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Leinier Dominguez Perez vs Levon Aronian
Tata Steel Masters (2014), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 10, Jan-25
Spanish Game: Closed. Martinez Variation (C78)  ·  0-1



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Given 6 times; par: 60 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-25-14  Marmot PFL: The computer liked white's game (2 Bs), but Aronian says the strong players know when to ignore the machines. After 26 c3? (serious weakness) white goes downhill fairly quickly faced with black's positional dominance.
Jan-25-14  geigermuller: With this, Aronian has reached his best ever live Elo rating so far.
Jan-25-14  john barleycorn: had Tarrasch seen the career of the spanish bishop in this game, he had recommended the exchange variation in the ruy.
Jan-25-14  Ulhumbrus: Had Dominguez-Perez seen the point of the advance 19...f5 he might have played 20 c4. On 20 Bb3 e4! 21 de c4!! offers a brilliant blockade sacrifice which puts White's KB out of play for a long time. By the time White is able to free his Kb it is too late to save his game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: I like how Aronian plays the Ruy Lopez Closed instead of the dreaded Berlin which seems to be mainly a drawing resource for Black.

Very nice game.

Jan-25-14  csmath: 6.d3, 8. Nc3

[Surprisingly passive choice from rather active and aggressive player like Dominguez. That against one of the best Ruy Lopez players around.]

19. ...Bd6

[The result of the opening is that white has achieved nothing, he has a bishop pair but bishop on a2 is not participating the game at all.]

20. ...f5!

[When black can play such a move then it is clear that white has achieved nothing. These kinds of moves are also typical for Aronian in Ruy Lopez.]

20. ...e4!
21. Ba2

[21. exf5 is Houdini's proposal but no sane GM would play that.]

26. c3?

[Obviously Dominguez is trying to activate bishop on a2 via b1 but there will be no time for that because of b-pawn tactics. Looks like

26. Rad1 Bd6, 27. Re6 Bc5, 28. Bf4 Nb6

would have been better alternative though it is clearly not appealing either.]

28. Re3?!

[28. Be4 Rab8, 29. d6 bxc3, 30. Bc1 Ne5 with Rfd8 to follow is also rather lousy for white.]

28. ...Rad8

[Now the position is critical and it seems that white is already lost.]

29. ...h5?!

[The following variation is crucial for assessment whether the pawn was worth defending:

29. ...Nc5, 30. Bxg4 Rxd5, 31. Be1 Rd3, 32. Rxd3 cxd3, 33. cxb4 Bxa1 34.Rf6 Bd7 35. Bd4 Bxf2! 36. Kg2 Bb6 37. a5 Bc7

looks like technically difficult ending but it is probably won.]

30. Rd1?

[30. Rb1 is clearly a better move: 30. ...Nc5, 31. cxb4 Rxd5, 32. bxc5 Rxf5, 33. Bc3 and black ends up pawn up but far away from immediate win.]

30. ...b3!

[Now we can say the game is strategically over, black has supported passer and white has no effective way of dealing with this.]

31. Bb1?!

[Dominguez is panicking, he knows that he is likely lost but this is making it faster. The alternative:

31. Re4 Nc5, 32. Rxc5 Rxd5, 33. Bg6 b2 (threatening Nb3) 34. Rb1! Rxd2, 35. Rxc5 Bd8! with Ba5 to follow looks awful enough.]

31. ...Bg5

and here the game is effectively over.

35. ...Rfe8?!

[35. ...Rd6, 36. Kg2 Rf6, 37. Rce1 g6 is much stronger since white is paralyzed. Black rook will move to f3.

Nevertheless white is lost either way.]

In few more moves Aronian will prove his position to be winning.


Passive opening by white (was Dominguez scared?) and ineffective bishop on a2 led to yet another simple and straightforward win for Aronian.

Aronian is beating some of the best players in the world and is making it look rather easy.

