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Pawn Play in Wijk aan Zee

Jorden van Foreest – Viswanathan Anand
Tata Steel Masters, 12.01.2019

With Sam Shankland playing in the elite Tata Steel event (and currently sitting on a respectable 2/4 with four draws), we can’t help but pay attention to some of the pivotal pawn moves being made in the tournament. When you see games at this level being won and lost due to good and bad pawn play, it makes you appreciate even more what a vital topic this is. Take the following example:

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.c3 Qc7 6.h3 g6 7.Nf3 Bf5 8.Ne5 Nc6 9.Bf4 Qb6 10.Bxf5 gxf5 11.Nd3 e6 12.Nd2 Rg8 13.0–0 0–0–0 14.a4 Ne4 15.Rc1 Bd6 16.Bxd6 Nxd6 17.b4 Kb8 18.Qe2 Qc7 19.Qe3 Ne7
Black has a comfortable game but there was no need for White to self-destruct with his next move:

20.f3??
Van Foreest must have thought he could withstand the pressure along the g-file, but in reality this is much too weakening, as Anand expertly shows.

20…Ng6 21.Ne5 f4!
There is nothing difficult about this move, but it’s worth contrasting the last pawn moves of both sides. White’s f2-f3 weakened his g-pawn and e3/g3 squares, while Black’s has two positive points: it fixes the aforementioned weaknesses, and vacates the f5-square for a knight, while also gaining a useful tempo.

22.Qe1 Nf5 23.Nxg6 Rxg6 24.Rf2 Rdg8 25.c4 Ne3
Just five moves after White made the wrong pawn move, his position collapses.

26.cxd5 Nxg2 27.Qe5 Qxe5 28.dxe5 Ne1+
0–1

Jorden van Foreest – Ding Liren
Tata Steel Masters, 14.01.2019

With apologies to Jorden van Foreest, who is a fantastically talented player, unfortunately his game from Round 3 provides another example of wrong pawn play deciding the outcome, this time in the endgame. We join the game at move 39, with White under pressure but not yet losing:

39.b4??
There are two problems with this move: 1) It places another white pawn on the same colour as the enemy bishop. 2) It allows a black pawn to take a step closer to the promotion square – moreover, it’s the distant a-pawn, which will be the hardest pawn for White to catch once it becomes passed. It’s important to point out that decisions in this type of endgame are not only based on these positional guidelines – brute calculation is also required, and perhaps time trouble was also a factor just before move 40. Still, an appreciation of such positional factors will improve your chances.

39.a4! would have drawn, for instance: 39…c5 (or 39…Bc5 40.Bc7=) 40.fxe4+ Kxe4 41.Bd6 Kd5 42.Bh2 c4 43.bxc4+ Kxc4 44.Kf3 Kxc3 45.Bg3 Kb3 46.Be1=

39…a4 40.c4 Bd4 41.fxe4+ Kxe4 42.Kf1 Kd3 43.b5 cxb5 44.cxb5 Kc4 45.Ke2 Kxb5 46.Kf3 Kb4
The material distribution is identical to the 39.a4! line, but here Black’s pawn has advanced to a4 rather than being fixed on a5, meaning it is destined to become a queen rather than being picked off by White’s bishop.

47.Kg4 Ka3 48.Kxh3 Kxa2 49.Bd6 Kb3 50.Kg2 Bc3
0–1

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  1. Hard Truther
    January 16th, 2019 at 19:57 | #1

    Speaking of pawn play …. Shankland (ironically ?!) missed a clear win v. Rapport when he played …h5 instead of …h6 in their round 2 encounter.

  2. Andrew Greet
    January 17th, 2019 at 10:03 | #2

    @Hard Truther
    Yes, we noticed that one too. Rapport’s c3-c4 earlier in that game was another remarkable moment of pawn play. I’m sure there are many other interesting examples in the tournament.

  3. Jacob Aagaard
    January 17th, 2019 at 10:32 | #3

    Andrew Greet :
    @Hard Truther
    Yes, we noticed that one too. Rapport’s c3-c4 earlier in that game was another remarkable moment of pawn play. I’m sure there are many other interesting examples in the tournament.

