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Levon Aronian vs Wesley So
London Chess Classic (2016), London ENG, rd 3, Dec-11
English Opening: Symmetrical. Three Knights Variation (A34)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-11-16  gopi11: Great escape by Wesley, Levon couldn't find the right continuation and his attack fizzled out...
Dec-11-16  zanzibar: Look at the board after 10.Rxc1

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rnbqkb1r /pp2pppp/8/2p5/2B1P3/2N2N2/PP1PQPPP/2R2K1R b - - 0 9

OK, White has a lost tempo or two getting the KR out, but has 5 pieces developed vs. Black's sum total of zero. Plus Black has to move at least one pawn to get the dsb out.

And yet, Stockfish 8 gives Black a slight advantage, eval = -0.23/28.

Gobsmacking cracking the lack of smashing.

Dec-11-16  zanzibar: Oh, and did I mention that the recommended move from the engine is also a non-developing move...


(Though So played 10...e6, really about equal eval)

Dec-11-16  zanzibar: The Rg4/a4 combination played out over moves 19-26 with the d4 break is very deep play by Aronian.
Dec-11-16  zanzibar: Then the critical point in the game, where White dallies:

(After 31...Rd-c8)

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1kr5 /4bp1p/2P1p1p1/pN1rq3/1pR4P/5Q2/1P3PP1/2R3K1 b - - 0 32

I'd like to hear Aronian explain why he didn't press Black with the immediate 32.c7+. Maybe because the knight maneuver needed was considered too risky?

Maybe he saw that it didn't yield clean play, but boy oh boy, it sure looks fun and more interesting than the actual finish.

Dec-11-16  Amulet: This is slambang! Strategic planning was tossed to the cesspool. Tactics after tactics., leaving the spectators at the edges of their seats.
Dec-11-16  Marmot PFL: I may be wrong, but I thought someone played this system once with black against Botvinnik and got crushed, which was enough to discourage other GMs until the computers decided it was OK.
Dec-11-16  Ulhumbrus: The computer evaluations and analysis suggest that the move 32 Qxf7? is mistaken.

One of the possible reasons for this is that Aronian overlooked that on 32 c7+ Kb7 33 Nd4 the black rook was pinned and so did not really attack the square d4.

Alternatively Aronian could have overlooked something much less obvious, which seems entirely possible, the player being Aronian.

Dec-11-16  dm1991: I don't like white's opening. I play english quite a lot and i almost exclusively fianchetto my bishop rather than go for early e4 ending with an awkward pawn structure. Yes, black are behind the development but the position is closed enough for them to catch up fairly quickly while i'm stuck with a strategically not so easy position. Of course thet's only my own assesment of the position.

<18... 0-0-0?!> It leaves f7 not easy to defend (but it didn't really mattered later on). Rf8 is quite passive. Also what i don't like about this move is that his queenside pawns are advanced and quite exposed leaving the king in an open position.I think the king was safer on e8.

<21... b4?!> It gives up c4 square and leaves c5 backward. Engine likes <21... Nb4 22. axb5 axb5 23. Ra1 Nd3!> attacking Rf4. That means Rf4 might be objectively a slight innacuracy but i don't know how hard it's for a human to judge this variation. Having Ra1 is scary for black but i think b4 was slightly more bad to my eyes because of the c4 square, c5 pawn and possibility of future Rc4.

<22... Bxc6> I'm not so sure which recapture is better. Wesley took around an hour to move. Qxc6 attacks a4 but taking on a4 immediately is not adviced like in this variation <22... Qxc6 23. Ne4 Qxa4? 24. Nxc5 Bxc5 25. Qxc5> with a double attack on b4 and c7.

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I think Qxc6 may be slightly better because i'm keeping the bishop pair. c4 is lost allready and propably a knight will land there in the future so i don't care white has two knight and i hope my bishop pair will help in securing my king. This is of course my strategical assesment and i don't have any tactical variations to prove my thinking.

After all those questionable moves Wesley still managed to somehow force a draw. Either Levon lost something here or chess is to difficult for me. This whole round was cryptic. Levon and Veselin were pushing but somehow it reduced to a draw while Vishy Anand was almost unrecognizable.

Dec-11-16  Sally Simpson: Hi dm1991,

"I play english quite a lot and i almost exclusively fianchetto my bishop.."

How can you treat your White King's Bishop like this. It's cruel. The WKB is the artist of the chessboard, you have stuck him in the corner with a box of wax crayons.

