Hansen loses in Rd.5
The bloodiest round so far, but not a good day for Canadian chess fans. Eric lost a messy game against the French star Edouard. White seemed to effortlessly build up a kingside attack but then played inaccurately, giving Black the opportunity to get the upper hand. Unfortunaely, Eric missed it and soon found himself lost.
In other match-ups, Shankland beat Ftacnik in a good game, and Balogh ground down Alsina. Narciso and Lopez took no chances and drew a boring game.
Now we have just 2 rounds remaining and not less than 6 (!) players within half a point of each other. Don’t count Eric out yet! Looks like everything is going to go down to the wire…
gm Edouard, R–gm Hansen, E1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 c5 5.e3 Nc6 6.a3 Ne4 7.Bd3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.Bb2 b6 12.Qe2 Bb7 13.e4 Na5 14.Bd3 Rc8 15.Rad1 cxd4 16.cxd4
A well known position in grandmaster chess, and one that can come about thru various openings and move orders. For instance, one can arrive here via the 4.a3!? variation of the Queen’s Indian. While it is not entirely clear what is Black’s best continuation, most grandmasters have faith in 16…Bf6!?, ready to meet d5 with an exchange of Bishops. Results are quite reasonable as far as I can tell. Black often follows up with …Rc7 and Rd7.
Provocative play! I could find only one other game with this continuation. I don’t like the move very much, but to be fair, it leads to very complex play and might be perfectly playable! The French star decides to test Eric’s idea…
17.d5!? exd5 18.e5!
Each pawn structure has its own thematic break-throughs and attacking sequences, and in this kind of Queen’s Gambittish position this is the most often seen manoeuvre. At the cost of a pawn, White forces open lines and establishes an advanced outpost on e5.
I think that Black should now dig in with 18… Re8!? and if 19. h4 g6.
A typical theme in such positions. The move Ng5 is almost impossible to prevent. If 19…h6?! 20.e6! is strong. Eric finds a clever way to bolster the third rank…
19…Rc6!? 20.Ng5 h6 21.Qh5 d4!?
White has dangerous attacking chances and Black must be very careful. Black’s last move tries to block out the dark-square Bishop
Not just an artificial-looking move, but a weak one that allows Black a surprising opportunity to get the advantage! Correct was 22. Bh7+! Kh8 23. Bb1 Qe8 24. Bxd4 and White is clearly on top. INSTEAD, Black can get the advantage with the sharp:
Probably best is 23. Bxa5 (23. Bxg6 fxg6 24. Qg4 (24. Qxg6 hxg5) 24… hxg5 with Black being on top in a messy position.) 23… hxg5 24. Bd2 Rh6 25. Qxg5 Be7 and Black is on top again.
GETTING BACK TO THE GAME:
The last chance for Eric. Useless would be 23…Bxb4?! 24. axb4 Nc4 25. e6!; BUT there are some drawing chances with 23…Bxg5! 24. hxg5 Qxg5 25. Qxg5 hxg5 26.Bxf8 Kxf8. After missing this idea, Black’s game quickly slides into the abyss…
23…Rc5?! 24.Bxc5 bxc5 25.e6 Bxg5 26.hxg5 Qd5 27.exf7+ Rxf7 28.f3
White is up in material and has the initiative as well. Unfortunately, Black does not have time to advance his Queenside pawns, as 28…c4 would be strongly met by 29.Bh7+! Kf8 30.Bg6! Re7 (30…Rd7 31.Rfe1!) 31.Pxh6. Eric decides to exchange Queens, but this does not offer any relief, either. Quite simply, Black is lost and there is nothing to do about it.
28…Qxg5 29.Qxg5 hxg5 30.Rfe1 c4
After 31. Re8+ Rf8 32. Re5! cxd3 33. Rxa5 mopping up is easy.