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76th Tata Steel Chess Tournament

Jan 11, 2014
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Caruana, Fabiano - Gelfand, Boris 1-0

76th Tata Steel Chess Masters 2014.01.11

During the entire Tata Steel Chess Tournament, Chessity will present you with a daily 'game of the day'. Today we show you Fabiano Caruana's swift victory over Boris Gelfand. It was Caruana's creative play in the opening and early middle game that made a great impression.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

Though Gelfand has been primarily adopting the Sveshnikov variation ever since his 2012 World Championship match against Vishy Anand, the Najdorf has been one of the main pillars of his opening repertoire during his entire career.


BD_60_20_0.pngDiagram #1

( Since Gelfand likes to meet 6.Be3 with6... Ng4 -see for instance his exemplary game against Nakamura in the latest Paris Grand-Prix- Caruana cleverly sidesteps this variation by first pushing his f-pawn before developing his bishop to e3.)

6... e5 ( Transposing back in the main lines of the English Attack. If Black were to try to take advantage of White's move order then a move like6... Qb6 would spring to mind.)

7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 h5!?

BD_60_20_1.pngDiagram #2

Modern chess! 15 years ago this move was hardly taken serious, but it can now safely be considered the main line. At the top level it has overtaken both natural developing moves 8... Nbd7 and 8...Be7. Black rigorously stops the advance of White's g-pawn before continuing his development.


Forcing Black's next move, otherwise White would fortify the knight further by playing c2-c4.

9... Bxd5 10.exd5 Nbd7 11.Qd2 g6 12.Be2!

BD_60_20_2.pngDiagram #3

( Why place an exclamation mark behind this natural developing move? Because of the concept behind it! Previously players had primarily played 12.O-O-O here, but after12... Nb6 13.Qa5 ( 13.c4?!

BD_60_20_3.pngDiagram #4

13... Rc8 is awkward with the king on c1)13... Bh6! 14.Bxh6 Rxh6 15.Kb1 Kf8 having exchanged black-sqaures bishops, and with the king finding a safe spot on g7, Black has an adequate position. For the interested reader I would recommend the game Anand-Topalov, Wijk aan Zee! 2008, which was won by Anand but not because of the opening. With the move played, Caruana embarks on a completely different plan of castling short.)

12... Bg7 13.O-O O-O 14.Rac1!?

BD_60_20_4.pngDiagram #5

( Only now the game enters unknown territory. The immideate 14.c4 runs into ( 14.Na5 is the main move in the position, intending to expand on the queenside with c2-c4, b2-b4 etc. I am no expert in this particular variation but I have no doubt Caruana studied this position extensively.)14... a5! when, just to show the idea, 15.a4?!

BD_60_20_5.pngDiagram #6

15... b6 followed by Nc5, allows Black a total blockade on the black squares.)

14... b6 ( A natural waiting move,14... e4 looks a bit premature after (14... Re8 15.Na5! is a better version of the plan mentioned above. The inclusion of the moves Rac2 and Re8 favours White, as the rook will be excellently placed once White starts pushing his queenside pawns.) 15.f4 Ng4 16.Bxg4 hxg4 17.Nd4 while)

15.h3 Re8

BD_60_20_6.pngDiagram #7


Starting an attack out of the blue.

16... hxg4 17.hxg4 Nh7?!

BD_60_20_8.pngDiagram #8

( Slightly hesitant I give this move a dubious mark. It's early to draw conclusions so quickly after the game but I haven't been able to refute Nc5

BD_60_20_9.pngDiagram #9

18.Nxc5 ( 18.Kg2 intends to give mate over the h-file but after18... Qd7! 19.Rh1 e4! Black's counterplay seems to be just in time. For instance 20.Bh6 exf3+ ( Bh8 may be perfectly acceptable too) 21.Bxf3 Nxg4 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qf4 Ne3+ 24.Kg1 Qf5 and here it is rather White that has to force the draw with 25.Qh6+ Kf6 26.Rh5 Qxf3 27.Qg5+ = )18... bxc5 (18... dxc5 19.c4 gives White a free hand.) 19.Kg2 Qd7 when Black wants to get counterplay connected with .. .e4. I could be completely wrong of course, but perhaps Caruana intended to continue extravagantly with 20.Kg3!? here. But even so20... Rab8 (20... e4 can be calmly met with 21.f4 as g4 is protected.) 21.b3 Rb4 intending Rxg4! 22.c4 a5 23.Rh1 a4! seems to give Black counterplay. It would be interesting to know what Fabiano had in store here. I would also encourage our readers to find improvents and leave them in the comments!)


