[Event "FIDE Candidates Chess Tournament 2022"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2753"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "185"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] {This was a nervous game. One can sense that these two brilliant players lost their confidence in what has been a difficult tournament for both of them.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nf6 5. h3 h6 6. c3 d6 7. Nbd2 a6 {The Italian has so many details that sometimes it's difficult to keep up. When to play h3, when to play h6, whether Black should play a6 or a5, whether White should advance the pawns on the queenside or just play on the kingside, should he pin the knight with Bg5 or not, and so on. It's necessary to study dozens of hours and many games to start understanding these things.} 8. b4 Ba7 9. a4 Be6 {Another difficult Italian question: when to take on e6, or in a similar way, when to take on e3. Most of the time I have no clue what's the right answer.} 10. Bxe6 {Firouzja decides to go for it.} fxe6 11. O-O O-O 12. Re1 Qe8 13. Nf1 Nh5 14. Ra2 $1 {Notice that Duda played a similar move in his game today. I just love these rook moves. The rook protects the kingside from here.} Nf4 15. Kh2 Qf7 16. Be3 Bxe3 17. Nxe3 Kh8 {I don't understand the point of this move very well. It was, however, played in two grandmaster games.} 18. Ng4 {A new move and the first choice of the computer.} (18. Ng1 {had been played before.}) 18... Ne7 19. Ng1 $1 {The idea is to play g3, sending the knight back.} (19. g3 $2 Nxh3 20. Kxh3 Qxf3) 19... Neg6 20. g3 Nh5 21. Kg2 Nf6 22. Nf3 Qd7 23. Nfh2 Qc6 24. Qb3 Rae8 25. h4 {Firouzja could have started play on the queenside.} (25. Rb1 {and the position is comfortable for White. The idea ia a5-c4-b5 and so on.}) 25... Nh5 (25... Qd7) 26. Re3 $2 {A horrible blunder.} ( 26. d4 $1 {with advantage for White.}) 26... b5 $2 {Returning the favor.} ( 26... Nhf4+ $1 {Not a difficult move for Radjabov, a player that used to strike with the King's Indian.} 27. gxf4 exf4 (27... Nxf4+ 28. Kg1 h5 29. Nxe5 $1 dxe5 30. Nf3 {and White is fighting for equality.}) 28. Rh3 (28. h5 Nh4+ 29. Kh3 g5 $3 {a fantastic computer move. Obviously, it was not necessary to see this to play the sacrifice.} (29... fxe3 30. Kxh4 exf2 31. Rxf2 Qd7 {with some advantage for Black.}) 30. Re1 (30. hxg6 Nxg6 31. Re1 f3 {with a strong attack. }) 30... Re7 $1 {[%CAl Gc6e8,Ge8h5] Followed by Qe8xh5 with a strong attack.}) 28... h5 {regaining the piece with the advantage.}) 27. Nf3 Qd7 28. Qd1 (28. c4 {with the advantage.}) 28... Nf6 29. Nfh2 (29. Nxf6 Rxf6 30. axb5 axb5 31. h5 Ne7 32. d4 {with a clear advantage.}) 29... Qc6 30. Ra3 Kh7 31. Kg1 Rf7 32. axb5 axb5 33. d4 Ref8 34. Ra2 Qc4 35. Rb2 Ra8 36. Rf3 Raf8 37. Re3 Ra8 38. Nxf6+ gxf6 (38... Rxf6 $2 39. h5 Ne7 40. dxe5 dxe5 41. Ng4 {wins.}) 39. Nf3 Ne7 40. Nd2 Qc6 41. dxe5 fxe5 42. Rf3 Rg7 43. Kh2 {This allows Radjabov to activate his queen.} (43. Qb3 $1 {with the idea of playing Ra2 and controlling the a-file.} Ng6 (43... Qd7 44. Ra2) 44. Kf1 {with the advantage.}) 43... Qe8 $1 44. Qb3 Qg6 {Now Radjabov is fine.} 45. Ra2 Rxa2 46. Qxa2 Qg4 47. Re3 Rf7 ( 47... Ng6 $1 {was better.} 48. f3 Qh5 49. Qxe6 Nxh4 $1 50. Qh3 (50. gxh4 $2 Qxh4+ 51. Qh3 Qf2+ {mates.}) 50... Qg5 $1 51. Re2 Ng6 {with a good position for Black.}) 48. f3 Qg6 49. Nf1 {Now we get some more maneuvering.} Qf6 50. Qf2 Rf8 51. Nd2 Ra8 52. Nb3 Ng6 53. Na5 Rg8 54. Re1 Qf7 55. Nb3 Qd7 56. Ra1 Rg7 57. Nd2 Ne7 58. Qe3 Ng8 59. Nf1 Nf6 60. Qe2 Nh5 61. Qf2 Qc6 62. Qe3 Qc4 63. Nd2 Qc6 64. Rg1 Qa8 65. Nf1 Qd8 66. Qf2 {Black has to fight against Ne3-g4.} Qe8 (66... Qf6 67. Ne3 Rg8 {And it's not easy for White to support Ng4, for instance:} 68. Kh3 (68. Ng4 $4 Rxg4) 68... d5 $1 69. Ng4 Rxg4 $1 70. Kxg4 dxe4 71. Kh3 exf3 { with excellent chances.