18 August 2017

Innovative Research Goes On

Day two of rapid chess at the Gelfand - Inarkiev match in Nazran in the review of Vladimir Barsky

Grandmaster Ernesto Inarkiev shares his impressions about series two of four rapid games:

– Boris Gelfand was playing White in game one, and we resumed an interesting debate in the English Opening. We resorted to a fashionable, but yet little-researched line; we can safely say it to be the 2.c3 Sicilian with the colors reversed. There arise complex positions, so that it is humanly difficult to understand who is better. I managed to overtake initiative rather early. Boris sacrificed a pawn to make his pieces active, but the activity died out gradually. I think my edge was rather substantial, but converting it took precision with only seconds on the clock. Even though certain chances to escape presented themselves to White, it was a happy end for me as an extra pawn proved a decisive factor after all.

Game two was yet another Rossolimo. Perhaps, I was the first one to underperform, then came Boris’s turn - it's hard to say more now. My advantage in the endgame was large, but spilled it out and failed to convert. It was a fighting draw.

I was again Black in the next game. Gelfand managed to squeeze me in the Queen’s Gambit and get a comfortable game. Even if White had no edge in the opening, his play was easier.

After a while I was caught in a serious bind, but essayed to get out of it without allowing my opponent to deal a blow, which I succeeded in doing in the final run. When Boris started opening up lines, it was against him. Nevertheless, it never swayed far from equality so that even my winning a pawn was not enough since my extra c6-pawn was blocked. Perhaps, I could have handled in a more precise manner, but there is no feeling of some significant edge that I could claim.

The last rapid game witnessed a peculiar pawn structure of unorthodox nature. Black’s pair of bishops was opposed by White’s pair of knights. In general, I could have sealed off the position any moment by opting for с4 and а4 and refraining from h5 – Black would have had no dangerous plans to come up with there. However, h4-h5 somehow seemed a principled continuation to me so as to prepare an exchange sacrifice later on. This being rapid chess, calculating all sacrifice consequences defied available thinking time. It turned out that Black was in time to bring his rook to g4. Although it remained unclear, I needed to spend time for a prophylactic с3-с4 anyway. What happened in the game was that with only seconds on our clocks I allowed my opponent opening the b1-h7 diagonal and getting significant initiative, which Gelfand found no way to capitalize upon.

In the end I was even an exchange up, but with my pieces burdened by an unfortunate task of having to defend the kingside.

Rerouting the rooks to the a-file suggested itself, but the consequences were a challenge to evaluate with the black pieces having so many squares to infiltrate. The main thought, however, was that once I start relocating my heavy pieces, Black gets an opportunity to carry out an unpleasant h7-h6 idea. After the trades on h5 I could not find out how to go about ejecting the black queen from с h5. Therefore, move repetition is likely to be a logical outcome of the game.

Gelfand – Inarkiev (m/9)

English Opening

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 d5 6.cxd5 Qxd5 7.e3 Na6 8.d3 Bb4+ 9.Nc3 Nc5 10.0-0 Bxc3 11.dxe4 Ncxe4 12.bxc3 0-0 13.Qc2 c5


More precise is 14.c4! Qh5 (or 14...Qe5 15.Nb3 Bf5 16.Bb2 Qe6 17.Qe2) 15.Ne2 Ng5 16.f3 Nh3+ 17.Kh1 – with initiative for White in both cases.

14...Bf5 15.Qb2

White should have taken an immediate care of his dark-squared bishop: 15.c4 Qe6 16.Re1! Nxg3!? (16...b6 17.Bb2, and White has completed his development comfortably) 17.e4 Ngxe4 18.f3, and Black has to agree to a double-edged position with three pawns for a minor piece since 18…Ng5? fails to 19.Qc3!


Now Black wins a pawn and overtakes the initiative.

