[Event "Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Rapport, Richard"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E38"]
[WhiteElo "2710"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
{[%evp 0,113,14,14,14,-3,6,6,34,-13,-1,-15,20,47,51,72,66,56,54,56,42,66,65,45,
53,53,39,32,44,44,36,31,37,29,35,35,55,35,33,43,45,27,26,30,25,18,21,18,26,25,
27,33,29,28,30,31,36,33,35,33,33,30,30,27,30,31,30,29,30,31,27,27,31,32,38,27,
35,27,27,20,26,25,26,27,31,32,33,12,34,23,32,27,38,32,32,28,32,32,32,32,32,32,
31,32,36,27,26,26,25,25,25,25,25,25,25,25]} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4.
Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 Qa5 $5 {Rapport can always be counted on to bring original
ideas early in the game. This move is known, but it has never been seen at the
elite level of competition.} 6. Bd2 Qxc5 7. e3 d5 8. a3 ({White doesn't appear
to be accomplishing much in the case of} 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Rc1 Nxc3 10. a3 Ne4
11. Bxb4 Qxc2 12. Rxc2 Nc6) 8... Bxc3 9. Bxc3 dxc4 10. Bb4 {Xiong decided to
go to the endgame right away.
攻击黑方的后，也是开放直线，吃回弃兵。} ({There is
something to be said in favor of the developing move} 10. Nf3 {as
白方弃兵为了尽快出动子力。} b5 11. Bd4 Qh5 12. a4 Nc6 13. Bxf6
gxf6 14. axb5 Qxb5 15. Bxc4 Qb4+ 16. Ke2 {[%cal Gh1d1] is good for White.
白方略好一些。}) 10... Qc6 11. Qxc4 Qxc4 12. Bxc4 Nc6 13. Bc3 Ne4 $1 {
[%cal Gc3g7,Rh8g8,Rg8g2,Rg2f2,Re4f2] Rapport made sure his opponent wouldn't
get to enjoy his bishop pair.
黑方也弃兵了，而且马到了极好的位置，好棋！！！} 14. Rc1
$5 {A solid start of the tournament seemed Xiong's main concern.
白方这里也弃兵了！象吃g7不好。} (14. Bxg7 Rg8 15. Bh6 Rxg2 16.
Bf4 {is an interesting idea, threatening to imprison the black rook with Bg3,
but what if Black takes up the challenge and goes} Rxf2 17. Bd3 Nc5 $1 {
figuring out his compensation for the exchange as sufficient? We know how good
Rapport is in situations like this. Stockfish 14:} 18. Kxf2 ({Stockfish 14:}
18. Bxh7 Rxb2 19. Nf3 Rg2 20. Bd6 b6 21. Bxc5 bxc5 22. Be4 Bb7 23. Ne5 Nxe5 24.
Bxb7 Nd3+ 25. Kd1 Nb2+ 26. Kc1 Nd3+ $11 {[%eval 0,35]}) ({Stockfish 14:} 18.
Be2 Rg2 19. Nf3 Nb3 20. Rd1 f6 21. Nd2 e5 22. Nxb3 exf4 23. exf4 Kf8 24. h3 Bf5
25. Kf1 Rg7 26. Nc5 b6 27. Rd5 Ne7 28. Rxf5 Nxf5 29. Ne6+ Kf7 30. Nxg7 Ng3+ 31.
Kg2 Nxe2 32. Kf3 Nxf4 33. Kxf4 Kxg7 34. Rd1 Kf7 35. Rd7+ Kg6 36. b4 a5 37. Rb7
Rc8 38. Rxb6 Rc4+ 39. Kg3 Rc3+ 40. Kh2 Rxa3 41. bxa5 Rxa5 $11 {[%eval -16,35]})
18... Nxd3+ 19. Ke2 Nxb2 20. Nf3 b6 21. e4 Ba6+ 22. Ke3 Na5 23. Ne5 f6 24. Rhg1
fxe5 25. Rg8+ Kf7 26. Rxa8 exf4+ 27. Kxf4 Nc6 28. Kg5 Nd3 29. Rg1 Nf2 30. Re1
Bb7 31. Rh8 Kg7 32. Re8 Nh3+ 33. Kg4 Kf7 34. Rh8 Kg7 $11 {[%eval 0,35]}) 14...
Nxc3 15. Rxc3 Bd7 16. Nf3 Rc8 17. Bd3 Ke7 {The position is equal, but the game
goes on.} 18. Ke2 {[%cal Rh1c1]} h6 19. Rhc1 Nb8 20. Ne5 Rxc3 21. Rxc3 Rc8 22.
Kd2 Rxc3 23. Kxc3 Bc8 24. f4 Nd7 25. Nxd7 Bxd7 26. e4 f6 27. Kd4 Kd6 28. e5+
fxe5+ 29. fxe5+ Ke7 {White cannot make progress because the black pawns on b6
and h6 cover all infiltration paths for the white king.} 30. Be4 b6 31. Kc4 Kd8
32. Kd4 Ke7 33. h4 Bb5 34. g3 Kd7 35. Bc2 Be2 36. Ba4+ Kc7 37. Ke3 Bh5 38. Kf4
Be2 39. g4 Kd8 40. Bc6 Ke7 41. g5 Bh5 (41... hxg5+ $6 42. Kxg5 {and you never
know...}) 42. b4 Bd1 43. a4 Bh5 (43... a5 $6 {The same goes for} 44. bxa5 bxa5
45. Ke4) 44. Bb5 Bd1 45. a5 Bh5 46. Bf1 Be8 47. Bg2 Bh5 48. Bc6 Bd1 49. gxh6
gxh6 50. Ke3 Bh5 51. Kd3 Kd8 52. axb6 axb6 53. Ke3 Ke7 54. Kd3 Kd8 55. Ke3 Ke7
56. Kd3 Kd8 57. Ke3 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. h3 d6 7. c3 Ne7 8. Re1
Ng6 9. d4 Bb6 10. Bd3 d5 {This is a novelty in a line that pretty much has
been abandoned by Black} ({after unsuccessful efforts in Karjakin-Le Quang
Liem, Saint Louis Blitz 2017} 10... c6 11. Nbd2 exd4 12. cxd4 d5 13. e5 Nh5 14.
Nf1 Nhf4 15. Bxg6 Nxg6 16. Bg5 f6 17. exf6 gxf6 18. Bh6) ({and Karjakin-So,
Bilbao Masters, 2016} 10... Re8 11. Nbd2 c6 12. Nf1 d5 13. Bg5 dxe4 14. Rxe4 $1
h6 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Re3 Bf5 17. Bxf5 Qxf5 18. Ng3 Qd7 19. Nxe5 Nxe5 20. Rxe5
Rxe5 21. dxe5 {although in the latter case, So was able to save a draw.}) 11.
exd5 exd4 12. c4 c6 13. Qc2 $1 cxd5 14. c5 {Our commentators, IM Danny Rensch
and GM Robert Hess, pointed out the long-term advantages offered to White in
this pawn structure, and I couldn't agree more.} Bc7 15. Nxd4 Re8 $2 {Yet it's
this natural move that leads Mamedyarov into a bad situation.} ({Time is the
deciding factor here, and Black could ill afford to waste any. The only chance
was to be found in} 15... b6 16. b4 (16. c6 Qd6) 16... a5) 16. Rxe8+ Qxe8 17.
Nc3 Qe1+ {So was cool with that; one check was not going to make him nervous.}
18. Bf1 Bd7 19. Qe2 Qxe2 20. Ndxe2 {Without the queens, Black's position is
utterly devoid of counterplay.} Rc8 21. Be3 Ne7 22. Rd1 a6 (22... b6 23. g4 h6
24. Bg2 {brings no relief.}) 23. g4 Bc6 24. f3 $1 {A classic restrictive
strategy.} h6 25. b4 Re8 26. Kf2 Bd7 27. Bf4 Bxf4 28. Nxf4 d4 {The only
attempt left for Mamedyarov to try} 29. Rxd4 Nc6 30. Rd6 Nxb4 31. Rb6 a5 32.
Rxb7 Bc6 33. Ra7 g5 34. Nd3 Rd8 35. Ne5 Rd2+ 36. Kg3 Rc2 37. a3 $1 {After this
precise move we all thought that So was going to win, especially considering
bad time trouble for Mamedyarov.} Nbd5 38. Nxd5 {Yet you can never count him
out! Mamedyarov found some incredible tactics with only seconds left on his
clock.} Nxd5 $5 ({I expected} 38... Bxd5 39. c6 h5 {and here White has to find
just one more important move} (39... Bxc6 {loses to} 40. Ra6) 40. h4 $1 {
to make room for his king.} gxh4+ 41. Kxh4 hxg4 42. Bd3 Rc3 43. fxg4 Bxc6 44.
Rxf7 {wins because Black cannot hope to eliminate all the white pawns with}
Nxg4 {on account of} 45. Bh7+ Kh8 46. Ng6#) 39. Bd3 $2 ({Again,} 39. h4 {
is the right move. After} Ne3 40. Bd3 Rg2+ 41. Kh3 {even Mamedyarov would run
out of tricks.}) 39... Rxc5 40. Nxf7 Nf4 {So could hardly believe his eyes.
His advantage is all gone.} 41. Bf5 Bd5 42. Ne5 Rc3 43. Rxa5 Re3 $1 {He even
had to be careful to find the only move that doesn't lose.} 44. Nd3 $1 {
This is it.} Rxf3+ 45. Kh2 Rxh3+ 46. Kg1 Rg3+ 47. Kf2 Rf3+ (47... Rxd3 48. Bxd3
Nxd3+ 49. Ke3 Nf4 {is not a winning attempt because of the strength of White's
a-pawn.} 50. a4 {etc.}) 48. Kg1 Rg3+ 49. Kf2 Rf3+ 50. Kg1 Rg3+ 51. Kf2 1/2-1/2
[Event "St. Louis"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Shankland, Sam"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A48"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2709"]
[Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. e3 d6 5. h3 c5 6. Nbd2 {The London system
has the practical advantage of developing the pieces in a conventional way, no
matter which opening the opponent chooses.} cxd4 7. exd4 O-O 8. Be2 {A
position typical for the Reti opening arose, with reversed colors.} Qb6 {
Lures the knight to the c4 square.} ({Black can also opt for a faster e7-e5
break, as in the following game:} 8... Nc6 9. c3 e5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Bg5 h6
12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. O-O Rd8 {Carlsen,M (2863)-Ding,L (2791) Online 2020}) 9. Nc4
Qc7 10. Ne3 $146 {A logical move and a novelty.} ({An earlier game saw White
doing great after} 10. O-O Bf5 (10... b5 $5) 11. c3 Nbd7 12. Ne3 e6 13. Nc4 Ne8
14. a4 e5 15. dxe5 dxe5 16. Bg3 f6 17. Qd5+ Kh8 18. Nd4 Qc5 19. Qxc5 Nxc5 20.
Nxf5 gxf5 21. f3 {Starke,R (1931)-Kamari,I (1562) Berlin 2017}) 10... Nc6 11.
c3 e5 $1 {That is the whole point behind Black's setup.} 12. Bh2 Qe7 {However,
this logical move (the queen sidesteps the X-raying of the white bishop) is
not optimal here.} ({Shankland could have equalized instead with} 12... exd4 $1
13. Nxd4 ({Here and on the next move} 13. cxd4 $6 Qa5+ $1 {is awkward for
White.}) 13... Nxd4 14. Qxd4 {And now the excellent move} (14. cxd4 $6 Qa5+ $1)
14... Ng4 $3 {When} 15. Bxd6 {is nicely met with} ({The tactical justification
is that the pawn is immune:} 15. Qxd6 $2 Bxc3+ $1 {and Black wins.}) ({Perhaps
best is} 15. Qc4 Qxc4 16. Bxc4 Nxh2 17. Rxh2 {although there too, the bishop
pair compensates Black for his damaged pawn structure after both} Rb8 ({
Or the immediate} 17... b5 $5)) 15... Nxe3 $1 16. fxe3 (16. Bxc7 Nc2+ {is even
worse for White.}) 16... Bxd4 17. Bxc7 Bxe3 {with an excellent position for
Black.}) 13. O-O e4 {Shankland gains space in the center, but in the process
frees the opponent's dark-squared bishop.} ({It is too late for} 13... exd4 14.
Nxd4 {which only exposes the d6 pawn.}) ({However} 13... Rd8 {deserves
attention, when White can develop further with} 14. Re1 ({Or} 14. Bc4)) 14. Ne1
$1 {The right square for the knight, which hurries to back up the other one.} (
14. Nd2 d5 {is easier for Black to play.}) 14... d5 15. N1c2 {White is now
preparing the f2-f3 break.} Be6 16. Qe1 ({It is too early for} 16. f3 exf3 17.
Bxf3 {as Black has} Ne4) 16... Nd7 {But now that the knight retreats, White
can pressurize the opponent's center.} ({Perhaps a better idea was to keep the
knight where it was, with something useful like} 16... h5 {When} 17. f3 exf3
18. Bxf3 Rae8 {Followed by Qe7-d8 looks OK for Black.}) ({Or even better, the
immediate} 16... Rae8 $5 17. f3 exf3 18. Bxf3 Qd8 {when Black is once more
doing well.}) 17. f3 $1 {Now Caruana regroups comfortably.} f5 18. fxe4 fxe4
19. Bf4 $1 {White's pieces are entering the battle with remarkable precision.}
Rf7 ({Maybe this was a good moment to try and spoil their perfect job with}
19... g5 $5 20. Bh2 Rxf1+ 21. Qxf1 Rf8 22. Qe1 Nf6 {although White is better
here as well after} 23. Qg3) 20. Qg3 Nf6 21. Rf2 {Caruana's moves are obvious
and logical, whereas Shankland needs to look for disruptors.} Qd7 22. Raf1 Raf8
23. Qh4 Ne8 {An interesting maneuver! Black is trying to maneuver his knight
to the f5-square. However, since he loses control over the g4 square, this
only makes White's task easier.} ({Stronger seemed} 23... Kh8 $5 {in order to
meet} 24. Ng4 {with} Nxg4 ({The Karpovian-like} 24... Ng8 {can be strongly met
with} 25. Bb5 $1) 25. hxg4 Kg8 26. Ne3 Ne7 {with chances for a successful
defence.}) ({The other way to maneuver the knight to f5 was ineffective as well
} 23... Ne7 24. Bg5 Nf5 25. Nxf5 gxf5 26. Ne3) 24. Ng4 $1 {This knight is
about to cause a lot of headache to Black.} Nd6 ({Otherwise the knight will
force the swap of the important bishop in the line} 24... Ne7 25. Ne5 Bxe5 26.
Bxe5) 25. Nce3 {The second knight came closer, just in time.
Swiss-clock-precision-mastery-Caruana.} Ne7 ({The vulnerable dark-squares will
keep haunting Black after} 25... Nf5 26. Nxf5 Rxf5 27. Nh6+ Bxh6 28. Bxh6 R8f7
29. Qg3 $1 {with dark-squared domination for White.}) 26. Ne5 {Wining the
important bishop, and this is just the beginning.} Bxe5 27. Bxe5 Ndf5 {At last,
the knight made it to the f5 square, but was late by few seconds!} ({The last
chance to defend was} 27... Rxf2 $1 28. Rxf2 Rxf2 29. Qxf2 Nf7 {hoping to hold.
}) 28. Ng4 $1 {As Larsen once said, \"the air around the enemy king can be
quite valuable!\" Caruana threatens to take both the black knights with his
rooks and use the air-square on h6.} h5 (28... Nxh4 29. Nh6#) 29. Qg5 $1 {
This move only took 29 seconds on White's clock.} hxg4 30. hxg4 Ng7 31. Qh6 {
Black is paralyzed. The simple threat of Be5-g7 can be only stopped by a
counter-sacrifice.} Nef5 (31... Bxg4 32. Bxg7 {is mate.}) 32. gxf5 Rxf5 ({Or}
32... Bxf5 33. g4 $1) 33. Rxf5 Rxf5 34. Rxf5 Bxf5 35. g4 $1 Be6 ({Or otherwise
a neat dark-squared mate} 35... Bxg4 36. Bxg7 Bxe2 37. Qh8+ Kf7 38. Qf8+ Ke6
39. Qf6#) 36. Qxg6 Qf7 37. Qh6 e3 38. Bf3 $1 {A nice final touch that forced
resignation. The ease with which Caruana won the game is frightening!} 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E73"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. h4 {Is this the new main line of the Indian Defenses?}
Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O ({The interesting} 4... d6 5. e4 Nc6 $5 {brought Carlsen a
great victory over Fedoseev in their first game of the third-place consolation
match of the World Cup.}) 5. e4 d6 6. Be2 c5 7. d5 b5 {The Benko makes perfect
sense as an attempt to distract White from his plans on the kingside.} 8. cxb5
a6 9. a4 {In all delayed Benko situations, White has an option of retaining
control over the b5-square, and that's what Vachier-Lagrave did.} (9. bxa6 Bxa6
10. h5 Bxe2 11. Ngxe2 Nxh5 12. f3 Nd7 13. Kf2 {was seen in Jobava-Yuffa, World
Rapid 2018. White applies a similar strategy: his potential play on the h-file
interferes with Black's usual Benko procedure of Qa5, Rfb8 etc.}) 9... axb5 10.
Bxb5 Ba6 11. Bd2 Bxb5 12. axb5 {Now Black must focus his efforts on winning
that b5-pawn.} Nbd7 13. Nf3 Rxa1 14. Qxa1 Qb6 15. O-O Rb8 16. Qa6 Ne8 17. Ra1
Kf8 $5 {I guess Svidler wanted maximum comfort for regaining the pawn.} ({
It doesn't seem that parting with the bishop would be such a big concession, so
} 17... Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qxb5 19. Qxb5 Rxb5 20. Ra8 Rb8 {is possible.}) ({Another
idea is} 17... Qd8 18. h5 Nc7 19. Qa4 Bxc3 20. bxc3 Ra8 21. Qd1 Nxb5 {where
Black must answer} 22. c4 {with} Nd4 $1) 18. h5 Nc7 19. Qa4 $1 ({Now in case of
} 19. Qxb6 Nxb6 20. Ra7 Bxc3 21. bxc3 Nxb5 {the e7-pawn is defended, and it's
Black who has the better chances.}) 19... Ra8 20. Qd1 Rxa1 21. Qxa1 Ne5 22. h6
$1 {That h-pawn strikes again! In the absence of attacking prospects on the
h-file, pushing it forward poses new problems on the back rank.} Nxf3+ 23. gxf3
Bxc3 $6 (23... Be5 {is a hard decision to make, because Black would still need
a move or two to secure his king. Yet, it works in case of} 24. Kg2 f6 25. Qa4
Kf7) 24. Bxc3 Qxb5 25. b4 $1 {A brilliant idea, considering the shortage of
possibilities offered by the reduced material on the board.} Ne8 $2 {A big
error, caused by the pressure relentlessly applied by the opponent.} (25...
cxb4 26. Bxb4 Ke8 (26... f6 27. Bxd6 $1 {was the point of Vachier-Lagrave's
play.}) 27. Qh8+ Kd7 28. Qxh7 {Svidler saw this, and thought it would be all
over for him. Amazingly,} Nxd5 $3 29. exd5 Qxd5 {would save the game, as
perpetual checks cannot be avoided.}) ({He could have also tried} 25... Ke8 26.
bxc5 Qxc5 {running with the king out of the danger zone.}) 26. bxc5 dxc5 (26...
Qxc5 27. Bb4 $3 {clearing out for Qh8 mate!}) 27. Bg7+ Kg8 28. Qa8 {Suddenly
Black finds himself in a real pickle, as he can hardly move anything.} c4 ({
Of course,} 28... f6 {gets busted by} 29. Qc8) 29. Qd8 Qa4 30. Kg2 {No need to
get excited.} ({Of course not} 30. Qxe7 $2 Nxg7) 30... Qb5 31. Bb2 $1 {The
last exact move. Svidler resigned because:} (31. Bb2 Kf8 {is met with} 32. Ba3
Qb7 33. d6) 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "116"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4
c6 9. Nc3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Bf5 12. Re1 ({More aggressive is the
topical line that begins with} 12. Bg5 Qa5 13. d5 $5 {Karjakin and
Nepomniachtchi tried it against their young compatriot Esipenko in the Russian
Championship last year.}) 12... Nd7 13. Bg5 Qa5 14. Nh4 Rae8 {Perhaps an
improvement} ({over} 14... Nb6 15. Bb3 Rae8 16. Nxf5 Rxe1+ 17. Qxe1 Qxf5 18.
Bd2 Nd5 19. Qe2 {was seen in Nakamura-Aronian, Lindores Abbey 2020.}) 15. Nxf5
Rxe1+ 16. Qxe1 Qxf5 17. Bh4 {This is going to cost White his hard-earned
bishop pair.} ({On the other hand,} 17. Bd2 {allows Black to get a hold of
light squares on the queenside with} b5 18. Bb3 Nb6 19. Qe2 a5 {etc.}) 17...
Qh5 18. Bg3 Bxg3 19. hxg3 {Most of us are happy to see this little change in
the kingside structure because a pawn moving towards the center is always good.
The continuation of this game supports a different opinion.} Nf6 20. Be2 Qa5
21. Bf3 Re8 22. Qd2 h5 $1 {The key move that stops White's possible expansion
with g3-g4.} 23. Rc1 Re7 24. Qc2 g6 25. Qb2 Kg7 26. Be2 {Being short of time,
Swiercz just decided to sit tight.} ({Most likely,} 26. c4 {had to be played,
but he must have been concerned with} Re1+ 27. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 28. Kh2 g5 {where
his king is boxed in. Still, White should easily survive this if he continues
with the natural} 29. d5 cxd5 30. Bxd5 $1 {making room for his bishop.}) 26...
Qg5 27. Bf3 Qa5 28. Be2 c5 $1 {Dominguez rightfully rejected a silent draw
offer by repetition.} 29. Bf3 cxd4 30. cxd4 Re1+ 31. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 32. Kh2 b6 33.
Qc2 $6 {This hesitation is going to cost White dearly.} ({Commentators Rensch
and Hess correctly mentioned that} 33. d5 Qe7 34. Qd4 Qd6 {would be good for
Black. A true statement it was, but White is still in the game, as long as he
avoids a queen trade. I think the key move here is} 35. a4 $1 {making it
difficult for Black to create a passed pawn.}) 33... Qb4 34. Qd3 a5 ({
Dominguez saw no need to get greedy:} 34... Qb2 35. d5 Qxa2 36. d6 {with some
counterplay for White.}) 35. a3 Qd6 36. Kg1 {Horrible time trouble for Swiercz
further aggravated his difficult task of defending.} b5 37. Bd1 $2 ({For the
last time} 37. d5 $1 b4 38. axb4 axb4 (38... Qxb4 39. d6) 39. Qd4 {is the way
to go.}) 37... b4 38. axb4 Qxb4 $1 {Now the game is practically over because
in the long run White cannot deal with the a-pawn.} 39. Bb3 a4 40. Bc4 a3 41.
f3 Qb2 42. Qb3 Qxd4+ 43. Kh2 Qa7 44. Qc3 Qc7 45. Qd4 Qe7 46. Bb3 Kh7 47. Qf4
Kg7 48. Qd4 Kg8 49. Qd3 Kh7 50. Qd4 Ng8 {A nice knight transfer.} 51. Ba2 Nh6 {
The f7-pawn is defended, and Black plans Nf5.} 52. Bb1 Qe1 53. Qb6 Qc3 54. Kg1
Qc1+ 55. Kh2 Qb2 56. Qxb2 axb2 57. Kg1 Nf5 58. Kf2 Nd4 {Swiercz resigned, not
waiting to see Nb5-a3 played on the board.} 0-1
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2649"]
[BlackElo "2774"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "90"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "900+10"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 Bd7 10. Rd1 Be7 11. g4 Nh4 12. Nxh4 Bxh4 13. Nd2 Kc8 14.
