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GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 1st round

Dmitry Andreikin mentioned at the press-conference: “It is not easy to prepare for Kramnik”. Illustrating his point, one cannot help noticing that all reference games in this variation (and our game was essentially decided in the opening) are co-authored by Vladimir Borisovich.

Dmitry Andreikin – Vladimir Kramnik
Nimzo-Indian Defense E32

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0–0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 d5. Statistically the official reaction to the Alekhine Variation (4.Qс2) – almost all recent games between 2750+ players reach this position. Black intends to equalize with comfort and reserves the right to seize the initiative, if White gets carried away.

7.Nf3. This move is the main line right now, but it allows certain simplifications, as we’ll see further. A totally different and very complicated game arises after 7.cxd5 Ne4 8.Qc2 exd5.

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This kind of Carlsbad structure differs slightly from its QGD relative: Black has an excellent knight on e4 and develops with comfort, while White has two potentially powerful bishops, but faces temporary problems due to underdeveloped pieces. After 9.Bf4 (as White Kramnik played 9.e3 Bf5 10.Bd3 c5 11.dxc5 Nd7 12.Ne2 Ndxc5 13.Bxe4 Nxe4 14.Nd4 Bg6 15.Qd1, and a draw was agreed in Kramnik-Anand, Nice 2009. Despite an isolated pawn, the final position is quite promising for Black, as White has problems with his c1-bishop) 9…Nc6 10.e3 Re8 (the immediate 10…g5 11.Bg3 f5 with serious initiative for Black might be even stronger) 11.Nf3 g5 12.Bg3 g4 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 c5 15.Bd3 Bf5 16.Qe2 f6 17.Bxe4 Bxe4 18.Bg3 Qa5+ Black solved all his opening problems and could even keep an extra pawn after 19.Qd2 Qxd2+ 20.Kxd2 cxd4!?, but it shouldn’t be sufficient for a win after 21.exd4 Bxg2 22.Rhe1. Carlsen-Kramnik, Moscow 2009 continued 20…c4 21.f3 gxf3 22.gxf3 Bg6, and the game eventually ended in a draw.

7.Bg5!? may look subtler than the text, as after 7…dxc4 8.Qxc4 b6 White has an extra option 9.Rd1 (9.Nf3 transposes to the game). However, Black seems to do okay here as well: 9…Ba6 10.Qc2 h6 11.Bh4 Nbd7 12.e4 Bxf1 13.Kxf1 Qc8 14.Ne2 Qb7 (14…c5!?) 15.f3 c5 16.Kf2 Rac8 17.Qd2 cxd4 18.Nxd4 Nxe4+ 19.fxe4 Nc5 20.Qe3 Nxe4+ 21.Kg1 Qd5 22.h3 g5 23.Be1 f5 24.h4 g4 25.Qxh6 Rf6 26.Qe3 Rd8 27.Kh2 f4 28.Qe2 g3+ 29.Kg1 e5 30.Qg4+ Kf7 31.Qh5+ Kg8 32.Qg4+ Kf7 33.Qh5+ Kg8 34.Qg4+, draw, Ivanchuk-Kramnik, Monte Carlo 2011.

7…dxc4 8.Qxc4 b6 9.Bg5 Ba6.

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10.Qa4. Clearly Kramnik was prepared for 10.Qc3, and I suspect Black would immediately deviate from Nakamura-Kramnik by 10…Nbd7!? In Antalya 2013 Vladimir proceeded by 10…h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.g3 Bb7 13.Bg2 Na6 14.0–0 c5 15.Rac1 Rac8 16.Ne5, and White maintained a slight edge.

10…Qd7. The most principled reply. Last year in June Kramnik defended this move twice against Mamedyarov and drew both games. More popular is 10…c5. A curious point: both players already participated in a theoretical dispute on the subject: 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Rd1 Qb6 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Rd2 Nc6 15.Qg4+ Kh8 16.Qh4 Kg7 17.Qg4+ Kh8 18.Qh4 Kg7 19.Qg4+ with a draw by repetition occurred in both Carlsen-Kramnik 2009 and Andreikin-Khairullin 2010.