}) 67. Ne3 Nf6 (67... Qf7 68. Qe2 {Preparing Ng4.} Rxg3 $5 69. Rxg3 Qf4 70. Qe1 $1 Nxg3 71. Ng2 $1 Nf1+ 72. Kg1 Nh2 $1 73. Nxf4 Nxf3+ 74. Kf2 Nxe1 75. Nxe6 Nc2 $1 76. Nxc7 Na3 {with a drawn endgame.}) 68. Qe2 Qh5 (68... Rg8 69. Ng4 $1 Nxg4+ 70. fxg4 {and White is better.}) 69. Kh3 $2 (69. Rg2) 69... Kh8 $2 (69... Nxe4 $1 70. g4 Ng5+ 71. Kg3 Nf7 $1 72. Qxb5 Qg6 { [%CAl Ge5e4,Gd6d5] Followed by d5 or e4, and Black has good play.}) 70. Ng4 $1 Qg6 71. Nxf6 Qxf6 72. Ra1 Qg6 73. g4 Qf7 74. Qe3 Kh7 75. Ra5 Qd7 76. Qd3 c6 $6 (76... h5 $1 77. g5 Qf7 78. Qe3 (78. Rxb5 Qf4 {followed by Rf7, and Black is in time to achieve a draw.}) 78... Qd7 $11) 77. Ra1 (77. Kg2 $1 {Preventing Qf7 and White will press a lot in this endgame.}) 77... Qf7 $1 78. Qe3 { White still has some advantage, but Firouzja is not able to demonstrate any winning attempt.} Qf6 79. Kg3 Rc7 80. Rd1 Rd7 81. Rd2 d5 82. Re2 Rf7 83. Kg2 Kg8 84. h5 Kh7 85. Qd3 Kg7 86. Re3 Qf4 87. Re2 Kf6 88. Qd1 Kg5 89. Re1 Kh4 90. Rh1+ Kg5 91. Re1 Kh4 92. Rh1+ Kg5 93. Re1 1/2-1/2 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C82"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2783"] [Annotator "samsh"] [PlyCount "147"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Bc5 {Nothing up to here can be considered a huge surprise. Hikaru has only been playing e4 with White, and Caruana repeated the same Bc5 Open Spanish that he recently chose against MVL.} 10. Nbd2 O-O 11. Bc2 Nxf2 12. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 13. Kxf2 f6 14. Nf1 fxe5 15. Kg1 {All of this is well known theory, but I think Caruana fell into the same practical trap that Firouzja did against Nepo. I'm quite confident Black's position is objectively fine here, but in practice, it feels so much easier to play the White side.} Qd6 (15... Qd7 { This was Caruana's choice against Maxime in the aforementioned game. He certainly equalized, but still went on to lose.}) 16. Be3 Bf5 17. Bb3 Rad8 18. Qe1 Na5 19. Qf2 Nb7 {Both sides were still playing very fast.} 20. Re1 c5 21. Ng3 (21. Bg5 $5 {This was an interesting option, but my suspicion is that Black's position is better than the computer suggests. After} c4 $1 (21... Rde8 $2 22. Rxe5 $1 Rxe5 23. Bf4 $18) 22. Bxd8 cxb3 23. Bh4 bxa2 24. Ra1 Bb1 { I have a lot of trouble evaluating the position, and once I let the computer run here, it became less and less optimistic for White's chances. I think Hikaru was right to avoid it.}) 21... Bd3 22. Qd2 c4 $2 {In my opinion, this is the move that lost Caruana the game. The position is incredibly hard to understand, but I think the main point is that Black will not be able to maintain his pawn on e5. It will inevitably have to move to e4. When this happens, Black will really regret having pushed c5-c4 because he loses any hope of fighting for the dark squares, plus the light squared bishop can end up stuck on d3 and unable to fight on other relevant parts of the board. White is only a bit better still, but Black's position feels nearly impossible to play.} (22... e4 $1 {This should be preferred. The position is messy and balanced. I would prefer the White side, but the machine insists upon total equality.}) 23. Bd1 $1 {White does not exchange the bishops. He has already seen that d3 will become a piece of dead wood.