Analysis of games from recent chess tournaments

Wed, 2014-06-25 16:50 -- IM Max Illingworth

[pgn][Event "Grand Europe Cup 2014"]
[Site "Golden Sands BUL"]
[Date "2014.06.17"]
[Round "8.2"]
[White "Bachmann, Ax"]
[Black "Akopian, Vl"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A33"]
[WhiteElo "2619"]
[BlackElo "2667"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2014.06.10"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "BUL"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.06.23"]

{I don't have any particularly inspiring topic ideas for this blog post, so
I'll go with analysis of some recent games. The obvious choice was the World
Rapid and Blitz Championship (both won by Carlsen), but I've gone with games
from some open tournaments played around the same time.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3.
Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. a3 Be7 7. e4 O-O {I'm pretty sure I've
covered these moves before in a previous blog post, but White's next move is a
bit unusual (usually the knight retreats to f3 so b2-b4 can follow).} 8. Nb3 b6
9. Be2 Bb7 10. Bf4 d6 11. O-O Rc8 {I don't see how White's setup can in the
least bit put pressure on Black's Hedgehog formation.} 12. Rc1 Ne5 (12... a6 {
was another way to prepare ...Qc7, but the c6-knight is a bit misplaced in any
case, so it makes sense to improve its position.}) 13. Nd2 Qc7 (13... Ng6 14.
Bg3 a6 {might well be more accurate so that after} 15. f4 {,} Nd7 {and ...Bf6
will make White's e5 break difficult to realise.}) 14. Be3 Qb8 15. f4 Ng6 16.
Bd3 (16. g3 {is suggested by the engine to prepare Bd4 as the immediate}) (16.
Bd4 $2 Nxf4 $1 17. Rxf4 e5 {works clearly in Black's favour.}) 16... Rfe8 (
16... Rfd8 {to prepare ...d5 was perhaps more to the point. Akopian sticks to
thematic Hedgehog moves but ends up in a passive position.}) 17. Qe2 Qa8 {This
setup would be very logical with White's knights on c3 d4, but with the knight
on d2, Black can't get his usual hypermodern pressure.} 18. Kh1 (18. b4 {was
the most ambitious way to play.}) (18. g4 $2 {would take things a bit too far
though, and White will come to regret this break after an eventual ...d5.})
18... Rcd8 19. Bg1 {I think White's handling things a bit too safely, and I
would have preferred to push on the queenside.} Bf8 (19... d5 20. cxd5 exd5 21.
e5 d4 {leads to complications that favour White after} 22. Nb5 Nh4 23. Nf3 Nxf3
24. Nc7 Nxg1 25. Kxg1 Qb8 26. exf6 Bxf6 27. Nxe8 Rxe8 28. Qc2 g6 29. Qc7 {and
Black doesn't have enough compensation for the exchange.}) (19... Nd7 {to
prepare ...Bf6 or even ...e5 and ...Nf4 was most circumspect.}) 20. Rce1 {When
White threatens e5, Black should generally respond with ...e5 himself.} d5 $6 {
The first real mistake of the game - now White establishes control over the
centre and an initiative.} (20... e5 21. f5 Nf4 22. Qf3 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 Be7 {
feels quite unpleasant for Black (where is his counterplay?), so Black should
wait with}) (20... Bc6 {as} 21. e5 $4 {blunders the game to} dxe5 22. fxe5 Nxe5
$1 {.}) 21. e5 Nh5 22. Bxg6 hxg6 23. cxd5 exd5 24. Bd4 {White's position would
be much better if it wasn't for Black's next move.} Nf6 25. f5 $1 {White
sharpens the pace of the game to initiate a strong kingside attack.} gxf5 26.
Rxf5 Ne4 $6 {Not the best defence, but} (26... Qc8 27. Rf4 Ba6 28. Qf2 Qe6 29.
