Crushing the Berlin

Round nine of Tata Steel saw Magnus Carlsen firmly occupying the first place after a win against his second Michael Adams. The other big news were Wei Yi's first win in the event. And what a win that was:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.26"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Wei, Yi"]
[Black "Navara, David"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2706"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:38:08"]
[BlackClock "0:01:40"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 {The Anti-Berlin is getting more and more
popular of lately. It seems as White has not much there as well, but at least
the queens are still on the board!} Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 O-O {Diagram [#]}
({Another plan is} 6... Qe7 7. h3 O-O 8. Nc4 Nd7 9. Qe2 b5 10. Ne3 Nb6 {
as in Caruana,F (2787)-Nakamura,H (2793) London 2015}) 7. Nc4 Nd7 8. Qe2 Re8 9.
Bd2 Bd6 10. h4 $146 {[%csl Yg6][%cal Gh4h5,Gg2g4,Gg4g5] Diagram [#]} ({So far
all the games saw} 10. g4 {One fresh example goes} Nf8 11. Ne3 Ne6 12. Nf5 a5
$1 13. h4 a4 14. Ng5 a3 {when the Dutch GM managed to create serious
counter play in Anand,V (2803)-Giri,A (2798) Bilbao 2015}) 10... c5 {Navara
wants to occupy the d4 outpost with comfort.} ({The knight can come back to}
10... Nf6 {but it will hardly stop the white pawns there.}) ({On the other hand
} 10... Nf8 {can be met with} 11. h5 {attacking and depriving the black knight
of the g6 square and this might be the critical test for Wei's novelty after}
Ne6) 11. h5 h6 {[%csl Rh6] Diagram [#] This is dubious to say at least. In now
way should have Black allowed a hook on the kingside. Both} ({the immediate}
11... Nb8) ({Or} 11... Nf8 12. h6 g6 {were better.}) 12. O-O-O {The immediate}
(12. g4 {was also good for White, for example} Nf8 13. g5 hxg5 14. Bxg5 f6 15.
Bd2 b5 16. Nxd6 cxd6 17. Rg1 {with attack.}) 12... Nb8 13. Rdg1 {Wei is not in
a hurry.} ({Once again} 13. g4 {is possible as Black is not willing to capture
the pawn} Bxg4 $2 (13... f6 14. Nh4) 14. Rdg1 Bxf3 (14... Qd7 15. Rh4 Bxf3 16.
Qxf3) 15. Qxf3 {[%csl Yf7,Rh6][%cal Rf3f7,Rd2h6] Diagram [#] This is not even
winning a pawn as the h6 and f7 spots cannot be defended simultaneously.})
13... Nc6 14. g4 f6 {Navara was obviously counting on this move to seal the
kingside. However...} ({Or else the kingside will be badly opened.} 14... Nd4
15. Nxd4 cxd4 16. g5) 15. g5 $1 {[%csl Yf6,Yg7,Rg8,Yh6][%cal Gg1g8,Gh1h8]
Diagram [#] Wei blows the barricades at once!} (15. Nh4 {will be the
traditional way to play.}) 15... fxg5 16. Nxg5 Nd4 ({In case of the immediate}
16... hxg5 17. Bxg5 {White's attack is also very strong. For example} Be7 (
17... Qd7 18. Bf6 Bf8 19. h6 $18) ({There is no need to transpose into the
game after} 17... Nd4 18. Qe3) 18. Bxe7 (18. Be3 $5) 18... Qxe7 19. h6 g5 20.
Qh5 g4 (20... Kh8 21. Rxg5) 21. Ne3 Kh8 22. Nxg4 Bxg4 23. Rxg4 Rg8 24. Rg7 Qf6
{Diagram [#] with two pawns for the piece and strong threats.}) 17. Qd1 hxg5
18. Bxg5 Be7 {It seems as the attack will soon peter out, but Wei had foreseen
the amazing} ({The other move loses quickly} 18... Qd7 19. Bf6) 19. Be3 $3 {
[%csl Yg7,Yg8][%cal Gg5e3,Rg1g8] Diagram [#] Human beings have difficulties in
seeing backward moves when attacking, but not the Chinese GM. The threat h5-h6
forces Black to go} Bf6 (19... Bd6 20. h6 $18) {But} 20. h6 {is played anyway
and it becomes obvious that the two rooks will have a great party on the open
files.} Re7 ({Black cannot hide behind the pawns as the lines prove} 20... g5
21. Bxg5 $1 {Diagram [#]} (21. Qh5 g4 22. f4) 21... Bxg5+ 22. f4 exf4 23. Qh5
Ne2+ 24. Kd1 Nxg1 25. Qg6+ Kh8 26. Qg7#) (20... g6 21. Qh5 $1 $18) 21. hxg7
Rxg7 22. Qh5 {Now that the black king is opened everything finishes in just a
few moves. The black queenside pieces never took part in the battle.} Be6 23.
Bh6 {Diagram [#] The simplest win.} ({There was a dual} 23. Qh8+ Kf7 24. Rxg7+
Bxg7 25. Nxe5+ Bxe5 26. Rh7+ Kg6 27. Rh6+ Kf7 28. Qxe5 $18) 23... Bf7 24. Bxg7
Bxh5 25. Bxf6+ Kf8 26. Bxd8 Ne2+ 27. Kb1 Nxg1 28. Bxc7 {Diagram [#]} 1-0



Endgame Symphony

After Carlsen's quick draw against Karjakin in round eight of Tata Steel many believed that the co-leadership between the Norwegian and Fabiano Caruana will stay before the second free day. The American managed to equalize in the opening and seemed to hold on his own until David Navara started his endgame symphony:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.24"]
[Round "8.5"]
[White "Navara, David"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2730"]
[BlackElo "2787"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "109"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "1:07:41"]
[BlackClock "0:05:50"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. Nf3 c5 6. dxc5 Na6 7. g3 Nxc5 8.
Bg2 Nce4 9. O-O Nxc3 10. bxc3 Be7 11. e4 d6 12. e5 dxe5 13. Nxe5 Qc7 14. Qe2 {
Diagram [#] Navara revealed that he had tried this line with a friend of his
in December in a couple of blitz games.} ({In one of them he committed a
mistake} 14. Bf4 $2 {After which Black went for} Nh5 {"and he was immediately
better"} (14... g5 {instead would have won a piece, but this is a blitz game,
remember?})) 14... Nd7 ({Another plan is} 14... Ne8 15. Bf4 Bd6 16. Rfd1 f6 17.
Nd3 Qxc4 18. Qb2 Rb8 19. Be3 {with initiative for the pawn in Dreev,A (2638)
-Ivanisevic,I (2662) Kragujevac 2015}) 15. Bf4 Nxe5 16. Bxe5 Bd6 17. Rfe1 Rb8 (
{"The principled continuation is"} 17... Bxe5 18. Qxe5 Qxc4 {when after say}
19. Red1 {[%csl Yc8][%cal Gd1d8,Gb1b8,Gg2a8] Diagram [#] "White has enough
compensation for the pawn, but not more" (Navara)}) 18. Rad1 Bxe5 19. Qxe5 Qxe5
20. Rxe5 b6 21. c5 f6 22. cxb6 axb6 23. Re2 $146 {[%csl Yb6][%cal Ge2b2,Gd1b1,
Gb1b6] Diagram [#] Navara was surprised to learn at the press conference that
he had made a novelty with his last move.} ({Two games saw instead} 23. Re3 b5
24. f4 Kf7 25. Red3 {one of them very fresh- Basso,P (2466)-Horvath,J (2533)
Spoleto 2016}) 23... Kf7 24. f4 {The only try to play for something, but this
idea is connected with a blunder . Instead} (24. Rb2 e5 25. Rdb1 Bf5 $11) ({And
} 24. Rd6 e5 25. Rb2 Be6 26. Rdxb6 Rxb6 27. Rxb6 Bxa2 {lead to equality.})
24... e5 25. fxe5 Bg4 26. e6+ Kg6 {Diagram [#] Ambitious play by Caruana. If
he wanted to draw, the move} (26... Bxe6 {would suffice. For example} 27. Rd6
Bc4 $11 ({But not} 27... Rfe8 $2 {To which Navara gave the study-like idea} 28.
Rdxe6 (28. Rexe6 $1 {is easier} Rxe6 29. Bd5 Rbe8 30. Rxb6 $18) 28... Rxe6 29.
Bd5 Rbe8 30. g4 h6 31. h4 g6 32. a4 f5 33. g5 {and Black is running out of
moves (Navara).})) 27. Be4+ ({White's original idea was to play} 27. Rdd2 Bxe2
28. Rxe2 {with the idea Bg2-d5 and c3-c4 with compensation, but he realized
that he had missed the simple} Rbc8 {after which teh whole plan does not work.}
) 27... f5 (27... Kh6 $1 {[%csl Yc3,Rd1,Re2,Ye6,Gh6][%cal Gg6h6] Diagram [#]
was stronger when the only one to play for the win will be Caruana. Although
Navara believed he should have enough compensation after} 28. Rdd2 Bxe2 29.
Rxe2 Rbc8 (29... Rfc8 $1 {is stronger though.}) 30. Bd5 {and White wins the
tempo to play c3-c4 due to the threat} Rxc3 $6 31. e7 Re8 32. Bf7) 28. e7 (28.
Rd6 Rf6 $11) 28... Bxe2 29. Rd6+ Kg5 {Navara's brilliant idea is seen in the
line} (29... Rf6 30. Rd8 Bb5 (30... Re6 31. Rxb8 Rxe7 32. Rxb6+ {just wins a
pawn for White.}) 31. Bd5 $3 {[%csl Yb5,Yb8,Gd5,Gd8,Ge7,Yf6,Yg6] Diagram [#]
with complete domination.}) 30. exf8=R Rxf8 31. Bd5 {White's initial thought
was to force a draw with} (31. Kf2 fxe4+ 32. Kxe2 {but then he realized he has
some chances for the win.}) 31... Rf6 32. Rd7 Kh6 33. Kf2 (33. c4 f4 $11) 33...
Bb5 34. Rc7 Rd6 {An inaccuracy. The Czech GM believed} (34... f4 {[%cal Rf4g3,
Rg3f4] Diagram [#] to be mandatory in order to activate the black pieces. The
position is indeed drawish after} 35. g4 Rd6 36. c4 Bd7 $11 (36... Rd7 37. Rc8
Kg5 $11)) 35. c4 Be8 36. Rc8 Bd7 {One more inaccuracy after which White's
chances get even higher.} (36... Ba4 {instead should be enough for counterplay
and equality} 37. Ke3 Kg5 38. Kd4 (38. Rc7 Rd7 39. Rxd7 Bxd7 $11) 38... Rh6 {
(Navara)}) 37. Rd8 Kg6 38. Ke3 Kf6 39. Kd4 {[%csl Yd6,Yd7][%cal Gd4e5] Diagram
[#] Now that the king is centralized White threatens to break in anytime.} (39.
Rf8+ {was worse} Ke5 40. Rf7 Be6 ({Or} 40... Bc6 {(Navara)})) 39... Ke7 40. Rg8
Rg6 41. Ke5 Rg5 ({One more study line by the Czech genius-} 41... h5 42. Rh8
Rg5 43. Bf3 Be8 44. Rxe8+ $1 Kxe8 45. Kf4 $1 {[%csl Rg5] Diagram [#] and White
wins the brilliancy price.}) 42. Rb8 {The first player is obviously dominating
but there is no direct way in.} ({White did not like the line} 42. Rh8 Rh5 43.
h4 Rh6 44. Rg8 Rg6 45. h5 Rg5 ({But not} 45... Rxg3 $2 46. h6 $1 {when White
reaches the h7 pawn.}) 46. Rb8 {with possible draw.}) 42... Rg6 43. Rh8 Rh6 44.
h4 Be6 ({The other defense was} 44... Rg6 45. Rxh7 Rxg3 46. h5 Kd8 47. Kd6 Be8
{but it is questionable if Black can survive this.}) 45. Ra8 $1 {No rook
endgames!} (45. Bxe6 Rxe6+ 46. Kxf5 Rc6 47. Rxh7 Kf7 $11 {(Navara)}) 45... Bd7
({Taking note on the above-mentioned Caruana could have tried his chances in
the rook endgame after} 45... Bxd5 46. cxd5 ({Better than} 46. Ra7+ Bb7) 46...
Rg6 47. Ra7+ Kd8 48. Ra3 Kd7 ({And not} 48... Rf6 $2 49. Ra8+ Ke7 50. Ra7+ Kf8
51. d6 $18 {(Navara)})) 46. Rh8 Be6 47. a4 Bd7 48. Ra8 ({Once more rejecting}
48. Rg8 Rg6 49. h5 Rg5 (49... Rxg3 $2 50. h6 $1 $18) 50. Rb8 Rxh5 51. Rxb6 f4+
52. Kxf4 Bxa4 {when Black should hold.}) 48... Rg6 49. Ra7 Rxg3 {Diagram [#]
This move loses.} (49... Kd8 50. h5 (50. c5 bxc5 51. a5 {is another winning
attempt.}) (50. a5 bxa5 51. c5 a4 $11 {(Navara)}) 50... Rh6 51. Bf3 Re6+ {
was the best defense and Navara was not sure if he has realistic winning
chances.} 52. Kf4 (52. Kxf5 Rf6+ 53. Ke4 Bc6+)) 50. a5 $1 {Thanks to the
newborn passer White tips the scales in his favour.} (50. Bc6 Rd3 $11) 50...
bxa5 51. c5 Kd8 52. h5 $1 {[%csl Gd6,Yg6][%cal Gh5g6,Ge5d6] Diagram [#]
Secures the d6 square for the king.} f4 53. Kd6 Bc8 54. c6 Rg5 ({The last
microscopic chance was} 54... Rd3 {but White wins after} 55. Rxg7 ({Navara saw
the trap though} 55. c7+ $2 Ke8 56. Ra8 Rxd5+ 57. Kxd5 Kd7 $11 {Diagram [#]}))
55. Bf7 {The combination of the white king, rook, bishop and pawn reminds me
of the famous game Alkhine-Teichman, Berlin 1921.} 1-0



