The Amateur Eye – Hold the Center

Wijk aan Zee  2017 was won by the American, Wesley So who stopped World Champ Magnus Carlsen’s run of lst place finishes in the Tata Steel events.

White:   Magnus Carlsen   Black:  Wei Yi    Opening:  Bishop’s Opening

l. e4  e5  2. Bc4  Nf6  3.  d3  This appears to be favored by Carlsen and modern theory. After 3. Nc3 we could run into the Alekhine era of old…N:e4 4. Qh5 Nd6 5. Bb3  Nc6  6. Nb5  g6 7. Qf3 f5  8. Qd5  Qf6 9. N:c7+ Kd8 10. N:a8 with sharp tactics covering a host of explosive articles on the ups and downs for both sides.

Carlsen chooses a more quiet line seen so often in this computer age of chess play.

3… c6  4. Nf3  d6

Black aims for a solid line but the aggressive 4…d5 is an alternative.

5. O-O  Be7  6. Bb3  O-O  7. c3  Nbd7  8. Re1  Nc5  9. Bc2  Bg4  10. Nbd2  Ne6  11. h3  Bh5  12. Nf1  Nd7  13. g4  Bg6  14. Ng3  Ng5  15. B:g5!

I like this move over 15. Kg2 as to how the game continued.

15… B:g5  16. d4  Bf4!  17. Ne2  Qf6  18. Kg2  e:d4?

Yielding the center to White is not correct.  He has 18….Rfe8. Perhaps he visions that the bishops are less pertinent than knights in rather closed compact formations.

19. Nf:d4  Rfe8  20. N:f4  Q:f4  21. f3  Nb6  22. Qc1  Q:c1  23. Ra:c1  d5   24. e5!

Carlsen sees a king-side pawn rollup coming.

24… Nd7  25. f4  B:c2  26. R:c2  Nc5  27. Re3  Rad8  28. Kf3  Ne4  29. b4

White builds on square count gaining minor but important threats arising.

29. … g5? 30.  c4  c5  31. Nb5!

Another inroad via square count.  White is superior in all directions.

31. … g:f4  32. K:f4  c:b4 33. c:d5  Black resigns.

Style and confidence play a major role in pressure chess which the above example attests.

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