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