Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Shankland’s Trap

I would like to thank my friend Mushfig for his contributions and suggestions in writing this post.
I met him at Nairobi Chess Club (NCC) where he served as a Committee Member, Director of Play for five years and trained the young members.
He is a true chess enthusiast.

Sergey Karjakin is a Russian GM whose defensive skills earned him the nickname of “Russia’s Minister of Defense”. He was a child prodigy who learned to play chess at the age of 5.

2016 was a remarkable year for him. Having won the Candidates Tournament, he narrowly lost the World Championship match to Magnus Carlsen. He drew the classical 6-6 only to lose 3-1 in the rapid tiebreakers.

Unfortunately, his public position in favour of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb-2022 led FIDE in Mar-2022 to ban him from any FIDE event for six months. As a result, Karjakin lost the right to take part in the Candidates in Mar-2022.

Today’s game belongs to one of the last official competitions where Karjakin played. The game corresponds to the Tata Steel Chess 2022, held in January 2022. Karjakin, playing Black, faced Sam Shankland in round 12. Shankland came well prepared and led Karjakin into a crafty trap. Surprisingly, the game was over in less than two hours. Despite his quick and effective victory, this game was the only one won by Shankland in the tournament.

Unfortunately, Karjakin was unable to show his defensive skills against Shankland.

It’s worth mentioning Shankland’s mindset before the game. As he said after the game: “I had some ideas, of course. It’s difficult: you play against Karjakin, just go and prove an advantage with White—it’s not easy. There’s definitely some drawish lines in the f3-Nimzo; I did not come blank. I had ideas to put him under pressure. My attitude towards this game was: I have some new ideas and if he finds all the moves he can equalize—and otherwise, no.

Dear readers preparing lines better than your opponent is key to success and as you notice, even a GM can get trapped.

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