Wesley So - Li Chao

Round 9
Tata Steel 2011


After the rest day at Tata Steel Chess tournament, not one, but three games will be covered on simultaneously! Live commentary of Anand - Nakamura, Vachier Lagarve - Carlsen, and Li Chao - Wesley So will start at 13:30 CET.

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1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 White's setup was to be expected as Wesley So already employed fianchetto against David Navara's Gruenfeld in an earlier round of Tata Steel.

5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nb6 7.Ne2 c5 8.d5 e6 9.O-O Wesley So is following the system employed by Polish GM Wojtaszek, who defeated Li Chao in the third round of Tata Steel.

9... O-O 10.Nec3 Na6 Refraining from 10...exd5, which he played against Wojtaszek.

11.a4 This line was subject of debate in the friendly rapid match between Karpov and Kasparov, played last year in Spain. Kasparov liked to use b4-square as the outpost for his Knight. Also possible is immediate 11. Na3, which Li Chao already encountered and defeated in the game with GM Stefan Djuric in 2007.

11... exd5 12.exd5 Nc4 12...Bf5 could lead to slightly faster pace, as then 13. Na3 Nb4 14. Be3 Rc8 15. d6!? is regular continuation.

13.Na3 Ne5 13. Nd2 is more common and then Black automatically trade off that Knight and play Bf5. But here Black is withdrawing and leaves White Knight on the rim. Probably he is intending to continue Bf5 and cling the pieces on the d3-square.

14.Be3 Bg4 Before anything else, Black wants to disturb the coordination of White pieces. Now on Queen move, there would follow Nf3+, so perhaps 15. f3. Then of course, Be3 might be hanging in the air later...

15.Qb3 15. f3 Bf5 16. g4 was committing but then Bd3 is probably not good and Black piece has to retreat.

15... Nf3+ 16.Kh1 Qd7 17.h3 Black pieces are sort of hanging but he has a tactical escape with 17. ... Nd4 18. Bxd4 cxd4 19. hxg4 dxc3 20. bxc3, which is a very interesting line as the equilibrium is finally disturbed.

17... Nd4 18.Bxd4 cxd4

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19.hxg4 dxc3 20.bxc3 Rac8 21.Nb5 Nb5 is logical, in order to challenge the initiative, other moves would be more passive.

21... Nc5 White has a wide choice of moves, Qa3, Qb4, but 22. Qc2 a6 23. Nd4 Qxg4 24. Rfd1 looks like the most solid line to proceed.

22.Qa3 a6 22...b6 was also possible...

23.Na7 Interesting maneuver by Wesley, he wants to cover the c-file and attack Black Knight. 23. Nd4!? was more reserved.

23... Rc7 24.Nc6 Nd3 25.Rad1 Nxf2+ 26.Rxf2 Rxc6 All the moves are forced, here Rxc6 is possible because of the pin on the d-file. 26...bxc6 is not looking good, there White has 27. d6!?

27.dxc6 Qxd1+ 28.Kh2 28. Rf1 Qxg4 29. cxb7 Qxg3 with next Be5 and serious trouble on the dark squares...

28... bxc6 29.Qb4 Be5 Obviously, Black is taking aim at the weakened kingside. The opposite-coloured Bishops favour the attacking side, but there are plenty motifs in this position. Rf8 will stay put for the time being, providing the cover for sensitive f7-square.

30.Bxc6 Qd3 31.Rf3 31. Rg2 was necessary, now the King will be in serious trouble...

31... Qe2+ 32.Kh3 Qe1 Threatening checkmate on h1, but the biggest problem is that Rook cannot be prevented from entering strong via d-file.

33.Kg2 33. Qb2 was the last chance to prolong resistance.

33... Rd8 34.Qc5 Rd1 And Wesley resigned as he can't prevent the backrank checkmate. His series of four consecutive victories has come to an end, but he still remains on or close to the top of the crosstable. Round 9 standings will depend on the game between Jon Ludwig Hammer and Luke McShane. Thank you all for following Chessdom live coverage, see you again tomorrow 13:30 CET. 0-1