When players decide to advance pawns, particularly to attack, they must by fully committed to their strategy.

Arkadij Naiditsch, Germany’s former top player, who recently switched federations to play for Azerbaijan, can be very creative and aggressive, as in this game, where he essays the very blunt idea h4 on Move 4! I always feel tempted to play h4 whenever I see g6, but it is a double-edged move that commits the player who tries it to attacking because his compromised pawn structure is no longer good for a strategic battle.

There was a particularly interesting moment in this game when Black had to decide between spoiling his pawn structure or coming under heavy attack and chose the latter. In some ways, it seemed like a natural decision, but if he had calculated the possibilities more carefully, it seems that spoiling the pawn structure wasn’t really a big deal. That is a common problem: Players are often a little too obssessed with keeping their pawn structures pristine and, as in this game, that can be a mistake.

Naiditsch, A. vs. Todorov, Todor
TCh-FRA Top 12 2016 | Drancy FRA | Round 2.2 | 29 May 2016 | ECO: C46 | 1-0
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. h4!? Usually such an aggressive move isn't the best because even though the threats behind such a move are scary, the player initiating the attack on the h file is irreparably damaging his kingside structure. Also, White will almost certainly have to resort to tactics in the future to justify his advance on the kingside because he can no longer play a slow, simple game. So White is under additional pressure as well. Still, h4 is definitely an entertaining move and leads to some fun chess.
4... Nf6 5. Bc4 Bg7
5... h6 will just be a waste of time.
6. d4!  )
6. d3 d6 I quite like the idea of preventing h5 altogether with
6... h6! And then d6, etc., would lead to a fairly typical position. Black has to be careful not to castle because of the following line:
7. Nd5 O-O? 8. h5! g5 9. Bxg5! hxg5 10. h6 Bh8 11. h7+ Kg7 12. Nxg5 Black can avoid castling after playing h6. For example:  )
6... h6 7. Nd5 d6! and I think Black is doing fine.  )
7. Ng5!? Rf8
7... O-O isn't neccessarily bad, but it looks pointless and dangerous to castle kingside when there is the possibility of White playing h5. I have a feeling that Black didn't even consider this move during the game and I guess that is the correct thing to do as playing Rf6 seems better than castling in almost all cases.  )
8. h5 The crucial moment that I referred to earlier.
8... h6?
8... gxh5! Black isn't going to castle kingside so I don't see why Black was so worried about spoiling his pawn structure. True, it looks a little ugly, but with so many pieces on the board that shouldn't have been a very big consideration.
9. Nd5 Trying to win back the pawn. White could also play more slowly but after something like h6 and Be6, Black seems to be doing just fine.
9... Bg4 provoking some weaknesses on the White side, too.
10. f3 Bd7 11. Nxf6+ Qxf6 and 0-0-0, Qg6, etc. Black seems to be doing well.  )
9. hxg6! hxg5
9... fxg6 10. Ne6 Bxe6 11. Bxe6 is obviously not a pleasant position.  )
10. gxf7+ Rxf7 Black probably thought that two pieces for the rook and two pawns isn't so bad, but with his king so exposed it wasn't so hard to see that White has little to worry about. At the same time, with 9...gxh5, the only concession Black was making was getting a bad pawn structure.
11. Bxg5!? White chooses to be a piece down instead of having a rook for two pieces! In terms of the material balance, this might not be the best decision, but the bishop on c4 is an excellent attacking piece. It is also quite hard for Black to develop. So from a practical perspective, Naiditsch's intuition made sense. Luckily for him, it all worked out well otherwise he might have rued not just taking a more long-term approach with Bxf7.
11. Bxf7+ Kxf7 12. Bxg5 Be6 13. f4  )
11... Qd7 12. Bxf6 Rxf6 13. Qh5+ Kf8 14. Nd5 Rf7 There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this, while playing Qf7 seems to be very shaky. But White now has a brilliant refutation, while after Qf7, Black could have held everything together.
14... Qf7! 15. Nxf6 Qxf6 again, we have two pieces for a rook, but Black is a lot more developed and moves like Nd4 and then b5, etc., might be quite annoying for White.  )
14... Qf7 15. Qh7 is another move that looks quite dangerous for Black, but he has a simple antidote to the threatened knight jumps -- go after the main culprit: the bishop on c4!
15... b5! 16. Bb3 Nd4 and Black seems safe for now.  )
15. Ne3 Rf6 16. Nd5 Rf7 17. Ne3 Rf6 18. Qh7 Ne7 19. Rh5!! The rook lift works perfectly. It is particularly surprising, and aesthetically pleasing, because usually the rook lift is Rh3 and Rg3.
19. O-O-O c6! 20. Rh5 d5  )
19. Rh3 Qxh3! was the reason Black may have felt safe.
20. gxh3 Rh6  )
19... d5
19... Rg6 20. O-O-O The Black pieces are basically completely stuck.
20... c6 is too slow. White has many tempting options like f4 or d4 or even just
21. Nf5 Qe8 now d5 isn't really a threat so White can just continue improving his position. Maybe
22. f4  )
20. Rg5! Rf7 21. Nxd5 Nxd5 22. Bxd5 Blacks position is collapsing.
22... Qe8 23. Rxg7 Rxg7 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Qxg7+ Kd6


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