31 August 2015

Training with Karjakin

While working to shore up some weaknesses in my French Defense, I became interested in Svidler -- Karjakin, Khanty-Mansiysk 2014 from last year's Candidates Tournament. The game was annotated by Suat Atalik for Chess Informant 120/98. This game transposed into a French Defense, King's Indian Attack after beginning 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 e6 4.O-O Be7 5.d3 c5, when Svidler played the provocative 6.e4! After the subsequent 6...Nc6 7.Qe2 O-O 8.e5 Nd7 9.c4, we reach the point that caught my interest initially.

Black to move

In The Flexible French (2008), Viktor Moskalenko presents this position from one of his own games as Black. He played 9...dxc4, opining that 9...d4 "would be a strategic mistake, since the blocked center offers Black no counterplay" (249). Yet, 9...d4 was the move played by Karjakin!

IM Christof Sielecki offers interesting analysis of the whole game on his YouTube channel.

A complex game developed and Svidler sacrificed a pawn on g6 to open the h-file. In the endgame, Karjakin's doubled g-pawns proved to be a strength.

I played a training position against Stockfish 6.

Black to move

Karjakin spent fifteen minutes thinking on this position, and must have calculated the twenty moves to the end of the game.

64...Rxd4! 65.Kxd4 b6 66.Kc3

Stockfish varied from the game here, so the training begins. The plans are as in the game: push the forward g-pawn to force White's rook off the board in exchange, then work to promote the other g-pawn. Stockfish played in a manner that presented me with another winning method after exchanging the forward pawn for White's rook.

Stockfish 6 -- Stripes

66.Re7 g4 67.Re1 g3 68.Rf1+ Kg4 69.b4 Kh3 70.Rd1 g2 71.Ke5 Kh2 72.a4

Black to move


I like this move.

73.Kf6 Bxc4 74.Kxg6 Bf1 75.Rd2 Kh1 76.Rxg2 Kxg2 and twenty-one moves later I checkmated the Silicon Beast. Most of the remaining moves were executed rather quickly. I only had to be wary of letting White exchange the b-pawns and get its king to a1.

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