[Event "FIDE Chess Grand Prix 1 2022 | Knockout"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2022.02.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C88"] [WhiteElo "2736"] [BlackElo "2772"] [Annotator "Bojkov,Dejan"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. h3 {Very few people dare to enter the Marshall Attack against Aronian these days.} Bb7 9. d3 d6 10. a3 Qd7 11. Nc3 {The first major thought by White.} Nd8 { The first critical moment of the game. After some more thought, Nakamura played a novelty.} ({Aronian himself used this same line to defeat Black in the following recent game:} 11... Rfe8 12. Ne2 Nd8 13. Ng3 Ne6 14. Ng5 Nxg5 15. Bxg5 h6 16. Bd2 c5 17. Qf3 Bd8 18. Nf5 {with an advantage for White in Aronian, L (2782)-Ding,L (2799) Chess. com INT 2021}) 12. Nh2 $146 ({The predecessor saw:} 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 c6 14. c4 cxd5 15. cxd5 f6 16. a4 Nf7 17. d4 { with approximate equality in Maghsoodloo,P (2676)-Svidler,P (2723) Chess.com INT 2020}) ({This moment was interesting as White could have used the somewhat softened center and moved aggressively forward with} 12. d4 {It was not quite clear what Nakamura did not like (perhaps the fact that Aronian once again guessed the opening fine and practically blitzed his moves). The interesting pawn sacrifice in the line} Ne6 $5 {might have been the issue, for example after} 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Nxe5 ({However} 14. Bd5 {wins the pawn, although after } c6 15. Nxe5 Qc7 16. Bxe6 fxe6 17. Nd3 c5 {Black seems to have good compensation thanks to his potent bishop pair.}) ({It is also equal in case of } 14. Qxd7 Nxd7 15. Bd5 Rfb8 $1) 14... Qxd1 15. Rxd1 Nxe4 {it is even.}) 12... Ne6 13. Ng4 {The point of the maneuver, but Black is well prepared for it.} Kh8 (13... c6 $5) 14. Nxf6 Bxf6 15. Qg4 (15. Nd5 Bd8 {only helps Black regroup nicely.}) 15... Rae8 $1 {A nice move that overprotects the knight and sets free the black queen. The opening was quite a success for Aronian. His play is easy, he has a lot of interesting maneuvers, and he has a clear plan of a kingside expansion once the f7-f5 break is prepared.} 16. a4 {An attempt to occupy the open file.} ({Black's last move also prevented.} 16. f4 {would be nicely met with} exf4 17. Bxf4 Qd8 $1 18. Bg3 Nd4) 16... b4 $1 {Aronian plays for the initiative with his usual creativity and optimism.} 17. Ne2 {And Nakamura decides once again to reject the pawn sacrifice.} ({In the line} 17. Nd5 Bd8 18. Nxb4 {The white knight is poorly misplaced on the queenside which provides White extra possibilities on the opposite wing and} f5 {comes just in time, for example} (18... g6 $5) 19. exf5 Nd4 20. f6 Qxg4 21. hxg4 c5 22. fxg7+ Kxg7 23. Na2 Rxf2 $1 24. Kxf2 Bh4+ 25. g3 Rf8+ 26. Kg1 Nf3+ {and White needs to fight fiercely for his skin.}) 17... Qd8 {Black just follows his plan.} ({ Although there were a couple of nice alternatives like} 17... g6 $5) ({Or} 17... Bd8 $5) 18. c3 bxc3 19. bxc3 g6 20. Bd5 {Nakamura found a way to create counterplay. He clears the fourth rank for the queen and starts looking at the black weaknesses on the queenside.} Bxd5 21. exd5 Nc5 22. Bh6 $1 {Time for Nakamura to be creative $1 It is his turn to sacrifice a pawn.} ({Perhaps the immediate} 22. Qc4 $5 {was safer, when} e4 {looks fearsome, but White is OK after} 23. Ng3 $1 exd3 (23... Nxd3 24. Rxe4) 24. Be3) 22... Nxd3 {And Aronian needs no second invitation.} ({However, here} 22... Bg7 $5 23. Bxg7+ Kxg7 24. Qc4 e4 {looked more promising for Black than before.}) 23. Bxf8 Nxe1 24. Rxe1 Rxf8 25. Qc4 Qa8 26. Rb1 {Playing for domination. For his (doubled) pawn White got some extra air for his pieces—open files and squares—and a clear shot at the c7- and a6-pawns. The latter is especially important for both sides. In perspective, White can also hope for a perfect pair of a queen-and-a-knight versus queen-and-a-bishop.