Nf3 Ng4 30. Qg3 Nh6 31. Ng5 Qg6 32. Nxf7 Qxg3 33. Nxh6+ gxh6 34. hxg3 Re6 {
with a holdable pawn down endgame is also unpleasant.}) 27. Ref1 Qc8 (27... Rd7
28. Qh5 $1 Nxd2 29. Qh3 $1 Nxf1 30. Rh5 f5 31. Rh8+ Kf7 32. Qxf5+ Ke7 33. Qg5+
Ke6 34. Qg6+ Ke7 35. Bf2 $1 {is one of the more brutal illustrations of how
White can get a mating attack.}) 28. Qe3 (28. Rxf7 $2 {would run into} Ba6 $1)
28... Nxd2 29. Qxd2 Qe6 30. h3 $2 ({White really shouldn't have missed the
opportunity for} 30. Rxf7 Qxf7 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. Nb5 $1 {picking up material,
as} a6 33. Bxb6 axb5 34. Bxd8 Rxd8 35. Qf2+ Kg8 36. e6 {makes it impossible
for Black to prevent the threat of Qf7 and e7.}) 30... Rd7 31. R1f4 {White is
still for choice as Black has no counterplay, and indeed Black soon cracks.}
Bc5 $2 (31... Be7 {was a firmer defensive move.}) 32. Rh5 $1 {Now White is
winning - the threat is Rf6!} f6 (32... Bxd4 33. Qxd4 g6 34. Rg4 {followed by
Qf4 will give White a winning attack.}) 33. Bxc5 bxc5 34. Qd3 $1 {This is the
simplest way to execute the attack.} d4 35. Na4 Qd5 36. Qh7+ Kf7 37. Rg5 $1 {
Now it really is over.} Ke6 38. Rxf6+ 1-0 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "18th Voronezh Master Open 2014"]
[Site "Voronezh RUS"]
[Date "2014.06.21"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Artemiev, V."]
[Black "Kokarev, Dm"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A01"]
[WhiteElo "2647"]
[BlackElo "2628"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2014.06.12"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "RUS"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.06.23"]

1. b3 g6 2. Bb2 Nf6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 c5 6. c4 Nc6 7. O-O {White's
setup is not particularly ambitious, but does succeed in ensuring a strategic
and long struggle.} d6 (7... d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Bxg7 Kxg7 10. d4 cxd4 11. Nxd4
{is a nice Catalan type of position for White.}) 8. d4 Ne4 9. Nbd2 Bf5 10. Nh4
Nxd2 11. Qxd2 Nxd4 (11... Bg4 {was also acceptable, but Black initiates
complications instead.}) 12. Bxb7 (12. Nxf5 Nxf5 13. Bxg7 Nxg7 14. Bxb7 Rb8 15.
Bg2 {is also possible, but should just be equal too - Black will play for the .
..a5-a4 break to loosen White's structure, and it isn't clear that the White
bishop is better than the knight.}) 12... Bh3 13. Rfe1 Rb8 14. Bh1 Bd7 15. Bc3
{Both sides are manoeuvring around as, in truth, it is not that easy for
either side to improve their position with some pawn break. White's last for
instance put paid to any ...a5-a4 options.} Re8 (15... Nc6 {in turn makes
sense to prepare ...a5-a4. I would even find it easier to play Black as it
isn't easy for White to break in the centre (the pawn moves e4 would also
weaken the d4-square).}) 16. Rab1 Qb6 17. Bd5 (17. b4 $2 {only destroys
White's position after} cxb4 18. Rxb4 Qc5 {.}) 17... e6 {I wouldn't have
touched the central pawns as the e7-pawn was very hard to attack, whereas now
d6 will always be a bit vulnerable.} (17... Nc6 {would again be my choice.})
18. Bg2 Bc6 19. e3 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qc6+ (20... Nc6 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 {was playable as
} 22. Qxd6 $4 {loses a piece to} g5 23. Nf3 Rbd8 {.}) 21. f3 (21. Kg1 Nf3+ 22.
Nxf3 Bxc3 23. Qxc3 Qxf3 24. Rbd1 Red8 25. Rd3 {is a bit better for White
because of the weakness of the d6-pawn. Also the exchange of minor pieces is
very much in White's favour because now he can push his central pawns without
fearing the creation of outposts for the opponent's pieces.}) 21... Nf5 22.
Nxf5 exf5 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. Rbd1 Re6 {Now the e3-pawn is just as weak as the
d6-pawn.} 25. Qc3+ Kg8 26. Rd5 Rbe8 {Both sides jockey for position a bit, but
ultimately neither side can really improve their position.} 27. Qd2 Qc7 28. Kf2
Qe7 29. Rd3 h5 30. Rc1 Qg5 31. h4 Qe7 32. f4 Qc7 33. Rcc3 a5 34. Rd5 Ra8 35.
Rcd3 Ra6 36. a3 Rc6 37. Ke2 Ra6 38. Kd1 Qc6 39. Qc3 Qc7 40. Kc2 Qe7 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "TCh-TUR 2014"]
[Site "Konya TUR"]
[Date "2014.06.23"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Fedorchuk, S."]
