October Blog entry

Tue, 2015-10-13 07:45 -- IM Max Illingworth
[Event "FIDE World Cup"]
[Site "Baku"]
[Date "2015.10.03"]
[Round "7.3"]
[White "Svidler, Peter"]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B53"]
[WhiteElo "2727"]
[BlackElo "2762"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2015.09.11"]
[EventRounds "7"]
[EventCountry "AZE"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2015.10.10"]

{How to Win on Demand Every competitive player eventually finds themselves in
a tournament situation where they need to win their game to achieve first
place or some prize in the tournament (so a draw would not be a suitable
result in terms of risk/reward). The question is, how should you adapt your
play to the circumstances? 1) Don't allow simplifications unless there is no
good alternative. Generally speaking, there are more chances for your opponent
to overlook something when there are more pieces on the board, and when there
is more piece tension in the position. Our worst-case scenario as the player
needing to win is for the opponent to be pressing with a risk-free advantage
in the endgame. Of course, every piece exchange doesn't automatically bring
the opponent closer to a draw and you shouldn't reject the transition to a
favourable endgame in fear that the opponent may be able to draw it. In this
game, Svidler only needed a draw to win the whole World Cup, whereas Karjakin
needed to win the next two games of the match to even make a playoff. Actually,
this is just what he did and he even went on to win the playoff and the entire
World Cup. Well, one should never give up, no matter how bleak the situation
looks!} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 {Svidler opts for this sideline 
(known as the 'Hungarian Variation') to steer play toward a simpler position.}
({The Najdorf, with} 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {was probably Karjakin's intention.
This is a good choice for a must-win game as it both leads to dynamic, tense
positions and is an opening Karjakin is extremely familiar with. In general I
recommend against playing an opening you lack any experience with for a
must-win game.}) 4... a6 (4... Nc6 5. Bb5 {allows White to keep his queen
actively posted in the centre, so Karjakin takes a move to prevent this
pinning response to ...Nc6.}) 5. c4 Nc6 6. Qe3 Nf6 7. h3 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Be2 {
This Maroczy Bind formation is extremely solid for White and admittedly it is
very hard to get winning chances against a strong player employing this system.
However in this version White at least wasted a bit of time moving the queen
around, and Karjakin finds a way to unbalance the position.} Nd7 {This is an
absolutely normal manoeuvre for this opening, fighting for control of the dark
squares that were slightly exposed by playing both c4 and e4 (hint: White
needs to watch out for the d4 square).} 10. Rb1 Nde5 11. O-O O-O (11... Nxf3+
12. Bxf3 Nd4 {to occupy the outpost may look tempting, but after} 13. Rd1 Nxf3+
14. Qxf3 {all Black did was lose time and exchange White's worst minor piece 
(the light-squared bishop tends to be a purely defensive piece in this
structure and Black dreams of getting a knight on d4 against a light-squared
bishop, with no other minor pieces on the board).}) 12. Rd1 {Played to cover
the d4 square, and also consider a c5 break to exploit the d-file pin.} Nxf3+
13. Bxf3 f5 $1 {If Black doesn't undermine White's centre, he will find
himself playing purely for a draw. As it happens this is also the best move.} (
13... Be6 14. b3 Qa5 15. Bb2 {would be too passive for Black, especially in
the tournament situation.}) 14. exf5 {White correctly releases the tension, as
otherwise Black would take claim of all the dark squares with ...f4 and ...Nd4
or ...Ne5, such as after} (14. c5 f4 15. Qe2 Kh8 $1 {followed by ...Nd4.} ({
Don't forget about tactics:} 15... Nd4 $2 16. Rxd4 Bxd4 17. Qc4+)) 14... Bxf5
15. Be4 Qd7 {There's no need to hurry with trading on e4, as if White captures
on f5 he activates Black's queen after the recapture.} 16. Nd5 {This is a good
square for the knight, especially since Nb6 is a threat, but consolidating the
position with} (16. f3 {was also possible. White's pawn structure is a little
better because the hanging pawns on e7 and d6 are both on half open files and
unable to defend each other, so he can afford to bide his time in such a
position.}) 16... Qe6 17. Bxf5 {Sometimes the opponent, when they only need a
draw, will more readily make exchanges to try and get closer to their goal,
although there's nothing at all wrong with the trade here.} (17. Re1 {to keep
