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IM Wagner - GM Shirov annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 19
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 17 April 2014
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary
Best FIDE rating: 2672

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A very sharp game, typically in the style of Shirov. The game also looks very important from a theoretical point of view.

View the game or check out the "text + diagrams" version below.

Wagner,Dennis (2481) - Shirov,Alexei (2685) [D46]
Bundesliga 201314 Eppingen GER (13.5), 04.04.2014
[Balogh Csaba]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 [The starting position of the Meran, where White can choose between two very serious lines, 6.Bd3 and 6.Qc2.]
6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Bd3 00 8.00 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 

10.Be2 [The players are following the latest fashion. 10.Bd3 is an equally huge and complex main line.]
10...Bb7 [Black slowly prepares the freeing central break with e5 or sometimes with b4 followed by c5 also works.]
11.e4 [11.Rd1 is the most common move, when Black usually plays 11...Qc7 leaving the pin on the d-file and refreshing his e5 idea.]
11...e5 [This reply is always obligatory to the e4 move. Black cannot allow White to push e5.]
12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nd4!? [This forgotten move was found by the French GM Fressinet. There is a very deep positional idea behind it. The move is very logical of course, White would like to install his knight to f5, which could guarantee him a clear edge, but it moves into a tactical trick...]
13...Neg4 14.g3 Bc5! [This is Shirov's improvement and the start of the wild complications!]
[13.Nd4 was considered to be dubious because of 14...Bxg3 winning a pawn, but Fressinet has discovered the following plan: 15.hxg3 Qxd4 

16.Qd1! White forces the trade of the queens and enters an endgame with a pawn down. However, there are plenty of plusses for White. First of all, he has the pair of bishops. The knights do not have any stability on g4 and f6, they could easily be squeezed back with f3, Ne5, f4 and e5 next. Black got rid of his strong bishop and ended up with the passive one on b7. These facts told Fressinet that White should have pleasant compensation for the pawn. 16...Qxd1 17.Rxd1 Rfe8 (17...Rfd8 happened in another game, which continued with 18.f3 Rxd1+ 19.Nxd1 Ne5 20.Be3 Rd8 21.Nf2 a6 22.Rc1 and f4 is coming next. It is very unpleasant to play with Black without having any active plan and just to watch how his opponent improves his position with each move. Anand's second Wojtaszek won a game like this.) 18.f3 Ne5 19.Be3 a6 20.Rd6 Rad8 21.Rad1 Rxd6 22.Rxd6 h5 23.b4 White is squeezing again! 23...Re6 24.Rd1 Obviously White keeps the rooks as he controls the only opened file. 24...Re8 25.Kf2 Ng6 26.Bd4 Black could already not handle the pressure and decided to enter a bad endgame after 26...h4 27.gxh4 Nxh4 28.Bxf6 gxf6 29.Rd7 Ba8 30.Ra7 White won back the pawn and kept his positional advantages. Fressinet-Ragger, Bundesliga 2013.]
15.Nf5 Re8 [Black activates his pieces with each move.]
16.Bf4! [White would like to jump to d6 with his knight at some point. If Black was forced to give up his c5 bishop, he would end up in similar troubles as in the 14...Bxg3 line.]
16...Qb6! [Only the most direct moves are possible now, but of course Shirov has a special feeling for such things. After one inaccuracy Black could quickly collapse.]

[16...Nxf2 is materially fine for Black, but positionally terrible... 17.Rxf2 b4 18.Nd1 Nxe4 19.Bf3! Nxf2 20.Nxf2 Black has two pawns and a rook against the two minor pieces, but those are so well placed that only White can be better.]
17.Kg2! [A dynamic move by White. He could have defended his f2 weakness passively with Nd1 or give up the bishop with Bg4, but such moves cannot give him any advantage.]
17...Nxf2 [Black goes for the challenge. Allowing White to push him back with f3 at some point would have led to the victory of White's opening strategy.]
18.e5 Nd7! [Threatening to take the e5 pawn is a key factor in Black's play.]
[18...Nd5 drops a piece after 19.Nxd5 cxd5 20.b4! Black does not have enough compensation. 20...d4+ 21.Kxf2]
19.b4 [Winning the piece again, but this time Black gets three pawns and attacking potential as counterplay.]
19...Bxb4 20.Rxf2 Nxe5 [Black would like to create real threats on the long diagonal by opening it with c5 and in case of Kg1 Qc6.]

21.Nxg7! [Trying to finish the game with a decisive blow, but Black also has his resources!]
[After 21.Raf1 the best seems to be 21...Bf8 as before playing c5 it is useful to bring a defender to parry the sacrifices around the g7 square forever. 22.h3 c5+ 23.Kh2 c4 and Nd3 is coming next. The game is completely unclear, but I believe it is more easy to play with Black.]
21...c5+! [21...Kxg7 is refuted by 22.Bxe5+ Rxe5 23.Rxf7+! Kxf7 24.Qxh7+ and now the king has no good square. Ke8 drops the e5 rook after Qh8, while after 24...Ke6 White has 25.Bg4+! this is a huge difference to the game. 25...Kd6 26.Rd1+ Kc5 27.Ne4++ leads to mate in few moves.]
22.Kh3! [Temporarily this is the safest square for the king on the board.]
[22.Kg1? or 22.Kf1 run into 22...Qc6! and Black is mating first.]
22...Bc8+! [An important intermezzo to provoke the g4 move!]
[22...Kxg7 again loses to 23.Bxe5+ Rxe5 24.Rxf7+! Kxf7 25.Qxh7+ Ke8 (25...Ke6 26.Bg4++) 26.Bxb5+ Bc6 27.Qh8++]
23.g4 Kxg7! [The right moment to accept the sacrifice!]
[23...Nxg4 leads to a funny position: 24.Bxg4 Bxg4+ 25.Kxg4 Kxg7 Despite the g4 king White is just winning. Black does not have enough material to create serious threats. 26.Raf1+]
24.Bxe5+ [24.Nd5 Bringing a new attacker looks tempting, but Black has the important defensive move 24...Qg6]

25.Rxf7+! [A necessary sacrifice, otherwise Black consolidates and wins. However without the Bg4 check, White does not have more than perpetual check.]
25...Kxf7 26.Qxh7+ Ke6 27.Qg6+ Ke7 [Black also cannot hope for more than a draw, because 27...Kd7 leads to mate after 28.Qf7++ and either Rd1 or Bf3 wins next move.]
28.Qg7+ Ke6 29.Qh6+ [29.Rf1? looks tempting again, but Black takes too much material: 29...Bxc3! A cold-blooded defence, but there is no real danger at the moment. 30.Rf6+ (30.Qf7+ Kd6 31.Rf6+ Be6+) 30...Kd5 31.Bf3+ Kc4 32.Rf4+

(32.Rxb6 Rh5+ 33.Kg2 Bxg7+) 32...Kd3! 33.Qh7+ Kd2 White ran out of checks and the extra material brings home the full point for Black.]
29...Ke7 30.Qh7+ Ke6 31.Qg6+ Ke7 32.Qg7+ Ke6 33.Qg6+ [This looks like it was a perfect game! ]

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

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