26 April 2015

Commentary - Shamkir 2015 round 3 (Caruana - Carlsen)

The super-GM tournament in Shamkir (Gashimov Memorial) recently finished, with Magnus Carlsen again besting the field.  This game from round 3 of the tournament sees Carlsen take advantage of a single mistake by his opponent (Caruana) during the transition from a Stonewall Dutch middlegame to the endgame.  I found the game instructive in all phases: Carlsen has used the Stonewall a number of times in the past, which is one of my interests; the middlegame could have taken a more challenging route had Caruana wanted it; and Carlsen's exploitation of his endgame advantage in pawn structure and rook activity is worthy of emulation.

[Event "Shamkir 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.04.19"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2802"] [BlackElo "2863"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "104"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 {Black indicates his intention to enter a Modern Stonewall, an opening with which Carlsen has a great deal of experience.} 4. c4 c6 5. Nf3 d5 6. O-O Bd6 {the standard Modern Stonewall position, which can be reached via a variety of move orders. Caruana now goes for a standard development plan.} 7. b3 Qe7 8. Bb2 {without the Black queen on e7, this bishop could have gone to a3 and exchanged off its counterpart, leaving Black's position weak on the dark squares.} b6 {the alternative to playing for the classical Stonewall light-square bishop development (Bc8-d7-e8-h5).} 9. Ne5 {a relatively aggressive continuation, targeting the c6 pawn.} Bb7 {aside from being an obvious follow-up to the previous move, it protects c6 and therefore allows the Nb8 to be developed.} 10. Nd2 O-O 11. Rc1 a5 {expanding on the queenside before developing the knight. Black scores well from here, over 54 percent in the database.} 12. e3 Na6 {with this move, Black commits to a queenside strategy. The knight is not available to help cover the center, but can be effective on b4 or supporting a potential ...c5 advance.} 13. Nb1 $146 { this may have been part of computer preparation; at least Komodo 8 likes it very much.} (13. Qe2 {is typical in this position, connecting the rooks, keeping an eye with the queen on c4 and also the kingside and center. Following is a high-level illustrative game, with some similar themes (such as the ...a4 push by Black) as in the main game.} a4 14. bxa4 Bxe5 15. dxe5 Nd7 16. a5 Nac5 17. Bc3 bxa5 18. Nb3 Nxb3 19. axb3 Nc5 20. Qc2 Ne4 21. Bb2 a4 22. bxa4 Ba6 23. f3 Ng5 24. cxd5 Bxf1 25. d6 Qa7 26. Bd4 Qa6 27. Rxf1 c5 28. Bxc5 Rfc8 29. Rc1 Rc6 30. h4 Rac8 31. d7 Rd8 32. hxg5 Rxd7 33. f4 Rc8 34. Bf1 Qb7 35. Bc4 Re8 36. Bb5 {1-0 (36) So,W (2656)-Reinderman,D (2573) Wijk aan Zee 2010 }) 13... Bxe5 {now that Black is prepared to move ...c5, the dark-square bishop is not indispensible.} 14. dxe5 Ne4 {chasing the knight away with f3 would not be terribly constructive for White, so it is well placed here while being ready to relocate to c5.} 15. Qe2 {White could try to challenge in the center and create an imbalance, although Black should still be fine:} (15. cxd5 exd5 (15... cxd5 16. Qd4 Nec5 17. Ba3 $14) 16. Nc3 Nec5 $11 (16... Qxe5 $2 17. Nxe4 Qxb2 18. Nd6 Rab8 19. Nxb7 Rxb7 20. Rxc6 $16)) 15... a4 (15... Nc7 16. f3 Ng5 17. h4 Nf7 18. e4 fxe4 19. fxe4 dxc4 20. Qxc4 c5 21. Rfd1 {1/2-1/2 (21) Komarov,D (2575)-Gleizerov,E (2540) Leeuwarden 1995}) 16. Nc3 {White still appears uninterested in complicating the situation in the center. This makes the position easier for Black to play, however.} (16. Ba3 $5 c5 17. f3 Ng5 18. cxd5 {looks more challenging.}) 16... axb3 17. axb3 Qb4 {Black now has a comfortable game on the queenside, with nothing to worry about from White.} 18. Nxe4 dxe4 19. Qc2 {protecting b3} Nc5 20. Bc3 {starting an essentially forced sequence.} Qxb3 21. Qxb3 Nxb3 22. Rb1 Nc5 23. Rxb6 Na4 24. Rxb7 Nxc3 {the end of the material-trading sequence. Caruana may well have been looking ahead to this on move 16, seeking simply an equal, drawish endgame against Carlsen.} 25. Re7 Rfe8 26. Rxe8+ Rxe8 27. Ra1 {it is indeed hard to see an obvious way for either player to make progress at this point.} Rd8 28. Bf1 {it's somewhat ironic that Black's "bad" light-square Stonewall bishop is criticized so strongly in this opening, when White often ends up with just as bad of a piece. } c5 {fixing White's c-pawn in the way of the bishop.} 29. Ra3 Nb1 30. Ra1 (30. Ra6 {seems logical here, keeping the rook active.}) 30... Nd2 31. Be2 $6 { White's first mistake in the game. Understandably he wants to activate the bishop, but the next sequence gives Black a positional edge.} (31. Kg2 { would prepare the idea, by controlling f3.}) 31... Nf3+ 32. Bxf3 {forced, otherwise the e5 pawn is lost.} exf3 $15 {the f3 pawn may be doubled and isolated, but it is very difficult for White to attack. Meanwhile, it controls g2 and White has to watch for back-rank mate threats. White's own equivalent doubled and isolated pawn on e5 is not nearly as effective.} 33. h3 {getting space for the king.} h5 {the only move that keeps the pressure on.} 34. g4 fxg4 35. hxg4 h4 {for the club player, it would be tempting to simply take the g4 pawn. However, creating the passed h-pawn is much stronger for Black, since he can quickly support it.} 36. Kh2 (36. g5 Kh7 37. Kh2 Kg6 38. Kh3 Kh5 39. Rg1 Rd2 $19) 36... Rd2 37. Kh3 g5 $19 {Black's structural pawn strengths and an active rook on the second rank mean that he has multiple threats and is on the winning path.} 38. e4 Rd4 39. Ra8+ Kf7 40. Ra3 (40. Ra7+ {doesn't save White, but it at least makes things more complicated.} Kg6 41. Ra6 Rd1 {threatening mate} 42. Kh2 (42. Rxe6+ Kg7 43. Kh2 (43. Re7+ Kf8 {and Black mates.}) 43... Rf1 44. Re7+ Kf8 45. Re6 Rxf2+ $19) 42... Rf1 43. Rxe6+ Kg7 44. Re7+ Kf8 45. Re6 Rxf2+ $19) 40... Rxc4 41. Rxf3+ Ke7 42. Re3 Rd4 {clearing the way for the c-pawn. Black has passed pawns on both wings and the win is near.} 43. f3 c4 44. Ra3 Rd3 45. Ra7+ Kd8 46. Kg2 c3 47. Ra4 c2 48. Rc4 Rd2+ 49. Kh3 Kd7 50. Rc5 Rf2 51. f4 Rf3+ 52. Kh2 Rxf4 0-1

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