Archive for the ‘Sam Shankland’ Category

An American in Tromso

August 12, 2014

Sam Shankland is sensational in his Chess Olympiad debut.


After eight rounds against a difficult international field, Grandmaster Sam Shankland of the United States remains undefeated in Tromso, Norway. Those of us from the United States and especially California couldn’t be prouder of our representative at the 41st Chess Olympiad. Below is my personal favorite from Sam’s play and I invite you to enjoy the game while raising a glass to the United States of America’s newest international chess star.


Sam Shankland has a lot to smile about. (photo from:

Sam Shankland has a lot to smile about these days. (photo from:


[Event “41’st Chess Olympiad”]

[Site “Tromso, Norway”]

[Date “2014.8.8”]

[Round “6”]

[White “Guillermo Vazquez”]

[Black “Samuel Shankland”]

[Result “0-1”]

[Eco “B12”]

[Annotator “Chris Torres”]


{[ CARO-KANN,B12]} 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 {Guillermo Vazquez chooses a very aggressive line as white. The idea is to add to his control on the kingside while creating threats against Shankland’s Bishop on f5. Many amateur players have allowed white to trap their bishop with pawn advances to g4, h5, and f3.}

The position after 4. h4

The position after 4. h4


h5 {Of course, there is nothing amateur about GM Sam Shankland’s chess and he chooses the best line to avoid white’s plans.}

5.Bg5 {This early bishop move gives black a nice target on “b7.” Nc3 is a fine alternative here and can be seen in the game below:}

( 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Qb6 8.Bg5 Qa6 9.Qd2 c5 10.Nf3 cxd4

11.Ne2 Nd7 12.O-O Ne7 13.Nexd4 Nc6 14.a4 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 Qb6 16.a5

Qa6 17.c4 Qxc4 18.Rfc1 Qb4 19.Qc2 Nc5 20.a6 Nxa6 21.Rxa6 Qxd4

22.Qc7 Bb4 23.Rxe6+ fxe6 24.Qxg7 Rf8 {…1-0, Zelcic Robert (CRO) 2564  – Bartels Hans A (NED) 2297 , Caorle 1993 It (open)})

Qb6 {Sam Shankland develops with a threat and grabs the initiative. So much for trying to play a peaceful Caro-Kann.}

6.Bd3 {!?} {Guillermo Vazquez is willing to pay the price of a pawn on “b2” or “d4” in order to gain a strong attack. In a sense, he is allowing Sam Shankland to pick his own poison.}

The position after 6. Bd3

The position after 6. Bd3


Qxd4 {Sam chooses the pesto rather than the hemlock.}

( 6…Bxd3 {was Alexei Shirov’s choice in a nice victory over Anand.}

7.Qxd3 Qa6 8.Qf3 e6 9.Ne2 c5 10.c3 Nc6 11.Nd2 Nge7 12.Nb3 cxd4

13.cxd4 Nf5 14.O-O Be7 15.Bxe7 Ncxe7 16.g3 b6 17.Nf4 g6 18.Nh3

O-O 19.Qf4 Qe2 20.Rfd1 Rac8 21.Rd2 Qg4 22.Qxg4 hxg4 23.Ng5 a5

24.f3 Rc4 25.Kf2 Rfc8 26.fxg4 {…0-1, Shirov Alexei (ESP) 2713  – Anand Viswanathan (IND) 2817 , Leon  6/ 5/2011 Match “Leon Masters”}) ( 6…Qxb2 7.Bxf5 Qxa1 8.e6 {Is probably what Guillermo Vazquez was hoping for.})

7.Nf3 {Vazquez develops with a threat and is still hoping Shankland plays Qxb2.}

Qg4 {Sam Shankland avoids his opponent’s plans while simultaneously placing the queen in a very dangerous position for white.}

