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Wesley So vs Alexander Onischuk
US Championship (2017), St Louis, MO USA, rd 3, Apr-01
English Opening: Agincourt Defense. Neo Catalan Declined (A14)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <SirRuthless: Why did Oni play 23...Qxb3 instead of 23...Rxb3 with tempo on the Q? It's not like he was in time trouble.> You mean why didn't black play 28...Rxb3, right? Good question, maybe black didn't want to trade queens because white would have to play 29. Nc3 and black would have to trade down with Qd7 or else lose the N on g4 (my first analysis was off because I was underestimating the threat of Rb1+)
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <SirRuthless: Why did Oni play 23...Qxb3 instead of 23...Rxb3 with tempo on the Q? It's not like he was in time trouble.> You mean why didn't black play 28...Rxb3, right? Good question, maybe black didn't want to trade queens because white would have to play 29. Nc3 and black would have to trade down with RxQ or else lose the N on g4 (my first analysis was off because I was underestimating the threat of Rb1+) Jump to page
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Good Chess.

" I know it was risky but I wanted to see what would happen if I declined a draw."

That is the kind of attitude that wins things.

It was also a nice 'mess with the head' ploy. Onischuk played a few inexact moves after thinking he was getting a draw which led to here.

Tossing the e-pawn which is protecting the Knight...

click for larger view

...with 23.Be3 to activate the a1 Rook, get the c-file, then the 7th rank and the aftermath which followed will obviously find it's way into future student primers.

You are right Cro777 he does make it look easy....after you see what he is up to.

Apr-02-17  cro777: <Sally Simpson: It was also a nice 'mess with the head' ploy.>

On target. Wesley So said: "Maybe this confused Onischuk."

Onischuk expected the repetition.

Wesley thinking:

"A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is not what it is built for."

Apr-02-17  savagerules: 33 g5 I guess to stop ...h6 and then 40 g6! came 6 moves later with great effect. Surely So didn't see this far or did he?
Apr-02-17  Sokrates: <Sally Simpson: Good Chess. "I know it was risky but I wanted to see what would happen if I declined a draw." That is the kind of attitude that wins things. >

Well said, Geoff. I wish Caruana and Nakamura would say the same. But, as stated by another poster, Caruana is playing safe in this tournament for the sake of keeping his rating.

Apr-02-17  Ulhumbrus: 16...Bxd4 concedes the bishop pair. As this is a major concession it suggests that Black is under pressure already perhaps because of White's lead in development.

This begins to look like a successful Reti opening which has transposed into a successful Catalan opening. Kramnik and perhaps Aronian and Carlsen as well may have won many such games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Sokrates,

If recall correctly when Wes So started off on this incredible run his peers, Caruana, Nakamura and Giri were saying Wes was just playing 'safe chess'.



It's been a while since Wes has has to tip his King in a classical game.

I once went 29 games unbeaten (twice!) you do get this feeling you can start to get away with anything...(and I was.)

I'm sure Wes knows a good risk when sees one and won't get too carried away.

Hi Ulhumbrus,

"16...Bxd4 concedes the bishop pair."

Stop there.

It's accepted knowledge that Wes loves the Bishop pair and has the art of using them down to a fine art.

I'm thinking the good guys are going to have send out a Rook to hunt down one of the Bishops to have any chance. Better to be the exchange down than face the Wes So Bishop Pair!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Onischuk said he saw 29...Rc8, but did not play it.

He did not say why, but when facing a great calculator, getting Queens off the board is very tempting.

Even Botvinnik, in the famous game 6 of the 1960 match, chose getting Queens off over a winning move.

Onischuk may have not even wanted to think about winning the game-his focus was on finding a drawing method.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: In the final position, 45...Rxd4 fails for Black because of the zwischenzug (i.e. in-between move) 46. Rh6+ Kg8 (46...Kh7 47. Rg7+ Kh8 48. Rxa7 +5.96 @ 24 depth, Houdini 5.01 X 64) 47. Nxd4 (+4.54 @ 24 depth, Komodo 9.02 64 bit.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <cro777><29…Qxb2? <Onischuk committed a decisive mistake> The correct move was 29…Rc8!

Wesley So: "Objectively Black could have been slightly better.">

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how Black is in any sense "slightly better" after 29...Rc8 30. Bxd3 Qxd3 31. Re1 (+ 0.38 @ 23 depth, Deep Fritz 15.) Maybe by keeping the Queens on the board, Black would have improved his drawing chances. And would have therefore been slightly better off than in the game continuation.