} Rd7 24. Bf2 Rdf7 25. Nh1 $1 { An excellent decision from Hikaru. The move is not at all subtle, White wants to take on e5, or to play Bg3 next. Black clearly will have to move the e-pawn. } e4 26. Nd4 {This is exactly the kind of position that I think is a practical nightmare for Black. Long term, he will face huge issues as his pawns are blockaded in the center, and White will eventually take them by having a larger total number of pieces on the board. Black's compensation is that one of his pieces is bigger than White's, but the main power of a larger piece over a smaller piece, such as a rook over a bishop, is being able to attack multiple targets at once. And what do we have here $2 Black's rooks are both clearly on their best squares already. In fact, all of his pieces look nice and active. But what is there to target $2 White has no weaknesses. Slowly but surely, he will activate his pieces and organize them to attack the pawns. Caruana surely could have defended better from here, but in human terms, I think the game is already more or less lost, even though the machine gives White only a 0.5 advantage or so. I think his big mistake was c4.} Qg6 27. h4 Nc5 (27... h5 $1 {According to the machine, this was the only move. But who makes such a move, putting yet another pawn on a light square and weakening g5 $2 It feels like Black's task is impossible, and even here, he is still suffering after} 28. Qg5 Qxg5 29. hxg5 $14) 28. h5 $1 Qd6 29. Bg4 $1 {White's pieces are springing to life, and he is now winning. The bishop on d3 might look nice and anchored, but it is not doing much, and it is unable to help Black fight for squares like f5 or e6.} h6 30. Qe3 Qf4 31. Qxf4 (31. Bf5 { This may have been even faster.}) 31... Rxf4 32. Ne6 {In my opinion, Caruana only made two serious mistakes all game. One was to play c4. But, the second one was to not resign here. At this point, I really cannot imagine Hikaru ever not converting this with White. Under other circumstances, I would not criticize continuing the game; Black is not totally out of practical hope. But in this particular case, Caruana has a huge game with White against Nepo tomorrow, now a full point ahead of him. It's about as clear of a must-win scenario as one could imagine, and it is clearly the most important game of the tournament. Caruana will have White, and he should definitely get his chances. But having a couple extra hours to rest and prepare for the Petroff would have been a huge asset, and in my opinion, a much larger one than hoping for the 1\% chance of Hikaru not winning this position.} Nxe6 33. Bxe6+ Kh7 34. Bxd5 R8f5 35. Bc6 Rxh5 36. Bd4 Rhf5 37. Nf2 Rf7 38. b4 h5 39. a4 (39. Be8 { This seems rather convincing. Black loses the h-pawn.} R7f5 {Trying to save it will lead to a trapped rook.} 40. Be3 $1 Rh4 41. g3) 39... bxa4 40. Bxa4 h4 41. Be3 R4f5 42. Ra1 {Hikaru made his life a little tougher here and had to find some only moves, but they were pretty straightforward. He did not take long to find all of them.} h3 43. Ra2 $1 {Luckily for White, there wasn't much choice. This was the only way to prevent h2+.} (43. gxh3 $2 {This would fall for Black's trap.} Rf3 $1 44. Re1 Rg3+ $1 {Black is turning the tables.}) 43... hxg2 44. Bd1 $1 {Another good move, stopping Rf3.} R7f6 {Now, last up is not letting Black defend the pawn with Rg6.} 45. Bg4 $1 Rd5 46. Kxg2 $1 Rg6 47. Kg3 {White has reached an ideal coordination again with no counterplay, and now the game wins itself.} Bf1 {Finally that bishop gets to move... but it still isn't doing anything on f1 and has to come back to d3 the next move anyway.} 48. Bd4 Bd3 49. Kf4 Kg8 50. Bf5 Rh6 51. Ng4 Rhd6 52. Ne3 Rb5 53. Bc5 Rf6 54. Ke5 Kf7 55. Nd5 {I'm not sure it was necessary to let Black get the pawn to e2, but Hikaru kept it all under control.} (55. Rf2 $18 {Time to resign.}) 55... Rxf5+ 56. Kxf5 e3+ 57. Ke5 e2 58. Bf2 Rb8 59. Be1 Re8+ 60. Kf4 g5+ {Now again, White needed a couple only moves... but they are not hard.} 61. Kg3 $1 Re6 62. Kf2 Rh6 63. Ke3 Re6+ 64. Kf2 Rh6 65. Ne3 {Of course, White does not repeat a second time.} Rf6+ 66. Kg3 Rf1 67. Ng2 {White has re-coordinated, and Black's e-pawn is firmly stopped. The rook can now go and start taking the other ones.