the tension was the alternative, and probably what I would play. I guess
Svidler wanted to avoid even allowing moves such as} Bd4 $2 {, but it fails to}
18. Bxf5 $1 Qxf5 19. Nxe7+ Nxe7 20. Qxd4 Qxb1 21. Bd2 Qf5 22. Bc3 {and
although White is a rook down, the threat of checkmate on g7 forces Black to
return the material and bail out into an inferior endgame after} Qxf2+ 23. Qxf2
Rxf2 24. Kxf2 Kf7 {. This is a good example of the sort of position where you
have virtually no winning chances as Black, except maybe in blitz where you
can hope the opponent misses a knight fork. Another lesson from this variation
is to not stop your analysis too early - while there are forcing options 
(checks/captures/threatening moves) in a position, extend your analysis until
you come to a 'settled' position with no immediate tactics, like this one.})
17... Qxf5 18. Bd2 Rae8 19. Bc3 {If White can bring his rooks to d1 and e1, he
will have the 'dream' of a small and risk-free advantage, so it is essential
to change the position somehow, and Black uses the fact that his rook is lined
up against White's queen to play a little trick.} e6 20. Nb6 d5 $1 {The point
is that now cxd5 exd5 discovers an attack on the White queen and is simply bad
for the first player. Also, from a psychological perspective it can be hard
for the opponent to adjust to such a sudden transformation in the position 
(especially if it comes as a surprise).} 21. Bxg7 {...d4 was a threat, so this
move can be played very quickly.} (21. cxd5 exd5) 21... Kxg7 22. Qc5 $1 {This
is a good move under the circumstances as if White can get the queens off it
will be very hard for Black to spice up the position again.} (22. Qd2 {is fine
as well, but would allow Black some activity with} d4 23. b4 e5 {and Black has
mobilised his centre, and the competing majorities and their advance greatly
increases the chance of a decisive result.}) 22... Rf6 {Karjakin is forced to
complicate somehow given the must-win situation. Sometimes you're forced to
play moves that are objectively not the best in such a situation to keep
chances for yourself. For instance, the best move might lead to a drawish
position:} (22... d4 23. Qxf5 Rxf5 24. b4 {is very hard for Black to get any
winning chances from as the d4-pawn is blockaded and White's queenside
majority, being further away from the kings, gives him ample counterplay. And
if} e5 25. f3 {makes sure ...e4 will not be such a big issue as White just
takes.}) (22... dxc4 23. Qxf5 exf5 24. Nxc4 {would naturally make White very
happy as the position is almost totally symmetrical.}) 23. b4 Ne5 $1 {Karjakin
does a good job of keeping the position complex.} 24. cxd5 Nd3 25. Qe3 $1 {
Svidler continues playing well and not giving Black any chances.} Nxf2 {If you
aren't aware of the match situation you would think Karjakin just blundered at
this point, but of course a draw and a loss were effectively the same here so
he had to take a punt, and it was rewarded handsomely in the game.} (25...
Qxf2+ 26. Qxf2 Nxf2 27. Re1 {will lead to the liquidation of the d5 and e6
pawns, and the arising endgame is a very simple draw, especially for these
guys.}) 26. Rf1 Qe4 {Trying to confuse White.} 27. Rbe1 (27. Rfe1 $1 {is
winning according to the engine, based on the trick} exd5 28. Qxf2 $1 Rxf2 29.
Rxe4 Rxg2+ 30. Kxg2 dxe4 {winning White a piece, but White opts for a safer
route based on only needing a draw.}) 27... exd5 {Accepting a worse endgame
would admit defeat, so Karjakin tries one final move to try and trick his
opponent. If you have not seen the game already, I recommend you stop here for
a moment and try to find White's winning continuation.} 28. Rxf2 $2 {Svidler
hopes to execute a clever tactic with this move, but he overlooked an
important resource for his opponent.} (28. Qc3 $1 {wins very simply as after
the queen moves the rook on e8 will be hanging, and} Nxh3+ (28... Qd3 29. Qxd3
Nxd3 30. Rxe8 Rxb6 31. Re7+ Kh6 32. a3 {is easily winning for White, who will
play Rff7 next move and collect the h7 and b7 pawns.}) 29. gxh3 {does not
change anything as Black lacks a decent check.}) 28... Qh4 $1 ({Svidler's idea
was to have a nasty fork after} 28... Qxe3 29. Rxe3 Rxe3 30. Rxf6 Kxf6 ({Black
doesn't have time for an intermediate check:} 30... Re1+ 31. Rf1) 31. Nxd5+ {
winning the game.}) 29. Qd2 $4 {After this blunder it is all over. Rarely do
you see such a sudden turnaround from dead won to dead lost in a top GM game,
but of course the players had been playing virtually nonstop for close to a
month and the resulting fatigue will make blunders a lot more likely.} (29.
