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The Other Winner: Part 2

May 15, 2014
IGM 2437
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In my previous post, I examined Pavel Eljanov's crucial win over Bacrot in the second half of the event. The game I'm about to show is Pavel's important victory over Polish #1 Wojtaszek because it gave him a good start in the first half of the 2014 Gashimov Memorial B event. Besides knowing the typical ideas behind his solid opening system, the skills Pavel displays well here are his understanding of imbalanced situations and resourcefulness.

Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (2716) - Eljanov, Pavel (2732) 0-1

Vugar Gashimov Mem B 2014 2014.04.21

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6

The Chebanenko Slav has served Pavel well many times for its solidity and dynamic resources.



Here are two more examples of his wins with the Chebanenko Slav against strong opposition last year: 5.e3 ( 5.a4 e6 6.g3 dxc4 7.Bg2 c5 8.O-O cxd4 9.Nxd4 Be7 10.a5 O-O 11.Nc2 Qc7 12.Be3 Bd7 13.Bb6 Qc8 14.Ne3 Bb5 15.Rc1 Nfd7 16.Na4 Bg5 17.f4 Nxb6 18.Nxb6 Qc5 19.Rf3 Bf6 20.Nxa8 Rd8 21.Qe1 Nc6 22.Nb6 Bd4 23.Kf2 e5 24.b4 Nxb4 25.fxe5 Nc6 26.Qd2 c3 27.Qc2 Nxe5 28.Qf5 g6 29.Qf4 Re8 30.Nbd5 Qxd5 31.Kf1 Nxf3 0-1 Cheparinov, I 2709 -Eljanov,P 2678/Reykjavik ISL 2013)5... Bf5 6.Qb3 b5 7.c5 a5 8.Ne5 a4 9.Qd1 g6 10.Bd2 Bg7 11.g4 Be6 12.Bg2 h5 13.h3 Qc7 14.f4 hxg4 15.hxg4 Rxh1+ 16.Bxh1 Nbd7 17.g5 Nxe5 18.fxe5 Ng4 19.Qf3 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qxe5 21.Qf4 Qxf4 22.exf4 b4 23.Ne2 a3 0-1 Ding Liren 2709 -Eljanov,P 2678/Reykjavik ISL 2013.

5... Bf5 6.Qb3 Ra7 7.Bf4 Nbd7 8.h3 e6 9.e3 Be7 10.Be2

this variation has only been played 10 times in tournament practice according to my database. This position is theoretically accepted as slightly better for White due to his space advantage and passive placement of the Black rook on a7. Be that as it may, it's not easy for White to increase his edge because Black is very solid.

10... O-O 11.O-O Re8 12.Na4 Ne4 Centralization in practice once again

13.Rac1 Bf6 preparing e6-e5 break

14.Nb6 If White tried to stop it with 14.Ne5? 14... Bxe5 15.dxe5 Nd2 -/+ he'll lose an exchange.

14... e5! 15.Nxd7 exf4!

Black's solid and simple plan of breaking in the center has given him good counterplay, but the position is still equal as White can adequately defend e3 and Black's rook on a7 is still passive.

16.Nxf6+ Nxf6!

BD_10663_132_0.pngDiagram #1

17.Ne5 fxe3 18.Qxe3 

The other recapture also leads to a good game for Black 18.fxe3? 18... Bg6 19.Rf4 Nd7!

BD_10663_132_1.pngDiagram #2

exchanging White's strongest piece off the board 20.Nxg6 hxg6 21.Rcf1 Nf6 and it's more pleasant to play Black already, especially after he relocates the a7 rook to e8.

18... Nd7 19.Qf4 Nxe5 20.Qxf5 Ng6 21.Bh5 simplifying the position even more to underline the Black's misplaced piece on the queenside

21... Re4!? by refusing to improve the placement of his a7-rook Black tempts or challenges White's idea to exploit his "weak piece." This gives rise to a possible imbalance in the game: material vs. initiative/more activity. In these situations, the player with superior understanding of positions and ability to find hidden resources normally triumph.

22.Rfe1 White gives in to the temptation or accepts the challenge, however way you want to see it...

22... Rxd4 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.Qe5

BD_10663_132_2.pngDiagram #3

This is the aforementioned imbalance. Which would you rather be? 

24... Ra4?!

Maybe more accurate and testing was 24... Rb4 25.Re2? a natural-looking move ( 25.Qe8+ ( 25.b3 a5! =/+ )25... Qxe8 26.Rxe8+ Kh7 27.Rc2 g5 leads to a position similar to what happened in the game)25... Ra8! 26.Rce1 Qf6 and White is struggling to prove compensation for the lost pawn.


White must have over-estimated his chances in this imbalanced position, which usually blinds one to the enemy's resources.

