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Zurich Chess Challenge 2014: the Attitude of Learning from Every Top-Level Game

Feb 4, 2014
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Nakamura, Hikaru (2776) - Gelfand, Boris (2761)

Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 2014.02.03

Today, Nakamura and Gelfand played a solid positional game that could be significant for the theory of Anti-Sveshnikov system.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3

the Anti-Sveshnikov system. Gelfand is well-known for his deep knowledge and understanding of the Sveshnikov Sicilian, so Nakamura rightfully avoids it.

3... e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 Nf6 6.Nd2!?

BD_10663_46_0.pngDiagram #1

White's idea is to quickly transfer his f3-N to e3 via f1, where it'll control d5 & f5 squares.

6... d6 7.Nf1 Bg4!

BD_10663_46_1.pngDiagram #2

Black tries to disrupt the coordination of White pieces or at least provoke him to create a weakness.

8.Qd2 ( 8.f3 slightly weakens White's kingside8... Be6 9.Ne3 Black has scored well in this position lately, thanks to a potential counterplay on White's kingside, here's one example how the game could develop9... O-O (9... Nd7 10.O-O O-O 11.g3 Nb6 = 0-1 Olszewski,M 2551 -Krasenkow,M 2633/Warsaw POL 2013 53 Black has successfully transferred his N to b6 where it controls c4 and d5, and his e7-B can later go to g5 to exchange itself with White's good c1-B. Black later even won in the game Olszweski 2551- Krasenkow 2633 POL 2013) 10.O-O a6 11.a4 Nb4 12.Bd2 b6 13.f4 exf4 14.Rxf4 Bxc4 15.dxc4 g6 16.Ne2 Nd7 17.Bxb4 cxb4 18.Nd5 Bg5 19.Rf2 Nf6 20.Qd4 Nxd5 21.cxd5 Bh6 22.Rd1 Re8 Black has good play on the dark-squares and along the e-file, and he eventually won. 23.Rd3 a5 24.Rdf3 Ra7 25.Ng3 Bg7 26.Qd3 Bxb2 27.Ne2 Rae7 28.Rf4 Qd7 29.Nd4 Bc1 30.Nc6 Bxf4 31.Rxf4 Re5 32.Nxe5 Rxe5 33.Qd4 Qc7 34.h4 Qxc2 35.Qxb6 Qc5+ 36.Qxc5 dxc5 37.Rf6 Rxe4 38.Rc6 b3 39.d6 b2 0-1 Liu Dede 2375-Moiseenko,A 2703/ Jakarta INA 2013)

8... Nd7 9.Nd5

this is the second time Gelfand faced this position this year. Last month in Tata Steel, he played castling here against Wesley So.

9... Be6!

BD_10663_46_2.pngDiagram #3

a logical improvement over his previous game, not giving White time to improve the placement of his pieces.

( The game So,W 2719 -Gelfand,B 2777 went9... O-O 10.c3 Be6 11.Qc2 Nb6 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.a4 Kh8 14.Bd2 this position is still objectively ok for Black, but later he wasn't able to stand the relentless queenside pressure of the strong Filipino player.)

10.Nfe3 Bg5

Black keeps delaying castling to improve another piece.

11.c3 O-O 12.Qd1 Nb6

a typical N maneuver to the k-side which we've seen in other GM games

13.Nxb6 axb6

compared to his previous game, White doesn't have time to play a4 and create pressure on b6.

14.Bxe6 ( 14.a4?!

BD_10663_46_3.pngDiagram #4

is too ambitious due to14... Bxe3! 15.Bxe3 d5! and it is White who's under pressure due to his uncastled king and his vulnerable d3-square.)

14... fxe6 15.Qb3 d5

Black has not only fully equalized, but has a good game

16.O-O Kh8 17.a4 Na5 18.Qb5 ( 18.Qa2!? could be a way to play on, but White can run into some risk along the a-file18... b5! 19.axb5?

BD_10663_46_4.pngDiagram #5

Can you find a way for Black to gain a better position?

( 19.exd5 exd5 20.Qxd5 Bxe3 21.Qxd8 Rfxd8 22.Bxe3 Nb3 23.Rad1 Black has some pressure but White has good chances to hold.)19... Nb3! 20.Qxa8 ( 20.Qxb3 Rxa1)20... Qxa8 21.Rxa8 Rxa8 22.exd5 exd5 Black has a much better game as his pieces are more active and is threating to win material with d5-d4.)

18... Nc6 19.Qb3 Na5 20.Qb5 Nc6 21.Qb3 and the game logically ends in a draw by three-fold repetition.

Although this game may not be quite exciting, it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking at or watching. By critically following this game and comparing it to other GM games, we discover and understand Gelfand's improvement for the Black side of the Anti-Sveshnikov system.

We also learn from Gelfand that we should not easily give up on any opening line just because we lost with it against someone strong. Nakamura, on the other hand, showed us the importance of having an objective view on positions-- he correctly assessed the position as equal around the 18th move, and correctly decided not to play ambitiously in spite of his tendency to take risks and fight for a win.

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