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Adhiban crushes Dreev!

by Sagar Shah - 24/01/2016

Both of them were off to a flier and were leading together with 5.0/6. But their paths had to cross each other and that happened in the seventh round. Adhiban vs Dreev - was the big clash of the round and maybe the entire Challengers event. The Indian player came amazingly prepared to the game and simply blew his experienced opponent of the board with some powerful moves! A resounding victory for Adhiban in just 24 moves! We have in-depth analysis.

The seventh round of the Tata Steel Challengers section saw the two leaders crossing swords against each other - India's B.Adhiban faced Russia's Alexey Dreev.

The 23-year-old Adhiban took on the 47-year-old Dreev with the white pieces
Both the players were having a sublime event as they were beating their opponents with absolute ease. Adhiban and Dreev were on +4 and in many ways this was the most important clash of the Challengers section.
This is how things stood at the start of the seventh round
Everyone knows what a huge expert Dreev is in the Slav, especially the Meran systems characterised by the structure e6-d5-c6. But everyone in chess world should also know that when it comes to preparation, Adhiban is one of the best in the business.
This move 6...b6 is a Dreev speciality. He has played it in 43 games before this one! Yes 43! With eleven wins and five losses. While Dreev has clear experience in this system, it also made him susceptible to Adhiban's home preparation. 
The thing with young and ambitious players like Adhiban is that they do not feel intimidated by their opponent's strengths. While many of us will shy away from this line thinking that our opponent clearly has a better feel for such positions due to his experience, Adhiban felt that this gave him a clear opportunity to prepare a novelty in the opening. Easier said than done!
15.e4!? was the novelty that Adhiban had prepared. When this position is fed in the computer it doesn't shoot out with the move e4. But Adhiban dug deeper and realized that practically it would pose maximum problems to his opponent. Of course there are so many possibilities - taking the rook on a1, retreating the bishop, play the move c4 as Dreev did in the game. If you are unprepared, this can be a highly unpleasant move to face.
In four moves the king on e8 was stuck in the centre and the white pieces dominated the board. Adhiban scored an absolutely clean victory in just 24 moves!
Here's the entire game on our JavaScript player for you to play through and learn from the Indian maestro:
[Event "78th Tata Steel GpB"]
[Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"]
[Date "2016.01.23"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Adhiban, Baskaran"]
[Black "Dreev, A."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2653"]
[BlackElo "2644"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2016.01.15"]

{The most important duel of the Challengers section was between Adhiban and
Dreev in the seventh round. Both of them were leading the tournament with 5.0/
6. The Indian player having the white pieces made full use of that fact.} 1. d4
d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 {Dreev is a big expert in the Meran System
and has written a book on it as well.} 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 b6 {This move is a
Dreev speciality and he has employed it on 43 occassions with 11 wins and 5
losses. Knowing how well Adhiban prepares, we can be sure he came to the game
doing his homework.} (6... Bd6 {is the main move in the position by a
overwhelming margin and nearly 19,000 games have been played with that move.})
7. Bd3 Bb7 8. O-O Be7 9. b3 dxc4 10. bxc4 c5 {Nothing new under the sun.
Everything has been played before.} 11. d5 $5 {An interesting pawn sacrifice
that is aimed at taking advantage of the black king who hasn't castled yet. Of
course this is not new for Dreev who has faced it against Huzman, Sargissian,
Miljkovic and Zviaginsev.} exd5 12. cxd5 Nxd5 13. Nxd5 Bxd5 14. Rd1 Bf6 15. e4
$5 $146 {Adhiban made this move instantly which meant that he was completely
prepared. This is a novelty and not one of engine's top suggestions. The
Indian GM had prepared this position deeply and came to the conclusion that
e3-e4 is an excellent practical move. But Dreev's next move must have come as
a surprise to him.} c4 $5 (15... Bxa1 {Why can't this rook be taken is the
logical question.} 16. exd5 $13 {And you cannot 0-0 because the h7 pawn is
hanging. At the same time Re1+ is threatened. Objectively the position could
be equal but practically it is extremely dangerous for Black. And trying it
out against a well prepared opponent is not such a great idea.}) 16. Be2 $5 {
Practically this is also a good move. Now the bishop is hanging on d5 and also
e4-e5 is threatened. So the a1 rook has to be taken.} (16. Bxc4 {would have
given White a clear edge. Adhiban could have been worried about} Bxc4 {And now
taking on c4 is bad because of Bxa1 when the e-file has not been opened. But
here White has a strong move -} 17. e5 $1 Nxe5 (17... Be6 18. exf6 Qxf6 19. Ba3
$1 $16 {Stopping 0-0}) 18. Rxd8+ Rxd8 19. Nxe5 Bxe5 20. Bg5 Bxa1 21. Bxd8 Be6
22. Bc7 $16 {When White is clearly better.}) 16... Bxa1 17. Rxd5 {There is no
time to 0-0 for Black.} Qc7 (17... O-O $2 18. Qd1 $1 $16) 18. Ba3 $1 {The
bishop makes a wonderful entry in to the position.} Bf6 19. Bxc4 {The threat
now is to put additional pressure on d7 knight by means of Qa4 and Bb5.} Be7
20. Qa4 $1 Bxa3 $2 {The final mistake.} (20... a6 {was necessary.} 21. Re5 $1
O-O 22. Rxe7 {Looks pretty depressing for Black but he can fight on with} b5
23. Qd1 bxc4 24. Rxd7 Rfd8 $1 25. Rd5 $1 $16 {White is better but it is not
clear whether the advantage is decisive.}) 21. Rxd7 $1 Qxd7 22. Bb5 Qxb5 (22...
O-O-O 23. Bxd7+ Rxd7 {Could have been an option but it fails to} 24. Ne5 $1 Rd2
25. g3 $1 Bc5 26. Qc6+ Kb8 27. Nd7+ Rxd7 28. Qxd7 $18 {When the win is not at
all difficult to achieve.}) 23. Qxb5+ Kf8 24. Qb3 $1 {Dreev resigned the game
as the bishop moving back is met either with Ng5 or Ne5 and the f7 pawn cannot
be defended. What a beautiful piece of opening preparation by Adhiban. And
that was followed by some explosive middlegame chess. No wonder he is one of
the best upcoming talents in the country!} 1-0
A powerpacked game, wouldn't you agree?
He made it look easy! [picture by Alina l' Ami]
Adhiban is now the sole leader of the Challengers section with 6.0/7. Eltaj Safarli won his game against Mikhail Antipov and is only half a point behind the Indian player. Both of them will face each other in the tenth round. 
Six rounds still to go. It's a long tournament, but there is surely no doubt that Adhiban is well and truly on his way to not only winning this tournament but also securing a spot in the next year's Masters! We wish him the best!