'An Interesting Game from Legnica'

Tue, 2013-07-02 18:15 -- IM Max Illingworth
[Event "14th Euro Indiv 2013"]
[Site "Legnica POL"]
[Date "2013.05.13"]
[Round "8.47"]
[White "Nyzhnyk, I."]
[Black "Sebenik, M."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D19"]
[WhiteElo "2635"]
[BlackElo "2527"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "2013.05.05"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "POL"]
[Source "Mark Crowther"]
[SourceDate "2013.05.13"]

{In this week's post I will analyse a Grandmaster game in a main line of the
Slav Defence, played not even two months ago!} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4.
Nc3 dxc4 {With this move, Black isn't aiming to win a pawn, but rather is
releasing the central tension so he can develop his light-squared bishop
actively to f5. This is one of the main differences of the Slav compared to
the Queen's Gambit Declined, where the c8-bishop will often be a bit passive
in the opening.} 5. a4 {White prevents Black from protecting his extra pawn
with ...b5.} Bf5 {Black in turn stops White from having his cake and eating it
with e4 and Bxc4.} (5... e6 {would leave the c8-bishop without a good square
in the immediate future, though this move has also been quite trendy in
Grandmaster play.}) 6. e3 {I quite like this old approach which has always
been one of White's main tries for an edge against the Slav. It's known as the
Dutch Variation but I tend to call it the 'old main line'.} e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 {
Now the fight revolves around the e4-square - what concessions will White have
to make to get his beautiful centre with e4, if he chooses to do so at all?} 8.
O-O Nbd7 (8... O-O {is the correct continuation if Black wishes to play for a
win.}) 9. Qe2 {With this queen move White prepares the e4 break, but he might
also play Rd1 at some point to discourage an ...e5 or ...c5 break.} ({White
can more or less force a draw if he wants with} 9. Qb3 a5 10. Na2 Bd6 11. Qxb7
Rb8 12. Qa7 Ra8 13. Qb7 Rb8 {and so on. Black has a few alternatives on move 9
but they all give White an advantage with best play.}) 9... Bg4 ({Black can
also get out of the way of e4 with} 9... Bg6 {, but then} 10. e4 $1 Bxc3 (10...
O-O {is better, reaching a position that has occurred in thousands of games.})
11. bxc3 Nxe4 12. Ba3 {is a rather promising gambit. Black's king cannot
castle kingside but will not find safety in the centre or on the queenside,
while White's bishop pair and open files for his major pieces also count for
something.}) 10. h3 {There's no reason not to put the question to the bishop.}
Bh5 (10... Bxf3 11. Qxf3 O-O 12. Rd1 Rc8 13. e4 {gave White an advantage
because he has better control of the centre and the bishop pair. Meanwhile
Black struggled to gain any sort of counterplay in Gulko-Lakdawala, San Diego
2004.}) 11. Rd1 {It's very rare for a rook to be misplaced when on the same
file as the opponent's queen. In this case it makes it a lot harder for Black
to achieve a central break, and White may even think of e4 and d5 at some
point.} O-O 12. e4 Qe7 (12... Qc7 {was once Slav guru Sokolov's choice in this
position, but} 13. Bd3 $1 {with the threat of e5, Bxh7 and Ng5 is annoying:} h6
14. Bd2 Bxf3 15. Qxf3 e5 16. d5 {and White is slightly better - the d5-pawn is
stopping all of Black's dreams of activity.}) 13. g4 (13. e5 Nd5 14. Ne4 f5 $1
15. exf6 N7xf6 {is fine for Black, whose iron grip of d5 and counterplay on
the half open f-file makes the e6 weakness much more manageable.}) 13... Bg6
14. Bd3 {This is a standard move in this line to keep the e4-pawn guarded.}
Rac8 15. a5 $1 {This move is normally a good idea if White can achieve it, as
it stops Black fixing the b4-square as a weakness with ...a5. White wants to
gain as much space as possible to squeeze Black to death, but we should be
careful not to take so much territory that there aren't enough troops to cover
all the bases!} h6 16. a6 (16. Bf4 {is another possibility to stop ...e5
happening, but a6 does soften Black up on the light squares.}) 16... b5 17. Bf4
Nh7 $1 {This clever move, with the idea of ...Ng5, is in keeping with the rule
of thumb that one should try to exchange pieces to relieve a space
disadvantage.} 18. Bg3 (18. Qe3 {would stop ...Ng5 and keep a pull, again
because of the centre.}) 18... Ng5 19. Nxg5 hxg5 20. Rac1 $6 {After this
overly patient move Black is able to coordinate himself.} (20. d5 $1 {was very
strong here, for example:} Nc5 (20... exd5 21. exd5 Bxd3 22. Qxd3 Nc5 23. Qf5 {
is much better for White as Black can't keep all his vulnerable pawns defended.
}) 21. dxc6 {(grabbing a pawn can't be bad)} Bxc3 22. bxc3 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 e5 24.
