14 September 2014

Commentary: 2014 Sinquefield Cup, Round 7

Fabiano Caruana's now-historic performance at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup was the topic of the previous commentary post, which featured Caruana's round 5 win in a Slav Defense, and we return for more commentary on his round 7 victory in a Stonewall.  In this game, as Black he decides to start off with a Queen's Gambit Declined setup, but then takes advantage of French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's sub-par development scheme to transpose into a favorable version of a Dutch Stonewall.  Although White is certainly equal, Black has the easier game and clearer plans available to him.  MVL stumbles in the early middlegame - something that has been a recurring challenge for myself - and Caruana masterfully exploits his opponent's mistakes, never giving White a chance to recover.

On a separate but related note, this is the first game analyzed with the assistance of the Komodo 8 engine, which is getting good buzz for its performance in more positional situations.  See this AoxomoxoA wondering post for more on it.

[Event "2nd Sinquefield Cup 2014"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2014.09.03"] [Round "7"] [White "Vachier Lagrave, M."] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D35"] [WhiteElo "2768"] [BlackElo "2801"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2014.08.27"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 {Caruana starts off this time with a QGD structure.} 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Bf4 Nf6 5. e3 O-O 6. Rc1 {although this may appear a little premature, leaving the kingside still undeveloped, it's the second most popular option (after Nf3) and scores well.} Nbd7 {Black keeps his options open while developing the knight.} 7. c5 $146 {releasing the central tension is usually favorable to Black in these types of positions, as the d5 pawn becomes a major strongpoint. The extra space gained on the queenside is not sufficient compensation.} (7. cxd5 {scores well (over 70 percent), as shown in this Kasparov-Karpov clash:} exd5 8. Nf3 c6 9. h3 Re8 10. Bd3 Nf8 11. O-O Ng6 12. Bh2 Bd6 13. Bxd6 Qxd6 14. Qc2 Be6 15. a3 a5 16. Na4 Nd7 17. Rb1 Ngf8 18. b4 axb4 19. axb4 b5 20. Nc5 Nb6 21. Ra1 f6 22. Nxe6 Qxe6 23. Nd2 Nc4 24. Nb3 Qe7 25. Nc5 g6 26. e4 Kg7 27. Qc3 Nd7 28. exd5 cxd5 29. Rxa8 Rxa8 30. Re1 Qf7 31. Ne6+ Kg8 32. Nc7 Rb8 33. Be2 Ndb6 34. Nxb5 Re8 35. Bf1 Qd7 36. Rxe8+ Qxe8 37. Na3 Qc6 38. b5 Qc7 39. Nc2 Kg7 40. Ne3 Qd6 41. g3 h5 42. h4 f5 43. Bxc4 dxc4 44. d5+ Kh7 45. Qd4 Nd7 46. Nxc4 Qb4 47. d6 Qxb5 48. Nd2 Qc6 49. Nc4 Qb5 50. Ne3 Qb1+ 51. Kg2 Qb7+ 52. Qd5 Qxd5+ 53. Nxd5 Kg7 54. Kf3 Kf7 55. Nc7 Ne5+ 56. Kf4 Nc4 57. d7 Ke7 58. Kg5 Nd2 59. Kxg6 Ne4 60. Kxf5 Nxf2 61. Ne6 Kxd7 62. Nf4 Ke7 63. Nxh5 Kf7 64. g4 Nd1 65. Nf4 Ne3+ 66. Kg5 Kg7 67. h5 Nc4 68. Nd3 Nd6 69. Nc5 Nf7+ 70. Kf4 Kh6 71. Ne4 Nd8 72. Ke5 Nc6+ 73. Kf6 Nb4 74. Nc3 Nd3 75. Nd5 Nc5 76. Kf5 Nb3 77. Nf4 Nd4+ 78. Kf6 Nf3 79. Nd3 Nh2 80. Kf5 Nf3 81. Ne5 Nd2 82. Kf4 Nb3 83. Nf7+ Kg7 84. Nd6 Nd4 85. g5 Ne6+ 86. Kg4 Kh7 87. Nf5 Nf8 88. Nh4 Ne6 89. Ng2 Kg7 90. Nf4 Nd4 91. h6+ Kh7 92. Kh5 Nf5 93. g6+ Kg8 94. Kg5 Ne3 95. Nh5 Nd5 96. Nf6+ {1-0 (96) Kasparov,G (2812)-Karpov,A (2619) Valencia 2009} ) (7. Nf3 {is the other obvious choice.}) 7... Ne4 8. Bd3 (8. Nxe4 {causes Black no problems. For example} dxe4 9. Bc4 e5 10. Bg3 (10. Bxe5 Nxe5 11. dxe5 Qxd1+ 12. Rxd1 Bxc5 $15) 10... exd4 11. exd4 c6 $11) 8... f5 {Black chooses to head for a comfortably equal version of a Stonewall, supporting the Ne4.