Carlsen Speeds Up

The world champion woke from the slow start and starting his rally. In round seven of Tata Steel he won his third consecutive win:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.23"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Eljanov, Pavel"]
[Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2760"]
[BlackElo "2844"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:03:33"]
[BlackClock "0:10:36"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ {A fashionable Anti-Catalan reply in
Wijk.} 5. Bd2 Be7 {Diagram [#] In contrast to Mamedyarov yesterday Carlsen
drops the bishop back to e7.} 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8. Qc2 Ne4 {Playing in a
Stonewall fashion.} 9. Bf4 c6 10. Nc3 g5 {[%csl Yd4][%cal Gf7f5,Gg5g4] Diagram
[#] It makes sense to chase the bishop away from the active position. Plus,
Black wants to advance on the kingside anyway.} ({The immediate} 10... f5 {
is also possible although after} 11. Rad1 b6 12. cxd5 cxd5 13. Rc1 {White's
position seems preferable, Abasov,N (2492)-Kuderinov,K (2480) Baku 2013}) 11.
Be3 Nd6 $1 $146 {[%csl Rc4,Re3][%cal Rd6c4,Rd6f5,Rf5e3] Diagram [#] The world
champion uncorks strong novelty! Previously only the straightforward} (11... f5
{had been tested. One short example-} 12. Rad1 Nd6 13. b3 Nf7 {1/2-1/2 (13)
Nogueiras Santiago,J (2533)-Jobava,B (2637) Havana 2005}) 12. b3 {Eljanov
sacrifices a pawn for the initiative.} ({In case of} 12. cxd5 {Black will
recapture} exd5 {and the knight on d6 is perfectly placed for the Carlsbad
pawn structure.}) 12... Nf5 {The point of the novelty. Since the pawn on d4 is
hanging Black gets a chance to grab a gorgeous bishop.} ({Instead} 12... dxc4
13. Ne4 {will give a lot of central play for the sacrificed pawn.}) 13. g4 $5 {
[%csl Yf5][%cal Gg3g4] Diagram [#] A courageous decision!} ({As mentioned above
} 13. Bc1 g4 {wins the pawn on d4.}) ({While} 13. Qd3 g4 14. Ne1 Nxe3 15. Qxe3
Bg5 {looks very comfortable Stonewall for the second player.}) 13... Nxe3 14.
fxe3 $5 b5 {[%csl Rb5] Diagram [#] Carlsen sacrifices a pawn on his turn!} ({
Black could have also developed kingside initiative with} 14... h5 {and if} 15.
gxh5 g4 16. Ne1 Bg5) 15. e4 {But Eljanov does not take it and concentrates on
central play.} ({There was nothting wrong with} 15. cxb5 cxb5 16. Nxb5 Ba6 (
16... Qb6 17. Nc3 Ba6) 17. a4 Rc8 {when Black has enough initiative to
compensate the pawn.}) 15... b4 ({The computer advocates} 15... bxc4 {but this
seems wrong after} 16. bxc4 dxc4 17. e5 {[%csl Yc4,Yc6,Rg8][%cal Gc3e4]
Diagram [#] The white knight will jump on e4 and the pawns on the "c" file
will soon perish.}) 16. exd5 {A courageous decision! Both players have
sacrificed pawns for initiative that far. Eljanov beats Carlsen on the number
of sacrifices now.} ({Objectively better was} 16. Na4 {to which I suspect
Carlsen would have gone for} dxe4 (16... Bb7) 17. Qxe4 Nf6 {with the idea} 18.
Qxc6 (18. Qd3 {is correct to sacrifice a pawn again...}) 18... Rb8 {Black is
already much better and if} 19. h3 $2 Bb7 20. Qb5 Nxg4 $1 {[%csl Yb5][%cal
Ge7g5] Diagram [#]} 21. hxg4 Bxf3 22. Qe5 Bf6 {wins for Black.}) 16... bxc3 17.
dxc6 Nb8 18. Qe4 {[%csl Gc4,Gc6,Gd4,Ge2] Diagram [#] For the piece Eljanov has
two pawns and powerful pawn mass in the center.} ({Or} 18. Rad1 Nxc6 19. Nxg5
Bxg5 20. Bxc6 {when both} Rb8 ({and even} 20... Bd7 21. Bxa8 Be3+ 22. Kg2 Qxa8+
{lead to advantage for Black.})) 18... f5 $1 {Black has to play actively if he
wants not only to convert his advantage, but even to survive. For example:} (
18... Na6 19. Ne5 Nc7 $2 20. Nxf7 $1 {and all of a sudden Black is in trouble.
Say} Rxf7 $2 21. Rxf7 Kxf7 22. Qxh7+ Ke8 23. Qg6+ Kf8 24. Rf1+ {[%csl Rf8]
Diagram [#] and it is over.}) 19. gxf5 exf5 20. Qd5+ {Alas, White has to trade
queens.} (20. Qe3 Nxc6) 20... Qxd5 21. cxd5 Na6 {The problem with the pawn
massive is that it does not get anywhere. If the white pawn from e2 was on e5
instead, this would have been a different story. Now Black is clearly better.}
22. Rac1 ({Or} 22. Ne5 Nc7 23. Nc4 Rd8 24. e4 fxe4 25. Bxe4 Nxd5) 22... Nc7 23.
Ne5 f4 24. Nc4 Rd8 25. Rxc3 Nxd5 {Diagram [#] The most dangerous pawn is gone
and White hurries to get some material back.} 26. c7 Nxc7 $1 {The best.
Greediness is as usual punished after} (26... Rd7 27. Rcc1 Bb7 28. Ne5 Rd6 29.
Rc5 {and White is most likely better.}) 27. Bxa8 Nxa8 28. e3 Bb4 {[%csl Gb4,
Gc8] Diagram [#] Normally a rook and a pawn are at least as good as the two
light pieces in the endgame. But not if those are two bishops.} 29. Rc2 Bb7 30.
h4 {White is correctly trying to get rid of the pawns.} Be4 31. Rh2 {This
makes things easier for Carlsen. Better was} (31. Rcf2 Nb6 32. exf4 Nxc4 33.
bxc4 gxh4 {although here too, Black should have serious winning chances.})
31... Nb6 32. Ne5 {Nothing helps:} (32. Nxb6 axb6 33. exf4 g4 $1) (32. hxg5
Nxc4 33. bxc4 fxe3) (32. exf4 Bc3 $1) 32... fxe3 33. hxg5 Rxd4 34. Ng4 Nd5 {
Diagram [#] Once that Carlsen wins a game things get scary for everyone.} 0-1



