Gibraltar Chess Festival 2014: A Creative Game from a World-Class Player
Ivanchuk, Vassily (2739) - Ganguly, Surya Shekhar (2619)
Tradewise Chess Congress 2014 2014.02.04
The recent 2014 Gibraltar Open Event was won by Ivan Cheparinov on tiebreak matches, but there were a number of players who played exceptionally well in this event. One of them is the world-class Ukrainian top-player Vassily Ivanchuk a.k.a. "Chucky" who had the highest performance rating of 2837! Here is a game that exhibits not only his first-class level but also the creativity he's well-known for.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5
the Semi-Tarrasch System
6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 O-O 11.Rc1
the other White set-up that's been used hundreds of times is 11.Bc4 Nc6 ( Nd7 12.O-O b6 13.Rad1 Bb7 14.Rfe1 Rc8 15.Bb3 h6 16.h3 Qf6 17.Bc2 Rfd8 18.Re3 Qf4 19.Bb1 Nb8 20.Qd3 Ba6 21.Qa3 Qd6 22.Qb2 Bb7 23.d5! 23... exd5 24.e5 a typical idea in this variation24... Qc5 25.e6 fxe6 26.Nd4 Rd7 27.Qe2 Nc6 28.Nxe6 Qe7 29.Qd3 Qf6 30.Rf3 1-0 Andreikin,D 2723 -Rakhmanov,A 2599/Moscow RUS 2012) 12.O-O b6 13.Rfe1 Bb7 14.d5! 14... Na5 15.Bd3 h6 ( exd5 16.e5 here it is again) 16.Qf4 Rc8 17.Rad1 Rc5 18.Nd4 exd5 19.e5 Bc8 20.h4 Nc4 21.Bf5 Re8 22.Rd3 Nd6 23.Bxc8 Qxc8 24.Rg3 Re6 25.Nxe6 Qxe6 26.Qg4 Nf5 27.Rf3 g6 28.h5 Rc4 29.Rf4 Rxf4 30.Qxf4 gxh5 31.Rd1 d4 32.Rd3 Qd7 33.Rf3 d3 34.Qd2 Qe6 35.Qxd3 Ne7 36.Qd6 1-0 Ponomariov, R 2727-Vallejo Pons,F 2693/San Sebastian 2009
11... Nc6 More common here is 11... b6 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.O-O after which Black can choose between Nc6 or Nd7. Both lead to a slightly better middlegame for White for his better central control but Black is solid and can gain counterplay on the q-side and even on the d-file.)
12.Be2 Qb6 this unusual move aims to put quick pressure on d4, and place the rooks on d8 & c8 after Bd7.
13.O-O Rd8 14.Rc4!
Why not the more natural-looking rook move to d1? 14.Rfd1?!
Chessity-trained players can spot Black's counter-idea 14... Nxd4! 15.Nxd4 e5 and Black has simplified the situation by force in his favor, for one he has more space for his pieces compared to when the pawn was still on e6. Always considering enemy plans & ideas is a mark of a strong player.
14... Bd7 this is the only way to catch up with development
Chucky's creativity enables him to find good moves that defy principles and common ideas. Bd3 is a little odd as it moves the bishop twice from e2 to d3, but the reason is that on d3 it eyes the h7-pawn and allows his rook to have another square on b1!
Another way to improve White's position is to put pressure on the c-file 15.Rfc1 Rac8 but Chucky probably rejected this because there's no clear way to increase the slight edge e.g. 16.R1c2 with the idea of Qc1 (16... h6 17.Qc1 Ne7).
15... Qa5 avoiding Rb1 with tempo
16.Qb2 the side with more space and intends to launch an attack should keep as many pieces on the board as possible
16... Rac8 Black doesn't defend b7 as Qxb7 is not yet a threat
17.Rfc1 ( 17.Qxb7??
17... Rb8 -+ which Chessity-trained players are not going to fall for :)
17... Nb4 Black tries to generate counterplay before White takes any further action.
17... Ne7 (17... b6 because most of Black's pieces are on the q-side, White can prepare a k-side assault with 18.h4!? ( 18.Bb1)) 18.Qxb7! 18... Rb8 19.Qc7 with a pawn for nothing, and if19... Qxa2 20. Ne5 and White just wins more material.)
18.Bf1! a decision made for a concrete reason
If 18.Bb1 Black can safely exchange pieces18... Rxc4 19.Rxc4 Nc6 20.Qxb7??
20... Rb8 and the bishop is hanging on b1. With the bishop on f1, White will simply win a pawn!
