This game features a rare defeat by one of the USA’s great champions. Alexander Shabalov since moving to America won a slew of American Powerhouse Tournaments. But this year he met his match in Abhijeet Gupta, an India upstart in my literature. The event was Iceland’s contribution to world tournaments in 2016, Reykjavik.
l. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 This idea is returning to a popular stance in opening theory which I partly attribute to the introduction of powerful automated machines called computer science digest. It seems to have caught the eye of everyone from world champion Carlsen on down the lists of top rated players throughout the world chess body. Part of the reason for this is that the Ruy Lopez/Berlin Defense patterns have lost appeal because of the improvement in Berlin variation systems. I concur with black’s choice here which adds to his square count.
4. … Bc5 5. c3 A useful defense of the d4 square. White cannot win the e-pawn by 5. B:c6 d:c6 6. N:e5? Qd4! Once again the f2 square proves costly.
5. … O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 White may have an alternative move by 8. Be3.
8. … Be7! 9. Nbd2 d6! 10. Re1? He misses the trick that black has after this move. Necessary was 10. Bg3! Bd7 11. a4 Bf8 12. Re1 with normal type Ruy Lopez development.
10. … Bd7 11. a4? This oft played sortie on the Q-side is here flawed.
11. … g5!! 12. Bg3 g4 13. Nh4 N:e4 Grabbing this center pawn can only benefit black forces.
14. d:e4 Perhaps white thought he was being clever by 14. R:e4 B:h4 15. R:g4+ B:g4 16. Q:g4+ Qg5!! 17. Q:h4 Q:d2 18. f4 Q:b2 19. Rf1 Q:c3 and black gets back with his Q in time to blunt any white king hunt.
14. … B:h4 15. B:h4 Q:h4 16. a5 a6 17. Bc4 Kg7 and black, a pawn up, won the game after 33-moves. 0-1. Gupta went on to finish in lst Place at 2016 Reykjavik.
This is another computerized opening system in my opinion. Czech star Sergei Movsesian bests Richard Rapport’s Sicilian Defense.
l. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 c:d4 4. N:d4 a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bd3 Qb6 7. Nf3 Qc7 8. O-O Bb7 9. Re1 Bc5 10. Ng5 A novelty! The computer designated 10. Qd2 as it’s own choice.
10. …d6 11. Qh5! This sharp king-side sally by the Queen pressures black to think BEWARE! Driving it away from h5 only weakens black’s pawn structure.
11. …g6 12. Qh3 Nd7 13. Be3 Ngf6 14. Rad1 B:e3 15. R:e3 b4. 16. Ne2 Ne5 17. Nd4 Qe7 Another game which shows black failing to castle, leaving the Rooks unconnected and White achieving central square attacks by the Knights.
18. Be2 White’s aim is to reposition this Bishop to attack the central h1-a8 diagonal.
18. … h6 19. f4 Ned7 These defensive Knights are no match for their counterparts.
20. Ng:e6 f:e6 21. N:e6 Rc8 22. Bf3 Bc6 23. e5! Sets in motion the beginning of the final breakthrough.
23. … d:e5 24. f:e5 Nh7 25. Ng7+!! Q:g7 26. Qe6+ Qe7 27. Q:g6+ Kd8 28. B:c6 White’s repositioning this Bishop now pays off big time.
28. … Nf8 29. Qe4 Kc7 30. Bb7 Qc5 31. … K:c8 32. Rd5 Qc7 Attackers dream of such power!
33. Q:b4 Resigns 1-0. (annotations by Don, the kindred spirit.)
Kindred’s comments on the Sicilian Defense
The objective of this defense is to undermine white’s central pawn structure by exchanging l. e4 c5, if the d-pawn is advanced to d4 such as 2. d4 c:d4 3. c3 d:c3 a rather interesting gambit line. A more frequent line goes: 2. Nf3 followed by 3. d4 c:d4 4. N:d4.White secures a strong center aimed at quick development and attack in an open type position. Black’s idea is to get a half-open c-file with numerous defensive formations to choose how the battle scene develops. These two thoughts make the Sicilian Defense one of the oldest and oft played systems against white’s e-pawn advance. White can avoid d4 altogether by adopting an Indian reverse type game developing the d2-d3 with a bishop-fianchetto via Nf3 >g3 > Bg2 set up. But black must also be prepared for another gambit idea starting with 2. b4 c:b4 3. a3. The gambit player often prepares at home his whole system of deployment that often catches the unwary into what is called “risk” adventures. I am reminded of what Grandmaster Larry Evans was known to say: A pawn is a pawn, is a pawn!