    Volume 2!

  4. Bulkington
    January 17th, 2019 at 12:46 | #4

    In one of those after-the-game interviews, when being asked about his preparation for Wijk, Shankland explained that he focussed on calculation and left the opening prep to his team. Now, knowing his introduction to “Thinking Inside the Box”, I thought that was a kind of nice credit to Jacob… in any case it was a surprising answer as one might expect a top-50 player would spend almost all of time with opening prep.

  5. Jacob Aagaard
    January 17th, 2019 at 12:57 | #5

    I do not think I am ruining anything by admitting that I helped Sam with training the calculation and that I am not a part of his opening preparation team.

  6. Seth
    January 17th, 2019 at 20:15 | #6

    Jacob Aagaard :

    Andrew Greet :
    @Hard Truther
    Yes, we noticed that one too. Rapport’s c3-c4 earlier in that game was another remarkable moment of pawn play. I’m sure there are many other interesting examples in the tournament.

    Volume 2!

    Yes! Yes!

  7. Thomas
    January 18th, 2019 at 05:23 | #7

    Jacob Aagaard :
    I do not think I am ruining anything by admitting that I helped Sam with training the calculation and that I am not a part of his opening preparation team.

    The opening preparation team? Aabling-Thomsen and Agermose-Jensen probably. We’ll see.

  8. Andrew Greet
    January 18th, 2019 at 10:04 | #8

    @Thomas
    Haha I’d love to see Sam or someone like him surprise an elite player with the Elephant, perhaps in an important blitz event. I’m still learning the nuances of the Elephant and I suffered my first ever defeat with it in a blitz game in Dublin against GM Glek a couple of weeks ago, but I could have obtained a winning position on move 7.

  9. Sam Collins
    January 18th, 2019 at 10:37 | #9

    Excellent post Andrew, really instructive.

  10. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    January 18th, 2019 at 15:34 | #10

    Jacob,

    How come that you didn’t translate and publish Gennadi Timoshchenko’s magnum opus “Sicilian Defense – The Chelyabinsk Variation”, since the book was published in Russia using your GM Repertoire book format?

    Recently I bought Timoshchenko’s book, translated and published by Russell Enterprises, which surpasses Kotronias’ one on Sveshnikov Sicilian by miles!

  11. Andrew Greet
    January 18th, 2019 at 16:02 | #11

    LE BRUIT QUI COURT :
    Recently I bought Timoshchenko’s book, translated and published by Russell Enterprises, which surpasses Kotronias’ one on Sveshnikov Sicilian by miles!

    I haven’t read it but I find that hard to believe.

  12. Thomas
    January 18th, 2019 at 17:26 | #12

    LE BRUIT QUI COURT :
    Recently I bought Timoshchenko’s book, translated and published by Russell Enterprises, which surpasses Kotronias’ one on Sveshnikov Sicilian by miles!

    This is nonsense. The book is nothing more than an attack on Sveshnikov. “Sveshnikov was wrong here” and “Sveshnikov failed to see that…” and so on. He doesn’t even mention other books. His material seems rather old, mostly 6-7 years.

  13. Jacob Aagaard
    January 18th, 2019 at 17:51 | #13

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    Russian Chess House mistakenly used our cover format for their book. We have nothing to do with that book and RCH has assured us that they will not make the same mistake in the future.

  14. January 18th, 2019 at 18:11 | #14

    Thomas :

    LE BRUIT QUI COURT :
    Recently I bought Timoshchenko’s book, translated and published by Russell Enterprises, which surpasses Kotronias’ one on Sveshnikov Sicilian by miles!

    This is nonsense. The book is nothing more than an attack on Sveshnikov. “Sveshnikov was wrong here” and “Sveshnikov failed to see that…” and so on. He doesn’t even mention other books. His material seems rather old, mostly 6-7 years.

    Wasn’t this the book Grischuk was making fun of during the Chess 24 World Ch commentary

  15. Ray
    January 18th, 2019 at 18:33 | #15

    @Thomas
    I agree, I browsed through the excerpt and it seems one big attack on Sveshnikov’s book, which is already very old. I fail to see the proof of it surpassing Kotronias’ book ‘by miles’ (Tony?). I wouldn’t dream of buying it without a good review by the likes of Sadler or Flear.

