[Event "FIDE Chess Grand Prix 1 2022 | Knockout"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.02.16"] [Round "2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2772"] [BlackElo "2736"] [Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2022.02.16"] 1. e4 e5 {So far, a very classical match.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 {Aronian's choice is the Italian instead of the Ruy Lopez.} Bc5 {The most aggressive development of the bishop.} 4. d3 Nf6 5. O-O d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 {Nowadays, this advance is more popular than 7.Bb3.} Ba7 8. Na3 {A flexible development and one more route for the knight to reach the f5-outpost.} ({Although the standard} 8. Nbd2 {is still White's more common choice, as in this recent game.} O-O 9. h3 h6 10. Re1 Re8 11. b4 Be6 12. Bxe6 Rxe6 13. Bb2 Ne7 14. Nf1 Ng6 15. c4 {And White got a bit of a pull in Karjakin,S (2743)-Amin,B (2680) Warsaw 2021}) 8... Ne7 9. Nc2 Ng6 {Both sides are nicely re-deploying their knights.} 10. Be3 Bxe3 11. Nxe3 O-O 12. a5 {Now, in the case of the hypothetical swap of d-pawns, White's pawn structure will be always somewhat better.} c6 13. Bb3 h6 14. Bc2 Re8 15. Re1 {Both sides are shifting their troops toward the center, where the opening outcome will be finally determined.} Qc7 $146 {Played after more than half an hour of thought! Apparently, Nakamura was carefully checking if his active play will work.} ({They both were likely aware of the email predecessor:} 15... d5 16. exd5 cxd5 17. d4 e4 18. Nd2 Nf4 19. f3 Bd7 20. Kh1 Qc7 21. fxe4 dxe4 22. Ndc4 Bc6 23. Nb6 Rad8 24. Rf1 N4d5 {when, after the central trades, the game petered out into a draw, Keuter,K (2421)-Bastos,P (2460) GER email 2016}) 16. d4 {The only way to question Black's strategy. If Black does not strike in the center, White will.} exd4 {This is more or less forced positionally, as mentioned above.} 17. Qxd4 c5 {Nakamura's play is very aggressive but risky. If Aronian could manage to fix the weaknesses, Black would suffer till the end of the game.} ({The immediate} 17... Bg4 {is not convincing due to} 18. Nxg4 Nxg4 19. h3 N4e5 20. Nd2 {when White can later Prepare the f2-f4 advance.}) 18. Qd2 {This obvious retreat does not promise White anything.} ({The other two retreats might have promised more. First of all} 18. Qd3 $5 {does not lose a pawn due to the line} Rxe4 $2 ({However, Nakamura can opt for} 18... Bd7 $5 { when} 19. Red1 (19. Rad1 Bc6 20. Qxd6 Qxa5 {is equal.}) 19... Re6 {Looks fine for Black, one point being that} 20. Bb3 {is plain bad due to} Nf4 $1) 19. Nd5 $1 Rxe1+ 20. Rxe1 Nxd5 21. Re8+ $1 {when Black is suddenly not capable of defending.} Kh7 (21... Nf8 22. Qh7#) 22. Qxd5 {Here a freeing} Be6 {is needed but does not work due to the neat} 23. Rxe6 $1 fxe6 24. Qxe6) ({Perhaps the best option was to retreat to the initial square.} 18. Qd1 $5 {Then,} Bg4 { can be met with} ({And here} 18... Bd7 {could be answered with} 19. c4 $1 Bc6 20. Nd5 Bxd5 21. cxd5 {looking for a favorable Benoni-type structure. Still, it is not quite certain if White has achieved that much.}) 19. Nxg4 Nxg4 20. Nd2 {followed by Nd2-c4, with a white edge.}) 18... Bg4 $1 {An equalizer.} ({ Correctly avoiding} 18... Bd7 19. Red1 Re6 20. Bb3 $1 Nxe4 21. Qc2 Ree8 22. Nd5 $1 {with obvious White domination.}) 19. Nxg4 Nxg4 20. Qd1 {Aronian admits his mistake, but the given tempo can be used by his opponent.} b5 {Once again demonstrating activity.} ({The other way was} 20... N4e5 21. Nd2 Nf4 {although here Black still has to maneuver carefully.}) 21. axb6 Qxb6 22. Nd2 {Aronian does not see any advantage for himself and opts for a draw.} (22. Rb1 $5 { was the last fighting try.}) 22... Qxb2 {Carefully calculated, as always.} 23. Nc4 Qxc3 24. Nb6 Rab8 25. Nd5 Qb2 {The only square, but sufficient. The queen needs to stick to the white bishop.} (25... Qc4 $2 {loses material after} 26. Ra4) 26. Rb1 Qa2 27. Ra1 Qb2 28. Rb1 Qa2 29. Ra1 Qb2 1/2-1/2