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Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Alexander Grischuk
World Championship Candidates (2020), Yekaterinburg RUS, rd 4, Mar-21
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. l'Hermet Variation Berlin Wall Defense (C67)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-21-20  e4Newman: i'm looking at 36...Ke7 but trying options with ...Kxe6
Mar-21-20  Boomie: MVL missed a killer line after the howler 29...Nxa4?

30. Re4 Be6 31. Nxe6 fxe6 32. Bg5+ Ke8 33. Rf3 b5 34. Ref4 Kd7 35. Rf7+ Kc8 36. Rxg7 Nb6 37. h6 a5 38. h7 Kb7 39. Bf6 a4 40. Rf7 Rhc8 41. Be7 Rh8 42. g5 Nc4 43. Bf6 Rhc8 44. g6

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Premium Chessgames Member
  JackobG: After Nxa4 (Which Grischuk had to play with only 2 minutes on the clock) there is in fact not a forced win, but a way better endgame.

This is analysis of myself without engine help, so mistakes can occur 30. Re4 Bb6 31. Ba3+ Ke8 32.Nxf7Bxf7 33.e6 Bxh5 (because retreating the Bishop results in mate) 34. Ref4 threathening mate again Nd7 (covering this) 35. Rxh5 (not Pawn takes) Rxh5 36. gxh5 c5! (Knight is pinned due to mate) 37. exd7+ Kxd7 38. Rf7+ Ke6 Rxg7 ...

Which has a 4 pawns and a rook against 2 pawns, bishop and rook.

It is not an "easy win" in my opinion but this looks pretty bad for black here.

Mar-21-20  Everett: <boomie> looks convincing... any improvements for Black there?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <any improvements for Black there?>

No, it's a forced win for White. After <30.Re4!> he has to see several additional variations, though: 30...b5 31.Rxc4! bxc4 32.Rxf7+ Kd8 33.Ne6+ and Black's position collapses. Also, 30...Nb6 31.Ba3+ Ke8 32.Nxf7! Bxf7 33.e6 Bxh5 34.Ref4! Nd7 (to prevent mate on f8) 35.exd7+ Kxd7 36.gxh5; or 31...Kd7 32.e6+! Bxe6 (32...fxe6 33.Rf7+) 33.Nxe6 fxe6 34.Rf7+.

Btw, in the line 30...Be6 31.Nxe6 fxe6 32.Bg5+ Ke8 33.Rf3 followed by Ref4 & Rf7, it's essential to play the rook to f3 on move 33 in order to restrict the black knight and prevent Nc3. The importance of this is illustrated by a kind of miracle save that Black would have in the game continuation if White tries Re4 following Ba3+: 31.Re4 Be6 32.Nxe6 fxe6 33.Rg5 Nc3! and somehow the knight can harass the white pieces enough to save the game - e.g., 34.Rc4 Nb5! so that 35.Rxc5 is met by 35...Nxa3.

Winning with one of the above 30.Re4 lines would have really been a nice culmination of White's strategy of putting pressure on f7 & the f-file once he sacrificed a Q-side pawn on move 20.

Mar-21-20  chessrookstwo: MVL missed opportunity ??
Mar-21-20  MordimerChess: Of course 30. Re4! wins in every line:

30...b5 31. Rxc4 bxc4 32. Rxf7+ Ke8 33. Rxc7 Rd8 34. Ba3

<JackobG> 30...Nb6 31. Ba3+ Ke8 32. Nxf7 Bxf7 33. e6 Bxh5 34. Ref4 Nd7 35. exd7+ Kxd7 36. gxh5 Yes, it's not easy win but with so active rooks it shouldn't be a problem

30...Be6 31. Nxe6 fxe6 32. Bg5+ Ke8 33. Rf3 b5 34. Ref4 Kd7 35. Rf7+ Kc8 36. Rxg7 Kb7 37. h6 for example 37...a5 38. h7 Nc5 39. Bf6 a4 40. Rf7 Rhe8 41. g5 a3 42. g6 a2 43. Rf1 a1=Q 44. Rxa1 Rxa1+ 45. Kg2 Raa8 46. g7 Ne4 47. h8=Q Rxh8 48. gxh8=Q Rxh8 49. Bxh8

Here is my analysis:

And the best - MVL was asked in interview if he saw Re4 move. He said that he saw it but he... forgot to play it when the time came... lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: do the 'bots see 30.R-e4 as a forced win? Is there a forcing line?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Clement Fraud: Some superb ideas in this game from Vachier-Lagrave - although I don't know if the ideas were original: V-L's Knight on c3 & Rook on e1 offered an open invitation to black's dark square Bishop (to plant itself on b4)... which Grischuk duly did; but the shattered queenside Pawns only accelerated white's initiative. I can't help wondering how different things might have been if Kasparov had uncovered these secrets (during his match with Kramnik)!
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