06 May 2013

Commentary - 2013 U.S. Championships, Round 3

The round 3 commentary on the official championships site has my two favorite games from the round, Kamsky-Christiansen and Zatonskih-Krush.  In the first one, Kamsky plays in Carlsen-esque style, using a quiet opening to get to a fascinating and ultimately explosive middlegame.  In the second, Krush plays an outstanding King's Indian and attacks on the kingside in exemplary style.  They are well worth a look.

Here I present another Caro-Kann, this time from the women's championship (Belaskovaia-Chiang).  While the previous day's example, Kachyan-Onischuk, was an illustration of how well the Classical variation can shut down White's play, the round 3 game shows some of the interesting, major choices both sides can face that will change the course of the game.  What happens to Black after she takes a "free" pawn is particularly instructive, as is White's conduct of the assault on Black's king position (on the queenside).  The clash between generations of U.S. women players is also interesting in itself, with IM Anjelina Belakovskaia as a three-time U.S. champion in the 1990s returning after a long layoff and Sarah Chiang as an up-and-coming junior gaining some valuable experience at the national level.

[Event "2013 U.S. and Womens' Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis, Missouri, USA"] [Date "2013.05.05"] [Round "3.16"] [White "Belakovskaia, Anjelina"] [Black "Chiang, Sarah"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2263"] [BlackElo "2098"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "137"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [TimeControl "6000+800"] [WhiteClock "0:02:56"] [BlackClock "0:02:53"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. h4 h6 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 {the first deviation from the game we saw in round 2 (Metchik-Onischuk), which featured the other main choice, Bd2, in which White goes for more straightforward development. The text move is a little more aggressive but can sometimes transpose back, if both players allow; however, that doesn't occur in this game.} Qa5+ {the standard response.} 12. Bd2 Bb4 {Black scores quite well in this line (54 percent).} (12... Qc7 { is the old Caro-Kann main line, where both sides usually castle queenside. It has a solid but un-dynamic reputation.}) 13. c3 Be7 14. c4 Qc7 {this move is the overwhelming favorite, but Black ends up in a position-type similar to the old main line, with queenside castling.} (14... Qa6 {is an interesting idea played by some professional Caro-Kann players such as Bareev and Khenkin who aren't afraid to try new things. Here's a game by Khenkin:} 15. O-O Ngf6 16. Rfe1 Rd8 17. Qe2 O-O 18. Ne5 c5 19. Bc3 cxd4 20. Bxd4 Nxe5 21. Bxe5 Qa5 22. Qf3 Rd7 23. Bc3 Qa6 24. Ne4 Nxe4 25. Qxe4 Rc8 26. Rad1 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Qxc4 28. Qxb7 Bf6 29. Bxf6 gxf6 30. Qxa7 Rc5 31. a4 Rxh5 32. Qd4 Qe2 33. Ra1 Kg7 34. b4 Rd5 35. Qc3 Rd1+ 36. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 37. Kh2 Qxa4 38. Qc5 h5 39. b5 Qf4+ 40. Kg1 Qe4 41. b6 e5 42. Qb5 Qe1+ 43. Kh2 Qxf2 44. Qb4 e4 45. b7 Qf4+ 46. Kg1 Qe3+ 47. Kf1 Qd3+ 48. Ke1 Qe3+ 49. Kf1 Qd3+ 50. Ke1 Qe3+ 51. Kf1 Qf4+ {1/2-1/2 (51) Smeets, J (2515) -Khenkin,I (2587) Hoogeveen 2004}) 15. O-O-O Ngf6 16. Rde1 O-O-O { interestingly, all of Black's options score 50 percent here, although with a relatively small database sample. I would personally prefer to castle kingside here, although White looks to have good attacking possibilities afterwards, since Black would have much a freer hand on the queenside and center.} 17. Qe2 Rhe8 $146 (17... Ng4 {was played in the only game in the database with this position. This seems like an effective move for the knight as it helps cover e5 and eyes f2.