18 August 2013

Commentary - Tromso 2013 FIDE World Cup round 3.1

The ongoing FIDE World Cup tournament in Tromso, Norway has produced a number of upsets.  In the first game of round 3, Levon Aronian was defeated in a Dutch Stonewall by Evgeny Tomashevsky.  It is a model game for Stonewall aficionados, in which Black's mastery of the opening's ideas and strategic themes is evident throughout.  I'll have to take a look at Tomashevsky's past games to see if there are some similarly instructive wins as Black.

Some notable elements of this game:
  • Black's use of opening transposition to get a favorable version of the Modern Stonewall as of move 6.
  • The correct strategic decision by Black to transfer the light-squared bishop to the kingside.
  • How the early pawn exchange in the center was favorable for Black.
  • Black's strategic achievement of opening the f-file, set up by the thematic 16...Ne4
  • Black's seizing of the initiative and White's inability to generate any counterplay after move 19.
  • How naturally Black's kingside attack develops and then bursts in a flurry of piece activity targeting the f3 pawn, after temporarily sacrificing the key "stonewall" d5 pawn along the way.

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2013"] [Site "Tromso NOR"] [Date "2013.08.17"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Tomashevsky, Evgeny"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D30"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2013.08.11"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c6 4. e3 Bd6 5. Bd3 f5 6. O-O Nf6 {we now have a Modern Stonewall setup for Black. White, having been diverted from playing the usual and more theoretically critical fianchetto with Bg2, now has a Colle-type setup.} 7. b3 Qe7 {in order to preempt any White plans to exchange off the Bd6 by playing Ba3.} 8. Ne5 {an aggressive and possibly premature move; Bb2 is normal here, followed by additional piece development.} O-O 9. Bb2 Bd7 { starting the classical bishop maneuver to the kingside. The more modern development is with ...b6 and Bb7, but with the Ne5 and Bd3 placed where they are, this method of developing the bishop would appear to be less effective.} 10. Nc3 Be8 11. cxd5 cxd5 {knowing when to exchange central pawns is an art in the Stonewall. Here it seems to work in Black's favor, as the central tension has been released and White no longer has any threats there. White can try to obtain play down the c-file, but Black will be able to defend easily enough.} 12. Rc1 Nc6 13. Nb5 Bb4 14. a3 Ba5 15. Be2 {preventing ...Bh5 by Black and getting the bishop on to a more useful diagonal in general.} a6 16. Nc3 Ne4 { a thematic Stonewall move. Black is happy to open the f-file for his rook if White exchanges on e4. Similarly, if White played f3 to kick the knight, it would have a good square waiting on g5, while the Be2 would be worse off.} 17. b4 Bc7 18. Nxe4 fxe4 {by this point Black must have been very happy with his game. Although the engine evaluation is even, Black has fully equalized and has accomplished his strategic goals out of the opening. The initiative now passes to him.} 19. Qb3 {it's unclear what this was intended to accomplish, beyond linking the rooks. The queen turns out to be awkwardly placed and away from the developing kingside action.} Bxe5 20. dxe5 Qg5 21. Kh1 $6 {Perhaps White thought his opponent would take the offered e5 pawn. Houdini recommends simply bringing the queen back to d1, in order to prevent the next bishop move by Black.} Bh5 (21... Nxe5 $6 22. Rc7 {and White has compensation for the pawn, having regained some initiative and counterplay on the queenside.}) 22. f3 Qh6 $15 {Black can choose when to exchange pawns, due to the pin against the hanging Be2.} 23. Rce1 exf3 24. gxf3 Rf7 $17 {Black's play continues to flow naturally from the position; doubling rooks on the f-file is possible, as is supporting the g-pawn with a rook on g7 if it advances. Meanwhile, White struggles to do something meaningful.} 25. Bc1 Bg6 {done in order to provide the queen with additional squares on the h-file.} 26. e4 Qh3 27. exd5 Nd4 { Black rightly ignores the pawn for the time being and switches over to active attack mode, having identified f3 as White's weak point.} 28. Qd1 Nxe2 29. Qxe2 Bh5 30. Kg1 {White has to avoid the fork of king and queen.} Bxf3 31. Qf2 Qg4+ 32. Qg3 Qxg3+ 33. hxg3 Bxd5 {Black emerges from the middlegame struggle with an extra pawn for the endgame, which he converts nicely.} 34. Be3 a5 35. b5 a4 36. Rxf7 Kxf7 37. Rf1+ Kg6 38. Rf4 h6 39. Kf2 Bb3 40. Rg4+ Kh7 41. Rd4 Rc8 42. b6 Rc2+ 43. Ke1 Ra2 44. Bc1 Rg2 $19 45. Bf4 Rg1+ 46. Kd2 Ra1 47. Kc3 Rxa3 48. Kb4 Ra1 49. Bd2 Bd5 50. Bc3 Ra2 51. Rd3 Kg6 52. Rd4 a3 53. Rd3 Kf5 54. Bd2 Ra1 55. Bc3 Ra2 56. Bd2 Ke4 57. Re3+ Kd4 58. Bc1 Rc2 0-1

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