GOTMFebruary, 2012. 

Welcome to my  "Game of The Month"  feature!  (Game # 47, for February, 2012.)  (A list of all the main games on this website.) 

This is a game, that is annotated - by me - for your enjoyment. Hopefully it is done in a way that is both entertaining and also informative, there are certainly lots of diagrams - and a link to a re-play page as well. The main purpose {and thrust} of this column is to try and educate the general chess public. 

I have deeply annotated this game on my hard drive, you are welcome to contact me if you would like to try and obtain a copy. (Because of copyright violations, I ONLY offer a printed version! I simply cannot afford to "give away" the electronic version any longer ...)

This is a feature where I will try to pick a game that was recently played at the GM level. Then I will annotate it and try to basically explain what happened. ---> While I would not mind if an expert (or even a master) enjoyed my work here, this column is aimed primarily at lower-rated players.  
(Say 1600 & below.)

I hope that you enjoy this game ... feedback is both encouraged and welcome. (Please respect my copyright.) 
(This means do NOT!!! copy any of my work ... and post it on another website ... unless you get my WRITTEN permission, first.) 


NOTE:  It is now August 29th, (2012); and I still have not completed my "Game of the Month" for February. 

There are many reasons for this, but mostly it has been a tremendous piece of bad luck. I literally have had like 7-10 computer crashes this year, about SIX of these were when my main hard drive went bad. (I THINK a couple of others can be chalked up to our nearly constant lightning storms that we often experience in this part of the country. We had a nearly six week run ... where it rained literally every day!) I can only ascribe all of this to bad luck and maybe a batch of poorly produced electronic components ... other than this, I have no idea of what to say. My last failure was less than a month ago, a technician actually asked me: "Do you pick your PC up ... and maybe drop it a lot?" "Do you move it around a lot?" I responded: "Yeah, me and my PC are pretty tight. When I go outside and throw a football ... or I go to the beach to toss a frisbee, my PC usually asks to tag along!" (Chalk that one up to: Ask a stupid question, ...)   

I have not forgotten about this feature. I am restoring files ... seeing if I cannot get back to a workable state. I will say that I have re-installed more software this year than maybe in the last ten ... 


Monday; September 24th, 2012:  I redid my computer a number of months back, I updated my OS from Windows XP to Windows 7. In the process, I lost many programs, to include the old program/utility: "Chess Captor." (Apparently it was never updated to work with W7.) Anyway, I searched furiously for some possible replacements for this program, however, I was unable to find anything even remotely useful ... certainly nothing as nifty as Captor was. 

Of course, I can use ChessBase to generate diagrams, until something a little more useful (or easier to use) comes along ... ... ... 

    Click  HERE    to see an explanation of the symbols I commonly use - when annotating a chess game.     

    Click  HERE    to go to another server ... where you can search for this game in a "re-playable" format.   

    Click  HERE    to go to my channel on the "You-Tube" network/server.  (Click  HERE  to watch my "You-Tube" video on this game.) 

 The Players

gotm-feb2012_Aronian.jpg, 08 KB

gotm-feb-2012_Giri.jpg, 07 KB

  GM Lev Aronian  

  GM Anish Giri  


 Read 'em and weep; Aronian rolls to victory ... at a phenommenal  "+5" ...  (gotm-feb2012_wijk-ann-zee_2012.png, 29 KB)



This has been widely considered to be one of the prettiest combinations of master chess of the last 10-20 years. Many of the video's on YT are celebrating the wonders of this combination, although - while Aronian's play was exceptional - Giri's conduct of this "partie" could be best described as lackluster and somewhat self-destructive. Nonetheless, it is a peach of a combination ... shocking anyone who happened to be observing the game and did not have the use of a strong chess engine. (Of course, the best programs find this combination almost instantly.)  

On the ChessBase server, they have a very nice story of this round, which also includes a video analysis of this game.  

Note that the diagrams are very large, if you save them to your computer, you will be able to see and study the positions better.  
(The size that is used here is less than 1/2 the actual size of the "*.jpg" images.)  

   GM A. Giri (2714) - GM L. Aronian (2805)   
   74th Tata Steel / GMA   
   Wijk aan Zee, NED; (R#10) / 25,01,2012.   

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  


GOTM, ("Game of The Month"); February, 2012. 

GM L. Aronian had a fabulous result at Wijk aan Zee / Tata Steel, 2012; he had more decisive games than anyone in recent memory. 
(Of course, the history of Wijk aan Zee chess tournament is one that is full of color, great players, and ... of course! ... 
some really fantastic and also well-played games of chess.) 

Giri has had some very good results as of late: he has won the Dutch Championships in 2009 and 2011. And recently - just last month, in fact - 
he was the lowest rated player at the 54th Reggio Emilia tournament, yet he won clear first. (See last month's column - for more details and a CT.) 

Of course, (the name of) GM Levon Aronian should be known to any real chess fan, he has been the World's #1 player (by rating), he won the 
World Blitz title in 2010; he has won many tournaments, and has even tied for first in previous editions of this event.  

The game starts off as a QP, both sides make some interesting decisions, and the final combination is as grand as any I have ever seen before!   

   ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****   

[NOTE: I have at least 20-30 books on the Queen's Gambit ... and all of the related systems. 
 However, many of these do not cover the lines with 3...Be7; and/or White's choice of Bf4.]  


     1.d4 d5;  2.c4 e6;  3.Nc3,  (Q.G.D.)  

The game begins as a Queen's Gambit, (and Black does not capture on c4); this is no big surprise ... 
 just about all the top GM's today play 1.d2-d4. (Of course, Aronian also plays 1.d2-d4, as well.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag01.jpg, 145 KB

   rnbqkbnr/ppp2ppp/4p3/3p4/2PP4/2N5/PP2PPPP/R1BQKBNR b KQkq - 0 3   


The only question is - will Black follow the main line ... or will he vary ... at some point? 

