January 26, 2012

Tata Steel Chess 2012 - Highlights

If before we saw the mistakes that even the best of the very best make, it's time to learn from the same players. No wonder they are so good!

Turov - Grover, round 7; 1/2
What would you play here with Black?

Probably the first thought that comes to mind is: to which square should I jump with my knight?! Instead of automatically playing 33...Ng3+, Turov took the best practical decision of complicating the matters by choosing:

33...fxe3! offering a piece for what it turned out to be indeed good compensation; the game continued: 34.fxe4 accepting the sacrifice cxd4 35.Ng4 dxe4 and after a tough struggle and very entertaining ending, the game resulted in a draw.
Despite the computer's suggestion, that after 33...fxe3 better was 34.g6 h6 and only afterwards to take the knight on e4, entering the same positions but with a slightly better version due to the pawn structure and the cramped Black's king, Turov's idea deserves credit and it doesn't make it less beautiful. Practically speaking, it's very difficult to find these intermediate moves, especially when it looks so natural for White to simply take the piece.

Adhiban - Sadler, round 5; 1/2
Black to move; how would you asses the position?
What would you play if you would have the Black pieces?

I just simply loved the end of this game, brilliant series of sacrifices and counter-sacrifices! Both sides played like a computer, making the only moves to keep things under control! It looks like White is pressing, planning to push the e pawn on the next move, but Black is just in time for counter-measures:

It all started with: 51...Ra2! attacking on g2, so White has to play 52.Rg1 and now 52...Rfa8! bringing the last piece into play and getting ready for sacrifices on g2. What should White do now?!
53.e6! the only way to keep equality Bxg2 

It looks like Black was better from the very beginning and now he should collect the point, right?! White cannot take back on g2 due to Rxg2, Qg6+ and the rook from a8 will have an important role in forcing the White king to surrender. White cannot take the queen either 54.exf7, in view of  54...Bd5+ 55.Qf2 Rxf2+ 56.Kg3 Rf3+ 57.Kh2 Bxf7 and Black is two pawns up, plus attacking position. So than...what?!

54.Qxh6+! and after a couple of more moves, the game ended in a peaceful draw: 54...gxh6 55.exf7 Bd5+ 56.Kg3 Bf7 57.Kh4 and Black cannot protect the d4 pawn anymore 57...Rg8 58.Rxg8 Kxg8 59.Rxd4 and a draw was agreed.

Grover - Adhiban, round 4; 0-1
What would you play with Black?

Another beautiful example of sacrificing for a long term initiative:
15...Nxb4! 16.axb4 Bxb4 17.Bxf6 gxf6 and Black has plenty compensation for the courageous decision on move 15. White has troubles developing his pieces and practical difficulties in finding the best defensive moves over the board. The White king never managed to castle and had to accept his cruel fate...

Lahno - Ernst, round 1; 1-0
Can you still continue the attack with White?

Yes, you can! And Kateryna showed how:
28.Nf5! a beautiful thematic knight sacrifice; the game continued: 28...gxf5 29.exf5 Bxf5 giving back the piece, in hope for salvation; it doesn't help anyway, but what else?! - White's pawns are way too dangerous 30.Bxf5 Nf7 31.Bxg7+ Kxg7 32.Qh5 Rh8 33.Be6 Bd8 34.g6 and the Black king cannot handle it anymore. 

Nyzhnyk - Vocaturo, round 7; 1-0
Find the best continuation for White

The pawn structure is a typical Benoni and Illya showed that he knew what he was doing, choosing the perfect moment for the central break:
16.e5! dxe5 17.d6! and Vocaturo soon collapsed.
Black could have opposed tougher resistance by playing 16...exd5 and thus remaining in the game: 17.exf6 Rxe1 18.Qxe1 Nc2 19.Qd2 Na1 20.Na1 Bxf6 21.Nxd5 but White still has the upper hand.

The last two examples are illustrative not for brilliant chess moves, but for the most appropriate psychological moves, given the circumstances:

Reinderman - l'Ami, round 6; 1/2
White is an exchange up and threatens to take on f7.
How would you defend it?

Black has suffered the whole game, defending a difficult position, with an exchange down. Time has come to protect another pawn which is for about to fall, but how? With 54...Rf5 or 54...Rc7? Erwin chose:

54...Rc7! if you'll check with an engine, you will see that he immediately disagrees; objectively speaking, 54...Rc7 is not the most accurate move, in view of 55.f5 gxf5 and 56.Rh8 when Black's position becomes harder and harder to defend.
So what's the point than? After 54...Rf5, White's plan is very natural and difficult to miss: Kf3, h3, g4, pushing the rook on a very passive square f6 and slowly but surely making progress without any risks. 
The f5 break though, in the previous line, after 54...Rc7, is by far a more difficult decision, especially when you have the choice of playing a very tempting alternative:
55.Rd8+ Kc5 56.Rc2+ Kb5 57.Rxc7 Bxc7 58.Rd7 Bb6 59.Rxf7 White should be winning, right?!

This is what Reinderman thought too and what Erwin was hoping for, devilishly inviting White to enter an endgame which is in fact: Draw!

In the game: 59...a5 followed and it turned out that White cannot get more than a draw - the passed Black's a pawn has very fast legs and forced the rook to sacrifice itself in the hope for a win with the pawns from the other wing. But Black was just in time for a study like defense and went on to grab the hard fought half a point.

Radjabov - Van Wely, round 10; 1/2
White's last move was 40.Qf3, which is a blunder.
How would you punish it?

After many errors for both sides, playing under time pressure for long time, Radjabov reached the time control with his last move 40.Qf3? 
As it oftenly happens, he probably realized instantly that he is completely lost after the natural move 40...Ra2! which is not that difficult to find, threatening mate on h2. The difficult part comes afterwards, but Black would have had more time on the clock after move 40 and thus he would have surely found the winning procedure:
41.Rg2 Rxg2 42.Qxg2 Rxd3 43.Rxd3 Qe1+ 44.Qg1 Qe4+ winning the rook and the game.

It was a brilliant 'move' for Radjabov to offer a draw after 40.Qf3, when Van Wely had under one minute on the clock for his last move before the time control. Desperate measures were taken, but only thanks to the fastness in seeing that Qf3 was a blunder! Besides, he needed to react fast, before his opponent could realize what happens. A draw offer came, confused Van Wely and finally, with the seconds running down, the safest path was chosen: draw offer accepted!


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