Nf3 Be7 15. Bg5 Bc5 16. Rd3 Be6 17. Be3 Bxe3 18. Rxe3 Kd7 19. Nd4 {This line
of the Berlin is one of the most direct ones. White initiates a bunch of
trades, aiming to exploit his kingside pawn majority in a simpler endgame.
Most of the time, he comes a move or two short of reaching his goals.} Rad8 {
Wesley gives the d-file the highest priority.} (19... h5 {was seen in Vachier
Lagrave-Grischuk, Grand Chess Tour Croatia Blitz, 2021. Those two players have
had many memorable battles in the Berlin, and the latest one went in Maxime's
favor. There followed:} 20. Rd1 Ke7 21. Nf5+ Kf8 22. Red3 Re8 23. Rd8 g6 24.
Ne3 hxg4 25. hxg4 Kg7 ({Perhaps,} 25... g5 {was the most reliable, as White
cannot yet bring his king up:} 26. Kg2 $4 Bd5+) 26. Rxe8 Rxe8 27. f4 Bc8 ({
Again,} 27... g5 $5 {was interesting. In such situations Black must act fast
before the white king arrives to support the advanced pawns.} 28. f5 Bxa2 29.
e6 fxe6 30. b3 exf5 31. Nxf5+ Kf6 32. Ng3 Bxb3 33. cxb3 Re3 34. Kf2 Rxb3 {
White shouldn't lose this, but his winning chances are practically nil.}) 28.
Kf2 f6 29. exf6+ Kxf6 30. Kf3 {This move signified some progress accomplished
by White, whose king is now able to support the pawns. It was still a long way
to go, but MVL was up for the job.}) 20. f4 $6 {Ignoring the d-file will lead
White into trouble.} ({Better was} 20. Rd3 Ke7 21. Rad1 g6 22. Nxe6 Rxd3 23.
Rxd3 Kxe6 24. Kg2 {keeping things under control.}) 20... Ke7 21. Nxe6 fxe6 $1 {
I have a feeling So was already playing for a win.} 22. Rf1 h5 23. f5 hxg4 24.
hxg4 Rh4 25. f6+ Kf7 26. Re4 Rd2 {White just can't cover all the bases. What
he needed was a trade of a pair of rooks, and he didn't get it. Dariusz
started drifting into time trouble.} 27. fxg7+ Kxg7 28. Rf2 Rxf2 ({The tricky}
28... Rh1+ {probably wouldn't have made a whole lot of difference, but after}
29. Kg2 Rh2+ 30. Kxh2 Rxf2+ 31. Kg3 {the White king ends up one step farther
away from the queenside, compared with the game continuation.}) 29. Kxf2 Rh2+
30. Kf3 Rxc2 31. Rd4 $1 {The activity of the rook is the key to survival in
rook endgames.} Rxb2 32. Rd7+ Kg6 33. Rxc7 c5 34. Re7 Rb6 35. Rc7 a6 $1 36.
Rxc5 Rc6 $1 {So is very good in setting up riddles for his opponents.} 37. Ra5
$4 {With just the increment seconds on his clock, Swiercz didn't have enough
time to calculate the pawn ending. The biggest problem with his decision was
that the rook endgame is totally lost.} ({It was actually pretty hard to see
it all the way through, but considering the lack of alternatives, he should
have gone for it.} 37. Rxc6 bxc6 38. a4 $1 {Always advance the pawn that has a
chance of queening.} a5 (38... Kg5 39. a5 {and the king will head out to b6.})
39. Ke3 Kg5 40. Kd4 Kxg4 41. Kc5 Kf5 {and here White needs to find one last
good move} 42. Kb6 $1 ({Not wasting time on the useless c-pawn:} 42. Kxc6 $2 {
as the resulting pawnless queen ending is lost:} Kxe5 43. Kb5 Kd4 44. Kxa5 Kc5
45. Ka6 e5 46. Kb7 e4 47. a5 e3 48. a6 e2 49. a7 e1=Q 50. a8=Q Qe7+ 51. Ka6
Qd6+ 52. Kb7 Qd7+ 53. Kb8 (53. Ka6 Qb5+ 54. Ka7 Qb6#) 53... Kb6 {just as we
learned a long time ago.}) 42... Kxe5 43. Kxa5 c5 44. Kb5 Kd4 45. a5 c4 46. a6
c3 47. a7 c2 48. a8=Q c1=Q {Now White gets to give checks first, and near
everything draws, for example} 49. Qa7+ Ke5 50. Qg7+ Kf5 51. Qf7+) 37... Rc3+
38. Ke4 Rc4+ 39. Kd3 {Swiercz had to abandon his g-pawn, but his rook remained
poorly placed.} (39. Kf3 Kg5) 39... Rxg4 40. Rc5 Kf5 41. Kc3 (41. Rc7 b5 42.
Ra7 Ra4) 41... b5 42. Kb3 Rc4 $1 {This version of the pawn endgame is an
elementary win for Black.} 43. Rxc4 bxc4+ 44. Kxc4 Kxe5 45. a4 Kf4 0-1
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Rapport, Richard"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E60"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "900+10"]
1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 O-O 7. Nc3 Qc7 $1 {
This idea, introduced about a quarter of century ago, changed the evaluation
of one of the oldest lines of the English Opening.} ({Modern theory no longer
focuses on} 7... Nc6 8. O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 d6 10. Qd3 {where White had a lot of
success over the years.}) 8. Qd3 (8. b3 d5 {Was, and still is, the main point
of the queen move. White usually reacts with} 9. Ndb5 Qa5 10. Bd2 dxc4 11. bxc4
{counting on the activity of his pieces to offset a minor pawn structure
deficiency. MVL defended this position well as Black against Radoslaw
Wojtaszek in Basque 2014.}) 8... Nc6 9. O-O $5 (9. Bf4 d6 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. O-O
{seen in Jobava-Grischuk, European Teams Championship 2015, transposes to the
game continuation.}) 9... d6 (9... Ne5 10. Qe3 $1 Nxc4 11. Qxe7 {clearly
favors White.}) 10. Nxc6 ({More interesting is} 10. b3 $5 {inviting a lively
tactical melee:} Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Ne4 12. Nd5 $5 {first seen in Kramnik-Caruana,
Norway Chess 2014.} (12. Qxe4 {is also possible, because after} Bxc3 13. Rb1
Bf5 {White has} 14. Qf3 Bxb1 15. Qxc3 Bf5 16. Bh6 {winning back the exchange.})
12... Bxd4 13. Nxc7 Bxa1 14. Be3 Bf6 15. Nxa8 Nc3 16. Bxa7 Nxa2 17. Nc7 {
gave White some advantage, which the former world champion was able to convert
into a win.}) 10... bxc6 11. Bf4 Nh5 12. Bg5 Rb8 13. b3 h6 14. Bd2 Nf6 {
This position is probably better for White, but only by a small margin. Its
defining feature is that neither side can do much!} 15. Rac1 a5 16. h3 Rd8 17.
e4 Nd7 18. Rfd1 Nc5 19. Qe2 e5 {MVL decided to change the pawn structure,
planning to bring his knight to d4.} 20. Kh2 Kh7 21. Qf1 h5 22. Bg5 Re8 23. Qe1
Ne6 24. Bd2 Ra8 25. Be3 h4 26. Na4 hxg3+ 27. fxg3 c5 {I'm not sure I'm
supportive of this move. The thing is, Black already had the d4-square, even
without this pawn push, but now White gets access to d5.} ({I wonder what
Maxime disliked about} 27... Nd4 28. c5 dxc5 29. Nxc5 Bh6 {It looks like a
decent position to me.}) 28. Qd2 (28. Nc3 Nd4 29. Nd5 Qd8 30. Qd2 Be6 31. Rf1
Bxd5 32. cxd5 {is roughly balanced.}) 28... Nd4 29. Rf1 Be6 30. Rf2 Reb8 31. h4
Qd7 32. Rcf1 Ra7 33. Qd1 {The players found themselves completely stuck. They
saw nothing better than repeating moves.} (33. Nc3 {would allow} a4 34. Nxa4
Bxc4) ({and the attempt to prepare the knight move with} 33. Qd3 {could be
answered by} Rb4) 33... Bg4 34. Qd2 Be6 35. Qd1 Bg4 36. Qd2 Be6 1/2-1/2
[Event "St. Louis"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Shankland, Sam"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B38"]
[WhiteElo "2709"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"]
[PlyCount "126"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
{[%evp 0,126,28,36,78,56,45,32,42,26,68,33,38,41,28,0,24,25,25,28,48,16,27,28,
30,33,51,27,35,24,20,8,40,40,72,78,78,79,84,89,78,70,70,70,55,28,35,31,32,-23,
0,0,1,2,-7,-6,21,0,7,20,23,38,42,0,18,18,0,26,37,40,61,61,81,73,60,60,69,49,47,
37,35,43,42,42,50,42,42,44,32,32,39,50,106,95,95,99,99,110,110,98,101,102,104,
97,61,60,43,60,58,2,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,2,3,2,1,0,0,0,0,0]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 {The Accelerated Dragon is regaining popularity nowadays.
} 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 d6 7. f3 Bg7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Be2 Nh5 ({Another GM game saw}
9... Bd7 10. O-O Qa5 11. Qd2 Rfc8 12. Rfd1 Qd8 13. Rac1 Ne5 14. b3 h5 15. h3
Nc6 16. f4 Qf8 17. Bf3 {with pressure for White in Cheparinov,I (2686)-Sevian,
S (2660) Chess.com 2020}) ({The other idea is to trade a pair of knights at
once with} 9... Nxd4 {Then after} 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Rc1 Qa5 12. Qd2 Rfc8 13. b3
a6 14. Be3 b5 15. Nd5 {Things have developed more or less normally with White
enjoying his usual slight space advantage until Black came up with the
spectacular} Nxd5 $1 16. Qxa5 Nxe3 17. Kf2 Bd4 {and White could not prove an
advantage in Negi,P (2633)-Istratescu,A (2671) Graz 2014}) 10. g3 Nf6 $146 {
Once that the kingside was somewhat weakened, the knight may return, bringing
a novelty with it.} ({An earlier game was this fine effort by So:} 10... Nxd4
11. Bxd4 Be6 12. f4 Nf6 13. O-O Rc8 14. b3 Qa5 ({Instead} 14... Bh3 15. Rf2 {
and only then} Qa5 {is somewhat better for White, but playable for the second
player.}) ({Normally Black wants to trade the dark-squared bishop but here the
straightforward attempt simply loses:} 14... Nd7 $4 15. f5) 15. f5 Bd7 ({
The pawn is poisoned:} 15... gxf5 $2 16. exf5 Bxf5 17. b4 Qxb4 18. Rxf5 {
wins a piece for White.}) 16. a3 e6 ({For example} 16... e5 17. b4 Qc7 18. Be3
{with a huge hole on d5.}) ({And if} 16... b5 17. b4 Qc7 (17... Qd8 18. Nxb5)
18. Bxf6 $1 Bxf6 19. Nd5 Qd8 20. Nxf6+ exf6 21. cxb5 {will clear edge for
White.}) 17. b4 Qd8 ({In case of} 17... Qc7 {White can continue in a similar
way as in the game:} 18. fxe6 fxe6 19. e5 dxe5 20. Bc5 Rf7 21. Bd6 {with
advantage.}) 18. fxg6 fxg6 ({White is also much better after} 18... hxg6 19. e5
dxe5 20. Bxe5) 19. e5 {and White won an instructive game in So,W (2788)
-Mamedov,R (2658) Shamkir 2015}) 11. Qd2 Bd7 12. O-O-O $1 {A rare, but strong
approach. White rarely, if ever, castles long in the Maroczy bind, but
Shankland already used this move to win a crucial game against Svidler at the
World Cup, just a few days ago.} ({More standard would have been} 12. O-O Nxd4
13. Bxd4 Bc6 {with a slight edge for White.}) 12... a5 {One of the ways to
search for counter-chances on the queenside.} ({The other one was even sharper:
} 12... h5 13. h3 a6 14. g4 b5) 13. g4 a4 14. Nxc6 {In order to stabilize the
center.} ({However, even stronger seems the blockading idea} 14. Ndb5 $1 {
when Black has difficulties in building counterplay, for example} a3 (14... Ne5
15. g5 Ne8 16. f4 {is plain bad for Black.}) ({If} 14... Be6 15. Kb1 Ne5 16. g5
Nh5 17. Nd5 {and White is ready to resume his kingside expansion.}) 15. b3 Qa5
16. Kb1 {when White's chances are higher.}) 14... Bxc6 {More or less a needed
move.} ({As otherwise the standard Dragon idea will work for White in the line
} 14... bxc6 15. e5 $1 dxe5 ({True, the computer claims that Black is not
doing that bad after} 15... Ne8 16. exd6 a3 17. b3 exd6 {but that is hard to
believe.}) 16. g5 $1) 15. h4 ({The immediate} 15. Bd4 $5 {would have likely
transposed to the game after} Qa5 16. h4) 15... Qa5 {The queen is out just in
time to prevent the further advance of the white kingside pawns.} 16. Bd4 ({For
} 16. h5 $2 a3 17. b3 Nxg4 $1 {loses for White.}) ({And if Shankland tries to
block the a-pawn with} 16. a3 Nd7 $5 {the b3-square would be weakened and the
black knight may soon reach it.}) 16... Rfc8 17. h5 ({As before} 17. a3 Nd7 {
allowing Black enough play and he is ready to block the opponent's attack with}
18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. h5 g5 $1) 17... a3 18. b3 b5 {It is getting super hot now.}
19. hxg6 {The natural desire is to open the h-file at once.} ({The greedy} 19.
cxb5 {would have been a bad idea due to} Bxe4 $1 20. fxe4 Nxe4 21. Qe1 Nxc3 {
and Black crushes through.}) ({However, there was a strong argument for} 19.
Kb1 $1 Rab8 20. Ka1 {moving the king out of the dangerous files, when White
should be better.}) 19... hxg6 20. Kb1 bxc4 21. Bxc4 Bb7 $3 {A very subtle
move, which coordinates the black pieces just in time.} ({In the case of the
straightforward} 21... Rab8 22. g5 {Black falls under tremendous attack:} Nh7 {
in particular loses by force after} ({Whereas} 22... Nh5 23. Rxh5 $1 Bxd4 24.
Qxd4 gxh5 25. g6 $1 Qe5 26. gxf7+ Kh7 27. Qd2 {[%cal Rd2h6] leads to an
extremely unpleasant position for the second player.}) 23. Rxh7 $1 Kxh7 24.
Qh2+ Kg8 25. Bxg7 Kxg7 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Qxg6+ {and mate.}) 22. g5 Nh5 $1 {
Now he can.} 23. Bxg7 ({As} 23. Rxh5 {is strongly met with} Rxc4 $1 24. Bxg7
gxh5 25. bxc4 Kxg7 {when Black even seems better.}) 23... Kxg7 24. Nd5 {
The kingside attacking possibilities are more or less exhausted, therefore
White searches for an endgame.} (24. Qd4+ {makes no sense after} e5 25. Qd2 Ba6
) 24... Qxd2 25. Rxd2 Rab8 ({Also the immediate} 25... Bxd5 26. Rxd5 Nf4 27.
Rd2 Rab8 {would have worked well for Black.}) 26. Rc1 ({The knight cannot
avoid the trade as} 26. Ne3 Rc5 {hits the vulnerable pawn on g5.}) 26... Bxd5
27. Rxd5 Nf4 {Once that this piece enters the battle, it should be good for
Xiong. But he still needs to be careful as the rook and bishop pair, coupled
with a strong outside passer might become huge.} 28. Ra5 Ra8 {And Black is not
careful enough!} ({Strong was} 28... Rc5 $1 29. Rxc5 dxc5 30. Rd1 ({There is
no effective way to attack the c5-pawn:} 30. Bf1 $2 Ne6 $1) 30... Rh8 {
occupying an open file of his own with equal game.}) 29. b4 $1 {Very strong!
This might have been missed by Black.} (29. Rxa8 Rxa8 {is equal instead.})
29... f6 $1 {The best chance! Black needs to find play on his own. Ironically,
the sides have switched the flanks on which they are playing now.} ({After}
29... Rxa5 $2 30. bxa5 Ra8 31. a6 {the pawn is practically unstoppable.}) 30.
Rxa8 Rxa8 31. Kc2 {In order to slow down the opponent a bit.} ({After} 31.
gxf6+ Kxf6 32. Kc2 Ke5 33. Kb3 Kd4 {Black has enough play.}) 31... fxg5 32. Kb3
{Next Shankland tries to advance his passer as much as he can, whereas Xiong
centralizes his king.} Kf6 33. b5 Ke5 34. Kb4 g4 $1 {Trading more and more
pawns.} 35. fxg4 Kxe4 36. Re1+ Kd4 37. Rxe7 Rc8 $1 {Once that the bishop is
removed from its comfortable spot the black knight can demonstrate what it is
capable of.} 38. Bf7 ({After} 38. Bb3 Nd3+ {White cannot touch the a3-pawn:}
39. Kxa3 $4 ({Whereas} 39. Ka5 Ra8+ (39... Nc1 $5 {is OK for Black too.}) 40.
Kb6 Rb8+ {is equal.}) 39... Ra8+ 40. Ba4 Nc5) 38... Nd3+ 39. Kxa3 Ra8+ 40. Kb3
Nc5+ 41. Kb2 Nd3+ 42. Kb3 Nc5+ 43. Kc2 {The last winning attempt.} d5 44. Kb1
Na4 {Black has calculated that he has enough time to pick up both white pawns.}
({Also good enough for the draw was to deal with White's most dangerous pawn
at once with} 44... Ra5 45. Bxg6 Rxb5+) 45. Kc1 Nc3 46. b6 Nxa2+ 47. Kd2 ({Or}
47. Kb2 Nb4 48. b7 Nd3+ 49. Kb1 Rb8 50. Be8 Kc5 51. Bxg6 Kd6 {with a draw.})
47... Rb8 48. b7 Nb4 49. Be6 Kc5 50. Bc8 Nc6 51. Rg7 g5 52. Ke3 Na5 53. Kd3 {
It is almost a study-like position where Black will win the opponent's b7-pawn
sooner or later. The question, however, is how exactly should he do it?} Kd6 $1
{The correct move.} ({The immediate rush} 53... Kc6 $4 {would have lost due to}
54. Kd4 $1 Nxb7 ({Nothing changes} 54... Kd6 55. Rg6+ Kc7 56. Kc5 $1) 55. Bxb7+
Rxb7 56. Rxb7 Kxb7 57. Kxd5 {when White wins the g-pawn and the game.}) 54.
Rd7+ ({Now} 54. Kd4 {does not work due to} Nc6+ 55. Kd3 Ne7) 54... Kc6 55. Kd4
Nxb7 {This time the pawn is edible, as the white rook hangs. The rest of the
game confirmed the inevitability of the draw:} 56. Rxb7 Rxc8 57. Rg7 Kd6 58.
Rg6+ Ke7 59. Rxg5 Kf6 60. Rxd5 Re8 61. g5+ Kg6 62. Re5 Rxe5 63. Kxe5 Kxg5
1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2786"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "102"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "900+10"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 d6 6. O-O h6 7. Re1 O-O 8. h3
Bb6 9. Nbd2 Ne7 10. a4 c6 11. d4 Ng6 12. Bf1 Re8 13. Qc2 d5 $5 {A novelty is
what we expect from Fabi in every game.} (13... Bc7 14. b4 Be6 15. Bb2 a5 16.
b5 Bb6 17. Ba3 Qc7 18. Rab1 {was Esipenko-Carlsen, World Cup (5.6), the game
the young Russian managed to win to equalize the score in their dramatic match.
}) 14. exd5 exd4 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. a5 $1 Bc7 (16... dxc3 17. axb6 cxd2 18.
Bxd2 Nxd5 19. bxa7 {is pretty scary for Black, because he cannot be sure of
his ability to eliminate the a7-pawn.}) 17. dxc6 dxc3 18. cxb7 Bxb7 19. Qxc3 {
Caruana spent some time getting to this position, so I'm not exactly sure
where his preparation ended. Black has some compensation for the pawn, but
it's hard to see him generating any winning chances.} Nd5 ({On} 19... Rc8 {
White has} 20. Nc4) 20. Qc5 $1 {An excellent choice of a square for the queen.
Now the black rook cannot develop in fear of losing the a7-pawn.} Ngf4 21. Nc4
$2 ({Perhaps, White should have tried to keep his queen in the center.} 21. Nd4
$1 {would serve that purpose.}) 21... Ne6 $1 22. Qa3 Rd8 23. Bd2 Ndf4 24. a6
Ba8 25. Ba5 Bxa5 26. Nxa5 Qd7 27. Re1 $6 {One of the White pieces has to guard
the knight on a5, and such jobs should not be relegated to the strongest piece.
} ({both} 27. Qe3) ({and even} 27. b4 {were better ideas.}) 27... Qd5 28. Re3
Qf5 29. Nb7 {There was hardly a better use for that knight at the edge of the
board rather than block the powerful black bishop. The problem was, it cost
Dominguez his extra pawn.} Rd1 30. Re1 Rxe1 31. Nxe1 Qe4 32. Nf3 Bxb7 33. axb7
Qxb7 34. g3 Nh5 35. Bc4 Qe4 36. Bxe6 {More liquidation is coming, and the game
peters out to a draw.} ({Retaining the bishop with} 36. Qd3 Qxd3 37. Bxd3 {
looked more logical, but it's hard to see Caruana losing such an endgame.})
36... fxe6 37. Nd2 Qd4 38. Nf3 Qd5 39. Nh2 a5 40. Ng4 Nf6 41. Nxf6+ gxf6 42.