Giri Back on Track

Round six of the Tata Steel Chess saw two of the rating favorites win comfortably their games. Magnus Carlsen won unexpectedly quickly against the reigning Russian champion Evegeny Tomashevsky. While the local hope produced the following game:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.22"]
[Round "6.2"]
[White "Giri, Anish"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2798"]
[BlackElo "2747"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "131"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:17:45"]
[BlackClock "0:59:33"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. d4 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 {Diagram [#] A fashionable
line.} (5... Be7 {is also quite popular} 6. Bg2 c6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. Qc2 O-O 9.
Rd1 b6 10. Ne5 Bb7 11. cxd5 cxd5 {as in Radjabov,T (2738)-Gelfand,B (2741)
Berlin 2015}) 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8. b3 dxc4 $146 {[%csl Yc4,Yd4][%cal
Rc7c5] Diagram [#] A good novelty. In these positions Black is trying to free
himself in two ways. First and foremost he trades the c4 pawn and then goes
for either e6-e5 or c7(c6)-c5. The former plan was tested so far:} ({In two
games, which saw} 8... c6 9. Nc3 Re8 10. Qc2 dxc4 11. bxc4 e5 {Khairullin,I
(2658)-Ovetchkin,R (2529) Ekaterinburg 2013}) 9. bxc4 c5 {Instead Mamedyarov
goes for instant c7-c5 without the usual waste of a move (as in the Slav
defenses for example).} 10. e3 Qc7 11. Qc2 cxd4 ({The knight has nothing to do
on b6} 11... Nb6 12. Rc1) (11... a6 $5 {at once deserved attention as it is a
needed move. Black can chose the right moment for the central capture.}) 12.
Nxd4 a6 13. Rc1 Rd8 {In combination with Black's next move- a very unfortunate
decision. The development of the queenside bishop was priority.} ({Both} 13...
Rb8 $1 {[%cal Gb7b6,Gc8b7] Diagram [#]} 14. Nb3 b6 $11) ({And} 13... Nc5 $1 14.
Nb3 Rb8 {were comfortably levelling the game.}) 14. Nb3 Rb8 {Due to the skewer
threat it seems as this move is forced.} (14... Nc5 $2 15. Ba5 {drops the
exchange.}) ({However, the immediate} 14... Be5 {was Black's best after which
things are not as bad for him} 15. Ba5 ({Or} 15. c5 Bxa1 16. Ba5 b6 17. Bxa8
bxa5 18. Nxa1) 15... b6 16. Bxa8 Bxa1 17. Nxa1 bxa5 {[%csl Ya1,Ya5,Ya6,Yb1]
[%cal Gc8c1] Diagram [#] Black is not in a bad shape despite the doubled pawns.
}) 15. c5 Be5 16. Nd4 $1 {[%csl Gd4][%cal Gb1a3,Ga3c4,Rd2a5,Ya1b1] Diagram [#]
Probably Mamedyarov underestimated this retreat. Now the queenside is
paralyzed.} b6 {Pawns are usually not allowed on c6 from good live.} ({If}
16... Nf8 17. Na3 {White finishes development and will soon start concrete
threats} Bd7 (17... Ng6 18. Rab1) (17... Bxd4 18. exd4 Rxd4 19. Qb2 e5 20. Bc3
{loses material for Black.}) 18. Rab1 Ng6 19. Nc4 $1 Qxc5 20. Ba5 Rdc8 21. Qd2
{[%csl Yc5] Diagram [#] and the black pieces look awkward.}) 17. c6 Nf8 (17...
Nc5 18. Na3 {does not change much.}) 18. Nc3 $1 {Diagram [#] Giri is not
afraid to sacrifice a pawn. Threats like Nc3(d4)-b5 followed by c6-c7 are in
the air and Black still does not have much to move.} Ng6 ({Black will be
paralyzed after} 18... Bxd4 19. exd4 Rxd4 20. Be3 ({Or} 20. Bg5 $5) 20... Rd8
21. Rd1) 19. Rab1 Qe7 {Mamedyarov gives up the exchange.} ({Once again} 19...
Bxd4 20. exd4 Rxd4 21. Be3 Rd8 22. Rd1 {is not fun for Black.}) ({The threat
was} 19... h6 {(nothing move)} 20. Ncb5 $1 axb5 21. Nxb5 Qe7 22. Bb4 Qe8 23. c7
{with complete demolition.}) 20. c7 $1 {[%csl Rc6][%cal Rd4c6] Diagram [#]}
Qxc7 21. Nc6 Bb7 22. Nxd8 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Rxd8 24. Na4 {Giri has too many open
files for the rooks thus his material advantage is decisive.} Qb7+ 25. f3 b5
26. Nc5 Qa8 27. Nd3 h5 28. Ba5 {Little by little the white pieces take
commanding positions.} Nd5 (28... Rd7 29. Qc8+) 29. Qe2 Re8 30. e4 Nde7 31. Bc3
{Diagram [#] Speculating with threats is one good way to get rid of the active
pieces.} Bb8 32. Qb2 f5 {Last chance to muddy the waters.} 33. Qb3 fxe4 (33...
Nf8 34. Nc5 $18) 34. Qxe6+ Kh7 35. Qxe4 Qd5 36. Rb2 {Giri could have exchanged
the queens already, but he correctly understands that this can be done anytime.
} (36. Qxd5 Nxd5 37. Re1 Rc8 38. Bd2 $18) 36... Qf7 37. Re2 h4 38. Qe6 Qxe6 39.
Rxe6 Rd8 40. Nf2 Nf5 41. Ne4 Rd5 42. Rxa6 hxg3 43. hxg3 Bxg3 $1 {Diagram [#]
Out of nothing Mamedyarov created some practical problems.} 44. Rh1+ $1 {
But Giri is alert.} (44. Nxg3 Nf4+ 45. Kh2 Nxg3 {would not be clear at all.})
44... Bh4 45. Bd2 Rd4 46. Bg5 Rb4 47. Rxg6 {[%csl Yh4][%cal Gg5h4] Diagram [#]
A small combination a' la Capablanca does the job.} Rb2+ 48. Kh3 Kxg6 49. Bxh4
Rxa2 50. Rg1+ Kf7 51. Bf2 Rb2 52. Kg4 {The rest was easy for the Dutch GM.} g6
53. Bc5 b4 54. Nd6+ Nxd6 55. Bxd6 Ke6 56. Bf8 Kf7 57. Bd6 Ke6 58. Bb8 b3 59.
Kf4 Kf7 60. Ke3 Rc2 61. Be5 Rc5 62. f4 {Diagram [#]} Rb5 63. Bb2 Rh5 64. Rg2
Rh1 65. Kf3 Rf1+ 66. Kg4 1-0



Chinese Perfection-Part 2

After Hou Yifan's inspired win Wijk an Zee witnessed another Chinese precision in round five. Thanks to this win, Ding Liren moved to a shared first place:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.21"]
[Round "5.5"]
[White "Ding, Liren"]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2766"]
[BlackElo "2769"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "109"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:55:52"]
[BlackClock "0:42:34"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 {Diagram [#] Karjakin repertoire is a solid
Nimtzo-Queen's Indian openings.} 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 c6 8.
e4 d5 9. Bd3 ({Grischuk's fabulous idea to sacrifice four pawns in a flash:} 9.
exd5 exd5 10. Bg2 dxc4 11. O-O cxb3 12. Re1 bxa2 13. Ne5 Bb7 14. d5 cxd5 {
did not find followers yet, Grischuk,A (2771)-Fedoseev,V (2659) Baku 2015})
9... dxe4 10. Nxe4 Bb7 11. Qe2 Nbd7 {Black is very solid and intends to swap
off a pair of knights on e4, free his position a bit and prepare c6-c5 for
ultimate leveling of the chances.} 12. O-O-O $146 {[%csl Yc1,Ye8][%cal Gg3g4,
Gh3h4] Diagram [#] But Ding ruins Black's plan for a slow, sleepy game.} ({
Normal play will be} 12. Nxf6+ Nxf6 13. O-O c5 {when Topalov found a way to
complicate matters with} 14. d5 exd5 15. Rfe1 dxc4 16. Bxc4 O-O 17. Rad1 Qd7
18. Ng5 {for the pawn White has plenty of play, Topalov,V (2767)-Leko,P (2737)
Beijing 2013}) 12... Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Nf6 14. Bc2 a5 {The king on the queenside
requires actions.} 15. Rhe1 b5 {[%csl Yc1] Diagram [#] Karjakin tries to
create counter play before castling.} ({There was nothing wrong with} 15... O-O)
16. c5 {The only move. It gives a lot of squares to the black pieces (d5 and
c3 in particular) but at the same time provides stability on the flank. Bad was
} (16. cxb5 a4 $1 {when Black opens too many files against the white king.})
16... b4 17. g4 Ba6 ({White is not even sacrificing the pawn after} 17... Nxg4
18. Rg1) 18. Qe5 O-O ({White is not forced to trade queens after} 18... Qd5 $6
19. Qf4) 19. g5 Nh5 $1 {Diagram [#] Karjakin correctly sacifices a pawn.
White's attack is too strong after} (19... Nd5 20. Qe4 {To force a weakening
move.} g6 21. h4 Bb5 22. h5 {Followed by a timely capture on g6 and doubling
of the heavy piecs along the "h" file and mate. Say} Nc3 23. Bxc3 bxc3 24. hxg6
hxg6 25. Qh4 {[%csl Yg8][%cal Rh1h8] Diagram [#] and it is over.}) 20. Qe4 g6
21. Qxc6 Ra7 22. Be4 {Prepares the d4-d5 advance. From a hinsight better was
the immediate} (22. Qb6 Qxb6 ({White was probably worried about his queen
safety in after} 22... Qa8 $5) 23. cxb6 Rb7 24. Be3 {White's advantage is
clear, for example} Rxb6 (24... Bd8 25. Be4 Rxb6 26. d5 exd5 27. Bxd5 Rb8 28.
Ne5 {[%csl Gd5,Yd8,Ge3,Ge5,Yf8,Yh5] Diagram [#] with huge difference in the
activity of the pieces.}) 25. d5 Rd6 26. Bc5) ({If Ding starts to retreat
Black will get what he wants-} 22. Qe4 Bb7 23. c6 Ba8) 22... Bb7 23. Qb6 $1 {
The only move. Queens should leave the board as if} (23. Qb5 Bxe4 24. Rxe4 a4
$1 {Black will get strong attack along the "a" and "b" files.}) 23... Qxb6 24.
cxb6 Bxe4 25. Rxe4 (25. bxa7 $2 Bxf3) 25... Rb7 26. Be3 Rc8+ $2 {[%cal Gf8f2,
Yc8c1] Diagram [#] It is tempting to put the rook on the open file with a
tempo but this might be the losing mistake! It did great where it was as
proven by the line} (26... Bd8 27. d5 exd5 28. Rxd5 Bxb6 29. Bxb6 Rxb6 30. Rxa5
f6 {[%csl Rf2,Rf3] Diagram [#] and the rook is ready for the harvest on the
"f" file. In this line the most probably outcome would be a draw.}) 27. Kb1
Rxb6 28. d5 $1 Rd6 29. Rd2 Kf8 30. dxe6 Rxe6 31. Rxe6 fxe6 {The result of the
forced play is a cheerless endgame for Karjakin. The main problem is not the
isolated e6 pawn, but the pair of black queenside pawns which are blocked on
the color of their own bishop.} 32. Rc2 $1 {[%csl Ya5,Yb4][%cal Gb1c2,Gc2d3,
Gd3c4,Gc4b5,Gb5a5] Diagram [#] Excellent technique by Ding. The rook is ready
for the decisive penetration.} Rd8 ({Or} 32... Rxc2 33. Kxc2 {followed by a
triumphal king march all the way to b5.}) 33. Nd4 Ng7 (33... Kf7 {would lose
faster to} 34. Rc7) 34. Nc6 Rd1+ 35. Rc1 {Once more White speculates with the
threat of a rook swap to win the decisive tempo.} Rd5 36. Nxe7 $1 {[%csl Ya5,
Yb4,Ge3,Yg7] Diagram [#] Such moves are harder to make than it seems. The
knight was clearly superior to the bishop but the latter was Black's best
defender. Once that it is gone none can save the queenside pawns.} Kxe7 37.
Rc7+ {A small check but once more excellent technique. The king is driven back.
} Kf8 38. Rc5 $1 {Wins the "a" pawn.} Ke7 39. Rxd5 exd5 40. Bb6 Kd6 {A better
try was} (40... Ne6 41. Bxa5 Nxg5 42. Bxb4+ Kd7 43. a4 Nf3 44. h3 Ng1 {Diagram
[#] when Black regains the pawn. The bishop is still clearly superior to the
knight but thanks to the reduced number of pawns left on the board and the
light color of the a8 square Black has decent drawing chances.}) 41. Bxa5 Kc5
42. Bd8 Nf5 {It seems as this is a fortress but with subtle maneuvering Ding
breaks in.} 43. Kc2 Nd4+ 44. Kd3 Nf5 45. Bc7 Kc6 46. Bf4 Kc5 47. Be3+ Kb5 48.
Ke2 $1 {[%csl Yd5,Yg6,Yh7][%cal Ge2f3,Gf3f4,Gf4e5,Ge5f6,Ge5d5] Diagram [#]
Intending Ke2-f3-f4-e5.} Nh4 49. Bd2 Nf5 50. Kf3 Nd4+ 51. Kf4 Nc6 {The last
stand.} 52. Be3 Ka6 53. Bc5 Kb5 54. Bd6 Ka5 $2 {And it is over in just one
move.} ({After} 54... Kb6 55. Ke3 Kb7 56. f4 Kc8 {White still need to prove
his win, which I suspect he can do with either} 57. f5 ({Or} 57. a3 bxa3 58.
Bxa3) 57... gxf5) 55. Ke3 {Karjaking resigned due to} (55. Ke3 Kb5 56. f4 Ka6
57. f5 $1 {Diagram [#]}) 1-0



