29 May 2015

Creative Approach by Baadur

Round Six Review of the final FIDE Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk by GM Vasily Yemelin.

The majority of the Grand Prix games continue delighting the audience both in terms of productiveness and complexity. In general, it may prove useful when someone is not in good shape as it is likely to boost motivation of other players.

Gelfand – Dominguez

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 0–0 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5 7.e5 Nfd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Re1 a5 11.Bc2 

This is a relatively untested move. 11.Nb3 has been given a try in previous games. 


The previous White’s move has been employed by Axel Rombaldoni only. One of his opponents managed to guess one reasonable move ahead: 11...Re8 12.h3 Nf8?! 13.dxc5 Bxc5, as in Rombaldoni-Schneider, Stockholm 2012, while yet another opponent of his achieved this aim twice in a row: 11...Qb6 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Bb3 Nxd4 (interestingly, 13...c4 is followed by a piece sacrifice for two pawns with excellent positional compensation for White: 14.Nxc4 dxc4 15.Bxc4) 14.Bxd5±, as in Rombaldoni-Markidis, Kavala 2014. 

Although 11...b6 can be given a test, it still looks rather risky: 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Nf1 cxd4 14.Nxd4 (14.Ng3!?; 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 15.Qc2+ Kg8 16.Qxc6 Ba6 17.Qxd5 Nc5 with compensation) 14...Ncxe5 15.Bf4 Bf6 16.Ne3 Bb7 17.Nb5 d4!? 

Dominguez, however, opts for the most distinct continuation. Accordingly, as practice shows, the average player of Rombaldoni level would rarely build his opening repertoire to measure up to Dominguez’s preparation, and the Cuban grandmaster is so uncompromising that he cannot be caught off his guard even by Gelfand, who followed Rombaldoni.

12.dxc5 Nxc5 13.Nb3 

13.cxd5 exd5 14.Nb3 Nxb3 15.Bxb3 Rd8 16.Be3 makes certain sense, but White does not feel like giving free hand to the light-squared bishop of Black’s. 


This is yet another example of a simple and practical approach. Definite precision would be required after 13...dxc4 14.Nxc5 Rd8! (an important intermediate move as 14...Bxc5 15.Bxh7+! ends in a classic textbook type of disaster for Black) 15.Qe2 Bxc5 16.Qxc4 (it turns out that after 16.Qe4 g6 17.Bg5 Rd5 18.Rad1 Qb6 19.Re2 Qxb2 the weakness of dark squares is not as important as Black’s material advantage because no further threats can be created) 16 ... Nd4 (let’s keep this key idea in mind) 17.Nxd4 Rxd4 18.Qe2 b6 19.Be3 Ba6 20.Qf3 Bb7 21.Qh3 g6 22.Bxd4 Bxd4 23 .Be4 Bxe4 24.Rxe4 Bxb2 25.Rae1 b5, and Black’s compensation for the exchanged sacrifice is apparently quite sufficient to warrant him against losing this game. 

14.Qd3 g6 15.Bxb3 Rd8 16.Bf4 

After 16.cxd5 exd5 17.Qb5 Black can force transition into a drawish endgame, if he deems necessary to do so: 17…Bg4 18.Bxd5 Bxf3 19.Bxf3 Nd4 20.Qxb7 Qxb7 21.Bxb7 Rab8 22.Be4 Ne2+ 23.Kf1 Nxc1 24.Rexc1 Rxb2=. 

16...a4 17.Ba2 dxc4 18.Qxc4 

It looks like Black is in for trouble due to lack of space, but he comes up with a brilliant solution that I am more than sure has been prepared in advance.


The black light-squared bishop that was intended to be kept restricted by White, breaks free from another direction. White is supposed to act in a precise manner. 

19.Qxb5 Ra5 20.Qf1 

After 20.Qe2 Ba6 21.Qe3 Bc5 22.Qc1 Qb6 23.Be3 Nd4 Black’s position should be preferred due to his more active pieces. 

