GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 11th round

Peter Svidler – Levon Aronian

Reti Opening A06

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 c6 5.cxd5 Bxf3. Black wants to play with a symmetrical pawn structure, and in this case taking on f3 is necessary because of 5…cxd5?? 6.Qa4+. Also 5…exd5 is quite popular, for example, 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d3 Nbd7 8.Nc3 Bc5 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 0–0 11.Qc2 d4 12.Nb1 Qe7 with an approximately even game, Svidler-Karjakin, Moscow 2011.

6.Bxf3 cxd5 7.0–0 Nf6 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d4. White’s position is slightly more pleasant due to his bishop pair, but symmetrical pawn structure and stable situation in the center gives Black good chances to equalize.

All in all, Levon’s opening choice comes as a bit of a shock, bearing in mind his tournament situation. There are many more challenging setups against the Reti…

9…Be7 10.e3 0–0 11.Bd2.


11…Qd7. This novelty is an improvement over Aronian’s earlier game that went 11…Qb8 12.Rc1 Rc8, and after 13.Bg2 b5 14.e4 b4 15.Bf4 Qb6 16.Na4 Qa5 17.e5 Nd7 18.Be3 Nb6 19.Nxb6 axb6 20.f4 Qxa2 21.f5 Black had to work hard to make a draw, Kramnik-Aronian, London 2013.

12.Rc1 Rfc8 13.Bg2 Ne8 14.Qe2 Nd6 15.Rfd1 Bd8 16.Be1 Ne7. Black arranged his pieces in the best possible way to meet the е3-е4 break.

 17.b3. Preparing to transfer the knight to с5. After 17.e4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Bxe4 Nd5 White does not have sufficient resources to break the grip on d5, so this would likely lead to mass exchanges and a quick draw.

 17…Rc6 18.Na4 Rac8 19.Nc5 Qe8 20.Qb2 R6c7 21.a4 Nc6.


22.b4. After the game Svidler was unhappy about his “hasty” decision and suggested 22.Rc2 as an improvement. White may have nothing special, but Black has to play carefully to avoid problems. For example, after 22…a5 23.Rdc1 Bf6 24.Nd3!? White still has some pressure.

 22…Nb8 23.b5 Be7 24.Qb1 Nd7. Black is ready to bring the knight via d7 and b6 to c4.

 25.Nd3. 25.e4 looks like White’s last attempt to fight for an advantage. After 25…Nxe4 (weaker is 25…Nxc5?! 26.dxc5 Nxe4 27.Bxe4 dxe4 28.c6!?, and White is better) 26.Nxe4 dxe4 27.Rxc7 Rxc7 28.Rc1!? Black should continue 28…Rxc1 29.Qxc1 Qd8 30.Bxe4 b6, then bring the knight to d5, and the game should end in a draw.

25…Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Rxc1 27.Qxc1. There is no life left in this game after exchanging the rooks.

 27…Nb6 28.Qd1 Qc8 29.Bf1 Bf8 30.Ne5 Nbc4 31.Nxc4 Nxc4 32.Qc2 Nb6 33.Qxc8. Game drawn.


 Vladimir Kramnik – Viswanathan Anand

Catalan Defense E06

 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 dxc4 7.Ne5. Kramnik’s choice is explained by the crisis of ideas in the main line: 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2, and largely because of 10…Bd6, which was successfully implemented at the highest level.

7…Nc6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Nxc6 Qe8 10.Nxe7+ Qxe7.


11.Na3. A rare continuation. In the previous candidates tournament Kramnik selected 11.Qc2 e5 12.Rd1 Rb8 13.Nc3 h6 14.dxe5 Qxe5 15.Bf4 Qe7 16.Rd4 Be6 17.Rad1 with a small advantage to White, Kramnik-Carlsen, London 2013. The most popular move in this position is 11.Qa4.

11…c5. Similar to 11.Qа4 с5 line Black trades his weak c-pawn and opens the position, trying to obtain decent compensation for a pawn due to move active pieces and White’s certain underdevelopment.

12.dxc5. Black doesn’t have any problems after 12.Nxc4 Rd8 13.b3 cxd4 14.Ba3 Qc7 15.Rc1 Ba6, and the white knight doesn’t have good retreat squares.

 12…Qxc5 13.Be3 Qh5 14.f3. This is forced, because 14.Nxc4 is dubious due to 14…Ba6! 15.b3 Bxc4 16.bxc4 Ng4 17.h4 Nxe3 18.fxe3 Qg4, and Black might be better.


