13 January 2014

Rapport -- Aronian, Tata Steel 2014

Exploiting Tripled Pawns

Richard Rapport beat Boris Gelfand yesterday in the Tata Steel Grandmaster tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Rapport is a young player, 17 years old, and stated in an interview yesterday that it was his highest rated win in classical chess. Today, against the world number two, he played the Trompowsky Attack and ended up with tripled pawns on the g-file.

Rapport,Richard (2691) -- Aronian,Levon (2812) [D03]
Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee (3), 13.01.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.e3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 h6 5.Bf4

5.Bh4 is usually played, although Rapport's move has scored well in the small number of games in which it appears. These have not been games among masters. Nonetheless, it might be worthy of note that White has been lower rated in the top three games (based on average rating) and White won all three.

Black to move

5...g5 6.Bg3

Aronian's pawn thrust created a transposition to lines when White plays 5.Bh4.

6...Ne4 7.Nc3

ChessBase Online database lacks any prior games with 7.Nc3.

7...Nxg3 8.hxg3 g4 9.Nd2 Nf6 10.Qe2 c6 11.e4 dxe4 12.0–0–0 Bf5 13.Ndxe4 e6 14.f3 Bg7

White to move

15.fxg4 Bxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Qxe4

Black to move

Tripled pawns on the g-file cannot offer White hope of advantage. Can Black exploit these pawns? If it is possible, Levon Aronian would seem to be a top choice for the demonstration. He is a strong endgame player.

17...Qd5 18.Qxd5 cxd5 19.Be2 Bf6 20.Rhf1 Be7 21.Bb5+ Kf8 22.Rf3 Kg7 23.Rdf1 Rhf8 24.Be2 Rac8 25.a4 Rc7 26.Rc3 Rxc3 27.bxc3

Black to move

And now White also has doubled pawns on the c-file. If kings and pawns were all that remained, the ending might be simple. But with opposite colored bishops and a rook each, it is less clear how Black can exploit the pawn weaknesses.

27...Rc8 28.Kb2 Rc6 29.Kb3 Bd6 30.Rf3 Rb6+ 31.Ka2 a6 32.Bd3 Bc7 33.Be2 Rd6 34.Kb3

Black to move

34...Rb6+ 35.Ka2 Rc6 36.Kb3 Ba5 37.Re3 Bd8

Aronian is ahead fifteen minutes on the clock, but Rapport is not in serious time pressure with nearly thirty minutes to make the next three moves.

White to move


Rapport will free himself of one pawn weakness.

38...dxc4+ 39.Bxc4 Rb6+ 40.Kc3 Rb1

They have made the first time control. Clocks at White 1:12, Black 1:32

White to move

It is 7:30 am in my time zone, but dinner time in the Netherlands. These players get to eat after they finish playing. Chess is a game that requires the willingness to suffer want, at least temporarily. Sometimes it is necessary to sit at the board with a full bladder or an empty stomach.

41.Bb3 Rd1 1/2-1/2

In this case, it seems that the tripled g-pawns were not weak enough for exploitation.

Postgame interviews with the players are short, but often interesting. These can be followed on Freshmenmedia's YouTube page. The tournament's Facebook page has links.

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