} 18. Kb1 Rhe8 19. Bc3 Kb8 20. Nd2 Ngf6 21. Nge4 Nxe4 22. Nxe4 f5 23. Nd2 Bf6 24. Nb3 e5 25. Qf3 exd4 26. Nxd4 Ne5 27. Qxf5 Nxc4 28. Ne6 Rxe6 29. Qxe6 Bxc3 30. Qxc4 Bxe1 31. Rxe1 Qa5 32. Qf4+ Ka8 33. Qe5 Qd2 34. Qe3 Qd7 35. Qe4 Qf7 36. Qe7 Qf5+ 37. Ka1 Qd5 {1/2-1/2 (37) Al Modiahki,M (2550)-Landa, K (2570) Bad Wiessee 2006}) 18. Kb1 {the king needs to get off the c-file and away from the c1-h6 diagonal, which are latent potential tactical weaknesses. The move also covers a2.} Bd6 19. Rh4 c5 {Black as available to her both of the classic Caro-Kann pawn breaks, on c5 and e5. With the king on c8, I would prefer the e5 break.} (19... e5 20. c5 Bf8 21. Nxe5 Bxc5) 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21. Qxe4 {capturing with the rook seems like a more obvious follow-up to her 19th move.} Nf6 (21... cxd4 {is preferred by Houdini, pressing on with the opportunity provided by the pawn break to disrupt White's center and leaving c5 for the knight.} 22. Nxd4 Be7 23. Nb5 Qb6 24. Rh3 a6) 22. Qc2 cxd4 23. Nxd4 Bc5 { compare Black's piece placement with the move 21 variation, which seems more effective.} 24. Nb5 Qc6 25. Be3 (25. b4 {would be the aggressive choice and would take advantage of the Rh4 placement to support the fourth rank.} a6 26. bxc5 axb5 27. cxb5 Qxb5+ 28. Rb4) 25... Bxe3 26. fxe3 {this doesn't seem to have been a very effective trade for White, who is now saddled with the isolated e-pawn, although her pieces are more active. Note how the Nf6 is poorly placed, with most of its squares taken away, so it should reposition itself, probably via d7.} Qc5 (26... Kb8 {is Houdini's choice, with the king vacating the c-file, covering a7 and enjoying the fact there is no longer a White dark-square bishop.}) 27. a3 a6 28. Nc3 Qg5 $15 {Black is starting to generate some threats and take over the initiative here.} 29. Rh3 Nxh5 { Black however gets distracted by the pawn and White quickly regains the initiative. The knight is effectively out of the game on h5, which White immediately takes advantage of.} (29... Kb8 $5) 30. Ne4 Qe5 31. c5 Re7 32. Nd6+ Kb8 33. b4 Nf6 {Black understands the need to get the knight back in the fight. } 34. e4 Rc7 35. Rd3 Rdd7 $2 {leaving the queen on a vulnerable square.} (35... Qf4 {looks reasonable, keeping pressure on e4.}) 36. Nc4 Qg5 37. Nb6 {suddenly Black has no way to avoid White's threats from the heavy pieces on the d-file and the Nb6, which threaten mate or significant material loss.} Ka7 (37... Rxd3 38. Qxd3 Ng8 (38... Ng4 39. Rd1 Ka7 40. Qd8 Qxd8 41. Rxd8 {and Black gets mated in the corner.}) 39. Rf1 {and now White can follows up with Qd6 and Rd1.} ) (37... e5 38. Red1 Qg4 39. Nxd7+ Nxd7 $18 {with a crushing position.}) 38. Nxd7 $16 {White takes the safe advantage.} (38. Red1 $18 {would lead to a much larger advantage, due to White's theats down the d-file leading to mate threats.}) 38... Nxd7 39. Qd2 Qe7 40. Qf4 e5 41. Qg4 f6 42. Red1 Qf7 43. Kb2 { this covers the b3 square.} (43. Rxd7 $2 Qb3+ {with a perpetual.}) 43... Nf8 $2 {this withdraws a defender from Black's king and again White pounces on the errant knight move.} (43... Nb8) 44. Rd6 $18 g6 45. Rf1 h5 46. Qh3 Nh7 47. Qe3 {Black's knight is now almost buried again on h7 and White has too much firepower for Black to repel.} Rc6 48. Rxc6 bxc6 49. Qd2 Kb7 50. Qd8 Qc7 51. Qe8 {an excellent example of when not to trade down when you are in a much stronger position.} Qc8 52. Qxg6 Qd7 53. Kc2 {White continues to effectively employ her king to shut out Black's queen from penetrating, as well as preparing to move the rook to the d-file.} h4 54. Rd1 Qe7 55. Rd6 {White now completely dominates.} Kc7 56. Kd3 Kb7 57. Qg4 Nf8 58. Qf5 Qf7 59. Qxf6 Qb3+ 60. Ke2 Qc4+ 61. Kf2 Qc2+ 62. Kg1 Qc1+ 63. Kh2 Qf4+ 64. Qxf4 exf4 65. Rf6 { the correct moment for the queens to come off the board occurred and the win is now trivial.} Nd7 66. Rf7 Kc8 67. Rxf4 Ne5 68. Rxh4 Nc4 69. Rh3 1-0

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