GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 4th round

Detailed analysis of the FIDE Candidates tournament fourth round games by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Dmitry Andreikin
Slav Defense D45

This game could become a turning point for either player. A disastrous start by Mamedyarov, somewhat confused chess by Andreikin – both clearly needed changes!

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 e6 6.a3. One of the least popular continuations. Andreikin never confronted it before. Here is a recent example from his practice: 6.b3 c5 7.Bb2 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bb4 9.Nc2 Ba5 10.Be2 0–0 11.0–0 dxc4 12.Qxd8 Rxd8 13.Bxc4 Nc6 14.Rfd1 Bd7 15.Na4 b5 16.Nc5 bxc4 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.Nxd7 Bc3 19.Rab1 Ra7 20.Nc5 Rxd1+ 21.Rxd1 Nb4 22.Nxb4 Bxb4 23.Rd8+ Kg7 24.Rc8 Bxc5 25.Rxc5 cxb3 26.axb3 Rb7 27.Rc3. Draw, Kramnik-Andreikin, Tromso 2013.

6…Nbd7 7.Qc2 Qc7.


I hardly believe it, but this move is a novelty. Black tested many different moves, but the most popular is an unpretentious 7…dxc4, after which 8.Bxc4 b5 (8…c5 at once is good too) 9.Ba2 c5 White’s Qс2 loses its purpose, because the queen will have to move again after 10.0–0 Bb7 and …Rс8.

8.e4!? A concrete reaction in typical Mamedyarov style. After all, White’s last two moves clearly prepared this pawn advance!

8…dxe4 9.Nxe4 c5. In case of the unhurried 9…Be7 White could consider 10.c5!? e5 11.Be3 0–0 12.Bd3 with a sharp game, which suited style and mood of Azerbaijani grandmaster.

10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.dxc5 a5!? Trying to hold White’s pawn expansion on the queenside – 11…Bxc5 12.b4 Be7 13.Bb2 gives White an edge.

12.g3 Bxc5 13.Bg2 0–0 14.0–0.


14…e5. This decision was supported by computer engines but criticized by Sergey Rublevsky during the online commentary. I don’t dare to argue with computers, but this move indeed looked suspect for a human eye. Perhaps against such a forceful player as Mamedyarov one should play more solidly – 14…Bd7 15.Bf4 Bd6 16.Bxd6 Qxd6 17.Rad1 Qc7 18.Rfe1 Bc6, and Black should equalize.

15.Bg5 Ra6. Computers optimistically consider the following position equal: 15…Ng4 16.h3 Nxf2 17.Rxf2 f6 18.Bd2 Be6 19.Be1. Who knows, but White clearly plays it without the slightest risk.

16.Rae1 Re8 17.Qc3 h6. Quite a provocative move, especially considering other tempting ideas. 17…e4 18.Nd2 Rae6!? looks interesting, and if 19.Nb3 (on 19.Bxf6 Black has 19…e3!), once again following the machine’s advice, then 19…Ba7 20.Nd4 Bxd4 21.Qxd4 Rd6 22.Qc3 Rd3 23.Qc2 Bf5, not worrying about simplifications after 24.Bxf6 gxf6 25.Bxe4 Bxe4 26.Rxe4 Rxe4 27.Qxd3 Rxc4. Black’s small structural disadvantages do not influence the evaluation – dead equal. The immediate 17…Rae6 is viable as well.

18.Bxf6 gxf6?!


Although this move is widely supported by chess engines, messing up Black’s pawn haircut seems impractical at best (especially against Mamedyarov, I insist!). Humans vote for 18…Rxf6, and after 19.Rxe5 Rxe5 20.Nxe5 Qb6 Black’s compensation seems enough to draw.

19.b4 Bf8 20.Nh4 axb4 21.axb4 Be6 22.c5. Another curious observation – Black’s position looks difficult to a human eye, while computers, even at a significant depth, see absolutely nothing wrong with it.

22…b6 23.c6 Ra4 24.Rb1. Only here the computer slowly begins to realize White’s advantage.