Not so clear would be 20.Qc4, and I believe that it is this continuation that White should have preferred: 20…Ba6 21.Qc3 Rc5 22.Qe3 Rc2 (22...Qb8!?, is supposed to end up in all queenside pawns being exchanged)  23.Rac1 Bc5 24.Rxc2 Bxe3 25.Bxe3, resulting in a position when White’s rook and bishop are by no means inferior to Black’s queen. Therefore, a more reliable option for Black would be to go for 23…Rxb2 24.Bc4 Bxc4 25.Rxc4 Qb7 26.Qe4 Na5 with equality. 

20...Nd4 21.Nxd4 Rxd4 22.Rec1 Qb8 23.Be3?! 

The correct continuation 23.Qe1! Rb5 24.Be3 Rd8 25.Qc3 Qxe5 26.Qxe5 Rxe5 27.b4 axb3 28.Bxb3 peters out to a drawish endgame. Two rooks prove to be inferior to queen in view of much better coordination of Black’s pieces. 

23...Ba6 24.Qe1 Rxe5 25.Bxd4 Rxe1+ 26.Rxe1 Bb7 

White’s position is not easy to defend and Black gains decisive advantage very soon. 

27.Rad1 Qf4 28.Be5 Qg5 29.Bg3 Bf6 30.Rd7 Qb5 31.Rd2 h5 32.Bb1 

The engine insists on 32.Bf4. Hopeless is 32.h4? g5! 


32...Bxb2 would also be very strong. However, the human play against the king looks more convincing. 

33.Bf4 Qc4 

This is the point. White starts to experience problems defending the g2-square. 


White is in bad shape after 34.Be3 h3 (rather than 34...Qg4? 35.f3!, and 35…Bxf3? is impossible due to 36.Rf1), but now it feels like the game is not going to last more than a couple of moves… 

34...e5 35.Bd3 


This is not the best decision from the practical point of view as the e5-pawn is now pinned. Although the position is still won for Black it is going to cost him one tempo to unpin. Instead, 35...Qc5 36.Rc2 (36.Bh6 Kh7) 36...Qd4 was an instant kill as White is losing due to the weakness of the central diagonal  and the lack of retreat squares for the f4-bishop. In comparison to this the available threats of hxg3 or g5 seem less aggressive. 


This is a good practical chance. 


Now the winning path was no longer as easy as before: 36...Qb3 37.Rxe5 Qf3 38.Re8+ Kg7 39.Kf1 hxg3! (also sufficient is 39...Qh1+ 40.Ke2 Qxh2, taking into consideration the threats of hxg3 and Qh5 with an ongoing attack) 40.Bxg3 Qh1+ 41.Ke2 Bf3+ 42.Ke3 Bg5+ 43.Bf4 Bxf4+ 44.Kxf4 Bb7! The last move is very critical as it renders White defenseless. 

37.Be2 Qf5 38.Bd3 Qg4 39.Be2 Bf3?? 

Black felt disappointed with the idea of building a battery along the central diagonal when he shouldn’t have to. Had Black managed to find 39...Qc8! the game would have ended then and there: 40.Be3 (or 40.Bb5 Qc5) 40...hxg3 is winning. 

40.Bxf3 Qxf3 41.Re3 Qc6 42.Bxe5! 

This move leads to a miraculous escape. In fact, there is nothing else to choose from: 42.Rc3 Qe4 43.Be3 h3 44.Kf1 Qg2+. 


42...h3 43.Kf1 Bxe5 44.Rxe5 Qh1+ 45.Ke2 Qxh2 46.Rd8+ Kg7 47.Rd7 Qg2 48.Ree7 h2 49.Rxf7+ Kh6 50.Rh7+ Kg5 51.Rd1 fails to score for Black. Now Black has a subtle 51…Kf5 with the idea of pushing the pawn as far as g4… However, White does no longer care about such subtleties as he can simply sacrifice his rook for the pawn in order to build a fortress: 52.Rh4 g5 53.Rxa4 h1Q 54.Rxh1 Qxh1=. 

43.Kg2 h3+ 44.Kxh3 Bxe5 45.Rd8+ Kg7 46.Rxe5 Qf1+ 47.Kg4 Qxf2 48.Rde8 Qxb2 

48...Qxh2 49.Re2=. 