11.Qc2 c5 12.dxc5 Rc8 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Qe4 Qb5 15.b4 bxc5 16.e3 Qb7 17.Qg4+ Kf8 18.b5 Bxb5 19.Rb1 a6 20.a4 f5 21.Qf4. Technically this is a new move. Mamedyarov-Kramnik, Moscow 2013 was drawn after 21.Qh4 Qe4 22.Qh6+ Ke7 23.Qg5+ Kf8 24.Qh6+ Ke7 25.Qg5+ Kf8 26.Qh6+ Ke7.

21…Qe4.

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22.Qxe4. This is a real novelty, which is, however, an unrivaled first line of most chess engines and therefore cannot have any surprise value. 22.Qh6+ transposed to Mamedyarov-Kramnik.

22…fxe4 23.axb5 exf3 24.b6 Rd8 25.gxf3. Black made a sequence of forced moves and must concentrate now on destroying the b6-pawn.

25…Nc6 26.f4 Nb4 27.Bg2 Rab8 28.b7 Nd5 29.0–0 Rd7 30.Rfc1 Rdxb7 31.Rxb7 Rxb7 32.Bxd5 exd5, and a draw was agreed. After 33.Rxc5 the most human way to proceed is 33…d4 34.e4 (34.Ra5 dxe3 35.fxe3 Rb2 36.Rxa6 Re2=) 34…Rb5! 35.Rc4 a5 36.Rxd4 Rb4! 37.Rd8+ Ke7 with complete equality.

 

Sergey Karjakin – Peter Svidler
Sicilian Defense B48

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f4. This weapon against the Paulsen (or Taimanov, whichever you prefer) Sicilian recently got into fashion thanks to Emil Sutovsky, Lenier Dominguez, and Ivan Popov. Now 8.f4 makes it to the super heavyweight.

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8…b5. 8…Bb4 9.Bd3 Ne7!? seems like a good idea (White’s point is revealed after 9…Na5 10.a3 Bxc3 11.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 12.bxc3 d5 13.e5 Ne4 14.Nb3 Nc4 15.Bxc4 dxc4 16.Na5 with an unpleasant endgame pressure, I.Popov-Oral, Yerevan 2014) 10.a3 (10.Nde2!? d6) 10…Bxc3 11.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 12.bxc3 d5 13.e5 (13.exd5 Nfxd5 14.Bd2 Nf5) 13…Ne4 with a slightly improved version compared to 9…Nа5, yet White maintains certain initiative.

9.e5 Ng4. As Peter Svidler mentioned with his usual sarcasm: “I did remember this was my main line, but not much else”. I can say the position after 8.f4 is extremely complicated and original, and during the express-analysis one cannot even hope to discover the truth about it.

10.Bg1. At attempt to utilize White’s lead in development shouldn’t trouble Black: 10.Nxc6 Nxe3 11.Qxe3 Qxc6 12.Be2 Qc7 13.Bf3 Rb8!? (after 13…Bb7 14.Bxb7 Qxb7 15.0–0–0 Black can face difficulties on the d-file). Now after 14.0–0–0 (14.Ne4) 14…d5 15.exd6 Bxd6 16.Nd5 Qc5 Black is totally safe without queens, and if White avoids this trade, he takes certain risks upon himself: 17.Rhe1 Qxe3+ 18.Rxe3 Bb7 19.g3 Bxd5 20.Bxd5 Kd7!, and Black should equalize gradually.