[ For a solid overview of the theory of this line, see any good book on the Queen's Gambit Declined. See also MCO-15, beginning on page # 389. ]   


                           [ We could transpose into the Semi-Tarrasch ... with the following continuation: 
3.Nf3 Nf64.Nc3 c55.e3 Nc66.a3!, "+/="  (White is a little better.) 
and although the engine does not really show it, White has a nice edge in this position.   

                           [ MCO-15's coverage of these lines begins on page # 432. 
The above variation can be found on page # 437, see column # 102 ... and all notes. ] ]   


     3...Be7;  (Why this move?)     

Call this line, ... the "Anti-Exchange System," ... for the lack of a better name.   


gotm-feb2012_diag02.jpg, 145 KB

   rnbqk1nr/ppp1bppp/4p3/3p4/2PP4/2N5/PP2PPPP/R1BQKBNR w KQkq - 0 4   


One of the main things that this line does is to discourage White from playing the 'normal' move order. [ E.g., 1.d4, d5; 2.c4, e6; 3.Nc3, Nf6; 4.Bg5, etc. ] 
And since the Exchange Variation of 1.d4, d5; 2.c4, e6; 3.Nc3, Nf6; 4.cxd5, exd5; 5.Bg5, is now impossible; perhaps White has been prevented from 
playing one of his very best plans. 

The move of 3...Be7; is both old and new. 3...Be7 was first played in master-level chess in the 1800's, however, most of the time, it was just a transposition to the main line. 
(After the further moves of:  4.Nf3, Nf6; 5.Bg5, we arrive back at the main lines here.) I also have around 30-50 books on the Queen's Gambit, and many don't even cover 
 the move of 3...Be7; at all. (See Polugaeyevsky's 1988 book, for just one example of this.)   


                         [ The 'normal' move here is for Black to play: 3...Nf6;  in this position. ]  


     4.Nf3,  (The 4 Opening Principles, click here for a three-page article, explaining this in more detail.)   

This is just a simple developing move ... and (of course!) there is nothing wrong with that.   


gotm-feb2012_diag03.jpg, 145 KB

   rnbqk1nr/ppp1bppp/4p3/3p4/2PP4/2N2N2/PP2PPPP/R1BQKB1R b KQkq - 0 4   


However, this move is something of a departure from the usual route that most masters take from this point ... (see the note, just below).   


                         [ Both ECO and MCO ... not to mention several books on this opening, plus the "Power Book," all recommend that White play:    
                           4.cxd5 exd55.Bf4 c66.e3, (K-side, LSB) 

                            This is the most straight-forward move for White ... but it is certainly not the only playable move for the first player in this position.   

                                           ( White can play a modified form of the Exchange Variation ... RE - this exciting struggle:  
                                             6.Qc2 Bg4!?;  7.e3 Bh5;  8.Bd3 Bg6;  9.Bxg6 hxg6;  10.0-0-0 Nf6; 11.f3 Nbd7;   
                                            12.Nge2 b5;  13.e4, ("+/=")  with a modest advantage for White in this position. 

                                             GM Magnus Carlsen (2815) - GM Hikaru Nakamura (2774) / ICT, (ROU) Media Kings / Bucharest, ROM / 2011.    
{White won a very nice, instructive game, 1-0 in 38.} )   

                           6...Bf5 7.g4!? ("+/=")  with White holding a slight edge out of the opening.   
                           [ See MCO-15, page # 429; column # 79, and all notes. ]    

                            Strangely enough, GM A. Giri played the BLACK side of this position vs. Morozevich at the recent Reggio Emilia tournament. 
{A dull affair - a short draw in just 17 total moves.}    

                            A better example would be:  
                            GM Hikaru Nakamura (2753) - GM Levon Aronian (2807) / ICT, 4th Bilbao Masters (final) Sao Paulo, BRA; 2011.   
{White won a hard-fought, tense struggle / 1-0 in 79 moves.} ]   


     4...Nf6;  5.Bf4!?,  (modern)   

Giri foregoes the "normal" Bg5, probably because most GM's today consider this line to be somewhat drawish. 
(5.Bg5 could definitely be considered to be over-analyzed and nearly played out. And the vast majority of GM games - in the Bg5 lines - in modern times ... usually end in a draw.)  


gotm-feb2012_diag04.jpg, 145 KB

   rnbqk2r/ppp1bppp/4pn2/3p4/2PP1B2/2N2N2/PP2PPPP/R2QKB1R b KQkq - 0 5   


Its also possible that he was expecting what theory - for many years - to be Black's best equalizing weapon, namely 5...c7-c5. 
[The drawback to this sub-system is that Black is often saddled with an isolated Pawn. See my web page on the contest Leko-Kramnik; (2004)  
 for a more thorough examination of the ideas of this particular line.]   

One also wonders if this is a bit of psychology, Aronian has many fine wins (as White) after Bf4 in the Queen's Gambit. (For one example, see just below. -editor.)  
[ See the excellent game:  GM Levon Aronian (2802) - GM Anish Giri (2714); [D37] / 18th European (men's) Team Champ. / Porto Carras (R#8.1) / 10,11,2011. 
 {White won a nice game, 1-0 in a total of just 38 moves. Please note that the CG site has this game as 1-0 in 43 moves, I have no idea who is correct, although - 
  without seeming to lack objectivity - here, I would have to side with
CG, as many of these games get broadcast live ... } ]   


                         [ Of course, with the following moves:  
                           5.Bg5 0-06.e3,    
                          we transpose to the main lines of the "Queen's Gambit Declined." (Q.G.D.)  

                         See any good reference work for more details here. 
                         [ See also MCO-15, beginning on page #389.]   

                         For a good game with Bg5 in the Q.G.D.; please see the contest:   
                         GM Ivan Sokolov (2684) - GM Pavel V. Tregubov (2594); [D63]   
                         ICT, 1st Selfoss Milk Masters / Round # 09 / 16,10,2002.   
                         {White won a tough struggle in a well played endgame, 1-0 in 44.} ]    


Black castles, getting his King to safety, before he makes any real decisions about the center. 