49.Re2!? Qxa3 50.R8e3 Qc1 

Interestingly, on move 49 White preferred to part ways with his a-pawn rather than with his h-pawn and Black could win White’s rook for his pawn with the help of some tricky maneuvering: 50...Qc5 51.Kh3 (weaker is 51.Kf3 a3 52.Kf2 f5 53.Ra2 g5 54.Raxa3 f4; 51.Re5 Qc8+ 52.Kf3 a3–+) 51...a3 52.Rf3 Qh5+ 53.Kg2 Qd5 54.Re7 Qa8 55.Rexf7+ Kg8. However, this tricky maneuvering yields nothing as after 56.Re7 a2 57.Re1 a1Q 58.Rxa1 Qxa1 59.Rf2 White succeeds in escaping anyway. 

By putting his pawn on h3, White successfully builds a fortress.

51.Kf3 a3 

After 51...Qh1+ White pins himself voluntarily without any fear: 52.Rg2 f5 53.Ree2. 

52.Kf2 Qa1 53.Kg2 Qd1 54.Kf2 Qa1 55.Kg2 f5 56.Rf3 Kh6 57.Ref2 Kg7 58.Re2 Kh6 59.Ref2 Kh7 60.Re2 Kg7 61.Ref2 Kh6 62.Re2 Kg7 63.Ref2 Kh6 Draw. 

Svidler – Giri

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bf4 0–0 

The last move of White diverts the game from main lines. Black’s previous attempts to confront White’s plan via 6…c5 met with very little success, if any: 7.g3 Nc6 (7...Ne4 8.Rc1 Qa5 9.Bg2 Nc6 10.0–0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 c4 12.Qc2 0–0 13.Nd2 Nxd2 14.Bxd2 Re8 15.e4 with a clear edge, as in Shankland-Hou Yifan, Honolulu 2015) 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 c4 10.Bg5 Bxc3 11.bxc3 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Nd2 Ne7 14.e4, and White is definitely better, as in Eljanov-Saric, Jerusalem 2015. 

7.Rc1 Bf5 8.a3 Ba5 9.e3 c6 10.Be2 Nbd7 11.0–0 Re8 

This is not an accurate move and a loss of a tempo as the rook is not going to be of use on this square. Perhaps 11...Bc7 12.Bxc7 Qxc7 should be preferred because after one of many possible moves here such as 13.b4 Qd6 14.Qb3 Black can look for some more useful ideas instead. However, one should not stretch his imagination too much: 14...a6 15.Na4 b5 16.Nc5 Nxc5 (an attempt to eliminate another knight does not pan out: 16...Bg4 17.Nb7!) 17.dxc5 Qc7 18.Nd4 Bd7 19.a4 with a small edge for White.
In view of the better position of either his a-pawn or his rook in the resulting position, Black would instead fare better if compared to what happened in the game by resorting to one of the standard positional approaches via 14...a5 15.b5 c5 16.dxc5 Nxc5 or 14...Rfc8 15.b5 c5. 

12.b4 Bc7 13.Bxc7 Qxc7 14.b5 Qd6 15.Qb3 c5 16.dxc5 Nxc5 17.Qb4 Rac8 18.Rfd1 Be6 19.h3 Red8 20.Nd4 Qf8 

Black failed to equalize completely and White keeps retaining a definite amount of pressure. Black's position, however, is very solid. He should have given a bolthole to his king in either one of two ways – by 20...g6 or 20...h6. Instead, Black quite needlessly allowed White to carry out the b5-b6 advance while being distracted by the attempt to unpin his knight on c5.

21.b6 axb6 22.Qxb6 Nfd7 

22...Bd7 deserved attention with the idea of further threatening the a3-pawn by the Nce4 maneuver. 

23.Qb2 Nf6 24.Bf3 Rd7 25.Qb4 Qd8 26.Nce2 Rdc7 27.Nf4 Bd7 

This is an important moment: it seems that Blacks has prepared a trap to discourage any attempts to capture on d5, which is then answered by Black’s knight lunging to d3 with devastating consequences to follow... However, it turns out that both captures are possible. The position features nice lines resulting in White’s getting the upper hand, leaving him up a pawn:

28.Nxd5 Nd3 (worthy responses are also available to White against 28...Nxd5 29.Bxd5 Ba4 30.Nc6 (looks more natural than 30.Nb5 Rd7 31.Rd4 Rxd5 32.Rxc5, ending up an extra pawn as well) 30...Qf6 31.Rd2) 29.Ne7+ Kf8 (White manages to capitalize on the back-rank weakness after 29...Kh8 30.Rxc7 Nxb4 31.Rxc8 Bxc8 32.Ndc6!+–) 30.Ng6+ Kg8 31.Rxc7 Nxb4 32.Rxc8 Bxc8 33.Nf5!, and Black is forced to part ways with his queen: 33…Qxd1+ 34.Bxd1 hxg6 35.Ne7+ Kf8 36.Nxc8±. 