[Black "Galkin, A."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B11"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2615"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "2014.06.23"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "TUR"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.06.23"]
[WhiteTeam "Kayseri Seker Spor Kulubu"]
[BlackTeam "Pausa"]

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. d3 Nd7 7. Bd2 {I've
examined this line before on the blog, but Black's next manoeuvre is a bit
quirky.} Bc5 $5 (7... Ngf6 8. g4 g6 {and ...Bg7 would be a more common way to
bring the bishop to the long diagonal.}) 8. Qg3 Bd4 {The bishop is very useful
on this square, as now it is hard for White to play in the centre. He tries to
do so in the game, but has to exchange his bishop pair as a result.} 9. O-O-O
Qb6 10. Be3 Ne7 11. Bxd4 (11. Be2 Bxe3+ 12. fxe3 O-O {would be fine for Black
too.}) 11... Qxd4 12. Kb1 O-O-O (12... O-O $4 13. Qd6 $1 {would be unfortunate.
}) 13. Be2 g6 14. Rhe1 h5 {Black's position is rock solid here, with his
light-squared pawn structure making White's e2-bishop quite useless.} 15. h4 a6
16. a3 Rhe8 17. Bf1 Nc5 18. Qf4 Rf8 19. Ne2 Qg7 20. e5 {White played this
because otherwise he can't make any progress, but now Black gets a very decent
French structure.} Nd7 21. d4 f6 22. exf6 Rxf6 23. Qe3 Nf5 24. Qg5 e5 $5 {In
the French Black is very happy to get this break in, but opening the position
like this brings White's pieces to life too.} (24... Nd6 {was the somewhat
passive but robust alternative.}) 25. dxe5 Nxe5 26. Nd4 Nxd4 27. Qxe5 Nf5 28.
c4 Rfd6 29. Qxg7 Nxg7 {This endgame is also pretty balanced - White can't make
anything of his nominally better minor piece.} 30. cxd5 Rxd5 31. Rxd5 Rxd5 32.
g3 Kd7 33. Kc2 a5 34. Bd3 Nf5 35. Bc4 Rd6 36. Kc3 Rf6 37. Bd3 Ne7 38. Re2 Kd6
39. Be4 b5 40. Kd3 a4 {A draw was agreed as again, neither side can improve
their position.} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "Lopota WGP 2014"]
[Site "Lopota GEO"]
[Date "2014.06.21"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Hou Yifan"]
[Black "Koneru, H."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2629"]
[BlackElo "2613"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "97"]
[EventDate "2014.06.19"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "GEO"]
[EventCategory "11"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.06.23"]

{In this game Hou Yifan goes for something a bit unusual in the opening, but
in the end it just becomes a Fianchetto Pirc.} 1. g3 Nf6 2. Bg2 g6 3. e4 e5 4.
Ne2 Bg7 5. Nbc3 c6 6. d4 d6 7. h3 b5 8. Be3 Bb7 $6 {This imprecision suggests
that White's opening achieved the purpose of move ordering Black into a
position she was unfamiliar with.} (8... Nbd7 {is the right way to play the
position, covering the dark squares.}) 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Qxd8+ Kxd8 11. a4 {
White opens up the position on the side where she is stronger, though the
immediate 11.Nc1 was also sensible.} (11. O-O-O+ Kc7 {would be less precise as
White will have to play Kb1 anyway to get the e2-knight into play.}) 11... a6
$2 (11... b4 {and ...a5 was a preferable structure.}) 12. Nc1 $1 Nbd7 13. Nd3
Kc7 14. O-O {At this point it's clear that White has a large strategic
advantage.} Ne8 15. h4 $1 {A nice mini-plan to activate the bishop. Also good
was} (15. Rfd1 Nd6 16. b3 {.}) 15... Nd6 16. Bh3 Rad8 (16... f5 {was better to
stop the favourable trade that occurred in the game, though} 17. exf5 gxf5 18.
Nc5 Nxc5 19. Bxc5 {then leaves Black's f5 and e5 pawns looking weak.}) 17. axb5
$6 (17. Bxd7 Rxd7 18. Nc5 Rdd8 19. Bg5 {is a more accurate move order - if
White does this with axb5 axb5 inserted, Black can play ...Ra8.}) 17... axb5
18. Bxd7 Rxd7 19. Nc5 Rdd8 20. Nxb7 {It's a pity to have to swap off such a
beautiful knight.} (20. Bg5 Ra8 {is fine for Black.}) (20. Rfd1 {was perhaps
the most accurate, bringing the final piece into play.}) 20... Nxb7 21. Ra6 Ra8
22. Bb6+ Kd7 23. Rfa1 Rxa6 24. Rxa6 Rb8 25. Ra7 {Even this position is
pleasant for White.} Bf6 $2 {This gives White real chances to win again after
White's next knight jump.} (25... Bf8 {and ...Bd6 covers the weak squares,
after which the worst would be over for Black and she should draw.}) 26. Na2 $1
Be7 27. Nc1 Bd6 28. Nd3 {Compared to the note to move 25, Black lost a vital
tempo.} f5 $2 {Not the best defence, because of a tactical opportunity
overlooked by both players.} (28... f6 29. b4 Kc8 {is very passive, but White
still has to demonstrate a winning plan.}) 29. b4 $2 (29. f4 $1 {was winning:}
fxe4 ({or} 29... exf4 30. e5 Be7 31. gxf4 Bxh4 32. Nc5+ Kc8 33. Na6) 30. Nxe5+
Bxe5 31. fxe5 {and Black's king will be overloaded defending against both Bc7
and the advance of the passed e-pawn.}) 29... Ke6 30. f3 fxe4 31. fxe4 h5 32.
