Our game of the day is a recent loss by Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, who has had a rough couple of months at the board.

I hate to add insult to injury when Loek van Wely of the Netherlands is clearly going through a period of struggle with his chess game (for example, he lost seven games in the Tata Steel tournament in January), but this game was pretty awesome.

Dijkhuis, Tycho vs. Van Wely, L.
Dutch League 2016-17 | Netherlands NED | Round 6.2 | 04 Feb 2017 | ECO: B89 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 The Velimirovic Variation is not too common these days but has more than a little bite to it.
7. Qd2  )
7. f3 This move is the most common way of continuing nowadays, after which I think that White is a bit better.  )
7. f4  )
7... Be7 8. Qe2 a6 9. O-O-O O-O 10. Bb3 The bishop on b3 looks a bit silly, it has spent two tempi to get to where it is, and it is staring at a roadblock on e6. But it can prove useful in some lines.
10... Qc7 11. Rhg1 Na5 Black attacks the bishop, but this loses some time.
11... b5 This was the most logical way for Black to continue, but after
12. g4! b4 13. Nxc6 Qxc6 14. Nd5! It turns out the bishop on b3 is useful. After:
14... exd5 15. g5 The bishop would suddenly become a monster and White could restore material equality, after which his position would be much better.  )
11... Nd7 I prefer attacking the White light-squared bishop with the other knight. For example, after
12. g4 Nc5 13. g5 Bd7 Black could soon follow with b5 and he would have some counterplay.  )
12. g4 b5 13. g5 Nxb3+ 14. axb3 Nd7 Strategically, Black has an excellent position. He has the bishop pair, a better pawn structure, and no weaknesses. White needs to do something quickly to avoid having a worse position.
15. f4! Gaining space and preparing a pawn storm. The idea is to follow up with f5.
15... b4 16. Nf5!? Objectively this is not a great move, but I like the spirit of it!
16. Na4 This would have led to a more sedate position. After
16... Bb7 17. f5 e5 There would be some trades:
18. f6 exd4 19. fxe7 Rfe8 20. Rxd4 Rxe7 Black looks fine.  )
16... exf5? This is asking for trouble and Black is brutally punished.
16... Bd8! Cold blooded and strong. White would soon lose material and he wouldn't have enough compensation for it after:
17. Nxg7 bxc3 18. Nh5 cxb2+ 19. Kb1 Kh8 Black looks better, but the game is far from being decided.  )
17. Nd5 Qd8 18. exf5 For the moment, White is down a piece, but his attack is dangerous -- g6 and f6 are already under pressure.
18... Re8 19. Bd4! A strong preparatory move. White threatens g6, which will create problems for Black.
19. g6? fxg6! 20. fxg6 Bf6! And Black would be okay.  )
19... Bf8?
19... Bb7 At first the engine likes this move, but White would have a huge edge after:
20. g6! f6 21. gxh7+ Kh8 It looks like everything is under control, but...
22. Rxg7! Kxg7 23. Rg1+ Kh8 24. Qg4 And Black can't avoid a disaster on g7.
24... Rg8 25. hxg8=Q+ Qxg8 26. Qe2 Black has too many pieces that are attacked and White should win easily.  )
19... Bf6! This was the most resilient move, but after:
20. Bxf6! Black has no choice but to defend a miserable endgame with
20... Rxe2 Other moves would fare even worse.
...  21. Bxd8 Bb7 22. Ba5 And White has excellent winning chances.  )
20. Qh5! White is ready to break through Black's defenses.
20... Bb7 21. Nf6+! Nxf6
21... gxf6 22. gxf6+ Kh8 23. Qxf7 Threatening mate on g8.
23... Bh6 24. Rg7  )
22. gxf6 Re4 Black almost has everything under control, but...
23. Rd3! White includes his last piece in the attack. The threat is Rh3.
23... Qa5 24. fxg7!
24. Rh3? Qa1+ 25. Kd2 Rxd4+ And the tables would have turned.  )
24... Rxd4 25. Qxh7+! A gorgeous finish.


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.