Capturing with the bishop is also strong: 28.Bxd5 Nxd5 (28...Ba4 29.Bb3) 29.Nxd5 Nd3 30.Ne7+ Kh8 (it is not so difficult to find an appropriate response against 30...Kf8, which is to be answered with 31.Qd6 Qxe7 32.Qxe7+ Kxe7 33.Rxc7 Rxc7 34.Rxd3±), when White can capitalize on the weakness of the back-rank for yet another time by any one of several possible ways according to his liking: 31.Ndc6! Bxc6 32.Nxc8 Rxc8 33.Qb1 Qd5 34.Rxc6± or 31.Rxc7 Nxb4 32.Ne6!± 

It is difficult to say whether someone is capable of discovering such tricks over the board, unless he has a deep feeling that "there must be something there” in the position that does not look like requiring any kind of a queen sacrifice. Svidler prefers to continue maintaining tension in the position.

28.Qa5 Ra8?! 

Black misses an excellent opportunity to cash in on his successful semi-bluff: after 28...Ba4 29.Rf1 Be8 with the ideas of Nce4 and g5 or even after a more simple 29...Nb3 30.Nxb3 Bxb3 his position would have improved significantly. Now, however, everything resumes its natural course and the black is left down a pawn.

29.Qb6 Ra6 30.Qb4 Ra4 

After 30...Nce4 31.Rxc7 Qxc7 White has several ways at his disposal to win a pawn: 

32.Bxe4 dxe4 33.Nf5 g6 34.Ne7+ Kg7 35.Ned5 Qd6 36.Qxb7 Rxa3 37.Qb2 Rd3 38.Rxd3 exd3 39.Nxf6 Qxf6 40.Qxf6+ Kxf6 41.Nxd3±; 

32.Qe7 Qd6 33.Nxd5 Qxe7 34.Nxe7+ Kf8 35.Nd5 Nxd5 36.Bxe4 Nc3 37.Bxb7±; 

32.Nxd5 Nxd5 33.Nb5!! Bxb5 34.Qxb5 Nef6 35.Bxd5 Rxa3 36.Bxb7± 

It is difficult to say which of the resulting positions is closer to a victory. 

31.Qb6 Ra6 32.Qb4 Ra4 33.Qb2 Ne6 34.Nxd5 Rxc1 35.Rxc1 Nxd4 36.exd4 Nxd5 37.Bxd5 b5 38.Bc6!? 

This is an interesting approach when White transforms the game into a technically difficult position for Black, but a drawish position nonetheless. Whether White would have objectively better chances keeping the bishops on the board can be established in the course of a depth analysis only.

38…Bxc6 39.Rxc6 h6 40.Qc2 Ra8 41.Qc5 Qf8 42.Qxb5 Qxa3 43.Qc4 Qf8 44.d5 Qe8 45.Qd4 Rd8 46.Rc7 Qf8 47.Rc3 Qd6 48.Rg3 g6 49.Rd3 Kh7 50.g3 Rd7 51.Kg2 Rd8 52.h4 h5 53.Kf3 Kg8 54.Qf4 Qa6 55.Qd4 Qd6 56.Kg2 Rd7 57.g4 hxg4 58.Qxg4 Kg7 59.h5 Re7 60.Qd4+ Qe5 61.hxg6 Qxd4 62.Rxd4 Kxg6 63.Kf3 Kf5 64.Rf4+ Kg5 65.Re4 


Similar rook endings often see the defending side running into difficulties because the defensive measures must be conducted in a very precise manner. Activation of the white king should be prevented via 65...Ra7! 66.Re8 Ra1 67.Re7 Kf6 68.Rc7 Ra4=. 

