20 January 2014

Commentary: Tata Steel Group B (Challengers) - Round 1

This next commentary game features an unusual Dutch Stonewall from the round 1 game between Radek Wojtaszek and Dmitri Reinderman from the Tata Steel Group B (Challengers) section.  As is typical of many master games, the opening is fluid and contains a number of transpositional possibilities, until the point Black chooses to construct a Stonewall formation.  He does this in a favorable way, with White in the end not having much to show from the opening.

The middlegame features some interesting choices in terms of piece exchanges and has a heavy strategic and positional flavor.  White has no prospects for an advantage, but nevertheless passes up a chance to go into a repetition sequence on move 26 - perhaps influenced by the players' rating difference?  If so, it was a poor choice, as White on move 32 follows up by deciding to sacrifice one of his weak queenside pawns for insufficient compensation; Black deserves credit for finding the non-obvious 33...Nf7 in order to gain a slight advantage.  By move 36 we have a minor piece endgame, where Black's two knights shortly become dominant over White's B+N combination.  Reinderman plays the remainder of the endgame masterfully, exchanging off a pair of minor pieces and carefully shepherding his advantage home with his remaining knight.  An excellent game for those interested in things like the Dutch Stonewall, positional considerations behind piece exchanges in the middlegame, or how to win tricky knight endgames.

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