14…c3! 15.bxc3 Qa5. Black develops powerful activity after a pawn sacrifice.

 16.Qc1 Ba6 17.c4 Rac8 18.Bxa7?! By insisting on keeping an extra pawn, White risks getting under unpleasant pressure. Objectively better is 18.Rb1 Bxc4 19.Nxc4 Qxa2 20.Rb2 Qxc4 21.Qxc4 Rxc4 22.Bxa7 with complete equality.

18…Bxc4 19.Nxc4 Qxa7+ 20.Qe3 Qa6 21.Ne5 Rc2 22.Nd3 Nd5 23.Qf2.


23…Rxa2. Anand prefers to make another half-step to the finishing line, and we cannot blame him for it, considering the tournament situation. Yet we must mention 23…Rfc8!? Not that Black can seriously expect playing for a win, but this move allows to keep the tension. Curiously, Kramnik’s suggestion 24.Rfc1? was refuted by… the press-conference host Anastasia Karlovich: 24…Qxd3! 25.exd3 Rxc1+ 26.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 27.Kg2 Rc2. Kramnik, looking a bit confused, admitted that he could blunder it indeed.

 24.Rxa2 Qxa2 25.e4 Qa3 26.exd5 Qxd3 27.dxe6 fxe6 28.Qe1 Qd5 29.Qe3 h6 30.Re1 Rxf3 31.Qxe6+. Game drawn.


Dmitry Andreikin – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Catalan Opening E04

 1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 c5 6.0–0 Nc6 7.dxc5. The most modest continuation – White is ready to play an endgame with a slight advantage.

 7…Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Bxc5 9.Nbd2 c3 10.bxc3 0–0.


11.Nb3. 11.Ne1!? Be7 12.Nd3 Nd5 13.Bb2 Nb6 14.Rab1 Na5 15.Ba1 Rd8 16.c4 Naxc4 17.Nxc4 Nxc4 18.Bxb7 Bxb7 19.Rxb7 Bf6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Rc1, and White got a small edge in Gelfand-Ponomariov, Khanty-Mansiysk 2009.

11…Be7 12.c4 Bd7 13.Bb2 Rfd8 14.Nfd4 Rac8 15.Nb5. 15.c5 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Bc6 17.Rab1 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 h6 19.e3 Nd7 20.Na5 Nxc5 21.Nxb7 Nxb7 22.Rxb7 Bf6 23.Rdb1 Bxd4 24.exd4 a5 25.Ra7 Rd5 26.Rbb7 Rf5 leads to an equal game, Kramnik-Anand, Zuerich 2013.

15…b6 16.Rac1 a5 17.a4 Be8 18.Rxd8 Rxd8.


Only this natural move is a novelty. Earlier Black played less successfully – 18…Nxd8 19.c5 bxc5 20.Nxa5 Nd5 21.Nc4, and White eventually won in Delchev-Llanes Hurtado, Haguenau 2013.

 19.h3 Nb4 20.c5 bxc5 21.Nxa5 Nfd5 22.Nb7 Rb8 23.Nxc5 Bxb5 24.axb5 Rxb5. White got a bishop pair. However, limited material and absence of weaknesses in Black’s position allows him to defend easily.

 25.Ne4 f6 26.Nc3. White must allow more exchanges, otherwise black knights on b4 and d5 become too powerful.

 26…Rc5 27.Nxd5 Rxc1+ 28.Bxc1 Nxd5.


Further attempts of Dmitry Andreikin are completely futile – this position is a dead draw.

 29.g4 g5 30.Be4 Nf4 31.Kf1 Nd5 (31…Nxh3 is also possible – 32.e3 h5 33.f3 hxg4 34.fxg4 f5 35.gxf5 exf5 36.Bxf5 Nf4 37.exf4 gxf4 38.Bxf4=, and White scores only a moral victory due to an extra bishop) 32.e3 Kg7 33.Bc2 h6 34.Bb3 Kg6 35.Ke2 h5 36.Kd3 hxg4 37.hxg4 Nc7 38.Bb2 Bd6 39.Bc2 Kf7 40.Ke4 Nd5 41.Bb3 Nc7 42.f4 gxf4 43.exf4 Kg6 44.Bxe6 Bxf4 45.Bf5+ Kg5 46.Bxf6+. Game drawn.


 Veselin Topalov – Sergey Karjakin

Reti Opening A05

 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0–0 g6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Qxd4 Bg7 8.Nc3 d6 9.Rd1 Nbd7 10.Be3 Rc8. This move order is considered the most accurate. After 10…0–0 11.Qh4 Rc8 12.Rac1 White obtains a slightly better version of the same position.