66.Re5+! Kf6?! 

It is unclear whether 66...Kg6 with subsequent f6 or 66...f5 67.Ke3 Ra7 would allow Black to survive, but now, in my opinion, White should win after 67.Ke4! 

67.Kf4?! Ra7 68.Rf5+ Ke7 69.Kg5 Ra6 

White’s final plan is clear as he needs to trade the f-pawn for the d-pawn at a moment convenient for him. As for Black, he must activate his rook once again: 69...Ra2! 70.d6+ (70.Re5+ Kd6 yields nothing) 70...Kxd6. The resulting endgame is drawish: 71.Kf6 (71.Rxf7 Ke6 72.Kg6 Rb2=) 71...Rb2 72.Kxf7 Ra2 73.f4 Rf2. 

The idea of the defending side has become quite obvious now as he relies on the poor placement of White pieces to prevent the pawn from promoting further: 74.Kg6 (74.Rf6 + is answered with the only but an adequate response 74...Kd5!, when the king seeks to attack the pawn from behind) 74...Rg2 + 75.Rg5 Rf2 76.f5 Ke7 77.Rg1 Kf8 with a draw.

70.Re5+ Kd7 71.Re2 Rg6+ 72.Kf5 Ra6 

72...Rg2!? was the last opportunity.

73.f4 Ra4 74.Kg5 f6+ 75.Kf5 Kd6 76.Re4 Ra8 77.Kxf6 Kxd5 78.Re5+ Kd4 79.Re6 Rf8+ 80.Kg5 Rg8+ 81.Rg6 Re8 82.f5 Ke5 83.Rg7 Black resigns. 

Vachier-Lagrave – Karjakin

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 10.Re1 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.a3 

A rather combative version of the Anti-Berlin has appeared on the board. 12.Qb3 is the more popular alternative to the last move of White. 

12...a6 13.Bf1 

This is essentially a new move. This position has seen 13.Ba4 Kh8 14.g4 Bg6 15.Bc2 d5 16.e5 Nfg8 17.Nb3 Nc6 18.Bxg6 fxg6 19.Be3 h6 20.Kg2 Nge7 21.Qd3 Qd7 22.Ng1 g5 23.Ne2 Nd8 24.f4 gxf4 25.Nxf4 Ne6 with an approximate equality, as in Bok – Kovalenko, Moscow 2015. 

13...Re8 14.e5 Nfd5 15.Nc4 Ba7 16.g4 

Although the position is approximately equal, it seems to me that playing White is harder to a certain extent. Kingside weakening is inevitable as the idea of pinning with 16.Bg5 leads nowhere after 16…Qd7, whereas 16.Bd3!? with the threat of Bxh7 is unlikely to be missed by Black: 16 ... Nc6 (or 16 ... h6 17.Be4 Bg6 18.Bxg6 Nxg6) 17.g4 Bg6 18.Bg5 Qd7 19.Bxg6 hxg6 with unclear play.

16...Bg6 17.Bg5 

The computer’s preference is to “dry up” the position by trading the knight for one of Black’s bishops, which can rarely be a bad idea: 17.exd6 cxd6 18.Nh4. 


Although objectively acceptable, this move is still rather risky. 17...Qd7 would be a simpler move, intending the b7-b5 advance, if need arises. However, the dxe5 idea is not on the agenda in the near future. By the way, we shall soon see that it was this decision by Black that eventually led to the victory, forcing White to commit a mistake in the arising position that features rich possibilities.

18.dxe5 h6 19.Bh4 b5 20.Na5 Qc8 

This is a critical position. In general, despite the overall assessment being as "rough equality", this position is quite interesting and promising for White, one just needs not to lose his way in the myriad of opportunities.

White opted for 21.Rc1, which is good enough, but he also had at his disposal a number of tempting continuations with more simple and natural game to follow up with.

A positional pawn sacrifice is of interest also: 21.e6!? fxe6 (21...Bb6) 22.Ne5 Bb6 23.Nac6 Nxc6 and now both 24.Nxg6 and 24.Nxc6 promise decent compensation. 

21.a4 deserves attention and can be played on a “potentially useful” basis.  

