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GM Motylev - GM Eljanov annotated by GM Naiditsch

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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 29 May 2014

By GM Arkadij Naiditsch, #1 German chess player
Best FIDE rating: 2737


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We are going to see a very nice positional win by the current European Champion Alexander Motylev, who was also the second of Karjakin for many years. It is a very difficult job to combine your own chess career and having somebody for who you are working most of the time, but it seems like Motylev managed to find the right way.

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

Motylev,Alexander (2687) - Eljanov,Pavel (2732) [C84]
15th Karpov GM 2014 Poikovsky RUS (6.4), 17.05.2014
[Arkadij Naiditsch]
 
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 We are entering the main line of the Spanish opening. Motylev was probably happy not to see 3.. .Nf6 and another Berlin...
4.Ba4 Nf6 5.00 Be7 6.d3
In the last 5 years, the 6. d3 line got a lot of attention on the top level. The idea is simple, to save a tempo on playing Re1. Currently in the main line with 6.Re1 followed by c3 White is showing "nothing" against the Marshall (one of the main openings of Aronian for example) so to avoid going into deep analyses 6.d3 is a pretty good choice.
6...b5
[6...d6 is another possible way to go on here.]
7.Bb3 d6
Black is threatening to play Na5 now and to exchange the bishop on b3.
8.a3
is quite a new way of trying to achieve a slightly better position. [8.c3 00 9.Nbd2 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 was played in a lot of games, but I think Black should be doing fine here.; 8.a4 has been another main line for quite a while, but it looks like here as well Black even has a few options which lead to a safe position. 8...b4 (8...Bd7 is also very safe.) 9.h3 00 10.Nbd2 Be6 and Black is perfectly fine.]
8...00 9.Nc3
This is White's idea, to quickly bring the knight to the d5 square.
9...Bg4
Black is threatening to play Nd4 next.
10.Be3 There is no other good way of defending from Nd4.
10...Nd4 11.Bxd4 exd4 12.Nd5
This position is by far not new and has been analysed a lot lately because of the recent games from the Super Tournaments. At first sight it is hard to imagine White having any advantage, but things are more tricky. White has a better pawn structure and the general idea of playing f4 could theoretically be unpleasant for Black.
12...c5
a very logical move, Black is protecting the d4 pawn and he will also be able to play Be6 next.



13.a4!
Very strong and deep play. Usually we can say "never play where you are weaker", but this time things are looking a bit different. White needs to have an extra threat of opening the a-file at any moment and the bishop on b3 is a very strong piece, holding everything together.
13...Be6 14.Nxf6+!
The next very important positional decision. White does not take the bishop on e7 after which the position would be around equal, but he is planning a very long term plan where the white knight is going to be a better piece than Black's bishop.
14...Bxf6 15.Bxe6 fxe6 16.Qe2
The 16.Qe2 move is not really made for threatening e5, but more for connecting the rooks and be more flexible.
16...Qd7 17.b3
Of course White doesn't allow bxa4.
17...Qc7 I find this move a bit strange. [The main question for me is, does White get a real chance after 17...e5 followed by the simple b4 and then Rf7Raf8. Of course White can be doing better with a maneuver like Nd2Nc4 and somewhere try to break Black's position with the f4 push, but I still think that Black has excellent chances to keep the balance, although of course his position would be a bit passive.]
18.Rfe1
Motylev tries to force a decision of Black as to play e5 or not, to have a more clear situation in the center.



18...Be5?!
This move just can't be good. Black should not look for play on the kingside as it just helps White.
19.g3
A good move. White's main idea is still to play f4 at some point and now Nh4Ng2 is an excellent plan to support it.
19...h6 20.Nh4 Qf7
Black doesn't really seem to have a plan.
21.Ng2
Motylev is playing very safely. [I think it was time to play f4: 21.f4 Bf6 (21...g5? 22.fxe5 gxh4 23.Qg4+) 22.Nf3 and I think White's position is already a bit better.]
21...Bf6
is directed against the f4 move.
22.Ra2!
A very nice move. By threatening Rea1 White is forcing Black to make a decision. To play b4 and close everything on the queenside, which would make things easy for White to focus on the play on the kingside, or the resign the a-file, which is always a very dangerous decision.
22...e5
Better later than never, but the white knight on g2 is now better placed than on f3 before.
23.Rea1
So what to do now for Black, b4 or Rac8?
23...Rac8?!
I think this is already quite a serious positional mistake. To give up the only open file just can't be good. [23...b4 24.Rf1 With maybe a minimally better position for White because of the upcoming f4, but nothing too dramatic has happened. Black also has an easy plan with Rae8 and maybe d5 next, so I think there is nothing to worry about as Black.]
24.axb5
Of course White is taking control over the a-file.
24...axb5 25.Ra7
Smart play by Motylev. By exchanging a pair of rooks, White's combination of queen+knight is becoming stronger.
25...Rc7
Of course Black cannot let White dominate on the 7th rank.
26.Rxc7 Qxc7



27.Ne1!
A strong move! The white knight has nothing more to do on g2 and is getting into the game over the f3 square. Another idea of White could for example be to play h4Nf3Nh2Ng4.
27...Qc6
Very straightforward play for the d5 push, but does it bring anything good to Black?! [27...Qd7 Not allowing White to play Qg4 on the spot. Black's position is worse, but still pretty safe.]
28.Qg4
The white queen took a great spot on g4.
28...d5? It is clearly not Eljanov's day, who is pushing d5 in almost the worst possible moment. Now the white knight is going to be the hero on his perfect e4 square.
29.exd5 Qxd5 30.Nf3
Too easy to miss. The Nd2Ne4 maneuver is almost deadly to Black. Queen+rook+knight is a very dangerous combination in the attack.
30...c4 Black tries to create at least some play on the queenside.
31.bxc4 bxc4 32.Nd2 c3
Black's hope now is clear, to somehow reach a rook endgame where White's c2 pawn could be a possible weakness, but all this is not really realistic.
33.Ne4 Motylev reached the maximum he could dream of. He has a position where his knight is clearly stronger than the black bishop, the rook is active on the open file, the queen has a great position on g4 and the white king is very safe. From a practical point of view, White's position could already be almost winning!
33...Qb7
Stopping the white rook from entering the 7th rank.
34.Kg2 Kh8




35.h4
Typical and logical. White is not only preparing to play Kh2 and get out of the pin, but Qh5g4g5 could also be a dangerous break.
35...Ra8
What else can Black do?!
36.Rxa8+ Qxa8 37.Qf5
This move does not change anything, because Black just doesn't have any play at all. [37.Qg6 could also have been played immediately.]
37...Qd5 38.Qg6 Bd8
Black's posit ion is so hopeless and White has a lot of different plans to improve.
39.Qe8+ Kh7 40.h5 Motylev decides to play for the total control of the white squares. Now the easy threat is to play Kh3Kg4Kf5 and the funny thing is that Black has no ways to even give a check.
40...Bg5



41.Kh3 Qa2
Eljanov ends his suffering by making a fatal error, but I guess there was really no pleasure in suffering a slow death here anymore.
42.Nd6!
Black cannot defend against Nf7 next. We just saw a great example and a deep strategical plan which Motylev started in the opening phase of the game and fulfilled in a perfect way, although of course with a little help from his opponent. A great game to learn understanding pawn structures and how dangerous things can become in case of abandoning the only open file.

10

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

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