     5...0-0;  6.e3,  (K-side, + development)   

This might be the simplest ... and best way to proceed for White, h2-h3 is recommended by some authors. 
(The idea being to preserve the W/DSB on f4, in case Black decides to play ...N/f6-h5; at some point.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag05.jpg, 145 KB

   rnbq1rk1/ppp1bppp/4pn2/3p4/2PP1B2/2N1PN2/PP3PPP/R2QKB1R b KQ - 0 6   


White (of course!) had many options here, h3, Rc1 and Qc2 being some of the notable choices for White - if the first player decided not to play 6.e2-e3, in this position. 


                         [ Another sane alternative for White would be: 6.Rc1, ("+/=")  with at least a small edge for White in this position. ]   



Black simply develops, this has got to be a viable, common-sense way of approaching this position.   


gotm-feb2012_diag06.jpg, 145 KB

  r1bq1rk1/pppnbppp/4pn2/3p4/2PP1B2/2N1PN2/PP3PPP/R2QKB1R w KQ - 0 7  


For many years, most theoretical books (like MCO & ECO) would {instead} recommend that the only way for Black to equalize was to play 6...c7-c5 here. 
(See the note {and link} given, just below.)   


                         [ Instead, 6...c5; (center) was thought to be the only correct reply here for Black. 

                           According to all the opening books, if Black did not play this, then he was doomed to always 
                           have an inferior position out of the opening. (If you believed everything that opening theory taught, 
                           that is. I, however, always had my doubts, as ...c7-c5; 
{here} often gave Black an isolated Pawn ...   
                           and a piece set-up that was not ideal for defending the isolani, not in these types of positions.

                                                                                             rnbq1rk1/pp2bppp/4pn2/2pp4/2PP1B2/2N1PN2/PP3PPP/R2QKB1R w KQ c6 0 7   

                                                                                                                                             {Analysis Diagram.}  


                           See any good opening reference work for more details. 
                          (See also the 2004 WCS game between Leko and Kramnik for a perfect illustration of how to win   
                           with the White pieces.
My column for October, 2004; features a fairly in-depth analysis of this particular   
                           {and historic} encounter.) 

                           [ See also MCO-15, page # 420; beginning with column # 61.]   

                            For example, after the moves: 
                            6...c5!?7.dxc5! Bxc5!? 8.cxd5! Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.a3! Nc611.Bd3 Bb612.0-0,
"+/="  (White is better.) 
(and) White had the upper hand.  

                            GM Peter Leko (2741) - GM Vladimir Kramnik (2770)[D37] / (FIDE) World Championship(s)  
The Fifth Match Game (G#5) / Brissago, Switzerland / 02,10,2004.    
                             {White won a nice game in 69 total moves, although Black missed a possible draw.}    

                             [ See my web page for more details - and a complete analysis of this theoretically key game.] ]   


Now according to the PB, White's best-scoring option is 7.c4-c5!? (However, I have some serious reservations about that particular line.) 
{See some games in this line.} 

I think that White should also seriously consider 7.h3, here. 
(To preserve his DSB on f4, to play h2-h3 is a common idea in many of the variations which feature an early Bf4 for White.)  

     7.Be2!?,  (Tempo-loss?!?)   

White develops a piece, however if Black plays a capture on c4 anytime soon, then (if White captures); Be2 could be seen as just a loss of tempo in this variation.   


  The battleground is set, we have a QGD with Bf4 instead of Bg5. (gotm-feb2012_diag07.jpg, 145 KB)

   r1bq1rk1/pppnbppp/4pn2/3p4/2PP1B2/2N1PN2/PP2BPPP/R2QK2R b KQ - 0 7   


Instead of Be2, 7.Rc1, and also 7.Qc2, both looked to be a SLIGHT improvement over White's play in this game.    


                         [ White can also play c4-c5 in this position as well.  

                          For example:   
                          7.c5!? c68.Bd3 b6 9.b4 a510.a3 Ba611.0-0
"+/="  (Q-side space) 
                          and White has a solid edge, due mostly to his advantage on the left-hand   
                          side of the chess board here.   

                          A good (fighting) game in this line ... 
                          which would also be a relatively recent example of this particular line would be: 

                          GM Vladimir Kramnik (2790) - GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2748); [D37
                          ICT / 19th Melody Amber (rapid) / Rnd. #10 / Nice, FRA / 24,03,2010.
                          {The game was drawn after 46 hard moves, and only because all the Pawns (were to) came off the board!}   

                          *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    

                           White could have also played:  7.Qc2 c6 8.h3"+/="  8...Re8;    
                           when White has no less than seven moves at his disposal, 
                           (Rd1, a3, Bd3, 0-0-0, cxd5, Rc1, & Be2); all of which seem to promise White some advantage here.   

                           A good example of this position - at least this is true for White - would be the following contest:   
                           Zhou Weiqi (2584) - Jia Haoxiang (2373) [D37] / ICT, Chinese Team (TCh-CHN) 
                           Guangzhou, CHN; (R#12) / 12,09,2010.
  {White won a stiff struggle, 1-0 in just 35 total moves.}  
                           (As far as I can tell, this game is not in the CG database, although I did submit it this AM. 09/30/2012)  

                          *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    

                           A third, fairly good alternative for White would have been:  
                           7.cxd5!? Nxd58.Nxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 c510.0-0
"~"  <unclear>  (Equal? Maybe "+/=")
                           when White has the better pawn structure ... and thus (perhaps) the better long-term chances.   

                           A good game - at least from White's perspective - would be: 

                           GM Tomi Nyback (2627) - GM Daniel Fridman (2652); [D37]    
                           National Team / Bundesliga 1112 / Germany, (R#9.5) / 05,02,2012.
                          {White won a long, tough N+P ending, 1-0 in 49 total moves.} ]    



     7...dxc4!;  (What is the POD? /  P.O.D. = "Plan of development.")  