10…Bb7 11.0–0–0 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Be7 13.Bd3. Both players agreed at the press-conference that 13.h3 was a viable alternative, but after 13…Nh6 14.Bd3 Nf5 15.Bf2 Bb4 Black’s knight is really comfortable on f5, while after 16.Bxf5 Bxc3 (also possible is 16…exf5 17.Bd4 0–0, and Black’s light-squared bishop is very strong) 17.bxc3 exf5 18.Bc5!? Rc8 19.Bb4 a5! 20.Bxa5 Qxa5 21.Qxd7+ Kf8 22.Qxb7 Qxc3 Black is clearly not worse.

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13…f5?! A typical idea – Black gains control over the e4-square and locks the d3-bishop. Yet he permanently cuts off his knight, which in my opinion outweighs any advantages of this move and shifts the assessment in White’s favor. The cool-blooded computer sees nothing wrong about the provocative 13…0–0, however, after 14.Kb1 Black will have to move the f-pawn anyway. Another option is 13…d6 14.h3 (Black is in order after 14.exd6 Bxd6 15.Qe2 Bxf4+ 16.Kb1 Nf6 – having snatched a central pawn, he may even consider casting long; 14.Qe2!? deserves serious attention) 14…dxe5 15.fxe5 Nh6 (15…Nxe5 is also possible, as White fails to prove his advantage in 16.Bxb5+ axb5 17.Bxe5 Qxe5 18.Qd7+ Kf8 19.Qxb7 Rb8) 16.Rhf1! Nf5! (after 16…0–0? 17.g4 the offside knight is a key positional factor – White has a clear advantage) 17.Bxf5 exf5 18.Rxf5 b4 with a very sharp game, and perhaps in Black’s favor.

14.h3 Nh6 15.Rhg1 0–0 16.Qe3. In this position Black has no promising plans – he has to defend stoically on the kingside by g6, and hardly has any real chances of creating his own play on the queenside. Any queenside offense, if it fails, leaves Black with a ton of weaknesses and a hopeless knight on h6.

16…Rac8 17.Kb1 Bc6.

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18.Ne2?! An inaccuracy that allows Black to rearrange his pieces and create counterchances. Apparently, the straightforward 18.g4! is much stronger, intending to meet 18…g6 with 19.Rd2!, vacating the d1-square for the e3-knight. Svidler mentioned a similar idea at the press-conference, suggesting 19.Rdf1!? In this case after 19…b4 20.Nd1 Bb5 the knight goes to another central square – 21.Nf2 Bxd3 22.Nxd3 followed by b3 and Nb2-c4. It is hard for Black to match the opponent in the center and on the queenside due to his cut off knight.

18…Bd5! Peter Svidler: “Playing Black is certainly easier as he has very few reasonable moves”.

19.g4 g6. The computer is more happy about the insertion of 19…Qa5 20.Nc1 g6, but here White plays 21.c3, preventing 21…b4? in view of 22.Bb6 Qa4 23.c4!, and maintains his advantage.

20.b3. Planning to take control over the c4-square. A direct attack by 20.Ng3? fxg4 21.f5 is overly optimistic – after 21…Nxf5 22.Nxf5 exf5 23.hxg4 f4 White is crushed.

20…Qb7. Renewing a positional threat of trading the light-squared bishops by Bc4.

21.Rdf1. White continues to prepare Ng3. There was an interesting idea of breaking Black’s defense on the h-file: 21.g5!? Nf7 22.h4. The computer suggests 22…d6 23.exd6 Bxd6 24.h5, which clearly fails to impress – Black is in real trouble.

21…a5 22.Ng3.

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22…Bc4! Right on time! Bad is 22…fxg4 23.hxg4 Nxg4 24.Qe2, and Black cannot be saved by …Bf3 – the point of 21.Rdf1.

22…a4?! is too slow – 23.Nh5! fxg4 24.hxg4 Bg2 25.Rxg2 Qxg2 26.Rg1 Qh2 27.Nf6+ Bxf6 28.exf6, and Black is in real danger.

23.Be4!? After 23.gxf5 Bxd3 24.Qxd3 Nxf5 25.Nxf5 Rxf5 the worst is over for Black.