  16. JB
    January 19th, 2019 at 23:39 | #16

    Few more crucial pawn move candidates in Wijk
    Both Giri and Fedoseev made the same …f4 push as Vishy which gave them both winning positions
    Prophylactic 36. c4 needed to prevent Vishy playing ..c4 himself in Kramnik-Anand today,
    Shakh playing the too slow …h5 rather than push his passer with e3 in Carlsen game yesterday

  17. Alex
    January 20th, 2019 at 04:35 | #17

    instructive 🙂

    will look more into pawn play

  18. Jacob Aagaard
    January 20th, 2019 at 12:30 | #18

    @Ray
    Is this the book from the early/mid-90s?

  19. Thomas
    January 20th, 2019 at 13:11 | #19

    @Jacob
    A quote from Timoshchenko in the “Conclusion” chapter:
    “The publication of Sveshnikov’s book was undoubtedly an important stage in the development of the Chelyabinsk Variation. Now, after a quarter-century has passed, we can see that this book was only the frist attempt at summarizing and systematizing knowledge accumulated by that time (…)
    As we can see, after the publication of Sveshnikov’s book, the theory of the Chelyabinsk Variation has made great progess.”
    In the afterword Timoshchenko even admits having spent too much space on dealing with Sveshnikov’s book. Still no mention of any other book

  20. Jacob Aagaard
    January 20th, 2019 at 14:02 | #20

    @Thomas
    He really said frist, or was that just a typo from you?

  21. Ray
    January 20th, 2019 at 17:14 | #21

    @Jacob Aagaard
    Yes, as is apparent from Thomas’ quote. Maybe I shouldn’t judge this book based on the excerpt, but I wonder why a publisher would want to publish such a book.

  22. Thomas
    January 20th, 2019 at 17:50 | #22

    Jacob Aagaard :
    @Thomas
    He really said frist, or was that just a typo from you?

    No, sorry, that was my typo.

  23. Thomas
    January 20th, 2019 at 18:11 | #23

    @Ray
    On page 15 he says:
    “thus, in this book, the reader would find many of the author’s own analysis that he has conducted with a supercomputer; a great deal of analysis made by others, checked by the author and proved to be wrong.”
    And on page 16
    “For analysis I employed Houdini 2 Pro. These ran on a quad-core engine that fully met the needs of the age.”

  24. Jacob Aagaard
    January 21st, 2019 at 15:36 | #24

    Essentially, you say that the book is new in English, but older than Kotronias!?

  25. RYV
    January 21st, 2019 at 18:37 | #25

    Hello Jacob
    Is there any chance to see the GMrep taimanov soon this year (few months max)…
    Or will you advice me to keep working open games & Ruy Lopez as black for the season ?
    Thx

  26. Thomas
    January 22nd, 2019 at 05:11 | #26

    Jacob Aagaard :
    Essentially, you say that the book is new in English, but older than Kotronias!?

    The different chapters seem to be of quite different age. Ok, there’s Giri-Shirov from 2014.
    Most material is older.

  27. fed up to the teeth
    January 22nd, 2019 at 12:04 | #27

    @RYV
    You could have really used two questions there
    1. Is there any chance to see GMrep taimanov in this decade?
    2. Is there any chance to answer the above query in this year?

  28. January 22nd, 2019 at 16:38 | #28

    fed up to the teeth :
    @RYV
    You could have really used two questions there
    1. Is there any chance to see GMrep taimanov in this decade?
    2. Is there any chance to answer the above query in this year?

    You sound rather emotional! Anyway, the answers to your questions are “yes” and “yes”. In fact, I would expect the Taimanov in the first half of this year. It might even be in 2 or 3 months.

  29. fed up to the teeth
    January 22nd, 2019 at 16:49 | #29

    @John Shaw
    Good, so the gambit worked and got an answer, but not very good considering this was originally predicted to be out in winter 2018! how about giving some realistic timescales to people interested in your products?

  30. Thomas
    January 22nd, 2019 at 16:52 | #30

    John Shaw :
    You sound rather emotional! /p>

    That might be because he’s fed up to his teeth.