Qxe8 Qxf2+ 30. Kh2 Qxb6 31. Re7+ Kh6 32. Qd7 Qd6+ 33. Kg1 {was still a fairly
clear draw as Black's extra pawn is worthless in the rook endgame after} Qxd7
34. Rxd7 Rb6 35. a3 Rb5 36. Kf2 {as his rook and king are completely tied up
defending the pawns. This is a classic case of more active pieces compensating
a material deficit in a rook endgame.}) 29... Rxf2 30. Qc3+ (30. Qxf2 Rxe1+ {
using the X-Ray defence of the rook is no better.} 31. Qxe1 Qxe1+) 30... d4 {
White resigned - he had overlooked that on Qc7, Black can block with Rf7!} 0-1 
[Event "PokerStars Isle of Man International"]
[Site "chess24.com"]
[Date "2015.10.11"]
[Round "9.2"]
[White "Naiditsch, Arkadij"]
[Black "Fressinet, Laurent"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2682"]
[BlackElo "2702"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "56"]
[EventDate "2015.??.??"]
[Source "ChessPublishing"]
[SourceDate "2013.03.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Azerbaijan"]
[BlackTeam "France"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "AZE"]
[BlackTeamCountry "FRA"]
[WhiteClock "0:14:18"]
[BlackClock "0:12:16"]

{Of course, the situation is a bit different when your opponent is also needs
to win to be in contention for first place, and in this case a second game
strategy can also be considered: 2) Play solidly and consistently, waiting for
the opponent to weaken his position in an attempt to create winning chances
for himself, then pounce on it. For a while not a lot was happening in this
game, but once White weakened his queenside structure, it was all over very
fast.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {The super-solid Berlin may seem a
curious choice for a must-win game, but it proved quite successful in
frustrating White as we'll see.} 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nf5
8. Nf3 d5 9. d4 O-O {White has opted for literally the safest possible line
against the Berlin and looking at this symmetrical pawn structure, you might
wonder how on earth Black is supposed to win. However, there are still 30
pieces on the board and no immediate way to trade them all off, so anything
can happen!} 10. g3 (10. c3 Bd6 11. Bd3 {is the main line.}) 10... Be6 11. c3
Re8 12. Nbd2 Qd7 {Both sides are developing their pieces naturally, readying
themselves for a long manoeuvring game. Actually, a lot of players in must-win
games feel they have to flat-out attack their opponent to get winning chances,
but a long strategic battle can offer at least as good a chance to win.} 13.
Nb3 {I think the knight ends up a bit misplaced here and I would have put it
on f1, starting with} (13. Bd3) 13... f6 {Black puts paid to any ideas of Ng5
to win the bishop pair.} 14. Bd2 (14. Nc5 Bxc5 15. dxc5 {would win the bishop
pair, but gives up central control.}) 14... b6 $1 15. Bb5 Bf8 {Black's edge is
not so serious, but it is hard for White to find harmony in his piece
placement while Black can steadily improve his pieces, such as by putting his
knight on d6 and bishop on f5.} 16. Bf4 a6 {Kicking the bishop away, but it
also tempting to play} (16... Bd6 $1 17. Bxd6 Nxd6 18. Bd3 Bg4 {to activate
Black's pieces. Then the pin is actually quite annoying for White.}) 17. Bd3
Bd6 18. Qc2 {This is fine, but it's worth pointing out that after} (18. Bxd6
Nxd6 {the difference now compared to the 16...Bd6 variation is that White's
light-squared bishop is not under attack, so he has time to avoid the . ..Bg4
pin with} 19. Nh4) 18... g6 19. Bd2 (19. Bxd6 Nxd6 20. Nh4 {still looked
decent, to stop the ...Bf5 plan.}) 19... Nce7 20. a4 a5 21. Nc1 Ng7 {I really
like the way Black has reorganised his knights - now he is ready to play ...
Bf5, trading off White's good bishop for Black's less good bishop. The fixed
central pawns on d4 and d5 dictate which bishop each side would like to keep -
White wants to keep the light-squared bishops on the board, while Black would
much rather have only the dark-squared bishops remaining.} (21... c5 {would
probably be the choice of many players, to 'create winning chances', but after}
22. Bb5 Nc6 23. Nd3 Ng7 {(not the best move, but it illustrates White's major
idea)} 24. dxc5 bxc5 25. b4 $1 {White's position suddenly springs to life.