18... Nc6 If 18... Rxc4 19.Rxc4 Nxa2 ( Nc6 20.Qxb7 as mentioned earlier) 20.Qxb7 even though Black achieved material equality, White is much better due to his better coordinaton and safer king e.g.20... h6 21.Rc7 Be8 22.Ne5 and suddenly White has strong pressure on the 7th rank especially on f7.
19.Rc5 Qb4 20.Qa1!
Another creative, out-of-this-world move! Corner-moves are usually ugly at first sight, but when we see the idea behind it they can be awe-inspiring. This move refuses the enemy queen's offer and puts her in an awkward spot with the incoming threat of Rb1.
Another way to obtain an advantage is going into a technical endgame with 20.Qxb4 Nxb4 21.Rb1 Rxc5 22.dxc5 Na6 ( Nxa2 23.Rxb7) 23.Rxb7 Nxc5 24.Rxa7 Nxe4 25.a4 and the passed pawn gives White better chances, but Chucky decides to keep pieces on the board because he felt that White deserves more out of the current situation.
20... Na5 defending b7 and attempting to exchange off White's active pieces
If 20... Ne7 ( and20... b6 can be met by a nice counter-attacking move. Can you spot it? 21.a3! 21... Qa4 22.R1c4 Qa6 ( Qb3 23.Nd2 checkmating the queen!) 23.Rxc6 Bxc6 24.Rxc6 +/- ) 21.Rb1 Qa4 22.Rxb7.
21.a3 Qb6 22.Rb1 Nb3 the tension builds up as more contact among the pieces occurs
23.Qa2 Ba4 24.Rc4!!
the 3rd resourceful move from Chucky. Retreat moves are difficult for our minds to detect especially in a complex situation like this. What may have helped him find it is understanding that it's the a4-bishop that holds things together but it is also vulnerable. So if he could only use its counterpart (f1-bishop) the knight will fall.
So you may ask "Why not the simple 23. Bc4?" Often times, we assume that winning the enemy queen is always good but it's always helpful to challenge our assumptions with concrete analysis... 23... Nxb6 24 Rxb6 axb6 25. h3 and the and the arising position is objectively equal. 25. dxc5?? loses to Rd1 26 Bf1 Bb5 27. h3 Rxf1 28. Kh2 bxc5. I'm sure Chucky saw this idea from Black that's why he chose to use the bishop in another way: connecting it with the c5-rook!
24... Qa5 Let's check if it really wins a piece...24... Rxc4 25.Bxc4 Rc8 White to play******26.Nd2! wins material. Not 26.Bxb3? Bxb3 27.Qxb3??
27... Qxb3 28.Rxb3 Rc1+)26... Qxd4 (26... Rxc4 27.Nxc4 Qxd4 28.Qe2 +/- ) 27.Bxb3 Bxb3 28.Nxb3 Qxe4 29.Nd2 Black doesn't have enough compensation for the piece.
25.Rxb3 Bxb3 26.Qxb3 Chucky has now gained material rewards for his creativity and accurate analysis.
26... b5 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.d5!
As the principle goes, "Passed pawns must be pushed."
28... Qa4 28... Rc3 only helps White's cause 29.Qd1! just like a rook must be placed behind the passed pawn, so with the queen!29... exd5 (29... Qxa3 30.dxe6 fxe6 31.Qd7) 30.exd5 Qxa3 31.d6 and there are many ways to win here.)
29.Qe3 keeping the queen also allows White to create a mating attack against the lonely enemy king.
29... exd5 30.exd5 Qd1 31.Nd4 centralization!
31... Kf8 bringing one's king closer to line of fire is almost always a risky business, but there's really no sufficient defense available anyway.
32.d6 Re8 this is Black's idea with Kf8, pushing the White queen away from the e-file
Can you overcome the enemy resistance?
Chucky can! 33.d7!
another strong counter-attacking move.
33... Rd8 (33... Rxe3 34.d8=Q+ Re8 35.Ne6+! exploiting the vulnerable position queen on d1 is the point.)
34.Qe5 bringing the pieces closer to the enemy king is always helpful when attacking. White threatens Qd6 or Qc7.
34... Rxd7 35.Qb8+ Ke7 36.Nc6+ Kf6 37.Qf4+ Ke6 ( Kg6 38.Ne5+ Kh5 and there are many roads to Rome, one of which is 39.h4! catching-the-king "Chessity style" 39... h6 40.Qf5+ g5 ( Kxh4 41.g3#) 41.g4+ Kxh4 42.Nf3+ Qxf3 43.Qxf3 and you know the rest :)
A superb game from a world-class player who displayed creativity in making unpleasant threats and paid careful attention to his opponent's resources allowing him to increase his advantage, and in the end crown it with a beautiful mate.