GOTM; November 2011.  

Welcome to my  "Game of The Month"  feature!  (For November, 2011.)  [Game # 44.]  

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. 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!)  

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. ---> 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.) 

October 8th, 2012: I am having to re-do this whole web page, I guess that it got blanked/lost/corrupted in one of my many computer crashes. 

At first, I was very upset. I did not know what to do ... and spent a lot of time wondering how something like this even happens. However, in the end, how it happened is not nearly as important as getting it fixed. I realized that I could either spend the rest of my life whining and complaining about what an injustice had been perpetrated on your truly ... or I could suck it up and just re-do the whole page. Eventually, I began to look at it as an opportunity to make a good web page ... better! I apologize to all the friends and the fans who e-mailed me and told me that something had happened to this page. (I did not believe them - not at first.) Apparently, I did not realize that it was blank, and that I was looking at an old copy that was probably stored in my computer's cache. Once I realized - with an unbelievable sense of growing horror - what had happened, I realized that I had to correct the problem ... or give up, and get out of the business of making web pages. 

Needless to say, I was EXTREMELY reluctant to spend the time fixing this page ... as I was already so horribly behind on this column as a whole. But, in the end, I felt that my integrity as a webmaster was at stake, I could not generate any more new pages, knowing that my series had a gap in it. 

  The players ... 

  GM Hikaru Nakamura    

  GM Vassily Ivanchuk    


GM Hikaru Nakamura is a well-known chess-player. He was exceptionally strong as a young player, and dominated this country's scholastic and junior events. He later became a GM ... while still in his mid-teens, and later became one of the strongest players in the country. (He has won the title of U.S. Champion twice now, I believe.) Nakamura is one of the best blitz/fast players in the whole world, and has now risen to be included as one of the World's "Top Ten" players. He may be the first real WCS candidate (since Bobby Fischer) that has a real shot at playing a match for the title of (chess) World's Champion ... ... ... 

   [Google this playerHis CG profileHis FIDE player-card.]  

GM Vassily Ivanchuk, (Василь Михайлович Іванчук) ... has always been one of my favorite players, I have avidly followed his career since he was one of the best young/junior players in the whole world. He came to the attention of the entire chess world when he won Linares, 1991 - edging out World Champion Garry Kasparov by half a point ... and even defeating Garry in their individual (head-to-head) game. An extremely brilliant player - capable of soundly defeating any opponent - it was (now) thought that it was just a matter of time before he became World Champion. However, the highest title in chess has (so far) eluded Ivanchuk, although he has won dozens of strong classical tournaments - and he continues to play great chess. 

   [Google this playerHis CG profileHis FIDE player-card.]  


                                         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  "You-Tube" channel.     (My video's for this game,  Part #01Part # 02;  &  Part #03.)    

 GM Hikaru Nakamura (2758) - GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2775)  
    6th Tal Memorial / London, ENG  (R#7)  23,11,2011.    

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  

If you cannot find any game - that I mention in the course of my opening analysis - then you should be able to find it here. 

This will be my "Game of The Month" for November, 2011; Ivanchuk has always been one of my favorite players.  
(Its good to see him back in the "Top Ten," he is currently # 6 on the FIDE November RL.) 

I literally started on this game the same day that it was played!!! 
(I was almost finished with the game before a former student sent me an e-mail with a link to the analysis 
 by GM A. Ramirez on the CB website.) 


My impressions of this contest are as follows: 
<< A somewhat confusing game, although its nice to see a game by two Top GM's that does not end in a victory for White ... 
      ... no (easy) "1-0" here!  

The opening starts normally enough, White has his standard "plus-over-equal" type of advantage for the first seven moves of this struggle. However, somewhere along the way, Nakamura stumbles and allows "Chucky ... (The Terrible?)" to get the upper hand. Imprecise moves by White further exacerbate the difficulties that he now finds himself in. Then suddenly, White's game simply collapses ... 
there were more than one instance in this struggle where neither side found the (correct) computer move. Despite these flaws, I still like this game. Either GM could have bailed out with a short draw, neither one did, all-in-all, its an entertaining - if imperfect - game of Kings on the 64 squares. >> 


     1.d4 Nf6;  2.c4 g6;  3.Nc3 d5;  (Hits the center!)   

For the second month in a row, we have a Grunfeld Defense. 
(Yet I would like to point out, that while I chose this particular game, I was not the one that picked last month's brilliantly, well-played game.) I was also drawn to this contest because I played this opening system for a great part of my chess-playing career. 
(Maybe 20-25 years, or even more.) 

In any case, this month's opening system is completely different than the one examined last month. 