Note Black can't just take on b4 because of the pin to the knight.}) 22. b4 $2
{I think White saw that he was coming under a positional bind and wanted to
change the position to avoid that, but here this only serves to irrevocably
weaken White's position and make matters a lot worse.} (22. Ne2 Bg4 23. Nh4 {
is worse for White, sure, but certainly tenable with correct play.}) 22... Bg4
$1 {Suddenly it is quite hard for White to find a good square for his knight.}
(22... axb4 23. cxb4 Bg4 {is also possible, but Fressinet's move is more
accurate.}) 23. Nh4 {The knight is not great here, but other moves also have
their problems.} (23. Ne5 {would be a typical swindling try, changing the
position to try and throw Black, but it only exacerbates White's problems after
} fxe5 24. dxe5 Bxb4 25. cxb4 axb4 26. Bxb4 Ne6 {and it is very hard to stop
moves such as ...c5 and ...Ng5-f3.}) (23. Be2 Nc6 {threatens both b4 and ...
Rxe2 followed by ...Bxf3.}) 23... Nef5 (23... axb4 24. cxb4 Ne6 {was the
positional route, when White can't properly defend all of d4, b4 and a4, but
Black goes for the attack on White's king.}) 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Nxf5 Nxf5 {
Black has a big threat of ...Nh4 here, when if White takes, his king will be
mated with ...Bf3 followed by ...Qg4.} 26. bxa5 (26. Bf1 {stops the threat of .
..Nh4, but after} axb4 {Black is a pawn up for nothing, as taking on b4 hangs
the d4-pawn.}) 26... Nh4 $1 {Now it is completely over for White.} 27. Nb3 (27.
gxh4 Bf3 {threatens ...Qg4 mate, and} 28. Bf5 gxf5 {threatening ...Qg7 only
hastens the end.}) 27... Be2 $1 {A nice concluding trick.} 28. Bxe2 (28. gxh4
Qg4+ 29. Kh1 Bf3#) 28... Qh3 {White resigned as mate can't be stopped - if Bf1,
Nf3 and Qxh2 follow.} 0-1
[Event "World Championship 34th-KK4"]
[Site "Seville"]
[Date "1987.12.18"]
[Round "24"]
[White "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Black "Karpov, Anatoly"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A14"]
[WhiteElo "2740"]
[BlackElo "2700"]
[Annotator "Illingworth,Max"]
[PlyCount "127"]
[EventDate "1987.10.12"]
[EventRounds "24"]
[EventCountry "ESP"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

{As another example of how successful the manoeuvring approach can be in a
must-win situation, I want to share with you this game, where Kasparov needed
to win to retain his World Championship title (this was the final game of the
match). It has been annotated in various places already, so I've left it
without comments.} 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. b3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O b6
7. Bb2 Bb7 8. e3 Nbd7 9. Nc3 Ne4 10. Ne2 a5 11. d3 Bf6 12. Qc2 Bxb2 13. Qxb2
Nd6 14. cxd5 Bxd5 15. d4 c5 16. Rfd1 Rc8 17. Nf4 Bxf3 18. Bxf3 Qe7 19. Rac1
Rfd8 20. dxc5 Nxc5 21. b4 axb4 22. Qxb4 Qa7 23. a3 Nf5 24. Rb1 Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1
Qc7 26. Nd3 h6 27. Rc1 Ne7 28. Qb5 Nf5 29. a4 Nd6 30. Qb1 Qa7 31. Ne5 Nxa4 32.
Rxc8+ Nxc8 33. Qd1 Ne7 34. Qd8+ Kh7 35. Nxf7 Ng6 36. Qe8 Qe7 37. Qxa4 Qxf7 38.
Be4 Kg8 39. Qb5 Nf8 40. Qxb6 Qf6 41. Qb5 Qe7 42. Kg2 g6 43. Qa5 Qg7 44. Qc5 Qf7
45. h4 h5 46. Qc6 Qe7 47. Bd3 Qf7 48. Qd6 Kg7 49. e4 Kg8 50. Bc4 Kg7 51. Qe5+
Kg8 52. Qd6 Kg7 53. Bb5 Kg8 54. Bc6 Qa7 55. Qb4 Qc7 56. Qb7 Qd8 57. e5 Qa5 58.
Be8 Qc5 59. Qf7+ Kh8 60. Ba4 Qd5+ 61. Kh2 Qc5 62. Bb3 Qc8 63. Bd1 Qc5 64. Kg2 {
In summation, you will inevitably end up in must-win games in your tournaments,
and while we generally maximise our winning chances in more complex positions,
we shouldn't assume that we have to deliver a mating attack to win - being
patient and out-manoeuvring the opponent can be just as effective. As long as
you are able to keep pressure on the opponent and not give them a route to a
risk-free advantage or dead drawn endgame, you will have your chances.} 1-0