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LCB, Issue #093 --, Schematic Planning Wins Every Time
March 01, 2023

Schematic Planning Wins Every Time

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #093 -- GOTM #63

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Did we ever talk about planning schematically? Choose your opening and follow the associated middlegame ideas that flow from your opening. Stay with the process all the way to that familiar endgame and punch it out like a machine.

That's fine. Within that gameplan, you will encounter elements and situations that you need to resolve to your advantage. This will get you to that endgame in great shape, in winning shape.

This month's game between Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian was played in Wijk Aan Zee in 2015. The middlegame sees systematic control gained on the c-file, a strategic minor piece exchange which leads to the fall of a key central pawn. These three minor successes lead to ultimate victory as the defense collapses in on itself. The action is ably described by Polish GM, Michal Krasenkow.

Schematic Planning Wins Every Time

Carlsen, Magnus (2862) - Aronian, Levon (2797) [D38]

GotM #63 Wijk aan Zee, 2015
[Krasenkow, Michal]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Qa4+ Nc6 9.e3 0-0 10.Be2 Be6 11.0-0 a6 12.Rfc1 Bd6 13.Qd1 Ne7

Game position after 13...Ne7

A popular system of the Ragozin Defence has been played. As usual in this structure, White must start active play on the queenside while Black must create kingside counterplay.


(In the event of 14.Na4 there is nothing wrong with 14...b6 , e.g. 15.b4 (15.Nc3 g5!? 16.g3 Qg7 17.Qf1 f5 18.Bxa6 f4 19.exf4 Rxa6!? 20.Qxa6 gxf4 21.Qd3 Bf5 22.Qd2 Be4 0-1 (29) Khairullin,I (2604)-Khismatullin,D (2614) Ulan Ude 2009) 15...g5 16.Nb2 Ng6 17.Nd3 Kg7 18.a4 a5 19.b5 h5 20.Rc3 Rad8 21.Rac1 Rd7 22.Nfe5 Nxe5 23.Nxe5 Bxe5 24.dxe5 Qxe5 25.Qd4 Qxd4 26.exd4 h4 27.Rxc7 Rxc7 28.Rxc7 White has broken through but Black easily holds his ground in this simple ending: 28...Rc8 29.Rxc8 Bxc8 30.Bd3 Kf6 31.Kf1 Bg4 32.Ke1 Bf5 33.Kd2 Bxd3 34.Kxd3 g4 35.Ke3 Kg5 36.f4+ Kf5 1/2 (36) Huzman,A (2605)-Jakovenko,D (2726) Plovdiv 2010; To 14.Rab1 (which may look a better way to prepare b2-b4) Black can reply 14...Bf5 and then make use of the exchange of light-squared bishops by transferring his knight to b6 and possibly c4: 15.Bd3 c6 16.b4 Nc8! 17.a4 Nb6 18.a5 Nc4 19.Na4 Rfe8 20.Nc5 1/2 (20) Babula,V (2583)-Dizdar,G (2541) Turin 2006)


This move is slightly mysterious; it is not clear what Black's rook will do here. Practice has seen a lot of alternatives; here are some examples, in which Black mostly obtained good play:

(14...Rad8 15.Na4 Bc8 16.Nc5 c6 17.b4 g5 18.g3 Nf5 19.Ne1 Kg7 20.Bh5 Bc7 21.a4 Nd6 22.Bg4 Bxg4 23.Qxg4 Qe7 24.Ned3 Bb8 25.Qh3 Rfe8 26.Ra2 f6 27.Rac2 Qf7 28.Nxa6!? bxa6 29.Rxc6 1-0 (38) Gurevich,D (2499)-Zilberstein,D (2379) San Diego 2004 29...a5~~; 14...Rfe8 15.b4 c6 16.Na4 Ng6 17.Nc5 Re7 18.a4 Bg4 19.Ra2(19.b5 is premature due to19...axb5 20.axb5 Rxa1 21.Rxa1 Bxc5 forcing22.dxc5) 19...Rae8(19...a5!? 20.b5 b6) 20.Ne1(20.b5!?) 20...Bxe2 21.Rxe2 Nf4 22.Rb2 1-0 (40) Jobava,B (2678)-David,A (2597) Milan 2011 22...Qg5=; 14...c5!? 15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.Na4(16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Rxc5 Qxb2=) 16...Ba7 17.b4 d4 18.Nxd4 Rad8 19.Qf1 Bxd4 20.exd4 Nf5 21.Nc5 1/2 (21) Jobava,B (2695)-Efimenko,Z (2640) Rijeka 2010; 14...b6 15.Qf1 Bg4 16.b4 c6 17.Na4 Rfb8 18.h3 Bf5 19.Qe1 g5 20.Nb2 h5 21.Nd3 g4 22.hxg4 Bxd3! 23.Bxd3 hxg4 24.Nd2 a5 25.bxa5 Rxa5 26.a4 Rba8<=> 0-1 (74) Maiorov,N (2516)-Aleksandrov,A (2601) Minsk 2007; 14...Rfb8 15.Na4 b6 16.b4 c6 17.Ne1 Bf5 18.Bd3 Bd7 19.Rab1 Ra7 20.g3 g6 21.Be2 h5 22.Bf3 Bf5 23.Rb3 a5 24.Nc3 axb4 25.axb4 b5 26.e4 dxe4 27.Bxe4?! Be6=/+ 0-1 (56) Laurusas,T (2222)-Swiercz,D (2501) Wroclaw 2010; 14...g5!? 15.g3 Qg7 16.e4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Bd5 18.Nxd6 cxd6 19.Bc4 Bc6 20.d5 Bd7 21.Qd2 Qf6 22.Rc3 Rac8 23.Rac1 b5 24.Bb3 Rxc3 25.Rxc3 Rc8= 0-1 (54) Aghasaryan,R (2235)-Lintchevski,D (2502) Kirishi 2008)

