(1) Ivanchuk,V (2779) - Wang Yue (2739) [C42]
XXVI SuperGM Linares ESP (8), 19.02.2008
[Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.a3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 Re8 14.cxd5 Qxd5 15.Bf4 Rac8

Together with the Marshall Attack, this tabyia is one of the biggest nightmares for 1.e4 players. In practice, Black's piece activity has usually matched the potential force of White's mobile pawn centre. The theoretical evolution has been anything but spectacular over the past years. Players of similar level, using similar engines, which run on computers of similar strenght will logically find similar variations. Modern times...

Not this time, though! This generally useful move, winning space on the queenside, has never been played before and does not seem to be on the engines' list of preferences. We may call it a human novelty.

16...Bd6 17.Be3 Na5 18.Nd2 Qe6 19.g3 h6 20.Bf3 c5

After a series of half-waiting moves for both sides, Black decides to start concrete play. His decision is logical, because it is not easy to suggest a way of further improving the piece placement.

[My personal feeling is that this move, which spoils White's structure, is connected with an oversight (see my comment on White's 28th move). The main alternative was 21.d5 , leading to a structure that is characteristic for the Gruenfeled Defence! (Compare with the game Grischuk-Dominguez, from this same round).]

21...Bxc5 22.Bxc5 Qxe1+ 23.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 Rxc5 25.Re8+ Kh7 26.Ne4 Bxe4 27.Bxe4+ g6

We can notice certain elements that seem to compensate for the weakness of the c3-pawn. pawns along the seventh rank are vulnerable and if White will manage to play Bd5 the knight would be dominated.

[Ivanchuk took a long time before playing this move. When playing 21.dxc5 he may have relied on 28.Re7 Kg7 29.Bxb7 Nxb7 30.Rxb7 Rxc3 31.Rxa7 when the same rook ending as in the game would arise, only that with reversed colours. Unfortunately for White, this line is flawed tactically. After 29.Bxb7 (??) Black wins material with 29...Kf8 30.Rd7 Ke8 and 31.Rd5 does not work because of 31...Nxb7 . Would it be this last detail that escaped Ivanchuk's attention?!]

28...a6 29.Rd8 Rc7 30.Bd5 Kg7 31.Re8 Nc4

A remarkable decision. Ivanchuk probably felt that only White can be worse in this position, because of his weak pawns. The ending to which he transposes is objectively dead drawn, although at grandmaster level (up to World Champions) it frequently ended in a win for the active side. Ivanchuk's confident play in the final part of the game proves that he knew his lesson well.

32...Rxc4 33.Re7 Rxc3 34.Rxb7 Rc4 35.a5 Rc5 36.Ra7 Rxa5 37.g4 Kf6 38.Kg2 Ra3 39.h4 Ke6

Very logical play. In order to make queenside progress, Black will need to march in with the king, sacrificing one or two kingside pawns. Therefore, it is essential for White to bring his own candidates to promotion closer to the back rank.

40...gxh5 41.gxh5 Kf6 42.f3 Ra2+ 43.Kg3 Ra1 44.Kg4 Ra4+ 45.f4 Ra1 46.Ra8 Kg7 47.Ra7
It is obvious now that White is out of any danger.

47...a5 48.Kf5 a4 49.Ra6 a3 50.Ra7

50...a2 51.Ra8 Kh7 52.Ra3 Kg8 53.Ra8+ Kg7 54.Ra7 Rh1 55.Rxa2 Rxh5+ 56.Kg4 Rb5 57.Ra6 h5+ 58.Kh4 f6 59.Ra8 Kg6 60.Rh8 Rb1 61.Kg3 Rb3+ 62.Kg2 Ra3 63.Kf2 Ra7 64.Kg3 Rh7

The simplest way to a draw. The resulting pawn ending can be found in the books.

65...Kxh7 66.f5
[Black has no active plan, since after 66.f5 Kg7 67.Kh3 (Only not 67.Kh4? because of 67...Kh6 and White is in zugzwang.) 67...Kf7 68.Kh4 he should return with 68...Kg7 , in order to avoid losing.] 1/2-1/2