22 July 2016

Fighting Until the Lone Kings

Game five of the Inarkiev–Gelfand match in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

Having traveled to various parts of Ingushetia, including Dzheirakh and Nazran, the grandmasters have finally returned to already familiar and almost native Cultural Center of Magas. In game five the home player was in charge of the white pieces and was in a belligerent mood as he really wanted to even the score in the first part of the match with classical time control. Gelfand, on his part, was not willing to sit back in deep defensive and answered 1.e4 with the Sicilian Defence. The opponents continued their theoretical duel in the Rossolimo system, which they have started in game three. In that game, if you still remember it, Boris offered a positional exchange sacrifice, which Ernesto declined. Ernesto was likely to have some improvement prepared for the game, but Gelfand would not show excessive curiosity about it and was the first one to sidestep from the beaten track. He has once again been the one to offer sacrifice of material, even though this time it was a more modest offering in the form of a pawn only. Black was compensated for it by a bishop pair and a mobile pawn center.

In the first part of the game Inarkiev performed in a solid and creative manner. He maneuvered his light pieces expertly and achieved a tangible advantage. However, when the game reached its pivotal moment, he failed to find the way of stabilizing position, while Gelfand did not fail to immediately exploit his chance. Boris's defense that evening was nothing short of brilliant as he found a latent resource, sacrificing yet another pawn to markedly increase the activity of his pieces. It was before long that the white king came under fire, forcing Inarkiev to buy his way out of trouble by giving back all his extra pawns.  Upon passing the time control move, White's initiative shrank significantly, while the amount of material remaining on the board was decreasing with a lightning speed. A draw was agreed on move 66, when the board was abandoned by all pieces but kings. 

A five-hour game was followed by Boris Gelfand and Ernesto Inarkiev analyzing it in hot pursuit for the most dedicated fans who were still remaining in the Cultural Center. 

Inarkiev – Gelfand
Sicilian Defense

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.B:c6 bc 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0-0 8.h3 d5

Boris Gelfand: While in game three I went for 8...f5, I have now decided to test the line involving a pawn sacrifice, as has been played by Dubov this year. 

9.d3 c4 10.dc de 11.Q:d8 R:d8 12.R:e4 


Boris Gelfand: Black's idea is to advance the pawns to е5 and f6, to station the knight on f7 and throw the game into a lengthy maneuvering phase. 

The above-mentioned game proceeded as follows: 12...Rd1+ 13.Re1 R:e1+ 14.N:e1 Nf5 15.Na3 Be6 16.Nf3 Nd6 17.Nd4 B:d4 18.cd N:c4 19.N:c4 B:c4 20.b3 Bd5 21.Ba3 Kf8 22.Re1 Be6 23.Rc1 Bd5 24.Re1 Be6 25.Rc1 Bd5 26.Re1 Draw, as in Rublevsky – Dubov, Sochi 2016.

13.Re1 f6 14.Nbd2 Nf7 

Boris Gelfand: Some semi-forced type of game is about to start. 

15.Nb3 a5 

Ernesto Inarkiev: It seems like a risky move to me.

Boris Gelfand: Very risky indeed! One the other hand, it is no less risky allowing the white knight on a5. I was hesitant what to do.

16.Be3 a4 


Boris Gelfand: I underestimated this move, though 17.Nc5 was yet another option here. 

Ernesto Inarkiev: Yes, it is an interesting option, but then Black, in my opinion, is just in time with all his moves: 17...f5 18.b3 f4 19.Bd2 ab 20.ab Bf5. 

17...Re8 18.Nc5 g5

Boris Gelfand: Here I used up a lot of my time thinking over a wide range of possible continuations.  I disliked 18...Bf5 because of 19.Nh4.

Ernesto Inarkiev: Really? I considered 19.g4.

Boris Gelfand: In this case I retreat my bishop 19...Bc8 I seem to have received something in your position to hook up to. Meanwhile, following 19.Nh4 Reb8 20.N:f5 gf 21.Nd7 Rb7 22.Rad1 the knight is extremely well stationed on d7. 

Ernesto Inarkiev: What about 22...Re8 followed by Re7, is Black in time to implement it? 

Boris Gelfand: Well, I do not see it happening. 

Ernesto Inarkiev: Honestly speaking, I rated 19.g4 as a rather strong move, although 19.Nh4 also looks appealing.

Boris Gelfand: There is also a quite simple move 18...Bf8. 

Ernesto Inarkiev: Turning into a defensive seems like a correct idea to me. In the case of 19.b3 B:c5 20.B:c5 Bf5 the light-squared bishop joins the game and Black has compensation for the missing pawn. Therefore, 19.Nd2 f5 20.b3 is better. 


