Some hidden possibilities in the Shankland-Svidler draw
Today's draw between Sam Shankland and Peter Svidler looked pretty placid, but under the surface horrible things had been going on.
First, it seems that Shankland missed a very quick win:
Black's last move, 13...Qe7, turns out to have been quite a mistake as some time after the game Shankland discovered 14.Nd1! with the threat of 15.Rc7, and after 14...b5 15.Qa5! is very strong, e.g. after 15...Nc6 16.Qc7 'Black can just resign', Shankland sighed. 'It seems that we're not in the best shape.'
Svidler: 'Now, after 14.Qd1, indeed I cannot play 14...Nc6 because of 15.e4, so I wanted to play 14...Rc8 and ...Nf6.
After this move the position was just completely dead, according to both players. Svidler: 'I was panicking here because I saw some crazy lines. For example, 15.e4 dxe4 16.Ng5 and here I had been planning 16...f5 but it turns out that 17.Ncxe4 is more or less winning.' After 17...Rxc1 18.Rxc1 fxe4 19.Nxe4 Black has no good moves, e.g. 19...Nc6 20.Nd6 or 19... h6 20. Rc7 Bd5 21.Nc3 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 g5 23.Qf3.
The players also talked about 17.Qb3 Re8 18.Bf1 but here Black is OK after 18...b5 or even better 18...Kh8.
Instead of 16...f5, however, 16...Nc6 is playable, e.g. 17.Ncxe4 e5 'and I thought this was bad for me, but it seems to be OK', Svidler concluded.
Another, still crazier idea he had seen was 15.Nxd5!? exd5 16.Rxc8+ Bxc8 17.Rc1 Bb7 18.Rc7 Ra7 and Black is completely paralysed, but there is no immediate win in sight for White either. When the engine more or less confirmed his suspicions, Svidler said: 'OK, I'm glad I'm apparently not a complete idiot.'