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Learn the King's Indian Attack with reversed colours from Nepo!

by Satanick Mukhuty - 29/06/2019

Mamedyarov couldn't resist the temptation of grabbing an extra pawn on the queenside even though his king on the other side of the board was under fire. Perhaps he couldn't rightly assess the severity of problems his opponent could cause on the kingside as Nepomniachtchi registered his third consecutive victory, extending his lead to 3.0/3 and dominating the rest of the field by a full point. The remaining games of Day 3 all ended in draws - of them the longest was Karjakin versus Nakamura which went on for 77 moves. Vishy Anand played solidly to hold Levon Aronian with the white side of Giuoco Piano. In this report we bring you photos, analysis, and more.

Cost of a "free" pawn!

In chess, as in life, being materialistic doesn't always help. The round 3 encounter between Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ian Nepomniachtchi of the ongoing Croatia Grand Chess Tour 2019 instructively demonstrated this. It was the semi-classical variation of the King's Indian Defense and the game entered into uncharted territory as early as move 9. Not long after it became clear that both players were bracing up for a double-edged fight. As Nepo made strides on the king-side, Mamedyarov seized more space on the queenside and prepared to open up the c-file. 

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Ian Nepomniachtchi, Round 3

Position after 13...Qd7 - We have a typical King's Indian Attack position with reversed colours. White will try to play on the queenside, while Black's hopes lie on the kingside

In the above position 14.Nd5 was played, the idea is after 14...Nxd5 White can start putting pressure along the open c-file. The game continued 14...Nxd5 15.cxd5 Qe7 16.Rc1 Nh7 17.Qc7 Qg5 and here came the critical moment of the encounter. 

Position after 17...Qg5 - An extremely sharp position. Black threatens Bxh3 already, on the other hand White can grab the c7 pawn!

18.Kh2 would have been a safe option here which leaves about even chances for both sides but Mamedyarov became ambitious and went 18.Qxc7?!

 Yes, White gains an extra pawn here for he is going to pick up b7 as well but isn't allowing Bxh3 too reckless?

After 18...Bxh3 Black threatens mate on g2 and has the initiative 

The game followed 19.Bf1 Bf8! (a good move, this supports the d6 pawn and keeps open the options for both Be7 and Bh6) 20.Qxb7 Nf6 21.Qa6 and now White wants to get his queen back to the king-side.

Position after 21.Qa6 - Can White get away with his impetuous pawn grab? The impending threat is h4 followed by Bxg2 and h3

Next, with 21...Bc8 22.Qa4 Bd7 23.Qd1 Bg4 Black gained a few tempi on White's queen.

Position after 23...Bg4: Black has essentially moved his bishop from h3 to g4 without losing a tempo!

24.f3 exf3 25.Nxf3 Qh6 was played and now White made another slip with 26.Qb3?! this takes the queen away from the defense yet again.

Position after 26.Qb3 - White's king-side stands vulnerable. Can you find a way to exploit this?

A direct idea here would have been 26...Bxf3 27.gxf3 Qg5+ 28.Bg2 Bh6! creating pressure on the e3 pawn and bringing the dark-squared bishop into the foray and White's position already starts looking hopeless. But in the game Nepo went for 26...h4, also a strong move, the idea is simply to go h3 next and rip open White's king. Shakhriyar, in this position, played 27.Ne5 which somewhat looked like a desperate measure to ward off the troubles he was facing.

Position after 27.Ne5: The idea is after 27...dxe5 28.dxe5 White has two central pawns and some compensation. But it doesn't seem to be enough as after 28...Ne4 Black is just fine

Nepo was anyway not interested in all these complications. He went ahead with his plan and replied 27...h3 declining the offer of a piece! And after 28.Nxg4 Nxg4 29.gxh3 Nxe3 the white king's position was completely busted... Soon, in the following position after Black's 32nd move, the game was resigned:

Position after 32...Bh6 - White is still up a pawn but whose side would you rather like to play?

There is no good way for White to continue from here. For instance, 33.Bg2 Re2 34.Bc1 Bxc1 35.Rxc1 Qg5 wins as both c1 rook is hanging and mate is threatened on g2. Similarly, 33.Rdd3 runs into 33...Re1 followed by Ne3 with a double attack on f1!

A really nice game by Ian Nepomniachtchi and his third victory in a row that puts him a full point ahead of the entire field with 3.0/3 points. Replay the full game along with the tactical analysis (computer generated analysis) below:

Nepomniachtchi will be looking to outperform the in-form World Champion in this event, who is following close behind with 2.0/3 points | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar

Rest of the games of the third round ended in draws. Magnus Carlsen found himself in a worse pawn down opposite coloured bishop ending against Fabiano Caruana but the latter couldn't really convert anything out of it | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar

Anis Giri drew his game against Wesley So with the white pieces of Italian. He is on 1.0/3 and would be looking to make a come back soon. So, on the other hand, has 2.0/3 and shares the second spot with Magnus Carlsen | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was up against Ding Liren and their encounter had moments of intensity before the French grandmaster found a way to force draw through perpetual check | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar

Vishy Anand played solidly against Levon Aronian to liquidate into an even rook-pawn endgame, the point was split on White's 41st move. Vishy has 1.0/3 points, while Levon is half a point ahead on 1.5/3 | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar

In what was the longest game of the day Sergey Karjakin played a lengthy rook endgame against his American opponent Hikaru Nakamura. The game lasted till 77 moves before the players agreed to a draw | Photo:Lennart Ootes/Justin Kellar 

Results of round 3

Bo.No.Rtg NameResultName RtgNo.
GMVachier-Lagrave Maxime½ - ½GMDing Liren
GMGiri Anish½ - ½GMSo Wesley
GMAnand Viswanathan½ - ½GMAronian Levon
GMCaruana Fabiano½ - ½GMCarlsen Magnus
GMMamedyarov Shakhriyar0 - 1GMNepomniachtchi Ian
GMKarjakin Sergey½ - ½GMNakamura Hikaru

Standings after round 3

Rk. NameFED123456789101112Pts. TB1 
1GMNepomniachtchi IanRUS*1113,03,0
2GMSo WesleyUSA*½½12,02,0
GMCarlsen MagnusNOR*½1½2,02,0
4GMVachier-Lagrave MaximeFRA½*½½1,51,5
GMCaruana FabianoUSA0½*11,51,5
GMKarjakin SergeyRUS*½½½1,51,5
GMAronian LevonARM½*½½1,51,5
8GMGiri AnishNED½0½*1,01,0
GMAnand ViswanathanIND0½½*1,01,0
GMMamedyarov ShakhriyarAZE0½*½1,01,0
GMNakamura HikaruUSA0½½*1,01,0
GMDing LirenCHN0½½*1,01,0

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