24…Rd8 25.Qf3. Perhaps 25.Be4 Rd4 26.Qf3 followed by Nf5 is even stronger.

25…Rd4 26.Nf5 Rdxb4 27.Rxb4 Rxb4 28.Qh5 Kh7 29.Rd1 Qc8 30.Ne3. Permanent weakness of the light squares around black king combined with the coming time trouble makes Black’s task impracticable.


30…f5? An exchange sacrifice 30…e4! seems best practical chance. After 31.Nd5 Qxc6 32.Nxb4 Bxb4 Black continues to fight, and the computer recommendation 33.Bh3 seems to lead to a draw after 33…Qc5! 34.Qxc5 Bxc5 35.Bxe6 fxe6.

31.Bd5!? Removing one of a few defenders of the black king and creating more weaknesses for Black seems sensible. However, there was an even stronger move: 31.g4! fxg4 (after 31…f4 32.Nd5 White’s attack quickly achieves its goal – 32…Rd4 33.Rxd4 exd4 34.Be4+ Kg8 35.g5!+-) 32.Qxe5 with a highly unpleasant threat с6-с7. After the most tenacious 32…Ra4 33.c7 Ra7 34.Rd8 Qxc7 35.Qxc7 Rxc7 36.Rxf8 White should win, but not without technical problems.

31…f4 32.Nc2 Ra4 33.Qxe5 Bg7 34.Be4+? This time trouble mistake could keep Shakhriyar on the last place for another round. White retained good winning chances after 34.Qd6 Bxd5 35.Qxd5 Qe6 36.Qd3+ Qg6 37.Na3! Qxd3 38.Rxd3 Be5 39.gxf4 Bxf4 40.Nb5 Kg6 41.Rc3.

34…Kg8 35.Qxf4 f5! 36.c7 Rxe4 37.Rd8+.


37…Kf7?? Missing half a point! After 37…Kh7! 38.Qd6 Qb7 White has to accept a draw – 39.Qxe6 Rxe6 40.c8Q Qxc8 41.Rxc8, etc.

38.Qd6 Qa6 39.Rd7+! Andreikin blundered this check. Now the price for stopping the c7-pawn becomes too high…

39…Kg6. On 39…Kg8 White can either win a queen by с7-с8 or play for the attack: 40.Ne3!, threatening Qе7.

40.Qc6 Qc8 41.Rd8 Rc4 42.Qxc4. Black resigns.


Vishy Anand – Vladimir Kramnik
Queen’s Gambit D39

This game did not exceed the span of Kramnik’s opening preparation and was almost shorter than the press-conference afterwards. It looks like Anand was not in a mood to fight and simply tested Vladimir’s knowledge of sharp and forced opening lines.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5. In very sharp and often forced lines of the Vienna Variation there is a significant risk of tripping an opening mine.

Recently Kramnik employed 6…h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 a few times, but lost his last game after 8.Bxc4 c5 9.e5 Qd8 10.0–0 cxd4 11.Ne4 0–0 12.a3 Be7 13.Qe2 Nd7 14.Rfd1 Qc7 15.Ng3 Rd8 16.Rac1 Qb6 17.Rxd4 Nf8 18.Rg4 Bd7 19.Nh5 Ng6 20.h4 Bf8 21.Bd3 Be8 22.Bxg6 fxg6 23.Nf4 Kh7 24.Qe4 Qxb2 25.Rb1 Qxa3 26.Nxg6 Kg8 27.Rxb7 Qc1+ 28.Kh2 Qc6, Mamedyarov-Kramnik, Moscow 2010.

7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bb5+ Nbd7 11.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 gxf6 13.h4 a6 14.Rh3 Qb4 15.Be2 Ne5 16.h5. Avoiding 16.Rc1 Qd6 17.Rc2 Bd7 18.Rd2 Qc7 19.Rc2 Qd6 20.Rd2 Qc7 21.Rc2, draw, Grischuk-Kramnik, Moscow 2011.

