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GM Nakamura - GM Gelfand annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 30
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 19 October 2013
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary, FIDE 2632

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In the penultimate round, Nakamura had the sole lead with +3 and Gelfand shared the second place with Caruana, half a point behind him. We could expect an interesting fight for the first place.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2772) - Gelfand,Boris (2764) [B90]

Elancourt FRA Elancourt FRA (10.3), 03.10.2013

[Balogh Csaba]

View the game

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 The first surprise. Gelfand chooses his old weapon, the Sicilian Najdorf. Since his World Championship match against Anand, he almost always plays the Sveshnikov variation, which starts with 2...Nc6.
3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6
We are at the initial position of the Najdorf and Nakamura goes for one of the most popular setup.
6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.Be3

An interesting situation. Nakamura could have forced a draw with Bc1, which would have been a perfect result for him to win the tournament. However, to make a draw like this is so shameful that a player with a lot of ambition plays on without any hesitation.
9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Bg7 12.h3
A few weeks ago, Nakamura himself retreated with his knight to f6 against Kamsky. That was another extremely exciting game, which we have also analyzed here in CEWN. Gelfand plays the most common move:
12...Ne5 13.f3 Nbc6 14.Bf2 Be6
A typical move in this variation. Black wants to occupy the c4 square later on.
[Black is not afraid of 15.Nxe6 fxe6 The doubled e-pawns are useful here to control all the important central squares and his minor pieces are excellently placed on the dark squares, especially the one on e5. White should only take this option into consideration if he could quickly organize an attack against the e6 pawn, but here it is not possible, since Bc4 is controlled by the knight.]
Following the main line, both sides make their most useful developing moves.
At first sight it looks dangerous, but this is the only way for White to fight for the advantage. His plans are connected with Nd5 and opening the position on the kingside with h4!
16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 Qa5 18.a3!
This is Nakamura's improvement over Gelfand's previous game. White defends the a2 pawn, which was not advisable with 18.Kb1 because of the exchange sacrifice on c3. We can see that Gelfand uses the same ideas in both games. [Karjakin had played 18.Qf2 Rc6! Gelfand defends in the same way against the threating Bb6. 19.g3 00 20.f4 Nd7 The same retreat with the knight. 21.h4 g4 Black closes the kingside again in the same style as in the game. 22.Nd5 Bxd5 23.exd5

23...Rc5! A great exchange sacrifice, which could not be accepted, because then White could not oppose anything to the beast on g7. 24.Bxg7 (24.Bxc5 Nxc5) 24...Kxg7 25.Kb1 Rxd5 Black won a pawn and soon the game as well. Karjakin-Gelfand, Wijk aan Zee 2012.]

White must try to organize an attack on the kingside, as it is prinicpled in case of opposite side castling.
19...g4! This is the official novelty, Gelfand played it without thinking, clearly showing that he is still in his preparation. 20.Qf2

[20.Qe3!? comes into consideration with the same Bb6 idea and here Black should probably react with 20...Nc4 (20...Rc6 is less effective because of 21.f4 Rfc8 22.Kb1 Black can never take on c3.) 21.Bxc4 Rxc4 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 In my opinion, this is the critical position from the opening point of view. 23.fxg4 Rfc8 It seems like Black has strong counterplay on the queenside.]
Black not only prevents Bb6, but prepares to double his rooks on the c-file, which could be very dangerous with the idea of dismantling White king's position with an exchange sacrifice on c3!
21.f4! White must act, otherwise he gets crushed.

This sacrifice was the main idea of Gelfand's preparation. Impressive analysis!
Nakamura usually feels comfortable in such complicated positions, but this time he loses the thread.

