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Li Chao vs Levon Aronian
FIDE World Team Championship (2013), Antalya TUR, rd 4, Nov-29
Queen's Gambit Declined: General (D30)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-29-13  Edmontonchessclub: What an incredible mating attack by Aronian. I thought the endgame was drifting toward a draw, but no! A sudden threat of checkmate ends the game.
Nov-29-13  PaulBl: Very nice indeed! After seeing this game and the one against Nakamura, I think a match Aronian - Carlsen would be wonderful.

Kind regards,

Nov-29-13  csmath: 4. ...c5

["Delayed Tarasch" with white Catalan fianchetto, this is not very often to see on top level. However this is suitable for aggressive style of Aronian.]

8. Nc2?!

[Strange move from Li Chao. His setup is not very ambitious which is not a surprise but it is also not a good idea against Aronian.]

The opening quickly leads to a middlegame with black unchallenged clearly having solid position with some pawn weaknesses that cannot be attacked as white is tied to defend his b-pawn.

9. Be3

[More akward positioning of white pieces does not allow anything else than defence. Li Chao is playing for a draw.]

9. ...Qe7

[Natural move underlining akward placements of white knights obstructing white queen.]

12. ...Nc6?!

[Aronian decides to complete development with knight rather than trying 12. ...Rd8. His judgement is correct as even though white played bizzare opening it seems that after 13. Nb5 Nc6, 14. N1a3! a6, 15. Nc3 Na5, 16. Na4 and white can complete his development without weakness.]

13. Rd1?

[White misses unique opportunity to play equal game with 13. Bxc6 bxc6, 14. Nxc6 Bb7, 15. Ne5. Black will be able to defend the pawn or to exchange it on c3 after which the game would likely be a draw.]

Now black is better although it is hard to see how to exploit that. Li Chao makes it easier on Aronian.

19. e4?

[Yet another surprising anti-positional move closing bishop's diagonal and creating long-term pawn weakness. White plans to remove black knight from f6 while the black rooks are away from d-file and thus to assume control of central files (c and d). However black is faster.]

19. ...Rb4!

[Aronian does not miss such an active move. The rook will now control 4th rank with deadly effect.]

20. ...Rcb8

[Forces white into defence.]

21. ...g5!?

[Typical move but 21. ...c3 was probably better. This move allows white to block c-pawn with 22. Rc3.]

22. e5?

[Li Chao follows his plan but this is not the time. 22. Rc3 was absolutely necessary.]

23. f4

[Yet another move creating more weaknesses (square e3) which is actually a pawn sacrifice. Sadly, there was nothing else:

23. a3?! c3!
24. Nxc3 Rd4
25. Rcd1 Rbd8

and black will get d-pawn since 26. f4? gxf4, 27. gxf4 Ne3, 28. Rd2 dxc3!! 29. Rxd8 Ke7 loses a piece due to the threat of promotion. There is little doubt that Aronian would miss that.]

Li Chao balances on the edge.

23. ...c3!

[Expected move but powerful nevertheless. Black now controls 4th rank and breaches into defence of white king.]

31. Rxa7?!

[31. h3 suggests itself to release pressure on white king and although it is not making defence easy: 31. ...Rf5, 32. Bxg4 hxg4, 33. hxg4 Rf1+ , it is surely more resilient.]

32. Rg3?

[Finally a losing move. However white is already about to lose exchange and the game does not look promising for him at all.]

32. ...Nxh2!

[Aronian is not missing anything. The threat is 32. Kxh2 Rh4+, 33. Kg1 Rxg3+, 34. Kf2 Rgh3 with decisive material advantage including a passer on h-file.]

33. ...Rxg5
34. Nxf3

and with a multitude of mate threats Li Chao resigns in two moves. For example: 34. Rxh5 Rg4 and white is completely defenceless against Rg1.


Bizzare opening of Li Chao and even though he was not objectively worse after 12 moves his middlegame play produced enough weaknesses for Aronian to prove his class.

Excellent and merciless execution by world #2.

Nov-30-13  LIFE Master AJ: I played through this game, the mating attack was surprising, sudden and merciless. (Good play by Aronian.)
Nov-30-13  Overgod: Powerful display by Aronian. He's proven that's he's back, and probably eying that world championship match in November 2014.

I don't see anybody else qualifying, besides maybe Topalov, if he plays at his very peak.

I don't think Kramnik has the game anymore. His quality has dropped significantly after his World Cup victory.

Aronian was dangerously close already in 2013, just half a point behind Carlsen and Kramnik. If he hadn't blundered the drawn endgame against Kramnik, and hadn't lost to Gelfand, we might be hailing him as the new World Champion!

But, if he does qualify in February, Carlsen is going to be one extremely tough nut to crack. He'll get a win, but I don't see him winning, or even drawing the match.

Nov-30-13  ex0duz: One of the best finishes I have seen for a long time. The mate threat at the end is merciless, and with only a few pieces on the board. Great attacking chess! Too bad Armenia lost the match to China though, so hopefully Li Chao isn't too upset :P

And incase anyone is wondering like i was what the contiuation after 31.h3 was, i repeat the comment above by csmath

<csmath: [31. h3 suggests itself to release pressure on white king and although it is not making defence easy: 31. ...Rf5, 32. Bxg4 hxg4, 33. hxg4 Rf1+ , it is surely more resilient.]>

Can someone think of a reason why Li Chao(white) didn't play this and instead went for Rxa7, which seems to lead to a loss/mate for sure? Surely he saw that was a straight loss? The other line above seems to just be down the exchange and a loss position, but at least Aronian can still go wrong?

And in the above line, what is the finish after 33.Rf1+? Bishop cannot check on b7+ either just yet since covered by the rook, and knight is covering f2 also, so it seems to me it's not as simple as the actual finish..

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: White's king is shtupped at the finish-a day late for American Thanksgiving.
Dec-03-13  WoodPushkin: Greetings:

Tremendous endgame play by Aronian. Continuing to gain small positional advantages. Gotta love that mating net sac exchange.

Black to move after 32. Rg3, will be in puzzle books.

JAH Love

Dec-03-13  Mudphudder: Love Aronian's play. He definitely has a more Fischer-style of play than anyone else at the top right now. Would be great to see a world championship match of Aronian vs Carlsen in the near future.
Dec-04-13  notyetagm: Li Chao vs Aronian, 2013

<PaulBl: Very nice indeed! After seeing this game and the one against Nakamura, I think a match Aronian - Carlsen would be wonderful.>

Yes, I am sure I am not alone in rooting for a <CARLSEN VS ARONIAN> World Championship match next November.

Dec-04-13  notyetagm: Li Chao vs Aronian, 2013


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