Of course, the idea of 21.Bg2 aimed at provoking Black into the knight lunge 21...Nf4 may look weird at first, but what is the purpose of the bishop on f1 anyway? (after 21...Bb6 22.Nc6! Nxc6 23.Qxd5 Na5 the game is double-edged and White does not have much to complain about). In fact, White manages to get into beneficial trade of pieces: 22.Bxe7 Rxe7 23.Nh4 Rd7 24.Nxg6 Rxd1 25.Ne7 + Kf8 26.Nxc8 Rxa1 27.Rxa1 Rxc8 28.Nc6.

Finally, the idea 21.Nc6 Nxc6 22.Qxd5 can be executed without further delay. After some indicative moves, such as 22..Ne7 23.Bxe7 Rxe7 24.Nh4 Bh7 25.Nf5, it is Black who needs to come up with the precise play. 

21...c5 22.b4 c4 (22...Bb6!?) 23.Nd4? 

The correctness of White’s choice on move 21 could have been validated only with the help of 23.Nd2! It turns out that White is busy preparing the piece sacrifice Ndc4 with a significant amount of active play to follow, for example: 23 ... h5 (after 23...Qe6 24.Ndxc4 bxc4 25.Bxc4 to be followed by Bxe7 White immediately wins back the sacrificed material) 24.Naxc4 bxc4 25.Nxc4 hxg4 26. Nd6 Qd7 27.Nxe8 Rxe8 28.Bxe7 Qxe7 29.Qxg4 (rather than 29.Qxd5 g3), and due to lack of coordination of black pieces White’s rook and pawns prove superior to the minor pieces.

Having missed this unconventional idea, White quickly goes down. 

23...Qc7 (with the intention of Rad8) 24.Nab3 

Here 24.Nxc4 was evaluated as the last opportunity. 

24...Rad8 25.Qf3 Nxb4 26.axb4 Bxd4 27.Nxd4 Rxd4 28.e6 f6 29.Rcd1 Rxd1 30.Rxd1 c3 31.Bg3 Qc6 32.Qe2 c2 33.Rc1 Qc3 34.Bg2 Qxb4 35.Kh2 Rd8 36.Qf3 Qc4 37.Qb7 Qxe6 38.f4 Qe3 White resigns. 

Jobava – Jakovenko

1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.h3!? 

This is yet another fruit of creative approach by Baadur. In an effort to avoid home computer-assisted preparation and to start the over-the-board human fighting, White voluntarily concedes to a move of lesser strength that leads to somewhat inferior position. I have only one question as to how better it fares against the "Fischerandom"?

4…d5 5.Bb5 Bd6 6.Nf3 Qe7 7.d4 exd4 8.Qxd4 Bd7 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.Nbd2 0–0 11.0–0–0 a5 12.g4 a4 13.g5 Ne8 14.Kb1 axb3 15.axb3 


It may feel like White is consistent in pursuing his strategy of building pressure along the central diagonal, the black knight is passive, and the threat of h3-h4-h5-h6 is in the air. In fact, strange as it may seem, the chances of Black are preferable, whereas one of the key ideas is going to be the f7-f6 advance, opening the g-file for White in addition to that!

After 15...Ba3!? White can avoid the exchange of bishops: 

16.Ba1 b5 17.h4 Bb7 18.h5 c5 19.Qe5 (19.Qf4 Bb4 20.Bb2 f6!) 19...Qxe5 20.Nxe5 f6 21.gxf6, and now after 21…Rxf6! Black leaves his knight on e8 and his chances in the endgame are higher. 

He can also allow the exchange of bishops: 16.h4 Bxb2 17.Qxb2 Nd6 18.h5 (probably better would be to transform into the endgame after 18.Qe5) 18...f6! 19.Rhg1 fxg5 20.Rxg5 d4. This is the point of the whole line. White falls short as his threats along the g-file prove insufficient: 21.Rdg1 Bxf3 22.Rxg7+ (22.h6 g6 23.Rxg6+ hxg6 24.Rxg6+ Kh7 25.Rg7+ Qxg7 26.hxg7 Rf7 results in a better position for Black; Black keeps an edge also after 22.Qxd4 g6 23.hxg6 h6) 22...Qxg7 23.Rxg7+ Kxg7 24.Qxd4+ Kh6 25.e4 Bxh5, and White ends up struggling for a draw. 