23…Bd5. The machine gives 23…fxe4, which looks totally unclear. Svidler said he only considered 24.bxc4 bxc4+, and saw that White is clearly better after 25.Ka1 Qc6 26.Nxe4. Computer and Karjakin suggested 24…Rxc4 25.Nxe4 Qd5 26.c3 b4 (26…Ra4 27.Rf2 b4 was analyzed as well with unclear verdict) 27.Rd1, and a highly complicated position arises, which, as both players duly noticed, is a bad choice for the starting round.

24.Bd3. Black is out of danger after 24.Bxd5 Qxd5, as he easily holds on f5 and in future can create some counterplay on the a-file.

24…Bc4 25.Be4 Bd5 26.Bd3. Draw.

 

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Veselin Topalov
Gruenfeld Defense D70

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nbd2 g6 5.e3 Bg7 6.Bd3. If I understood Shakh correctly at the press-conference, this move is lapsus manus. Shakhriyar employed this variation in three “live” blitz games in 2013 (and probably in hundreds games online), so Veselin could definitely anticipate it. However, today Mamedyarov planned to go for 6.b4, but mixed up the move order.

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6…c5! The most concrete reaction that offers immediate equality. Surprisingly, this typical move appears to be a novelty – at least I failed to find it in a human database.

In one of the aforementioned blitz games Black continued 6…0–0 7.0–0 b6 8.b4 a5, and after 9.b5 cxb5 10.cxb5 Bb7 11.Ba3 White developed unpleasant pressure. It went on 11…Nbd7 12.Rc1 Re8 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 15.f4 e6 16.Nb3 Bf8 17.Bxf8 Rxf8 18.Nd4 Nc5 19.Bb1 Qe7 20.Qg4 Kh8 21.Rf3 f5 22.exf6 Rxf6 23.Rh3 Rg8 24.Qg5 Rf7 25.Qe5+ Qf6 26.Qd6 e5 27.Qxf6+ Rxf6 28.fxe5 Rf7 29.Rf3 Kg7 30.Rcf1 Re7 31.e6 Rge8 32.Rf7+ Kg8 33.R1f6 Bc8 34.Bxg6 hxg6 35.Rxg6+ Kh8 36.Rh6+ Kg8 37.Rhh7 Rxe6 38.Rfg7+ Kf8 39.Nf5 1–0, Mamedyarov-Wang Hao, Beijing 2013.

7.dxc5 Na6 8.Nb3. White wants to release tension, clearly not pleased with such an early opening surprise. Somehow this approach nearly gave him a win! Holding onto material after 8.Qa4+ Nd7 9.Nb3 can be quite dangerous – 9…b5! with strong initiative, e. g., 10.cxb6 0–0! 11.cxd5 Nac5 12.Nxc5 Nxc5 13.Qc2 Nxd3+ 14.Qxd3 Qxb6, and White’s king is vulnerable in the center.

8…dxc4 9.Bxc4 Qxd1+ 10.Kxd1 Ne4 11.Ke2 Naxc5 12.Nxc5 Nxc5 13.Bb5+.

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13…Bd7. 13…Nd7!? is interesting, intending to keep the light-squared bishop and try to utilize awkward positioning of the enemy king. After 14.Rd1 a6 15.Ba4 b5 16.Bb3 e6 Black is perfectly fine and might even think about seizing the initiative.

14.Bxd7+ Kxd7. Both grandmasters said it was safer to take with a knight, but there is nothing wrong with this move. 14…Nxd7 15.Bd2 is a complete equality.

15.Rd1+ Ke8 16.Rb1 Rc8 17.Bd2 Ne4. Symmetrical structure makes the rest of the game almost risk-free for both sides, however, neither can afford recklessness.

18.Bb4 f5 19.Ne1.

