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Sergey Karjakin vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
World Cup (2009), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 5, Dec-03
Spanish Game: Open. Bernstein Variation (C80)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: 15.b4 seems to be a novelty by Karjakin - Be3 is the usual move here (played by Karjakin himself in Karjakin vs Yusupov, 2007). One subtle point of this novelty becomes clear on move 18, where Black has a problem maintaining the pawn on d3 by 18...Bg6, because of 19.Ba2! followed by 20.e6.

22...Bxg4 would lead Black to big trouble after 23.Be4! with a nasty pin, but after 22...Bd5(!) Karjakin chooses to give back the pawn with 23.Bc2 and maintain the bishop pair, to keep up pressure on Black's position (rather than playing 23.Be4). Indeed, he gets a lasting initiative into the rook endgame. Note the accuracy of playing first 34.Rxc4 and then 35.Ra5! instead of an immediate 34.Ra5? which leads to 34...Rxa5 35.bxa5 Rb8!

On move 42, after 41...Kc8? (better was Kc6 - but not 41...Ke7? 42.Kd5!) 42.Rd5! should have been very strong - preventing Rb5, which allows Black counterplay, before playing Kf6.

On move 46, Karjakin made a very good decision - instead of exchanging pawns by 46.Rxa6 Rxc3, he decided to give up the b-pawn and push c4-c5-c6 in an attempt to lock the black King and use the potential mating threats. Black could probably still draw with accurate play, but he had to solve more difficult problems in order to achieve that.

And indeed, Mamedyarov already committed a losing mistake with 48...Kd8? (instead of Kb8 or Rb2), which could have been punished most efficiently by 49.f3!! with the threat 50.Rg6 - the point is that after 50...Rf4+ 51.Ke6 there's no check on e4. Instead, Karjakin played the less powerful 49.Rf5, but Mamedyarov blundered again with 49...Rb2?? (it was necessary to play 49...g4! e.g. 50.Rd5+ Kc8 51.Rh5 Rf4+ 52.Ke6 Kb8, running away from the mate threats); and now Karjakin found the winning 50.f4!! - since Black can't save the pawn (or stop White's pawn), as 50...gxf4 51.Rh5 is mate, with Black's own pawn on the f file shielding the white king from checks. From the final position, a line which emphasizes the unfortunate position of Black's king is 52...Re2+ 53.Re5 Rxe5+ 54.fxe5 g4 55.Kf7 g3 56.e6 g2 57.e7 g1=Q 58.e8=Q#.

Dec-03-09  returnoftheking: Thanks for all these explanations, keep it up!
Dec-03-09  messachess: Yes, thank you <Eyal>
Dec-03-09  Augalv: <Eyal>, thanks for the annotations. Very illustrative.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Karjakin made a tough decision in advancing his c-pawn starting with 46.c4. Well, finally it worked.
Dec-03-09  shintaro go: Amazing game by Sergey. He's surely favorite to go through now. Now that Wesley's gone, Sergey is my new favorite to win it all.
Dec-03-09  ycbaywtb: i like this style of victory by Karjakin, just tough to play that way, strong endgame, and felt like all the chances were his, even though material was equal, the opponent struggled
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I kind of liked 47...g4 for black.

click for larger view

This move discourages f3 for white and black does not have to move his king until white tips his hand.

Now, for example, if 48 c6, then 48...Kb8 becomes obvious to defend the possible 49 b5.

Dec-04-09  paavoh: @ <Eyal>: Once again, precise comments from you! Ever thought of changing your handle to "EVAL", it would suite you well ;-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Albertan: I have analyzed this game in great depth and posted the analysis on the first page of my blog at using the program Chessviewer Deluxe.I hope can drop by and play through the game move by move. I used the World's strongest chess program, Deep Rybka 3 in analysis mode for one hour to help me analyze the game.
Dec-06-09  alexrawlings: Is there anything wrong with 18.. Be4?
Dec-06-09  zanshin: <alexrawlings: Is there anything wrong with 18.. Be4?>

<AR> Here's Rybka 3 analysis after <18.. Be4>:

click for larger view

[+1.27] d=19 19.Ba2 Bxf3 20.Bxd5 Bxd1 21.Bxc6 Be2 22.Bxa8 Rxa8 23.Kg2 f6 24.e6 Bd6 25.f4 Kf8 26.f5 Ke7 27.Kf2 g6 28.Rg1 Bh2 29.Rh1 Bd6 (0:06.12) 12042kN

Dec-06-09  alexrawlings: Thanks <zanshin>. I have to get myself one of these computer programs!
Dec-06-09  zanshin: <alexrawlings: Thanks <zanshin>. I have to get myself one of these computer programs!>

No problem! Lots of free ones - click on my forum header if you are interested.

Dec-08-09  Augalv: Commentary at:
Dec-13-09  notyetagm: 50 ?

click for larger view

50 f2-f4!! <line closing: f-file>

click for larger view

GM Karsten Mueller @

<50.f4!! Rf2 [After 50...gxf4 51.Rh5 <<<the black f-pawn forms an umbrella against the check rain of Black's rook>>>, so that the back rank mate can't be prevented anymore.]>

50 ... g5xf4 51 ♖f5-h5

click for larger view

click for larger view

THE POINT: The Black f4-pawn <SHIELDS> the White f7-king from <CHECKS> from the Black b2-rook, resulting in an unstoppable <BACK RANK MATE>.

*Brilliant* tactical play by Karjakin.

Mar-16-10  alexrawlings: This game would make a nice Wednesday puzzle with White to move at move 50.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <alexrawlings: This game would make a nice Wednesday puzzle with White to move at move 50.> It is funny you should say that. This game was the puzzle in Leonard William Barden 's London Evening Standard chess column on 16th March 2010. Did you see it? I failed to solve the puzzle. Sounds of deep lamentation and regret.
Mar-17-10  alexrawlings: Hi <offramp>, yes that's where I saw it! I failed to solve it too! It would be interesting to see the other kibitzers have a go...
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