  31. January 22nd, 2019 at 17:03 | #31

    fed up to the teeth :
    @John Shaw
    Good, so the gambit worked and got an answer, but not very good considering this was originally predicted to be out in winter 2018! how about giving some realistic timescales to people interested in your products?

    “Realistic timescales” sound great, but it’s tough to be accurate with predictions about the future. That’s why we prefer not to give many dates – it leads to disappointed readers waiting for delayed books. Of course an ideal solution would be for us to be better/faster at finishing books, so I will go edit some more Taimanov chapters, just for you ‘fed up to the teeth’.

  32. January 22nd, 2019 at 17:49 | #32

    @ James Shaw

    Disappointing to hear that the Taimanov Sicilian may now be as late as the middle of this year…..I recall being told last year the book as being edited but won’t be out for Christmas 2018 but early 2019…..now further delays in either editing or content issues….? Will the book still be up-to-date by the time it’s published?

  33. Jacob Aagaard
    January 22nd, 2019 at 18:38 | #33

    @Michael
    Yes it will.

  34. RYV
    January 22nd, 2019 at 19:15 | #34

    Thx for the reply.
    This book is really awaited because I want to compare it with lines give by other recent books before working this opening.
    But quality first so take the time needed. It is no big problem (for me) to wait an other 6 months.

  35. The Doctor
    January 23rd, 2019 at 08:46 | #35

    With the GM Rep Sicilian Taimanov book this delayed, I’m guessing the GM Guide Playing the Sicilian Najdorf book will be about 2021-22 maybe?

  36. Jacob Aagaard
    January 23rd, 2019 at 13:08 | #36

    Sometimes we need to work more on the books than promised. We spent a lot of time on various projects and also I was ill personally for most of 2018 with the others covering for me again and again. So, the negativity coming from some here is not appreciated. Remember, it will be people on the other side reading the comments.

  37. Franck steenbekkers
    January 23rd, 2019 at 17:23 | #37

    Is there more info About new avrukh

  38. Ray
    January 24th, 2019 at 09:17 | #38

    @Jacob Aagaard
    You’re absolutely right. There’s already enough rat racing in society as a whole. I really appreciate the insight QC are giving in their plans!

  39. Jacob Aagaard
    January 24th, 2019 at 10:22 | #39

    @Franck steenbekkers
    Early March seems realistic. It will be a very big book.

  40. Remco G
    January 24th, 2019 at 12:21 | #40

    Maybe Mr Shaw should announce a new opening book, to be published in a few months? That way all complaints about missed deadlines would be aimed towards that for the foreseeable future 🙂

  41. JB
    January 24th, 2019 at 15:33 | #41

    I would like to express my thanks to the QC team in case they are in need of a hug after some complaints. Anyone who reads this blog knows to take any deadlines with a hefty handful of salt -some need a full sackful but others just a pinch so just laugh about it and enjoy the text when it finally arrives- the one thing it has is quality. I can’t think of a QC book that was poor and even if I was mildly disappointed with some they were still in the ‘very good’ category.
    I’m also building up with excitement to see if Negi 5 can beat John’s record for most delayed book- somehow I’d feel mildly disappointed if it suddenly got published tomorrow! Keep up the good work guys!
    PS after Jacob’s year you may wish to edit his healthy living guide when you republish Thinking Inside the Box!

  42. Jacob Aagaard
    January 24th, 2019 at 16:46 | #42

    @JB
    I do not seek sympathy or hugs and only talk about having been ill, as I am 100% OK. Illness has been a stress on the company; we are only a few guys.

    I got a respiratory infection in Assam in December 2017. I threw up blood for 2 months. After this life just had to become easier. Everything. So, I stopped following my own advice and have been more of a vegetarian in 2018 and returned to some poor habits. I gained 16 kg.

    In 2019 I am back on the healthy living agenda and has dropped 4 kg already. I am also being effective again and getting lots done.

