by National Life Master Loal Davis
There Is More Than Enough Room At The Top ! !
Two – very important – very exciting decisive games today. The highlight of the round was Vachier-Legrave’s win with the Black pieces over Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen had an “OK” game, but hardly anything but equal. He then started to fish in troubled waters and it blew up in his face. Congratulations to Vachier-Legrave for keeping his balance in a hard fight leading to a well deserved victory.
Hikaru Nakamura lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi in a game that sparked of impatience. The game was “equal” and Nakamura played a Pawn stab (b6) which left weakened squares and a harder defense than if he had avoided the “poke”. He got into trouble and White was all over him.
Click on any Diagram to step through the Annotated Game (PGN).
Also all decisive games (PGN) are within the Comments below the post.
Sinquefield Cup 2017
White “Carlsen, Magnus”
Black “Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime”
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Qxd1+ 7. Kxd1 Bf5 8. Nd2 Nc6 9. e4 Bg6 10. Bb5 Rc8 11. h4 h5 12. Re1 e6 13. a4 Be7 14. g3 O-O 15. a5 Rfd8 16. a6 b6 17. Kc2 Ne5 18. f4 Ng4 19. Kb3 f6 20. Nc4 Nf2 21. e5 Ne4 22. Be3 Bf5
(22… Nxg3 23. Rg1)
23. Rg1 Rd5 24. Rae1 Kf7 25. Bc1 Bh7 26. Re3 Rcd8 27. Bc6
As interesting as all of this may be, there is not really much of a threat; an exchange sacrifice on d5 will open the position for the Bishops and send a Pawn roller down the center and Queenside where the White King resides.
Nf2 28. Re2 Nd3 29. exf6 gxf6 30. Bb5 Rg8 31. Bd2 Rgd8 32. Be3 Be4 33. Rd2 Rg8 34. Ka4 Rgd8 35. Kb3 Rg8 36. Ka2 f5 37. Rh2 Rc8 38. Rd2 Rg8 39. Re2 Bf3 40. Rh2 Bf6 41. Nd2 Bg4 42. Rf1 Rgd8 43. Nc4 e5
It may have been better for Black to refrain from this move as it appears to give White a slight plus in the weakened Black squares.
44. fxe5 Bxe5
And here 44… Nxe5 would keep those weaknesses to a minimum.
I think White is better here.
Well this was Black’s idea.
46… Bh3 47. Rxg3 Bxf1 48. Rf3
A Slip. After the razzle-dazzle of 48. Bxd8 Rxd8 49. Rxd3 Bxd3 50. Ne5+
the game appears balanced.
48… Be2 49. Bxd8 Bxf3 50. Bxb6
Well – This was White’s idea; it just doesn’t work.
axb6 51. Bc6 Be4
This appears to have been overlooked or not evaluated properly by Carlsen.
52. a7 Rd8 53. Nd6+ Rxd6 54. Bxe4 Rd8 55. a8=Q Rxa8+ 56. Bxa8
I think Black is winning this ending; the Knight works wonders here – that coupled with a passed f Pawn and a juicy target on h4 spells doom for White.
Ne5 57. Kb3 f4 58. Kc2 Kg7
Should Black move too quickly against h4 then White will pick up the h5 Pawn. There is no rush; h4 is not going anywhere and Black can now defend his h5 Pawn.
59. Kd2 Ng6 60. Kd3 Nxh4 61. Ke4 f3 62. Ke3 Kf6
Should White now capture on f3, Black will exchange the minor pieces and win with the outside passed Pawn on the h file as a lure while the Black King invades and devours the Pawns on the other side of the board.
63. b4 c4
Probably not necessary, but this wins too. Black leaves the c Pawn as a target to gain time to invade with his King in the assistance of the f Pawn.
64. Bd5 Kf5 65. Bxc4 Kg4 66. Kf2 Ng6 67. Be6+ Kf4 68. Bf7 Ne5 69. Bxh5 Nd3+ 70. Kf1 Kg3 71. Bf7 Nf2
The Knight finds a path into e3 or h2 which will force White to part with his Bishop. A well played ending.
Sinquefield Cup 2017
White “Nepomniachtchi, Ian”
Black “Nakamura, Hikaru”
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. Nxd5 exd5 10. Bd3 Bb4+ 11. Nd2 Nc6 12. O-O Be6 13. Nf3 Be7 14. Rc1 Bf6 15. a3 Qe7 16. b4 a6 17. h3 Rac8 18. Rc5 a5 19. Qb1 axb4 20. axb4 b6
This appears weakening. (20… g6 could be played now.)
21. Rcc1 g6
Black is in trouble.
With 22… Ra8 23. Rxc6 Rxa6 24. Bd6 Black loses the exchange as Qd7 25. Bxf8 Qxc6 26. b5 doesn’t work.
23. Bxc8 Rxc8 24. Rxc8+ Bxc8 25. Rc1 Bf5 26. Qb3 Nd3 27. Rc7 Qd8 28. Bg3 h5 29. Qxb6 h4 30. Bd6 Be4 31. Qc6 Kg7 32. Rc8 d4 33. Qxe4 1-0
All Images Below Courtesy Of Derrick Bartotto.