Chinese Perfection

The fourth round of Tata Steel was extremely interesting. Fabiano Caruana came very close to increasing his lead even further but slipped in the rook endgame and only drew to Anish Giri.
Somewhat surprising, but fully deserved the pack of followers was joined by the former women world champion Hou Yifan. She played a true masterpiece:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.19"]
[Round "4.4"]
[White "Hou, Yifan"]
[Black "Navara, David"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2673"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:54:33"]
[BlackClock "0:38:20"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 {The Advanced line of the Caro Kann was considered
inferior for White up to the 1990-ies. Nowadays it is the main choice of the
top players.} Bf5 {It is all about this bishop- is it better placed outside
the pawn chain or not?} 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O Bg6 7. Nbd2 Nh6 8. Nb3 Nf5
9. Bd2 {Diagram [#]} ({Navara had also faced} 9. a4 a6 10. a5 c5 11. dxc5 Bxc5
12. Nxc5 Nxc5 13. c3 {Grischuk,A (2774)-Navara,D (2734) Berlin 2015}) 9... Be7
10. g4 Nh4 {A small surprise. Previously, the Czech GM had only tested} (10...
Nh6 {for example} 11. Ne1 O-O 12. Ng2 c5 {as in Motylev,A (2649)-Navara,D
(2734) Berlin 2015}) 11. Nxh4 Bxh4 12. f4 {This is what the Advanced line is
all about. White has strong center and likes to attack on the kingside. The
black bishop(s) helps her providing some extra tempos.} f5 13. c4 {An
interesting move that Hou had prepared before, but checked only briefly as
"David plays many openings".} (13. exf6 {is more common. Caruana had played it
in 2011.}) ({And} 13. Bd3 {has been seen as well.}) 13... a5 $146 {[%cal Ga5a4]
Diagram [#] A sharp novelty in comparison to} (13... Be7 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Rc1
O-O {Mortensen,E (2450)-Rasmussen,K (2466) Denmark 2008}) 14. a4 {Hou fixes
the pawn on a5. To more tactical play will lead:} (14. cxd5 cxd5 15. Bb5 {
When White considered} Be7 ({While Navara intended to go for} 15... O-O 16.
Bxa5 Rxa5 17. Nxa5 Nxe5 {with huge complications.}) 16. a4 O-O 17. g5 {with
some advantage for White after} h6 (17... Nb8 18. Rc1) 18. h4) 14... O-O ({
Black could have transposed to the line from above with} 14... Be7 15. cxd5
cxd5 ({Weaker is} 15... exd5 16. Qc2 O-O 17. Bd3 {when the f5 square will be
cracked.}) 16. Bb5 {and this was probably the lesser evil for Black.}) 15. g5 {
[%csl Yh4][%cal Ga1c1,Gc1c3,Gc3h3,Gh3h4] Diagram [#] With the idea
Ra1-c1-c3-h3 to trap the bishop (Hou).} h6 ({In case of} 15... dxc4 16. Bxc4
Re8 {White planned} 17. Rc1 ({Although} 17. Qf3 {with the idea} Nb6 18. Be2 h6
19. gxh6 gxh6 20. Bxa5 {is equally good.}) 17... h6 18. gxh6 gxh6 {with
advantage for White.}) 16. gxh6 gxh6 17. Kh1 {White's position is extremely
promising. Navra had to open the kingside in order to save the bishop and this
only strengthened Hou's attack.} Kh7 18. cxd5 {Before White starts the attack
she saveguards her center.} ({The computer suggests the direct approach} 18. c5
b6 19. Rg1 $1 {[%csl Yg6,Yh7][%cal Ge2h5] Diagram [#] with the tactical point}
bxc5 20. Bh5 Rg8 21. Bxg6+ Rxg6 22. Qh5 Nf8 23. Nxc5 {and White is in total
command.}) 18... cxd5 19. Rc1 b6 {This weakens the c6 square but takes away
the c5 one from the white knight.} ({If Navara had foreseen what is coming
next, he would have chosen} 19... Rg8 20. Rc3 Be8 {in order to build some
kingside barricades although it is questionable if his position is bulletproof
enough.}) 20. Rc6 {[%csl Ye6][%cal Gc6e6] Diagram [#]} Rc8 {This was Black's
idea as} (20... Bf7 21. Qc2 (21. Bb5 $5 {with the idea} Rc8 $2 22. Rd6 {
also looks nice for White.}) 21... Rc8 22. Rc1 {is awful from positional point
of view.}) 21. Rxe6 $3 {How is not afraid to sacrifice the rook! Black would
be happy after both} (21. Rxc8 Qxc8) ({And} 21. Qc2 Nb8 (21... Rxc6 22. Qxc6
Nb8)) 21... Bf7 22. Rd6 Be7 23. Bd3 {[%csl Yf5,Rh7][%cal Gd3f5] Diagram [#] So
far all moves are forced. White had also considered:} (23. Nxa5 bxa5 24. Bxa5
Qxa5 25. Rxd7 {but abandoned this line for} Rc7) 23... Bxd6 24. Bxf5+ Kh8 25.
Qg4 $1 {Diagram [#] Super-precision. If} (25. exd6 {then} Rg8 {will
significantly slow White's attack.}) 25... Rc7 ({In the other principled line}
25... Rg8 26. Qh3 Bf8 27. Bxd7 {Hou charmingly admitted that she missed} Bg6 {
Still, her position is so strong that her advantage is indisputable after} 28.
Bf5 Rc6 29. Bxg6 Rcxg6 30. f5 Qc8 31. Be3 {(Hou) is also good for big advantage
} (31. Bf4 {followed by Nb3-d2 and e5-e6 will soon win for White.}) 31... Qc2
32. Nd2) 26. Qh3 $1 {[%csl Yh6,Rh8][%cal Yh6h5] Diagram [#] Insted of taking
the bishop with a tempo this! Another cool move that weakens the black king
further.} (26. exd6 Rb7 27. Qh3 {would actually transpose.}) 26... h5 27. exd6
Ra7 28. Be6 $1 {[%cal Gf4f5,Yd2f4,Yf4e5,Yf4g5,Yg5h6] Diagram [#] With the idea
f4-f5 in order to insert the dark-squared bishop in the attack.} ({Not} 28.
Bxd7 Qxd7 29. f5 {with the idea Bd2-f4-e5+ and mating attack due to the strong
resource} Bg6 $1 {(Hou) when tables will be turned in Black's favour.}) (28.
Nc1 Nf6 29. Nd3 Qxd6 30. Ne5) 28... Nf6 {A bit more stubborn was} (28... Qe8 {
Although after} 29. Re1 Nf6 30. d7 $1 Qe7 31. Bf5 Qd6 32. Nc1 {White is
winning since} Nxd7 {leads to mate after} 33. Re6 $1 {Diagram [#]} Bxe6 34.
Qxh5+ Kg7 35. Qg6+ Kh8 36. Qh7#) ({A cute mate will happen after} 28... Bxe6
29. Qxh5+ Kg7 30. Rg1+ Kf6 31. Qg6#) 29. f5 Qxd6 30. Bf4 Qd8 31. Be5 {Black is
completely paralized and the rest is curtains.} Bg8 (31... Kh7 32. Rg1) 32.
Qxh5+ Rh7 33. Qg5 Qe7 34. Nc1 $1 {[%csl Re7,Rf8,Rh8][%cal Gc1d3,Gd3f4,Gf4g6]
Diagram [#] The last piece joins the action.} Qg7 35. Qxg7+ Rxg7 36. Nd3 Rg4
37. Nf4 {[%csl Rg4][%cal Gf4g6,Gh2h3] Diagram [#] As a desert- a rook trap.}
Kh7 38. h3 Rg3 39. Ng6 Rxh3+ 40. Kg2 {A model game by Hou!} 1-0



