17 July 2016

Probing by Reconnaissance

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

Game one of the match, played at the stage of the Cultural Center, started exactly on time at 15.00 p.m. Moscow time. Although the match started without the first symbolic move made by any of the guests of honor, a great deal of spectators showed up to watch the game. After the game Ernesto Inarkiev added that among the guests were the chess champion of the Republic, children's coaches and other qualified players. There is also quite a number children - participants of the Russian Cup stage, which kicks off on Thursday. Pavel Lobach, the merited chess coach of Russia, is also here these days in the village of Troitskoye with the training session for children. Our website audience is likely to remember that Pavel Vladimirovich pays regular visits to Ingushetia, this being his third year in a row. 

Even though the chief arbiter Artem Akhmetov reminded the audience more than once about switching off their mobile phones, the calls would still break out on several occasions. Well, this is a matter of habit: the more chess competition happen to take place in Ingushetia the more people learn to observe silence. Nevertheless, after the game the grandmasters admitted that the hall was sufficiently quiet without any outside noise distracting them from their game. 

Following the end of the game Boris and Ernesto stepped into the hall to share with the fans of chess about the lines they calculated and various positions they evaluated that arose in the course of the game. The fans behave in a very correct and friendly manner. One of them said, addressing Gelfand, "We root for you also, because guests are like  brothers to us!" 

White emerged with space advantage out of the opening, whereas Black sacrificed a pawn in order to neutralize the opponent's pressure. However, White's seemingly active move 22 was incorrect, allowing Black overtaking initiative. Nevertheless, positional evaluation never swayed far from the point of equality and a draw, offered by Gelfand, was agreed shortly after. 

Inarkiev – Gelfand
Catalan Opening

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Rd1 b6!? 10.Bf4

Ernesto Inarkiev: Both Boris and I have employed this line more than once and for both colors at that. Two years ago we already subjected this line to test in our tournament blitz game in Sochi with colors reversed. 10.Ne5 Bb7 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Nc6 Bxc6 13.Qxc6 a6 14.Qc2 b5 15.Qd3 Qb6 16.Be1 Rfc8 17.Nd2 Rc7 18.Rdc1 Rac8 19.Rxc7 Rxc7 20.Nb3 Rc4 21.e3 Nb8 22.Qd1 Rc8 23.Bf1 Ne4 24.Bd3 Nd6 25.Rc1 Nc4 26.Rc2 Nc6 27.Nc5 Bxc5 28.dxc5 Qc7 29.b3 N4e5 30.Be2 Rd8 31.Bc3 Nd7 32.b4 Nf6 33.a4 Qb7 34.Qa1 e5 35.axb5 axb5 36.Bxe5 Ra8 37.Qb2 Qe7 38.Bxf6 Qxf6 39.Qxf6 gxf6 40.Bxb5 Nxb4 41.Rb2 Na2 42.Bc6 Ra5 43.Rb5 Ra7 44.Bxd5 Nc3 45.Rb8+ Kg7 46.Bf3 f5 47.c6 Rc7 48.Rb7 Rc8 49.Rd7 Kf6 50.Rd6+ Kg7 51.Kg2 Ne4 52.Bxe4 fxe4 53.g4 f6 54.Kg3 Kf7 55.Kf4 Ke7 56.Rd7+ Ke6 57.Rxh7 Rxc6 58.Kxe4 1–0, as in Gelfand Boris (ISR) 2748 – Inarkiev Ernesto (RUS) 2672 , Sochi 13.11.2014 Memorial M.Tal (blitz). 


Boris Gelfand: 10...Bb7 is a standard alternative.


Ernesto Inarkiev:  This move has lately been viewed upon as incorrect exactly because of the continuation that occurred in this game. 11.b3 Rc8 12.Nc3 dxc4 13.e4 leads to a complex type of play. 

