In the following game, a top Cuban grandmaster breaks many opening rules. The result is a spectacular victory.

The rating of Lazaro Bruzon Batista, one of Cuba’s best players, oscillates a great deal, but he always sticks to original and exciting ideas, avoiding the well trodden paths of opening theory. It often leads to intensely fought games.

The following, played during the recent Gibraltar Chess Festival, is a good example. Bruzon enters an obscure variation of the Reti, trying to set off fireworks. His opponent, Alexander Donchenko, one of the new generation of grandmasters from Germany, does not shy away from the fight but takes up the challenge — playing principled and provocative moves. The result is a fierce battle.

Bruzon Batista, L. vs. Donchenko, Alexa
Gibraltar Masters 2016 | Caleta ENG | Round 6.9 | 31 Jan 2016 | ECO: A15 | 1-0
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 a6 This seems like an unusual idea in comparison with the typical Nimzo-Queens Indian type variations with b6, but there are nearly a 1000 games with a6 as well. And it's really aesthetically pleasing to get a timely b5 to challenge the pawn on c4.
4. d3!? b5 5. e4 Definitely unusual. White is clearly not too concerned with his development.
5... Bb7!? Not cowering by playing d6 (as was played in other games) And why not? Is e5 really that much of a threat considering the Ng4 - Nxe5 options? And Black is even better developed than White!
5... d6 would lead to more typical positions.  )
6. e5 Otherwise the White setup doesnt really make much sense.
6... Ng4 7. d4 One of the mantras of chess is not to move the same piece twice in the opening. That is particularly true about moving pawns more than once. But chess becomes more exciting when people break such mundane rules, especially if the person breaking the rules is a strong grandmaster. Nevertheless, I would add that you really shouldn't break these rules in your games.
7... Bb4+?! He could have just settled for challenging the White center and retreating:
7... d6 8. h3 Nh6! the knight is perfectly placed on h6. It will soon go to f5 and White would find it very hard to keep the center intact.  )
8. Nc3 c5 Black's idea is that he can reply to h3 by playing cxd4, so provoking Nc3 was useful. But White doesn't have to be in a hurry to drive the knight away from the g4 square.
9. Bg2! Nc6
9... cxd4 10. Qxd4 and the knight on g4 gets chased away.  )
10. dxc5!? White could have played much more calmly with 0-0 or even a3, but instead, he decides to provoke complications by challenging Black to play Ncxe5.
10... Ncxe5 Accepting the challenge!
10... O-O 11. O-O lets White retain his better development and a pleasant position.  )
10... Bxc5 11. O-O bxc4 12. Ne4 Be7 13. Bf4 could be better for White, but it's certainly not disastrous for Black either. He has interesting options, like playing h6 and g5, or maybe even simply returning his knight to h6 after h3.  )
11. Nxe5! This leads to a series of forced moves that drastically alter the shape of the game.
11. O-O would give Black a very comfortable position after
11... Nxf3+ 12. Bxf3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Ne5 14. Qe4 Nxc4  )
11... Bxg2 12. Qxg4 Qf6 13. Qd4 The only move.
13... Bxh1 Clearly both the players calculated till this point, but what happens next? It's almost impossible to understand what is happening even looking at this position, so imagine calculating this when the e5 pawn was still on the board.
14. Bg5!! Developing and forcing Black to play only moves (moves in which he has no real choice) is always so elegant!
14. Qxd7+ Kf8 15. Bf4 g5 Seems fine for Black although White perhaps still has a lot of tricks with Qc7 etc. But it doesn't have the same flow as continuing to gain tempi with Bg5.  )
14... Qf5
14... Qxg5 15. Qxd7+ Kf8 16. Qxf7#  )
15. Qxd7+ Kf8 16. Be7+
16. Qc7!? was another interesting move as suggested by the computer, but it seems to be less forcing. So the moves actually played in the game make more practical sense as it infuses White's play with a constant sense of development. It is still very difficult to say what is going on, but Black definitely has a lot of practical problems to solve, which is not easy during a game.
16... Qe4+ 17. Be3! Not allowing Black to give any further checks, which is important.  )
16... Kg8 17. O-O-O h5 18. Bd6
18. f4 This seemed more compact, but then White wouldn't have ideas like Rd4 - Rf4, which is the reason that he wins this game. The position would remain quite messy if Black found the amazing counterattacking idea:
18... h4! 19. Rxh1 hxg3  )
18... Bxc3 19. bxc3 Bf3? Finally, Black starts making errors! It doesn't seem much different from the game, but an immediate Be4, with the same basic ideas, would have been ok:
19... Be4! 20. Rd4  )
20. Rd4! Rf4 is a very strong threat. Black just lost a move for no reason.
20... Be4
20... g5 21. c6! is just crushing
21... Kg7 22. c7 Black has no counterplay.
22... Bb7 23. f4  )
21. f3! Bb1
21... Bxf3 22. Rf4 and no Qg5+!  )
22. Rd2 the bishop does nothing at all on b1. And again, Black is without counterplay.
22... Rh6 23. c6 Unstoppable. The rest of the game was a mere formality. Black never even came close to creating a single real threat.
23... Kh7 24. c7 h4 25. g4 Qf4 26. Nxf7 Qe3 27. Be5 Bxa2 28. Qd3+ Qxd3 29. Rxd3


Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 82 in the world, he is currently a sophmore at Stanford University.