( 7…Qxb2 8.Bxf5 Qxa1 9.e6 Nh6 10.exf7+ Kxf7 11.Bc8 Na6 12.Bh3

e5 13.O-O Bd6 14.Nfd2 Ng4 15.Bxg4 hxg4 16.Qxg4 Nc5 17.Nb3 Qxa2

18.Qf5+ Kg8 19.Nc3 Qa6 20.Nxc5 Bxc5 21.Qe6+ Kh7 22.h5 Qc4 23.h6

Rhg8 24.Qf5+ Kh8 25.Qh3 g6 26.Bf6+ Kh7 27.Qd7+ {…1-0, Kislinsky Alexey (UKR) 2495  – Krutul Piotr (POL) 1854 , Warsaw 12/16/2006 Ch Europe (active)})

The position after 7... Qg4

The position after 7… Qg4



8.O-O {White’s best move is to castle into danger. Below is fine example of strong play for black had white chosen to play Nc3 instead.}

( 8.Nc3 e6 9.O-O Nd7 10.Bxf5 Qxf5 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nd4 Qg4 13.Qd2

Bc5 14.Nb3 Be7 15.Nd4 Bxg5 16.hxg5 h4 17.f3 Qh5 18.Rad1 Ne7 19.Ne4

O-O 20.Nf2 a6 21.b4 Qh7 22.Ng4 Nf5 23.c4 Rfd8 24.c5 a5 25.bxa5

Nxd4 26.Qxd4 Rxa5 27.Re2 Rxc5 {…0-1, Malykh Yuriy A (RUS) 2140  – Airapetian Gor (RUS) 2451 , Lipetsk  3/28/2010 Ch Region})

Bxd3 {Sam decides to exchange the bishop which lacks scope for his opponent’s most active piece.}

( 8…e6 9.Be2 Qb4 10.c4 Ne7 11.Nc3 dxc4 12.Nd2 b5 13.a4 Nd7 14.axb5 cxb5 15.Nxb5 Nd5 16.Nxc4 Be7 17.Nbd6+ {1-0, Robson Ray (USA) 2466 – Rowley Robert (USA) 2234, Tulsa (USA) 2008.03.30})

9.Qxd3 {Vazquez recaptures while developing rather than attempting to restablish a pawn on “d4” by playing cxd3.}

e6 {Sam Shankland creates a standard Caro-Kann pawn structure in route to playing Be7.}

10.Nbd2 {The knight is better placed here rather than on “c3” because white will want to have the ability to move his c-pawn soon.}

Be7 {Shankland is a solid pawn up but will have to defend accurately in order to achieve victory against Vazquez’s dynamic style.}

11.c4 {Guillermo Vazquez is a very bold chess player.}

The position after 11. c4

The position after 11. c4


11… Bxg5

12.Nxg5 Ne7

13.Qb3 {The real reason behind “11. c4.”}

b6 {Shankland is playing very accurately when it counts the most.}

The position after 13... b6

The position after 13… b6


14.cxd5 cxd5

15.Rac1 Nbc6 {Sam’s defensive skills are exceptional.}

16.f4 {Vazquez is striking furiously on all sides of the board.}

The position after 16. f4

The position after 16. f4


Rc8 {Shankland is performing perfectly under heavy fire.}

17.Qd3 Nf5

18.Ndf3 O-O {Sam Shankland has survived unscathed! Unfortunately for Guillermo Vazquez, his brute-force attacking style has left plenty of holes in his position.}

The position after 18... 0-0

The position after 18… 0-0


19.Nh2 Qg3 {At this point, trading queens is no longer an option for white.}



The position after 20. Qd1

The position after 20. Qd1


20… Nxe5 {!} {Now it is Shankland’s turn to attack.}

21.Rxc8 {if} ( 21.fxe5 {then} Qe3+ 22.Rf2 Rxc1 {!} )

Rxc8 22.fxe5 {There are alternatives for white but they would just elongate the misery.}

Qe3+ {!} {Now Vazquez can either drop a queen, get checkmated or resign. He chooses the latter.}








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