Ernesto Inarkiev: Could I not play 19.g4 in this position? No, it is 19...f5 that I rather disliked. 

There is one interesting line here 19.Nd2 f5 20.b3 e4 21.N:a4 R:a4 22.ba B:c3 23.Rad1 Ne5 . It feels like Black is better with B:d2 и N:c4 coming soon... 

Boris Gelfand: What about 24.N:e4? 

Ernesto Inarkiev: This is a strong refutation indeed!

19...g4 20.hg ab 21.ab B:g4 22.Nh4 

Ernesto Inarkiev: This is a very committal move, but may be an inaccurate one at that. It is true that later I made Black come up with precise moves. 

22.Nd2 did not appeal to me in view of 22…f5. 

22...f5 23.R:a8 R:a8 24.Nd7

Boris Gelfand: I also studied the following line: 24.f3 Bf6 25.fg B:h4 26.Rf1, and if 26…fg, then 27.Ne4. My intention was 26...e4 with the idea of 27.gf e3! – and Black should bail out due to his active pieces. 


Boris Gelfand: This is forced because  24...e4 is met by 25.Bd4. 

25.Nc5 Rb8 

Boris Gelfand: The only move. I chase the bishop to drive it away to b4, where it would be placed awkwardly. 

26.Bc7 Rc8 27.Ba5 Ra8 28.Bb4

Boris Gelfand: 28.b4 is me by 28…Nd6. 

28...Ng5 29.Nd3

Ernesto Inarkiev: After 29.f3 Bc8 the h4-knight has no squares to retreat. 30.Nd3 could be met by 30…Bf6! 31.N:e5 Nf7. 

Vladimir Barsky: Inarkiev offered 29.Ne4, but then 29…N:e4 30.R:e4 Ra1+ 31.Kh2 Kf7! (31...Bf6 is also a decent move) 32.Nf3 B:f3 33.gf Rb1 and the initiative is taken over by Black. 

29...e4! 30.N:f4 Be5 31.g3

Vladimir Barsky: Although the grandmasters considered this move as the only one, one could also play 31.Nh3. Now after 31...N:h3+ 32.gh B:h3 Black would have to face an unpleasant 33.Nf3! This is why stronger is 33…B:h3 32.gh Kf7 (to White's advantage is 32...N:h3+ 33.Kf1 Ra2 34.Bc5 Ng5 35.Re2) 33.Kg2 Kf6 – and Black seems to have enough counterplay for a draw. 


Boris Gelfand: Also worthy of attention is 31...Ra2 32.Bc5 B:c3 33.Rb1. 


Vladimir Barsky: This inaccurate move gave Black a chance get an advantage. However, the engine's suggestion 32.Nfg2 does not look natural to a human player. 


Vladimir Barsky: 32...B:f4 33.gf Nh3+ 34.Kh2 N:f2! would have passed the initiative over to Black. 

33.Bc5 B:f4 34.gf Nh3+ 35.Kh2 N:f4 36.Re1 Nd3! 

Ernesto Inarkiev: This is an important move, otherwise Black might have problems It somehow escaped me that the f2-pawn is taken with check. 

37.R:e4 N:c5 38.Rf4+ Ke6 39.b4 Na4 40.Re4+ Kf6 41.R:g4 R:f2+ 42.Kg3 Rc2 

Ernesto Inarkiev: It is clear that this endgame is drawish and void of any fighting potential.

Boris Gelfand: Ernesto did a good job of putting me up against definite problems even in this position. 

43.Rf4+ Ke6 44.Nf3 R:c3 45.Re4+ Kf6 46.Rf4+ Ke6 47.Kg4 Nb2 48.Re4+ Kf6 49.Rf4+ Ke6 50.Ng5+ Kd7 51.Rf7+ Kc8 52.c5 Nd3 53.R:h7 Rc4+ 54.Kf5 R:b4 55.Ne6 Kb8 56.Kf6 Rc4 57.Rh5 Nf4 58.Rh8+ Kb7 59.Nd8+ Ka6 60.N:c6 R:c5 61.Nb8+ Kb5 62.Nd7 Rc6+ 63.Kf5 Nd5 64.Rb8+ Nb6 65.R:b6+ R:b6 66.N:b6 K:b6 Draw. 

The overall score has become 6-4 (the classical game victory is awarded  with 2 points and a draw is awarded with 1 point). Game six, the last one with the classical time control, is scheduled on Wednesday, June 20 with the white pieces belonging to Boris Gelfand.