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Vassily Ivanchuk vs Sergey Karjakin
Bazna King's Tournament (2011), Medias ROU, rd 5, Jun-15
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Giuoco Pianissimo (C53)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: But Black was already better, even before the 16.♖ad1? blunder. His ♘'s in d5 and g6 are very agressive, and his ♗ in b6 is a dagger poised to strike White's ♔. When you set a very passive structure and your opponent does not waste tactical opportunities, things are likely to go bad.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ajile: 5.d3 seems optically a bit strange. Isn't one of the main points of 4.c3 to play d4?

So now after 5.d3 White would lose a tempo if he later plays d4.

Jun-15-11  BobbyFissure: I've never played the Italian Game, and don't really know the theory, but d3 is actually much more popular at high levels.
Jun-15-11  kia0708: I don't remember being so disapointed with Ivanchuk. I guess this is not his tournament.
Jun-16-11  sevenseaman: A rip-roarer from Karjakin. I like it when a super train morphs into a plane - no need to stick to lines.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Black's opening choice with the rarely played 7...Ne7 follows one previous game in our opening explorer where it was played to a draw in E Pandavos vs P Petran, 1994. Perhaps it was unfamiliarity with this line that led to White being caught a few moves later with a surprise piece sacrifice on his King side.

Black's demolition sham sacrifice 16...Bxh3!! appears to yield only a small advantage after 17. d4! Bg4! 18. c4 Ndf4 (also good is18... Bxf3 19. gxf3 Ndf4 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. Rxe8+ Qxe8 22. c5 fxg3 23. Qxg6 gxf2+ 24. Kxf2 Bd8 25. Qe4 Bf6 ) 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. c5 fxg3 22. Qxg6 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Bc7 24. Kf1 gxf2 25. Kxf2 Bd8 . Black has an extra pawn, but the position is far from won.

However, as <WinKing> observes 17. c4? appears to be a near decisive mistake, allowing the strong 18. Ndf4! to where Black's strong followup lead to a win.

After 16...Bxh3!! capturing the offered piece gives Black a likely winning advantage after 16... Bxh3!! 17. gxh3? Qf6! 18. d4 (18. Nh2? Qxf2+ 19. Kh1 Qxg3 ; 18. Kg2 Nh4+ 19. Nxh4 Qxf2+ 20. Kh1 Qxg3 21. Re2 Qxh4 ) 18... Qxf3 19. Bxd5 cxd5 20. Re3 Qf6 21. Qf5 Qh4 22. Rde1 Re6 23. Qg4 Rae8 24. Nf5 Qxg4+ 25. hxg4 Bd8 26. R3e2 b5 27. b3 Bf6 28. Kg2 e4 to .

Appears to me White's game started to decline with 15. Qc2?! Instead, the natural 15. d4 gives White comfortable equality after 15. d4 exd4 16. Rxe8+ Qxe8 17. Nxd4 Bxd4 18. cxd4 Be6 19. Qf3 Rd8 20. Bc2 Qd7 21. Re1 =.

Also, had he seen the sacrifice coming White might have held with 16. h4 Bg4! (16... Nxh4 17. Nxe5 =) 17. h5 Nh4 18. Nh2 Bd7 19. Ne4 Be6 20. Rad1 Qc7 21. Bc1 Rad8 22. Qe2 Bd7 23. g3 =.

P.S.: No doubt 16...Bxh3!! would make a good future Sunday puzzle position, even if it only leads to a small advantage for Black with best play.

Jun-16-11  Robyn Hode: It appears the fatal mistake was 18. c5? White probably could have still held with 18. Bxf4 exf4 19 Rxe8+ Qxe8.
Jun-16-11  Imposter: indeed, my comp agrees with that diagnosis.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ulhumbrus: Instead of offering the sacrifice ...Bxh3 after playing first a preparatory move like ...Ndf4, Karjakin plays the sacrifice 16...Bxh3!! immediately and after that 17...Ndf4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: I suspect that Ivanchuk was simply dozing along "playing by hand" methodically putting his pieces on good squares slowly manoeuvering for a slight positional advantage.