} Rf6 68. Bf2 Kg6 69. Ra5 $1 Re6 70. Ne1 $1 Bf5 71. Nf3 Rd6 72. Nd4 Bd3 73. Re5 Kf6 74. Nf3 {Facing the loss of the g5-pawn, Caruana finally resigned. The game lasted over six hours and finished past 9pm local time. I have to imagine this will not do him any favors tomorrow. Hikaru's technique was not perfect, and honestly not even that great, but the win was still never in doubt. I really think resigning earlier was the best call given the tournament situation.} 1-0 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Ding, Liren"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2766"] [BlackElo "2806"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] {Nepomniachtchi decided to just force a draw with White. Whether this was the best strategy or not, one can never know. In this round, it worked pretty well. } 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Nxd4 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 { This variation is solid and risk-free for White. Nepomniachtchi has used it a few times.} d5 8. exd5 O-O 9. O-O cxd5 (9... Bg4 10. f3 Bh5 {is a popular option nowadays. Obviously, White also has no problems forcing a draw here.}) 10. Qf3 c6 11. Bg5 Bd6 12. Rae1 Rb8 13. Nd1 {The players are following a game Ding Liren played in 2019 that ended in a quick draw. After a few setbacks and having no chance in the tournament at all, he probably was just happy with an easy draw.} h6 14. Bxf6 Qxf6 15. Qxf6 gxf6 {A typical endgame in this line.} 16. b3 f5 17. Ne3 f4 18. Nf5 Bxf5 19. Bxf5 Kg7 20. g3 Kf6 21. Bd3 h5 {A new move. Black intends h5-h4 to exchange all the pawns on the kingside.} (21... Bb4 22. Re2 Rfe8 {also ended in a draw in Movsesian-Ding, World Cup 2019.}) 22. Kg2 Rh8 23. Kf3 fxg3 24. hxg3 (24. fxg3 Kg7 $11) 24... h4 25. Rh1 hxg3 26. fxg3 a5 27. a4 Bb4 28. Ref1 Rxh1 29. Rxh1 Ke5 30. Rh4 Rg8 31. Rg4 Rxg4 32. Kxg4 f6 33. Kf3 f5 34. Ke2 Bc3 35. Kf3 Bb4 36. Ke2 Bc3 37. Kf3 Bb4 1/2-1/2 [Event "Chess.com"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.06.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Duda, Jan-Krzysztof"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C26"] [WhiteElo "2764"] [BlackElo "2750"] [Annotator "Rafael Leitao"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. g3 {After losing the previous game against Nepomniachtchi in a long theoretical line, Rapport is back to his true self: a sideline that leads to a fight in the middlegame with not so much opening theory. It's the first time he uses this system in his career.} Bc5 (4... d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nxc3 7. bxc3 {is the other main line.}) 5. Bg2 d6 6. d3 a5 { A rare move. The pawn usually is played to a6.} 7. O-O h6 {Always an useful move, preventing Bg5. That said, the pin is not as dangerous as it seems.} ( 7... O-O 8. Bg5 (8. h3 {Of course, White can just play this with a normal position.}) 8... h6 9. Bh4 $5 {This looks tricky since White prepares 10.Nd5, and black can't play 9...g5 now. But there is a solution.} (9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 {is not dangerous.}) 9... Bg4 $1 {An important move. Now Black is ready to play g7-g5.} (9... g5 $2 10. Nxg5 hxg5 11. Bxg5 Be6 12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5 Nb8 14. Bh4 Nbd7 15. Qc1 $1 Kh7 16. Be4+ $1 Nxe4 17. Bxd8 {winning. Note how important it is that White's queen is on c1 and not d2.}) 10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Nd5 Qd8 {and Black is fine.}) 8. b3 {A new and enigmatic move. I suppose the idea is to prevent Black from gaining space on the queenside with a5-a4.} O-O 9. h3 {A typical move. The primitive plan is to play Kh2, remove the knight, and play f4.} Nd4 10. Be3 c6 11. Kh2 Re8 12. a3 {Another enigmatic pawn move on the queenside. It's hard to get into Rapport's head and explain the point of this move. I suppose he wants to avoid a possible Bb4.} (12. Bxd4 exd4 13. Ne2 {is not good because Black is ready for central play.