24 January 2016

Navara -- Caruana, Tata Steel 2016

At the Tata Steel Masters Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, David Navara assisted Magnus Carlsen today. After an opening novelty, Navara maintained pressure against Fabiano Caruana throughout the game. Caruana had several opportunities to maintain equality, but his position proved difficult to play and Navara won a nice ending.

Vasily Smyslov has been credited with the assertion, "I will make 40 good moves and if you are able to do the same, the game will end in a draw." After winning the World Championship, Magnus Carlsen stated that his plan had been to make "40 to 50 good moves in every game" ("Magnus Carlsen: My goal was to play 40 to 50 good moves in every game").

Emanuel Lasker made a strong impression upon me with his annotations to his loss against Harry Nelson Pillsbury in Nuremburg, 1896. He was honest about his own mistakes. Also, in the critical middlegame position, he noted that he had presented a problem to Pillsbury.
Black wants to set White a task. The situation merits attention. Black has a pawn plus, an immediate danger is not apparent. If White does not threaten, Black fortifies his position.
Lasker's Manual of Chess (1947), 247.
Mulling over this statement, I developed the understanding that a chess player's job was to set problems for the opponent. If all of these problems are solved well, the game should be equal and the result may end in a draw. Navara managed to set problems for Caruana. The first problem resulted from an error, but Caruana missed his chance for an advantage. Then, Navara's pressure led to further inaccuracies and a difficult position. Even the, perhaps Caruana could have held until a critical error in a difficult position. Once he had a clear adantage, Navara demonstrated precise technique.

Navara,David (2730) -- Caruana,Fabiano (2787) [E39]
Tata Steel Masters Wijk aan Zee (7), 24.01.2016

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0–0 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Na6 7.g3 Nxc5 8.Bg2 Nce4 9.0–0 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Be7 11.e4 d6 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nxe5 Qc7 14.Qe2 Nd7 15.Bf4 Nxe5 16.Bxe5 Bd6 17.Rfe1 Rb8 18.Rad1 Bxe5 19.Qxe5 Qxe5 20.Rxe5 b6 21.c5 f6 22.cxb6 axb6

White to move


23.Re4 e5 24.Rb4 Be6 25.Rd6 Kf7 26.Ra4 Ke7 27.Rc6 Bd7 28.Ra7 Ra8 29.Rcc7 Rxa7 30.Rxa7 Kd6 31.Rb7 b5 32.Bf1 Rc8 33.Bxb5 Bxb5 34.Rxb5 Rxc3 35.Rb7 g5 36.Rb6+ Ke7 37.Ra6 f5 38.h4 ½–½ Ankit,R (2494) -- Khademalsharieh,S (2378), Doha QAT 2014.

23...Kf7 24.f4

"I miscalculated." Navara

I found Navara's postgame commentary interesting. It is available on Livestream for those who missed the broadcast. He describes his feelings during the game (annoyed with Caruana's inaccuracies), lines that he calculated for both players, and several fantasy positions that could be included in instructional collections for beginners. Yasser Seirawan conducted the interview.

24...e5 25.fxe5?

25.Bd5+ is still equal 25...Kg6 26.Be4+ f5 27.Bc6 e4 28.Rd6+ Kf7 (28...Kh5 29.Bb5).

25...Bg4 26.e6+ Kg6

26...Bxe6 27.Rde1 Rfe8?

Analysis diagram
After 27...Rfe8?
28.Rxe6 Rxe6 29.Bd5+- a line for the tactics books for beginners, according to Navara.


Black to move


"Maybe that was too ambitious?" Seirawan
"Yes." Navara

27...Kh6 28.Rde1 Bxe2 29.Rxe2 Rbc8 30.Bd5 Rc7 (30...Rxc3? is not possible (Navara) 31.e7 Re8 32.Bf7) 31.c4 and perhaps White has compensation for the exchange. Black at least would be the one pressing for advantage.


28.Rd6? Rf6 Navara and Black is better.

28...Bxe2 29.Rd6+ Kg5

29...Rf6 30.Rd8 Bb5 31.Bd5 "Black is completely dominated." Navara

Stockfish 7 thinks the position is equal after 31...Rb7 32.Bxb7 Kf7 33.Rd5 Bc6 34.Bxc6 Rxc6 35.Rxf5+ Kxe7.

30.exf8R Rxf8 31.Bd5 Rf6 32.Rd7 Kh6 33.Kf2

This position should be equal

33...Bb5 34.Rc7

Black to move


34...f4 "looked logical to me." Navara 35.g4 Bd3 (35...g5 36.Be4).

35.c4 Be8 36.Rc8 Bd7

36...Ba4 "still fine" Navara 37.Ke3 Kg5 38.Rc7 (38.Kd4 Rh6 "My pawns become weak." Navara) 38...Rd7 39.Rxd7 Bxd7 should be a draw. Black can exchange bishop for queenside pawns and f-pawn for White's g-pawn and White's bishop is on the wrong color squares.


Navara had been happy to make a draw up until this point, but now felt that had some chances. Objectively, the position may be equal, but Black's position is unpleasant. Neither player's errors so far have been fatal

Black to move

37...Kg6 38.Ke3 Kf6 39.Kd4 

39.Rf8+ Ke5 40.Rf7 Be6= Navara.


White's pieces seem a little more active

40.Rg8 Rg6 41.Ke5

"I hoped to put Black into zugzwang. It's not so easy for him to make a useful move."

Black to move


Caruana played correctly, according to Navara.

41...h5 initiates another line that Navara offered for the beginner's books. 42.Rh8 Rg5 43.Bf3 Be8?? (43...f4+)

Analysis diagram
After 43...Be8??
44.Rxe8+ Kxe8 45.Kf4+-


Navara considered 42.Rh8 Rh5 43.h4 Rh6 44.Rg8 Rg6 45.h5 Offering Black a chance to go wrong. Rg5 (45...Rxg3?? 46.h6 Re3+ 47.Kf4 Rh3 48.Rxg7+ Kd6 49.Rxh7+-).


42...h5? 43.Bf3 Be8 44.Rxe8+ Kxe8 45.Kf4 Rg4+ (45...Rg6 46.Bxh5) 46.Bxg4 fxg4 47.Kg5+-.

43.Rh8 Rh6 44.h4 Be6 45.Ra8 Bd7 46.Rh8 Be6 47.a4

Black to move


47...Bxd5 48.cxd5 Rh5 49.Kf4 Rh6 50.Kxf5 and White has a promising rook ending.

48.Ra8 Rg6 49.Ra7

Black to move


Finally, Caruana makes a significant error.

49...Kd8 50.h5 Rh6 51.Bf3 g5 seems equal.


50.Bc6 Rd3 "should be fine for Black." Navara.

50...bxa5 51.c5 Kd8

51...Rg6 52.c6 Rd6 53.cxd7 Rxd7 54.Rxa5+- (54.Rxd7+= wrong bishop).


Preventing the rook's return to g6.

52...f4 53.Kd6 Bc8 

53...Rd3 54.Rxd7++-


Black to move


54...Rd3 55.Rxg7 (55.c7+ Ke8 56.Ra8 Rxd5+ 57.Kxd5 Kd7) 55...Rxd5+ 56.Kxd5+-.

55.Bf7 1–0

Checkmate is coming.

Chess is a game. Even a top player forced to play for several hours in an unpleasant position may eventually crack and give the game to the other player.

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