Malcolm Pein on…Forceful Aronian


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Levon Aronian rode his luck to take the first set against Vladislav Artemiev in the final of the Goldmoney Asian Rapid on Chess24. Aronian won the third game, below, after surviving a lost position in game two. He closed the set out with aggressive play as black, forcing his opponent to take a perpetual when only a win was good enough.

L. Aronian – V. Artemiev
Queen’s Gambit Baltic Defence
Set 1 Game 3 15+10

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bf5 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nh4 (In game one after 5.Bg5 c6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.e3 Nbd7 8.Qb3 Qb6 9.c5 Qc7 10.Bf4 Qc8 11.h3 Be7 12.Rc1 Bd8 13.Be2 Bc7 Black was fine) 5…Bg6 6.Qb3 (Pretty much uncharted territory) 6…Nc6 7.cxd5 (7.Qxb7 Nxd4) 7…exd5 8.e3 Bb4 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Bd2 0–0 (10…Qd6 11.h3 0–0–0 intending g6–g5 was certainly possible, White would have to go long as well because castling short runs into g6–g5–g4)

11.Bd3 Re8 12.0–0 Bxc3 (After 12…Bd6 13.Qxb7 Nb4 the white queen can get into trouble 14.Be2 c6! 15.a3 Re7; Not 12…Bd6 13.Nxd5?? Nxd5 14.Qxd5 Bxh2+) 13.Bxc3 Rb8 14.Rae1 g5 (If 14…Qd7 15.f3 Re6 16.Bd2 Ne7 17.g4 White is very much better strategically, Black lacks a good pawn break and can only wait) 15.f3 Qd6 16.a3 g4

17.Qd1! gxf3 (If 17…Re7 18.fxg4; if 17…g3 18.hxg3 Qxg3 19.Qd2 Re6 20.Qf2 Qxf2+ 21.Kxf2 White is ready to advance on all fronts) 18.Rxf3 Re6 19.Bf5 Re7 20.Ref1 (The transfer of queen or bishop to h4 is very strong now) 20…Rbe8 (20…Ne4 21.Rh3) 21.Qe1 Ne4 22.Qh4 g6? (Black can resist after 22…Qh6 23.Qxh6 gxh6 24.Bxe4 Rxe4 (24…dxe4 25.Rg3+ Kf8 26.Rg6 is too strong) 25.Rxf7) 23.Rh3 Qf6 For today’s puzzle, it’s White to play and win (to see the answer, highlight the area below the diagram):

Answer: 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Bxe4 1-0

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