An unexamined life is not worth living.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ivanchuk – Topalov, a brilliant attacking game

I continue to study the typical middlegame positions by making YouTube videos with grandmaster games.
Today it is Ivanchuk – Topalov, 1996.

Here are few key moments:
image White to move. How to prevent Black’s counterplay on the queenside?

image White to move. The key point of the game, Ivanchuk’s chance to shine. Black just played Ne5-c6; does the White rook have to retreat or is there a way to increase the pressure against  ‘f7’ while the rook is on the 7th rank?

image White to move. Bg2 is his least active piece, how to bring it into the game?

The game makes a great impression, given how White sacrifices the pawns to open up the diagonals for his bishops. Here are more observations about this middlegame structure:

  1. White can control the ‘a’ file effectively after black plays b7-b5
  2. b2-b4 normally weakens a lot of squares along the ‘c’ file in the Open Sicilian, but when White has control over the center – can be effective at preventing b5-b4, Nd7-c5, and leaves Black’s ‘b’ pawn a good target.
  3. f7 pawn is also a good target if the Black rook is on e8 and the Black knight leaves e5 square
  4. If you play against Vassily Ivanchuk, and you attack his rook on the queenside, he is probably going to move a pawn on the kingside…

You can also replay through the game in the pgn viewer at

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