White's next move makes a lot of sense, prior to e2-e3, the Queen's-Bishop is developed outside the Pawn chain. Further, after White 
continues with e3 and Nf3, the first player will have a lock on the e5-square, which is a good outpost for a Knight ... once the middlegame is reached. 

     4.Bf4,  (Classical / slow pressure.)   

This was one of the earliest systems to be played versus the Grunfeld, I was somewhat surprised to see it played in this clash. 
[ Please see the important and historic contest: F. Saemisch - E. Gruenfeld; Bad Pistyan, (Round # 07) / 1922. ]  



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When I was coming up in chess, it was usually one line that predominated current GM praxis - 
today, the new paradigm seems to be diversity in just about every conceivable opening system! 

[ Please see MCO-15, page # 643; columns # 25 - # 30 ... and all the notes that pertain to these particular lines. ]   


                         [ RR White can also play  ...  "The Russian System"  here:   
                           4.Nf3 Bg75.Qb3 dxc46.Qxc4, +/="   with an edge for White.  

                           [ See MCO-15, begin on page # 639, columns # # 13-14 ... 
                              and all the notes that apply to all of these different columns. ]   

                             A good contest - that was played around eleven years ago would be:   
                            GM Garry Kasparov (2851) - GM Peter Leko (2725); [D97]   
                             ICT, 17th Super-GM / (Round #5) / Linares, ESP; 04,03,2000.   
                             {A tough, solid draw in 38 moves.}  

                            Please also  see my web page  on the following historic chess game:   
                            Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer; ICT, Rosenwald / New York, 1956. 
                            ("The Game of The Century.")  

                            This web page contains an extremely detailed look at many of the systems 
                             of the whole of the Grunfeld Opening.   

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

                           White can also play 4.Nf3, and then follow this up with Bf4. 

                           One standard reference gives the following continuation here:    
                           4.Nf3 Bg75.Bf4 0-06.Rc1 dxc47.e4,  "+/="  
                           (White has a small - but solid - advantage, here.)  
                           (This is also one of the top variations in the new "Power-Book.")   

                           I don't want to go too deeply into an analysis of this sub-system as, 
                           after days of research, there are MANY branches to this tree, and I am   
                           not sure which one is the absolute best.  

                           [ Please see MCO-15, page # 643; column # 26 and all relative notes. ]   

                            GM Vladimir Kramnik (2790) - GM Garry Kasparov (2825)[D92]   
                            Chess Classic/Giants; (Round #1) / Frankfurt, Germany; 17, 06, 1998.   
                            {White won a long, tough game, 1-0 in 52 total moves.} ]   


Both sides continue to develop ... 

     4...Bg7;  5.e3,  (Solid / Good pawn-structure for White.)   

This is a quiet, sort of "safe" move, (White controls the center and this move also firmly anchors d4.); leaving White with a rather small ... 
but enduring advantage. (One positive aspect of e3, is that White can always play BxP/c4 if Black plays the capture, ...dxc4; at any point.)  



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The main alternative to e2-e3 here, would be 5.Nf3, see my analysis below.   


                         [ White could also play 5.Nf3, in this position. 

                           For example:  5.Nf3 0-06.e3 c5!;   
                           Black must play actively or risk being slowly crushed here.   

                           7.dxc5,   (#1 choice in the "Power-Book.")   
                           This opens the game, its one of the top moves, statistically speaking,   
                            I am not sure if White has anything that is really better here.   

                                           ( Or White could play more slowly, although this does not seem to really   
                                              promise the first player any real edge coming out of the opening:  

                                              7.Be2 cxd48.Nxd4 dxc49.Bxc4 a610.0-0 Nbd711.Nf3 b5   
                                              12.Be2 Bb713.h3 Qb614.Bh2 Rfd815.Qd4 Qxd416.Nxd4 Rac8;  "=/+"   

                                               Draw agreed; 1/2 - 1/2.   

                                               S. Muhammad {Booth} (2430) - A.J. Goldsby I (2233);    
                                               Pensacola CC (Summer) Quarterly PFC Bank, (Round # 4) / FL; 2000. )   [replay

                           7...Qa5!?8.Rc1 dxc49.Bxc4 Nbd710.0-0 Nxc511.Qe2,  "+/="  with an edge. 
                           White is solidly better here.   

                           See the contest:  GM Yuri Yakovich (2591) - GM Valeri Yandemirov (2491);   
                           ICT, Aeroflot Open ("A") / Moscow, RUS; (R#5) / 21,02,2004.   
                          {A seemingly well-played and interesting draw in a total of forty-one moves;  
                            and I was unable to find this game in the ChessBase
database.} ]   


     5...0-0;  (Development / King protection.)   

