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Fabiano Caruana vs Yifan Hou
Tata Steel Masters (2015), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 9, Jan-20
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Adams Attack (B90)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-20-15  Gottschalk: Maybe 41...e3 42 fxe3 Rd2 43 Qb1+ Kg8
44 e4 Qe5 45 Bf2 Nxf2 46 Rxf2 Qxg3 winning for Black
Jan-20-15  utssb: 41...e3 42.fe3 Rd2 43.Qb1 Kg8 44.e4 Qe5 45.Qb3 and White is dominating.
Jan-20-15  shintaro go: Good job Hou Yifan holding the Sicilian killer to a draw
Jan-20-15  YouRang: The key moments:

Black faced this position at move 38:

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Hou (with black) had a winning shot with 38...Rd3!, forking white's Q and DSB.

White may try to save the DSB with 39.Qa1, but then 39...Qf3!, carrying the threat of ...e3, which is deadly with the Q now attacking Pg3.

White's best try would be 40.Qb2 (guarding the LSB and ready to defend along 2nd rank). But then 40...g5! steps up the assault on the white king. For example, 41.hxg5 h4! and white is toast. White might try 42.Bh8 (threat Qg7#), but then ...f6 cuts off the Q.

Unfortunately for Hou, she found the wrong rook move, and played <38...Rf3?> [diagram]

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Here, it was Caruana with a chance to win just by pushing the a-pawn: 39.a5!. Black is ill-equipped to stop it.

One cute continuation might have been 39...Qd5 40.a7 Qa2 [diagram]

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Black may think this stops the a-pawn, but then comes 41.Qxf3!! exf3 42.Ra1! Qd5 43.a8=Q Qxd4, and white has the exchange and a safer king position, which should be winning.

Unfortunately for Caruana, he missed that chance and played the inferior <39.Qb1?>.

With both sides having missed winning opportunities, the game justly ended a draw.

Jan-20-15  fmartelli: YouRang: but if 38... ♖d3 then 39. ♕a1 would remove the queen from danger while defending the bishop, right? Let me know if I'm missing something.
Jan-20-15  YouRang: Hi <fmartelli>. Yes, 39.Qa1 looks like it holds at first, but as I mentioned above, black's attack continues with 39...Qf3!

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Black now threatens ...e3 since fxe3 allows ...Qxg3+ and ...Rd2 and mate to follow.

To hold off these threats, white can try 40.Qb2 (continues to guard Bd4 while preventing ...Rd2, thus spoiling the ...e3 threat). But black still wins with 40...g5!

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The threat of breaking down the king position with ...gxh is killer. White may try 41.hxg5 h4! (threat ...h3 & ...Qg2#). I don't think white has any good answer. He can delay with 42.Bh8 (threat Qg7#), but 42...f6! cuts off the queen. If 43.Qa2 (hoping for Qf7+), then 43...Ne5

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The DSB is toast, ...e3 is still a threat, and white is hopeless!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Looks convincing. I thought Hou had winning chances later with 41...f5, but now I am not so sure.

Has anyone done an analysis? I keep getting big scores, but running into fortresses and or reduced material situations by White that look hard to overcome.

For example after 41...f5 42 Qc2 Ne5 43 Be3 f4 44 Qc5 fxe3 45 Qxd5 Rxd5 46 fxe3 Nf3+ 47 Kg2 Rd2+ 48 Rf2 Ne1+ 49 Kg1 Rxf2 50 Kxf2 Nd3+ and although Black wins the b4 pawn, it appears impossible to win the game.

Jan-21-15  SirRuthless: <tamar> i did explore that 41...f5 idea with an engine but found the same problem. Somehow black should be winning but with the Q side pawns there is always play.
Jan-21-15  fmartelli: <YouRang> thanks for the explanation. I did not realize you had analyzed that move already.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: As an illustration of that point <Sir Ruthless> is this wild line

41...f5 42 Qc2 f4 43 gxf4 Qf5 44 f3 Qxf4 44 Qe2 Rxf3 45 Rxf3 exf3 47 Qd3+ g6 48 Qd7+ Kh6 (the problem with interposing the Queen is that White exchanges and the Black knight is too slow to stop the pawns) 49 Bf8+ Qxf8 50 Qd2+ Kh7 51 Qd7+ Kg8 52 Qd5+ Kg7 53 Qd4+ Nf6 54 Kf2 Kh7 55Kxf3 Nd5+ (which looks promising again for Black but...) 56 Kg2 Nxb4 57 a6 Qe7 58 Qc4 Nxa6 59 Qxa6 Qe4 60 Kg1 Qg4+ 61 Kf1 Qxh4 -2.45 Houdini 3/64

click for larger view

But this is a cold Tablebase Draw despite its appearance.

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