Wijk Aan Zee in progress
Both sides have been going thru the motions of trying to gain and occupy valuable squares. Black seems content with his firm control over c4 and Queenside pressure. White has managed to place his Knight on the important square f5, which my blog readers will no doubt recognize as a motif that occurs more often in the Spanish Opening. The presence of a weakness on h6 must have been underestimated by Karjakin.
27. Qd1 !!
A nice quiet move that effectively decides the game. The Queen can not be stopped from going to g4 (or h5, depending on how Black reacts) where she will join the armada (Knight on f5, Bishops on f4 and d3) and mount a decisive attack.
Black must not be tempted by 27…Nb2 (?) as after 28.Nxh6-ch! PxN 29.Qg4-ch Black will not see the endgame, as the readers can easily enough verify.
Karjakin therefore takes immediate defensive measures with the next moves, but it is already too late.
27… Rfe8 28. Qg4 Kf8
Not sufficient , either, was trying to go the other way: 28… Kh8 29. Rxe8 Rxe8 30. Nxh6 gh 31. Qf5 when Black collapses.
29. Bd6 [ Also good enough is the immediate 29. Rxe8 Rxe8 30. Bd6! Nxd6 31. Nxd6] 29… Nxd6 30. Nxd6 Rxe1 31. Rxe1 Qc7
Pretty! The mate threat on e8 forces Black to exchange Queens after which the ending is a relatively boring technical exercise. Curiously, 32.Nxc8 might have won faster! But who can fault the Italian star from wanting to please the spectators?