Qe7 Qe5 43. b3 h5 44. h4 Qe1+ 45. Kg2 Qe5 46. Kh2 Qf5 47. Qe8+ Kg7 48. Qe7+ Kg6
49. Qe8+ Kg7 50. Qe7+ Kg6 51. Qe8+ Kg7 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2714"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "900+10"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. b4 Be7 $5 ({The
traditional thought for many years was that White isn't getting much after}
6... Bb6 7. a4 a6 {but there have been some recent developments. For example,
Van Foreest-Georgiev, European Championship 2019, saw} 8. Bg5 d6 9. Nbd2 Qe7
10. O-O Nd8 11. Bh4 Ne6 12. Bb3 Nf4 13. Nc4 Ba7 14. Ne3 {and here the
experienced Georgiev made a small concession} Bxe3 {which may not have been
the best decision. All in all, White is playing to build up a spatial
advantage on the queenside, and he is no hurry to do things elsewhere on the
board.}) 7. O-O d5 $1 {It wasn't hard to guess what Mamedyarov would do. Shakh
always goes forward!} 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. Re1 ({The possibility of} 9. b5 {was
explored some years ago. The conclusion was that Black gets plenty of play
after the loses a pawn:} Na5 10. Bxd5 ({or} 10. Nxe5 Nxc4 11. dxc4 Nb6 {
Nabaty-Atalik, Belgrade 2012.}) 10... Qxd5 11. c4 Qd7 $1 12. Bd2 e4 13. Bxa5
exf3 14. Qxf3 a6 15. bxa6 Rxa6 16. Bc3 b5 {Yudin-Vallejo Pons, World Rapid 2014
}) 9... Bf6 10. Ba3 $6 {I find Svidler's choice rather peculiar. He exposed
his position to all sorts of dangers, without having anything new prepared.} (
10. Ng5 Bxg5 11. Bxg5 Qxg5 12. Bxd5 Ne7 13. Bf3 Ng6 14. Nd2 {is known to be a
reliable continuation, albeit White doesn't have much of an advantage.}) 10...
Re8 11. Nbd2 Nxc3 ({I like} 11... b5 $5 {even better.}) 12. Qb3 Be6 13. Bxe6
Rxe6 14. b5 Nd4 15. Nxd4 exd4 16. Rxe6 fxe6 17. Qxe6+ Kh8 {As often happens in
middlegame play, once the tactics are played out the bishop placed on a3 (or
a6) becomes a liability more than an asset. Here it's no match for the
powerful Nc3 or the purposeful Bf6.} 18. Re1 $1 {Peter immediately addressed
this important issue.} Nxb5 19. Be7 $1 Bxe7 20. Qxe7 Qxe7 21. Rxe7 b6 22. Ne4
c5 23. Kf1 Nc3 {It's hard to find anything else. With the white pieces
perfectly placed Black cannot yet bring his king into the game.} 24. Nxc3 dxc3
25. Ke2 h6 ({It was next to impossible to discern the difference, but} 25...
Kg8 $1 {was much better than the text. Only when we follow the line} 26. Kd1 b5
27. Rc7 Rf8 28. f3 Rf5 29. Rxa7 b4 {we can see the point of bringing the king
closer to the rooks:} 30. Rd7 $2 (30. Rc7 {offers better defensive chances.})
30... Rf7 $1 31. Rd8+ Rf8 32. Rd5 Ra8 {and the black rook gets around to
capture on a2. No disrespect directed at Mamedyarov, but can anyone but King
Magnus find endgame wins like this?}) 26. Kd1 b5 27. Rc7 Rf8 28. f3 Rf5 29.
Rxa7 Re5 ({Now} 29... b4 30. Rd7 Kh7 31. d4 {leads a draw.}) 30. a3 Re3 31. Rb7
Rxd3+ {The pawns get annihilated and the game ends peacefully.} 32. Kc2 Rd2+
33. Kxc3 Rxg2 34. Rxb5 Rxh2 35. Rxc5 Rf2 36. Rf5 g6 37. Rf4 Kg7 38. Kd3 g5 39.
Ke3 Ra2 40. Ra4 h5 41. Ra7+ Kg6 42. Ra6+ Kf5 43. Ra5+ Kg6 44. Ra6+ Kf5 45. Ra5+
Kg6 46. Ra6+ 1/2-1/2
[Event "St. Louis"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.19"]
[Round "3"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A37"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
1. c4 {So's recipe against the Grunfeld defence this time: avoid it!} g6 2. Nc3
c5 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. Nf3 e5 {The most ambitious setup by Svidler. Black
seizes space and adds another pawn into the center. The drawback is that the
d5 square is weakened for good.} 6. a3 a5 7. d3 Nge7 ({Black's moves can be
transposed and may start with} 7... d6 8. O-O Nge7 9. Rb1 O-O {Then a recent
game saw Black in time to swap off everything on the queenside after} 10. Bd2 (
{However, So might have been inspired by another game:} 10. b3 Rb8 11. Bb2 h6
12. Nd2 Be6 13. Nd5 b5 14. e3 Qd7 15. Re1 $146 {A novely, which is the fruit
of in-depth homework by Ding Liren.} ({An earlier blitz game saw} 15. Qc2 Bh3
16. Ne4 Nxd5 17. Bxh3 Qxh3 18. cxd5 Ne7 19. Nxd6 Nxd5 20. Qxc5 Nf6 21. Qxe5
Rfd8 22. Ne4 Ne8 23. Qf4 g5 24. Qf3 Bxb2 25. Rxb2 Rxd3 {Ibrahimov,R (2518)
-Tregubov,P (2575) Riadh 2017}) 15... Bg4 16. Qc2 Rfc8 {This was all well
prepared by the Chinese GM and he reaveled he did not see any idea for Black.
\"Maybe this was a mistake as I can force the following position.\" (Ding)} 17.
Ne4 Nxd5 18. cxd5 Ne7 19. Nd2 $1 {I am quoting the essence of Ding's words:
\"Since I have found this idea I think I am much better. He does not have the
rook on a8 and cannot play a5-a4, thus I can play a3-a4 myself and get the c4
square for my knight.\"} Bh3 20. Bh1 $1 {and White later won in Ding, L (2801)
-Vachier-Lagrave,M (2777) Grand Chess Tour Finals 2019.}) 10... Be6 11. Na4 h6
12. Ne1 Rb8 13. b4 axb4 14. axb4 cxb4 15. Nc2 b5 16. cxb5 Rxb5 17. Nxb4 Nxb4
18. Bxb4 Qd7 {and soon a draw was ageed in Pantsulaia, L (2593)-Moiseenko,A
(2659) Batumi 2018}) 8. Nd2 d6 9. Nf1 {A typical maneuver.} O-O 10. Ne3 Rb8 11.
Rb1 Nd4 12. Bd2 Bd7 {Svidler was already thinking heavily at this point.} ({
The attempt to free herself on the queenside in this game} 12... b5 {backfired
after} 13. Nxb5 Nxb5 14. cxb5 Rxb5 15. a4 Rb8 16. Nc4 {winning the a5 pawn in
Arutinian,D (2555)-Osmanodja,F (2326) Skopje 2019}) 13. O-O Bc6 14. b4 axb4 15.
axb4 {And after all the logical moves done it became clear that So did much
better than his opponent. The b7-pawn in particular remained on the board,
which the main strategical danger for Black in the English opening as a whole.}
cxb4 $146 {This is a novelty.} ({White established a firm advantage after}
15... b6 16. Bxc6 Ndxc6 17. b5 Nd4 18. Ned5 Nxd5 19. Nxd5 Ne6 20. Ra1 Nc7 21.
Nxc7 Qxc7 22. Ra6 h5 23. e4 {when White owed the only open file and had the
better bishop in Eljanov,P (2681)-Krivenko,S (2341) St Petersburg 2012}) ({
There was an argument for the immediate} 15... Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Qd7 {which
prepares the freeing b7-b5 move. However, there White can mount pressure with}
17. bxc5 ({Rather than} 17. Ned5 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 b5 {when Black is seemingly
freeing.}) 17... dxc5 18. Qa4 {with White's edge.}) 16. Rxb4 Bxg2 ({Or} 16...
Ra8 17. Ned5 {and White is in control.}) 17. Kxg2 Qd7 {Black is ready to swap
his problematic pawn.} 18. Ned5 $1 {But So will never allow this.} Nec6 ({After
} 18... Nxd5 {I suspect White wanted to react with} 19. cxd5 $1 (19. Nxd5 b5
20. Qb1 Nxe2 21. Rxb5 Rxb5 22. Qxb5 Qg4 23. Qb6 Nd4) 19... h5 20. e3 Nf5 21. h3
{first limiting the black knight and only then trippling his major pieces
against the defenseless b7-weakness.}) 19. Rb6 {The object is fixed. White's
play is obvious and easy.} f5 {The only chance to create some counterplay is
related to the kingside.} 20. f3 $1 {And So is alert!} Rf7 (20... f4 21. Ne4 {
is simply hopeless for Black.}) 21. Be3 (21. Qa4 {also made sense, however the
American GM wants to have his queen around, at least for a while.}) 21... h5 ({
Or else after} 21... h6 22. Qd2 g5 23. Rfb1 {White would have continued with
the additional pressure against the isolated pawn.}) 22. Qd2 Ne6 23. Rfb1 Kh7
24. h4 {One last careful prophylaxis on the kingside. White is ready to
tripple his major pieces and after the swap of a couple of light pieces he
would quickly gain access to both the black queenside weaknesses (b7 and d6.)}
f4 {A desperate try which only makes things worse for Svidler.} 25. gxf4 exf4
26. Bf2 Ncd4 ({The further opening of the kingside works well for White} 26...
g5 27. hxg5 Nxg5 28. Rh1) ({Whereas} 26... Qd8 27. Ne4 {changes nothing.}) 27.
Bxd4 Bxd4 28. Ne4 $1 {That is it! This domination is more than enough to force
resignation.} ({The resignation is not premature} 28. Ne4 {First of all it is
obvious that the rook is immune:} Bxb6 ({And it is also clear that the d6-pawn
cannot be defended for the same trick would work after} 28... Be5 29. Rxd6 $1
Bxd6 30. Nef6+) 29. Nef6+) 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.19"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2655"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. d4 {In this delayed version of
the Open Sicilian, White will sacrifice a tempo on moving his Bb5 back but the
black knight is already committed to e7, which poses problems of its own.} cxd4
6. Nxd4 Qb6 {This move has been tried by Carlsen and some other strong players.
} ({However, GM Boris Gelfand, a big authority on opening theory, prefers} 6...
Ng6) 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. Be2 $5 (8. Bd3 {is rather more common. Swiercz had it
played against him by Xiong in an online game earlier this year.}) 8... Ng6 ({
With that knight standing in front of the bishop, opening the game up with}
8... d5 {feels wrong:} 9. exd5 cxd5 10. c4 Bb7 11. Be3 Qc6 12. Nc3 {with a big
initiative to White.}) 9. c4 Be7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. Rb1 c5 {The resulting
structure favors White.} (11... Rd8 {but the alternative,} 12. Be3 Qc7 13. Qd2
d6 14. b4 e5 15. b5 {is even less enticing.}) 12. Be3 Qc7 13. f4 Bb7 14. g3
Rfe8 15. h4 {In the absence of counterplay ideas, Swiercz begins a long-winded
knight relocation.} Nf8 16. Bf3 d6 17. Qd2 a6 18. b3 Rad8 19. Qf2 Nd7 20. Rbd1
Bf6 21. Ne2 Nb6 {As d6-d5 became a possibility, Caruana prepared a vicious
reply.} 22. g4 $5 ({White could have also continue with} 22. h5 {because in
the line} d5 23. exd5 exd5 24. Bxc5 Nd7 25. Ba3 dxc4 {he has} 26. Qa7) 22... d5
23. g5 Be7 $2 ({I have no idea why the obvious} 23... dxe4 {wasn't played. Was
Swiercz concerned with} 24. Bg2 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Rd8 26. Rxd8+ Bxd8 27. f5 {
Possibly, but without the rooks on the board the danger to Black's position
would greatly diminish.}) 24. f5 $1 exf5 {Just like in his two previous games,
today Dariusz was unable to present any problems for his opponent.} ({The
interesting sacrifice} 24... Bd6 $5 {would invite the following line:} 25. cxd5
exd5 26. exd5 Nxd5 27. Bxd5 Bxd5 28. Rxd5 Bh2+ 29. Qxh2 Qxh2+ 30. Kxh2 Rxd5 31.
Nf4 Rxf5 {In the end I'm not sure how large White's advantage really is.}) ({
Of course,} 24... dxe4 {was no longer an option, as} 25. Bh5 {crashes through.}
) 25. Bf4 Bd6 26. Bxd6 Qxd6 27. exd5 {Now White enjoys a near winning
advantage based on a pawn structure alone.} Nd7 28. Bg2 Bc8 29. Nf4 Ne5 ({
It was too late to think of the queenside, as} 29... a5 {would meet with} 30.
Ne6 $1) 30. b4 $1 cxb4 31. c5 {Just like that the game is practically over.}
Qb8 32. Rfe1 b3 33. axb3 Qb4 34. Re2 ({Fabiano rejected the crude} 34. c6 Ng4
35. Rxe8+ Rxe8 36. Qd4 {because Black establishes a blockade,} Qd6 37. b4 {
and can bother White with} h6) 34... Ng4 35. Qd4 Qxb3 36. Nh5 f6 37. Rxe8+ Rxe8
38. gxf6 gxf6 39. d6 Be6 40. d7 Rd8 41. c6 Qc2 42. Re1 Kf7 43. Nf4 Bb3 44. c7
$1 {Accurate to the end.} Qxc7 45. Bd5+ Bxd5 46. Qxd5+ {Swiercz resigned,
because he was losing his queen to a fork on e6.} 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.19"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Shankland, Sam"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2709"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O a6 7. a4 h6 $5 {
This move is becoming more and more common in this and similar positions.
Since White already castled short, Black is looking to attack with g7-g5.} 8.
Re1 Ba7 9. Nbd2 Be6 {A bit of a refinement.} ({The immediate} 9... g5 10. b4
Nh5 11. Nb3 g4 12. b5 gxf3 13. Qxf3 Qf6 14. Qxf6 Nxf6 15. bxc6 bxc6 16. d4 Be6
{led to a roughly balanced position in Karjakin-Carlsen, London Classic 2017.})
10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Nf1 {Vachier-Lagrave wanted to secure his king first.} ({
Another approach would be to launch his own attack with} 11. b4) 11... a5 $5 {
Shankland took his time to slow White down on the queenside, and he was still
planning to castle long.} (11... O-O {seen in Vocaturo-Mamedyarov, Olympiad
2018, and some other games represent a much quieter scenario.}) 12. Ng3 Qd7 13.
Be3 Bxe3 14. Rxe3 g5 {There it goes. Sam shows no fear of his dangerous
opponent. In general, I support this approach from a lower-rated player (mind
it, Sam isn't that far behind Maxime, but still), because sharp tactical play
is often a great equalizer of players' ability. Besides, the top dog doesn't
want to suffer an upset, and would much prefer playing for two results (win or
draw only).} 15. d4 O-O-O 16. d5 exd5 17. exd5 Ne7 ({Very interesting was}
17... Nb8 $5 {in the vein of the Bogo-Indian Defense. Bringing the knight to
c5 is often worth a tempo or two.} 18. Ne4 (18. b4 Qf7 {may cost White the
d5-pawn.}) (18. c4 Na6 {and the queenside is secure.}) 18... Nxe4 19. Rxe4 Qf5
20. Re2 h5 21. b4 h4 {with chances for both sides.}) 18. c4 Ng4 19. Rb3 $1 {
An excellent idea from Vachier-Lagrave. He finds the fastest way of opening
the b-file.} Rdf8 20. Qe1 b6 21. Rb5 Nxf2 $1 {Shankland is up to the task.} (
21... Nf5 22. b4 Nh4 23. bxa5 Rxf3 24. Ra2 $1 Rhf8 25. axb6 {and White's
attack is faster.}) 22. Qxf2 g4 23. Nxe5 $1 Qxb5 24. axb5 Rxf2 25. Kxf2 dxe5
26. Ke3 Rf8 27. Rf1 ({The rook ending after} 27. b3 Nf5+ 28. Nxf5 Rxf5 {
is equal.}) 27... Rxf1 28. Nxf1 Nf5+ 29. Kd3 Kd7 30. Nd2 Nd6 31. Ne4 Ke7 $2 {
This casual move proved to be Sam's undoing.} ({The idea of going into a pawn
ending had to be refined with a precise move order.} 31... Ne8 $1 32. Ke3 Ke7
33. Kf2 (33. b3 Nd6 34. Nxd6 cxd6 35. Ke4 Kf6 {This exact position was reached
in the game, only then it was Black's turn to move. Here Black is safe because
he cannot be put in Zugzwang.} 36. h3 gxh3 37. gxh3 {is not dangerous for him,
because his h6-pawn is out of reach of the white king.} Ke7 38. Kf5 Kd7 $11)
33... Nd6 34. Nxd6 cxd6 35. Ke3 a4 $1) 32. Nxd6 cxd6 ({No salvation can be
found in} 32... Kxd6 33. b3 Kc5 34. Ke4 Kb4 {There are many paths to a win for
White here, but the most accurate is} 35. g3 h5 (35... Kxb3 36. c5 a4 37. d6
cxd6 38. cxb6 a3 39. b7 a2 40. b8=Q a1=Q 41. Qxd6) 36. Kf5 $1 ({refusing to
take the pawn is important} 36. Kxe5 Kxb3 37. c5 a4 38. d6 cxd6+ 39. Kxd6 a3
40. cxb6 a2 41. b7 a1=Q 42. b8=Q Qf6+ {is a bit more work.}) 36... Kxb3 37. c5
a4 38. d6 {and White queens first. All resulting queen endings are pretty much
lost for Black.}) 33. Ke4 Kf6 34. b3 $1 {Zugzwang. See the note to Black's
31st move again.} Kg6 (34... h5 35. g3 Kf7 36. Kf5 Ke7 37. Kg5 Kf7 38. Kxh5)
35. c5 dxc5 36. d6 Kf7 37. Kd5 {As a true Frenchman, Maxime has a flair for
the dramatic. Here he chooses a fancy way to put the game away.} ({The boring}
37. Kxe5 c4 38. bxc4 a4 39. Kd4 Ke6 40. Kc3 Kxd6 41. Kb4 {would also do the
trick.}) 37... e4 38. Kc6 e3 39. d7 e2 40. d8=Q e1=Q 41. Kxb6 Qe6+ 42. Ka7 c4
43. bxc4 a4 44. b6 a3 45. b7 a2 46. Qc7+ Kg6 47. Qa5 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.19"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C47"]
[WhiteElo "2710"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 {
This variation has been known for 125 years, and the absolute majority of
games between strong players ended up drawn.} O-O 8. O-O d5 9. exd5 cxd5 10. h3
c6 11. Qf3 Bd6 12. Re1 ({Or} 12. Bf4 Rb8) 12... Re8 13. Rxe8+ Qxe8 14. Bf4 Qe7
15. Na4 c5 $5 {This appears to be just a bit risky, but Dominguez felt he had
it all under control.} 16. Bxd6 ({Possibly, the best way to challenge him
would be to refrain from capturing on d6, and go} 16. c4 Bd7 17. Nc3 Rb8 18. b3
{In this situation Black must move his d-pawn,} d4 {and then White plays} 19.
Nb5 Bxf4 20. Qxf4 {obtaining control over the h2-b8 diagonal, and possibly
invading on c7.}) 16... Qxd6 17. c4 Bd7 18. Nc3 Rb8 19. Nxd5 (19. b3 d4 20. Nb5
{is no longer effective on account of} Qb6 21. Qf4 Re8) 19... Nxd5 20. Rd1 {
Nice try, but, of course, Leinier won't blunder anything.} Rxb2 21. Be4 Bc6 22.
g3 g6 23. Bxd5 Bxd5 24. Qxd5 Qxd5 25. Rxd5 Rxa2 26. Rxc5 a5 27. Rc7 Rc2 28. Ra7
Rxc4 29. Rxa5 Kg7 30. h4 h5 31. Kg2 Kg8 32. Kg1 Kg7 33. Kg2 Kg8 34. Kg1 Kg7
1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2758"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3
Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 ({Vachier-Lagrave has long
since abandoned} 12... b4 13. Ne2 Ne8 14. f4 a5 15. f5 a4 {which he played
against Radjabov in FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent 2014. The analysis of this line
goes too deep to leave much room for players to show their creativity.}) 13.
Kb1 (13. Nd5 {A more direct approach was taken by GM David Paravyan when he
played Maxime in the World Cup last month.} Bxd5 14. exd5 f6 $1 {MVL knew he
had to open up the kingside for counterplay.} 15. gxf6 Bxf6 16. Na5 Qe8 17. Qb4
Bd8 18. Nb7 Rxf3 19. Nxd6 Qe7 {In the end Black's tightrope act earned him a
draw.}) 13... Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15. Nd5 $1 {One problem with sticking to the
same opening, particularly a sharp one like the Najdorf, is that it gives
opponents a chance to prepare in depth. As it was expected here, Leinier went
for the most principled move.} ({The alternative,} 15. a3 {was tried a time or
two, and among those the model game is Aronian-Carlsen, Tata Steel India Rapid
2019:} g6 16. h4 Ng3 17. Rg1 Nxf1 18. Rgxf1 Na4 19. Nxa4 bxa4 20. h5 Qd7 {
Levon's knight was stuck on a5, but the game remained level for some time
because of White's threats on the kingside. Eventually Carlsen won in the
endgame.}) 15... Nxd5 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. c4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20.
h4 Qa4 {All according to the latest theoretical recommendations, and now
Dominguez has played his prepared move.} 21. Bd3 $5 (21. b3 Qb4 {gave Black
sufficient counterplay on the dark squares in Kryvoruchko-Van Wely 2016.})
21... bxc4 {The rest of the game leaves a strange impression. It seems Black
has played all the obvious moves, and none was severely criticized by the
computer, yet soon he arrives in a lost position. Such is the life in the
opposite-color bishop middlegames; the defender doesn't really have a chance
to hold unless there's a miracle tactic somewhere.} 22. Qe4 g6 23. Bc2 Qd7 $2 {
MVL continued to play a tempo, seemingly unconcerned about the danger to his
king.} (23... Qe8 $1 24. Qxf4 Qb5 {may have been the improvement Maxime needed
to find.}) 24. h5 $1 Qe6 ({Now} 24... Bxg5 {doesn't threaten to trade queens,
so White has time for} 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qd4 f6 27. Rh2 Kg7 28. Rg1 {winning
the bishop and the game.}) 25. hxg6 hxg6 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qh4 Qg7 28. Rd2 {
The other rook is about to join the assault on the h-file, and Black is
running out of options.} Rc5 29. f4 f6 ({Well, it turns out that Black's
counterattack would come to a standstill after} 29... Rb8 30. b3 cxb3 31. Bxb3
Ra5 32. Rh3 {while White needs just one more move to win the game.}) 30. Rdh2
fxg5 31. Qe1 $1 {One last precise move in the game beautifully conducted by
Dominguez.} Bf6 32. Rh6 Qb7 33. Qe6+ 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Rapport, Richard"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. g3 d5 2. Nf3 Nd7 $5 {This peculiar idea was discovered just a couple of
years ago, and it has been gaining popularity ever since.} 3. d4 {This seems
natural...} ({... as} 3. Bg2 e5 {may not be to White's liking.}) 3... Nb6 {
The point. Where's your Catalan now?} 4. a4 $5 {It's Rapport being
Rapport—always good for an original idea.} ({In a training match with GM
Alexander Shabalov, I played the conventional} 4. Bg2 Nf6 5. O-O Bf5 6. Nbd2 c6
7. b3 e6 8. c4 Bb4 9. Bb2 O-O 10. a3 Be7 {and got nothing out of the opening.})
4... a5 5. Nc3 $5 Nf6 6. Bg2 Bf5 7. Nh4 {White aims for e2-e4, so Svidler
decides to let his bishop be taken.} e6 $5 8. Nxf5 exf5 9. Qd3 Qd7 10. O-O Bb4
11. Nd1 {The beginning of an unusual maneuver.} O-O 12. f3 Rfe8 13. Nf2 Qe6 14.
Bg5 Nc4 15. c3 Bf8 16. Rae1 $5 {We all should thank the chess gods for Rapport.
