04 May 2013

Commentary - 2013 U.S. Championships, Round 1

During the ongoing 2013 U.S. Championships, I'll provide commentary on one game each round, if I find one that is of particular personal interest.  Below is a game from Round 1 featuring longtime favorite GM Larry Christiansen as White against Yaacov Norowitz, who essays the always interesting (if unbalanced) Bronstein-Larsen variation of the Caro-Kann.  The opening requires Black to play energetically and try for a kingside attack whenever possible, but here it doesn't quite get going for him.  White is in control from around move 21 on, although Black puts up a dogged resistance.  The endgame is won after Christiansen returns his extra pawn in exchange for a dominant king.  Not a good result for fans of the Bronstein-Larsen, but well worth looking at regardless.

[Event "2013 U.S. and Womens' Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis, Missouri, USA"] [Date "2013.05.03"] [Round "1.11"] [White "Christiansen, Larry"] [Black "Norowitz, Yaacov"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B16"] [WhiteElo "2579"] [BlackElo "2451"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [TimeControl "6000+865"] [WhiteClock "0:31:19"] [BlackClock "0:26:31"] {B16: Caro-Kann: Bronstein-Larsen Variation} 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 6. Nf3 {although this is the second most popular move and is played at high levels over-the-board, theory mostly ignores it in favor of 6. c3.} Bg4 {why the previous move is considered theoretically less desirable. Normally the bishop has to go to f5 instead.} 7. Be2 e6 8. O-O Qc7 { Bd6 is more popular here, although both prevent White from playing Bf4.} 9. Nh4 {White scores 75% from here.} Bxe2 10. Qxe2 Nd7 11. c4 O-O-O {obligatory, as the king has nowhere else to go.} 12. Rd1 {White has tried a lot of things in this position, but 12. g3 is by far the most played, with the idea of shutting down Black's play on the g-file. Here are two games where Black managed to draw.} (12. g3 h5 (12... Rg8 13. d5 Qe5 14. Be3 Qe4 15. dxc6 Ne5 16. cxb7+ Kxb7 17. Qh5 Qxc4 18. Rad1 Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Rg4 20. Ng2 Qc2 21. Rc1 Qg6 22. Qxg6 Rxg6 23. f4 Nc6 24. Rd1 Be7 25. f5 Rg8 26. Kf2 e5 27. Kf3 Kc7 28. Rc1 h5 29. b3 a5 { 1/2-1/2 (29) Asis Gargatagli,H (2431)-Alvarez Pedraza,A (2551) Barcelona 2011}) 13. d5 Re8 14. dxe6 fxe6 15. Bf4 Bd6 16. Bxd6 Qxd6 17. Rad1 Qc7 18. Rd2 Ne5 19. Rfd1 Kb8 20. b3 a6 21. Rd6 Qb6 22. Kg2 Qa5 23. Kh1 c5 24. Nf3 Nc6 25. Kg1 h4 26. Rxe6 Rxe6 27. Qxe6 {Talla,V (2335)-Jankovec,I (2240) Czechia 1998 1/2-1/2 (41)}) 12... c5 {this is a standard break in the Caro-Kann main line, the idea being to help activate Black's pieces. With Black castled queenside it requires a little more bravery.} 13. d5 {White would of course welcome an exchange on d5, leaving Black with no central pawns and a horrendous pawn structure on the kingside.} Ne5 (13... Bd6 {is suggested by Houdini. Black is falling behind in development and needs to generate kingside threats.} 14. dxe6 {is not a refutation because of} fxe6 15. Qxe6 Bxh2+ 16. Kf1 Be5) 14. Bf4 Bd6 15. dxe6 fxe6 16. Bxe5 fxe5 {at this point it's clear that Black's shattered and vulnerable pawn structure will be the central focus of the remainder of the game.} (16... Bxe5 {appears somewhat better, although still difficult for Black, as the Bishop can be a target as well on e5 and has few places to go.} 17. Nf3) 17. g3 Qf7 {with the g-file closed after the previous move, the f-file is the only possible avenue of attack. This seems to have been the rationale for taking with the pawn on e5, in order to have it influence f4.} 18. Rd2 Rhf8 19. Kg2 Rd7 (19... Bc7 {is Houdini's recommendation.} 20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Re1 $16) 20. Rad1 Rfd8 21. Qe4 {White's pieces are more mobile and threatening than Black's. At this point Black focuses on defense, in the hopes that White cannot find a way to practically exploit his weaknesses.} Kc7 22. Rd3 Qh5 23. Rb3 b6 24. Ra3 a5 25. Rad3 Rg7 26. h3 Rf7 27. R1d2 Rfd7 28. a4 Rf7 {having achieved a strong defensive setup, Black shuffles his rook while White attempts to break through.} 29. Rf3 Rfd7 30. Rfd3 {Twofold repetition.} Rf7 31. b3 {White can afford to make small improvements and move closer to the time control, as Black has no threats.} Rfd7 32. Nf3 {now White starts to marshal his forces, returning the knight from the rim.} Qf5 33. Re2 Rf7 34. Rde3 Rdf8 35. Qxf5 {White decides to head for the endgame and pick up a pawn in the process.} (35. Nxe5 $6 {does not work due to} Qxf2+ 36. Rxf2 Rxf2+ 37. Kg1 Rf1+ 38. Kh2 R8f2+ 39. Qg2 Rxg2+ 40. Kxg2 Rf5 $11) 35... exf5 36. Nxe5 Rg7 37. f4 h5 38. h4 Rfg8 39. Rd3 Re8 40. Rde3 Rge7 41. Kf3 Re6 42. Rd3 {this deliberately invites the exchange on e5.} Bxe5 43. Rxe5 Rxe5 44. fxe5 Rxe5 {White has given back the pawn in return for a dominant king.} 45. Kf4 Re4+ 46. Kg5 Rd4 47. Re3 Kd6 $2 {Houdini (via the Frtiz interface) gives this a question mark, as it facilitates White's win.} (47... Rg4+ {would allow Black to control the g-file and prevent the loss of both kingside pawns without compensation.} 48. Kxf5 ( 48. Kxh5 $6 Kd6 $14) 48... Kb7 $16) 48. Kxf5 $18 Kd7 49. Kg5 1-0

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