    So the update is, this programme only works if you follow it…

  43. January 24th, 2019 at 16:55 | #43

    Irony i·ro·ny1
    /ˈīrənē/Submit

    noun

    the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

  44. Ray
    January 24th, 2019 at 17:47 | #44

    @Hard Truther
    Jacob’s not a native speaker 🙂

  45. Frank
    January 25th, 2019 at 11:45 | #45

    I wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation of all the hard work and great books qualitychess provides. Keep it up. Secondly (not to engage in a blog-quarrel): to say something nasty and then to claim it was meant ironically is a weak move, wouldn’t you say.

  46. Ray
    January 26th, 2019 at 09:32 | #46

    Shankland resigned in a theoretically drawn endgame position against Giri yesterday… Too bad, after making all the right pawn moves…

  47. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    January 26th, 2019 at 10:29 | #47

    Jacob Aagaard :
    Essentially, you say that the book is new in English, but older than Kotronias!?

    Ray :
    @Jacob Aagaard
    Yes, as is apparent from Thomas’ quote. Maybe I shouldn’t judge this book based on the excerpt, but I wonder why a publisher would want to publish such a book.

    Recent review by IM Goh Wei Ming Kevin on amazon with 5 stars titled “Best opening book I have read in a long time”:

    “Timoschenko is one of the founding fathers of the Chelyabinsk variation …

    The book is littered with interesting novelties (some of which have to be deeply checked with engines) and the depth of the analysis is breath-taking…

    As an IM with a rating that is close to 2500, I have learnt a lot about this opening… etc”

    I own the book and for me is a real masterpiece. Put aside Timoshchenko’s quarrel with Sveshnikov, that’s their business for a long time 🙂

  48. LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    January 26th, 2019 at 11:04 | #48

    Regarding “Sicilian Defense: The Chelyabinsk Variation” by Gennadi Timoshchenko please take into consideration following book review on amazon awarded with 5 points with title “Best opening book I have read in a long time” written by IM Wei Ming Kevin Goh, Elo 2472:

    “Timoschenko … showed his expertise in this opening throughout the entire book…
    … littered with interesting novelties … and the depth of the analysis is breath-taking.
    … extremely comprehensive as the author has tried to … better educate the reader on his preferred variation.
    As an IM with a rating that is close to 2500, I have learnt a lot about this opening and the typical middlegame dynamics from this book.”

    Well I own this book and found it top-notch. I hope that Timoshchenko’s quarell with Sveshnikov won’t discourage you in buying this excellent book.

  49. Seth
    January 27th, 2019 at 02:57 | #49

    Ray :
    Shankland resigned in a theoretically drawn endgame position against Giri yesterday… Too bad, after making all the right pawn moves…

    Looks like Sam needs a copy of Yusupov’s award-winning Boost Your Chess – The Fundamentals 1. Page 58, Diagram 6-6…..

  50. Frank
    January 27th, 2019 at 05:33 | #50

    Jacob wrote an excellent book (Practical Chess Defence) which features a lot of premature resignations (albeit mostly of a different nature). What happened to Sam Shankland is a nightmare & it is nice to see bounce back straight away.

  51. Thomas
    January 27th, 2019 at 06:29 | #51

    @LE BRUIT QUI COURT
    <>

    Leaving Sveshnikov aside – how can an opening book be top-notch if it is 5 ore more years old at the date of release and ignores the work of any of it’s competitors?
    For example in the crucial line with the knight sacrifice on b5 the newest games are from 2010 and the analysis is nothing special, so I’m way better off with Kontronias.

  52. RYV
    January 27th, 2019 at 10:27 | #52

    @Thomas

    Beiing the latest one ( the more recent one) doesnt makes an opening book automatically better than the previous one. There are so many examples of that!

    Ignoring other’s work on the subject is way more problematic.

  53. Stefanos Kaouras
    February 4th, 2019 at 22:09 | #53

    Andrew Greet :

    LE BRUIT QUI COURT :
    Recently I bought Timoshchenko’s book, translated and published by Russell Enterprises, which surpasses Kotronias’ one on Sveshnikov Sicilian by miles!

    I haven’t read it but I find that hard to believe.

    Ktor
    Fully agree. All the books from Kotronias are high quality ones. Even I do not know him, I strongly believe that such a researcher if he was from another country then for sure he would be in the first 10 players in the world.

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