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GM Nakamura - GM Mamedyarov annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 10
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 01 May 2014
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary
Best FIDE rating: 2672

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Both players had a bad start after losing to Carlsen and drawing their other game. Nakamura and Mamedyarov were eager to come back in the tournament. A sharp fight was to be expected.

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

Photo from the official site

Nakamura,Hikaru (2772) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2760) [B12]
Vugar Gashimov Mem 2014 Shamkir AZE (3.1), 22.04.2014
[Balogh Csaba]
1.e4 c6 A little surprise from both sides. Nakamura more often starts with 1.d4, while Mamedayarov usually plays 1...c5 or 1...e5.
2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2
The current main line of the Advance Caro-Kann. Here Black has a wide choice, but he decides to go for the sharpest and most concrete line.
5...c5 The main move. White has a space advantage, therefore Black tries to take some ground on the queenside. He also would like to put his knight on c6, where it is clearly more active than on d7. This is the standard plan for Black, but sometimes he develops his pieces first. White is better developed and the opening of the game should favor him. 6.Be3 Qb6 Protecting the c5 pawn and counterattacking on b2. White should not waste time on covering the pawn, which would allow Black to perfectly complete his development. 

[6...cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7 is the other huge alternative for Black.]
7.Nc3! A fast development is more important than the material. We are just at the beginning of the long theoretical lines.
[Grabbing the pawn is considered to be risky because of 7...Qxb2 8.Qb1! Qxb1+ (8...Qxc3+ 9.Bd2 Qxc2 10.Qxb7+ wins.) 9.Rxb1 and Black cannot avoid the penetration of the rook on the 7th rank, which causes too big problems for him.]
However this is a sidepath. [Most of the games continue with 8.00 Qxb2 9.Qe1 cxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Nxd4 Bb4 12.Rb1 Bxc3 13.Rxb2 Bxe1 14.Rxe1 White is a pawn down again, but he has very strong compensation for it. Although sometimes it is only enough to gain back the material and the game heads toward a draw. 14...b6]
8...Bxc5 9.Bxc5 Qxc5 10.Nb5!
This is the point of dxc5. Black has a perfect pawn structure, but he has some concrete problems to solve around the c7 and d6 squares.

10...Kf8 Black had no time for the perfect arrangement of the pieces with Nge7 and 00. The strategy is clear for both sides for the later stage of the game. White should try to open the position somehow (mainly with c4 at some point), exploiting the fact that it will take the h8 rook a lot of time to join the game, while Black should aim for exchanges as the position without queens would favor him.
11.Nbd4 Nge7 12.00 Be4 13.Re1!
White protects his important e5 pawn against the threat of Bxf3 Nxf3 Ng6. In this case he simple moves his bishop away.
13...Qb4 This is the novelty. After all it looks like a dubious one. Black would like to create some weakening on the queenside to avoid setting up the healthy pawn formation with c3, stabilizing the d4 knight...

[The previous games continued with 13...h6 with the idea to execute an artificial castling after Kg8h7. Note that this would be much better than a quick g6Kg7, because it would weaken all the dark squares around the king. White might go for Qd2f4f6 and later Ng5. 14.c3 White stabilizes his knight and prepares to trade the very strong bishop on e4 with Bd3.]
Excellent intuition by Nakamura. He knows that moves like Rb1 or b3 are too slow and passive, he wants to obtain the healthy pawn formation with c3. He had to judge whether the sacrificed pawn will be worth its value for an active rook on the 7th rank or not.
14...Qxb2 Maybe Qb6 is more safe, but then Qb4 loses its point.
15.Rb1 Qxa3 16.Rxb7
A dynamic player like Nakamura does not hesitate long before sacrificing a pawn if he sees this position. The king on f8 becomes really vulnerable. White has very easy attacking plans like Ng5 or Qd2f4, while Black's defensive tasks is much harder, because there are no concrete lines and he must choose between several different plans and it is impossible to evaluate which one will be the best. From a practical point of view White's perspectives are much more promising.
Black tries to get rid of some pieces to decrease the level of the danger. [Black cannot get rid of the strong rook with 16...Rb8? 17.Rxb8+ Nxb8 18.Qb1! and suddenly the queen replaces the rook on b7 with even bigger power!; 16...h6 to prevent the Ng5 ideas, threatening the main weakness on f7 would probably have been met by 17.Qd2 The queen is heading to f4 and at the same time White wants to occupy the b-file with his other rook with the idea of a potential doubling on the 7th rank.]
17.Nxf3 h6
Black takes the g5 square under control.
The usual plans, the queen is heading to f4 and the rook gets ready to be doubled on the b-file.
Black prevents Qf4 and quickly intends to play Kg7 and Rfb8. White has no time to waste. 