16.Qe5 Bd6 

Without trying to guess at the reasons of moves repetition by Black, Jobava takes an objectively correct decision.

17.Qxe7 Bxe7 18.Rhg1 Nd6 19.Ne5 Be8 20.h4 

20.Ng4!? definitely deserved attention here in order to prevent the f7-f6 advance once and for all. 

20...f6 21.Nd3 fxg5 22.hxg5 Nb5 23.Nf4 c6 24.c4 Na3+ 25.Kc1 dxc4 

It seems that avoiding complications and making a useful move 25...Rf5!? had a lot of sense. 

Black’s rook seems likely to enter the game via a4, in which case White will have to part ways with one of his pawns: 26.Nxc4 Nxc4 27.bxc4 Ra4 28.Rd4 Bc5 29.Re4 Bd7 30.g6 h6 31.Nd3 Ba3... However, Baadur is going to take his opponent by surprise. 


Just when we started to believe this position to be an endgame… 


Jakovenko, having weighed up all the options in the position, decides in favor of cautiously warding off the attack without getting deeply involved in the complications. But what was White’s idea anyway? So, let us consider the available alternatives:
26...cxb3 27.Nf6+. As usual, the Black player is up against a choice of capturing or not capturing: 

1) 27...Bxf6 28.gxf6 g6 29.Ne6 (despite the effective threat of Rxh7 the move 29.Rh1 is weaker because after 29...Rf7 30.Rdg1 Ra4! 31.Nxg6 (also after 31.Bc3 Nc4 the blow 32.Nxg6 doesn’t prove to be deadly; however, Black needs to come up with the only move 32..Rxf6, maintaining an edge) 31…Rc4 32.Bc3 Rxc3 33.Kb2 Rc2 34.Kxa3 Rxf6 White is unable to capitalize on the discovered check and Black maintains an edge) 29...Nc4!? (also 29...Rf7 30.Bxa3 (30.Ng5 Nc4) 30...Rxa3 31.Rd8 Rxf6 32.Kb2 Rxe6 33.Kxa3 results in an unclear endgame with two pawns for the exchanged sacrifice) 30.Nxf8 Ra2! 31.Rg4 Nxb2 32.Rd2 Kxf8 33.Rxb2. As the position remains rather difficult to evaluate, we have to rely on the engine’s evaluation of approximate equality. 

2) 27…Kf7!? 28.Nxh7 Nc4! (Black intends to set up a mating net after Ba3, Ra2) 29.Rd4. Now it makes no sense to comment on a great number of hilarious computer lines that are possible in this position. One way or another, all lines end up in equal positions, so you cannot but admire the intuition and calculation skills of both opponents.

a) 29...Nxb2 30.Kxb2 Rh8 31.g6+ Kg8 32.Kxb3 Bc5 33.Re4 Bxg6 34.Nxg6 Rxh7 35.Rg5 Bf8 36.Ne7+=; 

b) 29...Ra4 30.g6+ Kg8 31.Nxf8 c5 (31...Bf6 32.N8e6 Bxd4 33.Bxd4 Ra2) 32.Re4 Nxb2 33.Rxe7 Nc4 34.Kd1 Kxf8 35.Rxb7 Ra1+ 36.Ke2 Rxg1 37.Ne6+=; 

с) 29...b5 30.g6+ Kg8 31.Nxf8 Ra2 (31...Kxf8 32.Ne6+ Kg8 33.Nc7 Ra2 34.Re4 Nxb2 35.Rxe7 Nd3+=; 31...Ba3 32.Rxc4 bxc4 33.N8e6 c3 34.Bxa3 Rxa3 35.Kb1 Ra2 36.Nd4 c2+ 37.Nxc2 Rxc2 38.Rg5) 32.Rxc4 bxc4 33.N8e6 Ba3 (33...c3 34.Bxc3 Rc2+ 35.Kb1 Rxc3 36.Kb2 Bf6 37.Nh5=) 34.Bxa3 c3 

35.Kb1 c2+ 36.Kc1 Ra1+ 37.Kb2 Rxg1 38.Ne2 Rf1 39.Nc1=. 

