Sundararajan (2433) – Aroshidze (2535) [A34]
After the loss in the previous round I went to play this game like a must winning game.
Sundararajan also starts with 1. c4 and 1.d4 so it was quite unclear which opening I had to prepare. With 1. Nf3 he restricts my 1…e5 answer and invites me to play hedgehog systems. I was quite confident in my hedgehog knowledge and decided to accept the challenge.
1… Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 b6 4.e3!?
Probably this is the preparation of my opponent. Now white intends to advance d2-d4 but preparing exd4 in case of exchange in the center. That means that we’ll get some specific positions without hedgehog structures. I decided to choose the most double edged answer:
Now we’ll get Benoni or KID pawn structures.
5.d4 Bg7 6.d5 0–0 7.Bd3
This is critical moment. It is obvious that very soon white will advance e3-e4 and it means that my opponent lost a tempo (first e2-e3 and then e3-e4). How did black use that extra tempo? Unfortunately all we got is just b7-b6 move. Is it extremely useful? I don’t think so, but it is still something! I started to think where I could use most effectively that extra b7-b6 move. It seems that I have overestimated my position and played very optimistic:
Now I think that it was better to go in a closed structures after: 7…d6 8.0–0 e5 9.e4 Here white is going to attack on the queenside by a3-b4 Rb1 etc. and it is obvious that b7-b6 is very useful for black. I suppose black has enough counterplay in a KID style. For example: 9… Na6 (9…Nbd7 also deserves attention: 10.a3 Nh5 11.b4 Nf4
12.Bc2 f5!? and it is not easy to understand how exactly white needs to react in order to have some advantage.) 10.a3 Ne8 (10…Nh5 is another decent alternative Δ Nc7, Qe8, f5)
11.Rb1 (It is also possible to play the tricky – 11.Bg5!? in order to stop quick f7-f5 ideas. However, after: 11… f6 12.Bh4 Bh6 we get complex maneuvering play, where black should have his counter chances) 11…f5 ∞ I think black’s position has a lot of potential.
8.0–0 exd5 9.cxd5 d6
Important move. White must avoid exchanging of f3 knight after Bg4. This knight has great future after the famous Nd2-c4 maneuver.
I decided to prepare b6-b5 advance after Na6-c7, a7-a6 and if necessary, even Rb8. I thought that an extra b7-b6 move would avoid fixing of my queenside pawn structure after a2-a4-a5. Idea is very logical, but the problem is that white strikes in the center earlier than black does it on the queenside.
To be honest, white is already better in all variations. For example:
10…a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.e4
12… Nh5 (12…Re8 is another theoretical move in such positions, but now b7-b6 unfortunately works against black! white plays 13.Bf4 and d6 pawn already starts hanging as Black does not have Qb6 jump in case of Bxd6) 13.Bg5 (13.g4!?) 13…Bf6 14.Be3 Ne5 15.g4 Nxd3 (15…Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 Ng7 17.Qg3 +/=) 16.Qxd3 Ng7 17.Bh6 Ra7
18.Rfe1 Re8 19.Rad1 +/= White keeps better chances, but this would be much better for black than the main move of the game;
10…Ba6 also entered in my candidate moves, however, there is no equality: 11.a4 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nbd7 13.e4 Qe7 14.Bf4 +/=
Black does not have an effective counter play.
11.e4 Nc7 12.a4 a6 13.Bf4
I was also thinking about possibility of pushing f7-f5 but it only destroys black’s pawn structure and piece coordination: 13…Nh5 14.Bh2 f5 15.exf5 Bxf5 16.Bxf5 gxf5 17.Nd2±
Very strong prophylaxis! Now white has created powerful threat of pushing e4-e5 as in case of Nf6xd5, white bishop is not hanging on f4 anymore.
Unfortunately black has to play this ugly move and protect c6 square from Nf3-e5-c6 entrance, which could happen in case of e4-e5 advance and central pawn exchanges.
Maybe I should try 15…b5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Bxb5 Nxe4 18.Rxe4 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Nxb5 20.Rc1
But position looked very sad for black. White plans to push c3-c4 and his bishop is dominating on the board. Especially if we look at the dark squares around the black king.
16.Nd2! Ba8 17.Nc4 Bf8
White’s advantage became huge. Maybe I could still hope for b6-b5 strike, but as I already mentioned before, – white’s central pressure progresses quicker.
18.Nxd6 Bxd6 19.e5
STOCKFISH recommends: 19…Bxe5 as the last chance, but I was not thinking seriously about giving up my dark squared bishop. 20.Bxe5 Nfxd5 21.Bc4 Qg5 22.h4 Nxc3 23.hxg5 Nxd1 24.Raxd1
21… Re7 25.Bg3 Rxe1+ 26.Rxe1 Re8 27.Rd1 ±
20.exf6 Rxe1+ 21.Qxe1 Bd6
My hopes were connected with this move. I thought that at some point white d5 and f6 pawns would start hanging and I would recover material balance.
22.Bxd6 Qxd6 23.Qe7 Qxe7 24.fxe7
Does not help 24…Bxd5 25.Rd1 Re8 26.Bxa6 Bc6
now white has very strong move 27.Bc8! taking under the control e6 square and after: 27… Rxe7 28.Rd6+- Black can’t play Re6
Material is equal, but black still needs to deal with e7 pawn in order to save a half point.
After this move, game is over. Fortunately for white, there is a little combinative trick that allows him to win:
26…Re8 27.Bxa6 Bc6 28.Rd8
I realized that does not work 28…Bxa4 because of: 29.b3! Bc6 30.Rd6! Be4 31.f3! white needs black bishop on a8! 31… Ba8 and now comes the key idea: 32.Bb5! Rxe7 33.Rd8+ winning the bishop.
Also loses 28… Kg7 29. Rxe8 Bxe8 30. Bb5! +-
29.b3 Kf7 30.Rd6
Rest of the game is just a simple technique. White has not only an extra pawn, but also more active pieces.
30… Ba8 31.Rxb6 Kxe7 32.Bc4 Rd8 33.Re6+ Kd7
34.Rf6 Kc7 35.Rf7+ Kb6 36.Rxh7 Bd5 37.Bxd5 Rxd5 38.Rg7 Rd6
39.Kf1 Ka6 40.Ke2 Rb6 41.Rc7 Rxb3 42.Rxc5 Rb2+ 43.Kf3 Rb3+ 44.Kf4 Rb2 45.Kg3 1 – 0 very complete and strong play by Sundararajan