Today, I had white against Eljanov. Coming off yesterday, I wanted to win, or to at least put pressure on him.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Nd2 c5 The opening was a bit unusual, and he surprised me. I wasn't expecting c5, but I played normal moves and the next five or six are pretty standard.
5.dxc5 Bxc5 6.Bg2 0-0 7.Ngf3 Nc6 8.0-0 d5 This was the first position of the game where either of us had to think, and I used quite a bit of time here.
9.e3 I spent maybe 25 to 30 minutes on this move, mostly looking at variations with ...b6 and ...Ba6.
9...Qe7 The after only a minute or two of thinking he played 9....Qe7 and I was very surprised by it. It is not a mistake and is completely playable, I just don't think it is best.
10.cxd5 Here I spent another 15 to 20 minutes before taking on d5, because I couldn't find a good plan, and then I saw the plan with a4 followed by Nd4 and Qb3.
10...exd5 11.Nb3 Bb6 12.a4 a6 13.Nbd4 Bg4 Again, these moves are quite normal, and there is little to calculate. You just play the moves that feel the most natural.
14.Qb3 Ba7 15.Bd2 Ne4 16.Bc3 This was the second position where he had a decision to make and I think he made a mistake.
16...Nxc3? After this he will be worse for the rest of the game.
17.bxc3 Although his move may look fairly normal, it leaves weaknesses on d5 and b7 that I can attack.
17...Rfd8 18.Nd2 This is an imprecision, possibly even a mistake. [Instead I should have played 18.Ne2 immediately and then headed to f4 as I later did in the game.]
18...Na5 19.Qa2 [As a matter of fact, I had miscalculated and saw too late that after 18.Nd2 Na5 19.Qb4 Qxb4 20.cxb4 Bxd4 21.exd4 Nc6 wins a pawn.]
19...Qd7 20.N2f3 Pretty much I realized my whole idea was incorrect so I went back to f3 planning to play Ne2-f4.
20...Qe7 I was surprised by this, and had been expecting [20...Nc4 21.Ne2 Qf5 If this were to happen, it is unclear. I am probably still a bit better since the d5 pawn is still weak.]
21.Ne2 Bf5 22.Nf4 Be4 23.Rfd1 I actually thought his maneuver of Bf5-e4 was correct here.
23...Qc5 This is a big mistake. [Variations I had considered were 23...Nc4 24.Nd2 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 Bxe3 I wasn't sure about this variation. 26.Nxc4 (26.fxe3 Nxe3+ 27.Kh1 Nxd1 28.Rxd1 d4 Here too I wasn't sure what was going on in the position. Maybe I'm better, maybe I'm worse.) 26...Bxf4 27.Nb6 Rab8 28.gxf4 Rd6 with the idea of Rg6 and Qe4. It could be winning for me, but I wasn't sure.]
24.Ng5 Bxg2 25.Kxg2 This looks nothing special at first.
25...h6 [25...Nc4 is not possible, since after 26.Qb1 a pawn is hanging.]
26.Rxd5! I actually saw this move when I played Ng5, but I spent a long time calculating it since it is very unusual.
26...Rxd5 27.Ne4 And this is the whole point.
27...Qc4 I think Pavel played the correct move. [If he had played 27...Qe7 instead, then 28.Qxd5 Rd8 29.Qf5 Nc4 30.Nd5 with a bit of an attack.]
28.Qxc4 Nxc4 29.Nxd5 Re8 The correct move. [29...Rd8 seems close to winning, but it doesn't quite work after 30.Ne7+ Kf8 31.Nf5 g6 32.Nd4 (32.Nxh6 f5 33.Ng5 Rd2 ) 32...Re8 (32...f5? 33.Ne6+ ) 33.Nf6 Rd8 and White is up a pawn. Should be winning.]
30.Nef6+ Completely forced.
30...gxf6 31.Nxf6+ Kf8 32.Nxe8 Kxe8 33.Rb1 The real question now is whether black should play passively, as Pavel played in the game, or actively.
33...Nd6 [I think the active plan doesn't work after 33...b5 34.axb5 a5 and here I had planned 35.Rd1 with the point of preventing Kd7 (35.Ra1 Bb6 36.Kf3 Kd7 and the position is very unclear. Maybe it is winning, maybe it is losing, but it seemed very dangerous to play.) 35...a4 36.Kf3 a3 37.Ke4 followed by Kd5, winning.]
34.e4 This move doesn't give Black time to bring the king to c6. If he does, the pawns supported by the king and pieces can go very fast.
34...b6?? A blunder, after which Eljanov is losing. [Though things are bad even after 34...f6 35.f4 Nxe4 36.Rxb7 Bc5 37.Rb8+ Kf7 38.Ra8 ]
35.e5 Nb7 [I suspect that Pavel forgot that after 35...Ne4 36.Rb4 Nxc3 is not possible because of 37.Rc4 Nd5 38.Rc8+ Kd7 39.Ra8 and the bishop is trapped.]
36.Rb4 The idea is Rh4 obviously.
36...Nc5 [36...Kf8 fails to 37.Rd4 threatening Rd7 so 37...Ke8 38.Rh4 ]
37.Rh4 Kf8 [37...Bb8 38.f4 Nxa4 39.Rxh6 Bc7 40.Rh8+ Ke7 41.h4 and I think the h-pawn is too fast here.]
38.Rxh6 Kg7 39.Rc6 Nxa4 [39...Bb8 40.f4 Nxa4 41.Rc8 Ba7 42.Ra8 Trapping the bishop once more.]
40.e6 [40.e6 fxe6 (40...Bb8 41.e7 ) 41.Rc7+ ] 1-0