This seems to be about the best move for Black ... I am not sure if the second player should enter into complications, (and consider opening up the game); with his King still in the center.  



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                          [ For the very sharp lines of:  5...c5!?6.dxc5 Qa5;    
                            please see MCO-15, page # 643;  and mainly column # 29.   

                            Of course, I would be wrong to omit a reference to this (currently) topical and outstanding game:   

                            GM Levon Aronian (2802) - GM Peter Svidler (2755)[D93]  
                             ICT, 6th Tal Memorial / (Round #08) / Moscow, RUS; Nov. 24th, 2011.   
                             {White won a ultra-brilliant endgame, 1-0 in a total of 54 moves.} ]    


     6.Rc1,  (development / file)   

This is OK for White, although the engines are unanimous in their choice of 6.Nf3!? here. 
(Of course, 6.Nf3, will transpose to one of the lines that I have already examined earlier; see the long note after 4.Bf4.)   



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I think that one of the main points of Rc1 is to try and discourage or dilute the effects of Black's pawn break on the center.  ( ...c7-c5)  
Another aspect of Rc1 is that Black often plays ...c5; ..Qa5; and then ...Ne4; in this opening. If White has not prepared to meet this, then his c3-square is completely overrun.  


     6...dxc4!?;   (Releasing tension.)  

Black does this to break down White's firm grip on the central squares and also prepare a quick and effortless development of all of his pieces. (6...dxc4!? is somewhat rare, but not new, there are 65 games in the CB on-line DB here. I will also note that there is NOT a lot of 
"GM - vs. - GM" experience with this line, either.)   



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Yet, there is something to be said for at least a look at the PB line here ... see the continuation below. 

GM A. Ramirez ... on the ChessBase website ... notes that 6...c5; and also 6...c6; are the most common moves here for Black. 


                         [ The following continuation would have been interesting to explore:   

                           RR  6...c5!?7.dxc5 Be68.Nf3 Nc69.Be2 Ne410.0-0!? Nxc3;  
,  "+/="  11...dxc4;  "<=>"
  and Black seems to get good play.  
                           (I once saw a game of L. Ftacnik's in one of my opening books, {1985} and Black got good play.
                            I don't know if this is the game or not, but here is just one example.)   

                           However, the results after 12.Ng5! seem to favor White, see the interesting contest:   

                            GM Rafael A. Vaganian (2570) - IM Roman Tomaszewski (2435);  [D83]   
                            ICT, 7th Toth Memorial; (Round #01) / Kecskemet, Hungary02,06,1979.   
                            {White won a very convincing game here, 1-0 in a total of forty moves;  
                              I looked, but I could not find this game in the
CB database.}  ]   


Now White recaptures the c-pawn, while Black develops a piece.   

     7.Bxc4 Nbd7;  (Knight's in the center.)   

A key position has been reached.   



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Normally, White will continue with Nf3, and have a small but lasting advantage out of the opening phase of the game.  

White's next move is a rather unexpected sally from the cavalry. 

     8.Nb5?!,  (Maybe - '?')   

There is no doubt that Nf3 would have been an improvement over the Nb5!? ... as played in the game. 
(I think that the likelihood is that Nb5, while radical and extremely interesting, is {in the end} a very dubious concept.)   



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This move costs White more than a point in the computer's evaluations. 
(The main problem with this move ... and the way that Nakamura followed it up ... was that White loses several tempo AND the initiative.)   

I think that (what happened in this game) is that Nakamura must have seen something OTB that did not materialize during the actual game. It is also likely that he did not deeply consider the possible exchange sack, (that his opponent wound up playing); and that this was basically the cause of his failure. (Either this, or he had deeply prepared some line, and simply forgot his analysis.) 

If you are interested in games in the DB, see the relatively well-played struggle, 
(after the moves, 8.Nf3, a6; 9.0-0, c5;): GM Ivan Farago (2510) - GM Nikola Spiridonov (2440); [D83]
ICT, 17th Rubinstein Memorial (R#8) / Polanica Zdroj, Poland; 1979.  {1-0 in 62 total moves. }  
<< Although I looked,
I did not find this game in the games' DB on the CG website. >>  


                         [ Better was:  >/=  8.Nf3!,  - All the engines. ]   


Black's next play is forced. (Both sides played their next few moves relatively quickly.)  
<< Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, you can follow just about any modern GM event. >> - Editor 


We can assume that the player's were fairly certain that these moves were both fairly decent and also (more-or-less) of a forcing nature. 

     8...c6[];  9.Bc7 Qe8;  10.Nc3 e5!;   [Center.]   

