When playing a grandmaster, if a move looks too good to be true, it probably is, as Black quickly learns in the following game.
Everybody makes mistakes. But sometimes those “mistakes” aren’t mistakes, they are subterfuges. In the following game, White looks like he is in trouble in the opening, but in fact Black has been caught in a snare.
Vorobiov, E. vs. Stets, D.
29th Staufer-Open 2017 |Schwaebisch Gmuend GER |Round 6.2 |04 Jan 2017 |ECO: E62 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. c4g63. g3Bg74. Bg2O-O5. Nc3d66. Nf3Nc67. O-OBf5This move does not have the best reputation.
( 7... a6This is the most common move in this position, and the strongest in my opinion. Hikaru Nakamura played it against me at the last World Cup and easily held a draw. )
8. d5!?Energetic play 8... Na59. Nd2c6It looks like White's
center is coming under fire, but Vorobiov is ready. 10. b4!Nxd5Black's point. 11. cxd5Bxc3It seems like White must lose material because the rook on a1 is trapped. But Black's position is not as stable as it looks, allowing White to strike. 12. e4!Black has too many under attack. 12... Bxe4
( 12... Bxa113. exf5For the moment, Black is up an exchange, but the knight on a5 has no retreat and will be lost. )
( 12... Bd713. Rb1!The point of e4. Now White's rook has this square and Black is in big trouble since his knight is trapped. 13... Bxd214. Bxd2Nc415. Bh6Re816. Qd4Ne517. f4White wins material as the knight cannot move without allowing mate. )
13. Nxe4Bxa114. bxa5Nominally, Black is up material with a rook and two pawns for two minor pieces, but the rooks have no open lines. White's play flows very smoothly from this point on. 14... Bg715. a6!c5Forced.
( 15... cxd5?16. axb7Rb817. Qxd5 )
( 15... bxa616. dxc6White's c-pawn probably gives him a decisive edge. )
16. h4!?White is in no mood to mess around! He threatens h5 after which Black's king will come under fire.
( 16. axb7This was also fine but I prefer Vorobiov's choice. 16... Rb8 )
16... bxa617. h5Rb818. hxg6hxg619. Qg4The exchange of the h-pawns has made Black's king position very precarious. White threatens Qh4 followed by f5. 19... Qc8
( 19... Rb4!This move offered more resistance. Still, after the amusing 20. Qh3Qc821. Qh1!White's queen is good in the corner, and he will next play Ng5. )
20. Qh4!The pawn on e7 is attacked and Ng5 is threatened. 20... Re821. Bh3!White improves the placement of his bishop before doing anything else.
( 21. Ng5This also was enough to give White a huge edge, but I like the move that Vorobiov played. )
21... Qb722. Ng5The threat of Qh5 followed by Be6 is a very serious problem for Black, who tries to stop it. 22... Qxd5But White can do it anyway! 23. Qh7+Kf824. Ne6+This would have been enough to win as well.
( 24. Be6This move looked more natural. 24... fxe625. Qxg6Kg826. Qh7+Kf827. Re1!e528. Qg6And Ne6 cannot be stopped. )
24... fxe625. Qxg6Qf3Trying to bring the queen
over to help defend. 26. Bf4!White shuts Black's out from the defense once again.
( 26. Bxe6?Qf6And Black has turned the tables. )
26... Rb427. Bxe6Rxf428. gxf4Qxf4This only stops mate for the moment and leaves Black totally paralyzed. 29. Rb1!Black resigned as he cannot stop the twin threats of Qxe8 and Qh7.
( 29. Qh7?Qg5+30. Kh2Qh6+And Black would probably win. )
( 29... Ra830. Qh7Note that it is important that White has cleared f1 for his king 30... Qg5+31. Kf1 )
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, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.