Kg2 {This position is quite close to a zugzwang situation.} Nd8 33. Nc5+ $2 {
After this lapse, the position becomes fairly simple for Black to hold.} (33.
Bc5 $1 {was the correct minor piece exchange; after} Rb7 34. Ra8 Rb8 35. Ra1 $1
Rc8 36. Bxd6 Kxd6 37. Rf1 Ke6 38. Rf8 {White's king will soon penetrate too
with g4 and Kg3, and it is hard to believe Black can survive with so many weak
pawns.}) 33... Bxc5 34. bxc5 Kf6 {White has no obvious way to make progress.
The one weakness on c6 is covered, and in such a locked position the Black
knight can easily become better than the bishop.} 35. c3 Ne6 36. Kf3 Rf8 (36...
g5 {at some point would be interesting, but doesn't change the evaluation.})
37. Ke3 Rf7 38. Ra8 Rf8 39. Ra7 Rf7 40. Ra6 Rf8 41. Ra2 Ke7 {After a little
bit of manoeuvring, the players accept that progress can't be made by either
side and agree a draw.} 42. Ra7+ Kf6 43. Rd7 Ra8 44. Rd6 Ra3 45. Kd2 Ra2+ 46.
Ke3 Ra3 47. Kd2 Ra2+ 48. Ke3 Ra3 49. Kd2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "ch-ISR 2014"]
[Site "Beer-Sheva ISR"]
[Date "2014.06.23"]
[Round "6.3"]
[White "Huzman, A."]
[Black "Smirin, I."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E92"]
[WhiteElo "2573"]
[BlackElo "2660"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2014.06.17"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "ISR"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2014.06.23"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 h6 $2 {This
is an old and not very inspiring line.} (7... exd4 8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 c6 10. Bf2
d5 11. exd5 cxd5 12. O-O Nc6 13. c5 Re5 {is the trendy line nowadays. The
whole point of 7...exd4 is that the dark-squared bishop is committed a bit too
early.}) 8. O-O Ng4 9. Bc1 Nc6 10. d5 Ne7 11. Nd2 f5 12. Bxg4 fxg4 13. b4 {The
computer thinks Black should be fine, but I find that hard to believe as
White's attack proceeds much more quickly than Black's, and indeed White's
score has been pretty good OTB.} a5 $5 {This helps White open lines, but} (
13... g5 14. c5 Ng6 15. Nc4 Nh4 16. Be3 Rf6 17. a4 {makes one wonder exactly
what Black's pieces are doing on the kingside.}) 14. bxa5 Rxa5 15. Nb3 Ra6 {
Black only needs to play ...c5 here to close the position and be fine...} 16.
c5 $1 {White hits first, and establishes an initiative.} Bd7 17. a4 (17. Be3 {
first is also good.}) 17... Kh7 18. Be3 Ng8 19. cxd6 {This secures a clear
advantage, as would first} (19. Nd2 {as} dxc5 20. Bxc5 Rf7 21. Nc4 {is another
fantastic structure for White. Black's kingside attack never happened!}) 19...
cxd6 20. Nd2 Nf6 21. Qb3 Bc8 22. Nc4 Nh5 23. Nb5 Nf4 {Objectively not the most
resilient, but I think Black was already positionally lost.} 24. Qc2 Bf6 25. a5
Bd7 {Otherwise Bb6 would win the d6-pawn anyway.} 26. Nbxd6 Be7 27. Nxb7 Qc7
28. Rab1 Rc8 29. Rfc1 Nxd5 30. exd5 Bf5 31. Qb2 Bxb1 32. d6 {Black resigned. A
strong GM lost the game without making any obvious mistakes, which makes me
think the whole 7...h6 line is just very bad.} 1-0 [/pgn]