Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anand takes the lead 2.5-1.5

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 a5 Kramnik's favourite line. As he himself said, he scores equally well with both sides in this position. As yesterday, the players follow a game from the Elista match.

7.Qc2 Trying to recover the pawn as quickly as possible, but I can tell you right out, in this game Anand was unable to win the pawn back. That said, I don't think he really regrets it. [7.0-0 is another main-move. White wants to develop first and try to recapture the pawn later. I myself scored a nice victory here with white, but perhaps I should switch to 7.Qc2 after seeing this game.]

7...Bxd2+ [7...Nc6 is the old approach. Black's idea is 8.Qxc4 Qd5! but apparently Topalov wasn't satisfied with another endgame.]

8.Qxd2!? At first sight it seems more logical to take the bishop with the knight, developing another piece, but White wants to apply pressure on the future b5 pawn, which can be done from a3, where the knight is headed. [8.Nbxd2 b5 9.a4 c6 10.0-0 0-0 And now White is unable to attack b5, though he keeps some compensation after let's say 11.b3!? ]

8...c6 Preparing b5. Black has to stick to his pawn, to justify his play. It is also logical, since he is undeveloped and the good bishop is exchanged. This position has nothing in its favor other than the extra pawn.

9.a4 Attacking the b5 pawn which is not there yet. [9.Ne5 is too naive. 9...b5! 10.Nxc6 Qc7! And White is unable to benefit from some kind of X-ray. (10...Qb6?? 11.Ne7! Bb7 12.Nc8! is a beautiful trap, but for this to work both players would need to cooperate.) ]

9...b5 As said, Black already has to stick to his pawn.

10.Na3!N A strong novelty. Anand just wants to develop without winning back the pawn. Now, in order to protect the pawn, Black is forced to place his pieces in awkward positions. I think Topalov was out of book at this point, whereas Anand's preparation had probably just started! [Before, everyone, as if collectively hypnotized, tried 10.axb5 cxb5 11.Qg5 winning back the pawn, but Black achieves equality after 11...0-0 12.Qxb5 Ba6 This position was reached in the Elista match. Kramnik (White) won, but it had nothing to do with the opening.]

10...Bd7 Looks extremely ugly to me, but what else is there? As mentioned more than once, Black is forced to stick to his pawn. [10...Ba6 fails to 11.Ne5 Nd5 12.Nxc6! Nxc6 13.axb5 and White wins the pawn back with a large edge.]

11.Ne5 Nd5 12.e4! It is a little more precise than 0-0, since after [12.0-0 0-0 13.e4 Black also has the option of 13...Nb6!? 14.axb5 cxb5 15.d5 Be8 ]

12...Nb4 13.0-0 0-0 14.Rfd1 [14.d5!? was also possible, but had no independent value. White would have to play Rfd1 anyway.]

14...Be8 A questionable moment, but I think other options were no good as it were. [For example 14...Qe7 planning to avoid the immediate d5, but here 15.Nxd7! Qxd7 16.d5! Rd8 17.Qg5! and Black is still undeveloped and already under heavy pressure. 17...h6 18.Qh5 Nd3 19.b3 ; 14...Qc7 is the same. 15.Nxd7! ]

15.d5! Now that everything is ready, the expected breakthrough is executed.

15...Qd6 16.Ng4 Now the threat is e5, and Black is still undeveloped. [16.dxc6 is nothing, since Black will return the piece. 16...Qxe5 17.axb5 c3! 18.bxc3 N4xc6 19.bxc6 Bxc6 with equality.]

16...Qc5 At first I liked this move very much, since I couldn't find a way for White to proceed. But Vishy found a strong and simple reply. [16...exd5 17.exd5 f5! was another option that is in fact safer (though one that you could only find with the help of a powerful engine next to you...). Still, White keeps some advantage in the endgame after 18.dxc6 (18.Ne3!? in fact leads to a forced draw, but only if you have analyzed it deeply- 18...f4! 19.gxf4 Qxf4 20.dxc6 N8xc6 21.axb5 Rd8 22.Nd5 Nxd5! 23.Bxd5+ Rxd5 24.Qxd5+ Kh8 25.Nxc4! (25.bxc6 Qxf2+ 26.Kh1 Qf6!-+ ) 25...Nb4 26.Qd4 Qg5+ 27.Kh1 Bxb5 28.Ne5 Nc6 29.Qc5 Qf4! 30.Nd3 Qf3+ 31.Kg1 Qg4+ 32.Kh1 Qf3+= ) 18...Qxd2 19.Rxd2 Bxc6 20.Ne5 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 Re8 22.f4 bxa4 23.Naxc4 N8c6 But to be honest I guess that Black should hold this, even if it is not the most pleasant ending.]


