The Sharpest King’s Indian
At the World Team today GM Nakamura scored a key victory leading the USA over Israel, 2.5 – 1.5 Last year, Nakamura also confounded GM Beliavsky in the same variation at the “Rising Stars vs Experience” match in Holland. Let’s see this perplexing King’s Indian.
[Event "Rising Stars vs Experience"]
[White "Beliavsky, Alexander"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
For a certain time, Beliavsky played very strongly in this sharp line.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5
Ne7 9. Nd2
9…Ne8 Old school logic didn’t like this move; it doesn’t control c5.In Kasparov’s heyday, it was thought black needed Nf6-d7 and…a7-a5 in some order to hold white up. We might see a resurgence of ….a5 if white’s resources pointed out in this article hold up.
10. b4 f5 11. c5 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7
Toddlin' down the main line road
Doesn’t it look like white is faster and therefore better? It looks that way to me. That means we should be trying very hard to figure out what Beliavsky and Gelfand did wrong, since it’s counter-intuitive!
(In today’s Gelfand-Nakamura game, very strange things happened afterblack blitzed out the refreshingly barbaric pawn storm 16. b5 dxc5 17. Bxc5 h5 18. a5 g4 19. b6 g3 20. Kh1 Bf8 21. d6 axb6 22. Bg1 Nh4!
Black plays to bother the white king and threatens a standard sac. Gelfand’s response is suprisingly weak for this veteran 2700-plus player playing white. Do you think part of the reason was that black was playing instantly? Sometimes that leads the other player to overlook key resources and become rattled.
Puzzle for Boris
23. Re1? (White has to recognize the danger and play the non-standard 23. hxg3! fxg3 24. Be3! after which black’s knight on h4 just blocks. For example, 24… Bh3 25. Rg1! Bxg2+ 26. Rxg2 Nxg2 27. Kxg2 Bxd6 28. Nxd6 Qxd6 29. Qxd6 cxd6 30. Bc4 and white is on the better side of a draw. On other black moves, white proceeds in the center and the queenside. Bg5 is also threatened in some lines and at least, white is not getting mated!
23… Nxg2! Since black was blitzing, it was probably all prep. Still, it is amazing that despite the oceans of time white consumed, he seems to have missed the tactical detail of the “forever” mate on g2 stopping his intended capture of black pieces.
24. dxc7? Another mistake. He has to try 24. Kxg2 Rg7 25. dxc7 gxh2+ 26. Kh1 hxg1=Q+ 27. Rxg1 and white appears safe. Can black improve?
24… Nxe1! Now it’s all over; white has embarrassingly lost.
25. Qxe1 g2+ 26. Kxg2 Rg7+ 27. Kh1 Bh3 28. Bf1 Qd3! Oops. That g2 mate again. What a debacle!
29. Nxe5 Bxf1 30. Qxf1 Qxc3 31. Rc1 Qxe5 32. c8=Q Rxc8 33. Rxc8 Qe6 and white gave up, 0-1 Gelfand-Nakamura World Team 2010.
Going back to Big Al Beliavsky, where white has good chances (at this point!),
16… h5 17. b5 dxc5 18. b6! I like Beliavsky’s way of NOT taking on c5 yet with the bishop as in the Gelfand-Nakamura game .
18…g4 19. bxc7 Rxc7 20. Nb5! (20. Qb3 g3 21. Nb5 Nxe4 22. fxe4 (22. h3 Qh4 23. d6 Bxh3 is black’s main idea, and it works!) 22…Qh4 and black crashes through. Alexander’s move looks highly logical)
20… g3 This is black’s only move. Still doesn’t it look like black’s position is hanging by a thread?
The obvious threat is Nxe4 and Qh4. I think white’s next move is not the best. This is the critical moment that I bet Al wishes he could do over. Up to now, I find white’s play to be fantastically logical and he’s made inroads on the queenside and the center. He has to deal with black’s (only) play against his King involving a N/f6 sacrifice and then Q to h4 with an intended mating attack. This unidimensional idea, though, is hard to stop and explains the appeal of the line from black’s point of view. Looking at the next diagram, how to finesse it so that black’s attack is stopped (if the attack is stopped, white’s positional trumps should win)?
Puzzle for Big Al
21. Nxc7? This allows the threat. Better, I think, is 21. Qc2!! disallowing black’s intended tricks. For example, none of black’s standard knight sacs work now. 21… Nxe4? (21… Nxd5? 22. exd5 Qh4 23. h3 Bxh3 24. gxh3 Qxh3 25. Bd3! (Don’t you like how the subtle 21. Qc2!! guards the h2 square laterally, I do!) 25… Nh4 26. Be4 g2 27. Rfe1 and white wins) 22. Qxe4 Qh4 23. hxg3! Exploiting the pin; black cannot organize the standard mate now. 23…Qxg3 24. Nxc7 Nh4 25. Rf2 Bh3 26. Bd3! and it turns out that white is one that wins by attack on black’s king, a refreshing change (from white’s point of view). Continuing, 26… Bxg2 27. Qh7+ Kf7 28. Nxe5+ Ke7 29. Bxc5+ Kd8 30. Ne6+ and mates.
In the game, white missed some more tactical details and lost, but I think we should focus on the 21. Qc2! improvement.
For completeness, 21. Qc2! Ne8? also fails. 22. Nxc7 Qh4 23. h3 Bxh3 24. gxh3 Qxh3 25. Bd3! (always this resource to use the white queen in defense!) 25…Nxc7 and now white beats black back with an aesthetic defense: 26. Qg2 Qd7 27. Qh1!! h4 28. Kg2! and wins. Wow!
And if black moves the rook from c7 admitting the attack is over, it is hopeless: 21. Qc2! Rf7 22. Bxc5 and 22. Ncd6 are both crushing. 21. Qc2! Rd7 22. Bxc5 is similarly winning.
21… Nxe4 22. Ne6 Bxe6 23. dxe6 gxh2+ 24. Kxh2 Qh4+ 25. Kg1
Ng3 26. Bxc5 e4 27. Ra4 Rc8 28. Bxa7 b5 29. Rb4 bxc4 30. Bxc4 Qh1+ 31. Kf2 e3+ 32. Bxe3 fxe3+ 33. Kxe3 Nxf1+ 34. Bxf1 Qg1+ 0-1
Conclusion: I think white should be able to play accurately and maintain an edge in this extremely sharp variation. However, he has to be fully awake and as tactically alert as black!