The Sinquefield is an exciting chess event currently on in Saint Louis. After three rounds, half-way that is, Hikaru Nakamura is in lead. Read a full report on Chess Blog. Here is the Kamsky-Aronian annotated by GM Ben Finegold (official website). Replay the game with Chess King applet in the extended post.


Kamsky, Gata (2741) – Aronian, Levon (2813)

Result: 1/2-1/2
Site: Saint Louis USA
Date: 2013.09.11
[…] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.♘f3 d5 3.c3 A very unusual opening choice at the top level. Gata likes to play London systems, but he normally plays Bf4 first. This is quite timid. 3…c6 4.♗f4 ♘h5 This also looks odd, but actually makes a lot of sense! White actually has difficulty finding a decent square for his bishop, unless he wants to trade for black’s knight. 5.♗e3 Ian and I were surprised by this, but it’s difficult to suggest a great square for the bishop, and Gata makes it work. 5…g6 6.g3 ♗g7 7.♗g2 O-O 8.♕c1 Since the Be3 is quite silly, Gata wisely decides to trade it, and then put his pawns on dark squares. A fine strategy. 8…♘d7 9.♗h6 ♖e8 10.♗xg7 ♔xg7 11.O-O e5 12.dxe5 ♘xe5 13.♘xe5 ♖xe5 Ian and I both thought black had comfortable equality, but as the game progressed, Gata makes some progress and gets a slight edge. 14.e3 ♘f6 15.♘d2 a5 This simply loses a tempo. Also, it’s not clear the pawn is actually better on a5! White has a simple plan of c4, trade the pawns, and use his slightly better control of the center, and better bishop to obtain a slight edge. 16.c4 ♖e8 Levon could also have considered 16…Re7, with potential to double rooks on the “e” or “d” file, and to protect the 2nd rank. 17.cxd5 ♘xd5 18.a3 ♔g8 19.♖e1 ♘f6 20.♕c3 ♗e6 21.e4 ♘d7 22.♖ac1 f6 Levon has defended well, and white only has a small edge. Gata plays without much purpose the next few moves, and black equalizes easily. White should try 23. Rcd1 and then Nc4 and try to invade. 23.♘f3 The start of a bad plan which gives black no problems. 23…a4 24.♘d4 Strangely, the knight is misplaced in the center! Now black gets all kinds of opportunties to pin and attack the Nd4. 24…♗f7 25.♖ed1 ♕e7 Black is equal now, and Gata once again tries for too much and gets into trouble. Simple solid moves here would be fine, but Gata simply loves pushing his “h” pawn this tournament! 26.h4 ♘e5 27.h5 ♘c4 28.♗f1 ♘d6 29.hxg6 hxg6 30.f3 ♕e5 31.♔f2 Now black is better due to the fragile King. Better was 31.Kg2 and it should be about equal. Probably Gata was hoping for a queen trade, and then the King is better on f2. 31…♖ad8 32.♕b4 f5 Black seizes the initiative! Now Kamsky needs to defend very accurately. 33.exf5
Bad for white is.. 33.♖c5 ♕f6 34.exf5 ♘xf5 And the move 33.Rc5? has left the Rd1 unprotected.
33…gxf5
Better was .. 33…♕e3+ 34.♔g2 ♘xf5 35.♘xf5 gxf5 black has a nice edge here, and now the greedy … 36.♕xa4 loses to.. 36…♖d2+
34.♕d2 (34.♖c2 ♕e3+ 35.♔g2 ♕h6 36.♗d3) 34…♕g7 Here and later, black should try Qf6! Black would have a nice edge then, with good winning chances.
34…♕f6 35.♕f4 ♘e4+ 36.fxe4 ♖xd4 37.♕xf5 ♕g7 This is probably what the players missed. Black has many threats that are difficult to deal with, and even with best play, white may be in trouble. 38.♔g2 ♖dxe4 39.♖d7 ♕xb2+
35.♕c3 ♕h6 36.♕d2 ♕g7 (36…♕f6) 37.♕c3 ♗d5 38.♘e2 Now white is out of trouble and with the queen trade imminent, a draw is inevitable. 38…♗b3 39.♕xg7+ ♔xg7 40.♖d4 ♔f6 41.♖c5 ♘b5 42.♖xd8 ♖xd8 43.♔e3 ♖d1 White can simply play 44.Rc1 with total equality.