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GM Caruana - GM Topalov annotated by GM Naiditsch

User Rating: / 19
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 11 September 2014

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

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The rise of the new superstar Fabiano Caruana began already a few years ago, but what the only 22-year old Italian is showing in the Sinquefield Cup is just unreal! 7 straight wins in the strongest chess tournament in history! Unbelievable. From a professional point of view I can tell that Caruana is not very lucky and his opponents don't blunder-he is simply playing much better chess. Great preparation, great positional play, great in tactics and precise in converting his advantage, this is what Caruana is showing us in his last games. And in the current game we will see a great example of how good Fabiano Caruana really is. After the opening Black makes a minimal mistake and gets himself in trouble. By playing solid/strong moves White's advantage is getting bigger and bigger and Caruana doesn't miss the moment to finish his opponent with a nice winning strike!

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

Image from the official site

Caruana,Fabiano (2801) - Topalov,Veselin (2772) [B46]
2nd Sinquefield Cup 2014 Saint Louis USA (6.1), 02.09.2014
[Arkadij Naiditsch]
1.e4 Caruana almost always sticks to 1.e4.
Topalov is also a very fighting player and almost every single one of his games in full of action, which is why his main opening is the Sicilian.
2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3
What is also nice about the play of Caruana is that he is always going for the main lines and usually has some new little idea in his pocket.
5...a6 Not the most popular line, but quite a tricky one.
Clearly the main move. From a general point of view of course it is never great to give Black the possibility of having a strong center, but now the move a6 will be useless.
6...bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.00 Nf6 So far things were very usual and now White has quite a few choices.

9.Re1 is one of the main moves. Another possible plan for White is the idea with f4, it can be played over several move orders and it is usually connected with putting the queen on e2.
is also the main move of theory and a very logical one. Black is preparing to castle kingside after which Black's position would be perfectly fine, so White needs to act quickly.
10.e5 The most logical move.
10...Nd7 11.Qg4
This is the idea of the move before 10.e5. The pawn on g7 is under an unpleasant attack.
is clearly the main move. Caruana already has quite some experience in this position as he is playing it with both colors. After 11...g6 12.Bh6 the position is sharp, but White seems to have an advantage.
An interesting move. White is trying to sort of save a tempo on playing the b3 move-which is actually useful anyway, so it is quite unclear if it actually brings White anything more than just being a different move order. [12.b3 c5 13.Na4 is the more usual move order. White's idea is clear, to play c4 and fix the black pawn structure.]
Topalov is immediately reacting and trying to figure out the difference.

[Maybe Black should have continued with the usual 12...c5 and now White has a choice between getting back to the normal line with 13.b3 or try 13.c4 Qa5 14.Qd1 d4 and for me it is very hard to say if White really did something important in comparison to 13.b3. It seems to me that Black is doing fine here.]
A very unusual and a very strong move. White is preparing the Bd2 move and at the same time in many lines the rook on e2 could be very well placed, for example in case of the f4 push followed by Rf1.
Maybe not a bad move, but a very risky one. Black is launching some play on the kingside, where it is actually the black king who is finding himself "naked". [13...c5 looks much more solid. 14.Bd2 Qc7 (14...Nxe5? 15.Rxe5 Qxd2 16.Nb6 Rb8 17.Nxc8 Rxc8 and now White has 18.Rxd5 with a very big advantage.) 15.c4 Once again Blacks seems to not be able to take on e5 and in case of not playing Nxe5 the move Qa5 was just a loss of a tempo. 15...Nxe5 16.Bf4! Nxg4 17.Bxc7 and because of White's great development Black's position is very dangerous here.]
14.Qf4 There was no other place to go because the knight on a4 is hanging.
14...g5 If you say A with the h5 move you need to say B with the g5 move.
is also the only move for White.
I think this is already a serious mistake. By leaving the queens on the board, the h5 and g5 moves become clearly contra-productive. White is only getting more attacking targets. [Usually in the Sicilian it is a good idea for Black to exchange the queens if possible and here it is no different: 15...gxf4 16.Bxa5 Now Black has a lot of different moves, but for example after 16...Rg8 if White is better here, it should be mininally better.]
Now the g5 pawn became a target.

Could it be that Black made a miscalculation and was hoping to win the pawn on e5 when playing 13... h5?!
17...Rg8 [17...Nxe5? of course doesn't work because of 18.Rxe5! Qxe5 19.Bc3 and the rook on h8 is falling.]
18.Rae1 Simple and good. The e5 pawn is protected.
18...c5 What else?!
19.c4 dxc4 This move can't be good either as Black is opening the position further while his king has a very unsafe place on f8. [19...d4 was a better move. 20.b3 Bb7 21.Nb2 with the plan of playing Be4 and Nd3 at the right moment. The problem in comparison to the usual structures with the pawns on h7 and g7, where Black is doing more or less fine, is that now the pawns on h4 and g5 are very badly placed and are under constant attack. White clearly has a big advantage here.]
20.Bxc4 Bb7

I like such moves a lot! Black's only chance is to use the long diagonal a8h1 and maybe at some good moment to play h3 himself, so Caruana is stopping all the black hopes and at the same time h3 could be a very useful move for the future.
21...Rd8 22.Bc3 Nb8
Topalov is trying to at least get his knight to d4.
Another very strong silent move by Caruana. It stops Black from playing Nc6 and White wants to play b3Nb2Nd3, bringing his last piece into the attack. Black is almost paralyzed.
After this move all is lost! Black is falling into the trap. [23...Rg7 was better. Black now wants to play Nc6Nd4, with a very bad position, but at least the fight would go on.]
Black gets what he was asking for. To play with an open pawn position and a king on f8 is very dangerous.
24...fxe6 25.Rf3+
Black has 2 moves now:

[Topalov was probably initially planning to play 25...Kg7 but here White is winning with a very nice combination too: 26.Qh5 Rdf8 27.Rf6!! Black has no defence against the mating attack... 27...Rxf6 28.exf6+ Bxf6 29.Qxg5+ Winning back the piece and getting a totally winning position.]
There is no more escape here for Black.
26...Rg7 [26...Nd4 was not much better since after 27.Qxg8+ Kd7 28.Qf7 Nxf3+ 29.gxf3 White is 2 pawns up and he still has his mating attack.]
27.Qh6 Precision until the end...
I guess Topalov still had little hopes to survive this game, but not after the next move!
28.e6! A very beautiful move! Of course White also had many other moves which probably would have won the game as well, but it is great to see how precise Caruana is acting in winning positions, practically not giving his opponents any chances for survival.
Black doesn't really have many options...
The rook on g7 is hanging and in case of 29...Rg8 White has an easy win with 30. Qh5.
29...Bf8 30.Qh5+ Ke7
Now the most simple move is

What a great game by Caruana! Logical strong moves and a beautiful finish. Could it be that we finally see somebody who could be a match for Carlsen- or even somebody who is stronger?!


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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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 September 2014 )
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