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Who Won Recently? Yuriy Kuzubov

Sep 7, 2014
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Hi everyone! I'm back with a new series dedicated to strong tournament winners. Every month I will select one or two tournaments and feature an instructive game by the Champion.

I know you're probably expecting to see a super-Caruana-game examined (which I will definitely do after this one), but I'd like to invite you to stop and appreciate another impressive win by a solid player in a very tough tournament.


At the end of last month, the 2014 Abu Dhabi Chess International Masters Tournament that fielded 34 GMs, 14 of whom were super-GMs, was clinched by Ukraine's Yuriy Kuzubov. The top-boards situation were close from start to finish, and in the last round Kuzubov was half a point behind one of the leaders India's young super-talent Santosh Vidit.


Kuzubov, Y. - Vidit, S. 1-0

21st Abu Dhabi Masters 2014 2014.08.28

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 the Alapin Variation of the Slav Defence

6.Nh4 Bc8 ( the other common continuation here is e6 7.Nxf5 exf5 8.e3 Bb4 9.Bxc4 O-O 10.O-O Nbd7 leading to dynamically balanced positions.)

7.e3 ( 7.Nf3 Bf5 8.Nh4 Bc8 9.Nf3 some GMs make the repetition here, which Vidit ofcourse welcomed due to his better tournament situation.)

7... e5 8.Bxc4 exd4 9.exd4 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.Re1 Nd5 12.Nf3 Be6 13.Qb3 ( Moving the knight towards the center now doesn't give White anything special 13.Ne5 Nd7! 14.Bxd5 ( 14.Nxd7 ( 14.Nxd5 cxd5)14... Qxd7)14... cxd5 because it only leads to simplification, thus reducing White's pressure.)

13... Na6 If Black only needs a draw, he should considering playing13... Qb6!? 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.Bxd5 Qxb3 16.Bxb3 Bxb3 17.Rxe7 Bd5 and my good friend, well-known trainer Melik Khachiyan has comfortably drawn this position two times in practice. 18.Be3 Nc6 ( Na6!? ) 19.Rxb7 Nxd4 20.Rd7 Nxf3+ 21.gxf3 Bc6 22.Rc7 Rfc8 23.Rxc8+ Rxc8 24.Bxa7 Ra8 25.Rc1 Bxa4 and Black eventually drew Gareev,T 2676 -Khachiyan,M 2508 ICC INT 2013. Overall White's edge here is symbolic, and Black should draw by playing solid moves.


Santosh Gujrathi Vidit

14.Bd2 ( White doesn't get an advantage by taking b7 14.Qxb7 Nab4! and Black has at least a draw here, because White's queen cannot avoid a perpetual attack. 15.Ne5 Rb8 16.Qxa7 Ra8 17.Qb7 Rb8 = )

14... Nab4 ( protecting b7 with the rook, allows White to favorably change the nature of the position14... Rb8 15.Bxd5! 15... Bxd5 16.Nxd5 cxd5 17.Rac1 +/-

BD_10663_195_0.pngDiagram #1

Here, although pieces were exchanged White is better due to his better placed pieces, good squares e5/c5 , and weaknesses that he can easily attack d5 & even Black's kingside!.17... Nc7)

15.Ne4 so far, the moves have all been played before.

15... a5 ( In the battle between heavyweights, Black played15... Bf5 16.Ne5 a5 17.Nc5 Bxc5 18.dxc5 Qc7 and here White could've transferred his knight to a strong square with 19.Bxd5 ( 19.Bxb4 Nxb4 1/2-1/2 45 Carlsen,M 2801-Nakamura,H 2715 London 2009)19... Nxd5 20.Nc4!

BD_10663_195_1.pngDiagram #2

20... Bg6 21.Bc3! +/- with a clear advantage owing to his more active pieces and weaknesses on a5 & d6.)