We have known - since the time of Paul Morphy - that when you opponent has not castled and you have a lead in development, that you should open up the game as quickly as possible.   



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However, there is the possibility of White playing Bd6, (and winning the exchange); that makes this move VERY good ... 
and quite possibly even a "double-exclam" type of move here. However, the players don't comment on it, and no one 
(that I can find) does any deep analysis on the possible exchange sacrifice, either. ("10...e5!" - GM A Ramirez)   


If White was not going test his opponent's idea and accept the exchange sacrifice, then his next move was close to being forced. 
(White cannot allow the center to be opened while his King remains in the middle of the board.)  

     11.dxe5,  '[]'  (No choice?)    

Nakamura probably felt that this move was very close to being forced here.   



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Certainly, if White had tried Bd6!? here, Black would have gained good play with ...exd4! here.   


                          [ The following exchange sacrifice is extremely interesting here: 
                             RR 11.Bd6!? exd4!12.Bxf8 dxc3!;  "<=>"   (with counterplay)   
                             however, we can assume that since Nakamura by-passed this   
                             possibility, that it must be bad for White to accept it.   

                             Perhaps someone who is really interested could do a deep 
                             analysis of this continuation ... ]   


     11...Nxe5;  (Hits c4.)  12.Be2[],  ("Box.")   

White simply retreats ... he really had no choice here.   



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Two things are now obvious: 
A.)  White has not played the opening correctly in this game; and ... 
B.)  Nakamura has allowed Ivanchuk to take over the initiative here.   


                         [  RR  12.Bxe5!? Qxe513.Nf3 Qe7;  "=/+"  

                           </=  12.Bd6? Nxc413.Bxf8 Qxf8;  "-/+" ]   


White also has yet another problem ...   
Black has already castled, so White must play "catch-up" in the overall development of his pieces.  

     12...Bf5;  13.Nf3,  (Forced.)   

White must finish his development and get castled or be faced with a possibly catastrophic loss. 
(It also becomes obvious that Nakamura ... who may have been counting on the possibility of B/c7-d6;  
 to prevent Black from untangling his pieces ... has been outwitted and outplayed.)   



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Now all of Black's pieces are better developed here, Black is about to play ...R/a8-c8; with another gain of tempo.   


                         [  </= 13.Bd6?? Rd8;  "-/+"  
                            (If 14.Qd2, then 14...Nd3+! If now 15.Bxd3, then simply 15...RxB/d6 "-/+"   
                             is {now} winning easily for Black.)  ]  


     13...Nxf3+;  14.Bxf3 Rc8;  (Time.)   

With this move, Black gains time.   



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<< "Black has gotten a dream position out of the opening. His pieces are active and he is slightly better developed. 
       Hikaru is only a little worse, but having this situation after only 14 moves with White is very unpleasant." >> 
        - GM A Ramirez on CB.   


All this is great, but no one (that I have seen) has pointed out that the machines greatly prefer the move of >/= 14...Qc8!;   
 in this particular position. (See below.)   


                         [ Probably an improvement was:   
14...Qc8!15.Bg3 Rd816.Qb3 Be617.Qa4 Nd5!;  "=/+"
                           (Analysis by - Fritz 12, confirmed by Houdini and Fritz 13.)    
                             ... when Black has an ideal position.   

                           (His advantage might be bigger and this would occur earlier    
                            than what was played in the actual game.) ]    


Now White's next move is nearly forced, Bd6 is a blunder owing to the pin on the wide open d-file.   

     15.Bg3 Ne4!;  

The simplest.  



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The machine likes 15...Nd7!?; here, however, this might lead to a murky position. Ivanchuk's move is best and gives Black a small but persistent edge out of the opening.   


                    [ RR  15...Nd7!?16.Bd6 Rd8 17.Qb3 Ne518.Bxe5 Bxe5;  
                      19.Qxb7 Rb820.Qxa7 Rxb2 21.0-0 Qe6;  "~" ]   


The next few ply (2.5 moves) are all pretty much forced, and represent best play - for both sides. 

     16.Bxe4 Bxe4;  17.0-0 Rd8;  18.Qa4,   (Hits the Bishop on e4, w/tempo.)   

White had no choice here, all the other moves were clearly inferior.   



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Black is clearly on top here, yet I don't think that White had to lose this game, as (although Black has a clear and lasting edge here); I do not see any real weaknesses in GM Hikaru Nakamura's position. 
[In fact, several strong computer engines do not see much of an edge (in the current position) for Black.]   


                         [ </=  18.Qb3?! Bd319.Rfd1 Qe7;  "=/+" ]   


     18...Bd3;  19.Rfd1,  (Relatively forced.)   