17...N8a6?! It is very hard to call this logical move a mistake, but I simply must find fault with at least one move by Topalov! By the way, he played it almost instantly! [17...Nd3! was very very risky, but in order to get some counterchances Black should have gone for this. Black's idea would be to transfer the knight to e5. 18.b3 (After the simple 18.dxc6 Nxc6 19.axb5 Nce5 20.Nexc4 Nxc4 21.Qxd3 Nxa3 22.Qxa3 Qxb5 Black equalizes.; 18.Qc2!? Ne5! ) 18...Nxf2! The whole idea, and even though I really didn't believe in it, I couldn't find a refutation. 19.Qxf2 (19.Kxf2 also makes sense) 19...cxb3 White has a big choice, but either way, Black's pawn mass on the queenside and bishop on g2 seem very poor. Even though Black is undeveloped, White can hardly take advantage of this temporary state of affairs. 20.Rd3 bxa4 21.Qb2 ]

18.dxc6 bxa4 To be honest here I was actually quite disappointed with White's position, since it seeems as if Black has developed and solved his problems. The truth, however, is that all his pieces are awkwardly placed, and even though Black is developed, his position lacks harmony. [18...Bxc6 19.axb5 Bxb5 20.Naxc4! Bxc4 21.Rac1 is also much better for White. Black has stupid knights and a weak pawn on a5.]

19.Naxc4 Bxc6 20.Rac1

20...h6?! The position is already very unpleasant for Black. It is true he doesn't have any useful moves at his disposal, however the move Topalov played is also weakening (though it isn't obvious yet). With precise play I guess that Black could still hold the position together. [Perhaps 20...Qe7! would be the right move for Black. Now he wants to develop his rooks into play, not minding that White finally recaptures the pawn. 21.Nxa5 (21.Nd6!? Qa7! with idea Nc5. The only difference with the game is that there is no weak pawn on h6. Black holds, though White is better of course.) 21...Bb5 22.Nac4 Rfd8 23.Nd6 Rab8 and white is obviously better, but maybe not so much.]

21.Nd6 Qa7? The decisive mistake. Now the queen is saved, but the king is not. [21...Qg5! was already the only way to stay in the game. However white already has a big advantage.]

22.Ng4! Played quickly by Anand. Now he threatens Nxh6 and if Black tries to prevent it, White would simply prepare the decisive sacrifice with Rc4!

22...Rad8 Loses immediately, but it seems that it is already lost. If you are a fan of beautiful variations and mates then I advise you to check the alternatives! [Safer seemed 22...f6 avoiding the immediate Nxh6, but here White still wins with 23.Rc4! preparing e5. For example 23...Rad8 24.e5 Bxg2 (24...Bd5 25.Bxd5 Nxd5 26.Nxh6+! gxh6 27.Qxh6 Qh7 28.Rg4+ Kh8 29.Qd2! Qa7 30.h3!! the most beautiful and strongest way. Now White threatens Rh4+ Kg8 Qh6 Qg7 Rg4! which can't be avoided.) 25.exf6 h5! 26.fxg7 Qxg7 27.Kxg2 Nd5 28.Nh6+ Kh7 29.Nhf5 Rxf5 30.Nxf5 exf5 31.Qxa5 Qb7 32.Kh3! with a big advantage for White. Black has a weak king and no way to consolidate.; 22...Nc5 Didn't help either: 23.Rc4! for example 23...Nb3 24.Nxh6+! Kh7 25.Qf4 gxh6 26.e5! Bxg2 27.Nf5!! exf5 28.Qxf5+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kh7 30.Rh4 with mate!; 22...Kh7 also looks safe, but here 23.Rxc6! Nxc6 24.e5 Ne7 25.Be4+! Ng6 26.h4! Nc5 27.Bb1 Nb3 (27...h5 28.Qg5! ) 28.Qe2 h5 29.Nh2 Nd4 30.Qxh5+ Kg8 31.Ng4 Rad8 (31...Rab8 32.Nf6+! ) 32.Rxd4!! Qxd4 33.Ne4! mating!]

23.Nxh6+!! Simple, yet beautiful! Vishy played it very quickly. For a player of his caliber, it's a piece of cake to find such a move! (Green with envy)

23...gxh6 24.Qxh6 f6 [24...Qe7 doesn't help either 25.e5 Bxg2 26.Rd4 is mate in 11.]

25.e5! The strongest and most elegant!

25...Bxg2 26.exf6 There is no way for Black to defend.

26...Rxd6 27.Rxd6 Be4 28.Rxe6 Nd3 29.Rc2! It is also pretty important to not blunder into a mate yourself

29...Qh7 30.f7+! Qxf7 31.Rxe4 Qf5 32.Re7 1-0

[Comments by GM Giri]

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