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Understand The Position 30: “Problem? No Problem at All!” (Tata Steel ’12)

GM Ján Markoš | February 3, 2012 – 11:27One Comment | 1,431 views
Understand The Position 30: “Problem? No Problem at All!” (Tata Steel ’12)

Roman Catholic Christians celebrate Christmas on December 24th, Orthodox Christians two weeks later. Chess players were celebrating Christmas on January 14th this year. It was a day when the most famous present tournament started – Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk an Zee in Netherlands.

Armenian player Levon Aronian, who is currently the No. 2 in the World, started very well. He defeated Karjakin with black pieces and then he overplayed the last year’s winner Nakamura as White. The conclusion of this – incidentally, a very turbulent and beautiful – game deserves our special attention.

Translated by: Dusan Turcer

Aronian – Nakamura, Tata Steel Chess Tournament, after the 49th move of Black:

Only White can really think of victory in this position. He has a rook, a bishop and two pawns for the queen, ie. minimum material advantage. His king is quite safe, while the king of his opponent is crouching fearfully in the corner of the board. Chances of White are even more increased by the interesting “character attribute” of the queen: namely, queen is a good striker, but a bad defender. So queen has so much value that you can hardly cover anything with it, and moreover, it becomes the object of attack itself.

In fact the only chance for Black to make this game draw is a perpetual check. Nakamura was probably expecting that White will advance his “f” and “g” pawns and thus his queen will get more space for checks…

How to find the best move for White? First we need to recognize the type of position: is it strategic, technical, tactical, or another position? Levon Aronian finely sensed that strategic doctrines of Nimzowitsch are not very helpful here, but rather his experience with chess problems. Positions in chess problems often look likewise – exposed kings, unusual material conditions, strangely scattered pieces.

Armenian was therefore (I think) solving this position like a diagram with description “White wins”. He did not limit himself to find only seemingly pretty, active moves – he tried to search the most effective move.

Black royal pair is relatively close to each other – so there is a possibility of a knight fork. White would like to play Rf8+ and Ne6+ and win the queen. This brutal procedure is however prevented by two circumstances. Firstly, e6-square is occupied by white bishop; secondly, Nf4 is pinned. How to solve both these problems? It is not a problem for Aronian at all:


A blow on the head! Black has big problems now. By creating a threat White gained a momentum that will withstand in attack until the end of the game…


50…Kg8 51.Rf8+; 50…Nxg4 51.Rf8+ Kg7 52.Ne6+

Now a thorough massage follows “with a happy ending”; and with black monarch finally choked:

51.Ne6 h6 52.Rf8+ Ng8 53.f4 Qb2 54.Kh3 Qa1 55.Bh5 Kh7 56.Rf7+ Kh8 57.Bg6 Nf6 58.Rf8+ Ng8 59.Bf7 1-0

I wish you in the New Year the problems will not make you any problems, just like to Levon Aronian.

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