Both sides, for about the last 6-7 moves, have been making moves that were forced and were fairly close to being "only" moves ...   



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A critical position has been reached, Black's a-pawn is hanging and he must make a vital decision here.   


                    [ RR  19.Rfe1!? c5!?20.Qxa7!? Qc6! 21.Qa4 b5;  "~"  (w/comp. for material) ]   


     19...b5!;  (Time, Pawn-structure.)    

Black must play energetically, a slow or a passive move (here) could ruin everything for GM V. Ivanchuk.   



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Now White is in the crucible of fire, and must have the certitude to reach the correct conclusion ... 
when you are near the edge of the cliff, you must be very careful not to go over the edge ... ... ...   


                         [ </=  19...a6?20.Qb4, "+/=" ]    


     20.Qa5?!,  {?}  (The wrong decision.)   


I am sure that one of my heroes in chess - GM Vicktor Korchnoi - would have had the courage to grab the pawn on the a7-square.   



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It takes some heavy-duty calculation, (to make sure that the WQ does not wind up getting trapped); but surely a 2700+ player is capable of such a task?   


                         [ The critical line was:  >/=  20.Qxa7! b421.Na4 Be2 22.Re1,  Definitely best.   

                                           ( </= 22.Rxd8?! Qxd8;  23.Qc5 Qd2;  24.h3 Bb5;  25.Nb6 Bxb2; "=/+"   
                                                    (Black is slightly better.) )     

                         22...Bb523.b3 Qd7 24.Qxd7 Rxd7;  "~"  (unclear)   
                         Black probably has more than enough play for the Pawn, but whether or not the   
                         second player has any real winning chances is (IMO) highly doubtful. ]    


The chess engines confirm that the next few moves are best (and are close to being forced); both sides prepare to contest the open d-file.   


     20...Rd7;  21.Rd2 Qe7;  (d8?)  22.Rcd1 Rfd8;  "=/+"  (An edge for Black.)   

Black is clearly better here.   



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There are several factors in Ivanchuk's favor, (Bishop-pair, Q-side Pawn majority); so White must play perfect chess not to lose from this position. 



White's next move prevents Black from playing ...b5-b4; which would completely disrupt White's game. 

     23.a3 h5!;  (Space, time.)   

This is a really nice move - and deserves some comments that might help to clarify the ideas here, especially for the players who may not play in tournaments or have not ever bothered to learn how to use a chess engine.   



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The position - to the master - is clearly in Black's favor. However, since I have already gone over this epic battle with a couple of the members of my local chess club, I also know that the average player might see this position as being very close to being equal.  


In such close positions, you have to look for little ways to increase your advantage. Black, by pushing his h-pawn forward two squares, has accomplished many things:   

#1.)  He has gained some space. 

#2.)  If a WR (or Q) ever penetrates to Black's first rank, the second player will have an escape hatch (h7) for his King.  

#3.)  Black threatens h4 (hitting the B) and then ...h4-h3. If White captures, then his entire K-side Pawn formation has been corrupted.  

#4.)  Just like tennis, Black has tossed the ball back over the net. White is a little off balance, and because Nakamura does not have a lot of decent options, just coming up with a reply is not such an easy task for White.  


                          [ The machine prefers a continuation that is also advantageous for Black:   
                             (>/=)  23...Bf524.Rxd7 Rxd7 25.Rxd7 Qxd726.h3 h5;  "=/+"  
                              and Black would be solidly better. ]   


Because of Black's threats - please see the discussion after Black's 23rd move, above - 
White's next move is more or less (positionally) forced.   

     24.h3 h4;  (attack w/tempo)   

Ivanchuk continues to press his advantage and try to keep his opponent on the ropes.  



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However, this was not the only move, the machine's play of 24...Bf5; was also an interesting idea and would have given a solid edge to Black. 


                         [ Better was>/= 24...Bf5;  "=/+"  - Fritz 12 and Houdini 1.5 ]   


     25.Bh2!?,  (Maybe, probably - '?!')    

White had to move his attacked Bishop on the h2-square.   


But this move is wrong ... if, for no other reason, that if a heavy piece penetrates to White's first rank, then the first player will be in dire straits.   



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You can take a look at this position for yourself. You should be able to readily see that - if one, or both Rooks, are exchanged here, and a check occurs on White's back row ... ... ...   


                          [ An improvement was:  >/= 25.Bf4[];  (forced) - Fritz 12 & Houdini 1.5 ]   


Now - if I were Black in this position, (and I was thinking clearly) - I would have tried to swap the Rooks and leave White with his sorry prelate stranded on the h2-square.   

