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GM Caruana - GM Karjakin annotated by GM Naiditsch

User Rating: / 11
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 21 June 2014

By GM Arkadij Naiditsch, #1 German chess player
Best FIDE rating: 2737

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We are in the last round and Karjakin is the tournament leader with 5/8, followed by Carlsen and Caruana with 4.5/8. In the current game, Caruana maybe got some little advantage out of opening and tried his best to push Black's position to the limit. It seems like White has maybe pushed too hard and suddenly Black got excellent winning chances, which Karjakin converted in a perfect manner. Actually we have to admit that it seems like Karjakin is going to be very soon the contender for the WCC match against Carlsen. Sergey has improved a lot during the last 2 years, he has a huge preparation and just amazing physical shape.

View the game or check out the "text + diagrams" version below.
Image from the official site.

Caruana,Fabiano (2791) - Karjakin,Sergey (2771) [A35]
2nd Norway Chess 2014 Stavanger NOR (9.1), 13.06.2014
[Arkadij Naiditsch]
1.Nf3 A slow start of the game by Caruana, but it is just the beginning.
1...Nf6 2.c4 c5
Karjakin sticks to his main lines. Already in the last events he showed how well he is prepared, for example in the games against Mamedyarov or Nakamura.
3.Nc3 Nc6 4.g3
[4.d4 is the other main move.]
[4...g6 is possible as well.]
5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nc7
From the structure, we are some sort of "Benoni reversed".
In many lines, White's main idea is to play a3b4 which would make the bishop on g2 even stronger. Why start with 7.a3 and not first 7.d3 or 7.00, this can show only very deep analyses of the players. One thing is clear, 7.a3 is played against 7...e5, when 8.b4 is looking strong.
7...g6 A very solid move. The bishop is going to take a nice position on g7.

A very interesting move. White is trying to include the moves h4h6 to have the option of playing Be3 and Qd2 with the attack on h6 and winning half a tempo.
Of course to play 8...h5 is not an option for Black, which would make the g5 square just perfect for the white knight, and 8...Bg7 also looks risky because of 9.h5.
9.d3 Bg7 10.00 Bd7
The bishop has to be developed on d7 in any case, so the black rook can take a nice position on c8. [10...Ne6 seems to lead to the same position over a different move order.]
11.Be3 Ne6
The lack pieces are nicely placed so we can be sure that in case White is better here, it should be very minimal.
Caruana chooses the most logical plan in the position, to play b4. [A plan to keep the black king from castling would lead to nothing after 12.Qd2 Ncd4 followed by Bc6, with an excellent position for Black.]
Karjakin continues his healthy, solid play.
13.Ne4 b6 14.b4 cxb4
The right reaction. Of course Black should not give White a chance of playing bxc5.
15.axb4 Ncd4
Might be premature, but it is not a bad move of course. [Maybe a bit more precise would be to start with 15...00 and now it is really hard to find an idea for White. 16.b5 (16.h5 g5; 16.Qd2 f5) 16...Ncd4 We are back to the position in the game, just without giving White any extra chances of playing b5.]
16.Bxd4 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 Bxd4

18.e3 Very logical and good play. The black bishop will be blocked by the "wall" of white pawns. [18.h5 g5 doesn't change much.]
18...Bg7 19.b5 It is also logical to block the black pawn structure with b5, but maybe White could have tried to create some more direct play on the kingside. [19.h5!? looks like an interesting option. 19...g5 20.d4 00 21.Qe2 followed by Rfd1 and maybe White can keep on putting some pressure in the hope to be able in the future to create some play on the kingside.]
19...00 20.d4 Rc7
Black continues being very solid. [20...e5 seems premature since after 21.dxe5 Bxe5 22.h5 g5 23.f4 Black could get into some trouble.]
Caruana is playing against the e5 move e5, but I think 21.f4 is a too drastic measure. In the long run the white pawns could become targets and the black bishop from g7 is going to join the game after Bf8e6. [I believe White could try to be a bit better after 21.h5 g5 22.Qe2 with some pressure.]
21...Qc8 Black is trying to provoke exchanges on the c-file, after which Black should not be in danger anymore.
To let Black play Rc2 is not an option.

