[Event "Wijk aan Zee"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2022.01.30"] [Round "13"] [White "Praggnanandhaa, R.."] [Black "Esipenko, Andrey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E29"] [WhiteElo "2612"] [BlackElo "2714"] [Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 {The Nimzo-Indian defense was quite popular in The Netherlands in the past couple of weeks.} 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 c5 {The first mini-thought by Esipenko. Which line would be most unpleasant for his lesser experienced opponent?} 6. e3 Nc6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Ne2 b6 9. e4 Ne8 { A notable maneuver that aims to attack c4 whenever a chance is given, but also intends to meet the dangerous f2-f4 thrust with an identical f7-f5 block.} 10. O-O Ba6 11. f4 f5 {There it is.} 12. exf5 exf5 13. dxc5 {Better a damaged pawn structure, with diagonals for the bishops, than a blocked one!} bxc5 14. Be3 d6 15. Ng3 Ne7 {Here and on the next few moves, Esipenko will try to avoid the weakening g7-g6 move.} ({Nakamura did not try to be that sophisticated and was eventually successful against the world champion after} 15... g6 16. Re1 Nf6 17. Bf2 Qd7 18. Nf1 Na5 19. Bh4 Rae8 20. Rxe8 Qxe8 21. Bxf6 Rxf6 22. Qf3 Re6 { Carlsen,M (2863)-Nakamura,H (2736) Online 2020}) 16. Qf3 $146 {This is a novelty.} ({In an earlier game, the queen traveled to the wrong side of the board:} 16. Qa4 Nc7 17. Rfd1 Qe8 18. Qc2 Rb8 19. Re1 Qf7 20. Bf2 Rbe8 21. Qa4 Ng6 {and Black did not experience any difficulties in Chiong Zacarias, R (2373) -Zarnicki,P (2536) Dos Hermanas 2003}) 16... Nc7 {Still avoiding g7-g6.} ({ Although there does not seem to be anything particularly wrong with} 16... g6 17. Bf2 (17. Rfe1 Nf6) 17... Nf6 18. Rab1 Qd7) 17. Rab1 (17. Rad1 $5) 17... Qd7 {The queen is heading to the a4-square. Therefore...} 18. Rfe1 g6 {Finally, Esipenko decided that he cannot go without this push.} ({The pawn is immune:} 18... Qa4 $2 19. Bxc5) ({And} 18... Rfe8 {leaves the f5-pawn unattended, as in the line} 19. Bf2 Qa4 20. Bxf5) ({Last, but not least, the idea that happened in the game} 18... Nc8 {does not seem to work here due to} 19. Nxf5 $1 ({ Or the alternative capture} 19. Bxf5 $1) 19... Rxf5 20. Bxf5 Qxf5 21. Qc6 Qf7 22. Bf2 {when Black is paralyzed.}) 19. Bf2 Nc8 {Black wants to keep more pieces on the board and put pressure, at last, on the weak c4-pawn.} ({However, it made sense to trade a pair of rooks first with} 19... Rab8 20. Nf1 Rxb1 21. Rxb1 {and then go for} Nc8) 20. Nf1 $1 {After provoking a kingside weakness, the horse steps back to open the road for the bishop. In the meantime, it gets closer to the fabulous d5-outpost.} Nb6 21. Ne3 Rae8 22. Bh4 Qg7 23. Rbc1 Re6 24. a4 $1 {A strong move! In return for the pawn, the bishop on h4 gets a couple of strong supporters.} Nxa4 25. Nd5 {Black already faces serious problems.} Bb7 ({It seems like the idea} 25... Rxe1+ 26. Rxe1 Bb7 $1 {promised better drawing chances to Black, for example} 27. Ne7+ Qxe7 28. Bxe7 Bxf3 29. Bxf8 Kxf8 30. gxf3 Nxc3 {with a much better version of the exchange sacrifice than the game continuation.}) 26. Rxe6 Nxe6 27. Re1 Qd7 ({It was not too late to switch to the line from above with} 27... Nc7 28. Ne7+ Qxe7 29. Bxe7 Bxf3 30. Bxf8 Kxf8 31. gxf3 Nxc3 32. Ra1 d5 33. Rxa7 Ne6 {when a draw seems like the most likely outcome.}) 28. Qg3 ({Also good was} 28. Qf2 $5 {with the idea to meet} Bxd5 {with} 29. cxd5 Ng7 30. Re7 Qc8 31. Qa2 $1 {But Praggnanandhaa is not afraid of losing this pawn.}) ({Certainly not} 28. Nf6+ $4 Rxf6) 28... Rf7 {And Black finds nothing better but to sacrifice the exchange!} ({In case of} 28... Kg7 29. Ne7 $1 {\"...his king is just very weak.\" (Praggnanandhaa) And a line like} Kh8 30. Bxf5 gxf5 31. Bf6+ Rxf6 32. Qg8# {can prove his statement.}) ({Black also barely moves after} 28... Bxd5 29. cxd5 Ng7 30. Re7 Qc8 31. Bb5) 29. Nf6+ Rxf6 30. Bxf6 Kf7 31. Qh4 h5 32. Bg5 $1 {It is important to set the white queen free. Black does not have enough for the exchange.} Qc6 33. Qh3 $1 {A very accurate move.} ({Not} 33. Qg3 Nxc3 $1) 33... Nxg5 ({Now} 33... Nxc3 {loses on the spot due to} 34. Bxf5 $1) 34. fxg5 Bc8 35. Qe3 ({ Here the inhuman breakthrough} 35. g4 $3 {would have finished the game faster.} ) 35... Qd7 36. Qe2 $1 Qd8 ({Here and in the future, the c3-pawn is never an option for Black:} 36... Nxc3 $2 37. Qb2) 37. Qa2 {Once the queen is successfully transferred to the queenside, Black needs to part with yet another pawn.} Bd7 38. Bc2 Nb6 39. Qxa7 Nc8 40. Qb7 {\"I think I played well until move 40 and then I think my technique wasn't that good. I think I should have finished much earlier.\" (Praggnanandhaa)} Ne7 41. h4 Be6 42. Ra1 (42. Qa6 {was somewhat more accurate.}) 42... Qc8 {Esipenko's last chance is the fortress.} 43. Qxc8 Nxc8 44. Bb3 Ke7 45. Ra6 Kd8 46. Kf2 {However, after a few maneuvers, Praggnandhaa finally finds a way to break through.} Kc7 47. Ra1 Bf7 48. Ke3 Be6 49. Kf4 Kd8 50. Ra8 Kc7 51. Ra2 Bf7 52. Ra1 Kd8 53. Ke3 Be6 54. g3 Kc7 55. Kf4 Bf7 56. Ba4 $1 {\"When I got [this] I was sure I would win.\" (Praggnanandhaa)} Nb6 ({The point is that} 56... Bxc4 57. Be8 Ne7 58. Ra7+ Kd8 59. Rxe7 Kxe7 60. Bxg6 {leads to a kingside collapse.}) 57. Bb5 Nc8 ({Or} 57... Bxc4 58. Be8) 58. Ke3 Be6 59. Be8 {And the counter-exchange sacrifice as in the line above is unstoppable.} 1-0