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Fabiano Caruana vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
"Maxime Overdrive" (game of the day Sep-18-2015)
Tata Steel (2015), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 13, Jan-25
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Adams Attack (B90)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-27-15  Nf8: Caruana's rather horrendous score with White against the Najdorf since 2012: +2 -7 =5

Strange that no one thought of playing it against him in the Sinquefield Cup...

Jan-27-15  sevenseaman: 28...Be8 is priceless; it wrongfoots White into making a critical error!

30...Re4+!! It an exalting experience! MV-L feels no need to kill the individual pieces when he can garrote his opponent.

Jan-27-15  fisayo123: <Nf8> Thanks for the stats. I had a feeling he'd lost a huge amount of games vs the Najdorf recently, but I didn't know it was that bad.

He tends to play against the spirit of the Najdorf sometimes, playing it as if it were a Spanish or something. Too positional.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: I had an inkling Sinquefield was a one of a kind result.

It was simply too much of an expectation by fans to see Caruana replicating that success.

Many people want to see someone other than Carlsen making noise in World Chess, and that's understandable, but it may also be quite probable that it wont be Caruana who will be the guy to take Carlsen down.

That may take a good number of years before it happens.

Jan-27-15  Everett: <zanzibar> Mickey does play this line, however.

Regarding Najdorf Sicilian's in general, my thoughts as white were to not worry about ..a6 and ..b5. Just play a3. White has the development lead, black compounds it with two pawn moves to Whites one.

Focus on the center, ..d5 is much more important to control/prevent.

Jan-30-15  fisayo123: For me, the best game played in TATA steel A group. Pure intuition.
Feb-04-15  Everett: This may go down as one of the better games of 2015
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Sorry, but this was a positively horrible game by Caruana. Who does he think he is, Bronstein?


Feb-04-15  Everett: Black was "good Bronstein," White "bad Bronstein."
Feb-04-15  pinoy king: What kind of monkey of a chess player walks into checkmate? This is Carlsen's so called biggest rival? Wesley SO is the biggest threat to Carlsen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Everett: Black was "good Bronstein," White "bad Bronstein.">

I was thinking you might say something like that. :-) Though the way White played didn't seem very Bronstein-like, except maybe for 23.Bxe4.

But this is a wonderful game, Morfishine. We should be grateful to Caruana for being MVL's enabler, if nothing else.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <keypusher> Thanks for the reply, admittedly the comment was biased by just having gone through this Bronstein brilliancy: Bronstein vs Ljubojevic, 1973

Yes this is a wonderful game. I was struck how Bronstein's king walk up the middle contrasted with how miserably Caruana's king walk turned out

BTW: Nice comments on positional play over at Grenke. I have a few comments I'd like to add but in a rush now...later


Sep-18-15  Atking: <fisayo123: For me, the best game played in TATA steel A group. Pure intuition.> agree. To imagine that after 17...Qd6 Black will control every thing Queen side, Center and King side is a very hight level conception.
Sep-18-15  newzild: I play the Najdorf all the time against 1. e4, and I would never think of 13. d5 as being a correct pawn sac in this position.

Black's brilliant conception is capped off by the pretty 30...Rxe4.

An excellent and instructive game by MLV.

Sep-18-15  pedro99: White played without a plan after the pawn sac. I bet he wished he hadn't castled after 18..f5, which is why he had to play 18.f4! instead of dallying on the Q-side. If 18..ef4: 19.Nf4: The Black King has become almost as exposed as White's whilst if 18..f6 19.f5 clams everything up. Black will probably play 18...Bf6 when I can see White making use of the e-file even if it involves an exchange sac. What say ye?
Sep-18-15  sfm: The last move, 35.-,Bf6 is a real nasty one. Not only are both white rooks now under attack - there is also uncoverable mate next move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I first thought white was facing zugzwang...but no, white was facing INESCAPABLE mate!
Sep-18-15  belgradegambit: I like Smirin's approach to 6. h3 here Radjabov vs Smirin, 2015 He plays 6...g6 and converts to a Dragondorf where h3 really doesn't further White's attack.
Sep-18-15  JohnBoy: I get the distinct impression that Fab had no idea what MVL was up to with 13...d5. Probably deep home prep, but no matter. Great play by the Frenchman.
Sep-18-15  The Kings Domain: A question: why didn't black capture the rook on the 30th move? If he was concerned about white's pawn advance then didn't his material superiority offset this?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: This game finished #11 in the Game Collection: Best Games of 2015 contest, missing the Top Ten by one point.
Apr-18-16  newzild: <The Kings Domain: A question: why didn't black capture the rook on the 30th move? If he was concerned about white's pawn advance then didn't his material superiority offset this> The main reason he didn't capture the rook is that he found the pretty six-move combination that finished the game:

31. Kxe4

Forced, because if White plays 31. fxe4 he loses a piece on f1.

32. Kf4

What else? Black had all sorts of discovered-check threats, eg, 32. Ke3 Bxc5+ (destroying White's only ace - his pawn front - while also retaining the initiative) and 32. Kd4 Bf6 mate.

33. Kf5

Other moves fail to 33...Bxc5 mate.

34. Re1

Black's threats included the immediate 34...Bd3 mate and 34...Bf6 followed by mate with the rook or light-squared bishop (which is why the only alternative, 34. Rd1, doesn't work).

35. Re4 Bf6

And there is no way to prevent 36...Re5 mate.

Aug-15-16  NoraNora: 18. a5? is a very strange move...
Feb-27-17  Saniyat24: These two players when they play each other there is magic...!
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < NoraNora: 18. a5? is a very strange move... >

black threatened ..b5 with intent to damage white's pawn structure if not outright win a pawn.

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