I like this, Black tries to immediately take advantage of White's last move.   


gotm-feb2012_diag08.jpg, 144 KB

   r1bq1rk1/pppnbppp/4pn2/8/2pP1B2/2N1PN2/PP2BPPP/R2QK2R w KQ - 0 8    


Instead, 7...c5?; here could lose a Pawn for the 2nd player, so this no longer looks like the correct approach for Black.  


     8.0-0!?,  (A gambit?!?)   

I am not sure exactly what Giri had in mind when he played this move, but it was inaccurate and even somewhat speculative.  


gotm-feb2012_diag09.jpg, 144 KB

   r1bq1rk1/pppnbppp/4pn2/8/2pP1B2/2N1PN2/PP2BPPP/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 8   


The simple BxP/c4 gave White a nice little edge, and definitely was the indicated move here.   


                         [ Better was:   >/=  8.Bxc4 a69.a4 c510.0-0, "+/="  (White has more space.)   
                           with a small - but sure - edge for the first player.   

                          One illustrative example would be the following:   
                          GM Evgeny Alekseev
(2673) - GM Michael Roiz (2660); [D37]  / 
                          ICT, 3rd (city) Open / Lublin, POL; (R#7) / 21,05,2011.
Drawn ... in 31 total moves.} ]   


     8...Nb6;  (Maybe - '!')  

Logical, Black decides to try and keep the Pawn ...   


gotm-feb2012_diag10.jpg, 144 KB

   r1bq1rk1/ppp1bppp/1n2pn2/8/2pP1B2/2N1PN2/PP2BPPP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 9   


Even if White is (now) able to win back the button, then the first player will have expended so much energy in regaining the material, that probably the second player will not have a difficult time in reaching equality.  


                         [ A simple alternative was:  8...c5!?;  however, after the further moves: 
                            9.dxc5 Nxc510.Bxc4
"+/="  (White is better.) 
                            and the engine shows that White has a solid edge here.


     9.Qc2!?,  (Maybe, probably - '?!')  

With this play, White follows a fairly well-known plan, yet it does not mean that this move is any good.   
(I would prefer >/= 9.e4!, "/\" or even >/= 9.Ne5, as an attempt to recover the lost material.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag11.jpg, 144 KB

   r1bq1rk1/ppp1bppp/1n2pn2/8/2pP1B2/2N1PN2/PPQ1BPPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 9   


9.Qc2 strikes me as insipid, and not being the most energetic try. Certainly, having sacked a Pawn, shouldn't White search for {and find} 
a much more active continuation than this? If not, then wouldn't White's whole concept be considered to be flawed?   


     9...Nh5;  (Maybe - '!')   

Black goes for picking off White's Bishop, although there is (also) something to be said for the engines' move of 9...Nfd5!? 
(Also interesting is the idea of 9...Nbd5; which {of course} hits the Bishop on f4.) 


     10.Be5,  (hmmm)   

This could be nearly forced, although it does seem that White winds up with a very ugly Pawn structure as a result of this move.   


                         [ Instead, after the following moves:  (>/=)  RR  10.Bg3 Nxg311.hxg3 Bd6"=/+"   
                           (I think that - right now - Black is just a tiny bit better. He has the Bishop pair, and is {temporarily} 
                            a Pawn ahead; further, White's K-side has been slightly impaired by the doubled Pawns on the g-file.) 

                               *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    

                           White has a decent Pawn structure. (He may eventually be forced to play to regain the Pawn on c4, 
                           {White has the easy play here of just 12.Nd2, this appears to regain the Pawn, without too much trouble};   
                            my preliminary analysis seems to indicate that the position should eventually work out to equality. This   
                            is supported by many of the engines' evaluations, which suggest that the current position is approximately level.)


     10...f6;  (Hits the White Bishop.)   

This violates a time-honored idea (rule-of-thumb) that you are not supposed to push the Pawns in front of your King. 
--->  However, in this position, this is the only logical follow-up to Black's idea of ...Nh5!? 


     11.Ng5!?,  (Knight leap?)   

With this move, White puts his Knight out there ... and forces Black to capture it.   


  Now the game becomes a little bizarre, White tries to disrupt Black's Pawn structure. (gotm-feb2012_diag12.jpg, 144 KB)

   r1bq1rk1/ppp1b1pp/1n2pp2/4B1Nn/2pP4/2N1P3/PPQ1BPPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 11   


In the past, White had done well with this idea, yet - after this game - perhaps White's whole concept could be called into question.   


                         [ Maybe it was not too late for White to try and regain his Pawn, for example:    

                           (>/=) 11.Bg3 Bd712.Nd2 Nxg3 13.hxg3 c514.dxc5 Bxc5 15.Nxc4 Rc8"=" (equal)   

                           when we seem to have reached a fairly stable position ... that probably offers both sides equal chances. 
                           (Fritz and Houdini were each given close to an hour on this position. I will spare you the banal - and dry - 
                             analysis, and simply inform you that both engines rate this position as being very close to "0.00.") 

                             <As far as I could tell, there were no games in any DB that matched the position - given above.> ]   


     11...fxg5;  12.Bxh5 Bd7;   

So far, the computer still rates this position as being pretty close to equal, Black has a nominal material advantage (+1 Pawn), whereas White has a better Pawn structure and maybe a more solid center here. 


gotm-feb2012_diag13.jpg, 142 KB

   r2q1rk1/pppbb1pp/1n2p3/4B1pB/2pP4/2N1P3/PPQ2PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 13   


To me, 13.a2-a4, looks like White's most solid try ---> if allowed, White could play a4-a5 and then BxP/c4, restoring material equality. 
(IF this occurred, then White might even be slightly better, as the first player would still have the better overall array of foot soldiers.)   


White's next move LOOKS logical ... 

     13.Bf3!?,  (Hits b7.)   

This all looks logical, and the first player is looking at attacking the unprotected b7-Pawn.  


  Now the stage is set for one of the deepest sacks ... this side of the "Evergreen Game" ... you won't believe what happens next. (gotm-feb2012_diag14.jpg, 142 KB)

   r2q1rk1/pppbb1pp/1n2p3/4B1p1/2pP4/2N1PB2/PPQ2PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 13   


It looks like Black is on the verge of getting a bad game ... ... ...  