Jan-25-14  messachess: My quick observation is that this is real genius on Aronian's part in every phase of the game.--combining dynamic play with positional chess.
Jan-25-14  haydn20: I don't like 8. Nc3 as 8. a4 or c3 solve the problem of the B marooned at a2. Even the standard 8. Re1 seems better.
Jan-25-14  haydn20: Hard to overstate how crummy a move 26. c3 is altho as <csmath> points out White's position isn't very good anyway. One line is 26. Rad1 Bd6 27. Re4 Nb6 28. Rxg4 Nxa2 29. Re4 Bc5 and I'd hate to play this against Aronian, but maybe a GM can survive.
Jan-25-14  haydn20: The moves from 26...Bf6 thru 30...b3 belong in a book called <How to Eviscerate a Grandmaster>.
Jan-25-14  haydn20: <csmath: 29. ...Nc5, 30. Bxg4 Rxd5, 31. Be1 Rd3, 32. Rxd3 cxd3, 33. cxb4 Bxa1 34.Rf6 Bd7 35. Bd4 Bxf2! 36. Kg2 Bb6 37. a5 Bc7> What about 31. Rd1 in this line? Is it defensible?
Jan-25-14  Ed Frank: Wow. Aronian-Carlsen is going to be something else.
Jan-25-14  csmath: <<csmath: 29. ...Nc5, 30. Bxg4 Rxd5, 31. Be1 Rd3, 32. Rxd3 cxd3, 33. cxb4 Bxa1 34.Rf6 Bd7 35. Bd4 Bxf2! 36. Kg2 Bb6 37. a5 Bc7> What about 31. Rd1 in this line? Is it defensible?>

31. Rd1 b3, 32. Be2 Kh8, 33. Bxc4 Rd6 34. Re2 b2, 35. Rf1 Nxa4 with Rfd8. Looks like white passer decides the game here as well as knight will have a tactical fork on c3 and white will lose exchange.

Jan-25-14  devere: 20.Bb3?! was not best. 26.c3? and 27.Bb1? were worse than that.

Aronian is playing great chess; giving his opponents chances to go wrong, and then taking advantage whenever they do.

I hope his brilliant form continues through the rest of the year. Then the Carlsen vs Aronian match will be one of the best ever.

Jan-25-14  fgh: <I like how Aronian plays the Ruy Lopez Closed instead of the dreaded Berlin which seems to be mainly a drawing resource for Black.>

Can we please stop this nonsense? The Berlin is a strategically rich opening that has been played both by enterprising (Topalov, Aronian) and solid (Kramnik, Carlsen) players.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Even Naka and Kasparov have essayed the Berlin Wall-still does not impress me as something I would wish to play.
Jan-25-14  SimonWebbsTiger: @<perfidious>

Have you seen John Cox's book on the line, published by Quality Chess (2008)?

Unlike other books, roughly half this book is taken up with a study of endgames and positional themes. The theory of the time is intertwined in the large illustrative games section (the rest of the book).

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Simon> Never seen it; but that is largely true of new chess books, since calling it a day thirteen years ago.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < tpstar: I like how Aronian plays the Ruy Lopez Closed instead of the dreaded Berlin which seems to be mainly a drawing resource for Black.

Very nice game.>

yes, he makes a very simple choice actually. Open games can be filled with fireworks, but once the problems are solved they become drawish. If black wishes to prove something in the Ruy, a closed system provides the best opportunity to accumulate subtle advantage "behind the lines" as it were. Levon excels in subtle maneuvering, and the closed is more suitable to his style.

Jan-25-14  SoUnwiseTheKnight B4: <Aronian is playing great chess; giving his opponents chances to go wrong, and then taking advantage whenever they do.>

Great chess as long as you are not the No.1 player in the world. Then it will be considered something else.

Jan-26-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: If c3/Bb1 was so bad for White, does that mean he'd have been better off playing without using his light-squared bishop?
Feb-17-14  Boris Schipkov: My commentary
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