I played in Cappelle la Grande in both 2009 and 2010, but I missed it this year. However, I did catch a few games from the TWIC daily game replayer, though, and a few caught my eye.
The first is from a game between GMs Aleksander Delchev and Davit Jojua from the last round. Jojua may have taken a few too many liberties with his development in the opening, and in the following position, he had just played 15…Qb6-b7 (after 13…Qd8-a5 and 14…Qa5-b6!):
r3kb1r/1q3ppp/p1n2n2/3ppPB1/Pp6/1N1B4/1PP1QPPP/R4RK1 w kq - 0 16)
Black’s center is both impressive and rickety, but there isn’t an obvious blow to strike against the pawns. At the same time, if Black ever manages to develop properly, the pawns might cease to be a weakness.
So how should White proceed? I’ve known Delchev for a few years now and while chess “understanding” is a tough thing to pin down, this is one example that he seems to have it.
In the above position, Delchev uncorked the amazing 16.Bb5!! – a beautiful move that pretty much finishes Black. There is the immediate threat of 17.Na5, so Black is forced to accept the gift.
After 16…axb5 17.axb5 Rxa1 18.Rxa1, Black has a choice of where to move the knight. A move like 18…Bd6, aiming to return the extra material while preparing …0-0, isn’t fast enough as after 19.bxc6 Qxc6 20.Ra6!, Black can’t adequately cover both the a8-square and the Bd6.
Jojua chose 18…Nd8 [18…Ne7 wasn’t really any better, as after 19.Qxe5 Ne4 20.Be3!, White invades on a7], and there followed 19.Qxe5+ Be7 20.Re1 Kf8, reaching the diagram below.
3n1k1r/1q2bppp/5n2/1P1pQPB1/1p6/1N6/1PP2PPP/4R1K1 w - - 0 21)
Black is completely tied up (the Be7 and Nd8 have no good moves, for example), but how does White increase the pressure?
Delchev turned the screws with 21.b6!!. Black has nothing good to do. Jojua tried 21…h6, as the alternative 21…Nc6 22.Qc7 is also no fun – exchanging queens allows the pawn through to the 8th rank, while 22…Qa8 23.b7 is also curtains.
After 21…h6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 (22…Bxf6 23.Qe8 is mate) 23.Qc7, Black resigned! There’s no way to save the bishop on e7, and after that, the b-pawn (or eventual c-pawn) will reach the other side.
In another example of somebody taking a few too many liberties in the opening, there was an earlier game from the event between GMs Yuri Vovk and Krishnan Saikiran:
4r1k1/1brnpp1p/pq2N1p1/3PP1B1/1pp2P2/2b4Q/P5PP/1B1R1R1K w - - 0 23)
The prosaic 23.Nxc7 maintains an advantage for White, but with Black’s kingside only inhabited by his king, there are much stronger alternatives.
I would have gone with 24.Qh6! here, forcing 24…fxe6, when 25.Bxg6! is a death blow. Taking the bishop allows 26.Qxg6+ Kf8 27.Bh6# or 26…Kh8 27.Rf3 (with mate to follow). Thus, 25…Nf8 is forced, when 26.Bxe8 leaves Black’s kingside decimated. The threats of 27.Qh5 (heading for f7), 27.Rf3 (heading for g3), and 27.f5 (aiming to break everything wide open) would be enough by themselves, but luckily for White, he’s got all of them available.
Vovk instead chose the initially more aesthetically appealing 24.Bxg6!?, and after 24…fxg6 (24…hxg6 25.Qh6 forces the line with 25…hxg6 given above) 25.Qh6, Black had to play without his queen after 25…Qxe6. However, he does have two minor pieces and it took almost 30 more moves to bring about resignation. Also winning, but not quite as forceful.
Vovk had another nice effort later in the event against the former World Championship Candidate, GM Kevin Spraggett.
r1bq2k1/6bn/p2p2p1/1ppPn3/4Pr1p/2N1BP2/PPQNB2P/2KR3R b - - 0 19)
From a King’s Indian, White chose the Saemisch Variation and just played 19.Bf2-e3. Black’s reply is completely thematic, but the finish is nonetheless impressive.
Vovk played 19…Qf6!, maintaining the dark-square control that is so typical in these Saemisch setups. Spraggett didn’t accept the “gift” immediately, but after 20.Rdg1 Ng5, he faces the loss of his f3-pawn if he doesn’t take on f4. Then Black has the dark squares and a material advantage. After 21.Bxf4 Qxf4, though, what is White to do?
White played 22.Kb1, but Black continued to grab more squares with 22…Nh3 23.Rf1 c4 24.Nd1 Bh6!.
r1b3k1/8/p2p2pb/1p1Pn3/2p1Pq1p/5P1n/PPQNB2P/1K1N1R1R w - - 0 25)
A very sad state of affairs for White – the Nd2 has nowhere to go, and so White was forced to walk back into the pin with 25.Kc1. After 25…Bd7 (there’s no hurry) 26.Nf2 Qe3! 27.Nxh3 Qxe2, White threw in the towel.
There’s nothing to play on for: (a) 28.Nf2 Nxf3; (b) 28.Ng1 Qxf1; (c) 28.f4 Bxh3; and (d) 28.Rf2/Re1 Nd3+ all win for Black.