16…Qd6 17.Qd2 Nc6 18.Rd3 Qh2. The only move. 18…Nxd4 is not satisfactory – 19.Rxd4 Qe7 20.Rd1 0–0 21.h6!+-.


19.f4. Only this move is a novelty, but everything is so forced that it hardly surprised anyone as theoretically enlightened as Kramnik. Earlier White tried 19.Nf3 Qh1+ 20.Ng1 Rg8 21.Rg3 Rxg3 22.fxg3, and Black got a good game in Froewis-Hoelzl, Austria 2012, although White eventually won after 22…e5?! 23.Kf2!

19…Rg8. The greedy 19…Qh1+ 20.Kf2 Qxa1 is not good – after 21.Nxc6 0–0 22.Ne7+ Kh8 23.Rd8 Black is forced to part with a bishop – 23…Bd7 24.Rxd7, and White should win.

20.Bf3 Bd7! This move allows Black to hold in all variations.

21.Ne2. Very practical – Vishy gained nothing in the opening, and he immediately ends the game. Indeed, 21.Nb3 Ne5! 22.fxe5 Bb5 23.Rd1 Rd8 24.Nc1 Qxe5 seems more promising for Black.

21…Qh1+ 22.Ng1.


22…Nd4! 23.Rxd4 Bb5+ 24.Kf2 Qh4+ 25.Ke3 e5! White cannot avoid the perpetual.

26.fxe5 Qg5+ 27.Kf2 Qg3+ 28.Ke3 Qg5+ 29.Kf2 Qg3+ 30.Ke3 Qg5+. Draw.


Sergey Karjakin-Veselin Topalov
English Opening A29

1.c4. At the press-conference Karjakin said that he already tested all sensible moves against Topalov, except for this one, so it was the time to experiment.

1…e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6 7.0–0 Be7 8.d3 0–0. This position is very common, and its evaluation is critical for the entire line. White tries to prove importance of his extra tempo compared to the Dragon, Black objects. In my database I found that Topalov plays it for both sides, while Karjakin defended it a couple of times as Black.

9.Be3 Be6. Karjakin continued 9…Re8 10.Rc1 Bf8 11.a3 Bg4 and equalized completely after 12.Ne4 Nd4 13.Bxd4 exd4 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 c6 16.Kg2 a5, Wang Yue-Karjakin, Beijing 2013.

10.Rc1 Re8. Looks like Black mixes up plans, as Karjakin pointed out after the game. Usual moves are 10…f6 or 10…f5.

11.a3 Nd5 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Qa4 a6.


A critical moment after the opening. Later Karjakin was unhappy about his next move.

14.Rc3. I like the crafty 14.Rfe1!?, and Black has surprising problems with his next move – after 14…Bf6 (nothing is changed by 14…f6 15.Qg4) 15.Nd2 looks even stronger. I cannot say White has an advantage, but his position is somewhat more pleasant.

14…Bf6 15.Rc5 Ne7 16.Rfc1 c6. Black has successfully rearranged his forces, and the semi-open c-file yields White nothing.

17.Bg5 Bxg5 18.Nxg5 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Nf5 20.Qg4 Nd6 21.e3 Qf6 22.Ne4 Nxe4 23.Qxe4 Rad8 24.R1c3 Re6 25.b4 g6 26.a4. The Bulgarian grandmaster mentioned that his position would be worse without the tactical trick:


26…Rd4!? White doesn’t have much after 26…Kg7 27.b5 cxb5 28.axb5 b6 29.R5c4 axb5 30.Rb4 Rdd6, but Veselin’s continuation equalizes at once.

27.exd4 exd4 28.Qxe6 Qxe6 29.R3c4 Qd6 30.a5 h5 31.h4 Kg7. The computer gives slight preference to Black, but does not even try to make progress. The players follow its recommendation mostly because of the time control.

32.Kg1 Kf8 33.Rc1 Qe6. Just in case Black seizes the e-file. The machine considers it meaningless, suggesting 33…Kg8 34.Re1 f5, and White cannot break anyway.

