Parimarjan Negi is one of the grandmasters who regularly writes for World Chess. In this wild and crazy game from a recent tournament, he describes what was going through his head.
I rarely play these days. Fortunately, for me, Bay Area Chess offers a lot of excellently organized tournaments near where I live. So sometimes, even I can’t find an excuse not to play in these events, like one that I played in last month.
I had played in three previous Bay Area tournaments, but I had not won any of them. This time, I started the tournament by facing tougher opposition than in the previous events. Somehow, I squeezed out wins against two young kids from the area.
In Round 3, I faced Arun Sharma, a strong master who is my roommate for the summer (or rather, I am living in his house). We had played a couple of times before in the Bay Area tournaments. The first time I had won in a crazy Najdorf Sicilian, and the second, I had barely escaped with a draw. This time, there was another sharp battle.
Negi, P. vs. Sharma, A.
Bay Area Chess |? |Round ? |08 Aug 2016 |ECO: B80 |1-0
1. e4c52. Nf3d63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Nf65. Nc3a66. Be3e67. f3b58. g4h69. Qd2Nbd710. O-O-OBb711. h4So far, the game has followed a well-known path, but it had been a long time since I had studied this opening. 11... b412. Na4Qa513. b3Nc514. a3Nxa415. axb4Qc716. bxa4This looks completely insane, but there have been hundreds of games played in this variation, so neither of us had had to think too much so far. Chess theory these days is pretty crazy. 16... d517. e5Nd7
( 17... Qxe518. Bf4is a nasty surprise. )
18. f4Nb619. f5!?It was stronger to show a bit of restraint and first deal with Black's threats. Incidentally, this was what I had prepared:
( 19. Rh3Nxa420. Bf2!Rc821. c4!is what I had looked at before the game. This is quite good for White. Next he can follow it up with Qc2, f5, etc., and Black's counterplay is all but blocked. )
19... Nxa4While Arun was thinking about this move, I suddenly remembered my preparation. The realization that I had not played according to my plan brought a flood of memories of confusing my
preparation in other games, which had usually ended in disaster. 20. c4!I played this move rather quickly. It might also have been possible to play fxe6, but that was not going to cause Black many problems. I wasn't yet sure if the position was ok for me or not, but I decided it was worth the risk.
( 20. fxe6Nc3!21. exf7+Kxf722. Bd3Bxb423. Qf2+Kg8and Black's king is relatively fine for now, while his queenside threats look dangerous. )
( 20... O-O-O21. c5would have been very strong for White. )
21. Qc2!?Again, I think this is more testing for Black. It was also based on the one tactical idea I
had seen before I played f5, so I felt I had to go for it even though Rh3 or Rh2 were perhaps valid alternatives. 21... Nb6?As I had realized to my horror after playing f5,
( 21... O-O-O!was the way to go. I was very worried that my position would deteriorate, but I convinced myself that I could play some weird complications with 22. Qxa4Bxh1The computer points out that the simple fxe6 might be even stronger. White seems to have good compensation for being down an exchange because he has a bunch of threats against the exposed Black king. 23. Rd2!?threatening Bxc4 seemed particularly exquisite to me. During the game, it was impossible to completely evaluate this position. But I wasn't able to find any easy way for Black to improve his position, so that seemed promising. Even later, when I looked at the position using a computer, there was no clear evaluation or path. )
22. Nxe6!Oops! The weak g6 square is the key here. 22... fxe623. fxe6Now there is no way
to prevent Qg6. 23... Nd524. Qg6+Kd825. Bg2!Simply winning back the material that I had sacrificed. 25... Bxb4
( 25... Qxe5does not work for Black because of 26. Bb6+!Kc827. Qe8# )
26. Bxd5Kc827. e7!with the idea of Be6 and Rd7. More importantly, the Black queen is sealed off from getting over to the queenside. Surprisingly, it isn't easy to win after
any other moves because Black gets enough counterplay on the queenside. But now it is all but over. 27... Qxe728. Be6+Kb829. Rd7Ba3+30. Kc2Qb431. Rb1!Briefly, I thought
( 31. Rxb7+might win, but 31... Qxb732. Rb1Bb4!would have been a nasty surprise. )
31... Qa4+32. Kd2Bb4+33. Ke2and the king is quite safe. 33... Bc6
( 33... Qa2+34. Bd2or Rd2. )
34. Bd5The most aesthetically pleasing way to finish.
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 just finished his sophomore year at Stanford University. He can be found on Twitter at @parimarjan.
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