Clear Leaders

The third round of Tata Steel Chess saw new leaders. Aleksey Dreev won third straight win to seize the lead in the Challenger's section, while Fabiano Caruana was lucky enough (and very stubborn)to flip a worse position into a win:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess- Masters"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.18"]
[Round "3.5"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Adams, Michael"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2787"]
[BlackElo "2744"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "127"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:18:28"]
[BlackClock "0:28:49"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. e3 Bb7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O d5 {
Diagram [#] The Nimtzo-Indian defense had served well the English top GM, but
this particular line had rarely occurred in his games. Here he deviates from
his early predecessor} (7... c5 8. Na4 cxd4 9. a3 Bd6 10. exd4 Bxf3 11. Qxf3
Nc6 12. Be3 e5 13. c5 exd4 14. cxd6 dxe3 15. Qxe3 Re8 {as in Arnaudov,P (2471)
-Adams,M (2720) Eilat 2012}) 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Ne5 Nbd7 10. f4 c5 11. Ne2 c4 ({
Black can also capture on d4} 11... cxd4 12. exd4 Be7 13. Be3 Ne4 14. Rc1 Ndf6
{which leads to slightly passive, but defendable position, Lysyj,I (2684)
-Efimenko,Z (2641) Bilbao 2014}) 12. Bf5 {After seven minutes of thought Adams
came with a strong novelty} g6 $146 {Diagram [#]} ({Prior to this game Black
had only tested} 12... b5 13. b3 (13. a4 $5) 13... Nb6 14. Rb1 Qd6 15. Ng3 Rfe8
{with unclear game, Gschnitzer,O (2475)-Piskov,Y (2520) Germany 1993}) {
Caruana sank into deep thought and came up with} 13. Qa4 {This looks dubious
to me. White's hopes of an advantage will be most likely connected with the
retreat} (13. Bc2) 13... gxf5 14. Qxb4 Ne4 {[%csl Ge4,Ye5][%cal Yf7f6] Diagram
[#] As a result we have a situation similar to the game Bok-L'Ami from
yesterday. The knight on e4 is the king of the board, while the one on e5 will
soon have to step back after f7-f6.} 15. a4 f6 16. Nf3 ({Black's play is very
easy after} 16. Nxd7 Qxd7 {but objectively speaking this might have been
stronger than the text move.}) 16... Nb8 $1 {[%csl Rb3,Rd3][%cal Gb8c6,Gc6a5,
Ga5b3,Rc6b4,Rb4d3] Diagram [#] The second knight is heading towards the d3 or
b3 outposts via b4 or a5 squares. The opening was huge success for Adams who
firmly took command of the game.} 17. Qe1 Nc6 18. Bd2 Kh8 {The only place
where White can show some activity is the king's flank., but Black can also
make good use of the half-open "g" file.} 19. Nh4 Qd7 20. Nc3 Rae8 {Adams
wants to keep the e4 square available for his pieces. Another idea was:} (20...
Nb4 21. Nxe4 Nd3 ({Rather than} 21... Nc2 22. Qd1 Nxa1 23. Ng3 Nb3 24. Bb4 {
when the white light pieces come into life.}) 22. Nxf6 (22. Qe2 fxe4) 22...
Rxf6 23. Qe2 Re8 {when Black will return the pawn with some advantage} 24. Bc3
Qe6) 21. Nxe4 Rxe4 22. Qd1 Rg8 {With the idea Rg8-g4.} 23. Qh5 {Caruana did
great under the circumstances and created his own play on the kingside. Still,
it should not be sufficient for full equality.} Bc8 24. Rf3 Qe8 25. Qh6 {
Places the queen in a very dangerous position.} ({The endgame deprives White
of his attacking chances.} 25. Qxe8 Rgxe8) 25... Qf7 {Adams intends Nc6-e7,
Rg8-g7(g4) and Ne7-g8 to trap the queen.} 26. b4 $1 {[%cal Rd2b4,Rb4f8,Yb4b5,
Gc1c8] Diagram [#] Caruana secures some squares for his dark-squared bishop as
otherwise Black can simply play a7-a5 in a certain moment.} (26. Rg3 Ne7 27.
Nf3 Rg4 {is good for Black.}) 26... Ne7 ({Perhaps} 26... cxb3 27. Rh3 (27. Rc1
Bd7) 27... Bd7 28. Rb1 Ne7 29. Rxb3 Rg7 {was simpler and better.}) 27. Rh3 Rg4
{Adams had an interesting idea instead:} (27... c3 $1 {with the tactical point}
28. Bxc3 $2 ({Objectively best according to the computer is} 28. Bc1 {where
the bishop is obviously badly misplaced.}) ({Black is clearly better after} 28.
Be1 Rg4 29. Nf3 Bd7 {Prepares the capture on e3.} ({But not the hasty} 29...
Rxe3 $2 30. Ng5 $1 Rxe1+ 31. Rxe1 fxg5 32. Rxc3 $18 {when all of a sudden
Black can not adequately meet the threats Rc3-c7 and Re1xe8+.}) 30. Rc1 (30.
Bf2 Be8 31. Rg3 Ng8 32. Qh3 Qe7 $17) 30... Rxe3 31. Ng5 Rxe1+ 32. Rxe1 fxg5)
28... Rg4 29. Nf3 Ng8 30. Qh5 Qxh5 31. Rxh5 Rxe3 {[%csl Yc3,Yf3][%cal Re3c3,
Re3f3] Diagram [#] and double attack against the light pieces wins one of them.
}) (27... Rg7 {was not bad neither.}) 28. Nf3 Bd7 29. Kf2 Be8 {Instead Black
was clearly better after} (29... Ng8 $1 30. Qh5 Qg7 31. Rg3 Nh6 {Diagram [#]
With the threat, say} 32. b5 Rxg3 33. hxg3 Ng4+ 34. Ke2 c3 $1 {and wins.}) 30.
Rg3 Ng8 31. Qh3 Bd7 ({Here} 31... Qg7 32. Ng1 Nh6 {is not as effective due to}
33. Ne2) 32. b5 {The idea behind the b2-b4 move is revealed. The bishop can
finally breath.} Re8 33. Ng1 $1 {[%cal Gg1e2,Ge2c3,Rd2b4,Gg3f3] Diagram [#] A
nice regroupment by White. He intends Bd2-b4 as well as Ng1-e2-c3. More
importantly- he opened the f3 square for his rook.} a5 ({If Black tries to
reroute his knight to e4 with} 33... Ne7 34. Ne2 Nc8 {then} 35. Bb4 {comes
just in time.}) ({Similar is} 33... Ra8 34. Ne2 a6) 34. bxa6 Ra8 35. Ne2 Rxa6
36. Bb4 Kg7 ({The black king migth be vulnerable as the following line shows}
36... b5 37. a5 Ne7 38. Rb1 Nc6 39. Be1 b4 40. Bxb4 Nxb4 41. Rxb4 Rxa5 42. Rxg4
fxg4 43. Qh6 $16) (36... h5 37. Nc3) ({Perhaps it was time to secure half a
point with} 36... Rxa4 37. Rxa4 Rxg3 38. Nxg3 Bxa4 39. Qxf5 $11 {Diagram [#]})
37. Nc3 h5 38. Kg1 {Opens the road for the kingside rook.} (38. Rf3 {at one
was more precise.}) 38... Nh6 $6 {After this the white rook gets back into
play and tables are turned into Caruana's favour. There was better idea:} (
38... Ne7 {Diagram [#]} 39. Bxe7 (39. Rf3 Nc6) 39... Qxe7 {When tactics seem
to work for Black} 40. Nxd5 (40. Qxh5 $2 Rxg3 41. hxg3 Qxe3+) 40... Qe4 41. Nc3
Qc2 42. e4 b5 $1 {and it seems as Black is happier thanks to his more active
queen.}) 39. Rf3 $1 {Now that the rook comes out of the prison it becomes
clear that the one on g4 is lost in the translation.} Ra8 40. Rf2 Kh7 41. Qf3 {
[%csl Yb6,Yd5,Yf5,Yh5][%cal Gf3d5,Rf2b2,Ra1b1,Rb1b6] Diagram [#] It was not
only the rook that came into the game...} Bc6 42. Rb2 h4 43. Ba3 {Black has
too many things to worry about- b6, d5, f5 and h4 pawns are too weak.} Rag8 (
43... Bxa4 44. Qxd5 $16) 44. Kh1 Ba8 45. Rg1 Qe6 46. Rb5 R4g7 47. Bc1 $1 {
[%csl Yh4][%cal Gc1d2,Gd2e1,Ge1f2] Diagram [#] The bishop looked active on a3,
but on e1 it will become and effective piece.} Rg6 48. Bd2 R8g7 49. Rb2 Nf7 50.
h3 {The weaknesses can no longer be held.} Rg3 (50... Nh6 51. Be1 $1) (50...
Rh6 51. Rgb1 $1) 51. Qh5+ Nh6 52. Qxh4 Qg8 53. Be1 R3g6 54. Qh5 {[%csl Yb6,Yd5,
Yf5,Rh6,Rh7] Diagram [#]} ({White could have taken the pawn at once, but
Caruana knows it has nowhere to go} 54. Rxb6 Rxg2 55. Rxg2 Rxg2 56. Bf2) 54...
Re7 55. Bf2 Reg7 56. Qf3 Qd8 57. Bh4 Qd6 58. Rgb1 {Diagram [#] It is amazing
how quickly Black's promising position detoriated...} Qa3 59. Be1 Qe7 60. g3
Nf7 61. Rxb6 Rh6 62. Ra6 Qe8 63. Kg2 Qc8 64. Rbb6 1-0



About Horses and Donkeys

After the powerful start in Wijk an Zee, the second round offered less action yesterday. All the games in the Masters section ended peacefully, although all players fought hard. The Challengers section though offered some spectacular pieces:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Tata Steel Chess - Challengers"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.17"]
[Round "2.5"]
[White "Bok, Benjamin"]
[Black "L'Ami, Erwin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2607"]
[BlackElo "2627"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:58"]
[BlackClock "0:00:35"]

