How to Play Dynamic Middlegame Positions
Early this month, the recent Capablanca Memorial super-tournament was held in La Havana, Cuba and it featured elite players such as Ivanchuk, Dominguez, So, Almasi, Vallejo Pons, and Bruzon Batista. In the end, it was #1 Filipino player Wesley So who emerged victorious, not losing any games and performing at a 2826 level! In this blog, I will feature one of his wins in which he displayed effective dynamic piece play and a great ability to develop an initiative, placing his opponent under constant pressure in a complicated middlegame.
Almasi, Z. (2693) - So, W. (2731)
49th Capablanca Elite 2014 2014.05.12
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7
this is known as the Poisoned Pawn variation of the French Winawer, which can lead to double-egded positions like ones arising from the Botvinnik variation of the Semi-Slav.
8... Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 d4 13.Ng3 Bd7 14.Be2
Here's another recent top-level game in this sharp line: 14.Rb1 O-O-O 15.Be2 Kb8 ( Nf5!? 16.Nxf5 exf5 17.O-O Be6 gives Black better chances of counterplay.) 16.O-O Bc8 17.Ne4 Nf5 18.a4 Ka8 19.Bf3 Nh4 20.Ba3 Qa5 21.Bd6 Nxf3+ 22.Qxf3 b6 23.Bc7 Bb7 24.Bxd8 Nxd8 25.Rf2 Qxa4 26.Qd3 Qc6 27.Re1 Qd5 28.Ree2 Rh8 29.Nf6 Qc5 30.Re1 Nc6 31.Rd1 a5 32.Ne4 Qd5 33.Nd6 f5 34.Rb1 Nb4 35.Qg3 d3 36.cxd3 c2 37.Rc1 Nxd3 38.Rfxc2 Nxc1 39.Rxc1 Qd2 40.Rf1 Bd5 41.h3 a4 42.Kh2 Qb2 43.Rd1 Bc6 44.Rd3 Rb8 45.Rc3 Bd5 46.Rc7 Qd2 47.Nb5 Rh8 48.Ra7+ Kb8 49.Rxa4 Qe2 50.Nd6 Qc2 51.Ra3 Qc5 52.Ra1 Qd4 53.Rc1 Qd2 54.Rb1 Bxg2 55.Qxg2 Qxf4+ 56.Kh1 Rh7 57.Qg8+ Kc7 58.Qxh7+ Kc6 59.Qb7+ 1-0 Karjakin,S 2756 -Nepomniachtchi,I 2721/ Beijing CHN 2013)
14... O-O-O 15.O-O Nf5!
This is the best way to create pressure against White's position as eliminates White's blockade on the g-file and allows the c6-knight & d7-bishop to go to better squares.
16.Ne4 ( 16.Nxf5 exf5 17.Bf3 Be6)
16... Nce7 17.Nf6 Rg6 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 19.Bf3 Nd5 20.Rb1 Kb8 21.Be4 Rg8
Wesley's superb preparation has given him a good complex middlegame out of the opening.
22.a4 Qc6!? the beginning of an interesting and effective queen manuever. I like this idea a lot because it improves the worst-placed piece and maximizes the queen's potential.
Another possible way to continue was Nfe3 which could allow White to simplify the position a little bit. 23.Bxe3 dxe3 24.Qb5 ~~ but it may be Black who has to be more accurately or carefully due to his long-term weaknesses on e3 & c3.
23.a5 Qa4! 24.a6 b6 25.Rb3 Nde3 26.Ra3 Qb4 27.Rb3 Qa4 28.Ra3 Qb4 29.Rb3 Qe7!
Black rejects the 2-move repetition and reveals his intention in this complex middlegame. Black intends to bring his queen to the kingside next move.
If 30.Rf2 Qh4! and if White tries to exchange off Black's attacking pieces now, 31.Bxf5
What will you play here as Black?
Having 3 pieces near the enemy king is normally a prerequisite for a successful attack: 31... Rxg2+ 32.Rxg2 Qe1+ 33.Qf1 Qxf1#.
Back to the game:
30... dxe3 31.Qxc3 e2 this move has to be carefully thought out as it can either fall into White's hands or wreak havoc in White's position because it opens up promotion-related tactical motifs!