Has your WKB never sacced on f7.

Aronian has no sense of humour either.

Me? here.

click for larger view

I would have played 10.Ne5 offering a Queen sac to mate.

Actually, looking at that kicks off some sparkling tactics if Black tries to prove it wrong with 10...Qd4 hitting the bishop and the Knight (and the Queen.) (10....Qd4 11.Qh5)

Dec-11-16  zanzibar: <SallyS> Great fun.

Too bad 10...e6 shuts it all down, lickety-split.

<Now shal this heape licke up all that is about vs, euen as an oxe licketh vp the grasse in the field.>

Dec-11-16  izimbra: White had some winning chances after <25.d4>

This game exemplifies something mysterious I perceive about GM play - so often W's plan in the opening gets completely busted, winding up in a position W clearly didn't foresee, where black is equal or better, and then W turns it around in the middle game to gain a meaningful advantage. Why is that scenario so common? It seems that the explanation must lie in something psychological about playing W vs. B. Like the "prevent defense" in football, black plays a little too passively and gives W chances.

Jan-02-17  dm1991: <Sally Simpson> I do have a sense of humour. A very peculiar one. I love playing with chess rather than playing chess. I have a couple of diagrams for you. In all of them it's white to move. What would you play?

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click for larger view

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Jan-03-17  Sally Simpson: It's too early in the morning for this.

In the first the conditions for successful Bxh7+ don't seem to be on. I'd hate to retreat that Rook so I'd look for an excuse not to. 1. Qf3 (this never retreat policy has lost me and won me quite a few games.)

In the second one. I have loads of good looking choices. I cannot see a trick if I nick the e-pawn with Bxe4 and Qxe4

In the 3rd. Bf4 develop. If Black wants to play cxb4 I think White can drum up enough play to warrant a pawn sac or two. I'd like to see Nh4 after Bf4 then Be5 starts cooking.

Jan-03-17  dm1991: <Sally Simpson> I played these games in real life when i was playing some regional tournaments. Last such tournament was almost 3 years ago. I do thankfully have a couple of them written down. Of course the strength of such tournaments was from 1400 up to 1800 regional rating so the quality of the games is poor.

First diagram. I also didn't wanted to move my rook back and the Bxh7 sacs burned my clock (i think it was 30min per game or maybe a bit more). I decided to play b4 to gain tempi to open lines and develop my queenside hoping my bishop pair will prevail. Soon i ended up with both my bishops directly hitting his king. The games continued <1. b4 Nxf4 2. gxf4 Bf6 3. Rb1 cxb4 4. Rxb4 Rb8 5. Nxf6+ Qxf6 6. Rb5 a6 7. Bb2 Qe7 8. Rg5 h6 9. Rxg7+ Kh8 10. Qh5> somehow i missed i could mate the guy right here but i was pretty low on time <10... Qe6 11. Rh7+ Kg8 12. Rh8# 1-0>.

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Second diagram. I am dissapointed in you. Of course taking the knight is easy and straightfoward but i thought it would a bit too boring so i decided to go with Bh3 hitting the e6 weakness. Soon i gained not just a pawn but a whole piece. The game continued <1. Bh3 Rxc1 2. Rxc1 Kf7 3. Rc7 Re8 4. f3> dropping either Ne4 or e6. he decided to continue with Nc5 which of course allowed Qxc5 and he just resigned.

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Third diagram. That's what i was thinking about. His Na6 is very clumsy. While he was snatching my pawns i had a quick development in style of any wing gambits. I didn't went with Nh4 but Nb5 cramping his queen. The game went <1. Nb5 cxb4 2. Bf4 d6 3. axb4 Nxb4 4. Qa4 Nc6 5. Nfd4!> i love this move. The trick is if he will try to defend everything the queen will be overworked <5... Qd7 6. Nxd6 Bxd6 7. Nxd6+ Bxd6 8. Bxc6> winning the queen.

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The rest was very straightfoward <5... a6 6. Nxc6 Bxc6 7. Bxc6+ Nd7 8. Nxd6+ Bxd6 9. Bxd6 Qc8 10. Bxa8 Qxa8 11. Qxa6 Qxa6 12. Rxa6>.

I will try to find more of these games and if i stumble upon anything interesting i could post it to your forum page if you don't mind. I remember i once managed to get the double bishop sac. The most classic one with saccing on g7 an h7 to then do a <rover> and mate the guy with the rook and the queen.

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