15.b4 Nc8 16.Na4 b6?!

Game position after 16...b6?!

Too cautious.

(16...b5!? 17.Nc5 Nb6 18.a4 Nc4<=>)

17.Nb2 Ne7 18.Nd3 Ng6

This manoeuvre is slightly illogical but it was necessary to cover the e5-square. It looks like Black has not done anything terribly wrong so far but in fact, his position is now very passive.

19.a4 a5 20.b5

Game position after 20.b5

Compare this position to the above-mentioned game Huzman-Jakovenko: Black has not managed to push ...g7-g5 so he has no counterplay. White gradually mounts pressure along the c-file.


(20...Bf5 21.Rc3 Rd7 22.Rac1 Re8 may be a better arrangement of the rooks but it doesn't solve the general problems.)

21.Rc3 Bf5 22.Rac1 Rad8 23.Nd2 Rd7

(23...Qe6 preventing the exchange of bishops. Still, White can gradually prepare it: 24.Bh5! Rd7 25.h3 as 25...Bxh3 26.gxh3 Qxh3 doesn't work due to 27.Qg4)


(24.Bg4! was possible at once as 24...Bxh2+ obviously didn't work.)


(Again 24...Qe6 was called for. Still, after 25.Bf3 Black's defence was very difficult.)


Game position after 25.Bg4!

A typical exchange of a defender. Black's d5-pawn becomes more vulnerable, the c6-square in White's full possession; besides, White can now activate his queen and even his kingside pawns.

25...Nh7 26.Bxf5

(26.Ne5!? Bxe5 27.dxe5 Rxe5 28.Rxc7 E.Gleizerov)

26...Qxf5 27.Qf3!

Both endgame and middlegame are now bad for Black.


(27...Qe6 28.Nf4 (28.h4 Nf6) 28...Bxf4 29.gxf4 , and the c7-pawn gets even weaker.)

28.h4 Qe7 29.Rc6 Nf6 30.Nf4 g6?!

Game position after 30...g6?!

Black weakens his kingside, and his position collapses. Now it was better to defend passively:

(30...Ba3 31.R1c2 Bb4)

31.h5! Kg7

(31...g5 32.Nxd5 Nxd5 33.Qxd5 Bxg3 (33...Ba3 34.Qf5 Bxc1 35.Rxh6 f6 36.Qg6+ Qg7 37.Qxe8++-) 34.Qf5 Bd6 35.Nc4+-)

32.hxg6 fxg6 33.Nxd5!

Game position after 33.Nxd5!

33...Nxd5 34.Qxd5 Bxg3 35.Qg2 Bd6 36.Nc4 Rf8?

(36...Qd8 was relatively better but after 37.f4! Black's position could not be defended anyway (<=37.Nxd6 cxd6))


Game position after 37.Ne5!


(In the event of 37...g5 38.Nxd7 Qxd7 White's simplest way to convert his material advantage was 39.e4 Rf4 40.Kf1 Rg4 41.Qf3 Rf4 42.Qg3! Rxe4 43.Rxc7!)

38.Qxg6+ Kh8 39.Qxh6+ Kg8 40.dxe5+- Qxe5 41.Rg6+ Kf7 42.Rc4 Qa1+ 43.Kg2 Rh8 44.Rf4+ Ke8 45.Re6+ Re7 46.Rxe7+ Kxe7 47.Re4+

Game position after 47.Re4+


Carlsen, Magnus (2862) - Aronian, Levon (2797)

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