Who else can play a move like this? White casually drops a pawn to stay on his
e2-e4 track.} Nxb2 17. Qc2 Nc4 18. e4 h6 19. Bxf6 Qxf6 20. e5 Qe6 21. f4 {
Stormy clouds are gathering over Black's position.} h5 $1 22. h3 g6 23. g4 hxg4
24. hxg4 fxg4 25. Qd1 g3 $6 ({Possibly,} 25... Kg7 26. Nxg4 Be7 {was Peter's
best option to quickly move his rook to the h-file.}) 26. Ng4 Bg7 27. Bh3 ({
It's not easy to think of a trade when you are poised to attack, but in this
case} 27. Ne3 $1 {is the most effective plan. After the trade} Nxe3 28. Rxe3 {
Black is practically forced to play} f5 {but then his position comes under
pressure from every direction possible:} 29. Rxg3 Qf7 (29... Kf7 30. Qb3) 30.
Qb1 c6 31. Kf2 Rad8 32. Bf3 Rd7 33. Rfg1 Re6 34. Ke2 Kf8 35. R1g2 {followed by
Qg1, bringing up Alekhine's gun.}) 27... Qb6 ({Instead, the correct} 27... Qe7
$1 28. f5 Qh4 29. Kg2 Ra6 30. f6 Bh6 {would sow some confusion.}) 28. Qd3 c5
29. Rb1 Qc7 30. f5 Ra6 31. f6 cxd4 $5 {Seeing no other way of playing this
position, Svidler went into full desperado.} 32. cxd4 ({It could be punished by
} 32. fxg7 Nxe5 {but Rapport missed the winning shot} 33. Qxa6) 32... Bf8 33.
Qxg3 Nd2 34. Qh4 {Still, what Richard has done is good enough.} Ne4 ({On} 34...
Nxf1 {White calmly proceeds with} 35. Rxf1 ({Not} 35. Nh6+ $2 Bxh6 36. Qxh6
Rxf6 37. exf6 Qg3+) 35... Qc3 36. Nh6+ Bxh6 37. Qxh6 Rxf6 38. exf6 Qe3+ 39.
Qxe3 Rxe3 40. Bg2 Rd3 41. Rb1 Rxd4 42. Rxb7 {to put the game away in the
endgame.}) 35. Nh6+ Bxh6 36. Qxh6 Nxf6 37. exf6 Qg3+ 38. Bg2 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A33"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2772"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "106"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 e6 6. g3 Qb6 7. Nb3 Ne5 8. e4
Bb4 9. Qe2 d6 10. Bd2 $1 {No matter what opening Caruana plays, he's always
well-prepared. This modest bishop move serves an important purpose of
preserving the integrity of White's pawn structure.} ({The old line goes as
follows:} 10. f4 Nc6 11. Be3 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Qc7 13. Bg2 O-O 14. c5 dxc5 15.
Bxc5 Rd8 16. e5 {and then Black holds the balance with the precise move} Na5 $1
{as in Kramnik-Salov, Wijk aan Zee 1998.}) 10... O-O ({Gelfand-Svidler,
Legends of Chess 2020, saw a more enterprising approach from Black:} 10... a5
11. O-O-O a4 12. Na1 O-O 13. Nc2 Bc5 {yet he wasn't able to fully equalize the
game.}) 11. Bg2 Bd7 12. f4 Ng6 13. Rc1 Bc6 14. a3 Bxc3 ({I expected Wesley to
accept the pawn,} 14... Bxa3 15. bxa3 Qxb3 {I suppose in that case the queens
wouldn't be traded for some time.}) 15. Rxc3 a5 16. Qe3 {A surprising twist.} (
{One would expect White to keep the queens on the board and try for a big
attack, but} 16. Be3 Qc7 17. Bf2 a4 18. Nd4 {would be met by} e5 $1 {It is
difficult to tell whether a pair of bishops would prevail over a pair of
knights after} 19. Nxc6 bxc6 20. f5 Ne7 21. O-O c5 22. g4 Nd7 23. g5 f6 {
particularly if Black completes his intended Nc6-d4.}) 16... Ra6 $5 {A crafty
idea from a crafty player.} ({Wesley is looking for something better than a
routine} 16... Qxe3+ 17. Rxe3 a4 18. Na5 e5 19. O-O {One important feature of
this position is the availability of the great b4-square for the white bishop.}
) 17. c5 $6 {This leads White nowhere.} ({Perhaps Fabi could fall back to his
middlegame plans with} 17. Qd3 a4 18. Be3 Qc7 19. Nd2) 17... dxc5 18. Nxc5 Raa8
19. Nb3 Qxe3+ 20. Rxe3 Ng4 21. Rc3 Rfd8 $1 {What a classy move.} ({The
automatic} 21... Nf6 {would offer White an interesting option in} 22. Rxc6 $5
bxc6 23. Nxa5) 22. Rc4 Bb5 $2 {So has lost the thread of the game right here.}
({Strong is} 22... e5 $1 23. f5 (23. Nxa5 {loses to} Rxd2) 23... Ne7 {where}
24. Bxa5 {is inadvisable on account of} Rd3 25. Bc3 $2 Re3+ 26. Kd2 Bb5 {
and suddenly Black is winning.}) 23. Rc5 Ba4 24. h3 Nf6 25. e5 Nd5 {One can
see how Black is drifting into a bad position.} (25... Nd7 26. Rc3 Bc6 {
deserves attention.}) 26. Bxd5 exd5 27. Nd4 b6 28. Rc7 Rac8 29. Rb7 Rb8 30.
Rxb8 Rxb8 31. Kf2 {Finally, the situation has stabilized. Every minor piece of
White's is better than its counterpart, and there's a dangerous pawn majority
that can move forward on the kingside.} Rc8 32. b4 $2 {What was that for? Fabi
had it all under control on this side of the board,} ({and he should have
pushed forward with} 32. g4 {with the game at his mercy.}) 32... axb4 33. Bxb4
h5 $1 {Mutual time trouble brought out more simplifications, which increased
Wesley's drawing chances.} 34. Ke3 Rc4 35. h4 Nf8 36. Bxf8 Kxf8 37. Rb1 b5 38.
Kd3 g6 39. f5 (39. Rb4 Rc1 40. Nxb5 Bxb5+ 41. Rxb5 Rg1 42. a4 Rxg3+ 43. Kc2 Rf3
{wouldn't offer White any real winning chances.}) 39... gxf5 40. Rf1 b4 $1 41.
axb4 Rxb4 42. Rxf5 Bd1 {The time trouble is over, and it all fizzles out now.}
43. Rf6 ({The extra pawn, obtained after} 43. e6 Rb7 44. Rxd5 Bg4 45. exf7 Kxf7
{doesn't provide any winning chances.}) 43... Bg4 44. Ke3 Rb1 45. Nf5 Rb3+ 46.
Kd4 Bxf5 47. Rxf5 Rxg3 48. Rxh5 Kg7 49. Kxd5 Rg4 {The same story here. The
players brought the game to conclusion by trading everything.} 50. Rg5+ Rxg5
51. hxg5 Kg6 52. e6 fxe6+ 53. Kxe6 Kxg5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Shankland, Sam"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2709"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "87"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 d5 {Shakh likes this push in
the Ruy. Earlier in the tournament, he played in the similar fashion against
Svidler.} 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Bc4 Qd8 8. Bg5 $5 {A new try.} (8. O-O O-O 9. b4 {
is the common way of handling this position.}) 8... h6 9. Bh4 g5 {Mamedyarov
isn't the player to hold back.} 10. Bg3 e4 11. Qe2 Qe7 12. dxe4 Nxe4 13. Nbd2
Nxg3 14. Qxe7+ Bxe7 {Just like that Black's problems are solved, and he may
even try for more. In this adverse situation, Shankland shows an inventive way
of thinking.} 15. fxg3 $5 {I like this very much. White introduces some
dynamic factors, such as threats on the f-file, into an otherwise lifeless
position.} Bf5 ({The resolute} 15... g4 16. Nd4 Nxd4 17. cxd4 O-O 18. Rf1 Kg7 {
is preferred.}) 16. O-O Bg6 17. Bb5 $1 {When the black bishop was committed to
the defense of the f7-pawn, Sam switched his attack to a different target.}
O-O-O ({Better is to improve the bishop} 17... Bc5+ 18. Kh1 O-O-O 19. Nb3 Bb6 {
and aim for a second-rank infiltration after} 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Ne5 Rhe8 $1)
18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. Nb3 Rd5 20. Rae1 Bf6 $6 {An unfortunate choice of a square.}
21. Nfd4 {There goes Black's bishop pair.} Bxd4+ 22. Nxd4 Kb7 {Shakh was not
his usual self in this game.} ({Normally he goes for active play such as} 22...
c5 23. Nc6 Rd6 24. Nxa7+ Kb7 25. Nb5 Rb6 26. a4 Ra8 27. b3 c4 {with no
hesitation whatsoever.}) 23. Nb3 Kb6 24. c4 $1 Rd7 25. a4 a5 26. Rf6 {White
already stands better due to the activity of his rooks. The \"bad\" Nb3 is
also playing its part.} Ra8 27. Re5 Rd1+ 28. Kf2 Ra6 29. Rb5+ Ka7 30. Rxa5 Rxa5
({Better chances are found in} 30... Rb1 31. Rxa6+ Kxa6 32. Rxc6+ Ka7 $1) 31.
Nxa5 Rd2+ 32. Kf3 Rxb2 33. Nxc6+ Ka8 34. Ne5 {Shankland was fully intent on
taking every pawn in sight. A beautiful piece of coordination between his rook
and knight.} Bc2 35. Nxf7 h5 36. Nxg5 Bd1+ 37. Ke3 Re2+ 38. Kd4 $1 {White no
longer needs his kingside pawns, as the outcome of the game will be decided
elsewhere.} Rxg2 39. a5 $1 Rxh2 40. Ne6 h4 41. Nxc7+ Kb8 42. Nb5 hxg3 43. a6
Rh8 44. Ke4 {Obviously, this move wasn't played in the game. The king was
placed in the middle to indicate White's victory.} ({In reality, Mamedyarov
resigned before Shankland could play} 44. Rb6+ Kc8 (44... Ka8 45. Nc7+ Ka7 46.
Rb7#) 45. a7 Kd7 46. Ke3 {putting an end to all resistance, such as} g2 47.
Rd6+ Ke7 48. Rxd1) 1-0
[Event "St. Louis"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B96"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 {A sharp Najdorf!
What else to expect from these young chess stars!} e6 7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Qb6 9. a3
Nbd7 ({Black can also switch to Scheveningen waters with} 9... Nc6 10. Bf2 Qc7
11. Be2 Be7 12. O-O O-O 13. Qd3 e5 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Qg3 Rd8 17.
Kh1 Be6 18. Be3 Kh7 19. Bd3 a5 20. Nd5 {with White's strong intiative in
Grandelius,N (2670)-Giri,A (2780) Online 2021}) 10. Bf2 Qc7 11. Bd3 b5 12. Qe2
Bb7 13. O-O-O Be7 14. Kb1 g6 $146 {This move is a novelty, but a very risky
one. Xiong is obviously not planning to castle short, but the move in the game
is nevertherless weakening the light squares, which seems unnecessary at this
point.} ({Black managed to equalize with the obvious} 14... Nc5 15. Rhe1 O-O
16. g4 d5 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. Nf5 exf5 20. Qxe7 Qxe7 21. Rxe7 Nxd3
22. Rxd3 Be4 {in Alvir,A (2341)-Kiss,A (2383) Austria 2015}) 15. Rhe1 {Asking
the black king to choose a flank. With the e4-e5 and f4-f5 breaks in the air,
this becomes an urgency.} Nc5 ({Of course} 15... O-O 16. f5 {castles into a
deadly kingside attack and should be avoided.}) 16. g4 {A logical kingside
expansion.} ({There was an argument for the immediate} 16. f5 $5 {made a lot
of sense as well, especially with the black king still in the center. For
instance} e5 {Allows the strong} ({Most likely Black planned} 16... gxf5 17.
exf5 e5 18. Bh4 O-O-O 19. Nb3 {which also looks good for the first player.})
17. fxg6 $1 exd4 {when both} ({Or} 17... fxg6 18. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 19. exd5 O-O 20.
Ne6 {with a powerful kingside attack for White.}) 18. gxf7+ ({And} 18. Nd5 $1 {
promise a huge attack for the first player.})) 16... g5 $1 {A typical Najdorf
idea, to fight for the e5-square.} 17. fxg5 $1 {And a nice reaction in return.}
({Black's defense is much easier after} 17. f5 Nfd7 {followed by Nd7-e5.})
17... hxg5 18. Bg3 $1 {This was Swiercz's point: no time will be allowed to
his opponent to install a knight on the central outpost.} O-O-O {And Xiong
believes his opponent's word, which turns out to be a mistake.} ({However, as
the computer indicates} 18... Nfd7 {was possible and likely needed. Black then
seemingly feared the piece sacrifice with} 19. Bxb5 $5 axb5 20. Ndxb5 {but the
cool-headed machine believes in Black's defensive resources after} Qb6 21. Bxd6
({Or after} 21. Nxd6+ Kf8 22. Rf1 Rh7 $1) 21... Ba6) 19. Rf1 $1 {Now the
knight will never make it to the e5-square and the e4-e5 threat is deadly for
Black.} ({Also promising was the immediate} 19. e5 $1 Nfd7 ({Or} 19... dxe5 20.
Bxe5 Qb6 {when White is better after} 21. Rf1 ({Or} 21. Nb3)) 20. Ndxb5 $1 axb5
21. exd6 Bxd6 22. Nxb5 Bxg3 23. Nxc7 Bxc7 24. Qe3 {with White's edge.}) 19...
Qb6 20. Nb3 $1 {An instructive blow! It is getting more and more difficult for
Black to find reasonable moves.} Ncd7 ({Since after} 20... Nxb3 21. cxb3 {
The black king is in cross-fire and cannot leave the danger zone} Kb8 22. e5 $1
) 21. Bf2 {Embarrassing the black queen.} ({However, even stronger was the
immediate} 21. a4 $3 b4 ({If} 21... bxa4 22. Nxa4 Qc6 23. Nc3 Qb6 24. Bf2 {
and Black is getting crushed.}) 22. a5 Qc7 23. Na2 {winning the pawn and the
queenside battle.}) 21... Qc7 22. a4 $1 {This same idea works well again!} ({
Even} 22. Bg1 $5 {would have been good, preparing the a3-a4 advance, but the
move in the game is more energetic.}) 22... bxa4 {Xiong has no other choice
but to let the white troops invade.} ({After} 22... b4 23. Na2 Rxh2 24. Nxb4 a5
25. Na6 Qc6 {White's attack wins after both} 26. Bb5 $1 ({Or} 26. Nxa5 $1 Qxa4
27. Qe1) 26... Qxe4 27. Qd2) 23. Nxa4 Qc6 24. Nc3 {Played a tempo! Swiercz has
a winning idea and follows it strictly.} ({Therefore he missed the even more
convincing} 24. Nb6+ $3 Nxb6 25. Na5 Qc7 26. Bxa6 {and it is over for Black.})
24... Rxh2 25. Na5 Qc7 26. Nxb7 Kxb7 27. Bxa6+ {White won a pawn, the bishop
pair and increased his attack. The rest should be a matter of technique, right?
} Ka8 28. Nb5 Qc6 29. Nd4 Qb6 30. Rd3 $1 {On the top of all his advantages
Swiercz plays in the most energetic and beautiful way.} Nc5 31. Ra3 Kb8 32. Nf3
{But one little inaccuracy in this sharp position can rekindle Black's hopes!}
({A neat way to finish the game was the rook inclusion with} 32. Ra5 $3 Kc7 33.
Rb5 Qxa6 34. Rxc5+ $1) ({And the other square for the knight would have been
better} 32. Nb3 $1 Rxf2 33. Qxf2 Nfxe4 34. Qe3 {with a much better version of
the game continuation for White.}) 32... Rxf2 $3 {No-one should ever
underestimate the creative genius of Xiong! The game starts again with the
young grandmasters skilfully fencing their way through.} ({Rather than the
gloomy} 32... Rg2 33. Bxc5 $1) 33. Qxf2 Nfxe4 {The most obvious move is not
the best here.} ({The inhuman} 33... Kc7 $3 34. Bd3 Nxg4 35. Qe2 Rb8 {would
have coordinated the black pieces amazingly well, when anything would have
been possible still.}) ({But not the immediate} 33... Nxg4 34. Qe2 Kc7 35. Nd2
$1 {when White regroups nicely.}) 34. Qe3 Kc7 35. Nd4 Rb8 36. Bb5 {Swiercz is
just in time to block the b-file.} f5 37. c4 $1 {It is clear that White is
close to consolidating and converting his advantage. But you did not forget
the creative genius, did you?} (37. Qh3 $1 {in order to infiltrate the enemy
camp was also interesting, but not so much in time-trouble!}) 37... d5 $1 {
Desperate counter-attack.} ({The knight can show muscles after} 37... f4 38.
Nxe6+ $1) 38. gxf5 e5 $1 39. Nc6 dxc4 $3 {An only move, but nevertheless
impressive.} 40. Nxb8 Qxb5 41. Na6+ $1 {White is very accurate too!} ({After}
41. Ra7+ Kxb8 42. Rxe7 c3 {Black may have enough for the exchanges!}) 41...
Nxa6 42. Rxa6 $1 c3 $1 {Everything is hanging, but Swiercz had this covered.} (
{Or else} 42... Qxa6 43. Qxe4 {is nothing to play for Black.}) 43. Ra7+ Kb8 44.
Ra8+ $3 {The only move which was obviously seen in advance.} ({Otherwise White
was even losing:} 44. Rf2 $4 Nxf2 45. Qxf2 Bc5) 44... Kxa8 45. Qxe4+ Ka7 46.
Rf2 Bc5 47. Qd5 {Very tempting, but... So far everything was perfect.} ({And}
47. Rc2 $1 Bd4 48. Qe2 {would have led to the desired consolidation and win.})
47... Kb6 48. Qe6+ ({It was not too late for} 48. Rc2 $1 Qf1+ 49. Rc1 c2+ 50.
Kxc2 Qxf5+ 51. Kb3 Qf8 52. Rc3 {with excellent winning chances.}) 48... Ka5 $3
{King Power! Now Xiong almost escapes.} 49. Rc2 Ba3 {Alas, just a step away
from the draw Black chooses a wrong idea. The bishop obstructs Black's
counterplay from here. This square belonged to... the king!} ({The study-like
variation} 49... Bd4 $1 50. b3 ({Nothing yields} 50. f6 Qf1+ 51. Ka2 cxb2 {
when White will have to force a perpetual check.}) 50... Kb4 $3 {would
amazingly promise Black enough resources to hold, for example} 51. f6 (51. Ka2
Qa5+ 52. Kb1 Qb5 {changes nothing.}) 51... Qd3 52. Qc4+ ({Or} 52. f7 Bc5 53.
f8=Q Bxf8 54. Qb6+ Ka3 55. Qa7+ Kxb3 {and White has to be accurate announcing
the perpetual.}) 52... Qxc4 53. bxc4 Kxc4 54. f7 Bc5 55. Rf2 {It seems as
White can make it but} Kd3 $1 56. f8=Q Bxf8 57. Rxf8 {And then either pawn
advance} g4 ({Or} 57... e4 {would have led to a draw!})) 50. b3 Qc5 51. f6 Bb2
52. Rxb2 $3 {A nice geometry-based combination to wrap up this exciting game!}
cxb2 53. b4+ $1 Kxb4 ({Or otherwise the queens will be traded with} 53... Qxb4
54. Qa2+ Kb5 55. Qxb2 {when the f-pawn is unstoppable as well.}) 54. Qe7 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.21"]
[Round "5"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Rapport, Richard"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nf5 8.
c3 Nxe5 9. Rxe5 d6 10. Re1 O-O 11. d4 d5 12. Bf4 ({At least} 12. Nd2 Bd6 13.
Nf3 {keeps more pieces on the board.}) 12... Bd6 13. Qf3 {A silent draw offer.}
(13. Bxd6 Nxd6 14. Nd2 Bf5 $11) 13... Nh4 14. Qe3 Nf5 15. Qf3 Nh4 16. Qg3 Nf5
17. Qf3 {This exact order of moves had already been seen before.} 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.21"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Shankland, Sam"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2714"]
[BlackElo "2709"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bd3 {Anything goes
these days. Gone are the times when this move was only played by weak players
who didn't know any theory.} e5 7. Nde2 Be6 {Shankland changed the move order,
compared to recent high-profile games.} ({A typical structure for the modern
handling of the Najdorf,} 7... Nc6 8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. exd5 Nb4 10. Be4 a5 11. c3
Na6 {was reached in Vachier-Lagrave-Nepomniachtchi, Airthings Masters 2020.})
8. O-O ({The only real attempt at challenging Black's position would involve
castling the other way:} 8. f4 exf4 ({Black can also think of} 8... Be7 9. f5
Bd7 10. Bg5 Bc6) 9. Bxf4 Nc6 10. Qd2 Be7 11. O-O-O) 8... Nc6 {Taking the game
to a Classical Sicilian is an approved method of reacting to White's
particular piece configuration.} (8... Nbd7 9. h3 Be7 10. Ng3 O-O 11. Qf3 {
is what White is expecting. In the absence of attacks on his queen he can play
for Nf5.}) 9. f4 exf4 10. Nxf4 Ne5 11. a4 g6 $1 {Shankland found a better way
of developing his bishop. Obviously, he didn't have to worry about the safety
of his d6-pawn.} 12. Be2 Bg7 13. Be3 O-O 14. a5 Rc8 15. Ra4 Re8 (15... Nc4 16.
Nxe6 Nxe3 17. Nxd8 Nxd1 18. Rxd1 Rfxd8 19. Rb4 Rc7 {would also be OK for Black.
}) 16. h3 Qe7 17. Bd4 h5 18. Qe1 Bd7 $1 19. Nfd5 {It is high time for Svidler
to follow his game plan.} ({If the rook retreats,} 19. Ra1 {then Black
completes the relocation of his bishop with} Bc6 {and looks forward to adding
pressure on the e4-pawn.}) 19... Nxd5 20. Nxd5 Qe6 21. Nf4 Qe7 22. Nd5 Qe6 23.
Nf4 Qe7 24. Nd5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.21"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2655"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. O-O d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8.
