1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nd7 6.0–0 Ne7 7.Nbd2 h6 Kamsky chose the Caro Kann today. He is in a difficult situation as he does not want to reveal his opening preparation for his upcoming match against Topalov. This is similar to Anand in Bilbao.
8.Re1 So far we are still in opening book. 8.Re1 is actually not the most popular line but it has been played a number of times in the past. 8.Nb3 is more commonly played instead. 8…Bh7 is the suggested book move. However, I find nothing wrong with 8…Qc7 or even the more aggressive 8…g5.
8…Rc8 Certainly a move I did not anticipate. This lends support to the eventual c5 to loosen up the position as Black needs more space for his pieces.
9.Nf1 Bg6 To clear the f5 square for his Knight. One of the game plans here is White will make a play for the Kingside while Black will make a play for the center. I have to believe that this type of closed strategic game would slightly favor Kamsky who typically thrives in this kind of position.
10.Ne3 Nf5 White’s Knight on e3 is more mobile than the Black Knight on e7. Therefore, a trade would favor Black as he making more room for his pieces.
11.Bd3 Now I think it is time for Black to trade off the Knight on f5 as well as the Bishop on g6. Once this happens, his cramping space problem is resolved.
11…Nxe3 The most obvious recapture would be Bxe3. However, an interesting idea is take with the pawn to open the f file. Regardless of the recapture, Black should play Bxd3 next.
12.fxe3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 Black needs to open up a file for himself and the most logical move to accomplish that would be c5.
13…c5 Here is the dilemma. Should White go with something safe such as c3 or go for the sharper e4?
14.Rf1 Logically putting his Rook on the most logical square. Black can now just develop his Bishop to e7 then O-O.
14…Be7 15.Bd2 O-O 16.c3 Qb6 Black has clearly equalized. His space problem has been resolved. In fact, Black is actually slightly better.
17.Qc2 Black can loosen up the center with f6. Black can also choose to make a play on the Queenside.
17…Qc6 One possible idea for this move is to clear the b file for b5-b4.
18.Be1 b5 19.a3 a5 20.Qe2 The most difficult dilemma for Black is where to break and when to break up the position.
20…cxd4 21.exd4 Qc4 Looking forward to the endgame, Black has a better Bishop because it has better mobility. In addition, many of the Black pawns are located on the White squares where they are safe from the opposing Bishop. Therefore, White needs to avoid trading major pieces to get into an endgame involving Bishops.
22.Qd1 Nb6 Now White could try to trade his Bishop with Bh4
23.Bh4 Re8 24.Bxe7 Rxe7 25.Nd2 Qc6 26. Rf3 Nd7 The plan remains that White will try to create activities on the Kingside while Black will focus on the center and Queenside. This position is even.
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