                         [ Perhaps White should have considered playing: (>/=)  13.Be2, with the idea of  a2-a4
(then) Nb5, trying to simply regain the button on c4. ]   


     13...Rxf3!!;  (A very deep idea!)   

I do not know if Aronian had prepared this before-hand, and it was the result of some deep opening preparation ... 
or if this was simply an OTB inspiration.  
(It now appears that the Aronian team had analyzed this whole line beforehand, prior to this game.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag15.jpg, 141 KB

   r2q2k1/pppbb1pp/1n2p3/4B1p1/2pP4/2N1Pr2/PPQ2PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 14   


Regardless of how or why this move came about, it is both deep and logical. Black removes White's light-squared defender and decides to remain down an exchange 
indefinitely. In return, Black gets a Pawn and a Bishop, damages White's King-side Pawn structure and also gets some  long-term attacking chances against Giri's 
permanently exposed King. Further, Giri seems unable to effectively co-ordinate his remaining pieces ... despite having maybe more than 20 moves to do so. 




The next few moves all look to be pretty close to being best, and both Fritz and Houdini do not seem to object to any of the player's moves. 
[In the video analysis of this game, (see; Aronian felt that White should seriously consider 18. e3-e4.]  


     14.gxf3 Bd6;  15.Qe4 Bc6;  16.Qg4 Qe7;  17.Bxd6 cxd6;  18.Ne4 h6;   

Thus far, both players are doing OK, White has no real problems, however, the latest engines, (mainly Fritz and Houdini); also show that Black is not in any great jeopardy, either.  


  Black has great play ... following the sacrifice, but will it be enough? (gotm-feb2012_diag16.jpg, 137 KB)

   r5k1/pp2q1p1/1nbpp2p/6p1/2pPN1Q1/4PP2/PP3P1P/R4RK1 w - - 0 19   


White does have one long-term problem - he cannot push f3-f4 to undouble his Pawns ... especially not with his Knight on e4.  


     19.Qg3,  (redeployment)   

White puts his Queen on a slightly safer square ... Aronian called this move "quite strange."    


gotm-feb2012_diag17.jpg, 137 KB

   r5k1/pp2q1p1/1nbpp2p/6p1/2pPN3/4PPQ1/PP3P1P/R4RK1 b - - 0 19   


I only "feel" this ... I cannot prove it with any real, verifiable, scientific method. However, having said that, I believe that Giri's last move ... 
(e.g. last move = 19.Qg3); was the beginning of the process whereby White slowly loses the thread of the game ... ... ... 


                         [ White could have tried the machine's suggestion here:  RR 19.b3 d520.Nc5, "=" 
                            with close to an equal position. (Maybe equal?) - Fritz 13.  

                            Apparently humans see things quite differently than the engines, (!) Aronian felt that    
                           the Knight on c5 was "trapped," while Giri opined that, "It was a useless square."


Now Black kicks the WN off the great e4-square.   

     19...d5;  20.Nc3,   

White goes to c3.   


gotm-feb2012_diag18.jpg, 137 KB

   r5k1/pp2q1p1/1nb1p2p/3p2p1/2pP4/2N1PPQ1/PP3P1P/R4RK1 b - - 0 20   


This is a natural square, and supports the idea of e3-e4, yet maybe c5 was a better, (and more active) square for the poor horseman?  


                         [ Possibly a good alternative was: 
                           RR  20.Nc5 Re821.Rac1 Nc8 22.b3 Nd6;  "~"  <unclear> (equal?)  
                           when both Fritz and Houdini do not see any significant problems for Black ...   
                           and perhaps White is doing better than he did in the actual game?  

                          *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    *** *** *** *** *** *** ***    

                           It would be a mistake for White to play:  </= 20.Qd6??, as Black would simply play ...QxQ/d6   
                           and then  ...Rd8; and the poor steed is trapped, right in the middle of the board! ]   


     20...Rf8!;  (Hitting f4.)   

Black cannot allow White to undouble his messy K-side f-Pawns.    


gotm-feb2012_diag19.jpg, 137 KB

   5rk1/pp2q1p1/1nb1p2p/3p2p1/2pP4/2N1PPQ1/PP3P1P/R4RK1 w - - 0 21   


Black is doing well here ... have a look for yourself. (See the diagram , just above.)  




Here Fritz-13 prefers 13.Rae1, and this looks more logical than what actually occurred in the game.  

     21.Ne2!? Rf5;  (Prophylaxis, square control.)  

Black prepares a possible doubling of his heavy pieces on the f-file, yet may allow 22.Qb8+. 
(Fritz prefers 22...Be8; while Houdini seems to like 22...Na4.)   


     22.Kg2,  (doubtful?)   

I am not sure what this move does, in hindsight, it is obvious that Giri was thinking about Rh1 and then h2-h4, to get some play for his Rooks.   


However, the machine's ideas of 22.b3, or 22.Nc3, both appear to be a little more energetic than 22.Kg2. 


                         [ RR 22.Qb8+ Nc8!;  "~"  <unclear>  (White cannot capture the BN, on c8; as ...Rf8; traps the WQ.) ]   


     22...Nd7;  (square control)   

It is amazing to me, that ... (most of the time) ... in modern, master-level chess, how masters see eye-to-eye on the importance of keeping a balance of power as concerns how the various pieces affect the spaces of the chess-board.   


gotm-feb2012_diag20.jpg, 138 KB

   6k1/pp1nq1p1/2b1p2p/3p1rp1/2pP4/4PPQ1/PP2NPKP/R4R2 w - - 0 23   


White controls f4 with his Knight, so Black prepares to bring his Knight to g6, to dispute White's control of this vital point.  


                         [ Perhaps the variation recommended by Fritz 13 has some merit:  
                           22...Nc823.Kg1 Nd6;  "~"  (unclear)  when Black might be slightly better. 
                          (Fritz seems to 'think' so.) ]   


     23.Rh1 Nf8!;  (Headed to g6.) 