What conclusions can we arrive at now that our curiosity has been finally satisfied? The conclusion is the same as has been pointed out beforehand, i.e. not to get too involved in complications! In addition to avoiding the complications on move 25, quite strong was 26...Bb4! 27.g6 (27.Ne6 Rf3 28.Nc7 Rc8 29.Nxe8 Rxe8 comes to no good) 27...Bxg6 28.Nxg6 hxg6 29.Rxg6 c3 30.Bxc3 Bxc3 31.Nxc3 Rxf2 32.Rd7 Rf7, and White has yet to find his path to a clear draw.

27.Rd7 Rf7 28.Nxg6 hxg6 29.Rxb7 cxb3 30.Rxb3 Nc4 31.Rd1 Nxb2 32.Kxb2 Ra4 33.Rb8+ Rf8 34.Rxf8+ Kxf8 35.f3 Ra3 36.Nc3 Bb4 37.Rc1 Kf7 38.f4 c5 

This is a forced line, but Black could have dispensed with the exchanged sacrifice. After 38...Ke6 39.e4 Be7 White cannot improve his position further due to the weakness of his own pawns. 

39.e4 Ke6 40.Nd5 Rd3 41.Ra1 Rxd5 42.exd5+ Kxd5 43.Kc2 

Black is going to trade pawns in approximately the following manner: 43.Ra6 Ke4 44.Rxg6 Kxf4 45.Rxg7 Kf5 46.Kc2 Be1 47.Kd3 Bh4 48.g6 Bg5 49.Kc4 Kf6 50.Rg8 Bh6=. 

43...Ke4 44.Ra6 Kf5 45.Kd3 Kxf4 46.Rxg6 c4+ Draw. 

Grischuk – Caruana

White has maintained a difficult defense for some forty moves now, whereas Black has excelled in gradual strengthening of his position - the game will be a perfect example for one of next endgame lectures on the opposite-colored bishops with the rooks still on the board. Finally, the Black player succeeded in forcing his opponent into blundering to get a winning position...


Caruana must have believed that his opponent had set up a remarkable trap for him: 60...Bd3+ 61.Ke1 Re2+ 62.Kd1 Rxe5 63.Rxb3 Kg2 64.Rxd3. This is how it was in reality; however, Black was still winning after 64…h3 65.Rd2+ Kg1 66.Kc2 h2 67.Rd1+ Kg2 68.Rd2+ Kg3 69.Rd3+ Kg4 70.Rd4+ Kg5 71.Rd1 Rc5+ 72.Kb2 Kxf6. White’s king is way too far, even by one file further than would be theoretically required for Black to win the game. 


61.Bc3! is more precise.

61...Kh2 62.Bb6 h3 63.Bc7+ Kh1 64.Rh4 

Grischuk, as weary as he was, misses a simple draw: 64.Ke2 h2 65.f7 Rf5 66.Rf4=. 

64...Bd3+ 65.Kf2 Rg2+ 66.Ke3 b2 67.Rb4 Bg6 68.Be5 h2 69.f7 Bxf7 70.Bxb2 Rg5 71.Kf2 Bd5 

No matter how brilliant and study-like was the solution that Grischuk missed later, the logic of the game requires that the position diagram be displayed here. Had Alexander managed to find not the most difficult move 72.Be5!, he would no longer have had to come up with any study-like solutions. Unfortunately, the usual way the "heroic defense" usually collapses is when the exhausted energy at the decisive moment fails the defender.

72.Bd4 Rg2+ 73.Kf1?! 

This retreat invites the study-like solution from White to escape with a draw. 

73…Rc2 74.Rb6? 

The abovementioned study position would have emerged after 74.Ba7!! Bc4+ 75.Rxc4 Rxc4 76.Kf2. 

White’s king cannot be driven away, whereas the bishop has enough squares at his disposal to stay away from e3. Remembering this idea after some seventy not impeccable moves and with the time on the clock running out is very likely to turn into an insurmountable challenge to almost any player.

74...Bc4+ 75.Ke1 Rg2 White resigns. 

The only game that displayed no special fight was played between Tomashevsky and Nakamura, where Evgeny chose to interrupt his streak of two defeats in a row, winding down the game by trading the queens in a somewhat better position.