Re1 Bg4 9. Nbd2 Nb6 10. h3 Bh5 11. Bb3 {Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is very
familiar with this position, having played it three times already prior to
this game.} Kh8 ({The point is that} 11... Qxd3 {is answered by} 12. Nxe5) 12.
Ne4 Nd7 13. Bd5 Bb6 14. Ng3 Bxf3 15. Qxf3 f5 {When it was played for the first
time, this move looked like a valiant attempt to challenge White's hold on the
light squares. Now it's known that this pawn is going to have to move forward,
effectively defeating the purpose of the whole operation. Black may still be
able to navigate his way to a draw, but it will take a series of precise moves,
which are quite difficult to find over the board.} 16. d4 ({Of course, not} 16.
Nxf5 g6) 16... f4 17. Ne4 {So far, the game has followed
Nepomniachtchi-Aronian, Skilling Open 2020} Qh4 {Swiercz tried a new move, but
it happens to be one of the top engine's recommendations, so he couldn't have
hoped for an element of surprise.} ({Levon played} 17... exd4 {and landed in
trouble after} 18. Bxc6 bxc6 19. Bxf4 dxc3 20. bxc3 Ne5 21. Qg3) 18. Nd2 {
Indeed, MVL answered very quickly.} exd4 19. Nc4 Rad8 $6 ({I don't see why
Black should reject} 19... dxc3 20. bxc3 {One reason may be the possibility of
using the a3-f8 diagonal, but} Bc5 {can take care of that.}) 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21.
Bd2 $1 {This is a clever move. MVL didn't mind being down a pawn, as his main
concern was finding employment for his bishop. One critical feature of this
position is an overextended f4-pawn, which opens up the seventh rank and the
long diagonal for possible attacks against g7.} Nf6 22. Nxb6 cxb6 23. cxd4 c5
$2 {Letting the bishop out cannot be a good idea.} ({For better or worse,}
23... Nd5 {has to be played. White's better after} 24. Re6 Rf6 25. Rae1 {
but the game goes on.}) 24. Re7 Rxd4 25. Bc3 Nd5 26. Rxa7 Nxc3 27. bxc3 Rdd8
28. Re1 c4 $2 {This move cannot be explained by anything but a desperate time
trouble. Swiercz must improve his time management, or this will be a very long
tournament for him.} (28... Qg5 29. Ree7 Rd6 {and hang tough.}) 29. Re4 b5 30.
a4 Rd3 31. Qxf4 Qxf4 32. Rxf4 Rg8 33. axb5 Rxc3 {The game has completely
unraveled for Swiercz.} 34. Rc7 {MVL calmly goes for a decisive two-pawn
advantage.} ({There is no need for} 34. b6 Rb3 35. b7 c3 36. Rc4 h6 37. Rc8 c2
$1 38. Rxc2 Kh7 39. Rc7 Rb8 {and White's Ra7 is poorly placed.}) 34... Rb3 35.
Rc5 c3 36. Rfc4 h6 37. Rxc3 Rb1+ 38. Kh2 Kh7 39. Rg3 Rb2 40. f4 g6 41. f5 g5 (
41... gxf5 42. Rxg8 Kxg8 43. Rxf5 {is hopeless.}) 42. Rd3 Re8 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44.
Rc6 Rxb5 45. Rg6+ Kf8 46. Rxh6 Kg8 47. f6 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.21"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2710"]
[BlackElo "2806"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Nf6 5. d4 {White attempts to transpose to
the Catalan, but he may not get there.} ({The other independent line starts
with} 5. c4 d4 $5 {which sets up a reversed Benoni with a couple of extra
tempi for White. (We assume that e6-e5 is going to be played sooner or later.
My guess, Caruana was going for it.)}) 5... cxd4 ({Fabiano didn't want} 5...
Nc6 6. c4 {which is a well-known line of the Catalan.}) 6. Nxd4 e5 {What we
have here is a reversed-color Grunfeld. White gets one extra move because he's
White and he moved first, and another one on Black's e7-e6-e5. How can this be
good for him? one might ask. The thing is that the black knight didn't come
out to c6 to allow the typical Grunfeld pattern 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.c4. Many
successful openings for Black depend on certain commitments from White, and
their ideas can't always be realized in reversed-color situations.} 7. Nb3 a5
$5 {Very ambitious. Fabiano acts like he needs no development.} ({Usually
Black chooses} 7... Be6 8. Bg5 Nbd7 {to keep the d5-pawn defended. Caruana(!)
-Nakamura, Chess.com Speed Championship 2017, went} 9. e4 dxe4 10. Bxe4 Qc7 11.
Bg2 Be7 12. Nc3 O-O {with approximate equality. Here lies a general problem
with color-reversed openings: the same positions that delight you with Black
don't look so hot when you're White.}) 8. Bg5 $1 {A typical Grunfeld move is
very appropriate here.} ({I suppose in reply to} 8. a4 {Fabiano would have to
fall back on} Be6 9. Bg5 Nbd7 10. Nc3 Be7) ({but} 8. c4 a4 9. N3d2 d4 {is what
he really wanted to see.}) 8... a4 9. Nc1 Be6 10. e4 $6 {I would think that
closing the position helps Black.} ({More logical is} 10. c4 dxc4 11. Qxd8+
Kxd8 12. Bxb7 Ra7 13. Bg2 {Perhaps Jeffery was concerned with} a3 $1 14. b3 Bc5
15. Nc3 Bd4 {but there White can continue with} 16. Bd2 $1 ({avoiding} 16. Nb5
Bxa1 17. Nxa7 cxb3 18. Nxb3 Bb2 {which, indeed, is annoying.}) 16... Rd7 17. e3
Ba7 18. Be1 {In this tense situation, Black has to worry about the threat of
Nb5. His king is not really that well positioned for a queenless middlegame.})
({Another promising idea is} 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. e3 Nc6 12. Nc3 d4 13. exd4 Nxd4
14. Qh5 Bg7 15. N1e2 $1 {ignoring the useless c2-pawn. I wonder what Richard
Rapport would think of that.}) 10... d4 11. f4 $5 {Give Xiong a round of
cheers for his fighting spirit.} (11. c3 Nc6 12. cxd4 Qxd4 {wouldn't trouble
Black at all.}) 11... Be7 12. Nd3 Nc6 {Clearly, Black has a better pawn
structure here. White needs to come up with something good, else his backward
c2-pawn will become a huge liability in the long run.} 13. Bf3 {Jeffery
correctly deemed covering the g4-square his first priority.} Nd7 {Solid and
good. A trade of dark-squared bishops perfectly fits into Black's plans.} (
13... O-O {would be an enterprising double pawn sacrifice. After} 14. Nxe5 Nxe5
15. fxe5 Nd7 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Qxd4 Qg5 18. Nc3 {Black can try} Rac8 $5) 14.
Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nd2 b5 16. b3 f6 $2 {This move gave Xiong a window of
opportunity.} ({Instead,} 16... Nc5 17. f5 Bc8 {would keep Black's superior
position intact.}) 17. Bh5+ $1 g6 18. f5 Bf7 19. fxg6 hxg6 20. Bg4 Be6 21. Bxe6
Qxe6 22. Nf3 g5 {True to his style, Fabiano wants it all, but it's a tall
order to keep control over the entire board, as one misstep can be fatal.} 23.
Qe2 Nd8 $2 {There it is.} (23... Ke7 {was better.}) 24. Nb4 $1 Rb8 25. Nd5 {
All it took was a white knight coming to a threatening position for the
situation to reverse. Black is in danger now.} O-O {Tons of time was burned on
this one.} 26. h4 Nf7 27. hxg5 fxg5 28. Rf2 Nb6 29. Qxb5 $2 {Jeffery took his
time here, but his choice is far from optimal. Trading queens when the black
king is open like this cannot be the best course, not in the practical sense.}
({Literally anything else is better, considering Fabiano's time trouble. Even}
29. Raf1 {may be good enough.} Nxd5 30. exd5 Qxd5 $2 ({Better is} 30... Qg4 $1
{because Black cannot survive with the queens on.}) 31. Nh2 {with the decisive
invasion via g4-f6.}) ({Then there is the direct attacking move,} 29. Nh4 $1 {
which would force} Nh6 30. Raf1 Nxd5 31. exd5 Qg4 {where White has a pleasant
choice between} 32. Rxf8+ ({or} 32. Nf5 Qxe2 33. Nxh6+ Kg7 34. Rxe2 Kxh6 35.
Rxf8 Rxf8 36. Rxe5) 32... Rxf8 33. Rxf8+ Kxf8 34. Ng6+ Kg7 35. Qxg4 Nxg4 36. d6
Nf6 37. Nxe5 {Granted, those variations have to be calculated carefully, and
Xiong didn't exactly had the loads of time it would take to cover them all.}) (
{Under the circumstances, the most practical decision would be to simply play}
29. Nd2 $5 {leaving Black with a multiple choice of unsatisfactory options. I
can see GM HIkaru Nakamuta playing it this way.}) 29... Nxd5 {At least now
Fabiano was able to play his moves faster.} 30. Qxd5 Qxd5 31. exd5 axb3 32.
axb3 d3 ({Caruana wasn't comfortable with} 32... Rb5 33. Ra6 Rxd5 34. Rg6+ Kh7
35. Rf6 Kg7 36. Nd2) 33. cxd3 Rxb3 34. Ra6 $1 Rd8 $4 {As commentator GM Ben
Finegold put it, Xiong had to beat Caruana twice to win one game.} ({There is
nothing to fear in} 34... Rxd3 35. Rg6+ Kh7 36. Rf6 e4 37. Ne5 ({or} 37. Ne1
Rxg3+ 38. Kh2 Re3 39. Rxf7+ Rxf7 40. Rxf7+ Kg6 41. Ng2 Rd3 42. Rd7 Kf6) 37...
Nxe5 38. Rxf8 Rxg3+ 39. Kf1 Rd3 {but Fabiano was very low on time.}) 35. Rg6+
Kh7 36. Rf6 Rxd3 {Caruana either resigned after playing this move or
overstepped the time limit. Anyway, the game was already gone.} (36... Rb1+ 37.
Kg2 Kg8 38. Rxf7 Kxf7 39. Nd2+) 1-0
[Event "Saint Louis"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.18"]
[Round "2.3"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2772"]
[Annotator "Shahid"]
[PlyCount "90"]
[EventDate "2021.08.17"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 Bd7 {C67: Ruy Lopez: Berlin Defence: 4 0-0 Nxe4.} (9... Ne7
10. Nc3 Bd7 11. b3 b6 12. Bb2 Kc8 13. Rad1 h6 14. Rd2 c5 15. Rfd1 Be6 16. Ne2
g5 17. Nh2 Kb7 18. Ng4 Nc6 19. c4 a5 20. a4 Bxg4 21. hxg4 Bg7 22. Ng3 Bxe5 23.
Bxe5 Nxe5 24. f3 Rae8 25. Kf2 Kc8 26. Nf5 {1/2-1/2 (45) Swiercz,D (2659)-So,W
(2765) Chess.com INT 2020}) 10. Rd1 Be7 11. g4 Nh4 {The position is equal.} 12.
Nxh4 Bxh4 13. Nd2 Kc8 14. Nf3 Be7 15. Bg5 {is now more promising than 15.Rd3.}
Bc5 16. Rd3 {[#] Strongly threatening Rad1.} Be6 17. Be3 Bxe3 18. Rxe3 Kd7 19.
Nd4 Rad8 {[#]} (19... h5 {feels hotter.} 20. Rd1 Ke7 21. Nf5+ Kf8 22. Nd4 Ke7)
20. f4 $146 (20. Rd3 {seems wilder.} Kc8 21. f4 Bc4 22. Rdd1 h5 23. b3) ({
Predecessor:} 20. Rd3 Kc8 21. Nxe6 Rxd3 22. cxd3 fxe6 23. Kf1 h5 {1/2-1/2 (23)
Janisch,M (2416) -Markus,R (2282) ICCF email 2017}) 20... Ke7 21. Nxe6 fxe6 $11
{Endgame KRR-KRR} 22. Rf1 h5 23. f5 hxg4 24. hxg4 Rh4 (24... Rd4 $5 25. f6+ Kf7
$15) 25. f6+ Kf7 26. Re4 Rd2 {aiming for ...Rhh2.} 27. fxg7+ Kxg7 {Threatens
to win with ...Rhh2.} 28. Rf2 (28. Rf6 {with more complications.} Rhh2 29. Ref4
Rdg2+ 30. Kf1 Rxc2 31. Rf7+) 28... Rxf2 (28... Rh1+ {looks sharper.} 29. Kg2
Rh2+ 30. Kxh2 Rxf2+ 31. Kg3 Rxc2 32. Rd4 (32. Rb4 $2 b5) 32... Rxb2 33. Rd7+
Kg6) 29. Kxf2 $15 {KR-KR} Rh2+ 30. Kf3 Rxc2 31. Rd4 Rxb2 {Hoping for ... a5.}
32. Rd7+ Kg6 33. Rxc7 c5 34. Re7 Rb6 35. Rc7 a6 36. Rxc5 Rc6 37. Ra5 $4 {
This costs White the game.} (37. Rxc6 $15 bxc6 38. Ke4 Kg5 39. a4 a5 (39...
Kxg4 40. a5 c5 41. Kd3 Kf5 42. Kc4 Kxe5 43. Kxc5 Kf4 44. Kb6 e5 45. Kxa6 e4 46.
Kb6 e3 47. a6 e2 48. a7 $11) 40. Kd4 Kxg4 41. Kc5 Kf5 42. Kb6 Kxe5 43. Kxa5 Kd4
44. Kb6 c5 45. a5 c4 46. a6 c3 47. a7 c2 48. a8=Q c1=Q 49. Qd8+ $11) 37... Rc3+
$19 38. Ke4 $2 (38. Kf2 {was called for.} Rc4 39. Kf3 Kg5 $19) 38... Rc4+ 39.
Kd3 Rxg4 40. Rc5 {If only White now had time for Rc7....} Kf5 41. Kc3 $2 {[#]}
(41. Ra5 $19) 41... b5 {Black mates.} 42. Kb3 Rc4 {Deflection} 43. Rxc4 bxc4+
44. Kxc4 Kxe5 45. a4 Kf4 {Weighted Error Value: White=0.39/Black=0.03} 0-1
[Event "Saint Louis"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.20"]
[Round "4.5"]
[White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2758"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "Shahid"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2021.08.17"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3
Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15.
Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qxa5 18. c4 Nf4 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. h4 Qa4 21.
Bd3 bxc4 22. Qe4 g6 23. Bc2 Qd7 (23... Qe8) 24. h5 Qe6 25. hxg6 hxg6 (25...
Qxe4 26. gxf7+ (26. gxh7+ Qxh7 27. Rxh7 (27. Bxh7+ Kg7) 27... Rc5) 26... Kxf7
27. Bxe4 Rh8) 26. Qxf4 Qe5 27. Qh4 Qg7 28. Rd2 Rc5 29. f4 f6 30. Rdh2 fxg5 31.
Qe1 $3 Bf6 32. Rh6 Qb7 33. Qe6+ 1-0
[Event "Saint Louis"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2021.08.17"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "Shahid"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2021.08.17"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. h3 d6 7. c3 Ne7 {
C54: Giuoco Piano: 4 c3 Nf6, main lines with 5 d4 and 5 d3.} 8. Re1 Ng6 9. d4
Bb6 10. Bd3 {[#]} d5 $146 ({Predecessor:} 10... h6 11. Be3 Nh5 12. Nbd2 Nhf4
13. Bf1 Qf6 14. Kh2 Re8 15. a4 a6 16. g3 exd4 17. cxd4 {1-0 (116) Ter Sahakyan,
S (2640)-Quesada Perez,Y (2598) Lichess.org INT 2020}) 11. exd5 exd4 12. c4 c6
13. Qc2 cxd5 14. c5 Bc7 15. Nxd4 Re8 16. Rxe8+ Qxe8 17. Nc3 Qe1+ 18. Bf1 Bd7
19. Qe2 Qxe2 20. Ndxe2 Rc8 21. Be3 Ne7 22. Rd1 a6 23. g4 Bc6 24. f3 h6 25. b4
Re8 26. Kf2 Bd7 27. Bf4 Bxf4 28. Nxf4 d4 $2 (28... Be6 $14) (28... Bc6) (28...
Kf8 29. Ncxd5 Nfxd5 30. Nxd5 Ba4 31. Rd3 (31. Rd2 Rd8 32. Bc4 Bb5 33. Bb3 Bc6
$19) (31. Rd4 Rd8 $19) 31... Bb5 32. Rd1 Ba4 $11) 29. Rxd4 $18 Nc6 30. Rd6 Nxb4
31. Rb6 a5 32. Rxb7 Bc6 33. Ra7 g5 {[#]} 34. Nd3 Rd8 35. Ne5 Rd2+ 36. Kg3 Rc2 {
[#]} 37. a3 $1 Nbd5 (37... Rxc3 38. axb4 $18) 38. Nxd5 ({Don't take} 38. Nxc6
$6 Rxc3 39. Ne5 (39. Rxa5 Ne4+ {Double Attack} 40. Kh2 Nd2 $11) 39... Ne4+ 40.
Kh2 Nd2 $14) 38... Nxd5 (38... Bxd5 39. c6 h5 (39... Bxc6 $4 40. Ra6 $18) 40.
h4) 39. Bd3 $6 (39. Rxf7 {[#] gets mated.} Ne3 $1 40. Rf8+ Kxf8 41. Ng6+ Kg7
42. Be2 Rxe2 43. h4 Nf1+ 44. Kh3 Rh2#) (39. h4 $18 Be8 40. Rxa5) (39. Nxc6 $18
Ne3 40. Be2 Rxe2 41. f4) 39... Rxc5 $16 40. Nxf7 (40. Nxc6 $16 Rxc6 41. Rxa5)
40... Nf4 $1 $11 {The position is equal.} 41. Bf5 Bd5 42. Ne5 {aiming for Nd7.}
(42. Nxh6+ {feels hotter.} Kf8 43. Be4 Bxe4 44. fxe4 Rc3+ 45. Kf2) 42... Rc3
43. Rxa5 Re3 {( -> ...Re2)} 44. Nd3 Rxf3+ 45. Kh2 Rxh3+ 46. Kg1 {Hoping for
Nxf4.} Rg3+ 47. Kf2 Rf3+ 48. Kg1 {Nxf4 is the strong threat.} Rg3+ 49. Kf2 Rf3+
50. Kg1 {Black must now prevent Nxf4.} Rg3+ {Blacks defense is rewarded with a
draw. Weighted Error Value: White=0.10/Black=0.07} 1/2-1/2
[Event "Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.21"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D27"]
[WhiteElo "2782"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
1. d4 ({Funny, the position from the game after move 11 arose in the following
game:} 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Nc3 Qd8 6. d4 e6 7. Nf3
a6 8. Bd3 Nf6 9. O-O Be7 10. Re1 O-O 11. Ne5 Nc6 {but with White to move in
Becerra,J (2236)-Motta Leon,G Bogota 2010}) 1... d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3
e6 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O c5 7. Re1 {Mamedyarov had something prepared for the game
and chooses a relatively rare continuation. The rook belongs to the e-file
once the c5- and d4-pawns are traded. According to my Megabase, 7.e4 is a
critical line here.} ({And Dominguez has had a very fresh game facing it in
Saint Louis:} 7. e4 b5 8. Be2 Nxe4 9. a4 b4 10. Nbd2 Bb7 11. Nxe4 Bxe4 12. Be3
cxd4 13. Nxd4 Nc6 14. Rc1 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Bd6 {and Black comfortably help in
Shankland,S (2709)-Dominguez Perez,L (2758) Saint Louis 2021}) 7... Nc6 {
Dominguez certainly knew that this line may appear on board.} ({An earlier
game of the Azerbaijani GM saw:} 7... b5 8. Bd3 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Bb7 10. a4 b4 11.
b3 Nbd7 12. Bb2 Be7 13. Nd2 Nc5 14. Bc2 O-O 15. f3 {with a slight pull for
White in Mamedyarov,S (2764)-Anton Guijarro,D (2703) chess24.com INT 2020}) 8.
Bd3 cxd4 9. exd4 Be7 10. Nc3 O-O 11. Ne5 $5 {A very interesting sacrifice of
the isolani. I remember that the computers were interested in similar
sacrifices some 12 years ago when analyzing similar positions. It is amusing
that in both the predecessors that reached this position, the sides' second
moves now are different (see the comment on move one).} Nxd4 {The principled
continuation.} 12. Bf4 $146 ({In the predecessor, White lost a valuable tempo
after:} 12. Bg5 Nc6 13. Qf3 Qc7 14. Bf4 {And Black easily repelled the
opponent's initiative with:} Bd6 15. Qg3 Nh5 16. Qh4 g6 17. Nxc6 Nxf4 18. Ne4
f5 19. Nxd6 Qxd6 20. Ne7+ Kg7 {Riehle,M (2347)-Bluebaum,M (2670) Chess.com INT
2021}) 12... Nf5 $1 {The knight is well placed around the black king.} ({Here}
12... Nc6 {would be met with the regrouping:} 13. Qf3 Bd7 14. Rad1 Nxe5 15.
Bxe5 Qe8 16. Qh3 {already creating concrete kingside threats.}) 13. Qc2 Nd4 {
Played after almost 40 minutes on the clock! Disruption of White's
coordination is indeed needed.} ({It is funny that the machine suggests
instead:} 13... Qd4 $5 {which provokes:} 14. g3 {And this move is good for
Black as the third rank will no longer be useful for rook/queen lifts.} Qa7)
14. Qd1 Nf5 {A silent draw offer.} 15. Qf3 {Which Mamedyarov has no intention
of accepting anyway.} Nh4 $1 {Another important maneuver. Dominguez starts to
reduce the opponent's attacking potential at once.} 16. Qh3 Nd5 ({No more
retreats please:} 16... Nf5 17. g4 $1 {loses for Black.}) 17. Bg3 ({Or else
the black bishop will enter the game:} 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. Qg3 Be6 {and Black
will be doing fine.}) 17... Ng6 {The king is secured for the time being.} 18.
Rad1 {But how to solve the problems with the queenside development?} Bf6 ({
There are no shortcuts:} 18... Bd7 $2 19. Nxd5 {loses at once.}) ({Ditto for:}
18... b5 $2 19. Bxg6 (19. Nc6 {would also do.}) 19... hxg6 20. Nc6 Qe8 21. Nxd5
{and Black drops at least a piece.}) ({And after:} 18... Qa5 {White can
consider:} 19. Qg4 {preparing the march of the h-pawn.} ({Or:} 19. Nc4 Qc5 20.
