[Event "Bucharest Superbet Classic"] [White "Vachier Lagrave,Maxime"] [Black "Caruana,Fabiano"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Round "4"] [Annotator "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1-0"] [Date "2022.05.08"] [WhiteElo "2750"] [BlackElo "2786"] [PlyCount "77"] {[%evp 0,77,16,28,38,44,44,6,15,-6,-22,-13,-28,-64,-39,9,-27,-27,14,-77,-60,-48,-22,-9,9,9,69,39,53,-170,-69,-59,-35,-105,-74,-59,-2,-11,-29,-91,17,6,77,63,-1,24,56,58,121,2,128,18,52,35,114,160,160,-5,83,150,150,130,130,183,162,162,155,150,202,190,204,204,251,239,272,272,277,256,290,269]} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 {The Open Spanish remains trendy and it is a frequent guest in games of MVL, who is always ready to take it on, with the white pieces.} 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Bc5 10. Nbd2 O-O 11. Bc2 Nxf2 {This old line is experiencing a revival currently. It is just extremely trendy, with Fabiano being on both sides of the theoretical debate. Caruana-Van Foreest from Wijk 2022 comes to mind.} 12. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 13. Kxf2 f6 14. Nf1 {This is the modern way of challenging Black's ambitious opening play. White gives up a pawn to get an extra tempo to mobilize their forces. Old main line is the natural 14.exf6.} fxe5 15. Kg1 Qd7 $5 {A minor surprise perhaps. Van Foreest played Qd6 against Fabiano, while many others, including Mamedyarov and Vidit, have tried} (15... Bg4 $5 16. Ne3 Be6 {provoking the knight to e3, where it is misplaced.} )16. Bg5 {The standard way to develop, White throws out the bishop, heading towards h4-g3 where it will not obstruct his other pieces.} Rae8 {Black is mobilizing as well. At some point he will go for some action in the center, but first let's bring the last piece into play.} 17. Qd2 d4 {Action! This push is a typical way to get things going. Black is openign files and diagonals for his pieces, before White gets fully ready for the battle.} 18. Ng3 $2 {The knight gets somewhat in the way of the bishop, though as we will see, exploitnig that is not very easy.} (18. Re1 {Is advised, bringing the rook into the game and keeping the g3 square for the bishop.} )h6 {Not fearing any ghosts. 19.Bxh6 is not scary, as the queen is there to defend the 7th rank, while 19.Qd3 is well met with 19...Bf5! 20.Nxf5 e4.} 19. Bh4 (19. Qd3 Bf5 $1 20. Nxf5 e4 )dxc3 {Start of some concrete action. } 20. Qxc3 {And here, feeling that there has to be something concrete, Fabiano miscalculates.} Rxf3 $4 {I assume Fabi missed that after 21.gxf3 Nd4 22.Bd1! is strong, with the idea that 22...g5 now no longer traps the bishop because of 23.Ne4! intermezzo, threatening Nf6+. Because of this important motive, the whole exchange sac just doesn't work and Black ends up down a piece. Instead, the right way to start the action was Nd4 idea, best executed with 20...b4! included.} (20... b4 $1 21. Qc5 Nd4 22. Nxd4 ({one point of including 20...b4 first is that now} 22. Nxe5 $2 {loses to} Qd6 ({or} 22... Qd5 ))Qxd4+ 23. Qxd4 exd4 {And this endgame is quite bad for White, as he is struggling to find harmony within his pieces. Currently the threat is g5, while the d-pawn is also annoying potentially.} )(20... Nd4 {was also decent, but here White can take on e5, with some complications.} )21. gxf3 Nd4 22. Bd1 $1 {Actually the game could still have been exciting, had Maxime showed some weakness, but his conversion was absolutely impeccable.} Rf8 {Fabi plays on. He does have 2 pawns and White king is a little weak potentially.} (22... g5 23. Ne4 $1 { is the crucial motif.} )23. Ne4 Bc4 24. Kg2 Rf4 {Black is bringing pieces forward, but Maxime shows accuracy.} 25. Be1 $1 {Not 25.Bg3?? because of 25... Qh3+!! with mate to follow on f1 square.} (25. Bg3 $4 Qh3+ $3 26. Kxh3 Bf1# )Qf5 26. Nd2 $1 {Very precise play by Maxime. He is withdrawing first, making sure the king is safe and f3 pawn is secured. Bg3 will come next.} e4 27. Bg3 $1 {Again accurate. The pawn on f3 will be a great shield for the White king, no matter its color.} exf3+ 28. Kf2 {King is safe here. Black's play ran out of steam and the rest is easy conversion for MVL.} Rg4 29. Nxc4 bxc4 30. Bxf3 Nxf3 31. Qxf3 Qc2+ 32. Qe2 Qf5+ 33. Kg1 {White is just up a bishop. Black's 2 pawns play no role here, given his unfortunate pawn structure.} h5 34. Rf1 Qg6 35. Kh1 h4 36. Bxc7 h3 37. Qf3 Qd3 38. Be5 Rg2 39. Bc3 {A game that was decided by a blunder, but Maxime did rise to the occasion, when given a chance.} 1-0