Puzzle of the week #110

Chess Diagram: 


Tomorrow morning we are leaving for Anaheim. It is our first ever trip there. We will participate to a conference not far away from Disneyland and of course we will not miss the ocassion to visit it and have some fun over there. Since I am not a selfish person, I have decided to give you an opportunity to have some fun of your own in the comfort of your home!
The above position was reached after Black played 21... Nxe4. White King is condemned to stay in the center, while the Black King has lost his servant on "h7". Which Royal figure is more vulnerable? This is one of the enigmas you need to solve. Your tasks:
1. Analyse the position for both sides (10 points)
2. White to move. Propose the best line for both sides (10 points)
3. What is the most likely result? (5 points)
Total available points for this puzzle is 25. The answers will be published next week together with puzzle #111.

Puzzle #109 solution:
This was the last game for the 2010 European Champion GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (White) against GM Akopian during the 11th European Individual Championship from Rijeka, Croatia. As promised I will present GM Kevin Spraggett detailed analysis, originally published at his online blog:
"23.Rec1 ...
Ian realizes that he will need his Rook on a1 to help support his a-pawn later!  Such confidence...
This is the critical point in the game.  Black has willingly agreed to allow his pawns to be weakened on the Queenside in return for some activity. Fair enough. But here on this move, or on any of the next half dozen moves, Black must play "f7-f5" to help create threats against White's e-pawn and the White Bishop. Structural weaknesses can only be compensated by dynamic play!

For example, 23... f5!? 24.Ne1 ... [24.b5 fxe4 25.Nd2 ... (or 25.Ne1 axb5 26.Qxb5 Rdd8 27.a6 ...) 25... Nd4 is very wild] 24... Rdd8 25.b5?? axb5 26.Qxb5 f4 and Black even wins!

I think that with best play on both sides White will keep a slight edge, but Black would not be in any great danger of losing, or at least he would have still excellent fighting chances should the worse eventually happen. It is Akopian's lack of sense of urgence in this position (and for the next handful of moves) in delaying his natural counterplay (with "f7-f5") that leads to his downfall. Before he realizes it, he will be already lost.

23... Bf8?! 24.b5! axb5 25.Qxb5 ...
The a-pawn is much stronger than it first appears! It's advance will soon paralyze the Black Rook. Karpov, in his youth, was also very fond of creating and advancing his passed pawns.
25... Rb8 26.Qa4 Ra8
Why not 26... f5!?
27.a6! Rd6?!
28.Qb5! ...

Threatening a7 or Qb7. Impossible now is 28... Rb8 because of 29.Qxb8! Nxb8 30.a7 ... and the pawn Queens!
28... Qc8
There is nothing better
29.a7! ...
Black is completely paralyzed! Just look at the sorry figures that the Black Queen and Queen Rook make! Now White just cleans up, beginning with the pawn on c4...
Nepomniachtchi won easily and Akopian resigned on move 41. A remarkable victory for the young Russian: he fully exploited his opponent's small mistakes."
Please search for the game online and replay it, doing your best to understand what each player did or tried to do.

Correct solutions:
Owen - 20 points
Karl - 12 points
James, Andy Y, Humphrey, Jeffrey - 10 points
Andy Q, Alex, Edwin - 8 points
Nathaniel - 5 points


Karl, Owen - 184 points
Andy Q - 183 points
Andy Y - 174 points
Edwin, Humphrey - 136 points
Alex - 134 points
Jeffrey - 118 points
Amir - 103 points
James - 102 points
Nathaniel - 61 points
Rick, Marko - 10 points


Kings exposed