Sometimes upsets occur because the lower-ranked player simply played better, as in the following game.
Upsets happen, of course, but it is usually because the higher ranked player makes some big errors. In the following game, the higher-ranked player, Ivan Saric, a Croatian grandmaster, does make some strategic mistakes in the opening, but White, Luca Shytaj, an Albanian-born international master who now plays for Italy, plays particularly energetically to take advantage and rolls over Black.
Shytaj, L. vs. Saric, Iv
Bundesliga 2016-17 |Hockenheim GER |Round 6.4 |04 Dec 2016 |ECO: B51 |1-0
1. e4c52. Nf3d63. Bb5+Nd74. d4This move has largely been supplanted in favor of attempts to play a Spanish-like middlegame with c3, Ba4-c2, and d4,but as this game shows, 4. d4 remains a dangerous idea. 4... cxd45. Qxd4a66. Bxd7+Bxd77. O-ORc8I dislike this move.
( 7... Nf6Would be my preference. )
( 7... e5Has also been played frequently. )
8. c4Nf6?!This is mixing plans a bit too much for my taste.
( 8... e5!9. Qd3b5Ive always thought that these type of positions are risky for Black, but practice has shown Black is fine. )
( 9... e6Looks more natural to me. Still, after 10. Nc3Be711. Rfd1I would prefer to play White. )
10. b3h6?I don't understand this move. White clearly wanted to take on f6, why force him to do so?
( 10... Qc511. Qd3e6White would be a little better but the game goes will continue. )
11. Bxf6gxf612. Nc3Black's bishops are not very useful and the White knight on d5 will be awesome. Black also has less space, no good place to put his king and no way to connect his rooks. 12... Qc513. Nd5!Rg8
( 13... Qxd414. Nxd4This move at least leads to an exchange of queens, reducing the pressure, but White will have a pleasant edge after he plays Nb6. )
14. Qd3!Now White naturally declines to trade queens. 14... Bg715. Rac1e616. b4!Qa717. Nf4Now the pawn on d6 is a target. 17... Bf818. Rfd1Rd8?A bad move in a bad position. 19. Nh5!Be7
( 19... Rg620. Nh4Was even worse. )
20. e5!First the queenside, then the kingside and now the center! Black is being attacked from all sides. 20... fxe521. Qh7Kf822. Qxh6+Ke823. Ng7+
( 23. c5!?This would be an amusing move, patiently blasting open even more lines. Of course the move played by White is also good. )
23... Rxg724. Qxg7Bf825. Qf6
( 25. Qg8This was even stronger, as White would then be threatening Ng5-h7. )
25... b626. c5!Rooks like open lines! Black is getting torn apart. If it were not for the fact that Black is much higher rated than White, I might have expected resignation sometime soon. 26... Ba427. cxb6?
( 27. Rxd6This move looked pretty effective. 27... Bxd628. cxd6There is nothing that Black can do about Rc7, since 28... Rxd6Fails to 29. Rc8+Kd730. Qd8# )
27... Qxb628. Rd3e429. Ng5Qb730. Rdc3Qe731. Nxe4White did not end the game as fast as he could have, but Black's only salvation was to reach an endgame down an exchange and pawn, which also did not offer any real drawing chances. 31... d532. Rc7!Bd733. Qxe7+Bxe734. Nc5The rest of the game was easy for White. 34... Bb535. a4Be236. Nb7Rb837. Re1Bc438. Rb1Bd339. Rb3Bg640. Nc5d441. Kf1Rd842. Ke2e543. b5axb544. axb5e445. Rxe7+Kxe746. b6Ra847. b7Ra2+48. Ke1Ra1+49. Kd2Ra2+50. Kc1
Editor’s note: This article has been changed to include the information that Luca Shytaj was born in Albania.
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.
The games of elite players are scrutinized the world over, but that does not mean that those games are always the most interesting. The following game, from a relatively little-known tournament, is remarkable.