1. Nf3 {Surprising first move by Bok, who is generally and 1.e4 player.} f5 {
Diagram [#] A small counter-surprise in return. L'Ami inserted the Leningrad
Dutch in his repertoire last year and according to my Megabase has only five
games played so far in it.} 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. d4 O-O 6. c4 d6
7. Nc3 c6 {The main move, although the Guru of the line Malanuik prefers} (7...
Qe8) 8. b3 {Diagram [#]} ({White can also try to advance this pawn more
aggressively with} 8. Rb1 Na6 9. b4 Ne4 {as in Kramnik,V (2783)-Caruana,F
(2811) Zurich 2015}) ({While the main line is} 8. d5 e5 9. dxe6 Bxe6 10. Qd3 {
one recent example-Harikrishna,P (2727)-Mamedyarov,S (2765) Beijing 2014}) 8...
Na6 (8... Qc7 {is another line} 9. Ba3 Ne4 {Karjakin,S (2760)-Caruana,F (2811)
Zurich 2015}) 9. Re1 Ne4 10. Bb2 d5 $146 {[%cal Gd5e4,Gf5e4] Diagram [#] A
novelty. An year earlier at this very place a game from the Masters section
saw:} (10... Nxc3 11. Bxc3 {When Caruana rerouted his knight towards the
center with} Nc5 {Which was met with an even more cunning knight maneuver} 12. Ng5
d5 13. Nh3 Ne4 {with complex battle ahead, Wojtaszek,R (2744)-Caruana,F (2820)
Wijk aan Zee 2015}) 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Ne5 {[%csl Ya6,Gc3,Ye4,Ge5][%cal Gf2f3]
Similar positions may appear in the Fianchettoe line of the Gruenfeld defense.
The general difference between both positions is the situation of the knights.
While the one on e5 is on a stable outpost its collegue can be chased away
with f2-f3. And yes, the other black one is badly placed on the rim as well.}
Nb4 {Which is what L'Ami tries to change, but this comes at a certain price.} (
{A more patient way to level the energy of the white knights was connected with
} 12... Be6 13. f3 Nxc3 14. Bxc3 Rc8 {followed by Na6-b8-c6(d7).}) 13. Rc1 Be6
14. a3 Nc6 15. Nxc6 bxc6 {[%csl Yc6][%cal Rc1c6] Diagram [#] The bad knight
was swapped off, but a backward pawn on c6 is the price.} 16. Na4 {Bok decided
to keep the knight as he believes that after f2-f3 it will be still superior
to the black one.} ({Also good is} 16. f3 Nxc3 17. Rxc3 $14 {when White will
gang up against the "c" pawn after the preliminary e2-e3.}) 16... f4 $1 {
Black's only chance is activity or else the weaknesses will soon tell.} 17. f3
Nd6 $6 {But this retreat spoiled the plan. I have the feeling that L'Ami
should have gone for} (17... Ng5 18. Rxc6 Nh3+ 19. Bxh3 (19. Kf1 {looks riskier
} Bd7 20. Rc3 fxg3 21. hxg3 g5) 19... Bxh3 20. g4 Rc8 21. Rxc8 Qxc8 {[%csl Ya4,
Yb2,Yg1][%cal Gh7h5] Diagram [#] with compensation for the pawn.}) 18. Nc5 $1 {
There is no need to enter complications when you are better strategically.} (
18. Rxc6 Bd7 19. Rc1 Bxa4 20. bxa4 fxg3 21. hxg3 Nf5 {would be fun for Black
instead.}) 18... Bd7 (18... Bc8 {seems more accurate but still not fun.}) 19.
e4 $1 {Powerplay by Bok.} g5 ({After} 19... fxe3 $6 20. Rxe3 {White will add a
backward pawn on e7 and plenty of weak squares along the "e" file to his
treasure box.}) ({White will have strong center after} 19... fxg3 20. hxg3) 20.
exd5 cxd5 {White has serious positional advantage and cashes it in with cute
tactic:} 21. Re5 $3 {[%csl Yd5,Yg5][%cal Re5d5,Re5g5] Diagram [#] Double
attack.} e6 {Best chance is to try and make use of the poor position of the
white rook.} ({The rook is untouchable} 21... Bxe5 22. dxe5 Nf5 23. Qxd5+) (
21... h6 22. Rxd5) 22. Nxd7 Qxd7 23. Rxg5 Nf5 24. Qd3 Rab8 ({Maybe} 24... Qe7 {
with the idea} 25. Rh5 (25. gxf4 Kh8) 25... Qe8 26. g4 Qg6 {was worth a try.})
25. Bh3 Kh8 26. Rh5 Qf7 27. Bg4 h6 28. gxf4 {White simply takes everything
that he can but this weakens his position a bit.} Ne7 $1 {[%csl Yf4,Rh5][%cal
Ge7g6,Gg6f4] Diagram [#]} 29. Re1 ({In case of} 29. Rc7 Rfc8 30. Rxa7 {Black
has} Qf6 {with the idea Ne7-g6:f4 and it ain't over yet.}) 29... Ng6 30. Bc1
Nxf4 31. Bxf4 Qxf4 {L'Ami squeezed everything he could from the position but
two pawns are still a lot. Still, the arising mutual time-trouble gave him
some extra chances.} 32. Kg2 Rbc8 ({The pawn is poisoned} 32... Qxd4 $2 33.
Rxh6+ Kg8 34. Qh7+ Kf7 35. Qg6+) ({Or} 32... Bxd4 $6 33. Rxe6) 33. Bxe6 {
There was nothing wrong with} (33. Rxe6 Qc1 34. Qe3 Rc2+ 35. Kg3 Qxe3 36. Rxe3
Bxd4 37. Re7 {and White is close to winning.}) 33... Rce8 ({A trick is always
worth a try in lost positions. Here} 33... Rc2+ $1 {[%csl Rg2] Diagram [#]
would be both tricky and good} {The rook is not edible} 34. Qxc2 $4 (34. Re2 $1
{is best although Black has serious drawing chances after} Rxe2+ 35. Qxe2 Qf6
$1 {When tactics seem to work in Black's favour} ({Or even} 35... Qxd4 36. Bxd5
Qf6) 36. Bf5 ({Worse is} 36. Rxd5 Re8 37. Rd6 Qg5+ 38. Kf1 Qf4) ({While} 36.
Bxd5 $4 {drops a piece after} Qg6+) 36... Qxd4) 34... Qxf3+ 35. Kg1 Bxd4+ {
due to the mate.}) 34. Re2 (34. Rxd5 {was better.}) 34... Bxd4 35. Bg4 (35.
Rxd5 {is still best} Bg7) 35... Rd8 $2 {L'Ami gives the open file in the
crucial moment of the game and this loses instantly. Instead} (35... Rxe2+ 36.
Qxe2 Rd8 37. Be6 Bf6 $1 {[%csl Rg2,Yh5][%cal Gf6g5] Diagram [#] leads to a
position which is definitely not winning for White. For example} 38. Bxd5 (38.
Rxd5 $2 Rxd5 39. Bxd5 Qg5+ {drops a piece.}) 38... Bg5 {The white rook is
excluded and the threat Rd8-d2 forces White to play} 39. Qb2+ Kh7 40. Be4+ Kg8
41. Qc3 Rd2+ 42. Kf1 Rd1+ 43. Ke2 Rd2+ 44. Ke1 Rd8 {White still has two extra
pawns but the insecure position of his king is a primary factor.}) 36. Re7 Bg7
37. Qg6 {[%csl Rg7,Rh7][%cal Rg6g7,Gg4f5,Rf5h7] Diagram [#] Mate is
unstoppable.} Qd2+ (37... Rg8 38. Bf5) 38. Kh3 (38. Kh3 Rg8 39. Bf5) 1-0