[Maybe Black could have tried to play 22...Be6 with the idea of playing Qd7Rfc8. I can't imagine White being better here.]
23.Kh2 Be6 24.Rff2 Bf5
Another very solid move, but now maybe White is taking the initiative back. [Maybe an option was to play 24...f5 which is usually a mistake, but this time Black is control
ling the c-file, which helps a lot. 25.Nd2 Rc3 with good play for Black.]
White has finally covered the c-file.
25...a5! A very good move. Black is getting rid of his only weakness, the a7 pawn.
Caruana is clearly playing for a win. [26.bxa6 Rxc2 27.Rxc2 Qxa6 would lead us to a position where a draw should be the most expected result.]
26...Rxc2 27.Rxc2 Qb8 All Black needs to do now is to exchange one pair of rooks.

Caruana finds a nice idea to create at least some trouble.
28...Bd7 29.Nc3
The key move behind 28.Rc6.
29...e6 Finally the black bishop is close to be back into the game, just one move is missing. [Of course it would be a serious mistake for Black to be greedy and play 29...Bxc6? 30.bxc6 followed by Nb5, with a close to winning position for White.]
[Playing 30.h5 gxh5 wouldn't bring White anything.]
30...Bf8 [30...Rc8 didn't equalize since after 31.Bc6 White keeps on putting pressure.]
31.Bc6 Qd6
It seems like White has managed to achieve some advantage, but it is still hard to say if this little better can be enough to create some serious threats. White's main idea is clear, to play Na4 and put pressure on the b6 pawn.
The right idea in the wrong moment. 

[A simple move like 32.Qc2 with the idea of playing Na4 next could be quite unpleasant for Black. White should also not forget about the h5 push...]
Black is using the fact that White cannot play bxc6 in this moment.
33.Rxc6 [After 33.bxc6 b5 34.c7 bxc4 35.cxd8Q Qxd8 36.Qxc4 only Black could be better.]
White doesn't have a decent way to defend the b5 pawn.
34.Nc3 What else to play?! 34.Nxb6 Qxb5 would lead to a much better position for Black.
34...a4! 35.Qc2 a3 36.Rxb6
Now maybe White's position is already becoming lost, but it is hard to blame Caruana for this mistake, as it is really difficult to find a better option. [Maybe White should have tried his practical chances after 36.h5 gxh5 37.f5 and of course Black has a lot of solid moves, but White would at least have plenty of tricks which could be unpleasant in a practical game.]
36...Rc8 Now things are developing really badly for White...
37.Rc6 Rxc6 38.bxc6 Qc4 39.c7 Qxc7 40.Qb3 Qa5
The time trouble is over and it is very unclear how White is going to survive such a position. One of the main problems is that f4 is already played, which doesn't only make the e3 pawn a target, but the white king is also not feeling in a great shape seeing the 2nd rank "naked". I think we could evaluate the current position as lost in a practical game.

[Maybe White would have had better chances after 41.e4 followed by d5, but it is also hard to imagine anything else than a victory from Black here.]
A very strong move. Black wants to play Qc4 next which makes White move his knight away from c3.
42.Na4 Qe1
And the queen is entering White's position. The game is over.
Caruana is starting his last attack, but of course Karjakin is not very impressed.
43...Qxe3 44.Nd7 Qxd4 45.Qc8 Qb4 Another very solid move, not even giving White hopes of thinking for a chance to escape.
46.Nf6+ Kg7 47.Ne8+ Kh8
All black pieces are protecting each other.
48.Qc7 Qe7
Karjakin is accurate until the end. With the last little calculation Sergey is making his triumph perfect by winning the Norway Chess tournament for the second time in a row ahead of Magnus Carlsen.

This move is just too simple to miss.
50.Nxf6 Bg7 51.Qb8+ Qf8
What to say about such a game, where White is pushing and suddenly one inaccuracy costs him the game. Of course we have to admire how Karjakin proves again and again to be a really great defender with an eagle eye which is never missing a counter chance in case there is one!


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution "Top GM Secrets" bulletin. 25 pages total.

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