Check It Out: I am playing through this game very slowly from black's POV, working out each side's various plans and lines, and find it illuminating and inspiring.
Caruana's decision to control the b4 square with 13
a5 struck me as an important decision, and his plan to control the e4 square and the light square complex in general starting with 17
f5 right after playing 16...f6 seems inspired.
Kf7 allowed blacks's king a quick escape route if and when white mounts pressure on the open h-file. Sure enough, the black king beats a hasty sidestep to d7.
Whoa, what was that?! That move stunned me. Allow white to capture the g6 pawn with tempo? Didn't even cross my mind. I'm sitting here contemplating what to do after white plays 31.Rxg6
Is there some tactic involving 31
f4?? Pressure on the h1-a8 diagonal?
Okay, I don't know what's going on here. Why can't white take on g6?
f4 does look dangerous. If 32.Rxe6 fxg3 the white rook is trapped. So the white queen has to move without losing sight of the now attacked rook on g6, but then black wins the exchange. Okay that makes sense. So take the rook on h8 instead, but now black has h-file possession. Well done Caruana!
I worked out this nice plan for move 32
Rh5, planning for
g5 and then ...Qh6 with threats on h1 and potentially g2, but no, Caruana just goes ahead and plays
I mean, why would you need to protect the pawn before pushing it? :/
Okay, so what do we do after the seemingly inevitable 33.Qxg5?
Qc4 looks strong, threatening to get in to e2
33. Rf1. Nope, white doesn't go for the g5 pawn yet.
Qh6 looks very strong as does 33
Not yet. 33
Rh4 threatens Rg4 with serious pressure on g2. 34.Qe1 perhaps? Of course, 34.Qxg5 is still on
Ummm, 34.Rf4. Didn't see that coming. Okay
White had to get rid of blacks LSB, the pressure was too much I guess. I did not see that exchange sac coming either.
Great ending by Caruana. He had the right plan to trade queens and win with a very active rook.