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19…a5. At the press-conference Veselin blamed this move (quite possibly, not the best one), saying that he blundered in the variation below. Actually the text is not a serious mistake at all.

20.Bxa5 Ra8 21.Rd5 (perhaps 21.Bb4 Rxa2 22.Nd3 is stronger – White maintains a small plus). Now, instead of 21…b6?! Black could force a draw at once by 21…e6!

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Topalov noted that he saw it, but after 22.Rb5 Nd6 23.Rb6 calculated only 23…Nc4?? 24.Rxb7+-. The correct 23…Nc8! is easy to miss at the board, as it is based on a nice trick: 24.Rxb7 (24.Rb5 Nd6 25.Rc5 Ne4 is a move repetition) 24…Rxa5 25.Rxg7 Black has 25…Ne7, trapping the annoying rook. 26.Rc1 Kf8 27.Rxe7 Kxe7 28.a3 offers White some compensation, but no advantage.

22.Bb4 Rxa2 23.Nd3 Kf7 24.Rc1 Rha8 25.Rc2 Nf6. Shakhriyar considered his position almost winning (“Defending as Black is extremely difficult”), but the computer is totally unimpressed and evaluates the situation as balanced.

26.Ne5+ Ke8?! A bit odd 26…Kg8 is stronger – Black should hold after 27.Rb5 e6! 28.Nc6 Nd7.

27.Rb5! R2a7.

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28.Ba3?! Mamedyarov pointed out a much stronger 28.Rc6 Nd7 29.Nc4, and Black’s task in a time trouble is really tough.

28…Ra5! A calculated response that saves Black from increasing positional pressure.

29.Rc7 Rxb5 30.Rxe7+ Kd8 31.Nf7+. Stronger is 31.Nc6+ Kc8 32.Rxg7, but 32…Rxb2+! 33.Bxb2 Ra2 offers Black good drawing chances.

31…Kc8 32.Nd6+ Kd8 33.Rxg7. Nothing is gained by 33.Nxb5 Rxa3 34.Rxg7 Ra2 with adequate counterplay.

33…Rd5! Another precise move. Due to Rxa3 threat White must give a perpetual.

34.Nb7+ Kc8 35.Nd6+ Kd8 36.Nb7+ Kc8. Draw.

 

Vishy Anand – Levon Aronian
Ruy Lopez C88

The only decisive game of the round looks very one-sided. It reminded us of the best years of Vishy’s career.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nbd2. I am not a Marshall specialist, so all I can offer about it is statistics. This particular line is not very popular, but occurred in practice of both players.

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11…Qd7. According to my database, this move is a novelty. Black insists on sacrificing a pawn and simply develops his pieces.

Anand already tested this position as White, and after 11…f6 12.c3 Kh8 13.Bc2 Qd7 14.Nb3 a5 15.a4 bxa4 16.Rxa4 Ncb4 17.Rxa5 Nxc2 18.Qxc2 Nb6 19.Rxa8 Rxa8 20.Nbd2 g5 21.Nh2 Rd8 22.d4 exd4 23.cxd4 Bb4 24.Re2 Qxd4 25.Ndf1 Qc5 26.Qxc5 Bxc5 Black eventually took an upper hand in Anand-Caruana, Moscow 2013.

Аronian defended it from the opposite side: 11…Nf4 12.Ne4 Na5 13.Bxf4 exf4 14.d4 Qd7 15.c3 Nxb3 16.axb3 Rfe8 17.Qd3 f5 18.Ned2 Bf6 19.Rxe8+ Rxe8 20.Re1 g6 21.b4 Kg7 22.Kf1 Re6 23.Qb1 Bd5, draw, Adams-Aronian, Yerevan 2008 (rapid).

12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Rxe5 Nf6 14.Re1 Rae8 15.Nf3 Bd6 16.Be3 Re7. “A typical Marshall position, and I actually expected the opponent’s move”, – said Anand at the press-conference.