A Good Start

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

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

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



Almost Like Last Year

Yu Yangyi plays successfully in Qatar, this is a fact. Last year he won against the heavy-lifted V. Kramnik in the last round to take the trophy in China. This year he had to face another top player- Wesley So:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.29"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Yu, Yangyi"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2736"]
[BlackElo "2775"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "153"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:02:09"]
[BlackClock "0:03:59"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 {The Nimtzo-Indian remains a reliable weapon for
Black.} 4. Nf3 c5 5. g3 {The aggressive Romanishin line.} cxd4 6. Nxd4 O-O 7.
Bg2 d5 8. Nc2 {Diagram [#] A relativey rare line. Yu forces the swap of the
black bishop.} ({A famous tabia arises after} 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Qb3 Qa5 10. Bd2
Nc6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. O-O Bxc3 13. bxc3 Ba6 14. Rfd1 Qc5 15. c4 {Bukavshin,I
(2655)-Jakovenko,D (2759) Chita 2015}) ({Both} 8. O-O) ({And} 8. Qb3 {are more
common too.}) 8... Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Qc7 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Nb4 $1 $146 {[%csl Yb4,
Yc3][%cal Gg2a8] Diagram [#] A novelty! White gets rid of the isolated pawn.
The indifferent development does not promise anything to White:} ({Predecessor
(4):} 11. Bb2 Rd8 12. Qc1 b6 13. O-O Bb7 14. Rd1 Nd7 $11 {Cebalo,M (2520)
-Hulak,K (2543) Stari Mikanovci 2008}) 11... Nxb4 {So decided to avoid Yu's
home preparation. He could have accepted the sacrificed pawn} (11... Qxc3+ 12.
Bd2 Qf6 {Diagram [#] to which White can play in two different ways. The more
dangerous one seems to be the pawn sacrifice after} 13. Rc1 $5 ({Not} 13. Nxd5
exd5 14. Bxd5 $6 Rd8 {with pressure along the d file.}) ({But White can aslo
regain the pawn with} 13. Bxd5 exd5 14. Nxd5) 13... Nxb4 14. Bxb4 Rd8 15. Qb3 {
White's pieces are dominating, but a pawn is a pawn. Which one is better will
be revealed by the future practice.}) 12. cxb4 Rd8 13. Qb3 Nc6 14. O-O ({
The black knight can be deprived of the d4 square for a while but} 14. e3 e5
15. O-O Be6 16. Qc3 Rac8 $11 {is just equal.}) 14... Nd4 {[%csl Gd4][%cal
Gc8e6,Ge6f5,Ye6e5] Diagram [#] This is why So rejected the sacrifice. The
centralized knight seems good enough to compensate for the bishop pair.} 15.
Qb2 e5 {The more active approach was also good. The line} (15... Qc4 16. Be3
Nxe2+ 17. Kh1 {seems dangerous for the black knight on e2, but there is a way
out-} Bd7 18. Rfe1 Nc3 19. Rac1 Rac8 {with unclear play.}) 16. Be3 {White
finished the development and wants to make good use of the bishops.} Bg4 $1 {
[%csl Ye2,Rg2][%cal Yf2f3] Diagram [#] Provokes the f2-f3 advance in order to
block the fianchettoe one.} 17. Rac1 Qd7 (17... Nxe2+ $4 18. Qxe2) 18. f3 Bh3 {
Since this bishop is stronger than the one on g2 (at least for the moment)
Black could have also gone for} (18... Be6 19. Rfd1 a5 $11 {when the bishop is
eyeing the a2 pawn.}) 19. Rfd1 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qe6 {An excellent square for the
queen.} 21. Rc7 $1 {Diagram [#] Yu squeezed a lot from his novelty. His active
rooks put a lot of pressure on Black's position and his bishop looks better
than the knight. However, Wesley So's creativity should not be underestimated.}
(21. Bxd4 Rxd4 22. Rxd4 exd4 $11) 21... b6 22. a4 Nf5 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Bf2 ({
Perhaps} 24. Bg1 {was a bit more subtle when the Black pawn is not reahcing e3
with a tempo at least.} e4 25. Rxa7 h5 {although Black is still creating
dangerous threats.}) 24... e4 {[%csl Yg2][%cal Ge4f3] Diagram [#] Black is
losing the battle for the queenside but makes good use of the absence of the
white rook to create threats of his own on the opposite wing.} 25. Qc2 (25.
Rxa7 h5 (25... e3 26. Be1 h5) 26. Qc2 e3 27. Be1 {might transpose to the game.}
) 25... e3 26. Be1 h5 27. Rxa7 {With this move order Yu could have gone for} (
27. Bc3 $1 h4 28. Qe4 Qg6 29. Qg4 $1 {anytime he trades the queens he should
be close to winning.}) 27... Nd4 28. Qe4 Qc4 {[%csl Yg2][%cal Rc4e2] Diagram
[#] So is threatening mate!} 29. Qxe3 $5 {White sacrifices a piece. The exclam
is for the desire to win, the question- for the objective value of the move.
Although as we shall see Yu did not cross the boarder line yet.} ({Objectively
the game should ended in a draw after} 29. Qd3 Qxd3 30. exd3 Rc8 31. Re7 Rc2+
32. Kf1 Nxf3 33. Rxe3 Nxh2+ 34. Kg1 g5 35. a5 bxa5 36. bxa5 g4 37. d4 Nf3+ 38.
Kf1 Nh2+ $11) 29... Nc2 30. Qe7 Nxe1+ 31. Kf2 Qd4+ $6 {In time trouble So errs.
Correct was} (31... Rd1 32. Qe8+ Kh7 33. Qe4+ Qxe4 34. fxe4 Nc2 {Diagram [#]}
35. a5 ({Or} 35. Rxf7 Nxb4 36. Rf5) 35... Nxb4 36. axb6 Rd6 37. Rxf7 Rxb6 {
Is this a win for Black is another question, but at least he had taken away
the 1-0 result from the board.}) 32. Kf1 Nc2 $2 {And this is proper mistake.
He should have forced the draw with} (32... Rf8 33. Kxe1 Qg1+ 34. Kd2 Qd4+ 35.
Kc2 Qc4+ $11) 33. Qxf7+ Kh8 34. Qxh5+ Kg8 35. Qf7+ Kh8 36. Qh5+ Kg8 37. Qf7+
Kh8 38. Kg2 Ne3+ 39. Kh3 Kh7 40. Qh5+ Kg8 {Time trouble is over, Yu has four
pawns for the knight and great winning chances.} 41. Re7 $1 {[%csl Ye3,Ge7,Yg8]
[%cal Re7e8,Re7e3,Gh5f7,Ge7e4,Ge4h4] Diagram [#] A nice move that prepares
various threats like Qh5-f7+ followed by Re7-e4 or the advance of the e pawn.}
Rf8 $1 {The only defense. Everything else loses fast, say} (41... Nc2 $2 42.
Qf7+ Kh7 43. e4 (43. Re4 Qd7+)) (41... Qxb4 $4 42. Qf7+ Kh8 43. Qxg7#) 42. a5
bxa5 43. bxa5 Nd5 44. Qe5 Qxe5 45. Rxe5 Nb4 {[%csl Ga5,Ge2,Gf3,Gg3,Gh2]
Diagram [#] Black survived to the endgame but the value of the pawns grew now.
Yu is still close to winning.} 46. Re4 (46. Rc5 $5) 46... Nd5 47. Rc4 Rf6 48.
Rc5 Rf5 (48... Ne3 49. g4) 49. Rc8+ Kf7 50. a6 Ne3 51. g4 Ra5 52. Rc7+ Kf6 53.
Rc6+ {Perhaps White simply had to push the pawn further} (53. a7 Ra2 54. Kg3 g5
55. h4 gxh4+ 56. Kxh4 Nd5 57. Rb7 Ne3 58. Kg3 {and once that the white pawns
start rolling it should be soon over.}) 53... Kf7 54. Kg3 g5 55. h4 gxh4+ 56.
Kxh4 {Diagram [#] Now the pawns come into motion.} Nd5 57. e4 Ne7 58. Rb6 Ng6+
59. Kg3 Ra3 60. g5 Ne5 61. Rf6+ Ke7 62. Kg2 Nd3 63. Rh6 {In the second
time-trouble Yu misses what seems to me is a win-} (63. f4 $1 Nc5 64. e5 Nxa6
65. g6 $1) 63... Ra5 {So gets one of the pawns back.} 64. a7 Rxg5+ 65. Kf1 Rg8
(65... Ra5 $2 {loses to the typical trick} 66. Rh8 Rxa7 67. Rh7+) 66. Ke2 Ne5
$2 {It is time for Black to go wrong. He should have held after} (66... Nc5 $1
{Diagram [#]} 67. Ke3 Ne6 68. e5 Kf7 69. f4 Rg3+ 70. Ke4 Ra3) 67. f4 Nd7 68.
Ra6 {White's pieces are optimally placed and have room for improvement. The
game is practically over.} Ra8 69. Ke3 Nc5 70. Ra1 Nb7 71. e5 Nd8 72. Ra6 Kd7 (
72... Ne6 73. f5 Nc7 74. Ra5 {followed by a king march to b7 is hopeless.}) 73.
f5 Nc6 74. e6+ Kc7 75. f6 Nb4 76. f7 Kb7 {Diagram [#]} (76... Nxa6 77. e7) 77.
Rd6 (77. Rd6 Kxa7 78. e7) 1-0

What happene din the additional match for the first place between Yu and Carlsen, you can check in this report.


Where to Castle?

The penultimate round in Doha saw Vladimir Kramnik making his way for the top board after the following neat game against his compatriot:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.28"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Black "Sjugirov, Sanan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2796"]
[BlackElo "2646"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:12:26"]
[BlackClock "0:10:00"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 {Diagram [#] Kramnik is playing the London system
regularly of lately and scores very well.} c5 4. e3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 cxd4 6. exd4
Bf5 7. c3 {Now the position resembles the Exchange line of the Caro-Kann with
the important difference that white's light squared bishop did not have a
chance to occupy the b1-h7 diagonal.} e6 8. Qb3 Qc8 9. Nh4 Bg6 ({I annotated
recently a fresh game in the line between two of the participants in Doha. It
went:} 9... Be4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Nf3 Bd6 12. Bxd6 Nxd6 13. Bd3 Qc7 {and
here White uncorked a novelty} 14. Qc2 $146 {and went on to win later,
Carlsen-Wojtaszek, ETCC Reykjavik 2015.}) 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bd3 (11. h3 Be7 12.
Bd3 Bd8 $1 13. Nf3 Bc7 {with approximate equality, Grischuk,A (2774)-Motylev,A
(2649) Berlin 2015}) 11... Nh5 12. Be3 Bd6 13. O-O-O $146 {Diagram [#] A
novelty and a very aggressive set up. Since White is going to attack on the
kingside anyway now Sjugirov needs to think well what to do with his own
monarch.} ({In all the predecessors White played:} 13. g3 {avoiding the bishop
swap. One example is} Nf6 14. Qd1 O-O 15. f4 Rb8 16. a4 a6 17. a5 b6 18. axb6
Rxb6 19. Ra2 a5 {with approximate equality and a draw on move 141 in Kamsky,G
(2741)-Macieja,B (2614) Achaea 2012}) 13... a6 $1 {[%csl Yc1,Ge8][%cal Gb7b5,
Gc6a5,Ga5c4] Diagram [#] Sjugirov decided to postpone castling for the time
being and to create counter-play on the queenside.} ({White's play is easy
after} 13... Bf4 14. g4 Bxe3 15. fxe3 Nf6 16. Rdg1 {followed by g4-g5 and
e3-e4 with an edge for White.}) ({However, Black could seriously consider the
quick queenside castling} 13... Qc7 14. Kb1 O-O-O) 14. Kb1 b5 15. Qc2 Na5 ({
After} 15... O-O 16. h4 {with the idea g2-g4 and h4-h5 seems dangerous for
Black.}) 16. Nf3 Nc4 17. Bc1 Qc7 {Black had other tempting options:} (17... Rb8
$5 {and if the game continuation} 18. Ng5 {then} O-O $5) ({Also good seemed}
17... Qb7 $5 18. Ng5 Nf6) ({However,} 17... Bf4 $6 {should be avoided due to}
18. g4 $1 Bxc1 19. gxh5 Bxb2 20. Bxc4 $16) 18. Ng5 $1 {[%csl Re6,Ye8,Rf7,Rg6]
[%cal Rg5f7,Rg5e6,Rd3g6] Diagram [#] Kramnik underlines the fact that the
black king is not completely safe in the center. The sacrifices on e6, f7 and
g6 urge Sjugirov to saveguard his most important piece. But on which side to
castle?} Nf4 ({White is better after} 18... O-O-O 19. g3 (19. b3 Na5 20. g3)) (
{And faster after} 18... O-O 19. h4) ({White is also very serious about the
black king in the line} 18... Nf6 19. Bxg6 $1 fxg6 20. Qxg6+ Kd7 21. Rhe1 {
with strong attack.}) ({And if} 18... a5 19. Bxg6 $1 {Diagram [#] is very
strong and leads to devastating attack after} fxg6 20. Qxg6+ Kd7 21. Nxe6 Qb8
22. Rhe1) 19. Bf1 {This could be named the natural dominance of the bishops
against the knights. Although the horses did everything they could to scare
the bishops they are there only temporary and the little peasants- "b" and "g"
pawns will help the lords get back to their lands.} O-O-O $2 {[%csl Rc8]
Diagram [#] Only this move can be named a real mistake. Black castles into it.}
({Similar is} 19... O-O 20. h4 a5 21. g3 Nh5 22. Be2 Nf6 23. h5) ({But
Sjugirov could and should have kept the same policy of not-castling-yet with}
19... Be7 20. Nf3 Nh5 21. g3 {and only now} O-O) 20. a4 $1 {Black was probably
bitterly sorry for pushing these pawns that far.} Qb7 21. axb5 axb5 22. b3 ({
Also good is} 22. g3 Nh5 23. b3) 22... Na5 {Or else the "b" pawn will suffer
after} (22... Na3+ 23. Bxa3 Bxa3 24. Qa2 Bd6 25. g3 Nh5 26. Qa5) 23. Qa2 Nc6
24. g3 Nh5 25. Bd3 {[%csl Yb5,Rb7,Rc8][%cal Ga2e2,Ge2b5,Rb5a6,Ra6c8,Yd1d2,
Yd2a2] Diagram [#] To hit where it hurts-on the light squares.} ({Another
set-up was very good as well-} 25. Qe2 Na7 26. Rd2) 25... Kb8 26. Qe2 Na7 27.
Bd2 {Kramnik's moves are easy and straight to the point. Next he intends to
bring the rooks out.} Rc8 28. Kb2 Rc6 (28... b4 29. c4 $1 {will be immediately
over.}) 29. Ra1 Rf8 {To free the queen and at least trade a pair of rooks.} (
29... Nf6 30. Ra2) 30. Ra2 Ra6 31. Rxa6 Qxa6 32. Ra1 Qb7 33. b4 $1 {[%csl Rb5]
[%cal Ga1a5,Ga5b5] Diagram [#] Fixes the weakness. The end is near.} Nf6 34.
Ra5 Bc7 35. Bf4 {Concrete solution.} Bxf4 36. gxf4 Qc7 37. Bxb5 Qxf4 38. Nf3
Ne4 ({Nothing changes} 38... Qc7 39. Ne5 Rc8 40. Qd3 Ne4 41. c4 $18) 39. Ne5
Rh8 40. Nc6+ Nxc6 41. Bxc6 {The loss of the "b" pawn weakened decisively the
black king.} Nxc3 {The last desperate try.} ({After the most resilent} 41...
Rd8 {White has a bunch of winning options, but I suspect he would have chosen:}
42. b5 (42. Kc2 Qxf2 43. Qxf2 Nxf2 44. b5 Kc7 45. Ra7+ Kd6 46. Rxf7) (42. Qb5+
Kc7 43. Qb7+ Kd6 44. Ra6 Qd2+ 45. Ka3 Qxc3+ 46. Ka4 Qxd4 47. Bxd5+ Ke5 48. Bxe4
) 42... Qd2+ 43. Qxd2 Nxd2 44. Ra8+ Kc7 45. b6+ Kxb6 46. Rxd8 Kxc6 47. Rf8 {
Diagram [#]}) 42. Kxc3 Rh3+ 43. Kc2 Qxd4 44. Qb5+ Kc7 45. Qb7+ Kd6 46. Qb8+ Ke7
{Or mate after} (46... Kxc6 47. Ra6+ Kd7 48. Rd6+ Ke7 49. Qd8#) 47. Qa7+ {
Diagram [#] The former world champion leaves no chances at all. The endgame is
easily won for White.} Qxa7 48. Rxa7+ Kd6 49. Ba4 Rh4 50. Kb3 Rh3+ 51. Kb2 Rh4
(51... Rxh2 52. Rd7+ Ke5 53. Rxf7 $18) 52. Rd7+ Ke5 53. Ka3 Kd4 54. Rxf7 Rxh2
55. b5 Kc5 56. Rc7+ {Black resigned due to} (56. Rc7+ Kb6 57. Rc6+ Kb7 58. Rxe6
Rxf2 59. Rxg6) 1-0