16.f3 Nxc3 17.e4 Be6 18.Bg5 Nd7 19.Na5 Qb4 20.Qxb4 cxb4 21.Be7 Rfc8 22.Bxb4 Nxa2 23.Be7 b6 24.Nb7 Ne5 25.f4 Rc7 26.Bd6 Rxb7 27.Bxe5 Rd8

28.Rf2 Nb4 29.Bc3 Nd3 30.Rd2 Rc7 31.Be5 Rcd7 32.Bc3 f6 33.e5 fxe5 34.fxe5 Rc8 35.Bb2 Rc5 36.Ba3 Rc3

There was no punishment for picking up the second pawn after 36...Rxe5 37.Bc6 Rc7. From now on, real saving chances present themselves for White.

37.Bd6 a5?! 38.Rad1

38.Rb1! Nb4 39.Rf2 was an equalizer.



It was not yet late to gang up on the b6-pawn with 39.Rb2 Na4 40.Rf2 Rf7 41.Rxf7 Kxf7 42.Rf1+ Ke8 43.Rf8+ Kd7 44.Rb8 with sufficient counterplay.

39...h5 40.Rdf2 Rf7 41.Rxf7 Bxf7 42.Bc6 a4 43.Bxc5 Rxc5 44.Bxa4 b5!

An important intermezzo. After 44...Rxe5 45.Rb1 White’s chances to bail out are significant.

45.Bd1 Rxe5 46.Rf4 Re1+ 47.Rf1 Rxf1+ 48.Kxf1 g6 49.h4 Be6 50.Kf2 Kf7 51.Ke3 Kf6 52.Kd4 b4 53.Be2 b3 54.Kc3 Ke5 55.Bf3 b2 56.Kxb2 Kd4 57.Bd1 Ke3 58.Kc3 Bf5 White resigns.


Inarkiev Gelfand (m/10)

Sicilian Defense

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0-0 8.h3 f5 9.e5 Nf7 10.d3 d6 11.Bf4 Ba6 12.Na3 Rb8 13.b3 g5 14.Nxg5 Nxg5 15.Bxg5 dxe5 16.Nc4 e4 17.Rc1 Qxd3 18.Qxd3 exd3 19.Rxe7 Bxc4 20.bxc4


Even if it is hard to say which move the home preparation ends up with, it obviously goes deep. However, an attempt to shut the opponent’s bishop out of the game seems overly optimistic. More reliable is 20...Rf7 21.Re3 Rd7 with equality.

21.Rd1 Rf5 22.Bh4 Bxc3 23.Rxd3 Bd4 24.g4

24.Rxa7 Rb1+ 25.Kh2 Rc1 26.g4 fxg3+ 27.Rxg3+ Kf8 28.Rb3 looks more promising.

24...fxg3 25.Rxg3+ Kf8 26.Re2 Rb4 27.Ra3 Rxc4

Stronger is 27...Rf7.

28.Rxa7 Rf7 29.Ra8+ Kg7 30.Rc8 Ra4 31.Rxc6 Rfa7 32.Be7 Rxa2 33.Rxa2 Rxa2 34.Bxc5 Bxc5 35.Rxc5

Although White emerges a pawn up, the edge is inconvertible.

35…Kg6 36.Kg2 Ra3 37.Re5 Rb3 38.Re3 Rb4 39.Kg3 h5 40.Rc3 Ra4 41.Rc6+ Kg7 42.Re6 Rb4 43.f3 Ra4 44.Re4 Ra3 45.Kf4 Kf6 46.Rd4 Ra6 47.Kg3 Ra3 48.Rd5 Kg6 49.Re5 Ra4 50.Re4 Ra3 51.Re8 Rb3 52.Kf4 Rb4+ 53.Re4 Rb6 54.Rd4 Rf6+ 55.Kg3 Ra6 56.Kh4 Rb6 57.Re4 Rf6 58.Kg3 Ra6 59.Rd4 Rb6 60.Rd5 Rb4 61.Rd6+ Kg7 62.Re6 Ra4 63.Rd6 h4+ 64.Kf2 Ra2+ 65.Ke3 Rh2 66.Ke4 Rxh3 67.Rd2 Draw.


Gelfand – Inarkiev (m/11)

Queen’s Gambit Declined

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2 0-0 8.Rc1 c6 9.Ng3 Be6 10.Bd3 Bd6 11.0-0 Re8 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.f3 Nbd7 14.Qd2 Rad8 15.Nge2 a6 16.Bb1 c5 17.dxc5 Nxc5 18.Nd4 Bc8 19.Nce2 Ncd7 20.Nf4 Ne5 21.b3 Bd7


Gelfand decides to launch an offensive even at the cost of exposing his own king.

