Sunday, August 22, 2010

Game of the week

Antoaneta Stefanova –
Nana Dzagnidze
Jermuk Women’s Grand Prix, 2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 After a Queen’s Gambit start the game has settled into a Meran defense.

6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bd6 This move became mainstream in the past decade along with the old 8...a6 and 8...Bb7 lines. Black’s main idea is to respond to e3-e4 (now or later) with e6-e5.

9.Ng5!? This unusual looking move became quite popular in the last couple of years. The main idea is to allow a quick Qf3 connected to various tactical ideas. For example, if 9...0–0 10.Qf3 Bb7? White wins at least a Pawn by 11.Qh3! h6 12.Nxe6! fxe6 13.Qxe6+

9...Bb7 After 9...h6 White would regroup with 10.Nge4. This maneuver is useful in the positional sense. Black has a weakness in the backward Pawn on c6 and it is crucial to try to control the c5 square to prevent c6-c5.

10.Qf3 Now White threatens to use the pin by capturing the b5 Pawn. The more solid 10.0–0 and 10.Bd2 has also been tried in a number of games.

10...a6 10...0–0? would be a mistake again as after 11.Qh3 White comes out ahead as we have seen above. On the other hand, Black had a good game after 10...h6 in several games. 11.Nge4 (11.Qh3 Qe7 12.Bd2 0–0 13.Nge4 b4 was fine for Black) 11...Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Be7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Qg3 Qb6 15.Rd1 c5.

11.a4 In another game White tried successfully 11.0–0 Qc7 12.Qh3 and now after 12...e5? White achieved significant advantage after the brilliant 13.Bg6! However, better was 12...h6.

11...h6 Black still could not castle due to Qh3 (11...0–0 12.Qh3).

12.Qh3 At this point it was better to transpose to more positional roads with 12.Nge4 Be7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Bd2.

12...b4?! A good alternative was instead 12...c5!, and if 13.axb5 cxd4 14.exd4 0–0 15.Nge4 (15.Nxe6 Re8) 15...Nxe4 16.Nxe4 axb5 17.Rxa8 Qxa8 with Black’s clear advantage.

13.Nce4 Be7 14.Bc4?! White missed a tempting opportunity: 14.Nxe6! fxe6 15.Qxe6 threatening with checkmate in two after 16.Nd6+. Black’s best defense is: 15...Nf8 but White seems to get at least sufficient compensation after 16.Nxf6+ gxf6 17.Qh3 Qd5 (preventing the check on h5) 18.Bf5 h5 19.0–0.

14...0–0 Finally Black succeeded to castle!

15.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15...Nxf6 was also too.

16.Nxe6 White did not have much of a choice, as after the retreat with 16.Ne4 Black gets very active play after 16...c5 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.dxc5 Rfc8 19.0–0 Rxc5 20.Be2 Rd8.

16...fxe6 17.Bxe6+ Rf7 18.0–0 White is in no rush to capture Black’s Rook as it cannot run away since it is pinned.

18...Qe7 19.a5 More logical was to develop with 19.Bd2.

19...c5! Finally Black has activated the light squared Bishop. Black is better due to their pieces are positioned more actively than White’s.

20.Bd2 After 20.d5 Black could quickly create a dangerous passed Pawn after 20...c4.

20...Re8 Black could not win a Pawn by 20...cxd4 21.exd4 Bxd4 as White would have a cute little combination: 22.Bxb4! Qxb4? 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qxd7+ Kg8 25.Ra4.

21.Bb3 After 21.Bxf7+ Qxf7 It is true that White is up on the material scale. However, it is Black who would have the initiative and the advantage due to superior positioning of their pieces.

21...Kh8 22.dxc5 This was the last opportunity the capture Black’s Rook on f7. However, White chose a different option: to grab a couple more Pawns instead...

22...Rff8 23.Bxb4 Ne5 Stepping into a pin with 23...Nxc5 is clearly inferior to Black’s choice 24.Rac1. White now needs to be careful not to let her Queen get trapped.

24.Ba3 With this move the Bishop moved to a protected square and White threatens with c5-c6 discovery.

24...Bc8 25.Qg3 White’s Queen got trapped, but the game is not over... 25.Qh5? would lose right away to 25...Bg4.

25...Bh4 26.c6! Bxg3 Black could not play 26...Qd8 as then the table would turn around after 27.c7! Qf6 28.Qf4 with White’s advantage.

27.Bxe7 Bxf2+! 28.Rxf2 Rxf2 29.Kxf2 Rxe7 As the complications had cleared out Black has an extra Knight for three Pawns. However, White is likely to lose one of those Pawns real soon.

30.Bd5 Rc7 30...Ng4+ was an option too. Black rather chose to go after to further advanced passed c6 Pawn.

31.Kg3 White could not protect the c6 Pawn by 31.Rc1? due to the fork by 31...Nd3+.

31...Nxc6 32.Rc1 Bb7 It is true that the Black Knight is pinned but will be able to get out by Rc7-c8.

33.b4 Rc8 34.e4 This loses another Pawn.

34...Nxb4 35.Rb1 Bxd5 36.Rxb4 Bc4 The rest is easy technique...

37.Rb7 Rc5 38.Kf4 Rxa5 39.e5 Ra2 40.Rc7 Bb5 and White resigned. 0–1

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