Game of the Month April 2012

Apologies for missing out March’s GOTM but I’m been really busy! Updates on the Reykjavik Open and European Individual Championships will be written when I get time, but for now here’s the GOTM. After winning my first four rounds I started being paired up with the big boys. After draws with White against Nikita Vitiugov (2709), Laurent Fressinet (2693) and Black against Ernesto Inarkiev (2695) I was rewarded a second Black against Fabiano Caruana, who was running at number six in the world. We had actually played in Reykjavik Open – that time a draw when I had White.


[Event “European Individual Championships”]
[Site “Plovdiv”]
[Date “2012.03.28”]
[Round “8”]
[White “Caruana, F.”]
[Black “Jones, G.”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “E84”]
[WhiteElo “2767”]
[BlackElo “2635”]
[Annotator “Jones, Gawain”]
[PlyCount “82”]
[EventDate “2011.07.25”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “11”]
[EventCountry “BUL”]

1. d4 {Already a slight surprise. Fabiano is generally a 1.e4 player. 95% of
my preparation wasted but I had looked at this for about ten minutes that
morning.} Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 {I’d seen the Italian had
previously tried the Samisch so I wasn’t completely off-guard. Luckily I had
prepared this line for my game against Gupta at the London Open and so I at
least at some idea.} O-O 6. Be3 Nc6 7. Qd2 a6 8. Nge2 Rb8 9. Rc1 Bd7 10. Nd1 b5
{Delaying moving my e pawn to try and play …e5 in one go.} ({I had this
position back in the European Team Chammpionships and there tried} 10… e6 11.
g3 Re8 12. Bg2 b5 13. c5 dxc5 14. Rxc5 Bf8 15. Rc1 e5 16. d5 Bb4 17. Nec3 Nd4
$5 {with a really crazy game which eventually boiled down to a draw in Bartel,
M (2653)-Jones,G (2635) European Team Championships 2011. I’m sure Caruana had
an improvement prepared here somewhere.}) 11. c5 {White’s typical method of
dealing with …b5. The b file remains closed while White manages to get
pressure on the c file. This was the point of the strange looking knight
retreat on the previous move.} Re8 $5 {This was my idea. Although not actually
a novelty, Black has played this very rarely and it’s not really surprising.
Black’s move looks very odd: The d4-d5 advance hasn’t been countered while
it’s not clear what the point of the rook move is. However if you went through
my game against Bartel you’ll see the idea; Black vacates the f8 square in
order that the bishop can drop back hitting the rook on c5.} 12. Nf2 (12. d5 {
initially looks promising but White is in danger of over-extension, e.g.} Ne5
13. c6 Bc8 14. Nf4 e6 {and I’ll be able to open up the centre when Black is
certainly fine.}) 12… dxc5 13. Rxc5 e5 14. d5 Ne7 15. Nd3 {After a long
think Fabiano comes up with a move that I hadn’t examined and I was now on my
own.} (15. Qc1 {hitting the c7 pawn is critical but then Black has the
interesting possibility:} Bf8 16. Rxc7 Nexd5 $1 {sacrificing a piece to open
up White’s position and try to exploit White’s delayed kingside development.
The e2 knight gets in the way of the bishop’s development. Of course Black has
to play dynamically but I think he has good chances.}) 15… c6 {It’s logical
to try and undermine White’s centre. The position is very interesting: White
has more space and a better structure and should he get time to complete his
development he will stand better. It’s vital therefore that Black fights back
dynamically as quickly as possible.} 16. d6 Nc8 17. Ng3 (17. Nxe5 $6 {is
premature as} Nxe4 $1 18. fxe4 Bxe5 {is great for Black. He’ll pick up at
least the pawn on d6.}) 17… Nxd6 18. Nxe5 Rxe5 $5 {Around here I thought for
a long time to find the right plan.} (18… Qc7 {is the computer’s suggestion
but I was concerned that} 19. Bf4 {would leave me in a horrible pin. However
the computer has no fear and claims the simple} Re6 {defending the knight is
actually a little better for Black.}) 19. Rxe5 Nd5 $5 {Trapping the rook in
the centre of the board.} (19… Ng4 {was my original intention and probably
stronger. I was scared by} 20. Bg5 ({Being greedy and trying to hold onto the
exchange with} 20. Rc5 $6 {is dubious:} Nxe3 21. Qxe3 {when} Qb6 {was my idea.
Black threatens …Nb7 picking up the exchange. Black’s control of the dark
squares is far more important than the nominal material advantage.}) {However
the computer informs me that} 20… f6 $1 {is actually fine for Black.
Following} 21. fxg4 fxg5 22. Qxd6 {it looks like White is doing well but} Bxg4
$1 {exchanging queens and leaving White a whole rook up is actually good for
Black. The rook can’t escape as} 23. Qxd8+ Rxd8 24. Rxg5 $4 Rd1+ 25. Kf2 Bd4#)
20. Bd4 $1 {It’s important to force my next weakness.} f6 21. Bc5 (21. Rxd5
cxd5 22. exd5 {is similar to the game. Here the computer suggests} Nf5 {with
equality.}) 21… Nf7 22. Rxd5 ({Perhaps White’s last meaningful try for the
win was} 22. Rh5 $5 {The position becomes pretty crazy after} gxh5 23. exd5 h4
{Black’s fractured kingside pawns look vulnerable but there is past experience
in the Samisch with Fischer happily allowing his opponent to force …gxch5.}
24. dxc6 Rc8 $1 25. Qxd7 Qxd7 26. cxd7 Rxc5 27. Ne4 Re5 28. Kd1 Rd5+ 29. Kc2
Rxd7 {with equality.}) 22… cxd5 23. exd5 {White has an extra pawn but he is
still behind in development and so I have full compensation.} (23. Qxd5 {was
also possible but both Fabiano and I thought this was an extremely dangerous
way of playing.}) 23… f5 24. Be2 Qf6 25. b4 Rd8 {Lining up on the d5 pawn.}
26. f4 Bc6 27. Bf3 Qc3 $1 {Winning the d5 pawn and liquidating into a drawn
endgame.} 28. Qxc3 Bxc3+ 29. Ke2 Bxd5 30. Bxd5 Rxd5 31. Rc1 Bf6 32. Be3 Rd6 33.
Rc8+ Nd8 (33… Rd8 34. Rc6 Rd6 {was a safer path to the draw.}) 34. Nf1 Rc6
35. Ra8 Kf7 36. Ra7+ Be7 {This is a little inaccurate.} (36… Kg8 37. Nd2 Ne6
{is equal as} 38. Nb3 Rc2+ {is fine for Black.}) 37. Bc5 (37. Nd2 Ne6 38. a3
Ke8 $1 {should also be drawn but Black has to be slightly more careful.}) 37…
Re6+ 38. Ne3 Nc6 39. Rb7 Ke8 40. Bxe7 Rxe7 (40… Nxe7 41. Kd3 Re4 {looks
tempting but} 42. a3 {is fine for Black as} Rxf4 $4 43. Rxe7+ Kxe7 44. Nd5+ {
would be tragic.}) 41. Rxe7+ Kxe7 {And I offered a draw which Fabiano accepted.
An interesting game and it was nice to hold my own against one of the top ten
in the world.} 1/2-1/2




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