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Nikita Vitiugov vs Markus Ragger
World Cup (2013), Tromso NOR, rd 2, Aug-15
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights Variation (D90)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-16-13  paavoh: Like the GOTD yesterday, this one also deserved the name of "Grunfailed". What a gutsy all-out attack by Vitiugov, he seemed to neglect all guidelines of opening play.
Aug-16-13  Pulo y Gata: Ragger is usually the one inflicting this kind of attack to his opponents, here he's on the receiving end. Nice game.
Aug-16-13  fisayo123: This variation of the Grunfeld is truly awesome. One of the sharpest lines in chess?
Aug-23-13  Abdel Irada: A fetor of premature flank play emanates from 5. ...dxc4?!, ceding the center and kingside. Better, or at least more consistent with the principles of the opening, might have been 5. ...c5.

As we see, Black's intended counterattack with 7. ...b5? never had a chance to get started.

This would appear to take us back to the old formula: A flank attack is best met by action in the *center*. In this game, Black failed to heed that dictum, and paid dearly for it.

Aug-23-13  twinlark: Not sure if that's really fair. Starting with the assumption that the Austrian #1, as a near 2700 GM and a leading exponent of the Grunfeld, wasn't likely to blunder as early as move 5 in this opening, analysis reveals that Ragger's mistake came later.

Taking the rook on h7 was not his decisive mistake but it provided plenty of opportunities for Vitiugov to harass him to death with a powerful and lasting initiative. Instead of the capture, the deceptively simple developing move <12...Nc6!>:


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forces White to decide what to do next, as he is now forced to move his rook. White also has to contend with a lot of pressure on his e5 pawn, undermining his powerful looking passer.

White's best options are either <13. Bg5> and Black simply moves his queen to d7, or he can try the exchange sacrifice on g7, which leads to a wild tactical melee with chances for both sides. Black is equal at the very least.

Aug-23-13  Abdel Irada: <twinlark>: Is this engine analysis, or your own calculations? It's my impression that Black already stands worse after 11. d6, and also that the reason why is exactly the kind of thing engines tend not to "understand." It's a mixture of central control, threats against a poorly defended king and the splitting of Black's position by the forced 11. ...e6; taken together, all these things spell "danger." There are no immediate forced tactical knockouts, but the long-term positional advantages are likely to be converted into one in time.

In any case, my focus here was on the thematic consideration: Where White has taken time to launch an early sortie on the flank, Black has tended to fare best when he plays aggressively in the center (even at the cost of a pawn sacrifice) rather than playing on the other wing.

Surely, if such sorties are to be refuted, this is the principled and consistent way to do it.

Aug-23-13  twinlark: <Abdel Irada>

Engine analysis, I'm afraid, using my clunky old Shredder. I'm simply not a good enough player to critique these kinds of GM positions without assistance.

The d6/e6 split of Black's position becomes less problematic if it's going to require a piece to maintain if the base of the chain at e5, attacked by two knights and a bishop is eliminated.

Having said all that, you're likely right about the principled means of dealing with such attacks. I was assuming that a super-GM wouldn't trip on his shoelaces in his own specialised opening.

Just goes to show.

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