Games section

Game 001: Kushal Jakhria – James M G Toon
London League Summer Tournament 2022 (1), 2022.07.28

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 O-O 7.e4 Nc6 8.Be2
The Russian System vs the Grunfeld. White builds a classical pawn centre (e4 and d4) at the cost of some time. Black often sacrifices a pawn or two for a lasting initiative. The position after 8.Be2 is the starting point of the main line. I did my research on Kushal Jakhria before the game so I knew that he played the Russian System and I was 99% certain that we would reach this position.

8...e5 9.d5 Nd4
In a previous (Rapid) game against a 2400 player, Kushal played 10.Nxe5? and after 10…Nc2+ he was already losing. Tonight he followed theory and exchanged on d4 winning a pawn.

10.Nxd4 exd4 11.Qxd4 c6 12.Qc4 b5
Sacrificing a second pawn to open lines and gain time chasing the white queen.

13.Qxc6 Bd7 14.Qd6 Re8
Threatening to take on e4. White now has various options. The main line continues 15.f3 Nh5 16.Be3 f5 when play becomes very sharp.

15.e5 b4!
Kushal played the first 15 moves more or less instantly. This (up to 15.e5) is clearly the line he had learned. But 15…b4! is one of the many improvements on existing theory in GM Peter Svidler's new Chessable course on the Grunfeld. My young opponent clearly hadn't seen this before as he took over 10 minutes to play his next move (and that's a lot of time in an event with a 60+30 time control).

The point is that 16.exf6 bxc3 17.fxg7 Rxe2+ 18.Kxe2 Bb5+ is a discovered attack on the queen and wins for Black. If White doesn't take the rook, then …cxb2 wins a piece. Kushal played the best move (16.Qxb4) but this allows me to liquidate the centre and retain the initiative.

16...Rxe5 17.d6?!
White should really castle here and get his king into safety.

17...a5 18.Qh4 Bg4 19.f3 Bf5 20.Bf4 Re8
With the idea of moving the knight from f6, playing …Bxc3+ then …Bd3 winning a piece. Kushal decided that discretion was the better part of valour and ran for the corner, but it was too late…

21.O-O Qb6+ 22.Qf2 Qxb2
Threatening the knight on c3, which can't move because then the bishop on e2 would drop.

This loses. But it's hard to find a good move for White.

With a double attack on the bishop on f4 and the knight on c3.

24.Bb5 Qxf2+ 25.Kxf2 Nxf4 26.Bxe8 Nd3+
Kushal must have overlooked this tactic, which ensures that I come out of the complications a piece up.

27.Kg1 Nxc1 28.Bxf7+ Kxf7 29.Rxc1 Rc8
Forcing the exchange of rooks, after which the ending is trivial.

30.Ne2 Rxc1+ 31.Nxc1 Be6
The point of this is not to win a pawn, but follow up with …Bc4 to immobilise and exchange off White's last piece.

32.a4 Bc4 33.Kf2 Bb2 34.Ne2 Bxe2 35.Kxe2 Ke6
White should have resigned already, but juniors don't resign as early as they should in lost positions, so we bashed out a few more before he threw in the towel.

36.Kd3 Kxd6 37.Kc4 Ke5 38.g3 h5 39.h3 g5 40.Kd3 h4 41.gxh4 gxh4 42.Ke3 Bc1+ 43.Ke2 Kf4 44.Kf2 Be3+ 45.Kg2 Bc5 46.Kh2 Kxf3 47.Kh1 Bd6 48.Kg1 Kg3 49.Kh1 Kxh3 50.Kg1 Kg3 51.Kh1 Kf3 52.Kg1 Ke3 53.Kh1 Kd3 0-1