 11.Rac1 a6 12.b3 0–0 13.Qh4 Rc7 14.g4!? A relatively rare and very ambitious move. More frequent is 14.Bh3 Qb8 15.g4 e6 16.g5 Ne8 with a complicated game, Aronian-Kramnik, Saint Vincent 2005.

14…Rc8. This surprising move (looks like Black loses two tempi) is recommended by the computer and already occurred in practice.


15.g5. A novelty. After 15.Bh3 b5 16.cxb5 Qa5 17.Bd2 Bxf3 18.exf3 axb5 19.g5 b4 20.gxf6 Bxf6 21.Qe4 bxc3 22.Bxd7 Rcd8 23.Bxc3 Bxc3 24.Qxe7 d5 25.Bb5 d4 26.a4 Rd5 27.Qe4 Rf5 28.Kh1 Qb6 29.Rg1 Qf6 30.Rg3 Rd8 31.Bd3 Rf4 32.Qb7 Qd6 33.Kg2 Black got a slight advantage in Jakovenko-Karjakin, Sochi 2012.

15…Nh5 16.Ne4 Rc7. Black decides to let his queen to а8.

17.Ng3 Nxg3 18.hxg3 Qa8. White’s prospects on the semi-open h-file are unclear, while Black prepares to double his rooks on the c-file followed by b6-b5 break, which is a standard plan in this opening.

 19.Ne1 Nc5 20.Qh1 Rfc8 21.Bxb7 Qxb7 22.Qxb7 Rxb7 23.Nd3 Nxd3 24.exd3. The endgame that emerged after massive exchanges is quite equal, but Black must show some accuracy.


24…f6! Black cannot tolerate the g5-pawn for long.

 25.gxf6 Bxf6 26.a4 h5 27.b4 Kf7 28.Kg2 Ke6 29.Kf3 Rf8 30.Ke2 Kf5 31.f3 g5 32.Rh1 Kg6 33.Rc2. White could consider the double-edged 33.f4!? – after 33…gxf4 34.gxf4 Rh8 35.Kf3 Kf5 it is not easy for White to attack the h-pawn, but at least this would create the iconic second weakness in Black’s position.

 33…e5 34.b5 Ra8 35.a5?! Approaching the time control, Topalov decides to complicate things, which could really turn against him.

35…bxa5 36.b6 Bd8 37.Rb1 Rab8 38.Ra2.


38…Bxb6! As Sergey admitted at the press-conference, he went for an exchange sacrifice to secure a draw, and did not realize for a while that it gives him winning chances.

39.Rab2 Bxe3! 40.Rxb7 Rxb7 41.Rxb7 Bc5 42.Rb8 a4 43.Kd1?! White switches roles – the rook will now guard the h-pawn, while the king will chase the a-pawn. After 43.Ra8 h4 44.gxh4 gxh4 White survives only by 45.f4 h3 46.Kf3 Kf5 (46…exf4 47.Rxa6 a3?! 48.d4 Bxd4 49.Rxd6+ Bf6 50.Ra6=) 47.Rf8+ Ke6 48.Re8+ Kf7 49.Ra8 Kf6 50.Rxa6 a3 51.Ra8, and he holds.

43…h4 44.Rg8+ Kf6 45.g4.


45…Bf2?! Now White has time to reach the desired setup and secure a draw. Black should have tried 45…a3! 46.Kc2 Be3!, threatening е5-е4, which can be deadly after, say, 47.Kb3 Bf4! 48.Rh8 e4! 49.dxe4 Ke5 50.Kxa3 Kd4 51.Kb4 a5+! 52.Kb5 a4 53.Ra8 Ke3 54.Rxa4 Kxf3 55.Kc6 h3 56.Kd5 h2 57.Ra1 Kxg4, and Black wins. I should abstain from strong opinions in an express commentary, but this was clearly the best chance for Black. Let us leave a detailed analysis for the future endgame manuals.

46.Rh8 Kg7 47.Rh5 Kg6 48.Kc2 Bd4 49.Kb1 a3 50.Ka2.


Now black pieces are tied up with defending their own pawns, and White is never in zugzwang because he can always move the king. After 50…Bb2 51.Kb3 Bc1 52.Ka2 Bb2 53.Kb3 a5 54.Ka2 a4 55.Kb1 Bd4 56.Ka2 Bb2 57.Kb1 Bd4 Karjakin accepted the move repetition.

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