01 May 2013

Nakamura Plays the Slav (Annotated Game #93)

This game is from round 10 of the recently-completed FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Zug.  As Black, GM Hikaru Nakamura plays a line of the Slav that complements my repertoire and I therefore thought the game was worth studying.  The original game and analysis from GM Giorgi Margvelashvili can be found in this ChessBase news report.  From my point of view, Mameyadrov starts to go astray as early as move 6 and never manages to recover from his experimental opening, although the play is complicated.  It was interesting to see where Nakamura chose to alternately play tactically and solidly, which reveals something about practical decision-making at the chessboard.

This sort of game analysis is far from comprehensive, but it speaks directly to what I think is important for opening study and for general chess improvement.  Digging into games that interest you and seeing what decisions were made and why can only help your chess.

(This is reflected in the PGN database download as Annotated Game #93)

[Event "Renova Group Grand Prix 2013"] [Site "Zug"] [Date "2013.04.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "SUI"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 {the last time Nakamura reached this position was in 2005, against...Mamedayarov, as it happens. That time Nakamura played ...Nf6 in response. The text move is more testing and less likely to transpose to another opening.} dxc4 4. e3 b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nce2 {this and Ne4 (the most played in the database) give this variation independent significance, otherwise the knight retreats to a2 and b1 are likely to transpose to variations from the mainline Slav with 5. e3. The text move is extremely rare and one of the two games in the database was a previous effort by Mameyadrov.} Nf6 {an obvious developing move which was not played in the other two games in the database.} (6... Qd5 {is also the standard response to Ne4, but in this variation it seems counterproductive, as the following game from Mameyadrov shows.} 7. Ng3 (7. Nf4 {seems very good for White.}) 7... Nf6 8. Be2 e5 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. O-O Bd6 11. Nd2 c3 12. bxc3 bxc3 13. e4 Qe6 14. Nf5 O-O 15. Bc4 Nd5 16. Nf3 N7b6 17. Bb3 Ba6 18. Re1 Bc7 19. dxe5 {1-0 Mamedyarov,S (2733) -Brunello,S (2575)Porto Carras 2011}) 7. Nf3 Ba6 {is a common idea in the variation, assisted in this case by the Ne2 blocking the Bf1.} 8. Ng3 c5 { a thematic counterblow in the center. Black should be happy to exchange queens on d1 following dxc5, stranding White's king in the center.} 9. Bd2 {this seems harmless, but Houdini already shows a half-pawn advantage for Black with the game continuation.} (9. Ne5 $5) 9... e6 10. Rc1 Qd5 {now White is not in a position to challenge the queen and the Ng3 looks misplaced.} 11. Ne5 {this appears weaker now than on move 9, with more of Black's forces already mobilized.} (11. dxc5 Nbd7 12. Bxb4 Nxc5) 11... cxd4 12. Nxc4 Nbd7 (12... dxe3 {would instead give White a little breathing room for development, for example} 13. Nxe3 Qb7 14. Be2) 13. Be2 {a tricky move. The g2 pawn is protected tactically from immediate capture, although is not fully immune.} (13. exd4 Qxd4 14. Be2 {would be a simpler way to proceed.}) 13... Rc8 {the solid choice, among other things avoiding the potential skewer on the h1-a8 diagonal. As noted below, ...Bxc4 does in fact work, but a good deal of calculation is required to confirm that.} (13... Qxg2 $2 14. Bf3 {and Black loses material to the bishop fork.}) (13... Bxc4 14. Bxc4 (14. Rxc4 d3 15. Qc1 {sets a trap, as Black is too weak on the back rank to take the Be2 immediately, but he can still defend well.} Rd8 (15... dxe2 $2 16. Rc8+ Rxc8 17. Qxc8+ Ke7 18. Bxb4+) 16. Bf3 Qa5) (14. Bf3 dxe3 15. Bxd5 exd2+ 16. Qxd2 Bxd5 {and Black has 3 pieces (including the two bishops) and a pawn for queen.}) 14... Qxg2 {is possible, with Black able to avoid punishment.} 15. Bb5 Rd8 16. Bc6 Qh3 17. exd4 Bd6) 14. Bf3 Qc5 15. b3 (15. Na3 $2 {initially looks appealing, opening up on the Qc5, however after} bxa3 16. Rxc5 Nxc5 {the material is more or less balanced, but Black has too many threats, including .. .Nd3+ and ...a2.}) 15... Be7 (15... d3 $5) 16. Ne2 $6 {the knight returns from its exile on g3, while continuing to use up White's tempi.} (16. O-O {seems logical.}) 16... d3 { this now gains another tempo with an attack on the knight.} 17. Nf4 O-O (17... Qc7 {is Houdini's choice, which would allow Black to defend the b4 pawn after . .. Qb8. Nakamura prefers to play more aggressively and not worry about the pawn.}) 18. Nxd3 Qf5 {Black has a lead in development, allowing him to initiate threats. Meanwhile White has not yet castled and his knights continue to be a source of problems.} 19. e4 $2 {this essentially gives away a pawn.} ( 19. Nxb4 Bxc4 {necessary to break up the strong pawn formation.} 20. Rxc4 (20. bxc4 Ne5 {and Black can effectively exploit his open lines and White's lack of piece coordination, for example} 21. O-O Rfd8 22. c5 Nxf3+ 23. gxf3 {Qxf3 is impossible due to the hanging Bd2} a5 24. Nc2 Qh3 $19 {with a powerful attack coming on White's king.}) 20... Rxc4 21. bxc4 Bxb4 22. Bxb4 Rb8 23. e4 Qe5) 19... Nxe4 20. g4 Qd5 {this defends the Ne4. Memedayarov perhaps miscalculated and thought that he could capture on b4 and drive off the queen.} 21. Qe2 (21. Bxb4 Ne5 $1 22. Ndxe5 (22. Bxe7 Nxd3+) 22... Bxb4+) (21. Nxb4 Qd4 22. O-O Nxd2 23. Nxa6 Ne5) 21... f5 {and White can bring no more pressure to bear on the Ne4.} 22. O-O Rxc4 {and White resigned, evidently not in the psychological condition to continue fighting uphill.} (22... Rxc4 23. bxc4 Bxc4 24. Nxb4 { a tricky resource for White.} Bxe2 (24... Bxb4 25. Rxc4 Bxd2 26. Bxe4 fxe4 27. Rxe4 $15) 25. Nxd5 exd5 26. Bxe2 Nxd2 27. Rc7 Rd8 28. Bb5 Bd6 29. Rxd7 Bxh2+ 30. Kxh2 Nxf1+ 31. Kg2 Rxd7 32. Bxd7 Nd2 33. Bxf5 Kf7 $17) (22... Ndc5 { is Houdini's preference.} 23. Nxc5 Bxc5) 0-1

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