[22.f5! was the best move for White, which actually leads to a forced draw in all the lines. The move is pretty illogical for the human mind, since it leaves an excellent outpost for the knight on e5! However chess is a concrete game! 22...Bc4! (The passive 22...Bd7 could be met by 23.Qe3! preventing the sacrifice on c3. White wants to play Kb1 and it is not easy for Black to proceed with the attack. For instance 23...b5 is met by 24.Kb1 b4? 25.axb4 Qxb4 26.Nd5+ and the e7 pawn is hanging.) 23.Bxc4 Nxc4 (23...Rxc4? is a blunder 24.Bb6! Trapping the queen!) 24.Bxg7 (On 24.Nd5 Black must find

24...Nxb2!! 25.Nxe7+ Kh7 26.Nxc6 Qxa3 27.Kd2 Rxc6
Black is more than fine!) 24...Kxg7 25.f6+!

Things are getting really tense now! Both sides are more or less ready for the mating attack, a typical Sicilian game! 25...Kg8! The only move! (25...exf6 loses to 26.Nd5 White arrives first! 26...Nxa3 27.Qxf6+ Kh7 28.Qxf7+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kh7 30.c3+) 26.Nd5 leads to a draw after (26.fxe7 Nxb2! The only move, but a good one! 27.Rhf1 f5! Another only move and suddenly Black has succeed in winning some time in order to be ahead in the attack.) 26...Nxa3! 27.Nxe7+ Kf8 28.Nxc6 Rxc6 29.bxa3 Qxa3+ 30.Kb1 (30.Kd2? is refuted by the following little combination: 30...Rxc2+! 31.Kxc2 Qa2+ 32.Kc3 Qxf2+) 30...Qb4+=; 22.fxe5? loses to 22...dxe5 23.Be3 Rxc3! 24.bxc3 Qxa3+ 25.Kd2 Qxc3+ 26.Kc1 And here Black has more than a perpetual by deflecting the queen from the c2 square. (26.Ke2 Bc4+ 27.Rd3 Qxc2++ wins.) 26...g3! 27.Qe2 Bg4! Another deflection! 28.Qd3 Qa1+ 29.Kd2 Qxd1#]
Just like in the game against Karjakin, Gelfand retreats his knight to d7 with the idea to trade the dark squared bishops and with this makes the sacrifice on c3 more effective!
23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.f5
There is no way back, White must go forward and hope that the sacrifice will not lead to mate. [On 24.Rd3 Black can strengthen the pressure on the c3 square by playing 24...Nc5! 25.Re3 Na4!+]
24...Rxc3 Gelfand plays the most tempting human move! [The computer points out that 24...Ne5! was even stronger. 25.fxe6 Rxc3! 26.bxc3 Rxc3 27.Rd3 Nxd3+ 28.Bxd3 The win still requires precise play: 28...Rxa3! Threatening mate in two after Ra1 and Qa3. 29.Qxg4+ Kf8 30.Kd1 The only move to avoid mate, but here the rook falls: 30...Ra1+ 31.Ke2 Rxh1 This is still not the end of the variation... 32.exf7 Qe1+ 33.Kf3 Black now has to find 33...Qd1+! 34.Be2 Rf1+! 35.Ke3 (35.Kg3 Qe1+ 36.Kh2 Rh1#) 35...Qc1+ 36.Kd3 Rxf7 37.Qc8+ Kg7 38.Qg4+ Kh7+ And now it is finally over!]
25.bxc3 Qxa3+ 26.Kd2

A very unpleasant intermediate move, which seriously increases Black's chances for a successful attack.
27.Qd3 Bc4 28.Qd4

Following the principles. Gelfand opens the central files in front of the white king. [Gelfand showed a fantastic line at the press conference. He said that his original idea was to play 28...b5 with the threat of Bxf1 followed by Rc4, winning the e4 pawn, but White has 29.Bd3 and after 29...Bxd3 30.Ra1! Qb2 31.Kxd3 Rc4

32.Rhb1! Rxd4+ 33.cxd4! the queen is suddenly trapped and White wins!]
[29.Re1 Bxf1 30.e5 is refuted by 30...Rc4! 31.exf6+ exf6 32.Qe3 The strongest is 32...d4! (32...Bxg2 also wins) 33.cxd4 Qa5+ 34.Kd1 Qa1+ 35.Kd2 Rxd4++]
29...Bxd5 30.Rg1!
Calm defence by Nakamura. White wants to put his bishop to d3 to close the d-file. [30.Bd3 Bxg2 31.Rhg1 Bf3+ Black is better even materially.]
[30...Rd8 31.Bd3 is unclear. Black must waste an important tempo on defending the d8 rook in order to make the discovery attack with the d5 bishop possible, but then White is already in time to consolidate. For instance after 31...Rd7 32.Qb4! solves the problems!]

