. d4
Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. a4 Bf8 14. Bd3 c6 15. Qc2 ({Another plan is}
15. Nf1 Qc7 16. Ng3 g6 17. Bg5 {as in Dominguez Perez,L (2732)-Adams,M (2742)
Baku 2015}) 15... Rc8 16. axb5 axb5 17. b4 c5 $1 $146 {[%csl Rc2][%cal Rc8c2]
Diagram [#] "A very new interesting, sharp idea which probably solves Black's
problems" Svidler. The Russian GM revealed also that this was an idea of a
friend(s) of his which he received in a conversation through Skype. The name(s)
of the helper(s) remained a secret.} ({Previously Black had developed with}
17... Qc7 18. Bb2 Ra8 19. Rad1 Nb6 20. c4 {as in the game...Karjakin,S (2767)
-Carlsen,M (2868) Stavanger 2013. Svidler also mentioned that he lost a
similar position to his opponent before and was aware how strong Karjakin is
in these type of positions.}) 18. bxc5 {The only move to play for the
advantage. Both} (18. dxc5 dxc5 19. Bxb5 cxb4) ({And} 18. Bxb5 cxb4 {promise
White no advantage at all.} (18... cxd4)) 18... exd4 19. c6 $5 {[%csl Gc6]
[%cal Gc5c6] Diagram [#] A surprise for Svidler, who criticized himself for
the following play.} ({The main line which he analyzed was} 19. Nxd4 {when
Black should continue} b4 {and then} 20. c6 {is best and might have transposed
to the game. Instead, the obvious} (20. cxb4 $6 dxc5 21. bxc5 $2 {loses to}
Bxc5 {and White cannot escape with the d4 knight due to the discovered check
on f2.})) 19... dxc3 {Black believed this should lead to a forced draw.
Otherwise he would have gone back into the main line of his analyzes with} (
19... Bxc6 20. Nxd4 b4 {Let's go a bit further here} 21. Ba6 (21. cxb4 {is
immediately equal after} Bxe4 22. Qb3 Bxd3 23. Rxe8 Nxe8 24. Qxd3 Qb6 $11) {
Now I suspect that the main line was this-} 21... bxc3 ({Although Black may go
as well for} 21... Rc7 22. cxb4 Bxe4 (22... Bb5 $5) 23. Qd1 {The computer
claims slight advantage for White but since ,amy pawns were already traded and
the queen's flank pawns have almost disappeared completely, Black should hold.
And Black had definitely analyzed this further.}) 22. Bxc8 cxd2 23. Bxd2 Bxe4
24. Bxd7 Bxc2 25. Bxe8 Nxe8 {Diagram [#]}) 20. cxb7 ({Not} 20. cxd7 cxd2 21.
Qxd2 Nxd7 {where White has to hold.}) 20... cxd2 21. Qxd2 $1 {Diagram [#]
