Any prediction as what Aronian will play? 🙂

Aronian – Leko

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.a3 (White wants to prevent the pin with Bb4 in order to safely prepare to play e2-e4.)

6…Be7 7.e4 0–0 8.Nf3 (An usual move, moving the same piece twice before other development including castling. White wants to prevent Black’s counterplay with d7-d5 which would have been Black’s answer after the natural 8.Be2.)

8…d6 9.Be2 b6 10.0–0 Bb7 11.Bf4 (White’s plan is clear. The target is Black’s weak d6 pawn. There have been numerous games with this position and Black usually activates the Rook with Rc8.)

11…Ne5 12.Nd2 Ng6 13.Bg3 Rc8 14.Re1 (Black has equalized the game. Black’s position is quite solid.)

14…a6 15.Rc1 Qc7 16.b4 Qb8 (This is one of those difficult middlegame for most players. The question is what is the best plan? Would it be play on the Queenside, Kingside or the center?)

17.Bf1 Rfd8 18.Qe2 Nd7 19.Qe3 h6 20.Nf3 Ba8 21.Red1 (You will see a lot of this muscle flexing without much actions with the hedgehog set up. Black’s position is rock solid and if White opens up the position wrongly, White can get into a lot of trouble. That is why you see caution by Aronian.)

21…Nde5 22.Nd2 Ng4 23.Qe2 N4e5 24.f4 Nd7 25.Nf3 Bf6 26.Qe3 Re8 27.Be1 Bd8 (More maneuvering by both sides but not much will be accomplished. Black just sits back and wait for White to make a mistake. If White does nothing, it would lead into a draw.)

28.e5 (Finally! Aronian is attempting to break through. 28…Bc7 is the safest response.)

28…dxe5 (Leko is sacrificing material. I do not see Black having enough compensation. Perhaps Leko sees something I do not.)

29.Rxd7 exf4 30.Qe2 (I see White with a big advantage. The connected e and f pawns are nice but not at the price of a Knight.)

30…e5 31.Ne4 Be7 +- 32.c5 bxc5 33.bxc5 Bc6 34.Rdd1 (I think Leko made the wrong choice. I think it would have been easier to defend with 28…Bc7 than sacrificing material. 34…Bxe4 35.Qxe4 Bxc5+ 36.Kh1 Bxa3 may be the best hope here.)

34…Bb5 (I think Black is completely lost with this choice. There would be some hopes with 34.Bxe4.)

35.Qb2 Qa7 36.Bxb5 axb5 37.Bf2 Qa8 +- 38.Nd6 e4 39.Nxe8 Rxe8 40.Nd4 Bf6 41.c6 (A simpler way would be 41.Qxb5 and Black has no hope. This still wins anyway.)

41…e3 42.Be1 f3 43.gxf3 (White still has a winning advantage.)

43…Nf4 44.Bg3 Ne6 (I expect a resignation shortly. It is hopeless.)

45.Qb4 1-0

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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