} d5 $1) (12. Re1 Bb4) 12... Nxf3+ {Duda decides to clarify the position.} (12... b5 $5 {Looked logical, gaining space.} 13. Bxd4 exd4 14. Ne2 Qb6 (14... d5 {is not so good now that the c6-pawn is unprotected.} 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. Nfxd4 {although Black has some compensation here.}) 15. Qd2 {You know, I am just showing this line to say that I finally understood the 12.a3 move. Now White is threatening 16. b4, but Black is probably fine here anyway.} b4 16. a4 d5) 13. Qxf3 Bxe3 14. fxe3 {This move looks normal for a human: it opens the f-file, and White can try a plan advancing the kingside pawns. It is, however, heavily criticized by the computer. Well, it's certainly not a move to be played against a machine that will defend any attack and exploit your weaknesses. But, luckily, the Candidates Tournament is still played by humans, and they get nervous and see ghosts and make mistakes sometimes. So, yes, I agree with the computer that 14. Qxe3 is a better move. But Rapport wins this game because he takes risks. So the reader must judge whether the move is dubious, a bluff, or just brilliant human play.} b5 {A good move, gaining space on the queenside and also preparing the typical Ra7 defensive resource.} 15. g4 Ra7 $1 {Here it is. I just love these subtle moves. Black defends the f7-pawn and looks pretty solid for now.} 16. Qg3 {Rapport is not hiding his intentions. He wants Bf3-h4-g5 and mate.} h5 (16... Re6 $1 {Black has many options to prevent White's attacking plan, but this is the one I like most. The plan is Nh7-Rg6, and Black might be the one attacking. If White naively continues the attack with the obvious moves than he is just lost after:} 17. Bf3 $6 Nh7 18. h4 $2 Rg6) 17. g5 h4 {A flashy move but not really a necessary one.} (17... Nh7 18. h4 g6 {Black is rock-solid and can play Kg7-Rf8 and then consider the f6-push.}) 18. Qxh4 Nh7 19. Qg3 Nxg5 (19... Qxg5 {This move has the good point that after the exchange of queens, Black is not getting mated anytime soon.} 20. Qxg5 Nxg5 21. h4 Nh7 22. Bh3 {with a roughly equal endgame.}) 20. h4 Nh7 21. Bh3 Bxh3 22. Rg1 $1 {Absolutely necessary. After} (22. Kxh3 $2 Re6 $1 {Black has time to bring the rook.}) 22... Ng5 $2 {Another flashy move, but this is wrong for sure. Opening the h-file is very dangerous for Black.} (22... g6 23. Qxh3 Nf6 { with the idea of Kg7 and Rh8. The position is balanced.} 24. Raf1 Kg7 25. Rg2 Rh8 26. Kg1 Qd7) 23. hxg5 Bc8 (23... Be6 {Maybe this move is better because it's easier for Black to realize the plan of running with the king to the queenside with Kf8-e7-d7 and so on.}) 24. Rg2 (24. Raf1 {This avoids the f6-move and is more precise.}) 24... Rae7 $2 {Duda wants to play Re6-g6, but he will not be in time to do that. This move just loses.} (24... Kf8 {this is very natural, trying to run for safety.}) (24... f6 $1 {is the best. If white allows the capture on g5, then the a7-rook is very useful defending the king. And if White plays g5-g6, the Black runs with the king with a solid pawn structure.} 25. g6 Kf8 {with a complicated position.}) 25. Qf3 $6 {Not the best.} (25. Qh4 Re6 26. Qh5 $1 {An important move. Now Black has no time to run away with the king.} Rg6 (26... Kf8 27. Rf1) 27. Rf1 Qd7 {Otherwise just Kh1 followed by Rh2 and mate.} 28. Ne2 {Black is paralyzed.}) 25... g6 $2 ( 25... f6 $1 {Surprisingly, Duda could still fight with this move.} 26. gxf6 ( 26. g6 Kf8 27. Qh5 Rb7 $1 {and Black is not being mated.} 28. Qh8+ $4 {even loses.} Ke7 29. Qxg7+ Ke6 30. Qh6 Rh8 $19) 26... Rf7 27. Rag1 Qxf6 28. Qxf6 Rxf6 29. Rxg7+ Kf8 {with drawing chances.}) 26. Rh1 {Now the attack is decisive.} f5 27. Kg1 b4 28. exf5 $1 gxf5 {Many moves win now.} 29. Ne4 (29. Ne4 fxe4 30. Qh5 Rg7 31. g6 Kf8 32. Qh8+ Rg8 33. Rf2+ $1 {The point of the sacrifice.} Ke7 34. Qh7+ Ke6 35. Qf7#) 1-0