Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana A CRAZY Game!
Tactics & Calculation

Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana | A CRAZY Game!

Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana | A CRAZY Game!

My Blitz Battle Against Fabiano Caruana

In this blog-post, I’m excited to take you on a journey through a riveting blitz match I played against the renowned Fabiano Caruana. While Caruana is a three-time US champion and has even faced off against Magnus Carlsen in a World Championship match, this game was a more laid-back blitz encounter. I’ll guide you through the intricacies and strategies that unfolded during this captivating battle.

Below, you can find the complete game:

The Unconventional Opening

The game begins with an unusual opening from Caruana, a common choice in blitz chess where players aim to catch their opponent off guard, 1.d3 c5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 d5 4.e5. I emphasize the value of time in blitz, and these initial moves are far from conventional.

GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano CaruanaIn the following position, many players would impulsively move their knight away from the attack. However, retreating with the knight would put Black in the backseat. Instead, you should remember that offense is the best defense. Seek to counterattack your opponent if possible.

Counterattack Your Opponent

I decide to counter White’s central control with 4…d4, setting the stage for a dynamic approach. After 5.exf6 dxc3, a pivotal moment arises when Caruana captures my pawn on g7 with 6.fxg7, a choice that, in retrospect, may not have been the best. Because after 6…Bxg7, it opens the door for my powerful bishop to control a long diagonal while simultaneously targeting the b2 pawn.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana

Black’s Initiative

Caruana responds with 7.b3, a move intended to defend the b2 pawn. However, this decision slightly constricts White’s position due to the presence of the c3-pawn.

Both sides continue with typical opening development, culminating in kingside castling. I then share my move, 12…Rad8, underscoring the importance of connecting rooks early in the game.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano CaruanaThere’s a backstory for this move. I learned this lesson, of developing the rook, the hard way. Watch the full video lesson here as I share the lesson I learned from my coach.

Positional Choices

Caruana, feeling the squeeze of his cramped position, plays 13.Ne1, offering an exchange of bishops. Recognizing the need to keep pieces on the board to maintain my advantage, I move my bishop back to 13…Bg6.

Advancing in the Center

Caruana’s knight on e1 makes a leap to h4 after 19.Nh4, creating pressure on my f5 pawn. After 19…Rde8 20.Bg2, I opt to advance in the center with 20…e4, extending my influence on the board.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana

Pawn Sacrifice

A critical juncture emerges when I sacrifice my pawn with 25…f3. This allows my pieces to gain significant activity, and my rooks stack up along the f-file, setting the stage for tactical fireworks.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana

Maintaining Composure

Caruana recognizes the gravity of the situation and attempts to complicate matters, but I maintain my composure and make precise moves to sustain my advantage. After 29.Rd1 R4f6, I tried to get into the White’s camp with Qf4 ideas.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano Caruana

The Thrilling Conclusion

The game reaches a thrilling conclusion after 32…hxg4 33.h4 Qxh4 34.Rxf4 Rxf4, with a plenty of attacking ideas like g3 followed by Rf2.
GM Igor Smirnov vs Fabiano CaruanaAt this point, Caruana decided to take a chance and played 35.Qb5, attacking the e5-bishop and threatening Qe8+. But that failed to 35…Qf2# checkmate.

Watch the Full Video Analysis

If you’re intrigued by the detailed analysis and captivating moves discussed in this blog-post, I encourage you to watch the full video of this game here.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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