I like blogging Grandmaster games while watching them live on the internet, but it can be exhausting. This morning, I considered blogging Navara -- Mamedyarov in this manner. They are playing in the Tata Steel Masters that is holding today's round in the Railway Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands. After the first six moves, the players reached a position that I had in one of my most memorable games (see "Pawn Wars").
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.c3 a6 5.Ba4 d6 6.d4 Bd7
White to move
I was playing for a draw because I was tired from the prior round and inadequate sleep the night before, because I was playing the highest rated player in my city, and because I did not feel that I understood the position very well after 3...g6. Also, with a draw, I would finish in a tie for second place in the tournament. After liquidation of most of the pieces, my opponent and I brought our rooks to the open file and repositioned our knights. We repeated the position once, and then my opponent struck with a pawn break that we both thought should favor him. We were wrong. I won the game and finished in second place alone. That tournament pushed my rating over 1900 for the first time.
David Navara castled here and the game was drawn after a short fight that concluded in a rook endgame with two pawns each. I am sure that the game would have been instructive to follow live.
The game of the day, however, must be Caruana -- Wei. When the round began, Fabiano Caruana trailed Magnus Carlsen by one point. Carlsen drew his game against Anish Giri and Caruana beat Wei Yi.
The Tata Steel Masters shares an exciting feature with the K-12 section of the youth tournament that I ran on Saturday. In the youth tournament, three players finished with 4.0/5. The second seed beat the first, but lost to a newcomer. The first seed beat the newcomer. In Tata Steel, Navara beat Caruana, but lost to Wei, who then lost to Caruana.
Caruana's win brought him one-half point closer to Carlsen with three rounds remaining. Caruana faces Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Loek Van Wely, and Evgeny Toashevsky. Carlsen has yet to play Hou Yifan, Wesley So, and Ding Liren. Perhaps Caruana's remaining games are slightly easier, especially as Tomashevsky seems out of form.
I wrote most of these annotations without reference to the commentary before watching the two minute postgame interview with Caruana. After watching that video, I added two quotes to my annotations. Most of my variations seem worse for Black than in the game. I have not checked any part of the game or variations with an engine.
Caruana,Fabiano (2787) -- Wei ,Yi (2706) [C83]
78th Tata Steel GpA Utrecht (10), 27.01.2016
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4
It is logical for Black to take an unprotected pawn, with the idea that while White is recapturing it Black gets a stake in the center. The chief disadvantage is that Black's position becomes a trifle loose. Nick DeFirmian, Modern Chess Openings, 13th ed. (1990), 27.5...Be7 is the most popular move. Wei's choice was slightly more popular in the nineteenth century, and was a favorite of Victor Korchnoi in the 1960s and 1970s.
6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3
9.Nbd2 is second most popular. The effort to gain the two bishops with 9...Na5 runs aground to 10.Nxe4 Nxb3 11.axb3 dxe4 12.Ng5 Qxd1 (12...Bd5 13.Qe2 and Black is losing a pawn; 12...Bd7?? 13.Qd5+-) 13.Rxd1 Bf5 when Black's other weaknesses more than compensate for the two bishops.
"A rare move." Caruana
10.Nbd2 is played vastly more often; 10.Re1 is also popular.
This sharp move appears in sixteen games in my database. White has done well.
Black to move
Wei spend over 40 minutes on this move.
11...Bxf3 wrecks White's kingside pawns 12.gxf3 Nc5 13.f4 Qd7 14.Qf3 Rd8 15.Rd1 f5 16.Be3 Qe6 17.Nd2 0–0 18.Nb3 Na4 19.Rab1 Rd7 20.Kh1 g6 21.Bd3 Bh4 22.Bf1 Rdd8 23.Bg2 Ne7 24.Nd4 Qf7 25.Qe2 g5 26.Rg1 c5 27.Nf3 Ng6 28.fxg5 f4 29.Bd2 Qf5 30.b3 Nb6 31.Rbe1 Rfe8 32.Bf1 d4 33.cxd4 cxd4 34.Ba5 Qe6 35.Rg4 Rd5 36.Qd2 Nd7 37.Nxh4 Ndxe5 38.Bg2 1–0 Polgar,J (2540) -- Huebner,R (2620), Munich 1991.
12.g4 Bg6 13.Nd4!N
Caruana's novelty appears to create problems for Black that are more difficult to solve than the loss of a pawn. The bishop on g6 may be vulnerable to a pawn storm, for instance. It is instructive that White's king seems impervious to attack even with all of the kingside pawns marching forward.Caruana has still been playing extremely fast, spending only a few seconds per move. According to the move times at ChessBase News, his longest move time up to this point was 35 seconds for 9.c3.
13.Bb3 wins a pawn 13...Na5 14.Bxd5 c6 15.Bxe4 Bxe4 16.Qxd8+ Rxd8 17.Nbd2 Bd5 18.Re1 h5 19.Ne4 hxg4 20.hxg4 Nc4 21.Kg2 Be6 22.b3 Nb6 23.Be3 Nd5 24.Kg3 f6 25.Bc5 f5 26.Nd6+ Bxd6 27.exd6 Kd7 28.Ne5+ Kc8 29.Nxc6 f4+ 30.Kg2 Ne3+ 31.Kg1 Bd5 32.Ne7+ Kd7 33.fxe3 Rh1+ 34.Kf2 Rh2+ 35.Kf1 Bf3 36.Ng6 Be4 37.Ne5+ 1–0 Fischer,R -- Olafsson,F, Havana 1966.
14.f4 Nxd4 15.cxd4
Black to move
This move seems forced.
15...h6 16.f5 Bh7 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.d5.
15...f6?? 16.f5 Bf7 17.e6+-.
Black to move
The critical error, according to Caruana.
17...Nxc3 18.bxc3 may give Black better chances than in the game. White has more space and a passed pawn on the e-file.
The e-pawns are both passed!
18...fxe4 19.f5 Be8.
19...cxd5 20.Qxd5+ Qxd5 21.Nxd5 Bd8.
20...Qxc6 21.Qd5+ Qxd5 22.Nxd5 Bd8.
21.Nxd1 Rfd8 22.Rc1 Rd3
White to move
24...Bc7 25.Nf2 Rf3.
25.e7 Ba5 26.gxf5 Be8
27.Nf2 Rd5 28.Nxe4 Bxc6 29.Bxb4 Bxb4
White to move
30...Rxc6 31.e8Q+ Bf8 32.Qxc6.
31...gxf6 32.Nxf6+ Kf7 33.Nxd5 Bxe7 34.Rc7.
Standings after ten rounds.