One viable alternative is 16…Qf5. It contains no threats, but an active queen is often useful both objectively and psychologically. After 17.d4 Nd5 18.Nh4 Qf6 19.Qf3 Qd8!? I don’t see how White can win material. Also 16…Nd5!? is interesting: White would prefer to keep the bishop, but after 17.Bd2 c5! Black piece activity at least compensates a missing pawn.

17.d4 Rfe8 18.c3 h6.

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19.Ne5! The game-winning move! Instead of trying to hold an extra pawn and defend passively (as in 19.a4 Nd5 20.Bd2 Rxe1+ 21.Nxe1 c5!?) White trades queens, returns a pawn, but gains the mighty bishop pair and enjoys complete safety. Also he succeeds in lulling his opponent, as Levon admitted at the press-conference… The Armenian clearly underestimated dangers of the coming endgame.

19…Bxe5 20.dxe5 Rxe5 21.Qxd7 Nxd7 22.Red1 Nf6. Stronger is 22…Bc6, but in any case Black’s task after 23.c4 (23.a3 Nc5 24.Ba2 is also playable) is very unpleasant. For example, 23…Nc5 is inadequate: 24.Bxc5 Rxc5 25.cxb5! Bxb5 26.a4! Be2 27.Rd7!, and White is nearly winning.

23.c4 c6 24.Rac1 R5e7 25.a4.

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25…bxc4?! An attempt to build a fortress on d5. 25…Bc8 doesn’t help, too: 26.Rd6! Re6 27.c5! Rxd6 28.cxd6 Bd7 29.axb5 axb5 30.Ra1, and Black is in deep trouble.

26.Bxc4 Nd5 27.Bc5 Re4 28.f3 R4e5 29.Kf2. Emphatically austere way of increasing the pressure! White does not want to determine his queenside structure yet, and just makes reasonable moves, which is exactly what Black is lacking.

29…Bc8 30.Bf1. Vacating the c-file and hiding the long-range bishop as safely as possible. White also threatens to win a pawn with Bd6.

30…R5e6 31.Rd3 Nf4 32.Rb3 Rd8 33.Be3. Vishy restricts any counterplay from his opponent. The natural 33.Rb8 allows 33…Ree8 34.Bb4 (34.Bb6 Rd2+) 34…Bf5 35.Rxd8 Rxd8 36.Rxc6 Nd3+, and White has to show very good technique.

33…Nd5 34.Bd2 Nf6 35.Ba5 Rde8 36.Rb6.

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The c6-pawn is doomed, so Levon tries tactics.

36…Re5 37.Bc3 Nd5 38.Bxe5. Vishy criticized this move, pointing out that 38.Rxc6 Nxc3 39.R1xc3 would win much simpler. The text wins as well, although White will have to avoid some traps.

38…Nxb6 39.Bd4 Nxa4. The knight is trapped, but White has to solve a few tactical puzzles to finally catch it.

40.Rxc6. Of course not 40.b3? c5, and after 41.Be3 Nb6 White only has a large advantage.

40…Rd8 41.Rc4! 41.b3 was bad once again, as Black has 41…Bb7 42.Rc4 Nb2! 43.Rb4 a5!, and the knight lives. White maintains a large advantage by 44.Rxb7 Rxd4 45.Ke3, but the victory is far from certain.

41…Bd7.

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42.b3! Finally! Black ran out of tactical options, and the knight cannot be saved.

42…Bb5. 42…a5 43.bxa4 Be6 44.Bb6 Rd2+ 45.Kg3 Bxc4 46.Bxc4, and the bishop pair wins easily against a rook.

43.Rb4 Nb2!? The last desperate try.

44.Bxb5 axb5 45.Ke3! The only but sufficient move. Certainly not 45.Ke2?? Nc4, and Black is saved.

45…Re8+ 46.Kd2 Rd8 47.Kc3. It is symbolic that White wins the game with his king. Black resigns.