Ne4 {with initiative in both cases.})) 19. Bb1 {Pinning.} Qb6 {And unpinning
at once.} 20. Qh5 ({Interesting, though, is:} 20. Ne4 $5 {When the knight is
immune:} Bxe5 ({Not:} 20... Nxe5 $2 21. Nxf6+ Nxf6 22. Bxe5 {with deadly
attack.}) 21. Bxe5 Nxe5 22. Rxd5 $1 {However, if Black is not greedy, he can
defend well with:} Ng6 ({Now:} 22... exd5 $4 23. Nf6+ {is mate.}) 23. Rd2 e5) (
{Letting his light-squared bishop out is everything Black wants.} 20. Nxd5 exd5
) 20... Nxc3 21. bxc3 Bxe5 {Swapping another pair of dangerous attackers.} (
21... Qc5 $5) 22. Bxe5 Rd8 {And offering more trades.} 23. h4 {This move is
far more dangerous than it seems. If White can get just one more tempo to step
back with the queen and push the h-pawn, it will be just horrible for Black.} (
{Another interesting way to attack would be:} 23. Bd4 {Then the right defense
is to offer more trades with:} Qb5 24. Qxb5 ({Or the nice:} 24. Re5 $5 {
With the idea:} Nxe5 $4 ({True, Black has:} 24... Qa4 $1 25. Ra5 Qc4 26. Rc5
Qa4 {When White can keep on repeating or may choose to continue mounting
pressure with:} 27. Re1 Bd7 28. h4) 25. Qxh7+ Kf8 26. Bc5+ Qxc5 27. Qh8+ Ke7
28. Qxd8#) 24... axb5 25. Bb6 Rd7 26. Bd3 {It seems very dangerous for Black,
but he is holding the endgame, thanks to:} Rd6 27. Bxg6 Rxd1 28. Rxd1 hxg6 29.
Rd8+ Kh7 {The pin is nasty, but White cannot capitalize on it.} 30. f4 e5 $1 {
In order to open his bishop.} 31. fxe5 Ra6 32. Rxc8 Rxb6 33. Rc7 Kg8 {with a
draw.}) 23... Rxd1 ({The immediate} 23... Bd7 {is also possible, intending to
meet:} 24. Bxg6 hxg6 25. Qg4 Bc6 26. h5 {with} Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Qb5 28. Re1 Qd3 {
when everything is covered.}) 24. Rxd1 Bd7 25. Bxg7 $1 {No brainer for
Mamedyarov. He regains the pawn and poses serious practical problems for his
opponent.} ({The line} 25. Bxg6 hxg6 26. Qg4 Bc6 27. h5 Qb5 28. Re1 Qd3 {
transposes from the comment above.}) 25... Kxg7 26. Bxg6 hxg6 ({Not mate,
please:} 26... fxg6 27. Rxd7+) 27. Qe5+ Kg8 28. Rxd7 Rd8 $1 {The neatest
defense. Dominguez's play is an example of a successful initiative
extinguished.} ({It is hard to believe that Black will enjoy his time after:}
28... Qb1+ 29. Kh2 Qxa2 30. Qf6 ({Or the immediate:} 30. h5) 30... Rf8 31. h5)
29. Re7 (29. Rc7 Qb1+ 30. Kh2 Qf5 {leads to the same.}) 29... Qb1+ 30. Kh2 Qf5
31. Qxf5 exf5 {Everything quickly disappears.} 32. Rxb7 Rd2 33. f3 Rxa2 34. Ra7
Rc2 35. Rxa6 Rxc3 36. Ra8+ Kg7 37. Ra6 Kg8 38. Ra8+ Kg7 39. Ra6 Kg8 {The
shield and the spear proved equal today.} 1/2-1/2
[Event "Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5
8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 Ne8 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 Nf6 $6 {This path to equality is
more winding,} ({than} 11... c6 12. Ne3 Bc7 13. Nf5 d5 14. Ne7+ Kh8 15. Nxc8
Rxc8 {White's bishop pair is not quite enough to put a dent in Black's
ultra-solid position.}) 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. d4 b6 ({Black can no longer put his
pawn to d5.} 13... c6 14. Be3 b6 15. Bd3 Bc7 16. d5 $5 cxd5 17. Qg4 {was
Robson-So, US Championship 2015, where White scored a big upset victory.}) 14.
Qg4 Bb7 15. Bd3 {Look out for Bc1-g5!} h6 16. Bd2 c5 17. Bc3 Qf4 18. Qxf4 Bxf4
19. dxc5 bxc5 20. Be5 {Swiercz followed his game plan, albeit from the
theoretical standpoint the trade of dark squared bishops helps Black to inch
closer to equality.} ({Under diffirent tournament circumstances I can easily
see Dariusz giving it a ride:} 20. g3 Bg5 21. h4 Bd8 22. Be4 Bxe4 ({or} 22...
d5 23. Bg2 Bb6 24. a4 a5 25. Be5) 23. Rxe4 d5 24. Ra4 Bb6 {etc.}) 20... Bxe5
21. Rxe5 d6 22. Re7 Bd5 23. Rd1 Bxa2 24. b3 d5 {The pawns come to rescue the
bishop, and the peaceful outcome of the game becomes unavoidable.} 25. Bb5 c4
26. Ba4 Rab8 27. Rxa7 Rfd8 28. bxc4 Bxc4 29. h3 Rb2 30. Rc7 Rdb8 31. Bb3 Bxb3
32. cxb3 R2xb3 33. Rxd5 R3b7 34. Rdd7 Rxc7 35. Rxc7 g5 36. g4 Kg7 37. Kg2 Kg6
38. Rc6+ Kg7 39. Rc7 Kg6 40. Rc6+ Kg7 41. Rc7 Kg6 42. Rc6+ 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2710"]
[BlackElo "2772"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bf4 e6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Nbd2 O-O 6. Bd3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 ({
Black's play was convincing in Inarkiev-Oparin, Russian team Championship 2021:
} 7... Bxf4 $1 8. exf4 Qc7 9. g3 a5 10. a4 Nbd7 11. Nb3 Ne4 12. O-O Ndxc5 $11)
8. O-O Nbd7 $6 {This move leaves me scratching my head. I understand the
knight is better off on d7 if Black is planning to fianchetto his bishop,} ({
but what was wrong with} 8... Nc6 9. c4 Bd6 10. Bxd6 Qxd6 11. Qe2 e5 12. cxd5 {
isn't Black just equal here?}) 9. c4 b6 10. Rc1 {Jeffery preferred to keep the
tension in the center,} ({as opposed to a possible} 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Bg3 Bb7
12. Qe2 Qe7 13. Nc4 {which also appears to be slightly better for White,
thanks to a well-placed Bg3.}) 10... Bb7 11. Qe2 Rc8 12. Rfd1 Qe7 13. cxd5 e5
$5 {Wesley sought a different path, but it's wrought with tactical dangers.}
14. Bg5 Bxd5 15. Ba6 {Not the most effective move order.} ({White's ideas
would be realized to the fullest, if Xiong found} 15. Ne4 $1 {The variations
branch out widely, but they all seem to be favoring White.} Ba8 {but new
problems arise after} ({compared to} 15... h6 16. Ba6 $1 hxg5 17. Nxf6+ Nxf6
18. Bxc8 Rxc8 19. b4 $16) ({while} 15... Bb7 16. Ba6 Bxa6 17. Qxa6 {is likely
to cost the a7-pawn.}) 16. Bc2 $1 Rfd8 (16... h6 17. Rxd7 $1 Qxd7 18. Bxf6 Bxe4
19. Bxe4 gxf6 20. Nh4 {must be a decisive attack for White.}) 17. Ng3 e4 18.
Nf5 Qe6 19. N3d4 Bxd4 20. Nxd4 Qxa2 21. Bb3 Qa5 22. Rxc8 Rxc8 23. Nb5 {aiming
to hit f7.}) 15... Rcd8 16. Nc4 Bc6 17. a3 h6 18. Bh4 Ba4 $1 {Wesley is very
slippery in such situations, when he uses little tactics to defend worse
positions.} 19. Re1 e4 20. Nd4 Bxd4 21. exd4 Nb8 $1 {Catching that bishop just
in time.} 22. Ne3 Nxa6 23. Qxa6 Qd7 $1 24. Qc4 (24. Bxf6 Bb5 {was the point of
Black's play.}) 24... Rc8 25. Qb4 Nh5 26. Bg3 Bc6 {A bit risky for my taste.} (
26... Nxg3 27. hxg3 Qb5 {is only a little worse for Black. Optically White
looks great with his Ne3 and a passed pawn, but Black can quickly bring his
king over to neutralize it.}) 27. d5 $1 Bb7 28. Qxe4 $2 {Just like in his game
with Caruana, Xiong wasn't able to resist an offer of a pawn.} ({Instead,} 28.
Qd6 $1 {was a much better move. After} Qxd6 29. Bxd6 {So would face a tough
choice. Trading rooks seems logical,} Rxc1 (29... Rfe8 30. Bc7 $1 Nf6 31. d6 {
means many moves of suffering.}) 30. Rxc1 Rc8 31. Rxc8+ Bxc8 {but then} 32. Bb8
$1 a6 33. Be5 $1 {cuts off the black knight, as} Nf6 $2 {loses to} 34. Bxf6
gxf6 35. Nc4 {now we can see why the bishop had to go to b8 first - to soften
up the black pawns.}) 28... Nf6 {Now Black gets it back and reaches a draw
with no further problems.} 29. Qd3 Nxd5 30. Rxc8 Rxc8 31. Nf5 Re8 32. Rxe8+
Qxe8 33. h3 Qd7 34. Bb8 Bc6 35. Bg3 Nf6 36. Qxd7 Bxd7 37. Nd4 Nd5 38. Kf1 Ne7
39. Bb8 *
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. f3
Be7 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nh5 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. Na5 Rc8 15.
a3 g6 16. h4 Ng3 17. Rg1 Nxf1 18. Rgxf1 Na4 19. Nxa4 bxa4 20. h5 {I already
mentioned this line in my notes to Dominguez-Vachier Lagrave, played two
rounds earlier.} Qc7 {A small deviation.} ({I quoted the game Aronian-Carlsen,
Tata Steel Rapid 2019, which went} 20... Qd7 21. Rh1 Rfe8 22. Qh2 Bf8 23. Bd2
Rc7 24. Bb4 Rb8 {calling it a model game for this whole variation. I didn't
mean Black was better, although Carlsen won in the endgame. It just seemed to
me that both sides did their best in the opening and early middlegame.}) 21.
Rh1 Rfe8 22. Qh2 Bf8 23. c4 Re7 24. Bd2 {This pawn sacrifice was practically
forced.} ({because} 24. Qd2 {doesn't really solve the problem with Na5 after}
Rd7 25. Rc1 Be7 {threatening Bd8.}) 24... Bxc4 25. Bb4 Rd7 26. f4 $5 {Caruana
was seeking further complications.} ({he must not had been fully satisfied
with White's prospects in case of} 26. Nxc4 Qxc4 27. Qh3 Rb7 28. hxg6 fxg6 29.
Rd5) 26... Bb5 ({Possible was} 26... Be6 {as Black holds his own after} 27.
fxe5 dxe5 28. Rc1 Qb8 29. hxg6 fxg6 30. Rxc8 Qxc8 31. Qxe5 Qe8 {Once again,
White's Na5 is missing in action.}) 27. hxg6 fxg6 28. f5 {For a moment it
seemed Fabiano was getting somewhere, but it turned out to be an illusion.} Rg7
29. f6 Rf7 30. Qd2 Qd7 31. Qd5 Be2 ({I wonder whether} 31... h6 {was possible
already.}) 32. Rc1 Rxc1+ 33. Rxc1 h5 ({Now} 33... h6 {leaves White the time to
blow up the center,} 34. Nc6 hxg5 35. Ne7+ Bxe7 36. fxe7 Qxe7 37. Bxd6 Qb7 38.
Qxe5 {in the end} Rf1 {has to be good enough to force a draw.}) 34. Nc4 Bxc4
35. Rxc4 h4 36. Rc2 h3 37. Ka2 Kh8 38. Rd2 Rh7 39. Bxd6 {After this move it
became clear that Carlsen's line had withstood its second practical test.} Qxd6
40. Qxd6 Bxd6 41. Rxd6 Kg8 42. Rd8+ Kf7 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rd7+ Kg8
46. Rd8+ 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2758"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "70"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 {This line
was recently contested in the match between Aronian and Le Quang Liem,
Chessable Masters 2021. No less than five games went this way with the score
turning up even.} Qe7 {It's not clear if Black really needs this queen move,
but most likely it doesn't hurt.} ({Le Quang Liem and some other players
before him preferred} 7... a6 {right away.}) 8. O-O a6 9. b4 Ba7 10. Nbd2 g5
11. Bg3 Nh7 12. a4 h5 13. h4 g4 14. Ne1 Nf8 {What we have here is a modern
treatment of the Italian game. Should it still be called Giuoco Piano? To me
it looks anything but.} 15. Nc2 Ng6 16. Ne3 Be6 {The last preparation before
capturing on h4. White has no time to waste.} 17. b5 Nd8 {It wasn't easy to
decide between this move} ({and} 17... Na5 {Svidler must have looked at} 18.
bxa6 bxa6 19. Bd5 $5 Rb8 20. d4 {and worried about the offside position of his
knight.}) 18. d4 Nxh4 19. dxe5 dxe5 20. Bxe5 O-O {Black's position looked
rather dangerous to me, but Leniier's next brought a big relief to Peter's
problems.} 21. Bxe6 $2 ({I was looking at} 21. Qe1 {to prepare the f-pawn
going forward, but Black has} Ng6 22. Bh2 Bxc4 23. Nexc4 Ne6 {in reply.}) 21...
fxe6 {The opening of the f-file fully redeemed Black's seemingly suspicious
strategy in the opening. I cannot offer any more explanations to what happened.
} 22. Bd4 ({It almost seemed as if Dominguez was planning} 22. Nxg4 {then saw}
Qg5 {and thought better of it.}) 22... c5 23. bxc6 Nxc6 24. Bxa7 Rxa7 25. Ndc4
Rd8 26. Qb3 $2 {This casual move could have cost Dominguez the game.} (26. Qe2
Qg5 27. Rfd1 {would have kept it within reason, although Black is already
better.}) 26... Raa8 ({Svidler had to be looking at} 26... Nf3+ {and concluded
that White escapes after} 27. gxf3 gxf3 28. Rfd1) ({Too bad he didn't think of
factoring in his Ra7.} 26... b5 $1 {was a strong idea, that would have given
Black a winning attack after} 27. axb5 Nf3+ 28. gxf3 gxf3 29. Rfd1 Qh4 30.
Rxd8+ Nxd8 {with that Rg7 move coming up. Such misses are an indication of the
poor form.}) 27. Rfd1 Kh8 28. Rab1 Rxd1+ 29. Qxd1 Rd8 30. Qb3 Ng6 31. Rb2 Rd7
32. Nb6 Rd8 {Svidler decided to call it a day, and Dominguez couldn't have
been happier to draw this game.} ({Still,} 32... Rc7 33. Nbc4 Nf4 {and Black
can push forward.}) 33. Nbc4 Rd7 34. Nb6 Rd8 35. Nbc4 Rd7 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Shankland, Sam"]
[Black "Rapport, Richard"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C45"]
[WhiteElo "2709"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Nb3 Bb6 6. Qe2 {I'm not that
well-versed in the theory of this variation to discern the difference between
Sam's move} ({and the more common} 6. Nc3) 6... Qf6 {Anyway, Richard
transposed the game into a known line, which is supposed to be somewhat better
for White.} 7. Nc3 Nge7 8. h4 d6 9. Bg5 Qe6 10. O-O-O {White stays with the
program, but he won't get his attacking chances of the kingside, because the
black king is also going the other way.} Bd7 $1 11. Qd2 O-O-O 12. f3 (12. g3 f6
13. Be3 Bxe3 14. Qxe3 f5 15. Bh3 Qf7 {was Rapport's plan.}) 12... h6 13. Be3
Bxe3 14. Qxe3 Kb8 15. Bb5 {Shankland did a similar thing against Mamedyarov a
few rounds earlier, but here Black is well prepared to meet Bxc6, so it's far
less effective..} ({In that sense,} 15. Nd4 Nxd4 16. Qxd4 {was more
appropriate.}) 15... f5 $1 {A typical shot, designed to remove White's central
pawn.} 16. Qd2 fxe4 17. Rhe1 Qg6 18. Rxe4 a6 19. Bf1 Rhe8 {Black has somewhat
better chances thanks to a compromised structure of the white pawns on the
kingside.} 20. Rde1 Nf5 21. Bd3 Rxe4 22. Bxe4 Qg3 23. h5 Re8 24. Nd5 Qg5 (24...
Qe5 $1 {would have been more difficult for White to meet.} 25. Rd1 Nce7 26.
Nxe7 Rxe7 27. g4 Ng3 28. Bd5 Ne2+ 29. Kb1 Qf4 {etc.}) 25. Qxg5 hxg5 26. Kd2 Ng3
27. Bg6 Rh8 28. f4 $6 {Shankland wanted to reduce the number pawns, preparing
to defend toughly.} (28. Ne7 $5 Rh6 29. Ng8 {would be a fancy way of keeping
the h5-pawn safe.}) 28... gxf4 29. Nxf4 Ne5 {Black's advantage is largely
based on this knight outpost.} ({but, perhaps} 29... Rf8 {was more accurate,
in view of inviting the white king to come to the middle of the board.} 30. Ke3
Ne5) 30. Nc1 Bc6 $6 {Probably, the last inaccuracy that allowed White to
escape with a draw.} (30... Nxg6 31. hxg6 Rh4 $1 {was a great idea to activate
the rook, keeping} 32. Re7 Rxf4 33. Rxd7 Nh5 {in mind.}) 31. Ncd3 $1 {
Shankland conducted his defensive plan with confidence.} Nxh5 32. Bxh5 Nxd3 33.
Kxd3 g5 34. Bf3 $1 gxf4 (34... Bxf3 35. gxf3 gxf4 36. Re4 Rf8 {didn't seem
much of a winning chance either, because of the passive position of the black
rook.}) 35. Bxc6 bxc6 36. Re2 d5 {This is the last move Rapport would have
liked to play, but he had to restrict the white king's access to the f4-pawn}
37. Rf2 Rg8 38. Kd4 Rg5 39. Kc5 $1 {This means Black won't even get his 4 on 3
pawn advantage.} Kb7 40. Rxf4 Rxg2 41. Rb4+ Kc8 42. Kxc6 Rxc2+ 43. Kxd5 Rd2+
44. Kc6 Rc2+ 45. Kd5 Rd2+ 46. Kc6 Rc2+ 47. Kd5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.24"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Rapport, Richard"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D23"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "89"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qa4+ {Normally Rapport isn't interested in
theoretical discussions, but I think he knew he was going to be dragged into
one.} Nc6 $1 {The sharpest reply.} 5. Qxc4 $5 {Richard's prep, how often do we
see that $2} ({The original idea was to answer} 5. Nc3 {with the surprising}
Nd5 $5 6. Qxc4 Nb6 {Lenier had experience with this line years ago. In
Ivanchuk-Dominguez World Blitz 2008, Vasyl (I think he was still called
Vassily then) for some reason included} 7. Qb5 (7. Qd3 e5) 7... a6 {and then
came back with the queen} 8. Qd3 {In reply} e5 {was played, and after} 9. Nxe5
Qxd4 10. Nxc6 Qxd3 11. exd3 bxc6 12. Bf4 Bd6 {the position leveled out.}) 5...
e5 {Black follows the same path as the game above. I think this position can
be reached from the Chigorin Defense. The main ideas are certainly very
similar.} ({Other options, such as} 5... Bg4) ({or} 5... Bf5 {appear to be
inferior.}) 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 7. dxe5 Ng4 8. Bf4 c6 9. e3 g5 $5 {I remember this
idea from the Budapest gambit.} ({The point is revealed when we consider} 9...
Qa5+ 10. Nc3 Nxe5 {and find} 11. Qd4 {annoying.}) 10. Bg3 Qa5+ 11. Nd2 $5 {
Both players demonstrate great inventiveness in their play.} ({Now after} 11.
Nc3 Nxe5 12. Qd4 {Black has} Bg7 $1 {is it worth permanently weakening the
kingside $2 I'd say, yes. The position is very dynamic and both sides have to
fight for the initiative. Take this as an example of modern chess, if you wish.
} 13. O-O-O O-O $1) 11... Be6 $1 ({Richard wanted to hit that knight
immediately in case of} 11... Nxe5 12. Qe4 $1 Bg7 13. b4 Qc7 14. Nf3 {I bet he
was already considering} f5 15. Qxe5+ Bxe5 16. Bxe5 Qb6 17. Bxh8 Qxb4+ 18. Nd2
Be6 {leading to sharp play with better chances for White.}) 12. Qc2 O-O-O 13.
O-O-O Bb4 $1 ({Rapport showed no concern for the safety of his king, because on
} 13... Qxa2 {he planned} 14. Bc4 Qa1+ 15. Nb1 {The thing is, Black cannot
afford not taking on e5 at some moment. If his knight gets driven back to h6,
his position will rapidly deteriorate.}) 14. a3 Bxd2+ 15. Rxd2 Bb3 $1 {Every
move by Dominguez is well-timed.} 16. Qf5+ Be6 17. Qc2 Bb3 18. Qc3 {No draw
yet.} Qxc3+ 19. bxc3 Rxd2 20. Kxd2 Rd8+ 21. Ke2 Rd5 $1 ({Black would get
nothing out of} 21... Rd1 {because White has} 22. h4 $1) 22. h4 ({The
inclusion of the moves} 22. e4 $5 Ra5 {wouldn't change the evaluation of the
position as equal. For example,} 23. h4 h6 24. Kd3 Be6 25. hxg5 hxg5 26. f3
Nxe5+ 27. Bxe5 Rxe5 {etc.}) 22... Bc4+ 23. Kf3 Nxe5+ 24. Bxe5 Bxf1 25. Bd4 Rf5+
26. Kg3 gxh4+ 27. Rxh4 Rg5+ 28. Rg4 Rxg4+ 29. Kxg4 Bxg2 30. Bxa7 {The
contestants proved to be evenly matched today. A draw could have been agreed
here, but more moves were played until they found a repetition.} b5 31. Kg5 Kd7
32. Kh6 Be4 33. f3 Bxf3 34. Kxh7 Ke6 35. Kg7 f5 36. Kf8 Kd5 37. Ke7 Kc4 38. Kd6
Kxc3 39. Bb6 Kb3 40. Bc5 Be4 41. Ke5 Kc4 42. Kd6 Kb3 43. Ke5 Kc4 44. Kd6 Kb3
45. Ke5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.24"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E20"]
[WhiteElo "2782"]
[BlackElo "2806"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
{[%evp 0,76,30,19,31,-23,-10,-10,20,-44,12,10,4,24,60,10,12,-7,14,18,20,25,42,
-20,12,-24,45,-134,-14,-18,-18,-13,7,-10,15,7,20,27,149,99,108,26,93,110,92,27,
82,26,32,44,112,112,34,-102,-70,-110,-91,-91,-90,-102,-102,-102,-111,-156,-163,
-152,-161,-166,-130,-142,-159,-146,-159,-142,-146,-166,-165,-175,-168]} 1. d4
Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. f3 c5 5. d5 d6 6. e4 b5 7. Bd2 Bxc3 {It's
fascinating to watch how today's top players pick each other's brains. This
capture was first played in Aronian-Carlsen, FIDE Grand Swiss, 2019, and after
20 moves of play Black was better.} 8. Bxc3 b4 9. Bd2 O-O 10. Ne2 ({The
above-mentioned game went} 10. Be3 exd5 11. cxd5 Nfd7 12. Ne2 f5 13. exf5 Rxf5
14. Ng3 Re5 15. Kf2 Qh4 16. Qd2 Nf6) 10... exd5 ({Aronian must have been
impressed, and then played this line as Black against Caruana( $1) in Norway
Chess, 2020. Levon chose a different spot for his knight,} 10... Nh5 {and after
} 11. Be3 {went} f5 {right away. To say that the position was unclear is to
say nothing, but the fact is, Aronian won that game.}) 11. exd5 Nh5 {And it's
Caruana's turn to switch sides and play it with Black $1} 12. Kf2 {This game
already has its unique characteristics. White recaptured on d5 with his e-pawn,
removing the target from the f7-f5 move; he also kept his bishop on d2 in
favor of the king move to stop the threat of Qh4+.} f5 {Fabi looked at all
that, shrugged his shoulders and went forward.} 13. Nf4 $5 {Absolutely amazing.
