The Amateur Eye – A Tiger in the Tank

You may be old enough to remember this from the days of oil magnet ESSO.  We have here a game is surely as modern as they get.  But this ancient description of the fight between Sergey Karjakin, the Russian Bear, and Vishy Anand, the Indian Tiger,  both of whom display the rich ESSO brand gas that runs the engine.  It spells quality and the fumes are intoxicating.

l. Nf3  d5  2. e3  This was a Rogoff pet club skittles try.  Sometimes he would try even 1. e3 on the first turn.  The play usually evolved similar to this battle.

2. … Nf6  3. c4  e6  4. b3  This coy approach will tell you that white is pursuing a Queen Indian in reverse.  Black probably does best to try to create an imbalance without setting up a position based upon white’s development.  Remember that he is actually out of step with the tempo given black.

4. … Be7  5. Bb2  O-O  6. Nc3  c5  Anand seems unable to resist grabbing for some space and challenging white’s somewhat timid approach.  Perhaps more germane here would be 6. ..b6 keeping play against the center in reserve after getting pieces into play. This  positional structure and plan for development is a type of hedgehog setup.

7. c:d5!  N:d5  Avoiding an isolani  on d5 if choosing 7. …e:d5.  The pawn structure could lead to the problem child “hanging pawns” later on.  Also, inviting an exchange of Knights would not yield anything special for either player.

8. Qc2  Certainly this Q deployment fits into attacking the white squares and increases square count.

8. … Nc6  9. h4   This pawn advance on the h-file seems to be gaining favorable kudos in the computer age of chess.  White refrains from a3 because after 9…Nb4, 10. Qb1 and white will drive away the Knight with a3 actually gaining a tempo and chasing the Knight away. His wisdom brings about the nice h4 with hopes of attaining space on the K-side that means growing the square count.

9. … b6  10. a3  f5   11. Bb5  Bb7  12. N:d5 e:d5  this eventually leads to the hanging pawn where white has good play on those files.  Capturing 12…Q:d5 suggests itself as an alternative try.

13. d4  Rc8  14. d:c5  b:c5  15. O-O  Bf6  16. Rfd1  Ne7  17. B:f6  R:f6  18. g3  Ba6?  Why?  I keep asking Why at this stage of the game?  Why not inject here 18. … Qb6 >…d4 with a fight to come.

19. B:a6  R:a6  20. Qc3!  Rb6  21. Rac1  Qd6  22. Ne5!  Rb7  23. Nd3! White uses the e5 square for rotation of units where he wants to enter a favorable endgame once the Queens go.  Eventually the weak pawns will become targets.

23. … c4  24. b:c4  R:c4  25. Qe5! Q:e5  26. N:e5  R:c1  27. R:c1  g6  28. Rc5  Kg7  29. Ra5  Kf6  30. Nd3  Rc7  31. Ra6+ Kg7  32. Nf4  Reducing squares and essentially tying up the Rook in defense.

32. … Rd7  33. Kf1  Ng8  34. Ne6+  Kf7  35. Nd4  Ne7  36. Nb5  Nc8  37. a4  Rb7 38. Rc6 Ne7  39. Ra6  Nc8  40. Rc6  Ne7  41. Rd6 Rb6  42. Rd7  a6  43. Nc3!  Black has had enough. Resigns. (1-0).

After annotating this game,  I can honestly say that playing as an amateur club player has it’s advantages.  We share a common bond with a chess community of diverse talent and, at the class A-D level, experience the thrill of victory and the pangs coming from defeat just as do the ever-growing cadre of the higher-ups.




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