     25...Kh7!?;  (Not the best.)   

This is not a terrible move, however, (for some reason); Ramirez gives it the dubious ('?!') appellation here.   
(IMO, this is overly harsh ...)   



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I like Fritz's idea of 25...Bf5.  


                          [ >/=  25...Bf5!"=/+"  - Fritz 12.  

                            >/=  25...Bf6;  "=/+"   - Houdini 1.5 ]   


     26.Bc7!,   (Why? The idea?)   

White alertly leaps at the chance to exchange off his Bishop that was previously mired in quicksand in the backwaters ... ... ... 
of White's K-side ...  



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This is the kind of sharp tactics that can sometimes save an inferior position.   


                         [  </= 26.Bf4!? Bf6;  "=/+"  - Fritz 12. ]   


Once more, we come to a position where both players are pretty much forced to play the following series of moves in this game.  

     26...Rxc7;  27.Rxd3 Rxd3;  28.Rxd3 Bf6(Hmmm.)   

Black is clearly just a little better here, however, Ivanchuk's edge is far from being a decisive one.  
(This is a crucial point in the game. Perhaps - with perfect play - GM Nakamura did not have to lose this particular encounter ...)  



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Right now, if you compare the position of all of White's pieces to Black's, you can readily see why Black stands a little bit better here. (Especially noteworthy is White's poor Knight ... virtually stuck on the c3-square ... whereas Black's DSB is strong on the long diagonal, and also free to roam all of the dark squares. Bobby Fischer always said, that - in a mostly open position, with Pawns spread on both sides of the board - a Bishop is nearly always superior to the Knight. This is mostly because the Knight is a short-range piece and the Bishop is a long-range piece. Often times, the Bishop {because of its range} can support Pawns on one side of the board, while simultaneously interfering with the opponent's operations on the opposite side of the chess-board.)  


                          [ >/=  28...Kg8- Fritz 12. ]    


     29.Rd2?!;  (Maybe - '?')    

This passive retreat only serves to make White's position worse.   ('?!' - GM Alejandro Ramirez)   



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  A key position!  


All the engines agree that White HAD to play Qb4 in this position, please see the analysis - just below.   


                         [ >/= 29.Qb4[]29...Qxb430.axb4 Kg731.Kf1 Kf8;  "=/+"  - Fritz 12. ]   


Now the only way for Black to improve his position is to challenge White's control of the d-file.   

     29...Rd7;  30.Rc2[],  (Forced.)   

All of the engines (Fritz, Houdini, Shredder, Deep Junior, etc.) that I tested clearly indicated that it was horrible for White to exchange the Rooks here.  



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Normally, just a Queen and a Knight work very well together. In this position, however, we see the exception to that little rule of thumb.  


                         [ The following analysis will clearly show that it was wrong for White to swap Rooks on the open file: 

                            </=  30.Rxd7? Qxd731.a4,  (OK?)   
                            There is nothing that is clearly better for White, nor any line that will pull White's bacon out of the fire.   

                                           ( </= 31.Qb4?! Qd2;  32.Qf8 Qxb2;  33.Qxf7+ Bg7;  34.Nd1 Qxa3;  "-/+"      

                                              Or White could try:  RR  31.Kh2 Kg7;  32.f4 Qe7;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+") )      


                           31...Qd232.axb5!?,  (hmmm)    
                           White might as well capture in this position. 
                           (Everything will lose, as my analysis here will show.)   

                                          ( Black wins in all lines:   

                                             A.)  32.Qc7!? Qxb233.Qxf7+ Bg7;  "-/+"  

                                             B.)  32.Qxa7 Kg7!33.Ne4 Qc1+! 34.Kh2 Be5+;  
                                                    35.f4 Bxf4+ 36.exf4 Qxf4+37.Kg1 Qxe4;  "-/+" )    


This must be the best for Black.  

                                             (Or 32...Qe1+!?)     

                           33.Qxa7,  Best?  

                                          ( 33.bxc6!? Qc1+;  34.Kh2 Qxc3;  "-/+" )   

                           33...Kg734.Qc5 Bxc3 35.bxc6 Be1!36.Qd4+ Qxd4 37.exd4 Ba5;   "-/+"  

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(Analysis Diagram.)  

                           Black has won a piece, IMO this is a relatively simple "win on technique" for Black, 
                           and all of the engines will confirm the conclusion that Black is winning here.
                           (Black will simply park his Bishop on c7, and then run his King up the chessboard   
                            as far as he can. If you still feel that it is a difficult win for White, play it out with a friend.) 



     30...Qe6;  ('!?')  (centralization)    

Once more, Black plays a fairly decent move here, but perhaps failed to find the best move.   



