Malcolm Pein on…The Old and the New
Garry Kasparov was back at the board at the weekend, playing the Blitz in the Grand Chess Tour at Zagreb. Magnus Carlsen is in the field for the World Cup knockout in Sochi on the Black Sea coast.
Levon Aronian certainly travelled to Sochi with a spring in his step. He has won the event twice and warmed up with victory at the Goldmoney Asian Rapid on Chess24.
Capturing with a piece on f5 in closed positions is usually frowned upon after e4xf5. Mikhail Botvinnik criticised England’s Hugh Alexander at the 1958 Olympiad in Munich with a comment to the effect that every Russian schoolboy knows you take with a pawn in such positions.
However, here there are differences to the King’s Indian Defence; the d5 pawn is weaker, due to the absence of a white pawn on c4 and a white knight does not get to e4 so easily here to dominate the Bg7. This opening position can be reached via the c3 Sicilian after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.0–0 0–0 7.h3 Qc7.
L. Aronian – V. Artemiev
Pirc Defence 15+10
1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.c3 Nf6 5.Bd3 0–0 6.0–0 c5 7.h3 Qc7 8.Re1 e5 9.Be3 b6 10.Nbd2 Nc6 11.Rc1 Re8 12.d5! Ne7 13.b4! (Re8 is now a wasted tempo, as the rook would rather be on f8 to support f7-f5. White has a lovely c4 square for a knight and lots more space) 13…Nd7 14.Nf1?! (After 14.Nc4 f5 15.Ng5 Nf6 16.f4! opens up the game favourably. Trying to secure the queenside with 14…a6!? 15.a4 b5 16.Na5 c4 was possible and if 17.Bc2 f5) 14…c4! 15.Bc2 f5 16.exf5 gxf5? 17.Bg5! e4 (17…Nf6 18.Nxe5! dxe5 19.d6 Qd7 20.dxe7 Qxe7 21.Ne3 is strong and if 17…Ng6 18.Bxf5; After 17…Nf8 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.Rxe5 dxe5 20.d6 Qd7 21.Bxe7 Qe6 22.Ne3 is very strong)
18.Ng3! exf3 19.Nxf5! Ne5 20.Nxg7 Kxg7 21.Rxe5 dxe5 22.d6 Qd7 23.Qxf3 Ng6 24.Qxa8 Bb7 25.Qxa7 Qc6 26.f3 Ra8 White’s queen is trapped.
Test Your Strength
How did Aronian continue?
Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.
27.d7! Qxd7 (27…Rxa7 28.d8Q) 28.Qxb6 Ra6 29.Qe3 Rxa2 30.Rd1 Qe6 31.Qc5 Rxc2 32.Qc7+ Kg8 33.Qxb7 Nf8 34.Rd8 Rxc3 35.Be7 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 1–0