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GM David - GM Vachier-Lagrave annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 27
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 15 May 2014
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary
Best FIDE rating: 2672

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A nice example on the theme how to launch an effective attack in case of same side castling.

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

Alberto David vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Photo circa 2008

David,Alberto (2579) - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2758) [A15]
Condino ITA Condino ITA (1.1), 30.04.2014
[Balogh Csaba]
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.b4 Vachier-Lagrave is known for his extremely deep knowledge of the Gruenfeld defence. White would like to avoid the long theoretical lines and decides to handle the position in an original manner.
3...Bg7 4.Bb2 00 5.g3
White fianchettoes both of his bishops. He delays the decision whether to play in the center or on the queenside.

Creating the positional threat of playing a5. The move has prevented the principled reply of b5, while in case of a3, Black might quickly attack the b4 pawn with Na6 and Qb6. Additionally the pawn is going to be well placed on c6 because it limits the power of the g2 bishop.
6.Na3! I like this answer a lot. White prepares to strengthen his b4 pawn with Nc2 and the direct a5 could be met by b5!, followed by recapturing with the knight.
6...Qb6 Vachier is a tactical player and he looks for tactical motifs right in the opening. The d6e5 plan from the game was also possible.
7.Nc2 d6 The c6d6 e5 is the most logical way to occupy the center, because it locks both white bishops. [A principled follow-up of Qb6 could have been 7...Ne4!? The double attack on f2 and b2 forces White to take a commiting decision. 8.c5 (8.d4 creates a nice outpost for the knight on d4, as it cannot be kicked out with d3 anymore. 8...d5) 8...Qd8 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 and the c5 pawn allows Black the undermining ideas of b6 and d6. Black has solved the opening problems.]
Protecting the b2 bishop. [On the natural 8.Bg2 Black had interesting options, like 8...Ne4 as c5 is not an option for White anymore and on 9.d4 a5 10.a3 Be6 with a quick attack on the queenside pawns, with the idea to create holes on the light squares. 11.c5 Qb5 Black has the initiative.]
8...e5 9.Bg2 [If White was better developed, he could have achieved favourable exchanges on the pawn structure byplaying 9.c5 dxc5 10.bxc5 Qa5! (10...Qxc5 immediately does not work because of 11.Ba3!) 11.Bxe5 Qxc5

White has traded his sidepawn for a central one, which would be excellent, but there are some concrete problems with which it is not easy to deal. Black is again threatening to play Ng4 or Bf5.]
9...e4 Vachier wants to grab the initiative, but he opens the a1h8 diagonal. I am not sure if it was the best idea. [Simply developing with 9...Re8 10.00 a5 11.a3 Bg4 was comfortable for Black.]
10.Nfd4 a5 11.a3
[Because of the fact that White could take back with the knight on b5, he should have played 11.b5! with the idea to open the queenside and after 11...c5 12.Nb3 a4 temporarily pushes back the pieces, but Black seriously weakens his d5 square 13.Nba1! Ne3 and Nac2 are coming next, both knights are heading to d5. Sooner or later White will also undermine the e4 pawn with d3 and he achieves an edge.]
11...axb4 12.axb4 Nbd7
Logical development of the pieces. The knight is heading to e5, which was the whole point of the e4 push.
13.00 Re8 14.Bc3
[14.Ra1!? made sense. The b2 bishop does not need to be protected anymore, therefore White might fight for the opened file. If Black trades the rooks, the queen will be excellently placed on a1, strengthening the pressure on the long diagonal.]
14...Ne5 15.Ne3

This is the moment, when Black decides to launch an attack against the king.
The position is closed and the center is locked, therefore such an action is completely justified. Black would like to annoy his opponent with h4. If White prevents it by playing h4 himself, he would give an excellent outpost on g4 for the black minor pieces.
16.Ra1 Rxa1 17.Qxa1 h4
Consequently following the plan.
[If White was afraid, he could have exchanged the queen with 18.Qa5 but at the moment it was not obvious what Black wants on the kingside, therefore White decided to make progress on the queenside, where he is better.] 18...hxg3 19.hxg3 Neg4 The plan is clear. Black would like like to mate on h2 and he only needs two moves to drive his queen there with Qc5h5.
The most logical move. White opens the long diagonal and prepares to take on g4 and put his other knight to e3. The Qc5 move seemingly loses a piece, however Vachier-Lagrave finds a brilliant idea to make it work.

[20.Nb3! should have been played, preventing the Qc5 idea and opening the long diagonal.]
Black had to foresee the entire line which happened in the game. It required extremely good calculation.
21.Nxg4 Nxg4 22.Bxg7 [22.Ne3 prevents the mate, but drops a pawn after 22...Bxc3 23.Qxc3 cxb5
22...Qh5 23.Rb1 White thought that there is only one check on h2 and he ends up with an extra piece. But Black had seen things much further.
23...Qh2+ 24.Kf1

With this calm retreat Black has prepared the decisive threat of Bh3 with the idea of Qh1 mate! There is no adequate defence against it.
A very nice defensive attempt along the 3rd rank, but Vachier finds another beautiful tactical blow!

[25.Ne3 is refuted by 25...Bh3 26.Ke1 Qg1+ 27.Bf1 Kxg7+ and White cannot survive for long with such a pin on the back rank. Black simply wants to leave the pin with Kg8 followed by Ng4, deflecting the defender of the f1 bishop.]
What a move! The only way to win! White gets mated in any case. [25...Bxg4? is bad in view of 26.Bxe5! attacking the queen, so Bh3 does not work at once, while after 26...Rxe5 27.Rb3! and Rg3 protects everything!]
Otherwise White would have played Qg1.
26...exf3 27.Bxf3 Bxg4! The point of Nf3! Mate is now inevitable and White resigned.[27...Bxg4 28.Bxg4 (28.Bg2 Be2+ 29.Ke1 Qg1+ 30.Bf1 Qxf1#; 28.Qc3 Bh3+ 29.Bg2 Qxg2#; 28.Ne3 Bxf3 29.Ke1 Qg1#) 28...Qh1# It is amazing that from seemingly nowhere Black suddenly gave mate in a few moves.]  


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, 15 May 2014 )
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