As mentioned previously, Black is going to place his Knight on g6, it is even possible that Aronian set a small trap here.   


gotm-feb2012_diag21.jpg, 137 KB

   5nk1/pp2q1p1/2b1p2p/3p1rp1/2pP4/4PPQ1/PP2NPKP/R6R w - - 0 24   


This is a crucial position to the game, everything hinges on the current set-up on the board. 


Students of the game, (especially my fans, followers and students)PLEASE study this position (above) carefully!!!  

A GM missed (or severely underestimated) the nature of the tactics that are to follow, if this were not true, he could have never played this way. If a player as strong as Giri could do this, you would do well to try and understand the nature of this position, as well as what is about to follow. A couple of months back, a fairly strong player came to Pensacola - I will not use his name, as he specifically asked that I not do so. Anyway, we took a laptop to "Books-A-Million" ... and studied this game. 

He was (initially) of the opinion that he could win this position easily, no matter what defense White played here. However, with the computer playing the White side of the above position, he was completely unable to breach Black's ramparts. The point? Learning to recognize important (and perhaps decisive) errors should be one of your highest priorities! - A.J.G. 


                         [ Black gets a tremendous amount of piece play by following the machine's recommendation here:   
                           RR  23...e5!?24.Rhc1 e4 25.fxe4 Qxe4+26.Kf1 Qd3"~  (Compensation for the material given up.) 
                           when Black has good "comp" for the slight material investment. (Analysis line by - Fritz 13.) ]   


     24.h4?!;  (Maybe even - '?')  

Perhaps becoming desperate for counterplay, Giri is tricked into advancing a Pawn, when he loses a second button for no compensation at all.    


  The advance of White's KRP has to be classified as an error. (gotm-feb2012_diag22.jpg, 137 KB)

   5nk1/pp2q1p1/2b1p2p/3p1rp1/2pP3P/4PPQ1/PP2NPK1/R6R b - h3 0 24   


However, I must confess that many of the alternatives were very ugly, I can understand why Giri chose to play this move when he did.   


                         [ RR 24.Rhf1 Ng6"/+"  (Black is clearly better.) ]  


     24...Ng6;  (tactics)   

Now its becoming apparent that White is losing yet another Pawn ...   


gotm-feb2012_diag23.jpg, 138 KB

   6k1/pp2q1p1/2b1p1np/3p1rp1/2pP3P/4PPQ1/PP2NPK1/R6R w - - 0 25   


The only question is: "Can White gain any kind of real play from this position at all?" 


     25.f4[],  (box/forced)   

If White does not try this, then Black simply snips off the h-Pawn for free, and will have a completely overwhelming positional and a material advantage.   


gotm-feb2012_diag24.jpg, 138 KB

   6k1/pp2q1p1/2b1p1np/3p1rp1/2pP1P1P/4P1Q1/PP2NPK1/R6R b - - 0 25   


I guess this was all part of Giri's plan, but sometimes its better to leave such suicidal ideas in the box, rather than play them. 


                         [ Of course not:  </= 25.hxg5?? Rxg5"-/+"  and Black is winning easily.   


                           All the engines agree that the alternative line of:   
                          </= 25.h5?! Nh4+26.Rxh4[],   26...gxh4 27.Qb8+ Qe828.Qxe8+ Bxe8 "-/+"  
                          (Aronian wins two P's.)  is (also) winning easily for Black. ]   



     25...Nxh4+26.Kf1 Qb4!;    

A very active move by Black ...   


gotm-feb2012_diag25.jpg, 137 KB

   6k1/pp4p1/2b1p2p/3p1rp1/1qpP1P1n/4P1Q1/PP2NP2/R4K1R w - - 0 27   


If Rb1, Aronian has ideas like ...Qd2; and ...Be8; and ...Bh5; with amazing piece play.   


     27.Rb1 Be8;  

This is OK, even great, yet the box seems to prefer 27...Ba4(or even the active 27...Qd2;) for Black in this position.   


gotm-feb2012_diag26.jpg, 137 KB

   4b1k1/pp4p1/4p2p/3p1rp1/1qpP1P1n/4P1Q1/PP2NP2/1R3K1R w - - 0 28   


Regardless of the move chosen by Black here, Aronian remains firmly in control of this position. 


     28.Nc3 Qe7;  (re-deploy)   

Fritz likes the strong play, 28...Bh5; while Houdini prefers the strange Rook retreat of 28...Rf8; here.   


gotm-feb2012_diag27.jpg, 137 KB

   4b1k1/pp2q1p1/4p2p/3p1rp1/2pP1P1n/2N1P1Q1/PP3P2/1R3K1R w - - 0 29   


I like Aronian's move, it threatens a simple idea of Black placing his Queen on f6, and putting his Knight back on g6, when White will almost run out of useful moves. 


     29.b4!?,  (Maybe dubious?)   

Giri tries to gain space, however, it seems - at least this appears to be true in this game - that all of his attempts to break free of the bind only dramatically worsen his overall position.   


gotm-feb2012_diag28.jpg, 137 KB

   4b1k1/pp2q1p1/4p2p/3p1rp1/1PpP1P1n/2N1P1Q1/P4P2/1R3K1R b - b3 0 29   


Any of the machine moves, (see just below); were definitely better than this move, which turns Black's c-Pawn into a monster ... ... ... 


                         [ Both of the moves - recommended by the engines - appear to be 
                           a small improvement over what was actually played in the game. 
                            (See just below.)     


                              (>/=) RR  29.Qg4,  - Fritz 13.  (or)   

                              (>/=) RR  29.Re1,  - Houdini 1.5 ]    


     29...Rf8!;  ( <With the idea of>  ...Bg6;  and (then)  ...Bd3.)   