This move looks like an elementary blunder, and then you recall it's
Mamedyarov who played it, so things must not be so simple.} Nxf4 ({Black was
invited to win material:} 13... Qh4+ 14. g3 Nxg3 15. hxg3 Qxh1 {but then he
would have to deal with White's initiative after} 16. Qe2 {Fabiano looked at
that position and said, thanks but no thanks.}) 14. Bxf4 g5 $1 {This is
absolutely justified by the need to grab more space and restrict White's
bishop, the strategy that started with Black's 8th move.} 15. Bc1 Nd7 {This
move surprised me.} ({I thought} 15... f4 {would be logical. Perhaps Fabiano
was concerned with} 16. g3) 16. f4 {Shakh immediately took measures to deny
the black knight the e5-square.} Nf6 {A new path to the center is open.} 17.
Kg1 Ne4 $5 (17... g4 {would have certainly be a safer choice, but neither
player was interested in safety.}) 18. fxg5 f4 $1 19. Bd3 Qe7 20. Qe2 Bf5 21.
Bxf4 {White is two pawns ahead, but the position of Rh1 is a big problem.} Qg7
{While this, and some other moves played by Caruana in this game, can be
criticized from the \"objective\" computer point of view, in the context of a
real game they make perfect sense. Fabiano knows Shakh was in bad form, and
made a conscious decision of offering his opponent multiple choices on every
turn.} ({Such as here, engines say} 21... Rae8 22. Bxe4 Qd8 {was better, but
it would practically force White to play the moves he needs to consolidate his
position:} 23. Qf3 Rxe4 24. h4 Bg6 25. g3 Rxc4 26. Rh2) 22. Rf1 ({Don't forget,
Mamedyarov also wanted to win this game, and he wasn't happy with his
prospects of doing so after} 22. Bxe4 Bxe4 ({not} 22... Rae8 $2 {on account of}
23. Bxd6 Rxe4 24. Bxf8 {hitting the black queen.}) 23. Bg3 Qd4+ 24. Bf2 Qd3 {
by the time White gets Rh1 out some of his pawns are going to fall.}) 22... Bg6
23. h3 Rae8 24. Qc2 Qd4+ 25. Kh2 Rf7 26. Qe2 $4 {A huge blunder. Shakh simply
missed Fabiano's reply.} ({Considering the clock situation, most people would
be happy to introduce some trades,} 26. Bxe4 Bxe4 27. Qe2 Qd3 28. Qxd3 Bxd3 29.
Rf3 Bxc4 30. Bxd6 {but Mamedyarov couldn't accept an idea of trading down to
an endgame he might not win.}) 26... Nf6 $1 {Shock.} 27. Qd1 $2 {The second
error in a row sinks White's ship.} ({There was a subtle difference between
the two squares for the white queen to take on the g-file. The correct} 27. Qf2
Bxd3 28. gxf6 Bxf1 29. Qg3+ Kh8 30. Rxf1 {would create a tactical possibility
of} Qxf6 31. Be5) 27... Bxd3 28. gxf6 Bxf1 29. Qg4+ Kh8 30. Rxf1 Rxf6 31. Rf3 (
{Now there's no} 31. Be5 Qxe5+) 31... Rg8 32. Qh4 Qxb2 33. Rg3 Rxg3 34. Bxg3
Qd4 35. Qh5 Qe4 36. Qg5 Qg6 37. Qe3 Qf7 38. Qb3 Rg6 0-1
[Event "Grand Chess Tour Sinquefield Cup 2021"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.24"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 {Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is
one of the very players left who keeps on challenging Black in his proven
defensive systems of the Ruy Lopez, the Berlin, and the Marshall. Maxime's
logic is that even if he only wins one game out of five, it's worth trying,
providing that he never loses. The statistics show that indeed, he hasn't lost
a single game in classical time controls in recent memory. Call it high
percentage chess.} Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 ({Back in 2017 in their Chess.
com Speed match, Jeffery played the far less common move} 7... Ne4 {three
times. Maxime won one and two were drawn. Since then Xiong only went into the
Berlin a handful of times, drawing every game.}) 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 Bd7 10.
Rd1 Be7 11. Nc3 {MVL is the leading authority on the white side of the Berlin,
and over the years he's tried pretty much every move order known to man and
machine. Experience counts, as he's often able to sidestep his opponents'
preparation and pose practical problems that aren't easy to solve over the
board for a less experienced player.} ({We already saw the main line,} 11. g4
Nh4 12. Nxh4 Bxh4 13. Nd2 {in Swiercz-So in Round 2.}) 11... Ke8 $5 ({Much
more common is} 11... Kc8 {that's what Xiong himself played against Erenburg
in American Continental 2018.}) 12. g4 Nh4 13. Nxh4 Bxh4 14. Bf4 $5 {Very
clever.} (14. Be3 {is OK, but after} Rd8 15. Kg2 b6 {White should hold off with
} 16. f4 $6 h5 17. Kf3 (17. g5 $2 Bf5 {and Black is already better, because
there' no way White can exploit the extravagant position of Bh4.}) 17... f6 $1
{where the position opens up too quickly for his king to be comfortable out
there.}) 14... Rd8 15. Kg2 Be7 16. Be3 {Now, as the black bishop went back,
Maxime was ready to throw his pawns forward.} a5 17. f4 h5 18. f5 hxg4 $2 {
Case in point, when we talk about experience. Xiong committed a serious error
by opening up the h-file. I remember what Grischuk said after the game he
played in the Berlin at the Candidates, I think it was against Nepomniachtchi,
\"I invested months of work studying the Berlin, and I still don't know how to
play it.\" These positions are tricky.} (18... g6 $1 {had to be played right
away. The resulting variations prove to be good for Black, and it may be White
who has to fight for a draw.} 19. f6 (19. e6 fxe6 20. Bd4 Rg8 21. f6 c5 $1 22.
Be5 (22. fxe7 Bc6+ 23. Kg3 Rxd4 $19) 22... Bc6+ 23. Kf2 Bd6 $17) 19... Bb4 20.
Kg3 (20. Ne4 hxg4 21. hxg4 Bxg4 22. Rxd8+ Kxd8 23. Ng5 Ke8 24. c3 Bf8 $15)
20... Bxc3 21. bxc3 Be6 22. Rd3 Bc4 23. Rd4 Rxd4 24. cxd4 hxg4 25. hxg4 a4 26.
a3 b5 $15) 19. hxg4 g6 20. Rh1 $1 Rf8 (20... Rg8 {would leave the f8-square
for the bishop, but still,} 21. f6 Bb4 22. Ne4 Bxg4 23. a3 Bf8 24. Ng5 Rd5 25.
Rae1 {is very dangerous for Black.}) 21. f6 Bb4 22. Ne4 Be6 23. c3 {The bishop
is trapped, and it's game over.} Bd5 24. Kf3 Bd6 25. c4 $5 {Very elegant.
Maxime prefers to win with an equal material on the board} ({to the
materialistic} 25. exd6 Rxd6 26. g5 Re6 27. Rh4) 25... Bxe4+ 26. Kxe4 Bb4 27.
a3 Bd2 28. Bc5 Rg8 29. e6 {There's no stopping to Rh7, and Black resigned.} 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.24"]
[Round "7"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Shankland, Sam"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A20"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2709"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "68"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. c4 e5 2. g3 c6 3. Nf3 e4 4. Nd4 d5 5. cxd5 Qxd5 6. Nc2 Nf6 7. Nc3 Qe5 8. Bg2
Na6 9. O-O Be7 10. d4 {As expected, So played it the most natural way} ({
The critical game for the evaluation of this entire line was Giri-Grischuk,
Candidates Part One, 2020. Anish went} 10. Ne3 {first, and after} h5 11. d4
exd3 {issued a new challenge by a non-trivial recapture,} 12. exd3 $5 {
Alexander held his own by the very precise} Qd4 $1 13. Nc2 Qg4 $1 {getting the
queens off just in time, before White's planned d4-d5 became real menace.})
10... exd3 11. Qxd3 O-O 12. Rd1 (12. Qe3 {was seen in Hammer-Giri, Moscow
Grand Prix 2019, which was also drawn.}) 12... Qh5 13. Qe3 Re8 14. Qg5 {
It seems like a queen trade cannot be avoided in this variation.} Qxg5 15. Bxg5
Nc7 ({More to the point seemed} 15... h6 16. Bf4 Nb4 {Generally speaking Black
must try to prevent e2-e4.}) 16. Bf4 Ne6 ({Another way was to offer a pawn sac,
} 16... Ncd5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 {but Sam must have figured Wesley
would rather proceed with} 19. Ne3 $14) 17. Bd6 Kf8 18. e4 $1 {Seeing this
important pawn advance I thought Shankland was in for a long evening.} Rd8 19.
Bxe7+ Kxe7 20. e5 Ne8 21. Ne3 a5 $5 {The idea of this move is to secure the
c5-square for the knight, or the bishop on c8 won't be coming out any time
soon.} 22. Rxd8 ({I have no idea why So rejected} 22. f4) 22... Nxd8 23. Rd1 f6
$1 {Perfect timing for this important liberating move.} 24. exf6+ Nxf6 25. f4
Be6 26. f5 {The center of action has moved to the kingside where Black has
adequate defenses.} Bd7 27. g4 Nf7 28. h4 h6 ({Even} 28... g5 $5 {was possible
here.}) 29. Kf2 Rg8 30. Kg3 Nd6 31. Re1 {Wesley no longer had the heart to
continue.} Kd8 32. Rd1 Ke7 33. Re1 Kd8 34. Rd1 Ke7 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.24"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C88"]
[WhiteElo "2714"]
[BlackElo "2655"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4
Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. Nbd2 Nd7 {This line has a good reputation.} 11. c3 Nc5 12.
axb5 axb5 13. Rxa8 Qxa8 14. Bc2 b4 15. d4 bxc3 16. bxc3 Nd7 17. Nf1 (17. Nc4
Qa1 18. Bd2 Qxd1 19. Rxd1 Ra8 20. Rb1 Bc8 {was played in Grandelius-Giri,
European teams, 2019. Black is only slightly worse after the queen trade.})
17... Qa1 {Same thing, right $2} 18. Ne3 {Yeah, but Svidler played a new move,
offering a pawn sacrifice, which Swiercz shouldn't have taken.} Qxc3 $2 {
I don't have access to the game record, so I cannot tell how much time Dariusz
spent on this move. Whatever it was, it proved not to be enough to reject it.}
(18... Bf6 19. Nd5 exd4 20. Nxf6+ Nxf6 21. cxd4 Nb4 {was the way to go.}) 19.
Nd5 Qa1 (19... Qc4 20. Bb3 Qa6 21. Nxc7 Qa5 22. Nd5 Bd8 {was the tough defense
Black had to accept.}) 20. Re3 Qa7 $2 ({Again, some concessions had to be made:
} 20... Qa8 21. dxe5 Bd8 22. exd6 cxd6) 21. Ba4 $1 {White's pieces unroll like
a coiled spring. There's no defense already.} Bd8 22. Ra3 Qa6 ({On} 22... Qb8
23. Qc2 {skewers the black knights.}) 23. Bc2 {There's something light and
airy in the way Peter's pieces coordinate. Very stylish.} Na5 (23... Qb5 24.
Bd3 {traps the queen.}) 24. Bd2 {This pin is decisive.} c6 ({Every line works
for White like a charm.} 24... c5 25. dxe5 Bxd5 26. exd5 dxe5 27. Qa1 Qc4 28.
Qb1 Nb7 29. Bd3 Qxd5 30. Bxh7+ Kh8 31. Be4 {If you ask me how Peter Svidler
was able to calculate all this, my answer is, he didn't. It was all intuition,
a firm belief that things will work out in the end.}) 25. Ne3 Qb5 (25... c5 26.
d5 Bb6 27. Bxa5 Bxa5 28. Bd3 Qb6 29. Nc4 Qc7 30. Rxa5) 26. Bxa5 Bxa5 27. Bd3
Qb6 (27... Qb4 28. Rb3 Qa4 29. Rxb7 {and the white queen is defended.}) 28. Nc4
Qb4 29. Rb3 Qa4 {Now there's a simple follow-up.} 30. Nb2 Qa2 31. Rxb7 Nb6 32.
Qb1 Qxb1+ 33. Bxb1 exd4 34. Nxd4 Bc3 35. Nxc6 1-0
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.25"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2772"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 {Anti-Berlin by
Vachier-Lagrave this time around.} Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9.
Nc3 Ne8 10. d4 Bf6 11. Re1 d5 12. b3 {A relatively fresh idea. I have already
talked about how today's players eagerly adapt the moves played against them.
No one at the top has an unhealthy attachment to a particular move of any
opening. They play what works. Paravyan-Vachier Lagrave, World Cup 2021 (just
five weeks ago) made Maxime want to try it with White.} ({It is also worth
mentioning that earlier this year MVL played the traditional} 12. Bf4 {against
Grischuk, Opera Euro 2021, and couldn't get more than a draw.}) 12... c6 13.
Ba3 Nd6 14. Qf3 Be6 15. Qf4 Be7 16. Bd3 {White has a good build-up, but Wesley
So wasn't particularly impressed.} Ne8 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Re5 g6 19. Rae1 Ng7
20. Ne2 Rae8 21. Ng3 Qd6 22. Qf6 Qd8 23. Qxd8 Rxd8 {Black has concluded his
plan of forcing a queen trade, and he is very close to completely equalizing
the game.} 24. h4 ({What if White moved a different pawn forward $2 I looked at
} 24. f4 Rfe8 25. f5 Bd7 26. f6 Ne6 27. Ne2 Nc7 28. Nf4 {but then comes the
paradoxical} (28. h3 Re6 29. Rxe6 Bxe6 30. g4 h6 {and White is late in
achieving his g4-g5 plan.}) 28... Rf8 $1 {threatening to hit the daring
f6-pawn by means of Ne8, and, eventually, Rd6.}) 24... Rfe8 25. h5 f6 26. R5e3
Bf7 27. hxg6 {Of course, MVL was well aware of the tournament situation, and
decided not to put his leading position at risk.} ({One last attempt could
have been} 27. h6 $5 Rxe3 28. Rxe3 Ne8 29. Re7 Nd6 {but if the white rook is
forced back, then the h6-pawn can come under attack after the black knight
moves to f7. In the meantime,} 30. c4 Kf8 31. Rc7 dxc4 32. bxc4 f5 33. c5 Ne8
34. Rxb7 Rxd4 {doesn't look convincing, mainly because of the poor position of
Ng3.}) 27... hxg6 28. Rxe8+ Rxe8 29. Rxe8+ Nxe8 30. f3 Nd6 31. Kf2 Kg7 32. Ke3
Be6 33. Ne2 g5 34. g4 f5 35. f4 Kf6 36. fxg5+ Kxg5 37. gxf5 Bxf5 38. c4 Bxd3
39. Kxd3 dxc4+ 40. bxc4 Kf5 41. Nc3 Ke6 42. a4 b6 43. a5 bxa5 44. d5+ cxd5 45.
Nxd5 Nxc4 46. Kxc4 a4 47. Nf4+ Kf5 48. Kb4 a5+ 49. Kxa4 Kxf4 50. Kxa5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.25"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Svidler, Peter"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2806"]
[BlackElo "2714"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. e5 {This old line is
currently going through a resurrection process, fueled by efforts of Wesley So,
who used it to beat Magnus Carlsen twice in recent online tournaments.} d5 7.
Bb5 Ne4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Be3 Bg4 11. Qc2 ({The last two times the
players mentioned above met, So's choice was} 11. h3 {and after} Bh5 {he tried
both the solid} 12. Rc1 ({and the more ambitious} 12. Qb3)) 11... Nxc3 ({
An earlier game So-Carlsen, FTX Crypto Cup 2021 went} 11... Bf5 12. Qb3 Ne7 13.
O-O c6 14. Be2 Rb8 15. Na4 Bc7 16. Nh4 f6 $5 {and Magnus won that one.}) 12.
bxc3 f6 {It's all about this move. Black must challenge the strong e5-pawn.}
13. Bxc6 bxc6 {Svidler took some time here.} ({He had another option in} 13...
Bxf3 14. gxf3 bxc6 {but then White would get to support his central pawn with}
15. f4 {Still, the massive trades of minor pieces that occurred so early in
the game, should keep Black out of trouble.}) 14. exf6 Qxf6 15. Ne5 {Fabiano
played very quickly, obviously following his preparation.} Bf5 16. Qa4 c5 17.
O-O cxd4 18. cxd4 c5 19. dxc5 Qxe5 20. cxb6 axb6 {I was not particularly happy
with Peter's position. Black has zero winning chances, and has to careful not
to lose a pawn.} 21. Qb4 {Not the best start of Caruana's campaign.} ({White's
main task in the early stage of establishing his advantage is to prevent any
counterplay.} 21. Qb3 {would serve that purpose by protecting Be3, so in reply
to} Be4 {White has} 22. f3 {I think Svidler was looking at a pawn sacrifice:}
Bc2 23. Qxb6 Rfb8) 21... Be4 $1 {A very annoying move that made Caruana lose
his advantage on the clock.} 22. Qxb6 {Finally, he decided to grab the pawn.}
Rf6 {Svidler had his eyes on reaching a draw.} ({Otherwise, he could have
looked at} 22... Ra4 $5 {to deny Caruana his planned queen swap.}) 23. Qd4 Qxd4
24. Bxd4 Rfa6 25. f3 ({Much better was} 25. Rac1 $1 {aiming to get to the 7th.
Most likely it would have been answered by} Ra4 ({The line} 25... Rxa2 26. Rc7
R8a4 27. Rxg7+ Kf8 28. Bf6 Ra6 29. Be5 Re6 30. Rg5 {is too adventurous for
Black to enter.}) 26. Rfd1 Rc4 27. Rxc4 dxc4 28. f3 Bd3 29. Ra1 {White should
be happy with his achievements at this point, but, of course, it's a long way
to a win.}) 25... Bc2 26. Rae1 (26. Rfe1 Ra4 27. Rac1 {was nearly identical to
the game continuation.}) 26... Ra4 27. Rf2 Bd3 $1 (27... Rxd4 28. Rxc2 Kf7 {
may be closer to a draw than to a white win, but Peter wanted a bit more
clarity.}) 28. Bc5 R8a5 29. Re8+ Kf7 30. Re7+ Kf6 31. Rc7 Rc4 32. Bd6 Ra6 33.
Bg3 Rxc7 ({For a moment I thought Svidler was going to play} 33... Ra7 $5 {
but, of course, White has} 34. Rd2 {ending all threats to his position.}) 34.
Bxc7 Bc4 35. Rb2 h5 36. Bb6 Ke5 $1 37. Bc5 Rxa2 38. Rxa2 Bxa2 39. Bf8 Kf6 40.
Bc5 Ke5 41. Bf8 Kf6 42. Bc5 Ke5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.25"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Black "Shankland, Sam"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2758"]
[BlackElo "2709"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bc4
Nc6 {A strange move order from Shankland, I can't see what was he trying to
gain by delaying castling, aside of provoking what happened in the game.} (8...
O-O 9. O-O Nc6 {was played hundreds of times. Then White cannot play} 10. Nd5
$2 {on account of} Nxe4) 9. Nd5 $1 {Now it's quite well-timed.} O-O (9... Nxe4
$2 10. Bb6 {followed by the fork on c7.}) ({Obviously, White should be happy
with} 9... Nxd5 10. Bxd5) 10. Bb6 {Dominguez wanted a sharper game.} ({There
was nothing wrong with old proven strategy of keeping control over the
d5-square,} 10. Nxf6+ Bxf6 11. O-O Be6 12. Bd5 Rc8 13. c3) 10... Qd7 11. Nxf6+
Bxf6 12. Qd3 Ne7 13. O-O-O Qc6 14. Be3 b5 15. Bb3 Bb7 {The e4-pawn came under
attack, which never happens in the English Attack, which Dominguez used to
beat Vachier-Lagrave.} 16. Qxd6 Qxd6 17. Rxd6 Bxe4 18. Nd2 $6 {Not the kind of
move Black should be scared of.} ({The most radical method of fighting for the
initiative was} 18. Bg5 Nf5 19. Rxf6 $5 gxf6 20. Bxf6 {I'm positive White is
going to win the second pawn and will obtain sufficient compensation. Whether
it's a legitimate winning attempt or not, I cannot say.}) 18... Bb7 19. Bc5
Rac8 20. Rd7 Bxg2 $1 21. Rg1 Rxc5 22. Rxg2 Nf5 23. Bd5 (23. Ne4 Rc6 24. Bd5 Rb6
{was an interesting line that may be extended to} 25. Rb7 Rxb7 26. Nxf6+ Kh8
27. Bxb7 gxf6 28. Bxa6 Nd6 $1 29. a4 bxa4 30. Rg4 a3 31. bxa3 Ra8 32. Ra4 {
with sharp play in the endgame.}) 23... Nd4 24. Ne4 Rxc2+ 25. Kb1 Bd8 26. Bxf7+
Kh8 27. Bd5 Re2 $6 {Leaving the white rook to dominate the seventh rank was
Shankland's mistake.} ({Sam should have tried} 27... g6 $1 28. h4 Rc7 $1 29.
Rxc7 Bxc7 {with some chances to convert his extra pawn, e.g.} 30. h5 Kg7 31.
hxg6 hxg6 32. Nc5 Bd6) 28. Rg1 Nf5 29. Be6 Nd4 30. Bd5 {Leinier only had about
a minute left, so he was happy with a draw.} Nf5 31. Be6 Nd4 32. Bd5 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.25"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Black "Rapport, Richard"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2655"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 Bf5 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3 Bg6 6. c4 Bd6 7. Bg5 c6 8. Nc3
Nbd7 9. O-O Qb8 {Such creative moves are characteristic for Rapport's chess,
but the classical pawn structure of the Queens Gambit may not be the best
playground for such liberties.} 10. h3 Bh5 ({Something made Richard reject}
10... Bxd3 11. Qxd3 h6 12. Bxf6 Nxf6) 11. Re1 dxc4 12. Bxc4 {Now the position
resembles the main line of the Slav Defense, where Black surrenders some of
the center in order to get his light squared bishop out. One little detail,
White managed to avoid the weakening move a2-a4, so he still has some
prospects on the queenside as well as in the center.} h6 ({On} 12... O-O {
White would feel free to go after the bishop,} 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nh4 {as they
often do in the Slav Defense.}) 13. Bxf6 gxf6 $5 {There aren't that many
grandmasters who would consider this recapture, let alone find it acceptable.}
({Rapport didn't feel like defending a slightly worse position after} 13...
