Ivanchuk – Aronian, Linares 2006

Vassily Ivanchuk (2729)
Levon Aronian (2752)
English Opening: Symmetrical
Linares 2006, Moerlia/Linares, Round 2
ECO Code

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4 d6 9. Be3 Nbd7 10. Rac1 Rc8 11. b3 a6 12. Rfd1 O-O 13. Qd2 Ne4?
Although this activates both Black bishops, the extra activity is only temporary.13… Re8 14. Bh3 Rc7 (14… Qc7 Chuchelov – Nikolic, 2nd IECC, Ohrid 2001, 1/2 (40)) 15. Bh6 Qa8!? (15… Rc5 Gulko – Grischuk, World Team Ch, Beer Sheva 2005, 1/2 (26)) 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nd4 Rc5 18. f3 Rh5 19. Bxd7 Nxd7 20. e4 Rc5 21. Nd5 e6 22. Ne3 f5? 23. b4! Rc7 24. exf5 Ne5 25. f4 Nf3+ 26. Nxf3 Bxf3 27. Qxd6 Rf7 28. Qe5+ Kg8 29. fxe6 Bxd1 30. Rxd1 Rfe7 31. Ng4 Gulko – Kudrin, ch-USA prelim A, Salt Lake City 1999, 1-0 (31)
14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. Ne1!? Nf6
15… Bxg2 16. Nxg2 Nf6 =
16. Bh3
White has the space advantage, so its in his interest not to exchange off pieces. Instead, with tempo, he prevents the exchange of light-squared bishops, and prepares to push the Black light-squared bishop from its useful outpost on e4.
16… Rb8 17. Nd3 Ba8
There’s nothing to be gained by gifting White the two bishops in a moderately open position. Although black has a number of light-square weaknesses on the queenside, the bishop will find itself out of action on the a8-square. Perhaps the natual …Bb7 is better in holding the position together, but that does hinder the …b5 pawn-break.
18. f3
Expanding in the centre and claiming the space there, uncontested.
18… e6
Although this weakens the d6-pawn, Black has to do something to reduce the scope of White’s light-squared bishop.
19. Bf2 +=
This is a difficult hedgehog position for Black to play. White is in control of the key squares and lines. Black has a significant weakness in the d6-pawn. Black has to counter somewhere. Perhaps his best plan is to open up the queenside and attempt to play …d5 under better circumstances. White’s knight on d3, although unusual, gives his position some impetus.
19… Re8?!
The d6-pawn is left to its own devices.19… Bb7 to meet Nb4 with a5 now White doesn’t have the option of Na6, and so has no choice but to retreat the knight. 20. e4 Qc7 += with a typical hedgehog setup, with a weak d6-pawn.
20. Nb4! +/-
Position after 20.Nb4! The knight pesters the vulnerable light squares in Black’s position. Black can’t afford to leave the White knight untouched on b4.
20… a5 21. Na6!?
An insipid move. The White knight, deep in the heart of the Black position turns out to be almost untouchable.
21… Rc8
Shredder 7: 21… Rb7 22. c5 Ra7 23. Qd3 bxc5 24. Nxc5 Bh6 25. Nxe6 Qe7 26. Bxa7 Qxa7+ 27. Nd4 Bxc1 28. Rxc1 Bb7 29. Qd2 Qb6 30. e3 Bc6 31. Nxc6 Qxe3+ [eval 1.23/15]
22. Qxd6 Qxd6 23. Rxd6 +- 23… Nd5
Black activates all his pieces hoping the initiative will give him compensation for the pawn. White needs to regroup to consolidate his advantage.
24. Rd1 Nc3 25. R1d2 b5
Black has activated his queenside. If White tries to consolidate, Black will have compensation in his very active pieces.
26. Rd7
Meeting the queenside threats with tactical threats of his own. White threatens to bring his knight back into play by threatening Nc7.26. Bb6 Shredder 7: 26… bxc4 27. bxc4 Bf8 28. c5 Na4 29. Bxa5 Nxc5 30. Nc7 Bxd6 31. Nxe8 Be7 32. Nd6 Rc6 33. Nb5 Bg5 34. f4 [eval 1.32/14]
26… Be5?
26… bxc4 27. bxc4 Nb1 28. R2d3 +/-
27. cxb5
Better is 27. f4!? Bb8 28. cxb5 Nxb5 29. Nxb8 Rxb8 30. Bg2 +-
27… Nxb5 +/- 28. Bf1 Bc6 29. R7d3
Finally Black has managed to eject the White rook from his position. But White is almost at the point of successfully regrouping.
29… Na3 30. f4 Bf6 31. Nc5 Be7 32. Rd1
To meet 32… Bb5 with 33. Rc3 without allowing 33…Nb1
32… Nb5 33. Na4 Be4
Black threatens a rook entry at c2, undermining White’s queenside. In the effort to do this, he allows White to reoccupy the seventh rank with a rook.
34. Rd7 Bb4 35. Bg2 Bxg2 36. Kxg2 Rc2 37. Rb7 Na3 38. Rdd7
Its a case now of who has the stronger threats. If White can get at the Black king then its game over.
38… Rf8 39. Kf3!
Holding the kingside together.
39… Nb1 40. Be3 Rxa2 41. Bc5 Nd2+ 42. Kg2! Bxc5 43. Nxc5 e5??
Terrible, but what else could Black do to save the game?Perhaps a better, but still difficult, try is 43… h6 +-
44. Ne6!
A decisive blow. The black pieces are too uncoordinated to deal with white’s attack.
44… exf4
44… fxe6 45. Rg7+ A classical mating theme
45. Rxf7!!
Setting up a prosaic mating attack45. Rxf7 f3+ 46. Kh3 Re8 47. Rg7+ Kh8 48. Rxh7+ Kg8 49. Rbg7#
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