[18...Ng6 was too slow. 19.Bd3 Kg8 20.Bxg6 fxg6 Black is missing only one move to play Kh7, but it is enough for White to strengthen his pressurewith 21.Rc7! Sending the knight away from c6 to free the d4 square for his own knight. 21...Qa6 (21...Ne7 22.Nd4 and the e6 falls.) 22.Qc3 Rc8 Black cannot hold the knight in view of the elegant 23.Qd3! Qxd3 24.Rxc8+ White saves his rook with check and recaptures the queen. 24...Kf7 (24...Kh7 25.Rxh8+) 25.Rc7+!+]
The most natural attacking move! White not only destroys the pawn structure in front of the black king, but also fights for the f4 square to occupy it with the queen.
19...g4 20.Nd4 Qa5 The trade of the queens would solve the problems, but White is not forced to accept it. [20...g3 was an interesting defensive idea to weaken the king a bit. However it has its drawback that it also opens the f-file on his own king. 21.fxg3 Qxg3 22.Nxc6 Nxc6 23.Rf1 Rh7 24.Rf4! Suddenly Black is in deep trouble after this very subtle move. White simply prevented Qxe5 and wants to play Bh5. 24...Rg7 

(24...Nxe5 drops a piece after 25.Qb4+ Kg7 (25...Kg8 26.Rb8+ Rxb8 27.Qxb8+ Kg7 28.Qxe5++) 26.Qd4!+ and the pin is deadly. 26...Qe1+ 27.Rf1 Qxe2 28.Rfxf7++) 25.Bh5! Nxe5 The same happens after 25...Nd8. 26.Rb3!+ trapping the queen!; 20...Nxd4 21.Qxd4 h5 is too passive. 22.Bd3+ followed by Ra1 or Reb1 and Qf4 with total domination.; 20...Nxe5 loses to 21.Qf4 with the double threat of Qxe5 and Nxe6. 21...Qd6 22.Bxg4+]
Keeping the strongest attacking piece, the queen. White is still a pawn down, so he must focus on gaining some benefits from his attacking perspectives.
21...Nxd4 22.Qxd4 Nf5

23.Qd2! A difficult move to find! Instead of concrete attempts to break through, Nakamura temporarily goes to passivity. The g4 pawn is hanging and the other plan is Bd3, trying to kick out the knight from its outpost. [23.Qxg4 drops too many pawns. 23...Qxc3 24.Reb1 Qxe5; 23.Qf4 allows 23...Qxc3 24.Rc1 Qd4! forcing the trade of queens!]
Mamedyarov looks for counterplay in active play. In general this is the right idea, but this time it does not help... [23...g3 24.Bd3 Qc5 25.Rf1! also looks very promising.; 23...h5 24.Bd3+ should lead to a quick defeat for Black.]
24.Bxg4 Qxc3 25.Qe2!
25...Nxh4 looks greedy, but there was already no adequate defence for Black. The main threat was Bxf5 exf5 and e6 with a mating attack. Black parried this idea. [The d-pawn does not bring salvation: 25...d3 26.Qe4 d2 27.Rd1 There is no defence for Black. 27...Re8 28.Bxf5 exf5 29.Qxf5 Qc4 30.Rxd2+; 25...Re8 has a nice refutation: 26.Bxf5 exf5

27.e6! Rxe6 (27...fxe6 28.Qe5+) 28.Rxf7+! mates soon.]
26.Bh5 Rh7 

27.Qe4! The most obvious move, but it actually required subtle calculation. Nakamura has done a perfect job. White is winning in all lines.
27...Rc8 Leaving from the Rxf7 Rxf7 Qxa8 threat. [27...f5!? would have been a spectacular defence, but it also loses after 28.exf6! Rxb7 29.Qxe6! White is a rook down, but the threat of Qe8 Rxe8 Rxe8 mate is too strong! (29.Qxb7 only leads to a draw because Black can prevent the mate on f7 with 29...Qxe1+ 30.Kh2 Qe5+ 31.g3 Qxf6 32.Qxa8+ Kg7=) 29...Qc8 30.Qd6+ Kg8 31.Qg3+ Kh7 32.Qxh4+ and the black king is too exposed. He cannot hold for long.; 27...Nf5 is refuted by 28.Rxf7+! Rxf7 29.Qxa8+ Kg7 30.Re4!+ and Rg4 mates.]
28.Qxh7 Qxe1+ 29.Kh2 Qxe5+ 30.g3
There are no more checks left for Black, which means the end of the game.
[30...Qxh5 31.Qh8#]
31.Rb8+ Ke7 32.Qxf7+ Kd6 33.Qf8+ A perfect victory by Nakamura!


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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Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2014 )
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