Nxf6 14. e4 Bxf3 ({On} 14... e5 {the surprising} 15. Qb3 $1 {causes Black
major problems.}) 15. Qxf3 e5 16. d5 O-O 17. dxc6 bxc6 {etc.}) 14. Be2 {
A solid response.} ({Darius didn't trust} 14. e4 Qc7 15. d5 O-O-O {where White
has to deal with his own king safety issues. Black's dark squared bishop has a
strong presence here.}) 14... Rg8 15. Nd2 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 Rg6 17. Nc4 {The
knight is well-placed here, but soon it's going to be traded.} ({The direct}
17. e4 {deserved full attention.}) 17... Bb4 18. Rac1 Nb6 $1 19. a3 Bxc3 20.
Rxc3 Qd8 21. e4 Kf8 22. Rd1 Nxc4 23. Rxc4 Qd6 24. Qf3 Rd8 25. Rc3 Kg7 26. Rcd3
Qc7 27. Qe3 Qa5 28. b4 Qh5 29. Qf4 {It wasn't a pretty game, but Rapport
conducted his part well enough to survive until this point.} e5 $6 {A risky
move. Seeing his opponent clock situation, Richard decided to go for more} ({
than a likely draw in the rook endgame after} 29... Qg5) 30. dxe5 fxe5 31. Qc1
({Simpler was} 31. Qd2 Rxd3 32. Qxd3 $14) 31... Rd4 32. Rxd4 Qxh3 33. g3 exd4
34. Rxd4 Qe6 $1 {Our commentators GM Irina Krush and GM Robert Hess lavished
praise on this move. The black queen correctly abandons her unrealistic hopes
to deliver checkmate and returns to defense.} 35. Qc3 Qf6 36. Qe3 h5 37. e5 Qg5
38. Qxg5 {Swiercz decided not to take any chances.} ({He could have gone on
with} 38. Rf4 {with the time control only two moves away.}) 38... Rxg5 39. Rd7
Rxe5 40. Rxb7 a5 41. Rc7 axb4 42. axb4 Rb5 43. Rxc6 Rxb4 44. Kg2 h4 45. gxh4
Rxh4 46. Kg3 Rb4 47. Kg2 Rh4 48. Kg3 Rb4 49. Kg2 Rh4 50. Kg3 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.25"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D32"]
[WhiteElo "2710"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 a6 $5 {The old Dawid Janowski's move is all the rage
120 years later.} 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 Nf6 6. e3 c5 $5 {Shakh wanted a more
combative pawn structure.} (6... Bd6 {is standard here.}) 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Nf3
Nc6 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 (10... Be6 11. Ne5 $1 {was seen in the online game
Nakamura-Le Quang Liem, NIC Classic 2021. After} Bd6 12. Nxc6 bxc6 13. Na4 c5
14. Bxd6 Qxd6 15. Rc1 Rfc8 16. Qd2 {Hikaru eventually managed to prove that
the hanging pawns can be weak.}) 11. Rc1 h6 ({In case of} 11... d4 {White may
consider} 12. Nb5 $5) 12. Qc2 ({The more active} 12. Qb3 {suggested itself.})
12... Ba7 13. Rfd1 Be6 {Now the d5-pawn is defended, and Jeffery switches to
Nakamura's plan.} 14. Ne5 $1 Rc8 15. Bf3 Qa5 16. Qd3 ({I'd prefer to clarify
the situation:} 16. Nxc6 bxc6 (16... Rxc6 17. h3 Rec8 18. Qb1) 17. a3 Red8 18.
Ne2 c5 19. Be5) 16... Ne7 $5 {Shakh avoids any trades, which is a good recipe
of how to handle such positions.} 17. h3 Red8 18. Qe2 b5 19. a3 d4 $1 {Time to
introduce some tactics.} 20. exd4 Rxd4 $6 (20... Bxd4 21. Ne4 Rxc1 22. Rxc1
Nxe4 23. Bxe4 Qb6 {was a clear path to equality. I'm sure it wasn't what
Mamedyarov was looking for.}) 21. Nd3 $1 Rdd8 22. Nb4 $1 {Excellent work by
Xiong. Now the black queen is extremely short of squares.} Ng6 {Shakh had
already devised a plan of counterplay, involving an exchange sacrifice.} 23.
Be3 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Bb8 ({Insufficient was} 24... Bxe3 25. Qxe3 Re8 26. Qa7 {
and Black will soon lose his queenside pawns.}) 25. Nc6 Rxc6 {Think what you
want, but I admire this move.} (25... Qc7 26. Nxb8 Rxb8 27. Ne4 Nxe4 28. Bxe4
Rd8 29. Rxd8+ Qxd8 30. Qd2 Qxd2 31. Bxd2 {would leave Black defending a worse
endgame, and it's not a fact that he would survive it.}) 26. Bxc6 Qc7 27. f4 ({
The cool defensive move} 27. Qc2 {escaped Jeffery's attention. The point is
that} Nh4 {can be answered with} 28. Nxb5 $1 ({Xiong must have seen} 28. g3 Bf5
{and didn't find it comfortable.}) 28... axb5 29. Bf4 Qb6 30. Bxb8 Qxb8 31. Qd3
) 27... Nxf4 28. Qd2 $6 {The second inaccuracy in a row allows Black to escape
with a draw.} ({According to computers,} 28. Qf3 {would keep the edge, but in
a real game situation, low on time and facing a fearsome attacker, I cannot
guarantee anything.}) 28... Nd3 $1 {It took him some time, but Shakh found the
right move.} (28... Nxh3+ {was analyzed by our commentators, who came to a
conclusion that White can beat off the attack:} 29. gxh3 Qg3+ 30. Bg2 Bxh3 31.
Qf2 Qh2+ 32. Kf1) 29. Qxd3 Qh2+ 30. Kf2 Qg3+ {No stepping on light squares for
the white king, on account of Bc4.} 31. Kg1 Qh2+ 32. Kf2 Qg3+ 33. Kg1 Qh2+ 34.
Kf2 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.26"]
[Round "9"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D27"]
[WhiteElo "2772"]
[BlackElo "2758"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 a6 6. O-O c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8.
Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Be2 Ke7 10. Nc3 $5 {A topical line. White reserves the b3-square
for his other knight.} (10. Nbd2 Bd7 $5 11. b3 Bb5 12. Nc4 Nc6 13. Bb2 Rhd8 14.
Rac1 Kf8 15. a4 Bxc4 16. Bxc4 Be7 17. Ne5 Na5 {was Bindrich-Dominguez, World
Blitz 2016}) 10... b5 11. Nd2 Bb7 12. Nb3 Nbd7 ({To illustrate how Black may
drift into an unpleasant position I can show one game that went} 12... Bd6 13.
Bd2 Nc6 14. Rfc1 Rhc8 15. f3 Rab8 16. e4 Bc7 17. a4 Bb6+ 18. Kf1 b4 19. Nd1 a5
20. Be3 Nd7 21. Bxb6 Nxb6 22. Ne3 {Aronian-Harikrishna, Chessable Masters,
2021 Black has a weak pawn on a5, his bishop is restricted by the e4-pawn, and
he's having a hard time neutralizing White's play on the c-file.}) 13. Na5 $1 (
{Black was fine after} 13. Nxc5 Nxc5 14. f3 b4 $1 15. Nd1 a5 16. e4 Ba6 {
Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Legends of Chess, 2020. Note how quickly Kramnik dealt with
the opponent's bishop pair. Still, such positions offer a surprising number of
practical chances. Somewhere along the line Black went wrong, and Ivanchuk
celebrated another victory over his lifelong rival.}) ({A quiet move} 13. Rd1 {
was played in Carlsen-So, Crypto Cup 2021. Wesley pulled back his bishop,} Bb6
{but that allowed} 14. a4 $1 b4 15. a5 Ba7 16. Na4 Bd5 17. Nd4 Rhb8 18. Bd2 {
and Black's queenside pawn came under attack, and Carlsen scored a convincing
win.}) 13... Rab8 14. Bd2 (14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. Bd2 Rc7 16. Rfd1 Rhc8 17. Be1 {
was an earlier Carlsen-So game (Skilling Open, 2020), where Black was able to
hold a draw. As we can see, Wesley had some experience on the black side of
this issue.}) 14... Ne4 $1 {An important exchange operation} 15. Nxe4 (15. Nxb7
Nxd2 16. Nxc5 Nxc5 17. Rfc1 Rbc8 18. Rc2 Nc4 {was well calculated by Dominguez.
}) 15... Bxe4 16. Rfc1 Rhc8 17. a4 bxa4 {This was a much more difficult
decision, as Leinier had to anticipate a loss of a pawn in many lines.} (17...
Bd5 18. axb5 axb5 19. b4 {would lead to a similar scenario,} Bd6 20. Rxc8 Rxc8
21. Bxb5 Ne5 22. Bf1 Rc2 23. Be1 f5 {with compensation, largely due to a bad
position of the knight on a5.}) 18. Bxa6 Rc7 19. Bc3 Bd6 20. Rxa4 {So had to
take the pawn, otherwise the black knight was coming to c5 anyway.} Nc5 21. Bb4
$1 {Tactics alert, but Dominguez saw it coming and prepared an adequate
response.} Bd5 $1 {Putting the bishop on a safe square and maintaining the
tension.} (21... Rxb4 {doesn't work on account of} 22. Rxb4 Nxa6 23. Rxc7+ Bxc7
24. Rxe4 Bxa5 25. Ra4) 22. Bf1 ({Now} 22. Nc4 $2 Rxb4 {wins for Black.}) 22...
Rcc8 {Now the white rook hangs, and So decided to trade down to an equal
ending.} 23. Bxc5 Rxc5 24. Rxc5 Bxc5 25. Nc4 ({Couldn't he have tried} 25. e4
Ba8 26. b3 {instead $2 It doesn't lose anything, but the extra pawn is going
to be next to impossible to convert in the face of Black's bishop pair.} Bb6
27. Nc4 Bd4 28. Nd2 Bc3 29. Nf3 h6 30. Bd3 g5 {etc.}) 25... Bxc4 26. Rxc4 Bd6
27. Rc2 Be5 28. g3 Rxb2 29. Rxb2 Bxb2 30. h4 h6 31. Bd3 Bc3 32. Bc2 Bb2 33. Bd3
Bc3 34. Bc2 Bb2 35. Bd3 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.26"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Rapport, Richard"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B44"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2806"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "123"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Bf4 $5 {This is a rare move, but
it goes along with some newly developed ideas that White currently tries in
the Sicilian.} d6 6. Nxc6 {That's one of those.} (6. Bg3 e5 $1 {leaves the
bishop underemployed for many moves to come.}) 6... bxc6 7. c4 {This is the
structure White wants. Black has to decide how to place his central pawns.} Rb8
8. Qc2 e5 $1 {I support Fabiano's decision, but I think he had something even
better.} (8... c5 $5 9. Nc3 Ne7 $1 10. Rd1 Nc6 {is thematic. We recall seeing
something similar in Caruana-Swiercz from round 3, but in that game White was
way ahead of schedule with his kingside attack.}) 9. Be3 Nf6 10. Nc3 Qc7 11.
Be2 Be7 12. O-O O-O 13. Rac1 Be6 14. b3 h6 15. h3 a5 16. Rfd1 Rfd8 17. Bf3 {
Rapport made his last preparation for the c4-c5 push by bringing enough pieces
to deter Black's answer of d6-d5.} Nh7 $1 {Caruana is in time with
countermeasures.} 18. Qe2 {A new series of maneuvers.} (18. c5 Ng5 $1 19. Bxg5
(19. Bg4 d5) 19... Bxg5 20. cxd6 Rxd6 21. Rxd6 Qxd6 22. Rd1 Qc5 {is
comfortable for the second player.}) 18... Bg5 19. Rd3 Qe7 20. Rcd1 Rd7 21. Bd2
Bxd2 22. Qxd2 Ng5 23. Be2 Rbd8 24. Qe3 (24. h4 $1 Nh7 25. Qe3 {was the right
idea. Black wouldn't think of taking on h4 and losing the d6-pawn in return.})
24... f5 25. c5 ({Again,} 25. h4 {was worth a look. I'm not sure Caruana would
be ready to burn his bridges with} f4 $5 26. Qb6 Nf7 27. c5 Qxh4 28. cxd6 g5 {
as his losses on the queenside would be catastrophic, unless he manages to
deliver checkmate.}) 25... d5 {Now Black is totally fine.} 26. exd5 Bxd5 27. f4
Ne4 28. Nxd5 cxd5 29. c6 $6 {In mutual time trouble Rapport seeks
complications.} ({He had a safe choice in} 29. fxe5 d4 (29... Nxc5 30. Rd4 Ne6
31. R4d2) 30. Rxd4 $1 Qxc5 31. Rxe4 Rxd1+ 32. Bxd1 Rxd1+ 33. Kh2 {with a draw
being the likely outcome.}) 29... d4 {Now some accuracy is required form White
not to end up worse or even losing.} 30. Qc1 Rc7 31. fxe5 Qxe5 32. Qc4+ Kh7 33.
Bf3 ({Richard rejected the obvious} 33. Rxd4 Rxc6 34. Qxc6 Rxd4 35. Rxd4 Qxd4+
36. Kh2 {Indeed Black's Q+$146 combo is a strong attacking force. However, in
this case it may only be good for a draw by perpetual.}) 33... Ng5 (33... Rd6
34. Bxe4 fxe4 35. Rxd4 Rcxc6 36. Qa4 Rg6 {was Caruana's other option. It was
next to impossible to tell which way to go, because of the clock situation.})
34. h4 Nxf3+ 35. Rxf3 Rd5 36. h5 Qe4 {Fabiano skillfully maintained the
pressure, trying to force an error from Richard.} 37. Rdf1 d3 38. Rf4 Qe6 39.
Rxf5 $1 {Rapport has no aversion to tactics when he can calculate them.} Qe3+
40. Kh2 Rd4 41. Re1 $1 {It was all about this move White had to see from afar.}
Rxc4 {Caruana burned a lot of time here. It's not that he had any options,
most likely it was due to a certain degree of frustration. He was hoping to
get more out of the middlegame than this.} (41... Qxe1 $2 42. Qxd4 d2 43. Rd5)
42. Rxe3 Rd4 43. Rf1 {A sensible move.} ({There was no need for Rapport to
look for a miracle escape the computers find after} 43. Re8 Rxc6 44. g4 $3 Rxg4
45. Rd8) 43... d2 {It was funny to see some engines crediting Black with a
large advantage. All it did was to raise hopes among Caruana's supporters. In
reality, the best Black can get out of this is a harmless extra pawn on the
queenside, with his king hopelessly cut off by the active white rook.} 44. Rd1
Rxc6 45. Re2 Rc2 46. a3 Rd5 47. Kg3 Rc3+ 48. Kh4 Rd4+ (48... Rxb3 49. Rexd2
Rxd2 50. Rxd2 Rxa3 51. Rd7 {case in point.}) 49. g4 Rdd3 {Fabi gave it his
best effort, but it wasn't meant to be.} 50. Rh2 Rc2 51. b4 a4 52. b5 Rb2 53.
Rh3 $1 ({The four rook ending reached after} 53. b6 Rxb6 54. Rhxd2 Rxa3 {
offers Black good winning chances.} 55. Rd4) 53... Rd6 54. Rh2 Ra2 55. Rg2 {
White simply sits and waits for Black to take on a3.} Kg8 {Caruana didn't even
bother with it.} 56. Rh2 Kf7 57. Re2 Rb2 58. Rf1+ Rf6 59. Rd1 Rd6 60. Rf1+ Rf6
61. Rd1 Rd6 62. Rf1+ 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.26"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Shankland, Sam"]
[Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A11"]
[WhiteElo "2709"]
[BlackElo "2655"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. c4 dxc4 {An interesting line that combines
ideas from different openings.} 5. O-O Nbd7 {The most reliable.} (5... b5 {
is a typical move from the Slav Defense, but after} 6. a4 Bb7 {White has a
trick:} 7. d3 $1 cxd3 8. Ne5 $1 {with big pressure exerted by the bishop on g2.
Black should certainly avoid} dxe2 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. Re1) ({Aronian-Caruana,
SAint Louis Blitz 2019, saw a Grunfeld-like} 5... g6) (5... Be6) 6. Qc2 Nb6 7.
a4 a5 8. Na3 Be6 {This may look like a beginner's move - Black protects the
pawn while neglecting the other bishop's development, but it has been tested
in practice and proved playable.} 9. Ng5 Qd7 (9... Bg4 {opens up a fantastic
line, where White treats his Reti as an open game suited for sacrificial
attacks.} 10. Nxc4 Bxe2 11. Ne5 $1 Bh5 {strictly the only move} 12. b4 {
Radjabov-Smeets, Wijk aan Zee 2009}) 10. e4 $5 {Shankland plays the most
challenging move.} ({The immediate} 10. Rb1 {allows Black to relocate his
bishop:} Bf5 11. e4 Bg6) 10... Bg4 $1 {Very clever.} (10... g6 11. Nxe6 Qxe6
12. Rb1 $1 Bg7 13. b3 {is mighty good for White.}) 11. Nxc4 Nxc4 12. Qxc4 e5 {
The game has finally left theoretical paths, and the players were on their own.
} 13. b3 {A solid, but not spectacular choice.} ({The first move we want to
look at is, naturally,} 13. d4 {trying to blast open the center and get to the
king. Black has two good responses} exd4 ({and} 13... h6 14. dxe5 hxg5 15. exf6
gxf6 {where the counterattack with Bh3 is just around the corner. I guess this
was the reason Sam went for a different, much quieter line.}) 14. e5 Nd5 15.
Qxd4 {appears promising until Black finds} Nb4 {Anyway, deeper research is
needed.}) 13... Bb4 14. Bb2 h6 ({Dariusz could have played} 14... O-O {not
fearing} 15. Bxe5 Qxd2 16. Nf3 Qh6) 15. Nf3 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 Qe7 17. Rad1 O-O 18.
d4 exd4 19. Rxd4 {This transformation left me slightly disappointed. A
standard position was reached, where White's options are limited to the center
and kingside, because his queenside pawns are frozen. The rest of the game
brought no surprises, Swiercz held comfortably.} Nd7 20. Be2 Rad8 21. Rfd1 Nc5
22. Qc2 Rxd4 23. Rxd4 Rd8 24. e5 Rxd4 25. Bxd4 Ne6 26. Bb2 Qc5 27. Qc4 Qxc4 28.
Bxc4 {Even the much vaulted bishop pair wasn't going to do much for Shankland,
because Swiercz had a way of liquidating the queenside.} Nc5 $1 29. Kf1 b5 30.
axb5 cxb5 31. Bxb5 Nxb3 32. Ke2 Nc5 33. Bd4 a4 {Nothing to do but win a pawn,
which is going to give just a token advantage in the opposite-color bishop
ending.} 34. Bxc5 Bxc5 35. Bxa4 Kf8 36. Bb3 Ke7 37. f4 f6 38. e6 f5 39. Kf3 h5
40. Kg2 Kf6 41. Kf3 Ke7 42. Kg2 Kf6 43. Kf3 Ke7 1/2-1/2
[Event "Chess.com"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2021.08.26"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C55"]
[WhiteElo "2714"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[Annotator "yermo"]
[PlyCount "87"]
[EventDate "2021.??.??"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 h6 5. a4 {Moving that pawn forward this
early is trendy.} d6 6. Nc3 g5 {Call me dogmatic, but I don't trust this move
when White has his knight on c3, instead of a pawn.} 7. Be3 Bg7 8. h4 $1 {
Svidler gets down to business.} g4 9. Nh2 Ne7 ({I was looking at} 9... Nd4 10.
Nf1 c6 11. Ng3 d5 12. Ba2 Be6 13. Qd2 {despite the position of his a4-pawn
White can still think of castling long. In the meantime, it's not easy for
Black to solve the issue with his h6-pawn} h5 $6 {allows} 14. Bg5) 10. Qe2 c6
11. d4 $1 {Too bad the tournament was about to end when Svidler finally hit
his stride.} exd4 {Xiong already found himself in a difficult situation.
Surrendering the center is not safe} ({but the alternative,} 11... O-O 12.
O-O-O Qa5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Kb1 {followed by f2-f3 wasn't too enticing either.}
) 12. Bxd4 Ng6 13. O-O-O Qe7 14. Bxf6 {Possibly, a bit to eager.} ({The main
problem with Black's position is that it cannot be improved easily, so even}
14. Kb1 {was entirely appropriate.} Ne5 15. Bb3 Nh5 16. Qe3 {and White will
play f2-f4 next.}) ({There's also} 14. f3 {right away. I thought Svidler was
on his way to win the game.}) 14... Bxf6 15. Nxg4 Bxh4 $5 {Jeffery was willing
to take some awful chances} ({rather than defend down a pawn after} 15... Bxc3
16. bxc3 Bxg4 17. Qxg4 Ne5 18. Qe2 O-O-O) 16. Ne3 Bf6 17. Qd2 $2 {The threat
to the d6-pawn shouldn't bother Black, because he welcomes a queen trade that
comes along with it.} ({A different story develops after} 17. Rhe1 Be6 18. Nf5
$1 Bxf5 19. exf5 Qxe2 20. Rxe2+ Ne7 21. Ne4 {Black is not going to survive
this endgame.}) 17... h5 18. Kb1 h4 19. Rhe1 Bg5 20. Qxd6 Qxd6 21. Rxd6 Ne5 {
There it is. Jeffery managed to alleviate his problems at the cost of mere
pawn.} 22. Bb3 h3 23. gxh3 Bxh3 24. Nf5 Rd8 25. Ka2 Rxd6 {This was accurately
calculated by Xiong} ({but he could also play} 25... Bg4 {I don't see what
White can do in the way of improvement here.}) 26. Nxd6+ Ke7 27. Nxb7 Bc8 28.
Nc5 Rh2 {Two pawns down, but counterplay comes in time.} 29. Rg1 f6 30. f4 (30.
Nd3 Nxd3 31. cxd3 Rxf2 32. d4 {White can try to grind it down, but I already
felt Peter was not up to a long game. He knew he had his chances and he blew
it.}) 30... Bxf4 31. Rg8 Be3 32. Nd3 Nxd3 33. cxd3 Ba6 34. Rg7+ Kd6 35. Bc4
Bxc4+ 36. dxc4 a5 {White's compromised pawn structure and passive king deprive
him of any winning chances.} 37. Rf7 Bd4 38. Kb3 Rh4 39. Rf8 Kc5 40. Ra8 Kb6
41. Rb8+ Kc5 42. Ra8 Kb6 43. Rb8+ Kc5 44. Ra8 1/2-1/2