SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The quarter finals saw only one decisive game , that of Ivanchuk and Radjabov. The other games were all drawn, mostly without much of a fight. Radjabov played the Sicilian Dragon
variation against Ivanchuk’s 1.e4,
the latter wisely deciding to avoid all of the critical lines– no doubt well prepared before the game by his opponent–by playing 6.g3.
This fianchetto line is considered harmless for Black, but does have the advantage that it leads to the type of slow-moving play that Dragon players normally feel ill at ease with. Plus it had never been seen in Ivanchuk’s repetoire before now.
This strategy seemed to pay off when by the 18th move Radjabov lost his patience and began to make some weakening moves:
Rather than sit tight and await developments, Radjabov tried to open up the Kingside with 18…h4?!, a double-edged play that could (and did) backfire on the Black King. With precise moves Ivanchuk slowly had his opponent into a vice-like grip.
This is the position after White’s 27th move:
Black can hardly move. He has to watch out for Bh6 (to attack) or a timely g5 followed by Nf6-ch. Even Nd4 looks promising. But is Black lost? I don’t think so. He still has the e5 square for his pieces and his position remains compact and difficult to storm.
HOWEVER, Radjabov–probably not feeling very comfortable–tried to reduce White’s option of playing Bh6 with 27…g5?
This allows a pretty combination, no doubt that Radjabov must have seen immediately after making his move. Ivanchuk struck with the crushing 28.Nf6-ch!!
The point is that now if 28…Bxf6 29.Rxf6!! Nxf6 30. Bxg5 is immediately game over. Radjabov could have resigned here, but tried to resist with 28…Nxf6. It made no difference , as Ivanchuk continued with 29.Bxg5 when Black soon found himself parting with his Queen. The rest was easy.