22…h6 23.h4 Nh7

Although a defensive maneuver h6 and Nh7 is rather typical for the Sicilian Defense, it does its job here as well.

24.Rce1 Nc6 25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Kg2 Kg8 27.Rh1 Re5 28.Nd3 Re7 29.Qc3 Qf6 30.Nf4 Qe5 31.Qc5 Bc8 32.Nd3 Qf6 33.Nxc6 bxc6 34.Qd4 Qd6 35.Qc5 Qf6 36.Qd4 Qd6 37.b4 Rde8 38.Nf4

After 38.Nc5 (to have the opponent bishop’s scope restricted) 38…f5!? Black drums up counterplay of his own.

38...a5 39.bxa5 Ba6

Stronger is 39...Qa3!



More promising was 40...hxg5 41.hxg5 Re5 42.Nh3 Qg6, and Black turns the tables in his favor.

41.Nh5 Qe5 42.Kf2 hxg5 43.hxg5 Qxd4 44.exd4 Re2+ 45.Rxe2 Rxe2+ 46.Kg3 Rxa2 47.Re1 Kf8 48.g6 Rxa5 49.Nf4 Ra7 50.gxf7 Kxf7 51.Ne6 Kf6 52.Nd8 Bb5 53.Re6+ Kf5 54.Re5+ Kf6 55.Re6+ Kf5 56.Re5+ Kf6 Draw.


Inarkiev –  Gelfand (m/12)

Sicilian Defense

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 Nh6 7.c3 0-0 8.h3 f5 9.e5 Nf7 10.d3 Rb8 11.b3 d6 12.Bf4 Qc7 13.Qe2 Nd8


This is a very interesting concept. Rather than getting rid of the e5-pawn, Black plays around it.

14.Nbd2 Ne6 15.Qe3 Nxf4 16.Qxf4 d5 17.h4 e6 18.h5 gxh5 19.g3 Bd7 20.Kg2 Be8 21.Ng5 Qe7 22.Ndf3 Kh8

Also worthy of attention was 22...Bh6!? (with the black king on g8 the white knight does not land on f7 with a tempo) 23.Rh1 Bg6 24.Rh4 Rf7.

23.Rh1 Rg8 24.Rh4 Bh6 25.Nf7+ Bxf7 26.Qxh6 Rg6 27.Qd2 Rbg8 28.Rah1 Rg4 29.Kf1 Bg6 30.Ke2 c4! 31.d4 f4!

The time has come for the light-squared bishop to shine!

32.gxf4 Qf8 33.Qe3


It looks like Black could have won in a forced manner: 33...Bd3+ 34.Ke1 Rxh4 35.Rxh4 Qa3! 36.Qd2 cxb3 37.axb3 Qa1+ 38.Qd1 Qxc3+ 39.Qd2 Qxd4!, and the queen is immune in view of 40.Nxd4 Rg1#.

34.Ng5 Rf8 35.b4 Rxg5?

Correct is 35...Kg8! to displace the knight from g5. E.g.: 36.a4 h6 37.Nf3 Qc2+ 38.Qd2 Qe4+ 39.Qe3 Rfxf4 with a substantial edge.

36.fxg5 Qc2+ 37.Kf1 Rf5 38.Kg2 Qxa2 39.Kg3 Rf7 40.f4

Stronger is 40.Rf4!, and White has all chances to convert his material superiority.

40...Qc2 41.R4h2 Qf5 42.Qf3 Kg8


43.Rxh5 Bxh5 44.Rxh5 Rg7 45.Rh6 Rg6 46.Rh1 Rg7 47.Rh6 Rg6 48.Rh1 Rg7 49.Rh6 Draw.

* * *

Thus, the match score has become 9.5:6.5 in Inarkiev’s favor (4:4 in the classical section and 5.5:2.5 in his favor in the rapid section). Let keep in mind that a classical game brings two points for a victory and one for a draw, whereas a rapid game brings one and half a point respectively.

Pictures by Vladimir Barsky