Loek van Wely is probably the Netherlands strongest player. Another is Anish Giri, only 16 years old and this year’s winner of the Corus B tournament who is looming as a strong world performer. Van Wely often plays in the United States and this year he annexed the Chicago Open, placing a half point ahead of a very strong field by defeating Sam Shankland in the final round.
Here is a win of his from that tourney vs. Aung Zin of Myanmar. Van Wely has said that European tournaments require more opening preparation than those in the United States, where, he says, tactics are more important. This game illustrates what he says. The players are relaxed in the opening, with slow development and what seems like a lot of loafing around. Van Wely finally lines up his queen and two bishops along the long diagonals, wins a weak pawn, and easily moves forward to triumph.
a) This is slow. I would prefer either 5.d4 or 5.c4!? with the goal of playing d2-d4.
b) Black’s aim is to make White lose more time before he can push d2-d4.
c) Black has achieved easy equality. White’s bishop on b2 is not terribly impressive, and he has lost time with Be2-f1.
d) White seems to have no sense for tempi in the opening! Having played Be2-f1, now he decides to fianchetto the bishop, losing more time.
e) This is an instructive maneuver. It can be effective for Black if he has time to do it.
f) With this simple pawn move Black “kills’’ both the knight on e2 (which now lacks good squares) and the bishop on b2 (whose diagonal is now blocked). With . . .Bb6 Black will consolidate his control of the central dark squares. Meanwhile White is in no position to try to exploit the d5 square. Black has seized the initiative completely.
g) Suddenly White cannot defend the e-pawn.
h) Note that 27.Rxd6? loses material to 27. . .Qxd6!
i) Black has successfully consolidated the extra pawn. The rest is merely technique.
Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.