Some players value the initiative above all else. In the following game, one of the world’s best shows how dangerous the initiative can be.

I’m only 25 years old, but somehow I feel like an old man when I see so many players who are younger than me with ratings in the high 2600s, and even beyond. So, for my own therapy, I have chosen a game where an “old” man (Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, who is 31) beats a young upstart, Vladislav Artemiev, an 18-year-old Russian. 

Artemiev, V. vs. Mamedyarov, S.
32nd ECC Open 2016 | Novi Sad SRB | Round 2.1 | 07 Nov 2016 | ECO: D03 | 0-1
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 This is not the most ambitious setup against the King's Indian or Grunfeld Defenses, but it's not entirely toothless either.
3... Bg7 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. e3
5. e4 d5! And Black attacks the center in the style of the Grunfeld.  )
5... d5?! I don't love this move. Usually, Black waits for White to play c3 first.
6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O Re8 8. c4! The point. White gets to play c4 in one move, not two.
8... c5 9. cxd5 cxd4 10. e4
10. Nxd4 This move looks simpler to me.
10... Nxd5 11. Rc1 White's pieces are much more active in a symmetrical position.  )
10... h6 11. Bh4 Nc5! Black initiates counterplay.
12. Qc2 Ncxe4! 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Bb5
14. Qxe4 Bf5 15. Qf4 Qxd5 Black already has two pawns for the piece that he sacrificed and they can advance very quickly. His threat to play g5 must also be respected, and after something like
16. Bg3 e5 17. Qd2 e4 Black obviously has excellent compensation for being down a piece.  )
14... Bf5! 15. Bxe8 Qxe8 16. Rfe1 It looks like Black is out of gas. He only has one pawn for the exchange and the knight on e4 must retreat.
16. g4? Ng5!  )
16... Qd7! But no! Mamedyarov has no intention of retreating.
17. Rxe4 Qxd5 White has a rook for only two pawns, but he is subject to all sorts of pins and Black's center pawns are very strong.
18. Rae1 Rc8 19. Qd3
19. Rxd4! This bizarre move might have saved White's skin.
19... Bxd4 20. Qd2 e5 21. Qxh6 The position is unclear, but White looks okay.  )
19... Bxe4! 20. Rxe4
20. Qxe4 Qxe4 21. Rxe4 e5 This is even worse. Black will soon play f5 and g5.  )
20... e5 Black's plan is strikingly simple. He occupies the center and he will then be ready to push f5.
21. Re1 f5! 22. Qb1 d3 23. Nd2 Rc2 24. Nf1 Qd4 25. Ne3 Rxb2 Black wins a third pawn and he has a strong initiative.
26. Qa1 f4 27. Ng4 h5 The knight is trapped, and despite all of Black's sacrifices, he ends up winning the game by having extra material. The rest requires no comment.
28. Nxe5 Bxe5 29. Qc1 d2 30. Qc8+ Kh7 31. Rd1 Rb1


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.