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But even with all of these bobbles, Black remains with the much superior chances in this endgame.   


                         [ Better (for Black) was:  >/=  30...Kg7!;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+")   
                           and Black is clearly better here. - Fritz 12 and Houdini 1.5 ]   


     31.Qb4 a5!?;  (Interesting ...)    

This is a nice "pop" on the WQ, and its done with a gain of time. However, Black could have focused his firepower on c3, and White would have been helpless to prevent this.   



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Black remains in control, especially as the analysis will show that Nakamura cannot afford to grab the a-Pawn in this position.   


                         [ The box prefers: 31...Rd3!;  "/+"  - Fritz 12 & Houdini 1.5 ]   


     32.Qf4!?,  (Right idea, wrong application?)    

White is trying really hard, but sometimes - especially in chess - just trying does not get the job done.   



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The general rule of thumb is that when you are defending, especially if your King might be in jeopardy, (as in this game); you should go ahead and exchange as many pieces as possible, most notably the Queens! 


                         [ The following variation should prove to you that it was a bad idea 
                            for White to snatch the tempting button on a5:   

                            </=  32.Qxa5?! Qb3!33.Re2 Rd3 34.Re1,  Pretty much forced.   
                            (The threat was that Black would play ...BxN/c3; and then ...Qd1+.   
                             This would have won the White rook the exposed e2-square)   

                                            ( </= 34.Ne4!? Be5;  35.f4? Rxe3!;  "-/+" )   

                           34...Rxc335.bxc3 Bxc3 36.Qd8 Bxe137.Qxh4+ Kg838.Qd8+ Kg7;    
                           39.Qd4+ f6 40.Qd7+ Kh641.Qxc6 Qb2 42.Qf3 Bc3!;  "-/+"  


                           The correct plan was for White to play Qg4, and try to get rid of the Queens    
                            and maybe neutralize some of the pressure:   

                            >/=  32.Qg4! Qxg433.hxg4 Bxc3 34.Rxc3 Rd1+;    
                            35.Kh2 Rd2;  "+/="  36.b4!,  "<=>"  (counterplay)   

                            and its not even clear that Black has any real winning chances, not from 
                            this position. ]   


     32...Kg7;  (Maybe - '!')   

Now that the KBP and the DSB on f6 are protected, the Black Queen is free to roam, penetrate, and do damage to White's position.   


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I highlight this aspect, as (in my personal teaching experience); this is exactly the kind of consolidating move that a good class player might leave out ... and draw or lose from such a position.   


Now White has to find an "only" move, if he is to survive. 

     33.Rc1?,  (The losing move.)   

White had to get the Queens off the board, or get smashed. 
(In the resulting position, ALL of Black's pieces are superior to White's!)   

"Another strange move in a series of strange decisions. This allows the black rook access to the 2nd rank."   
  - GM A. Ramirez ... in the CB article.   


                         [ >/= 33.Qg4[]33...Qxg434.hxg4 Rd3;  "=/+"  (Maybe "/+") ]   


     33...a4;  (Maybe - '!' / Space, Pawn-structure.)   

With this move, Ivanchuk gains more ground on the Q-side, and also fixes the foot-soldiers on the Queen-side.   
(This idea of fixing the White Q-side Pawns is VERY important! Black pretty much forces White to keep his Q-side Pawns on the dark squares here - thus, all of White's army on that side of the board are now identified as permanent targets!)  


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But - technically speaking - the move is not the most accurate ... for many different reasons. 
(Mainly, it allows White's next move, a resource that Nakamura would not have had available to him if Ivanchuk had played the correct move instead.)   


                         [ It would have been better for Black to have played:     
                           >/= 33...Rd2!;  "-/+"  with practically a won game. ]   


Now - according to the engines, (and yours truly) - Black is much better ... and very close to winning here.   


However, White still must make a move, and try to stay in the game. Black's threats are to play ...Rd3; and ...Qb4; and White's c3-point will be overwhelmed. White's next move is forced, the main idea is that the first player will be able to trade the ladies, if and when Black does play his Queen to b3. 

     34.Qb4 Rd3!?;  (Infiltration.)   

Black finally gets around to the idea of invading White's side of the board on the d3-square.   

This appears to be the best move, at least superficially so ... 
[ ('?' - GM Alejandro Ramirez) Since Black's move hardly threw away the win, I thought that a whole question mark 
  here was completely out of line. ]   



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However the chess engines find a move that is probably better here.   


                         [ About five engines that I tested here - most notably Fritz 12 and also Houdini 1.5 - 
                           all preferred:  >/=  34...Be7!;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+") as being better for Black. 