<16. d4!> is probably necessary, but it offers no advantage, and is no "walk in the park" to calculate, for instance:

<16...exd4> 17. Nxd4 Nb4 18. cxb4 Qxd4 19. Rxe6

click for larger view

which avoids losing losing with: <19. Re2?> Bxb3!! 20. Qxb3 Rxe2 21. Nxe2 Qxf2+ 22. Kh1 Qxe2)

<19...Qxf2+> 20. Kh2 Nh4 21. Rxe8+ Rxe8 22. Bc3 Nf3+ 23. Kh1 Qxg3 24. gxf3 Qxh3+

click for larger view

<25. Qh2> Qxf3+ 26. Qg2 with a perpetual check, or if intent on risking all for a win, a Bishop for three pawns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mozart72: Ivanchuk was not throwing punches at Karjakin, he was throwing cupcakes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <Robyn Hode: It appears the fatal mistake was 18. c5? White probably could have still held with 18. Bxf4 exf4 19 Rxe8+ Qxe8.> Maybe so, but Black's extra pawn makes it difficult for White and gives the second player practical winning chances.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <ajile> - < 5.d3 seems optically a bit strange. Isn't one of the main points of 4.c3 to play d4? So now after 5.d3 White would lose a tempo if he later plays d4.>

5.d3 is normal in the 'Modern Italian' - the old early-d4 lines have long since been analyzed to death, and 5.d3 is the standard way to reach a slower, maneuvering game, not unlike a Ruy Lopez.

Black usually plays ...d6 before castling. The move order here would have allowed White to gain queenside space with 5...0-0 6.b4 Bb6 7.a4 a6, though it's not especially dangerous. In any case, they transposed to the main line.

As <patzer2> says, 7...Ne7 is rarely played. An option for White here is 8.d4, when the slight loss of tempo is offset by Black's piece moves.

It's a long time, though, since I've actually played the Italian/Giuoco, as opposed to admiring it from a distance.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: After 7...Ne7 8.d4, there's a long line - much of it forced - with some amusing tactics:

8.d4 Bb6 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Nbd2 Ng3!

click for larger view

11.Re1 Ng6 12.Nf1 Nxf1 13.Bg5!

click for larger view

14.Bxe3 Nxe5 15.Nxe5 dxe5 16.Bxb6 axb6 17.Rxe5

... and a lot of wood has vanished from the board. 17...Qf6 has been played here, but it already looks drawish.

click for larger view

Jun-16-11  kia0708: why 13. Bb3 ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Chessical> That's a nice line after 16.d4 ... and your final position, after 24...Qh3+ 25.Qh2, *has* to be drawn. In many cases I'd fancy the chances of three passed connected pawns vs a piece, but here White's counterchances are too strong, even with Queens off.

I don't think 16.d4 is forced, though. Other moves, maybe as innocuous as 16.a3, also prevent the ...Nb4 tactic - and, indirectly, ...Bxh3. Another option is 16.Re4, though I have less confidence in it. In these positions it's very easy to go wrong.

I played a ...Bxh3 sac against a strong (2100-ish and rising) junior player last year -- who surprised me by not taking it. If he had, I was going to win the Exchange a couple of moves on, leaving a roughly equal material balance, where White had two Bishops but an exposed King. He said afterwards that his attitude was to accept that he'd missed a tactic, and get on with building his attack. So I retreated the Bishop and won the ending.

I was still impressed by his pragmatic thinking - you don't always have to let your opponent pull you into areas you don't like.

Jun-18-11  notyetagm: YERMOLINSKY ICC GOTD commentary ->

Jun-18-11  sevenseaman: Can I count this one as a rather well-played game by Karjakin? I think the boy wove magic.
Jun-18-11  notyetagm: <sevenseaman: Can I count this one as a rather well-played game by Karjakin? I think the boy wove magic.>

Boy? He's 21 years old and has a wife!


Jun-18-11  bronkenstein: <Can I count this one as a rather well-played game by Karjakin? I think the boy wove magic>

Nah, it was just a blunder , and pretty obvious one...go Chucky ;)

Jun-20-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: Karjakin's Best Games
Jun-21-11  Peter Nemenyi: This opening is wrongly designated, by the way. 4. c3 is just the main-line Giuoco Piano. The Pianissimo is the absolute beginner's opening with the QN going to c3.
Feb-12-13  notyetagm: Ivanchuk vs Karjakin, 2011

37 ... ♖f6-d6 0-1

click for larger view

<Ulhumbrus: On 37...Rd6 the attack is over, but to borrow Keene's phrase, Black has too many pawns.>

Yep, with the White d3-pawn about to fall, White will have two pieces versus the rook but Black will have four, count'em four(!!!!) extra pawns.


Feb-12-13  notyetagm: Brilliant win by Karjakin.
Premium Chessgames Member
  goldenbear: Most people play 7.a6 here, but I don't know why they don't prefer 7.a5.
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