Raymond Keene

Rock solid | 21 February 2019

Rock solid | 21 February 2019
Text settings

This year’s Gibraltar Masters saw some surprising results at the top, chiefly the victory by the young Russian, Vladimir Artemiev, who netted £25,000. He came in ahead of a host of established grandmasters, including Levon Aronian, Vassily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams and Wesley So.

The winner’s style was marked by restless aggression with both black and white pieces. This week’s game shows him overwhelming a pre-tournament favourite. The notes are based on those by John Saunders in the official bulletin.

Artemiev-Nakamura: Gibraltar Masters 2019; Réti Opening

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 e6 4 0-0 Be7 5 c4 0-0 6 b3 c5 7 Bb2 Nc6 8 e3 b6 Black decides against the double-edged 8 ... d4, gaining space in the centre but falling slightly behind in development. 9 Nc3 dxc4 10 bxc4 Bb7 11 Qe2 Rc8 12 Rad1 Qc7 13 Ne1 Ne8 A new move but not one that changes the general contours of the position. 14 f4 Nd6 15 Nf3 a6 16 a4 f5 17 d3 Bf6 18 h3 Nb4 19 g4 g6 20 e4 fxe4 21 dxe4 (see diagram 1) 21 ... Nxe4 This tactic to win a pawn is way too risky and leaves Black’s kingside wide open. Instead 21 ... Bd4+ 22 Kh2 is fine for Black. 22 Nxe4 Bxb2 23 Neg5 Bxf3 24 Rxf3 24 Qxe6+ looks like a free pawn with check but after 24 ... Kh8 25 Nxf3 Qxf4 26 Rd7 Bg7 27 Qxb6 Nc6 Black has sufficient counterplay. It is much better to leave the pawn and threaten to take it with the knight. 24 ... Bd4+ 25 Kh1 The f-pawn is immune from capture because of the exchange of rooks on f4 follow by a king and rook fork with Qe6+. There is little that Black can do to stop the threat of Nxe6 or alleviate its consequences. 25 ... Rce8 26 Nxe6 Black’s position is probably lost here but now Nakamura embarks on a suicide mission to snag a queenside pawn, making things worse. 26 ... Qc6 27 f5 Qxa4 28 fxg6 Rxf3 28 ... hxg6 29 Rxf8+ Rxf8 30 Nxf8 is hopeless. 29 gxh7+ Kh8 (see diagram 2) 30 Bxf3 The wrong recapture, though the right move to exploit is an outrageous computer move that few humans could find. To be absolutely computer-proof, White would have to play 30 Qxf3!! Rxe6 31 Qf8+ Kxh7 32 Rf1! Bg7 33 Qf5+ Rg6 34 Be4 Qe8 35 Qh5+ Bh6 36 Bxg6+ Qxg6 37 Rf7+, etc, which wouldn’t have been easy in time trouble. 30 ... Nc6 Here the diabolical computer trick is 30 ... Nd3!! when the main point is 31 Rxd3 Qxc4! 32 Rxd4 Qxe2 33 Bxe2 cxd4 34 Nxd4 Re4 winning the exchange. Close to impossible to find for a human, especially when short of time. 31 Nxc5 Black resigns A pleasant way to end the game. If 31 ... Rxe2 32 Nxa4 Rc2 White can either capture on c6 immediately or throw in 33 c5! winning much as he pleases.