Clearly better than} (21. bxc8=Q dxe1=Q+ 22. Nxe1 Qxc8 23. Bxb5 Qxc2 24. Nxc2
Rxe4 {when everything disappears and the game peters out to a draw.}) 21... Rb8
22. Bxb5 Qb6 {From far away Svidler was planning} (22... Rxb7 23. Bc6 Rb6 24.
Nd4 ({But here he saw the unpleasant resource} 24. Ra8 $1 {Diagram [#] and
dismissed the line. Actually, after} Qc7 25. Rxe8 Nxe8 26. Ba4 Nef6 {the
position will be very similar to the one in the game.}) 24... Qc7 $11) 23. Rb1
Qxb7 24. Bd3 Qa8 25. Rxb8 Rxb8 26. Bb2 {Plenty of things have been traded but
Black is not yet quite there. Karjakin owes the bishop pair and the pawn on d6
might be a target, thus Svidler has to play energetically.} Qa2 $1 {[%cal
Ga2b2] Diagram [#]} 27. Re2 $1 {[%csl Gb2,Gd2,Gd3,Ge2] The best move to keep
as many pieces on the board as he can.} (27. Bd4 Qxd2 28. Nxd2 g6 {should be a
draw.}) 27... h6 {Svidler wanted to trade off everything after} (27... d5 {but
was not sure about the line} 28. e5 (28. Bxf6 Qxd2 29. Rxd2 Nxf6 30. exd5 $14 {
was fine with Black, he knew he can hold this.}) 28... Ne4 {It seems as Black
is fine indeed-} 29. Qc2 Ndc5 30. Bd4 Qxc2 31. Bxc2 Ne6 $11) 28. Qc1 {[%csl
Ya2][%cal Rb2f6] Diagram [#] Karjakin regroups and creates a simple threat in
the process Bb2xf6} Qb3 29. Bc4 Qb7 30. Qd1 {A tough position for both the
players. White has a slight edge but no real way to increase it. Black on his
turn has no safe path to the draw. On the top of that Svidler was getting low
on time.} ({Nothing gives} 30. Qf4 Qc6 {when the bishop has no good squares-}
31. Ba2 Qa6 $1 {(Svidler) Although this is a draw after} 32. Qe3 Qxa2 33. Bxf6
$11) ({An important resource for him is} 30. Bxf6 Nxf6 31. e5 Qb1 $1 $11 {
(Svidler)}) (30. e5 dxe5 31. Nxe5 Nxe5 32. Bxe5 Qb1 $11) 30... Re8 {The
pressure on the e4 pawn forces White to trade pieces.} 31. Bxf6 Nxf6 32. e5
dxe5 33. Nxe5 Re7 34. Qd4 ({Karjakin suggested the semi-waiting move} 34. g3 {
in the post-mortem, but also showed what he did not like} Nd7 35. Bd5 Qb5 36.
Bc6 Qxe5 (36... Qc5 $11 {is easier}) 37. Rxe5 Nxe5 {with a fortress.}) ({Low
on time and close to his aim Svidler saw ghosts in the lines after} 34. Qd8 Qb4
{is a third way to defend.} (34... Qc7 35. Nxf7 $1 {Diagram [#] he thought
this is winning for White but Black has the cold-blooded} Qxc4 36. Rxe7 Qc1+
37. Kh2 Qf4+ {with perpetual.}) ({And in the beautiful line that he had
calculated} 34... Qb1+ 35. Kh2 Qf5 36. Ng6 $1 {White indeed wins after the
obvious} Rxe2 ({But} 36... Re8 $1 {Diagram [#] which Svidler also saw (but was
not sure about) was a forced draw} 37. Rxe8 Nxe8 38. Qxe8 Qxg6 $11) 37. Qxf8+
Kh7 38. Bxf7 $18 {as Black has only one check (Svidler).})) 34... Nd7 35. Nxf7
{Which is OK. A more interesting attempt was} (35. Rb2 $5 {when Black has to
avoid} Qxb2 $2 ({And has to defend with} 35... Qc7 {White can still try
various things, say} 36. Bxf7+ Rxf7 37. Nxf7 Kxf7 38. Qd5+ Kg6 39. Qe4+ Kf7 40.
Rb7 Qd6 41. Qf5+ Ke8 {but Black should hold.}) 36. Bxf7+ $1 {Diagram [#]
(Svidler)}) 35... Rxf7 36. Rb2 Qc6 {The critical position of the game and
maybe the match. The game was heading towards the draw which meant that
Karjakin will have only one white color till the end to try and level the
score. He tried} 37. Rb5 $4 {[%csl Yb5][%cal Rc4f7,Rc4b5] Diagram [#] A
tragical mistake!} ({It was time to force a draw with} 37. Qd5 Qxd5 38. Bxd5 g5
39. Rb7 Ne5 $11) 37... Kh8 $1 {All of a sudden, Black wins a piece. With two
minutes on the clock Svidler almost went for the prepared drawish line after} (
37... Nf6 $11) 38. Rd5 {Makes things easier, but Black was already winning
anyway after} (38. Bxf7 Qxb5) 38... Nb6 {Diagram [#] It is over, Black wins a
whole rook.} 0-1