Often, the key to success is being able to navigate the tactics when a game becomes complicated. In the following game, White fails to do so and loses from a perfectly good position.
Arkadij Naiditsch and David Baramidze are both former German prodigies. Naiditsch, 31, who now plays for Azerbaijan, has had a better career so far than Baramidze, 28, with a peak rating of well over 2700 and a number of important tournament victories to his name. In the following game, which was played in the elite German Bundesliga, Naiditsch beats Baramidze after he creates complications and Baramidze is not able to keep up.
Baramidze, D. vs. Naiditsch, A.
Bundesliga 2016-17 |Hockenheim GER |Round 5.3 |03 Dec 2016 |ECO: B33 |0-1
1. e4c52. Nf3Nc63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Qb6I never had the highest opinion of this move, thinking it is mainly an attempt to get lower-rated players out of their comfort zone. But Naiditsch clearly thinks differently. 5. Nb3Nf66. Nc3e67. Qe2
( 7. a3I always liked this move as it prevents Black's main positional idea. )
7... Bb48. Bd2a5!?
( 8... O-OThis looks far more natural to me. 9. a3Bxc310. Bxc3e511. O-O-OQc7Maybe White is better, maybe he isn't. It certainly is not clear. )
( 9. e5!?This move looks good to me. 9... Bxc310. bxc3Nd511. c4 )
9... Bxc310. Bxc3e511. O-O-OO-O12. Kb1Rd8!White will have trouble stopping d5. 13. f3a4
( 13... d6This move is probably fine, too. Black can follow up with Be6 when he will have active pieces and an easy position to play. )
14. Nc1d515. Qb5!Qc7Black sacrifices a pawn for some activity, but it's not really enough.
( 15... Qxb516. Bxb5d417. Be1With White threatening Nd3, Bg3, and c3, the position is unpleasant for Black. )
16. exd5Bf517. Bc4Nd4
( 17... Na718. Qb4 )
18. Bxd4exd419. Rxd4Ra520. Qb4?
( 20. d6!This was a really strong move. 20... Rxd621. Qxa5!The point of White's earlier play. 21... Qxa522. Rxd6Bxc2+23. Kxc2Qc724. Rd4b525. Rhd1White's rooks are very strong. He has a big edge and should win. )
20... Raxd5!21. Rxd5Nxd522. Qxa4Nb6!This does not win a piece after 23. Qa5But Black has a nice shot: 23... Bxc2+!24. Kxc2
( 24. Ka1Ra8And now Black really does win a piece. )
24... Rd5!The point. Black is able to take on c4 with the knight, bringing more pieces into the attack. 25. Re1?
( 25. Qe1!Qxc4+26. Kb1White is still better because he is up a pawn, though the activity of Black's offers some compensation. )
25... h526. Re8+Kh727. Qe1?
( 27. Qc3White needed to play this move, and then after 27... Nxc428. Kb1White would be fine. )
27... Nxc428. Kb1Nd2+!29. Ka1Qc2!And the threat of Qb1 mate brings the game to a quick end. 30. Ne2Nb3+31. Ka2Rd1!
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.