BD_60_20_10.pngDiagram #10

Marking White's advantage. Black's knights are lacking squares.

18... f5 ( In the pre-computer era18... e4 ( It is difficult to come up with an alternative though, as the concrete18... Bf8 leads nowhere after 19.Rf2 Be7 20.Rg2 . Black is tied up and in the game Gelfand tries to free his position somewhat. It does weaken his structure considerably though.) 19.f4 Bxb2 would be dismissed as 'dangerous for Black' but nowadays everything has to be proven. So there we go! 20.Rb1 ( 20.Bd4 Bxc1 21.Qxc1 does give White a strong diagonal but after21... f6 Black is confidently defending and probably just winning.)20... Bg7 21.Nd4 taking full advantage of Black's central push by planting the knight on c621... b5 22.Nc6 Qc7 and here I like 23.c4! a lot, starting a queenside initative. White has excellent compensation for the pawn.)

19.gxf6 Bxf6 ( Perhaps Nhxf6 was preferable, hoping to hold out with 20.Rf2 Nf8 21.Rg2 though it's clear White is holding all the straws.)


A nice little manouevre, bringing in the rook to charge the g6-pawn.

20... Bg5 (20... Ng5 is the computer-suggestion but it looks rather silly after the simple 21.Rg2 Nh3+ 22.Kf1 with ongoing problems on the g-file and white squares.)

21.Rg2 Bxe3+ 22.Qxe3 Ndf8 23.Bd3 Ra7 24.Rf1 ( Another instructive moment. Instead of being greedy with 24.Bxg6 ( 24.Qh6 Rg7 25.Nd2! could be even stronger. There is little black can do to oppose White's increasing pressure.)24... Nxg6 25.Rxg6+ Rg7 which gives Black very reasonable surviving chances, White simply keeps the pressure on. Though the somewhat mystifying rookmove worked out perfectly well during the game it seems to me the direct)

24... Rf7?!

BD_60_20_11.pngDiagram #11

(24... Nf6 25.f4 Rh7! is the surprising defence that made me prefer 24. Qh6 on the previous move. It should be said though that White's advantage after for instance 26.fxe5 ( 26.f5 Rh4!! is the idea, and now both 27.Qg5 ( and 27.fxg6 Nxd5! which is possible now Bc4 is no longer in the air.)27... Rh5 28.Qg3 g5 29.Be2 g4 30.Bxg4 Rg5 31.Qh4 N8h7 are not clear.)26... Rxe5 27.Qg3 is still beyond doubt.)

25.Qh6 Kh8 26.Nd2!

BD_60_20_12.pngDiagram #12

( Again, the greedy 26.Bxg6 Nxg6 27.Qxg6 Ree7 is not nearly as strong as the game continuation. All White's pieces will be invited to join the party.)

26... Rf4 27.Rg4 b5 28.Ne4

BD_60_20_13.pngDiagram #13

White's position is an example of how harmony looks like.

28... Nd7?

BD_60_20_14.pngDiagram #14

( This speeds up the end considerable. Black could still put up a fight with28... Re7 .)

29.Rxg6 Rg8 30.Ng5!

BD_60_20_15.pngDiagram #15

and Gelfand resigned. He has to give up heavy material in order to prevent mate. A great start for Caruana!

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davidkaufmann17 21:25 - 11 Jan 2014
Very nice analysis! Thank you so much to Chessity and his team for all what you are doing for the chess world! :)

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