                           (I think that the idea is to kick the WQ to a much worse square, and only then   
                            to play ...Rd3; or maybe even ...Rd2.) ]   


     35.Rc2??,   (Truly a blunder!)    

I don't know if time was a huge factor at this stage of the game, nonetheless, this move is a terrible mistake for GM H. Nakamura ... 
and the engines spot this absolutely immediately here. Now, according to all the chess engines, the size of Black's edge doubles {or even 
triples!} in the resulting positions!!!   



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Even GM Ramirez notes that this is the last bad move, "that seals the deal" for Ivanchuk here. ('?' - GM A. Ramirez)  


                         [ White had to play:  >/=  35.Kf1[]35...Be7;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+")   
                            when Black is tremendously better, yet Ivanchuk would have   
                            had some work to do ... to prove the win.   

                            (The material balance has not {yet} been disturbed, both sides   
                              have an equal number of Pawns.) ]   


     35...Qb3!;  (Liquidation.)   

There comes a time in nearly every chess game, that, (no matter what happens afterwards); it is time to try and trade down to the endgame ... ... ...   



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This is the current position that we (now) have on the chess board. 


     36.Qxb3,   (To relieve the pressure?)  

Nakamura jumps at the opportunity to get the Queens off the board ...   


                         [ The boxes (instead) recommend:   

                           RR  36.Rc1 Qxb437.axb4 a3;  "-/+"  
                           yet this does not alter the result. ]    


     36...axb3;  37.Rc1,  (Forced!?)   

This is sad ... ... ...    



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White is having to back up and run away ... on nearly every turn.  


                         [ RR  Or  37.Re2!? Rxc3!;  "-/+"  and Black has an easy win. ]   


The rest is a slaughter ... 
(Once Black gets a protected passed Pawn on b3, the game is all but over. Note that White cannot trade Rooks in the following few moves. If he did, Black would simply push his b-pawn in and promote.)   


     37...Bxc3;  38.bxc3 c5;  39.Kf1 c4;  40.Ke2,   

White activates his King, hits the d3-square, and perhaps dreams of trying to make a draw from this particular position.  



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Now its a chess problem ... "Black to move and win." 


What move would you play in this position? 

     40...Rxc3!;  (Nice!!!)  "-/+"   

Here, Black is winning easily, so GM Hikaru Nakamura abandons his rapidly sinking vessel.   

"An unusually weak effort by the American who we all know can play much better than this." 
  -  GM Alejandro Ramirez - on CB.   



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If the WR captures the flagrant "olliephaunt" ... then simply the move of 41...b3-b2! will get Black a brand-new Queen. 


Great play from GM Ivanchuk, however, to be fair, I must note that this was a sub-par effort from GM H. Nakamura. 


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


    0 - 1      

The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent programChessBase 10.0. 
(My main engine was/is Fritz 12, although I also checked my analysis with many other engines, most notably Houdini 1.5.)  

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

The diagrams were created with the program,  Chess Captor 2.25.  

  Grunfeld References  

I accessed literally dozens of references ... too many to name here. (Click here for more info.) 

Please also see my web page on the following historic chess game: 
Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer; ICT, Rosenwald / New York, 1956. ("The Game of The Century.") 

The above referenced web page contains an extremely detailed look at many of the systems of the whole of the Grunfeld Opening. 

In addition to the above links, here is a list of columns (on this site) where I have covered this opening.  

  1. My July 2004 column: I cover The Exchange Variation and the "Prins System." 

  2. My  March 2005 column: I cover The Exchange and (again) "The Prins System," which is a sub-system of the Russian System. I also annotate the famous game between Fischer and Spassky from the 1970 Siegen Olympiad. 

  3. My October 2011 column:  This is an in-depth look at the "Fianchetto System" of the Grunfeld. (White fianchetto's his LSB, this system is currently very popular, many GM's are currently trying their hand with this line. 

  4. My  November 2011 column:  This is a fairly detailed look at the (so-called) "Classical System" of the Grunfeld. 
    (White plays an early B/c1-f4 in the Gruenfeld System.) 

  • You should also check this page, there may be other games with this opening system annotated there.  

Click  HERE  to return to my  HOME Page  for this site. 

Click  HERE  to go (or return) to my "games list," for the  year of 2011.  

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Click  HERE  to go to my first domain,  or click  HERE  to go to my second domain.  


  This page was first posted in (approximately) mid-November, 2011.   Final format completed on: Tuesday; November 29th, 2011.   This page was last updated on 03/18/15 .  

    COPYRIGHT (c) A.J. Goldsby I;    

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

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