16.Nc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Bf5 ( Previously played here in an online game was Qf6 18.h3 h6 19.Re5 Rad8 20.Rae1 and White retained strong pressure in 56 Myers, D 2406-Knap,J 2152 2004)

18.Rac1 preventing Nc2

18... Qc7 19.Ne5 Rfe8 Now White decides it's time to play a few forcing moves to increase his edge.

20.Bxb4! Rxe5 the best reply.

(20... axb4 (20... Nxb4?? 21.Bxf7+) 21.Nf3 and Black will lose his weak b4-pawn.)

21.Rxe5 Qxe5 22.Re1 Qc7 23.Bc3 Qd7

BD_10663_195_2.pngDiagram #3

White to play


Black just played a natural-looking move defending his N on d5 and the e8-square. The puzzle above looks like it requires a positional move, but Kuzubov's eye for detail and tactical alertness enabled him to find the best solution:

A more solid and accurate defense was Be6 24.Be5 Qe7 25.Qg3! 25... f6 26.Bd4 and White keeps a dominating position.


Taking a pawn to divert the a8-rook from controlling Black's back rank.

24... Nf4

a player of Vidit's calibre ofcourse realized that he missed a tactic, and rightly avoids giving White a forcing way to win.

( For instance,24... Rxa5 25.Bxd5 cxd5 26.c6!

BD_10663_195_3.pngDiagram #4

This blow opens up more lines of attack: 26... Qxc6 27.Qxb7 Bd7 ( Qxb7 28.Re8#) 28.Qb8+ Bc8 29.Qb6 +- ( or 29.Qc7))

25.Qg3! even after winning a pawn, White plays accurately to convert his advantage. His last move drives away the active N and eliminates any Black counterplay.


25... Rxa5 (25... Nd5 26.Bd2 and Black cannot take back the pawn26... Rxa4?? 27.Qb8+ Qc8 28.Qxc8+ Bxc8 29.Re8#)

26.Qxf4 h6 now Black's king is safe from any back rank mates, unfortunately it 's too late to save his position.

27.h3 creating a breather for his king to activate his rook in the future.

27... Kh7 ( He still cannot take back any pawns27... Rxc5 (27... Rxa4 28.Bxf7+ Qxf7 29.Qxa4 +- ) 28.b4 traps the rook!)

28.g4 Bg6

BD_10663_195_4.pngDiagram #5

Can you find the best way to "win the won position?


( Be6 29.Bxe6 fxe6 30.Qb4! an important in-between move aka zwischenzug to worsen the enemy rook's position, before checking on e430... Ra8 31.Qe4+ Kg8 32.b3! +- and White is winning because White is better materially & positionally and Black doesn't have counterplay.)


seeing that White will win almost all endings here, he forces Black to worsen his queen's placement.

29... Qc8 (29... Qxd6 30.cxd6 Ra8 31.d7 Rd8 32.Re7 f6 33.f4 +- )

30.b3! incarcerates the Black rook. Notice how each of Black's is badly placed and suffocated.

30... h5 31.f3 hxg4 ( Ra8 32.Re7! +- tying down the Black queen on b7, among other threats.)

32.hxg4 b5 33.cxb6 Black decided he's had enough, and resigned in this hopeless position.

Great play from Yuriy Kuzubov who obtained a slight edge in the opening, maintained it in the middlegame and later took advantage of his opponent's oversight. Consequently, he parried all of Vidit's attempt for counterplay and effectively pushed back all of his pieces, leaving him nothing to play and forcing resignation.

In a post-event interview, Kuzubov said that it's difficult to play for the win in the last round (especially against a strong player like Vidit!), and was "lucky." However, Kuzubov was a well-deserved winner of this strong event for his never-say-die attitude after losing in round 6, and winning a nice fighting game in the end.


Congrats to Yuriy Kuzubov for winning the 2014 Abu Dhabi International Masters!

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arunjchess 17:14 - 7 Sep 2014
Karthikeyan Murali's performance is worth mentioning, too. I thought he'd win the event :D
Inopov 23:37 - 7 Sep 2014
Indeed, congrats also to IM Karthikeyan for making his last GM norm in a convincing fashion!

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