This month we present a lightly edited excerpt from Chess Evolution Newsletter #125. CEWN is released every Friday of the week, the newsletter contains twenty-plus pages of great chess material written by top grandmasters Arkadij Naiditsch and Csaba Balogh.
by Arkadij Naiditsch
Hou, Yifan (2629) – Giri, Anish (2750)
Hans Suri Mem 2014 Biel SUI (1.3), 14.07.2014
Sicilian Defense [B51]
In the history of chess, only one woman has played on the highest level and this is Judit Polgar. At her best she even managed to enter the Top Ten. Hou Yifan, the current Women’s World Champion and clearly the strongest female player after Polgar seems to do fine against men as well. Yifan is very close to entering the Top 100 and already proves this in the first round of Biel.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+
This is a very popular move at the moment. There have always been a few Top GMs who liked 3.Bb5, but especially after the games of Carlsen this move came into fashion.
And this is the most fighting reply for Black. The main line is clearly 3…Bd7 and now in the latest games White seems to push a bit after 4.c4!?, and strangely Black did not show a clear way to equalize so far.
The most principled. White also has moves like 4.0-0 or 4.c3.
4…cxd4 5.Qxd4 a66.Be2!?
Quite an interesting and rare move. We would be in the main lines after 6.Bxd7+ Bxd7 7.0-0 and now White’s idea is usually connected with the c4 move.
6…Ngf6 7.0-0 e5
Giri is already planning a pawn sacrifice, which just looks too dangerous. The simple 7…e6 8.c4 b6 9.Nc3 Bb7 would lead us to hedgehog structures where the white queen is not so perfectly placed on d4. Anyhow, he might be in time to regroup and get some small plus.
It is clear that Black had planned the d5 move before playing e5.
9…Bc5?It seems as if Giri does not take his opponent too seriously. There was no reason for Black to take such rushed actions. After 9…Nxd5 10.Qd3 N5f6, Black’s position is maybe a bit worse, but White has nothing too spectacular.
The queen takes a perfect position on d2, not only to protect the d5-pawn, but as well to prepare the c4-b4 pawn pushes.
So Black is a full pawn down and in case White will be in time to play something like b4-Nc3-Bb2 the game could already simply be over. Black needs to react very quickly here.
This is probably the best try for Black, as at least the knight is going to take a great position on e5.
White’s position is clearly better, but Black has many tricks; for example, connected with Nfg4-Qh4 or Qc7 with the idea of playing Ng4 next. White needs to be careful.13.b4!
Another strong decision by Hou Yifan, the move in the game is much stronger than something like 13.Nc3. Now White will have the idea of playing c5-d6 to totally kill all of Black’s hopes.
13…Ba7 14.Nc3 Bg4
Black continues to try and create some complications. Maybe a slightly better try to save the game could have been 14…Nd3 15.Nc2! (15.Bxd3 is premature since after 15…Bxd4 16.Be2 Be5 the black bishop on e5 gives Black some attacking chances.) 15…Nxc1 16.Raxc1 and of course White is a full pawn up and has a much better position, but Black’s bishop-pair could give him some theoretical chances to survive the game.
15.c5!Another very good move by White based on an exact calculation. White is using the moment that the pawn on d5 can’t be taken to get the bishop on a7 completely out of the game.
15…Nxd5 didn’t really help since after 16.Nxe4 White is just a clear pawn up.
Of course the structure must be kept.
This is not the best move order. To get a better version Black should have played 16…Bb8 before taking on d5. Black is provoking the bishop to b2. 17.Bb2 Nxd5 18.Nxe4 Bxe2 Of course White is a clear pawn up, but Black might keep some fighting chances.
And now we see the difference to 16…Bb8, White has another move to play rather than 18.Bb2.
Hou Yifan is playing a perfect game. There is no reason for White to exchange the bishop on e2, which is controlling the knight e5.
18…Nf4?!A mistake never comes alone. Giri makes another clear miscalculation, but I must admit that it is difficult to find a good move in a bad position. 18…Bh5 would lead to the same result as in the game, since after 19.Nf5 the threat of playing Qxd5 gives White enough time to put the knight to d6.
The last important move of the game. Black is losing material.
19…Nxe2+ 20.Qxe2 would lead to the same position as in the game via a different move order.
20.cxd6 Nxe2+ 21.Qxe2 Qxd6 22.Nb5
I guess this is the move Giri blundered.
22…Qb6+ didn’t help since after 23.Be3 Black is losing the g4 bishop.
The most simple. White has a big material advantage and the attack too!
23…Nf3+ 24.Qxf3 Qxa125.Be3
Precision until the end. White wants to play Bc5 next, putting pressure on the f7-pawn. The game is totally over.
25…Qf6 26.Qxf6 gxf6 27.Nc7
The white knight is coming to d5.
27…Rad8 28.Bh6 and the f8 rook has no squares.
A great game by Hou Yifan who perfectly capitalized on the mistakes of her opponent. I guess with this win she gained a lot of respect from the top players, who will not try to play against her as with a little girl, sacrificing pawns for a doubtful initiative.