Qxb5 Bxe4 25. Qb4 Qxb4 26. cxb4 Rxc6 27. Bxe5 {and White has decent winning
chances due to the presence of rooks in this opposite-coloured bishops
position.}) 20... Nb6 21. Na2 (21. d5 exd5 22. exd5 Qxe2 23. Bxe2 Bxc3 24. Rxc3
Rfe8 25. Bf3 Nxd5 26. Bxd5 cxd5 27. Rxd5 {simplifies the game towards a draw.})
21... Rfd8 {The computer likes this move but I don't trust Black's position
since he ends up with lots of dark-squared holes once the b4-bishop is traded.}
(21... Bd6 22. Bxd6 Qxd6 23. e5 Bxd3 24. Qxd3 Qd8 {is fine for Black - the
isolated d4 and c6 pawns balance each other out.}) 22. Qe3 ({A pawn sacrifice
with} 22. Nxb4 Qxb4 23. f3 {would have been my preference. Then} Na4 24. Rd2
Rxd4 25. Be1 {is better for White in my view.}) 22... Ba5 {The bishop looks
awkward here but White has no way to exploit its unusual positioning, and
meanwhile Black can play ...Nd7 and ...Bb6 to exert overt pressure on d4.} 23.
Be2 $6 {This move affords Black the opportunity to crank up the pressure on
White's centre, which is being held up very well by the c6 and e6 pawns!} (23.
Rc2 Nd7 24. Qc1 {would retain approximate equality.}) 23... f6 $6 (23... Na4
24. Rb1 e5 $1 {is a very neat tactic, which isn't easy to see if you aren't
looking for it! But} 25. Bxe5 f6 26. Bg3 Qxe4 27. Bd3 Qxe3 28. fxe3 Bxd3 29.
Rxd3 {should still be tenable for White.}) (23... Nd7 {to prepare ...Bb6 might
be even better - at least I haven't found a way to completely nullify Black's
pressure.}) 24. h4 $1 {White needs to get moving on the kingside as his centre
is becoming a bit creaky. Undoubling Black's pawns is not a problem as the
doubled pawns were doing a good job of restricting White's kingside pawns.}
gxh4 25. Bxh4 Na4 26. b4 $1 {This pawn sacrifice is well timed.} Bb6 (26...
Bxb4 27. Nxb4 Qxb4 28. e5 {leads to some suffering for Black on the dark
squares - definitely not worth a pawn!}) 27. e5 Qf7 28. Nc3 {The position
should still be equal, but the players were probably a bit short of time
already, so anything can happen.} Nxc3 ({Only a computer could play a move like
} 28... Nb2 $5 {!}) (28... fxe5 $1 29. Bxd8 Rxd8 {appears stronger though,
giving up the exchange but turning the b6-bishop into a monster. Then} 30. Nxa4
bxa4 (30... exd4 $5) 31. Qxe5 Bc7 32. Qg5 Rf8 33. Qh4 Bd8 34. Qg3 Bc7 35. Qh4
Bd8 {will be a draw by repetition as White's queen is tied to the defence of
the f2-pawn, and attempts by either side to avoid the repetition will backfire.
}) 29. Rxc3 {Now White should have something as he's kept his centre under
control and it's not easy to hold the c6-pawn.} Rd5 $5 {Black threatens the
cheap ...Rxe5.} (29... Rf8 {was another possibility, but after} 30. exf6 gxf6
31. Bf3 {I still slightly prefer White's position.}) 30. Bf3 (30. exf6 gxf6 31.
Bf3 {is not bad either, ensuring Black doesn't have a pawn on e5 to take! Then}
Rdd8 32. Qf4 Kg7 33. Kg2 {indeed looks extremely strong for White, as Black
cannot defend c6 and his king simultaneously.}) 30... Rxe5 31. Qf4 Rd5 32. Bxd5
exd5 33. Bg3 {White has a clear advantage in this position as Black's
light-squared bishop isn't doing anything special and Black's extra pawn for
the exchange is the weakling on c6.} Be4 $6 (33... Qd7 {followed by ...Bc7 is
a more tenacious defence, ridding Black of his passive dark-squared bishop.})
34. Qc1 Qe7 35. Rxc6 $1 {The upcoming sequence has been very well calculated
by the young Ukranian.} Rxc6 36. Qxc6 Qxb4 37. Qe8+ Kh7 (37... Qf8 38. Qe6+ Qf7
39. Qc8+ Qf8 40. Rc1 {should also win for White, especially as} Qxc8 41. Rxc8+
Kf7 42. Bd6 $1 {stops the passed b-pawn in its tracks.}) 38. Qh5+ Kg8 39. Rc1
Qf8 40. Bd6 $1 {A nice move to make the time control with!} Qd8 (40... Qxd6 41.
Rc8+ Bd8 42. Qe8+ Kh7 43. Rxd8 {is game over.}) 41. Bc5 Qc7 (41... Bc7 42. Bxa7
{is also winning for White - his passed a-pawn is about to make a home run!})
42. Qe8+ Kh7 43. Ba3 {Black resigned. I hope you enjoyed the game and my
analysis!} 1-0