The way to take advantage of Black's previous move was 25.Qd6! 25... Ra8 26.Re7 the point is that now the b7 pawn is under attack, which wouldn't be a problem if the rook were on b4!26... Qxd6 27.cxd6 Rd8 28.Rxb7 Rxd6 29.a3 = and White should be able to easily hold this ending to a draw due to Black's weak queenside pawns.

25... Qxe8 26.Rxe8+ Kh7 27.a3 Rf4?!

A better way to continue is to improve the kingside situation before improving the rooks f6!? because if White tries to take advantage of bad position of the rook on a7 with 28.Rce1 Black can free his rook and prevent White's threats in time with28... b6! =/+

BD_10663_132_3.pngDiagram #4

29.cxb6 Rb7 and it is Black who's coming after White as he is ready to attack more pawns and prepare the advance of the d & c-pawns. With this "freeing resource" in mind, we can see that White's c1 rook is almost as passive as the one on a7. Overall, this is a tough ending to play otb and it's really a test of resourcefulness and creativity.)

28.g3 Rf6 29.a4! now White shuts out the rook on a7 for a long time

29... a5 30.Rb8?!

This allows Black to activate his other rook. Once again, I think White may have over-estimated his resources over Black's counter-resources.

A better way to keep Black almost paralyzed was 30.Re7! and if 30... Re6? (30... Kg8 (30... g5 31.Rce1 Kg6 32.Kg2 +/= ) 31.Rce1) 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.Re1 White will have better chances in the single rook ending.

30... Re6 31.h4 It's possible that White intended to place his other rook on b3 31.Rc3 Re2 32.Rb3 but Black can regain the pawn after the prophylactic move 32... f5! 33.R3xb7 Rxb7 34.Rxb7 Rc2 =/+ picking up the c5 pawn.

31... g5! avoiding any future mating net with the enemy rooks on the back rank. 

32.hxg5 If 32.h5 g6! Black's king still breaks free.

32... Kg6 33.Kg2 Re4 ( Kxg5 transposes after 34.Rc3 Re4 =/+ 35.b3)

34.b3 Kxg5

Here, White has to play more carefully as the Black king is safe and Black has a simple plan of playing the rook to b4, then rook to a6 to prepare b7-b6! at some point.

Now he realizes that he may be in trouble...



35.Rc3 f6 36.Rf3 Re7!? 36...Rb4! 37.Rc3 Ra6 -/+ 

37.Re3 Rd7 38.Kf3 d4 39.Rd3 39.Re6 Kf5 and now the only way to keep drawing chances was 40.Rbe8! with the idea of ( 40.Rd6? 40... Rxd6 41.cxd6 Ke6 42.Rd8 b5 -+ )40... d3 41.Rd6 b6 42.cxb6 Rxd6 43.bxa7 d2 44.a8=Q d1=Q+ 45.Kg2 = this resource could be difficult to find over the board, especially if the players were in time-trouble which might've been the case.

39... Rd5! by elimating the c5 pawn, Black finally frees his comrade on a7!

40.Rc8 Rxc5 41.Rxd4 b5 42.Kg2 b4 Another way is to simply improve the placement of the rook and aim for the b4 square! Rb7 43.Rd6 Kg6 44.Rcxc6 Rxc6 45.Rxc6 bxa4 46.bxa4 Rb4 -/+ .

43.Rd6 Kf5 44.Rdxc6 Rxc6 45.Rxc6 Ke4 46.Rc4+ Kd3 -/+

BD_10663_132_4.pngDiagram #5

The activity of the king is a deciding factor of yet another endgame position!

47.f4 Re7 48.Rc5 Re3  48...Re2+ 49.Kf3 Rb2 50.Rxa5 Rxb3 -+ Black's active king and more advanced passed pawn will eventually win the game.

49.Kh3 Kd4 50.Rxa5 Re7!

BD_10663_132_5.pngDiagram #6

Black calmly retreats to protect his kingside pawns and even horizontally stop the White passed pawn in the future, because there's nothing White can do to prevent Black's king from taking out the b3-pawn. What a concept! Pavel displays great resourcefulness til the end of the game.

51.Rb5 Kc3 52.a5 Ra7 53.f5 Kxb3 and the rest was easy, only because his pieces king & rook are in the right places

54.a6 Rxa6 55.Rb7 Ka3 56.Rxg7 b3 57.Rb7 b2 58.g4 Ra4 and White resigned.

Just like the winner of Event A, Pavel fought to win each game in Event B. He won four, lost one, and played fighting draws. Surely after this event, Pavel is a player to watch out for in future super-GM tournaments for his skill and fighting spirit!


Pavel Eljanov- a worthy winner of Shamkir Memorial Event B.

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