Danger in the Reti

Some quiet openings are not as innocent as they seem. True, there are no quick checkmates against the uncastled king (in most of the cases) but a long-term strategical danger often watches for the good opportunity. Check Sanan Sjugirov's effort against D. Jakovenko from round seven of Qatar Masters Open and you know what I mean:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 13)

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2015.12.27"]
[Round "7.7"]
[White "Sjugirov, Sanan"]
[Black "Jakovenko, Dmitry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2646"]
[BlackElo "2737"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:28:19"]
[BlackClock "0:31:11"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4 {The Reti opening is again popular nowadays and the system
with Bg4 remains a very reliable weapon for the second player. Especially of
he/she uses the Slav defense against 1.d4.} 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O e6 5. h3 {Diagram
[#]} ({More common is the continuation} 5. d3 Bd6 6. c4 Ne7 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Nc3
O-O 9. h3 Bh5 10. e4 {as played very recently in Carlsen,M (2850)-Adams,M
(2744) London 2015}) (5. d4 {is also an option.}) 5... Bh5 6. d3 Nd7 7. e4 Bd6
8. exd5 {[%cal Gc2c4] Diagram [#] Quite a venomous plan as we shall see soon.}
cxd5 (8... exd5 {will be met with} 9. c4 {anyway. After} Ne7 10. Nc3 dxc4 11.
dxc4 {White got very nice position in Khairullin,I (2657)-Pashikian,A (2603)
Legnica 2013}) 9. c4 Ne7 {Looks better than} (9... Ngf6 {when after} 10. Nc3 {
White has the additional threat g3-g4-g5 to win the d5 pawn.}) 10. Nc3 O-O 11.
cxd5 exd5 {Perhaps Black should have traded a pair of knights} (11... Nxd5 12.
Nxd5 exd5 {although White has pressure with} 13. Qb3 $1 ({Rather than the
preliminary} 13. g4 Bg6 14. Qb3 Nc5 $1) 13... Nb6 14. a4 a5 15. Be3) 12. g4
$146 {[%csl Rd5,Yh5] Diagram [#] A very unpleasant novelty to meet. The d5
pawn becomes vulnerable.} ({All five predecessors saw} 12. Re1 {which gave a
chance to Black to defend after} Rc8 13. d4 h6 14. Qb3 Nb6 15. Ne5 Nc6 {
as in the blitz game Kramnik,V (2769)-Adams,M (2745) London 2014}) 12... Bg6
13. Nh4 Nb6 {P. Svidler explained in his live commentary that Black's main
plan is to try and sacrifice the ill d5 pawn for counterplay on the dark
squares. Besides this defense Jakovenko had two other interesting options:} (
13... d4 {which is generally not desirable as it prolongs the diagonal of the
light squared bishop. Play may continue} 14. Nb5 Bc5 {When White has various
ways of developing the initiative. There is an interesting pawn sacrifice:} 15.
b4 ({As well as solid mounting of pressure} 15. Qb3 a6 16. Na3 Ra7 17. Bf4) ({
And classical approach-} 15. f4) 15... Bxb4 16. Rb1 a5 17. Bf4 {In all cases
White seems favourite.}) ({Probably Blac needed to drag the d4 pawn closer to
his camp with} 13... Nc5 $5 14. d4 Ne6 15. f4 Nc6 16. Nxg6 (16. f5 $2 Qxh4)
16... hxg6 17. Be3 Nc7 {this still looks better for White but Black can try to
counter-attack on d4 later.}) 14. Bg5 {with the obvious intention to grab the
pawn after some trades. This move causes confusion in Jakovenko's camp.} (14.
a4 {at once was also good.}) 14... Qd7 ({White is better after} 14... h6 15.
Nxg6 fxg6 16. Be3 Bf4 17. Bd4) 15. a4 $1 {[%csl Yd7][%cal Rb6d7,Ra4a5] Diagram
[#] Now that the queen is no longer protecting the knight on b6 and is taking
the d7 square of it this is specifically painful.} Rae8 ({The bad black knight
is concern in the line} 15... a5 16. Be3 Qd8 17. Qb3 (17. Nb5 $5) 17... Bb4 18.
Na2 $16) 16. a5 Na8 {Awkward to say at least.} 17. Nxg6 ({Svidler revealed
that Black's idea to sacrifice a pawn would have worked well after} 17. Bxe7
Bxe7 (17... Qxe7 {is actually simpler and better} 18. Nxg6 hxg6 19. Nxd5 Qe5 {
with counterplay along the dark squares.}) 18. Nxg6 hxg6 19. Nxd5 Nc7 {[%csl
Rd6,Re5,Rf4,Rg3,Rh2] Diagram [#] and Black will prepare battery on the b8-h2
diagonal.}) 17... Nxg6 (17... hxg6 {was more stubborn.}) 18. Qa4 $1 {[%csl Ya8,
Rd5,Gf4] Diagram [#] A powerful move. White is not in a hurry to capture the
"d" pawn and offers the queen exchange instead. If these two disappear there
will be no counterplay along the dark squares and the drawbacks in Black's
position will be exposed. The "d" pawn will go west, and yes-the knight on a8
would not be the jewel in the crown. The queen controls the "f4" square and
thus kills any counter chances by Black.} Qe6 (18... Qxa4 19. Rxa4 {is
practically lost for Black.}) 19. Bd2 {Another cool move that moves the bishop
away from the vulnerable g5 square, but which prepares Ra1-e1 as well as the
advance of the "f" pawn.} ({No need to allow any counterplay after} 19. Nxd5 f5
) 19... Qe5 ({If} 19... Nc7 20. Rae1 Qc8 {White would finally take the pawn}
21. Nxd5) 20. f4 Bc5+ 21. Kh1 Qb8 22. Nxd5 $18 {Diagram [#] Sjugirov won the
pawn and kept all the positional advantages.} Bd6 23. Qd4 Rd8 24. Bc3 f6 {
After some preparation White opens the game.} 25. g5 Ne7 26. gxf6 Nf5 (26...
gxf6 {is hopeless-} 27. Nxf6+ Kg7 (27... Kf7 28. Bd5+ Nxd5 29. Qxd5+) 28. Nd7+)
27. Qc4 Rf7 (27... Ng3+ 28. Kh2 Nxf1+ 29. Rxf1 $18) 28. fxg7 Rc8 29. Nf6+ {
Diagram [#]} Kxg7 30. Nd7+ Kg8 31. Nxb8 Rxc4 32. dxc4 Ng3+ (32... Bxb8 33. Bd5)
33. Kg1 Ne2+ 34. Kh2 Nxf4 35. Kh1 {Sanan Sjugirov joins Magnus Carlsen in the
lead!} 1-0



The Pawn or the Initiative?

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

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

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