} ({Nakamura is correctly rejecting} 26. Qxc7 { on account of} Qxd5 27. Ng3 Bd8 $1 {A neat move that wins a tempo against the white queen.} ({Not the immediate} 27... Bh4 28. Ne4 {with the threat of a g2-g3 $1}) 28. Qd7 Bh4 29. Ne4 Rd8 {and Black is much better.}) 26... Rb8 { Here and in the future, it seemed as if Aronian helped his opponent a bit.} ({ My feeling is that the rooks should have been kept on the board, for example with} 26... Rc8 $5 27. Ng3 (27. Qc6 Qxc6 28. dxc6 d5 $1 {does not bother the second player.}) 27... Kg7 {then Black can prepare the c7-c6 advance in a good moment.}) 27. Rb4 {A very solid construction was built by White, but he is starting to feel the time deficit.} Kg7 28. Ng3 h5 {Aronian needs to bring his pawns into motion.} 29. Ne4 Bd8 30. a5 Qa7 ({There was still} 30... Rc8 $1 31. g3 h4 32. g4 Be7 {with c7-c6 to follow soon.}) 31. g3 $1 {In order to secure some more squares for the knight, but also to hide the king from the possible double-attacks.} ({Like this one} 31. Rxb8 Qxb8 32. Qxa6 $4 Qb1+) 31... f5 32. Nd2 Rxb4 {In the opponent's time trouble, Aronian tries to complicate matters as much as possible.} ({Or else White will win the a-pawn, say in this line} 32... Bf6 33. Rxb8 Qxb8 34. Qxa6 Qb2 35. Nf1 Qxc3 36. Qb5 {and, with outside passer, Nakamura will risk nothing.}) 33. cxb4 e4 {But this softens the important d4-square.} 34. Nb3 Bf6 35. Kg2 {A curious position $1 The white queen is watching both black weaknesses, whereas the black bishop is very aware of the opponent's knight’s intention to jump all the way to the e6- or c6-outposts. Nakamura now owns the better pair of pieces and this should have made Aronian more alert.} h4 {Nope, he tries to push further for a win.} ({ It was time to consider some} 35... e3 {and eventually look for a perpetual once that the diagonal for the queen is cleared later.} 36. f3 (36. f4)) 36. gxh4 $1 {This one is for free.} Kf7 ({The d4-square is important for Black.} 36... Bxh4 $4 37. Qd4+ Qxd4 38. Nxd4 {followed by b4-b5 makes the a-passer a queen.}) ({It was about time to force a draw with something like} 36... e3 37. f4 e2 38. Qxe2 Bxh4 39. Qd2 Bf6 40. Qd3 Qb7 41. Qc4 Qa7) 37. h5 {Short on time, Nakamura feels that this is the moment and spends his last seconds to see the best continuation.} ({It seems as if White missed a golden chance. The move} 37. Qc6 $3 {would have allowed him almost decisive infiltration, for example in the beautiful line} Bxh4 ({Black's last chance in this line would have been } 37... Kg7 {However, it is not clear if he can survive after} 38. h5 ({Or} 38. Qd7+ $5) 38... gxh5 39. Qd7+ Kg6 40. Qe8+ Kg7 41. b5 axb5 42. Qxb5 {and in comparison to the game, White is a few tempi ahead.}) 38. Qd7+ Kg8 39. Nc5 $3 { wins on the spot after} dxc5 40. d6 cxb4 41. Qc8+ Kf7 42. Qxc7+ Qxc7 43. dxc7 { yet another passer reaches the final row.}) 37... gxh5 38. b5 e3 $1 {Time to bail out. Her majesty would do the job, with a little help from her friends. (the bands Queen and Beatles have nothing to do with the story.)} 39. f4 ({Or} 39. bxa6 exf2 40. Nd2 Kg6) 39... Qb8 40. Kf1 ({After} 40. bxa6 {it is only White who risks, although the machine claims this to be a draw as well after something like} Qg8+ 41. Kh1 Qg3 42. Qf1 e2 43. Qxe2 Qxh3+ 44. Kg1 Qxb3 45. Qe6+ Kg7 46. Qd7+) 40... axb5 41. Qc6 e2+ 42. Kxe2 Qa7 $1 43. a6 {This passer is still huge, and will finally become a queen, but Aronian finds some study-like ideas to survive just in time.} Qg1 44. Qxc7+ Kg6 45. Nd2 Qh2+ 46. Kd1 Qxf4 47. a7 Bg5 48. Qa5 ({Nothing changes.} 48. Qc2 Qd4 49. a8=Q Qg1+ 50. Ke2 Qe3+ 51. Kf1 Qxh3+) 48... b4 49. Qa2 b3 $1 50. Qa5 Qe3 51. a8=Q Qg1+ 52. Ke2 Qe3+ 53. Kd1 Qg1+ 54. Ke2 Qe3+ 1/2-1/2
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