32.Re1 Rd1 33.Bxf5
If 33.Rb1 Rc8 34.Qf3 Rxb1 35.Rxb1 Qb4!! 36.Rxb4 e1=Q+ 37.Qf1 Qxb4 -+.
33... Rc8 34.Qg3
A more stubborn defensive, but difficult move to find was 34.Qe3! making counter-threats and preventing the Black queen from joining the attack via c5, but ofcourse it has to be worked out tactically. Here's some critical analysis to portray the dynamic ideas for both sides:
34... Rxe1+ 35.Kf2
35... Qd8! simultaneously protecting b6 and the rook on e1 with the help of tactics! (35... Rd1?! (35... Qh4+ 36.g3! ( 36.Qg3? 36... Qxg3+ 37.hxg3 Rc1 38.Kxe2 exf5 -+ )36... Qxh2+ 37.Kxe1 Qh1+ 38.Kxe2 exf5 39.Rc3 Qg2+ 40.Kd1 Qf1+ 41.Kd2 Qxa6 = ) 36.Kxe2 ( 36.Rxb6+? is not yet ready due to36... axb6 37.Qxb6+ Ka8 38.Be4+ Rd5! defends, and Black is a rook up for nothing.)36... Rd5 37.Be4! and White has strong compensation for the exchange because of his safer king/ insecure Black king, and passed pawns on the kingside.) 36.Bd3 ( 36.Rd3 ( 36.Kxe1 Qd1+ 37.Kf2 Qf1+ 38.Kg3 e1=Q+ -+ )36... Qh4+ 37.g3 ( 37.Qg3 Rc1 38.Kxe2 Qxg3 39.Rxg3 exf5)37... Qxh2+ 38.Kxe1 Qh1+ 39.Kxe2 Rxc2+ 40.Rd2 Qg2+ 41.Kd1 Qxd2+ 42.Qxd2 Rxd2+ 43.Kxd2 exf5
with a winning king ending because Black has a better pawn structure e.g. 44.Ke3 ( 44.Kd3 Kc7 45.Kd4 Kc6 46.Kc4 b5+)44... Kc7 45.Kf3 Kd7 46.g4 fxg4+ 47.Kxg4 Ke6 48.Kf3 Kf5 49.Ke3 b5 50.Kf3 b4 51.Ke3 b3 and the passed b-pawn wins the game for Black!)36... Rh1 37.Bxe2 ( 37.Kxe2 Rxh2 -/+ )37... Rxh2 -/+. In conclusion, Black can still obtain better chances with accurate play.
Back to the game:
34... Qc5+ 35.Kh1 exf5
The passed pawn on e2 is now White's nightmare.
36.Rb1 Qd5! making the simple threat of elimating the enemy defenders of the 8th rank. Notice that improving a placement of a piece can help a side in creating threats and give the enemy more problems.
If 37.Kg1 Rd8 38.h3 Rxb1 39.Rxb1 Qd1+ 40.Qe1 Qxb1 41.Qxb1 Rd1+ -+.
37... Rd8 38.Kh2 Qe4 39.Qh4 R8d7 40.Rb3 Rxe1 41.Qh8+ ( 41.Qxe1 Rd1 -+ )
41... Kc7 42.Rc3+ Qc6
only move and a winning move!
43.Rxc6+ Kxc6 44.Qc8+ ( 44.Qa8+ Kb5! ( Kc5 45.Qc8+ Kb4 46.Qxd7 Rd1 47.Qxa7! and the game will most probably end in a draw because of various perpetual check possibilities.) 45.Qf3 Rh1+! 46.Kxh1 e1=Q+ -+ )
44... Rc7 45.Qa8+ Kc5 46.Qb8 Rc6 47.Qxa7 Rd1 a calm and effective winning move
47...Rh1+ 48.Kxh1 e1=Q+ 49.Kh2 is almost winning for Black but it's not necessary to give up a rook and give White some chances to resist.
White will eventually run out of checks and cannot stop Black from queening his e-pawn, so he resigned.
For example, if 49.c4+ Kxa6 50.Qa3+ Kb7 51.Qe7+ Rc7.
A great fighting game by the eventual Capablanca Memorial champion!