} 9. Nf3 c6 {the Stonewall is now complete. While the position is equal, Black must be happy with his situation, as he has achieved a favorable version of the opening with White's forces not deployed very threateningly.} 10. Ne5 Nxe5 11. Bxe5 Bf6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 {given White's development scheme, he no longer has the ability to control e5 with a piece, so Black is able to successfully remedy this standard Stonewall weakness.} 13. Ne2 e5 14. Qa4 $6 {MVL admitted afterwards that he miscalculated the strength of Black's responses.} (14. O-O $5) 14... Qh4 (14... Qg6 {is the engine's choice.} 15. Bxe4 fxe4 16. O-O Bg4 17. Rc2 exd4 18. Qxd4 Rf6 $15) 15. g3 $6 {White was worried about castling into a Black attack, but the text move ends up being more weakening.} (15. O-O Nd2 {could lead to a repetition.} (15... Nf6 {would be more challenging, but White remains equal. One possible continuation:} 16. Qb4 e4 17. Bc2 g5 18. Qd2 Ng4 19. h3 Nf6 20. f4 exf3 21. Rxf3 $11) 16. Rfd1 Ne4 17. Rf1) 15... Qg4 $15 { by playing the obvious move, Black seizes the positional advantage.} 16. Rf1 ( 16. Qd1 {would bring the queen back for defense, although it doesn't solve White's problems and Black retains an edge. For example} exd4 17. exd4 (17. Nxd4 Qxd1+ 18. Rxd1 Nxc5) 17... Ng5 18. f4 Ne4 $15) 16... Ng5 {illustrating how well the knight and queen can combine when attacking.} 17. Kd2 $2 {White's king now runs away, but at the cost of a pawn.} (17. Ng1 $5) 17... Nf3+ 18. Kc3 Nxh2 {although White will have the half-open h-file, this is insufficient compensation for the material.} 19. Rh1 Nf3 20. Qa5 {eyeing the c7 square for penetration, although this is not a serious threat to Black.} Qg5 {Black adjusts with his own queen in response, so she can be brought back as necessary.} 21. dxe5 Qe7 {much stronger than simply recapturing immediately with the Nf3, which might have been a Class player's choice. The queen now covers the 7th rank and pressures c5; meanwhile, the e5 pawn is not going anywhere.} 22. Nd4 Nxe5 23. b3 $2 {this is simply too slow. Black now takes advantage of White's exposed king position and awkwardly placed pieces with a pawn break.} (23. Kd2 $5) 23... b6 $1 {now White is essentially lost.} 24. cxb6 c5 {Black's pieces can now activate with deadly force, making threats that White cannot counter.} 25. Nb5 Bb7 $19 26. bxa7 (26. Rhd1 {avoiding the discovered attack still does not help White too much.} Nc6 27. Qa4 axb6 28. Qh4 Qe5+ 29. Kd2 Nb4 $19) 26... d4+ 27. exd4 Nxd3 28. Kxd3 Bxh1 29. Rxc5 Qe4+ 30. Kc4 Qe2+ 31. Kb4 Qd2+ 32. Rc3 Bc6 {taking advantage of the pin on the Rc3. At this point, Black just needs to mop things up, as White is down significant material with a very exposed king.} 33. a4 Bxb5 34. Kxb5 Qxd4 (34... Rxa7 { would end things quicker, according to the engine. Black picks up the pawn with the deflection tactic and also forces the indirect exchange of rooks.} 35. Qxa7 Qxc3 36. b4 Qd3+ 37. Ka5 Rd8 $19 {; perhaps Caruana thought the text move led to a less risky endgame.}) 35. Rc7 Rfd8 {continuing to play it safe in the endgame, not going for any flashy tactics and deep calculation.} 36. Qb6 Rd5+ 37. Ka6 {hoping for a miscalculation by Black.} Rd6 38. a5 Qd3+ 39. Kb7 Qd5+ 0-1

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