(1) Ivanchuk,Vassily (2754) - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime (2721) [A15]
39th Olympiad Men Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (10), 01.10.2010

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qb3 Nb6 6.d4 Bg7 7.Bf4 Be6 8.Qa3 0-0 9.e3 N8d7 10.Rd1 a5 11.Ng5N
[11.d5 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Bxd5 13.c4 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.h4 Qf6 16.Be2 e5 17.Bg5 Qc6 18.h5 f6 19.Bh6 Rf7 20.Rg1 f5 21.f4 Re8 22.c5 Qxc5 23.Qxc5 Nxc5 24.hxg6 1-0 in 47 moves. Eljanov,P (2720)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2716)/Germany 2008/CBM 127 Extra (46)]

11...Bd5 12.e4 Bc4 13.h4 Bxf1 14.Kxf1 Nf6 15.Qc5 c6 16.Nf3 e6 17.Qd6 Nc4 18.Qxd8 Rfxd8 19.b3 Na3 20.Be5 Ng4 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.Ke2
Though a more pleasant ending for white, Ivanchuk conducts it with beautiful technique, and great patience.

22...h5 23.Rd2 Nf6 24.Rc1 Ne8 25.Na4 Nd6 26.Ke3 Nab5 27.Ne5 Nc7 28.f3 Nce8 29.Nb6 Ra6 30.Nbd7!

White's first goal is to reposition his knights to their ideal squares, c5 and b6.

[30...f6? with the idea of attacking d7's defender, is not possible because of 31.Nc5! fxe5 32.Nxe6+ Kf6 33.Nxd8 ]

31.Nc5 Nc7 32.Rcd1 Ra7 33.Rc1 Raa8 34.Ned3 Rab8 35.Nf4 Rh8 36.Rcc2 Nde8 37.Kf2 Nf6 38.Nfd3 Nfe8 39.Ne5 Nd6 40.Ned7 Rbd8 41.Nb6

Mission accomplished. Now for the second part which is to prepare a break.

41...Rhe8 42.Ke3 Ncb5 43.a4 Nc7 44.Rb2 Re7

45.b4! axb4
[Ivanchuk's lovely point is that the attempt to win the exchange with 45...Na8 is met by 46.bxa5 Nxb6 47.axb6 Nc4+ 48.Kd3 Nxd2 49.Rxd2 and the passed queenside pawns rule. A sample continuation is 49...e5 50.Kc3 exd4+ 51.Rxd4 Rxd4 52.Kxd4 g5 53.a5 gxh4 54.Nxb7! ]

46.Rxb4 Na6 47.Rbb2 Nc7 48.Rdc2

The Ukrainian grandmaster has created another strategical masterpiece: "Ivanchuk's Initiative" (Müller)

The king is slightly misplaced here which will be felt in the following. (Müller) [The immediate 48...e5! 49.dxe5 Rxe5 gives Black more counterplay as 50.Nxb7? (50.Kf2 is called for.) 50...Nxb7 51.Nc4 Re7 52.Rxb7? Nd5+-+ (Müller)]

A very strong prophylactic move. (Müller) [The direct 49.Nc4?! allows Black to reduce the pressure by 49...Nxc4+ 50.Rxc4 b5 (Müller)]

[Now it is too late for 49...e5? due to 50.dxe5 Rxe5 51.Nxb7! Nxb7 52.Nc4+- (Müller)]

50.Nc4 Nxc4 51.Rxc4 b6 52.Nd3 c5

A spectacular undermining shot. (Müller)

White has a very dangerous initiative, which Ivanchuk handles masterfully. (Müller) [If black were to take with the pawn with 53...cxd4 then white pushes with 54.a6! (54.axb6?! Rb7 55.Rc6 Rdb8 56.Ne5 (56.Ra2!? ) 56...Nxb6 57.Nxf7+ Rxf7 58.Rbxb6 Rxb6 59.Rxb6 and due to the large drawish tendency of rook endings Black still has hopes to survive. (Müller)) 54...Ra7 55.Nb4 d3 56.Ke1 (56.Ke3? would be a mistake after 56...d2 57.Rxd2 Rxd2 58.Kxd2 Nc7 with chances to hold.) 56...f5 57.e5 b5 58.Rc6 Nc7 59.Rd6 Rda8 (59...Rxd6 60.exd6 Nd5 61.Nxd5 exd5 62.Ra2 b4 63.d7 Rxd7 64.a7 ) 60.Ra2 and white's king will decide it.; 53...bxa5 54.Nxc5 and on top of white's far superior pieces, the a-pawn is doomed.]

54.Rxd4 cxd4 55.axb6 Rb7
It might seem as if black is about to get his house in order, but...

56.Ne5! Rxb6
[56...f6?! 57.Nc4 Black's knight is imprisoned. (Müller)]

Ivanchuk does not exchange his active rook, which is an excellent practical decision. (Müller) [The technical endgame after 57.Nxf7+? Kg7 58.Rxb6 Nxb6 59.Ne5 is by no means easy to assess. (Müller)]


Activity is of the utmost importance in this type of endgame with rook and knight vs rook and knight as both pieces do not like to defend passively. (Müller) [The greedy 58.Nxf7+? violates the principle "Do not rush" and allows Black to continue the fight with 58...Kg7 59.Ne5 Rb7 60.Nc6 Kf6 61.Nxd4 e5 62.Nc2 Ne6 (Müller)]

[58...Na6 also doesn't save after 59.Nxf7+ Kg7 60.Ne5+ Kg8 61.Kg3 Nc5 62.Ra5 Nb3 63.Ra8+ Kg7 64.Ra7+ Kg8 and here white wins with the spectacular king penetration

65.Kf4! Rb5 66.Kg5!! Rxe5+ 67.Kxg6 Kf8 68.Kf6! Ra5 69.Rb7! Ke8 70.Rxb3 Kd7 71.g4!+- ]

59.Kg3 Rc2 60.Nxf7+ Kg7 61.Ne5 Kf6 62.Kf4 Ke7 63.g3 Rc5

[63...Kf6 does not help due to 64.Rb7 d3 65.Nxd3 e5+ 66.Ke3 (66.Nxe5? Ne6+ ) 66...Rc3 67.Kd2+- (Müller)]

A very nice move. Black is in a kind of zugzwang. (Nunn)

64...Kd6 65.Rb6+ Ke7 66.g4 hxg4 67.fxg4 g5+ 68.hxg5 Rb5 69.Rc6 Rb7 70.Rc4?!
[White could have won more easily by 70.g6! Kf6 71.g5+ Kg7 72.Rd6 but the move played is also sufficient. (Nunn)]

70...Nb5 71.Rc8 Nc3 72.Rh8 Ne2+ 73.Kf3 Rb5 74.g6 Ng1+ 75.Kg2 Rxe5
[Vachier-Lagrave gives the exchange as 75...Kf6? runs into 76.Rf8+ Kg7 (76...Kxe5 77.g7 ) 77.Rf7+ Kg8 78.Nd7+- (Müller)]

76.g7 Rg5 77.g8Q Rxg8 78.Rxg8 d3 79.Ra8 d2 80.Ra1 Ne2 81.Rd1 Nc3 82.Rxd2 Nxe4 83.Re2 Ng5 84.Kg3 Kf6 85.Kh4 Kg6 86.Re3 Kh6 87.Ra3 Kg6 88.Ra8 Nf3+ 89.Kg3 Ne5 90.Ra6 Kg5 91.Ra5
[91.Ra5 Kf6 92.g5+ Kf5 93.g6 Kf6 94.Rxe5 Kxe5 95.g7+- (Müller)] 1-0