Another great move with multiple ideas. The main one is the Rd8 threat, but Black also wants to grab the f5 pawn, collecting further pawns for the exchange. [31...Bxd3 was the alternative. 32.cxd3 Qb2+ 33.Ke3 Rxc3 34.Rc1 Qxc1+ 35.Rxc1 Rxc1 White should be able to hold this endgame.]
32.Qb4 Qc7!
[32...Qxf5 33.Rgf1 was unclear.]
33.Bxe4? The decisive mistake. [After very resourceful defence, Nakamura was already very close to survival. He should have tried to hide his king with 33.Kc1 It is not obvious how Black should continue his attack. Probably the best is to play 33...a5 34.Qd4 Rd8 35.Qc4 White just manages to cover the c3 pawn, but 35...Qxc4 36.Bxc4 Rxd1+ 37.Kxd1 (37.Rxd1? Bxg2) 37...Bxf5 White must suffer for a draw, but with perfect play it should be possible to achieve it.] 33...a5! Excellent calculation by Gelfand! [33...Qf4+ was also winning, but it was much more difficult to find. 34.Kd3 Nxe4! (34...Rd8+ spoils the win as after 35.Kc4 the king finds shelter on b3.) 35.Qd4+ (35.Qxe4 Rxc3++) 35...Kh7 36.Rgf1

(36.Rdf1 Qd2+ 37.Kxe4 Qe2+ 38.Kf4 Rc4+) 36...Rxc3+! 37.Qxc3 Qg3+ 38.Rf3 (38.Kxe4 Qxc3+) 38...Nf2+! 39.Kc4 gxf3+ Black wins because the d1 rook is also hanging.]
[34.Qd4 Rd8+]
34...Qf4+! 35.Ke2 [35.Kd3 is refuted by 35...Rd8+ 36.Kc4 Nxe4! 37.Rxd8 Nd6+ 38.Kb3 Nxb7+]
The last difficult intermediate move to find. Black takes on e4 next and the attack finally breaks through! [35...Nxe4 36.Qxc8 Black only has perpetual check here: 36...Ng3+ 37.Kd3 Qe4+ 38.Kd2 Qf4+=]
[36.g3 Qe5+ does not change anything.]
36...Nxe4 37.Qd4+ Kh7

White has no defence!
[38.Rgf1 loses to 38...Nxc3+! 39.Qxc3 Qxf1+! 40.Kxf1 Rxc3+]
The final blow!
[39.Qxd7 Qf2+ 40.Kd3 Nc5+ 41.Kc3 Nxd7+]
39...Ng3+ 40.Qxg3 Qxg3 41.Rxd7 Qe5+ A fantastic game with which Gelfand overtook the lead and won the tournament! Gelfand is rather known for his outstanding understanding of the game, but as we see, his tactical skills are also amazing!


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution bulletin.  25 pages total. Subscribe!

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Kramnik-Grischuk annotated by Naiditsch
Ivanchuk-Grischuk annotated by GM Naiditsch
Laznicka-Topalov annotated by GM Balogh
Caruana-Ivanchuk annotated by GM Naiditsch
Ushenina-Yifan annotated by GM Naiditsch
Naiditsch-Vallejo annotated by GM Naiditsch
Kramnik-Andreikin annotated by GM Naiditsch
Andreikin-Sivlder annotated by GM Naiditsch
Ivanchuk-Kramnik annotated by Chess Evolution GM Team
Kamsky-Mamedyarov annotated by GM Naiditsch

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 October 2013 )
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