Black's subsequent decisive mistake may have been 30...Rb3?!, allowing 31. Nc4 (+1.40 @ 38 depth, Komodo 10.3.) Instead, 30...Rc3 31. Nd1 Rc5 to (+0.71 @ 36 depth, Komodo 10.3) might have put up more resistance.

The computers indicate Black could have improved with 26...Rxd1+, instead of 26...Nd3?! After 26...Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1 Nd3!, White has nothing better than giving up his last Rook with 28. Rxd3 Qxd3 30. hxg4 Rc8 = to (-0.29 @ 41 depth, Komodo 10.3) with a slightly more comfortable game for Black.

Apr-02-17  cro777: <patzer2:> You have answered your question.

Onischuk's first imprecision was 26...Nd3. After 26...Rxd1 Black would have been slightly better. In his assesment Wesley referred to the position after 26.h3 (the discussion was about the risk connected with declining the repetition).

With 29...Rc8 Onischuk could have still saved the game.

After 29...Rc8 30. Bxd3 Qxd3 Wesley said he would play 31.Qe5 (the engines recommend 31.Re1).

Your analysis is correct.

Apr-02-17  cro777: Onischuk said that he would be very satisfied with his position after 29…Rc8. According to him 29…Qxb2 was simply a blunder. One wrong move in the game and you find yourself in the "river of no return".
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <CG> Please delete one of my double posts above. I don't know how it happened. I never ever repeat myself. I never ever repeat myself. Never ever.
Apr-02-17  protonchess: It would be tempting but wrong to call this a case of Contemptus Bishopus, because on move 16 Black already had no choice about the matter - trade his prelate for one of White Knights, or else have it trapped on a5 or forked on d6.
Apr-06-17  JSYantiss: Is it just me, or is a White knight hanging after 14. Qe2....?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <JSYantiss: Is it just me, or is a White knight hanging after 14. Qe2....?>

I think if 14. Qxd4 then Nd5 threatening to take the bishop on e2 with check 15. Qc5 Nxe2 16. Qxe2 Bxe5

Apr-10-17  ChemMac: <chesshighercat> If 14...QXd4, not 15.Nd5, because after 15...Qc5 16. NXe7+ simply the K moves and the N is trapped. Instead 15.Nb5 wins the piece back, after 15...Qc5(?) 16.Ba3, or 15...Qd7 16. Red1 and then BXe5. However, Black does better with giving back the piece at once after 15...Qd3 16. BXe5 QXe2 17.RXe2 and I do not see any advantage for White.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Chem Mac> Good point about the N being trapped on e7. I think Nd5 could still work, too, with one zwischenzug: 15. Nd5 16. Qc5 Rc1 (clearing an escape route for the N, if necessary) 17. Qd6 Nxe7+, etc. (I think I finally got the notation right, you've inspired me to download Winboard so I can check on a board for once)
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <ChemMac> Okay, so I loaded WinBoard and figured out how to use it (more or less, but not how to load a good engine yet, so I don't have analysis), and I'm pretty sure that the 15. Nd5 16. Qc5 Rc1 line works very well for white, because if 17. Qd6 Nxe7+ 18. Kh8 Bxe5 19. Qxe5 and the N escapes from Alcatraz on c6
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi ChessHigherCat,

I have winboard and was fed up everytime I opened it up it asked to download a chess program.

As you can probably tell from some of my comments, I don't use one.

If you open up:


and enter


on the first line, it stops asking you for a chess program.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Sally Simpson> When I first downloaded it, all I could find on the screen was "Pulsar". I thought that must the name of the application, and I found "cut and paste game from clipboard". I selected the notation of this game from <cg>, copied it to the clipboard and to my amazement, it played through the whole game perfectly, until it got to the point where white is supposed to play Na4, and the Knight vanished with some kind of yellow flash and I got an "illegal move!" message. Then I tried cutting and pasting just the first 10 moves but the knight still disappeared. For some reason, it reminded me of the joke the French tell about the Belgians: "How do you drive a Belgian crazy?" "Put him in a circular room and tell him there's a french fry in the corner!" (they're big "pommes frites" fans, as you probably know).
Apr-10-17  ChemMac: <chesshighercat> OK. I should have thought a little and looked at the board instead of posting off the top of my head. (I do have Stockfish, but being an "old-time" player don't usually use it!) Either Knight move wins back the piece, but Nd5 does so with advantage to White.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <ChemMac:> Not at all, thanks for pointing out the trapped N, that's what led to the the all-important zwischenzug, which I was too lazy to analyze the first time (since I don't use fishstick, either).
Jun-19-17  PJs Studio: At first I'm like "hey 45...Rxd4! Ooops 46.Rh6+!"
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