by National Life Master Loal Davis
I hear ramblings about Aronian; “he’s just a bag of tricks”. I strongly disagree. This guy plays aggressive, tactical chess, but always with an eye to the ending and long-range positional themes. His victories are not accidents and he poses multi-layered problems for his opponents; they have to be wary at every turn. In the sixth round he made it look “easy” in soundly defeating Wesley So.
Sinquefield Cup 2017
White “Aronian, Levon (ARM)”
Black “So, Wesley (USA)”
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qa4+
More often seen is 7. e3 but the text does have its points. Black is forced to block the c Pawn; a Pawn that is often used to open up (c5) a file for a Rook. As a matter of fact that becomes one of the underlying themes of this game. White activates his Rooks and Black has some difficulty.
7… Nc6 8. e3 O-O 9. Be2 dxc4 10. O-O Bxc3 11. bxc3 Bd7 12. Qxc4
So (no pun intended) White regains his Pawn with his Queen (two moves) keeping away from the eyes of the d7 Bishop. White holds a temporary advantage of central control (Pawns) and Black must work to activate his Rooks.
Rac8 13. Rad1 Rfd8 14. Nd2
A nimble Knight; eying Ne4/Nc5 jumping to attacking outposts with tempo.
Na5 15. Qb4 b6 16. Ba6
Slightly displacing the Rook from his desired task of operating on the c file.
Rb8 17. Ne4
I think this is asking to get hit. (17… Qh4)
18. Bd3 Bc6 19. f3 Bxe4 20. fxe4
Qg5 21. Rf3 c5 22. Qb2 e5 23. Rdf1 cxd4
23… c4 would attempt to shut down the Bishop (slightly) as Bishops prefer open lines. However I feel White is well on top here and Black has already been outplayed.
24. cxd4 Rb7 25. d5 Rc7 26. h4
Deflection. Maybe 26. Qf2
26… Qxh4 27. Qxe5 Qe7 28. Qg3
This is a tactical slip; not so easy to see. But 28… Qd6 29. e5 Qxd5 30. e6 is not much better.
Eagle eyes. In retrospect, Black is getting hit over the head while Black is doing “what” with his Queen and Knight on the rim.
29… Kf8 30. Rg6 f6 31. Rfxf6+ gxf6 32. Rg8+ Ke7 33. Qg7+ Kd6 34. Qxf6+ may not be all forced, but gives ideas as to Black’s tattered position.
30. Rh6 Qc3
(30… g6 31. Rxf7 Rxf7 32. Rxg6+ Kh8 (32… Kh7 33. e5) (32… Kf8 33. Rg8+ Ke7 34. Qg5+) 33. Qe5+ Kh7 34. Qxh5#)
The Images Below Are Courtesy Of Derrick Bartotto.