(10) Akobian,Varuzhan (2619) - Gordon,Stephen J (2524) [D58]
Gibtelecom Masters Gibraltar (3.7), 29.01.2009
[Saunders, John]

Annotated by John Saunders for British Chess Magazine:

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 Be7 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 0-0 7 e3 b6 8 Be2 Bb7 9 Bxf6 Bxf6 10 cxd5 exd5 11 b4 c6 12 0-0 a5
[Karpov first played this in the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal on his way to the world title.]

13 bxa5
[White could also play 13 b5 or 13 a3 here.]

13 ..Rxa5 14 a4 Bc8 15 Qc2 Be6 16 Rfd1 Nd7 17 Rab1
[17 h3 and 17 Rac1 have been played here before but this seems to be new.]

17 ..Qa8 18 Bd3 Rc8 19 h3
[The immediate 19 Bf5 , or 19 Bh7+ followed by 20 Bf5, look very natural here to try and weaken Black's kingside.]

19 ..Be7 20 Bf5 b5!?
[Black is anxious to generate some queenside play. The alternative pawn break 20 ..c5 might also be answered by 21 Bxe6 fxe6 22 Ne5 Nxe5 23 dxe5 but it looks like White could then have a positional edge.]

21 Bxe6 fxe6 22 Ne5
[22 axb5 cxb5 23 Qd3 b4 24 Ne2 is hard to evaluate but perhaps White feared Black having a passed b-pawn. However, the move he plays allows Black two passed pawns.]

22 ..Nxe5 23 dxe5 b4 24 Ne2 c5 25 Qg6

[White has to hope that this kingside occupation is leading somewhere useful as things have become very difficult on the queenside.]

25 ..Ra6 26 Nf4 Rcc6
[The alternative move to defend the e6 pawn would lead to immediate disaster: 26 ..Qc6?? 27 Nh5! and Black cannot defend his king ( 27 ..Bf8? 28 Nf6+ and mate next move).]

27 e4!
[27 Nh5? would now be a mistake as 27 ..Qf8 defends g7 and leaves Black with much the better game. The main point of the text is to clear a path for White's rooks to come to the third rank and attack the black king.]

27 ..d4
[If 27 ..Bg5!? White can probably get away with 28 exd5! exd5 29 e6 Bxf4 30 Qf7+ leading to a probable draw.]

28 Rd3 Qf8
[Positionally White is really up against it so he has to find ways to make it tactical.]

29 Rg3!? Bg5 30 Rxg5
[It's too late to turn back now.]

30 ..hxg5 31 Qxg5 Rxa4
[Black decides to go for it but Fritz's first instinct is to try and defend against the threat of Ng6 and Ne7+ with 31 ..Rc7!? 32 Rb3 and only now 32 ..Rxa4!? 33 Nxe6 Qe7 34 Qxe7 Rxe7 35 Nxc5 Ra1+ 36 Kh2 Rxe5 which looks pretty strong for Black.]

32 Ng6 Qe8

33 f4!
[33 Ne7+?? is a positional blunder: 33 ..Kf7 34 Nxc6 Qxc6 would win back the exchange but lose all the momentum and threats that White needs to survive. It is worth looking at this position with a computer. At first they conclude that Black has a big material advantage and is therefore winning but they eventually realise that White is going to advance the f-pawn down the board to open up the black king and expose it to perpetual check threats. Eventually the computer rightly concludes that play leads inexorably to a draw.]

33 ..Rca6 34 Kh2 d3 35 Qh5 Ra1!
[35 ..d2? would be a mistake: 36 Rd1! Ra2 37 f5! would win for White. Black must exchange a pair of rooks immediately.]

36 Rxa1 Rxa1 37 f5 exf5 38 exf5 d2
[Not the only move: Black could also play 38 ..Ra6 and hold the draw.]

39 Qh8+
[39 e6 would oblige Black to reply 39 ..Qxg6!! 40 Qxg6 d1Q and perpetual check follows.]

39 ..Kf7 40 e6+ Kf6 41 Qxe8 d1Q

[White gets the first chance to give check but, fortunately for Black, he cannot force mate.]

42 Qe7+ Kxf5 43 Nh4+
[43 Qf7+ Kg5 44 h4+ Kh6 45 Qf4+ Kxg6 46 Qg5+ Kh7 47 Qf5+ also holds the draw.]

43 ..Ke4 44 Qxc5!
[A precise continuation. 44 Qb7+? would be a bad error: 44 ..Qd5 45 Qxg7 Qd6+ 46 g3 Ra2+ 47 Ng2 Qxe6 and Black should win.]

44 ..Qh1+ 45 Kg3 Qe1+ 46 Kh2 Qh1+ 47 Kg3 Qe1+ 1/2-1/2