Torre, Eugenio (2560) — So, Wesley (2627) [D13]
Phoenix Petroleum Battle of GMs Dapitan City Resort Hotel (3.5), 25.03.2009
( Analysis by Bobby Ang in his Chess Piece column )
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 a6
The Chebanenko Slav, all the rage nowadays.
5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bf4
Eugene avoids all the complicated lines and transposes to the Exchange Variation of the Slav.
6...Nc6 7.Rc1 Bf5 8.e3 Rc8
If Black is in an aggresive move he can try the idea of Grischuk: 8...e6 9.Qb3 Ra7 10.Be2 Be7 11.0-0 Nd7 12.Na4 g5!? with complicated play. Obviously Wesley, knowing that sitting across him is one of the toughest players in the Philippines to beat, is making a conscious effort not to force anything and keep up the solid play, at the same time looking for a chance to break through.
9.a3 e6 10.Be2 Be7 11.0-0 0-0
Still maintaining the symmetry. Now they start playing.
12.Nd2 Na5 13.Na2?!
Too passive. As you will see from the game continuation this move gives Wesley the opening to seize the initiative. Perhaps better was 13.Na4 b5 14.Nc5 Bxc5 15.dxc5 followed by b2-b4 and White is looking great.
13...b5 14.Rxc8 Qxc8 15.b4?
Definitely a mistake. Both players have weaknesses on a3 and a6, respectively, but Black’s pieces are better positioned to move in.
[16.Nb1 does not work because of ...Bxb1 followed by ...Nxa3]
16...a5 17.Nxc4 dxc4 18.bxa5?
Eugene is not his usual tough self. He should just leave his pawns as they stand. By bxa5 he allows Black to pick off the a3 pawn and organize two passed pawns on the queenside.
18...Qa6 19.Nb4 Qxa5 20.Nc6
It might be better to bring his dark-squared bishop to the queenside with 20.f3! Bxb4 21.axb4 Qxb4 22.e4 Bg6 23.Bd2 Qa4 24.Qb2 and it is not so easy for Black to advance his pawns.
20...Qxa3 21.Nxe7+ Qxe7 22.Qb2 Qd7 23.Bf3 Rc8 24.Rc1 Be4 25.Be2 Nd5 26.Bg3 Bd3!
This bishop cannot be taken.
[27.Bxd3? cxd3 28.e4 Rxc1+ 29.Qxc1 Nb4 30.Qc3 Qc6! 31.Qe1 Na2! 32.Bf4 (he has to prevent ...Qc1) 32...Qc3 33.Qxc3 Nxc3 34.Kf1 b4 35.f3 b3 wins]
27...c3 28.Qb3 Qc6 29.Bxd5 exd5 30.Qa3 Ra8 31.Qe7 c2
Now the threat is ...Qc3 followed by ...Ra1, taking care not to be mated on his back rank.
32.h3 h6 33.Bf4 Qc3 34.e4 Bxe4 35.Kh2 Qxd4 36.Qb7 Qxf2 0-1