David Navara and Sergei Movsesian played 12 games against each other — at the same time! This was the best of the lot.
In early December, David Navara of the Czech Republic decisively won a 12-game match against Sergei Movsesian of Armenia, by a score of 8.5-3.5. The twist was that they played all 12 games at the same time! No doubt, playing so many games at once contributed to the high number of decisive results. Despite Navara’s dominance, my favorite game was one in which Movsesian prevailed.
Navara, D. vs. Movsesian, S.
Navara vs Movsesian Simul |Prague CZE |Round 1.12 |04 Dec 2016 |ECO: A29 |0-1
1. c4e52. g3Nc63. Bg2Nf64. Nc3Bb45. Nd5Bc56. Nf3d67. d3h68. O-OO-O9. a3Nxd510. cxd5Nd411. Nxd4Bxd412. e3Bb6This has been a pretty standard opening so far, but around this point I think Navara starts to falter. 13. b4?!Now Black can use the b6 square for his bishop forever.
( 13. Bd2This move looked better to me. )
13... a5!14. Bb2
( 14. Bd2I would prefer to recapture on b4 with the bishop. 14... axb415. Bxb4I still prefer Black's position, but White can now play a4-a5, pushing the Black bishop back to a7, allowing White to develop
counterplay by attacking the pawn on c7. )
14... axb4!15. axb4Rxa116. Qxa1Bf5Black's queenside is extremely secure and will remain so despite not having many pieces there. This allows him free reign to build pressure on the kingside. 17. e4Bg4!18. d4f6!Simple and strong. Now White has a hard time contesting the a-file since the d-pawn needs constant attention and opening the f-file with dxe5 fxe5 is never a good option. 19. f4Desperation, but White's position was already very bad.
( 19. dxe5fxe5Is a disaster for White and Black threatens Be2. 20. Qe1Bd7White cannot stop Bb5. )
19... Qa8!20. h3
( 20. Qxa8Rxa8And White loses the d-pawn. )
( 20... Be2This move was even stronger, but the move played by Movsesian is enough to secure a big edge. )
21. Kh2Qxa122. Rxa1exd423. Rd1Ra824. Bxd4Bxd425. Rxd4Ra2White has more defensive chances than he deserved, but his position is still very difficult. 26. Rc4Bb5!The pawn on c7 is immune. 27. Rc1
( 27. Rxc7Bf1 )
27... c6!28. Kg1
( 28. dxc6bxc6 )
28... Rb229. Bf1?!
( 29. e5!This position should be defensible for White, but he may have been paying more attention to the other games. )
29... Ba4!30. Rc4?White will lose quickly now, but the position was tough anyway. White could not save the pawn on b4.
( 30. b5!This was the only way to fight on. After 30... cxd531. Rc8+Kh732. exd5Bxb533. Bxb5Rxb534. Rc7White would have had good drawing chances. )
30... Rb1!31. Kf2
( 31. Rc3Bb532. Rf3This saves the bishop, but not the game. 32... Be2!33. Rf2Bd3And White is helpless, since both Kg2 and Rf3 will always be met by Bxe4. Black brings his king over and wins. )
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.