Now this retreat is the right idea, Black is about to play his Bishop to the d3-square, all with a gain of time. 
(Even Fritz and Houdini give the nod to this move.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag29.jpg, 136 KB

   4brk1/pp2q1p1/4p2p/3p2p1/1PpP1P1n/2N1P1Q1/P4P2/1R3K1R w - - 0 30   


Black does not even care at this point if White doubles his Pawns on the g-file ...   




Now the Black Bishop heads for d3. 

     30.Rb2 Bg6;  [---> Heading for the O.P. (O.P. = outpost)]    

Once this piece arrive on d3, White will need dynamite to try to remove it from the board.   


gotm-feb2012_diag30.jpg, 136 KB

   5rk1/pp2q1p1/4p1bp/3p2p1/1PpP1P1n/2N1P1Q1/PR3P2/5K1R w - - 0 31   


Some of the sidelines to this struggle have literally entertained me for many months, although I doubt the average player would care to see some of my wild "fantasy variations" in this particular game. (I do indulge myself in one long line, see the note after White's next move.)  


                         [ I gave Fritz all night on this position, doing a DPA, and it seemed to prefer the play:   
                            RR 30...Nf5; (tempo)  with the idea of shoving Black's K-side Pawns down the board.   
                            (Amazingly, White has no real defense.) ]   


     31.Ke1!?,   (Duck!)   

Giri wisely removes his King from the g-file, I analyze just one fascinating possibility just below. 
(Maybe just a little better was 31.Kg1, although Black remains clearly in complete control of the position.)   


                         [ The following line seems to be all forced, who knows how far 
                            the players would have followed it ... over-the-board:   

                             >/=  31.fxg5 Nf5!32.Qe5 Qxg5! 33.Rh3[],  (Forced.)   
                             This appears to be the only decent move for White, taking the e-Pawn loses   
                             horribly, (see the analysis below); and Ke1 just walks into a possible N-fork on f3. 

                                            a).  Much worse would be:  </= 33.Qxe6+? Kh7 34.Ke1 Nxd4;  
                                                   35.Qxd5 Nf3+ 36.Ke2 Qg237.Re1 Bd3+ 38.Kd1 Nxe1;   
                                                   39.Qxg2[],  No choice here.   

                                                               (</= 39.Kxe1? Qf1+;  40.Kd2 Rxf2+;  41.Ne2 Qxe2+; 42.Kc3 Qxb2#.)   

                                                    39...Nxg2;  "-/+"  (material)  
                                                    and Black comes out a piece and a Pawn ahead.   

                                            b).  Also bad for White:  </= 33.Ke1!? Qg4!34.Re2 Nh4 35.Qg3 Nf3+;   
                                                   36.Kd1 Qf5 37.Kc1 e538.e4 dxe4 39.d5 Qf640.Qg2 Qd6;    
                                                   41.a3 a542.Nb5 Qb6 43.bxa5 Qxb544.Qxg6 Nd4 45.Rb2 Nb3+;    
                                                   Now if Kb1, c3;  is winning for Black. 
                                                   46.Rxb3 cxb3;  "-/+" 

                                                   Black is winning easily. Not only is the second player two Pawns ahead, 
                                                   the White King is terminally exposed.    

                             33...Qg4!34.Qh2 Nxd4!!;    
                             An almost unbelievable sack, for many moves, Black is just down an entire Rook ...   
                             he remains down the exchange until almost the end.  

                             (White can avoid most of what happens next with Qg3, but its fun to explore the possibilities.) 
                              35.exd4 Qxd436.Ke1 Bd3 37.Nd1[] Rf438.Re3 c3 39.Nxc3[] Qxc3+40.Rd2 Re4;   
                              41.Qb8+ Kh742.Qxa7 Qxb4 43.a3 Qc444.Qb6 e5 45.Kd1,  (Forced?)   
                              Once more, the alternatives are a disaster for White.  

                                                ( Much worse would be:  </=  45.Qb2? Rxe3+46.fxe3 Qh4+;     
                                                   Now if 47.Kd1, then 37...Qh1#. 
                                                   47.Rf2[]47...Qg348.Qc1 Bc4 49.Qc3 Qg1+50.Kd2 Qxf2+;  "-/+"  
                                                   and White can resign. (Black has won a ton of material here.) )   

                             45...Rg4!46.Rexd3[],  (Forced.)  Once more, no choice. 

                                                 (</=  46.Re1? Qa4+;  47.Kc1 Qxa3+;  48.Rb2 Qc3+;  49.Kd1 Ra4;  "-/+")   

                            46...Rg1+47.Ke2 e4 48.Qd4 exd3+49.Qxd3+ Kg8;  "-/+"    
                            and Black - again, two Pawns ahead - has an easy win here. ]   


     31...Bd3!;  (Cuts the board in half.)  

Now this piece causes White great discomfort, and there is no real way to remove it.   


gotm-feb2012_diag31.jpg, 136 KB

   5rk1/pp2q1p1/4p2p/3p2p1/1PpP1P1n/2NbP1Q1/PR3P2/4K2R w - - 0 32   


It is hard to believe that this might not have been the best move, Fritz likes ...P-QR4; while Houdini favors ...Q-KB2. 
[ E.g., (>/=) 31...a5; - Fritz 13.  /  (>/=) 31...Qf7; - Houdini 1.5 ]   


                          [ Once more, the iron icon finds an astounding idea:    
                             31...a5!!32.Rxh4!?,  White may as well.   

                                         ( </= 32.bxa5? Qa3;  "-/+")   

                             The rest of this line looks to be pretty straight-forward. 
                              32...axb4!33.Ne2 b3 34.axb3 Qb4+35.Kf1 Qa3 36.fxg5 Qxb2;    
                              37.gxh6 Qb1+ 38.Kg2 Be4+39.Rxe4 Qxe4+ 40.Kg1 Qh7"-/+"  
                              and - according to the computer - Black is nearly four points ahead here. 
                              ( - Fritz 13) ]   


Now White's next move looks bad, as it opens the position, which is something that the defender will generally try to avoid. 
However, all the engines seem to indicate that White really had nothing better, Giri was almost in a state of "zugzwang' here. 