11...Rc8 12.cxd5


Ernesto Inarkiev: Honestly speaking, I was aware of Black's idea with taking on d5 with the knight, but could not recall exactly if it was here or in some other similar position. 12... cxd5 runs into 13.Nc6 and White gets the advantage of a bishop pair, upon which you could start putting your opponent up against some practical problems already. For example, 13...Nh5 14.Be3 Nb8 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Nc3 Nc6 17.Rac1 Nf6 18.Qd2 Rfd8 19.b3 h6 20.h3 Ne8 21.Bf4 Nd6 22.g4 Qd7 23.Qe3 Ne7 24.Nb1 Rxc1 25.Rxc1 Rc8 26.Rxc8+ Nexc8 27.f3 Ne7 28.Kf2 f6 29.Na3 Nf7 30.Nc2 Nc6 31.Bg3 e5 32.dxe5 fxe5 33.f4 exf4 34.Bxf4 Bb7 35.Nd4 Nxd4 36.Qxd4 Nd8 37.Qe5 Ne6 38.Be3 Bc6 39.Kg3 Kf7 40.h4 Ke7 41.g5 d4 42.gxh6 gxh6 43.Bxh6 Bxg2 44.Bg5+ Kf7 45.Qf5+ Kg8 46.Qg6+ Ng7 47.Kxg2 Qg4+ 48.Kf2 b5 49.b4 d3 50.exd3 Qd4+ 51.Kf3 Qg1 52.Ke4 Qg2+ 53.Kd4 Kh8 54.Kc5 Qc2+ 55.Kxb5 Qxa2 56.Qc6 Qe2 57.Qe4 Qf2 58.Be3 Qf7 59.Bd4 Qd7+ 60.Kc4 1–0, as in Inarkiev Ernesto (RUS) 2660 – Palac Mladen (CRO) 2591 , Skopje 18.10.2015 Cup European Club. 


Ernesto Inarkiev: This move, solid on the one hand, causes no serious problems for Black on the other hand.

Here I acted not in the best practical manner as I spent nearly 20 minutes over 13.Nxc6, even though I knew this move to be a not good one. Meanwhile, I failed to see exactly why this was the case and immersed myself in calculation of interesting lines, which could arise out of this move. 

Vladimir Barsky: Black is considered to be OK after 13...Nb4 14.Qa4 Nxc6 15.Bxc6 Bxe2 16.Re1 (16.Rc1 Nb8) 16...b5 17.Qxa7 Rxc6 18.Rxe2 Nf6, as in Krotov Illia (RUS) 2300 – Shkuro Iuri (UKR) 2560, Azov 22.7.2010.

13...Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Nxc3

Ernesto Inarkiev:  I considered 14...f6 15.Bf4 Nxf4 to be a must. 

Boris Gelfand: Such games exist as well.

15.bxc3 Bc4 16.e4

Ernesto Inarkiev: I believe this move to have the highest playing potential. The alternative would be to trade bishops via 16.Be4 and then Bd3. 

Vladimir Barsky: The database contains the following games in which this move had been employed: 16...h6 (16...g6) 17.Bh7+ Kh8 18.Bd3 Bxd3 19.Rxd3 (19.Qxd3 f6 20.Bf4 Bd6 21.Bxd6 Qxd6 22.a4 c5 23.a5 cxd4 24.axb6 axb6 25.cxd4 Rfd8 26.Rab1 Rc6 27.e4 Qd7 28.Qb5 Qb7 29.d5 Rcd6 30.Re1 exd5 31.exd5 Qxd5 32.Qxd5 Rxd5 33.Rxb6 1/2–1/2, Abasov Nijat Azad (AZE) 2527 – Efimenko Zahar (UKR) 2641, Abudhabi 23.8.2014) 19...b5 20.c4 Bf6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6 22.Rc1 Qd8 23.cxb5 cxb5 24.Qxc8 Qxc8 25.Rxc8 Rxc8 26.Ra3 Rc7 27.Ra5 g5 28.Rxb5 1/2–1/2, Maletin Pavel (RUS) 2621 – Volokitin Andrei (UKR) 2678 , Moscow 15.2.2011 It (open) "Aeroflot".

