Daniil Dubov has not necessarily lived up to all the expectations that accompany becoming a grandmaster before age 15, but he is making progress, as shown by his performance, and this game, from the recent Aeroflot Open.

The progress of Daniil Dubov of Russia, who became a grandmaster just before his 15th birthday but is now 19, has not been as dramatic as many may have anticipated, but, then again, it is really hard to stand out in Russia with all of its talent. Still, Dubov has had impressive runs in a number of open events, like the strong Aeroflot Open in Moscow last month. He finished in a tie for third, just a half point behind the leaders. 

The following is a crucial, and tense, game from the penultimate round against Ukraine’s Alexander Moiseenko, who is a very strong and experienced grandmaster. Moiseenko played very provocatively, even though he had Black. Considering that he has played similar lines before, perhaps it was part of his preparation and he may have hoped that Dubov would let him consolidate easily. But the only way to challenge provocative play is with ruthless precision, and the young Russian rose to the challenge. 

Dubov, Daniil vs. Moiseenko, A1.
Aeroflot Open A 2016 | Moscow RUS | Round 8.8 | 08 Mar 2016 | ECO: B30 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. Nc3 Nd4 6. Nxd4 cxd4 7. Ne2 a6 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bb3 Nc6 10. d3 g6 The setup isn't unusual, but this move hasn't been played often. It is easy to see why putting the bishop on g7 might seem appealing, as it defends the d4 pawn without having to create any further weaknesses (like e5). Also the king side appears more solid after this, so plans like f4 to f5 looks less daunting. Yet, this hasn't been played often in games, and the reason is perhaps linked to some discomfort about allowing ideas like Bf4 to Bd6.
11. Bf4 White has to play accurately. If Black is able to play Bg7 and castle, then g6 will have paid off perfectly.
11... Bg7?! It becomes really hard to dislodge the Bishop from d6. It's Particularly interesting, however, that the bishop isn't looking very comfortable on f4, so perhaps Black could target it more quickly?
11... d6?! /\ Bg7 would be slow because it allows White to exploit the other side as well:
12. a4! b4 13. a5 Bg7 14. Ba4 Bb7 15. Qd2 O-O 16. Bxc6  )
11... Be7 12. Bh6 is again annoying, as Black might have to exchange the bishops.  )
11... h5!? is an idea similar to the game, and perhaps equally provocative, but I think here it would certainly be more interesting. At the same time, White probably is better anyway after
12. c3 Bg7 13. Bd6  )
12. Bd6 Na5 An unusual way to fight the d6 bishop. It makes sense because Black's position does look solid, and the d6 bishop is White's only piece that is bothering him. But Black underestimates how out of place the knight might be on b7.
13. Qd2 Nb7 14. Bf4!
14. Bg3 Nc5 and the knight is quite nicely placed - keeping the b3 bishop in check; White needs to show something urgently to claim any edge.  )
14... h5!? The other moves would leave Black with a passive position. Not only does he prevent the exchange of dark-squared bishop with Bh6, but he is trying to create his own counterplay as well. The bishop on f4 is suddenly a target as Black threatens e5 to trap it. It is a bit counterintuitive, but slow development by White might actually give Black some nice play on the kingside:
14... O-O 15. Bh6  )
14... Nc5 15. Bh6 the dark-squared bishop exchange will lead to more than just a weaker kingside for Black - the d4 pawn becomes weak, too, which is definitely not what he wants.  )
15. c3!
15. Kh1 e5 16. Bg5 f6 would be very messy!
17. Bh4 g5  )
15. e5 d6!? 16. exd6 Bf6 again, this position can lead to strange complications as Black goes ahead with g5 and then recaptures d6 later.  )
15. h3 is possible, but a definite waste of time. Black can continue  )
15... e5
15... dxc3 16. bxc3 isn't anything disastrous for Black, but this would be accepting that the whole h5 idea didn't work at all.  )
16. Bg5
16. Bxf7+ seems like a very fun idea but this is nowhere near as strong as the game continuation. After
16... Kxf7 17. Bg5 f4 looks aesthetically nice but the Black king is very safe on g8 and White's compensation isn't particularly convincing.  )
16... f6 17. f4!! dxc3
17... exf4 18. Nxf4 fxg5 19. Nxg6 and Bf7 mate next.  )
17... fxg5 18. fxe5! is the key idea behind the Bg5 to f4 idea.
18... Rf8 19. Rxf8+ Bxf8 20. Rf1 Black is undeveloped and the knight on b7 is a particularly sorry sight.  )
18. Nxc3 Bringing the knight into the game as well! It is headed to d5 of course.
18... fxg5 19. fxe5 Bxe5 20. Nd5 White is in no hurry. Even without an instant threat, White maintains complete control, and Black is in no position to finish developing.
20. Qf2 Qc7! 21. Nd5 Qc5 would have turned the tables.  )
20... Bd4+
20... Nc5 21. Qf2! double attack
21... Nxb3 22. Qf7#  )
21. Kh1 Nc5 Black wants to get rid of the bishop, but he runs into a brilliant idea:
21... d6 would have been much more tenacious. White continues to dominate, but there is actually no instantly crushing blow. Black is ready to play Nc5 next, and the ball is in White's court to try and find a way to continue. Practically, things are still complicated and an intuitive idea might be
22. Nb4!? /\ Bf7+ which causes a lot of dischord in Black's position.  )
22. Nc7+! Qxc7 23. Bf7+ Kf8
23... Ke7 24. Qxg5+ Kd6 25. Qd5+ Ke7 26. Qxd4 and Qf6 next.  )
24. Qxg5 Everything is collapsing.
24... Qe5 25. Bxg6+ Kg8 26. Bf7+
26. Bf7+ Kf8 27. Bxh5+ would be over.  )


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. 88 in the world, he is currently a sophomore at Stanford University.