28 February 2010

Nakamura vs. Aronian at Mainz 2009

In No Preparation Required, we saw a photo of the first game from the 2009 chess960 match between GMs Nakamura and Aronian at Mainz. Relating the position on the board to the accompanying PGN reveals that the photo was taken while Aronian was thinking about his third move.

The top half of the following diagram shows the game's start position (SP190 NRNKRBBQ), while the bottom half shows the position after both players have castled (Black's ...O-O-O was the last move). What can we say about the development of the two armies?

White has moved four Pawns, Black has moved six. The White Pawns have captured space on the Kingside, while the Black Pawns are in a somewhat defensive structure with a curious symmetry where the Kingside mirrors the Queenside.

White has used five moves to develop the dark-squared Bishop and the two Knights, while Black has used three moves to develop a Bishop and the Knights. Except for the castling move, none of the Rooks have moved and each side has one undeveloped Bishop on the f-file. The last move to be accounted for each side is the Queen moving on its rank from the corner to the adjacent square.

In my opinion, White's position makes a better impression. The two White Knights are ready to spring into action at many different points on White's side, the developed White Bishop is more actively placed than the developed Black Bishop, and the White Pawn structure is tighter.

With 12.Bh3, Nakamura developed his last minor piece to an aggressive post, and Aronian countered by easing the tension with 12...fxe4 13.Nxe4. Then followed a sequence of attacks and counterattacks with 13...Ned5 14.Bf6 Rd7 15.c4 Nb4. Black never managed to achieve equality, was forced to make a series of concessions, and finally sacrificed a piece for an attack that didn't quite work.

No comments: