Today’s game is not quite what we call brevity but it comes to completion fairly quickly. It is Alexander Grischuk of Russia, playing White, versus his fellow countryman Vladimir Genba. It was played in the first round of the ongoing FIDE World Chess Cup being held at Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia. It will be remembered that Grischuk fought all the way to the finals of the recent candidates’ matches before being eliminated by Boris Gelfand, who will face the world champion Viswanathan Anand next year.
This game shows Grischuk at his tactical best. His opponent appropriates the queen’s bishop gambit pawn after a one-move pause, and White’s recovery of the pawn creates an open position in the middle of the board. The players scramble for control of the powerful e5 square. Genba gets it but after an exchange decides to retreat. This is his undoing, as Grischuk prepares some sly tactical advantages. The attack against the king is really a three-move finish.
a) Taking the pawn at this point can lead to very sharp positions.
b) The main lines begin with 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5.
c) I would prefer either 5. . .c6 6.Qxc4 b5 with sharp play, or 5Nc6 6.Qxc4 (6.e4 Bb4) 6Nb4!? 7.Qb3 c5 with equality, as I once played in a blitz game against Vladimir Kramnik in 1995.
d) Black must strike in the center quickly or he will be overrun by White’s central pawn duo.
e) Black’s big problem here is his knight on d7, which is passive and blocks his bishop.
f) White threatened to play e4-e5 and start a strong kingside attack, and 10. . .e5 would leave Black with a very bad position due to the knight on d7, so this move is logical. Now both sides fight for the key e5 square.
g) White threatened 15.Nd5, so Black tries to fix the coordination of his pieces, but now White is able to take control of the key d5 square. Still, it is hard to suggest better for Black.
h) Of course not 15. . .Nxe5?? 16.Ne4 winning material.
i) This and Black’s next move look quite bad: White is able to swing the rook to d1 with tempo, and then Black’s queen is chased far away from the vulnerable kingside where it is needed. I would prefer 18. . .Qe8 to play 19Be7 soon, although the position remains very hard for Black.
j) Checkmate comes quickly after 22. . .Rg8 23.Rd8.
Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.