     32.fxg5!? Nf3+33.Kd1 hxg5!;   

Very good.   


gotm-feb2012_diag32.jpg, 135 KB

   5rk1/pp2q1p1/4p3/3p2p1/1PpP4/2NbPnQ1/PR3P2/3K3R w - - 0 34   


Initially, I was shocked by this move ... expecting a piece to capture on g5 ... however, the text is a much stronger overall reply.  


                          [ RR  33...Nxg5!?, "+/="  (Black is solidly a little better.)  34.f4"<=>"  ("comp.") ]  


White's next move just looks impressive, until you realize that there is no (real) threat to check on the h7-square. 
(35.b5, may have been a small improvement over the actual game.) 

     34.Qh3 Qf6;  35.Kc1!? Bg6;  36.a4!? Rd8!;  37.Ne2 e5!;  

Black's last move rips open the center, soon the White King will have nowhere to hide.  


gotm-feb2012_diag33.jpg, 135 KB

   3r2k1/pp4p1/5qb1/3pp1p1/PPpP4/4Pn1Q/1R2NP2/2K4R w - - 0 38   


White is just barely hanging on here, but only by the edge of his fingernails, and his hold on the position is slowly slipping away ... ... ... 

It would be hard to qualify White's next move as a blunder, as Giri had almost no good moves. (Maybe better was: 38.Ra2!?) 

     38.Qg4 exd4;  39.exd4[]("box" / forced)   

This was forced, White had to cover the e5-square here.   


gotm-feb2012_diag34.jpg, 134 KB

   3r2k1/pp4p1/5qb1/3p2p1/PPpP2Q1/5n2/1R2NP2/2K4R b - - 0 39   


Now the game is turning into nothing more than a King hunt.  


                         [ White loses badly after: 
                           </= 39.Nxd4? Ne5 40.Qe2 Nd3+41.Kd1 c3 42.Rc2 Qf8!"-/+"  (Black is winning.)  
                            and analysis will show that White will lose material. ]   


Now Fritz likes 39...Be4; and if 40.Rd1, then 40...Bd3; with a over-powering position. 
(This is the only reason that I do not give one {or two} exclams to Black's next move.) 

     39...Re8; ('!')  40.Qd7 c3!;   

This is very strong, as was the machine's idea of 40...Nh4! 

(White's next move might qualify as a possible error, as the machine shows that the second player's edge nearly doubles. 
 However, Giri was short of time, and had a very bad position ...) 

     41.Ra2,  (>/= 41.Rc2)   

Now everything loses for White, yet Aronian now makes one of the most memorable combinations of recent times.   


  Now comes one of the most amazing combinations of master chess of the last 10-20 years! (gotm-feb2012_diag35.jpg, 134 KB)

   4r1k1/pp1Q2p1/5qb1/3p2p1/PP1P4/2p2n2/R3NP2/2K4R b - - 0 41   


Now it really is: (a chess problem)  ... ... ...  "Black to move and win."  


                         [ RR  41.Rc2 Rd842.Qg4 Bd3 "-/+" Black is winning.) ]  


     41...Ne1!!;    (A bullet!!!!!)    

No one - that I know of - predicted this amazing shot. 
(No one ... that I know of ... {unless they had the benefit of the use of a powerful chess engine here ...} 
  ... ever saw this one coming! Several official GM commentators {also} seemed surprised by this move.)   


gotm-feb2012_diag36.jpg, 134 KB

   4r1k1/pp1Q2p1/5qb1/3p2p1/PP1P4/2p5/R3NP2/2K1n2R w - - 0 42   


Now White has no good answer to the incursion of the BN on e1. 



Really White had no choice ... everything else (also) will lose badly from this position. 


                         [ Two other moves that will do poorly for White are: 

                                   #1.)  42.Rh3 Qxf2  "-/+"  (Black is winning, or "-+" here.)  

                           (or)  #2.) 42.Nxc3 Nd3+"-/+" (Once more, Black is winning.)  

                                           (Neither of these tries can be called a substantial 
                                             improvement over the course of the actual game.) ]   


     42...Qf4+!;  (Maybe - '!!')   



gotm-feb2012_diag37.jpg, 133 KB

   4r1k1/pp1Q2p1/6b1/3p2p1/PP1P1q2/2p5/R3NP2/2K1R3 w - - 0 43   


Talk about a very shocking move, if White captures on f4, then Black plays RxR/e1 mate.   


     43.Kd1 Qe4;  "-/+"  (Decisive.)  {See the final diagram - just below.}  

White Resigns, mate cannot be averted without incurring severe material losses.  


  White Resigns - he cannot reasonably avoid the impending checkmate. (gotm-feb2012_final-diag.jpg, 78 KB)

  4r1k1/pp1Q2p1/6b1/3p2p1/PP1Pq3/2p5/R3NP2/3KR3 w - - 0 44  


(Black's combination is easily one of the prettiest of master-level chess of the last 5-10 years!) 




#1.)  "MCO-15" ("Modern Chess Openings," The Fifteenth Edition); by GM N. de Firmian. (Random House, 2008. ISBN: # 978-0-8129-3682-7.)   
#2.)  "Win With The London System," by S. Johnsen and V. Kovacevic. (Gambit, 2005; ISBN: # 1-904600-35-2, see it on Amazon.) 



  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2012. All rights reserved.   


   1 - 0  

  The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent programChessBase 10.0. (My main engine was Fritz 12, I also use Houdini 1.5.)  

  The HTML was polished with several different tools and programs, (mostly FP)  ...  the text was checked for spelling with MS Word.  

  Please note!:  Due to the fact that I upgraded to <<Windows 7>> ... I no longer have the use of the program, "Chess Captor." 

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  This page was first posted on/in:  late 2011.     Final format completed on: Friday; September 28th, 2012.    This page was last updated on 03/17/15 .  

    COPYRIGHT (c) A.J. Goldsby I;    

    Copyright () A.J. Goldsby; 1985 - 2014   &  2015.  All rights reserved.    

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