White threatens 17.Qa4 and Black should somehow react to ward off this threat.


Ernesto Inarkiev: This is an important move. Another logical continuation would be 16...b5 to vacate the b6-square, which runs into an unpleasant 17.a4.


Ernesto Inarkiev: There was an interesting line here that involved a queen sacrifice: 17.Qa4 b5 18.Qxa7 Ra8 19.Qxa8 Qxa8 20.Bxd6, although White is unlikely to have anything substantial in this position. 

Boris Gelfand: Indeed, е4–е5 is always met by Bd5. Meanwhile, Black is going to play Qa4 and infiltrate along the light squares.

17...Qxd6 18.Qa4 b5 19.Qxa7

Ernesto Inarkiev: I thought I could put Black up against some problems. I must have overestimated my position.

19...Ra8 20.e5

Ernesto Inarkiev: This is an important move. 

Boris Gelfand: Yes, because 20.Qc5 is met by 20...Qxc5 21.dxc5 Ra3 22.Rd6 Rc8 23.Rad1 Kf8. In general, this idea is typical - if White fails to achieve anything, Black brings his king around to e7 and his position is already better. All White's pawns are hanging and it is before long that White could get carried away too far with such a play. 

Ernesto Inarkiev: Such positions are much easier played by Black. 

Boris Gelfand: Yes, Black's game is rather straightforward - Rfa8, Kf8, etc.

20...Rxa7 21.exd6 Bd5

Boris Gelfand: Black had a large choice. He could, for example, opt for 21...Ra6, but then 22.a4 would give start to a concrete play: 22...bxa4 23.Rdb1. Black is vulnerable in many lines along the ultimate rank; had the black pawn been advanced to h6 already, he would have stood better.


Ernesto Inarkiev: This is an overly ambitious move. I calculated the lines arising after 22.Bxd5 exd5 23.Re1.

Boris Gelfand: I intended to meet it by 23...Rfa8! 24.Re7 Kf8 25.Rae1 Rxe7 (an important move!) 26.Rxe7 (26.dxe7+ Ke8 is to Black's advantage) 26...Rd8, and Black wins his pawn back and gets an equal position. I think it would have been the most logical finale of the game.

However, after 22.а4 I could come up with 22...Rfa8!

Vladimir Barsky: The post game analysis proved that Black was also safe after 22...bxa4 23.Ra3 (23.Bf1 Bb3) 23...Rd8 24.Rda1 Rxd6 25.Rxa4 Rxa4 26.Rxa4 f6. Therefore 22.а4 is just beating the air anyway.


Boris Gelfand: To Black's advantage is 23.Bxd5 cxd5 24.a5 Kf8.

Ernesto Inarkiev: 23.a5 was perhaps a simpler path to a draw.


Vladimir Barsky: Sidestepping the trap set by White: 23...Rxa4 24.Rxa4 Rxa4 


This is a nice move, placing your pawn en prise of three possible recaptures; however, even here after 25...Bxc4 26.Bxc6 Kf8 27.Bxb5 Bxb5 28.Rxb5 Ra8 Black has all chances to bail out with a draw.


Boris Gelfand: Another way to a draw would be: 24.Bxd5 exd5 25.Re1 Rxa4 26.Rxa4 bxa4 27.d7 a3 28.Re2 Rd8 (28...a2? 29.Rxa2) 29.Ra2 Rxd7 30.Rxa3, resulting in total annihilation of the fighting troops. Nevertheless, following the text move the game develops forcefully.

24...Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Ke8 26.c4 bxc4 27.Ra4

27...Kd7 28.Rxc4 Kxd6 29.Rb6 Rxa5 30.Rbxc6+ Ke7. Agreed to a draw. 

The match score has become 1-1 (a victory in the classical game brings 2 points, while a draw brings 1 point). Game two starts on Thursday, July 14. 

Pictures by Vladimir Barsky