34.R5c4 Qe5 35.Kf1 Qd5 36.Re1 Qh1+ 37.Ke2 Qd5 38.Kf1 Qh1+ 39.Ke2 Qd5 40.Kf1. Draw.


Levon Aronian – Peter Svidler
Gruenfeld Defense D85

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5. Seeing the Gruenfeld against d2-d4 is never surprising in Peter Svidler’s games, but seeing him surprised in these lines is equally rare.

4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 c5 8.Rb1 0–0 9.Be2. One of the mainstream lines since 80s. These days it occurs less often, but is still quite playable, as this game shows.

9…cxd4. Peter decided against repeating 9…b6 10.0–0 Bb7 11.Qd3 e6 12.Bg5 Qc7 13.Qe3 Nd7 as he played in a lost game against Aronian at the Alekhine Memorial last year.

9…Nc6 and 9…Qa5 are the major alternatives.

10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0–0 b6. A lot more often Peter played 12…Bg4. For example, 13.Rxb7 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Bxd4 15.Bb4 Nc6 16.Bxe7 Rfe8 17.Bg5 Bb6 18.h4 Nd4 19.Bf6 Qc4 20.Bxd4 Qxd4 21.Qxd4 Bxd4 22.Rd1 Rad8 23.g3 Kf8 24.Kf1 Bb6 25.h5 Rxd1+ 26.Bxd1 Rxe4 27.hxg6 hxg6 28.Bb3 f5 29.Bf7 Re7 30.Rxe7 Kxe7 31.Bxg6 Kf6, draw, Radjabov-Svidler, Stavanger 2013.

13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Bc4 Qa4 15.Bb5 Qa2 16.Re1 Rc8 17.Qd1 Qc2 18.Qe2 Nc6 19.Bd3. Aronian also saw this position before – after 19.e5 Nd8 20.Bd7 Rcb8 21.h4 Bd5 22.Rbc1 Qa2 23.Ng5 h6 24.Nh3 Ne6 25.Qe3 Rd8 26.Bxe6 Bxe6 27.Nf4 Bc4 Black’s passed pawns outweighed White’s kingside threats, and Levon survived only with some help from his opponent, Aronian-Grischuk, Beijing 2013.

19…Qa2 20.Bc4 Qa4 21.Bb3.


21…Qa3. A novelty shown by the computer. Earlier Black played 21…Qa6 22.Qe3, and here after 22…Na5 White proceeded 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.Ng5+ with highly unpleasant long-lasting initiative: 24…Kg8 25.Qh3 h6 26.Qe6+ Kh8 27.Nf7+ Kh7 28.Bxh6. Black could survive by 28…b5! (28…Qc4 29.d5 Qc3 30.Bxg7 Qxg7 31.Ng5+ Kh8 32.Re3 Qg8 1–0, Lobron-Konguvel, Linares 1996) 29.Ng5+ Kxh6, and I didn’t find more than the perpetual.

22.Bxf7+. The principled and possibly strongest reply. After it the game continues almost by force and requires accurate defending from Black.

After 22.e5 e6 23.d5 exd5 24.Bxd5 Black reduces the opponent’s attacking potential by 24…Nd8 25.Bxb7 Nxb7 and is not afraid of 26.e6 Nd8 27.e7 Ne6 28.Bb4 Qa4 29.Ne5 Qe8 – it is hard for White to make progress.

22…Kxf7 23.Qc4+ e6 24.Ng5+ Ke8 25.Nxe6 Qe7 26.Nxg7+. 26.d5 looks like a serious alternative, however, after 26…Nd4 27.Qa4+ b5 28.Rxb5 Nxb5 29.Qxb5+ Kf7 30.Ng5+ Kg8 31.d6 Qxd6 32.Qxb7 Rab8 (32…Qxd2?? 33.Qb3+ Kh8 34.Nf7+ Kg8 35.Nh6+ Kh8 36.Qg8+ Rxg8 37.Nf7#) 33.Qf7+ Kh8 White cannot prove his advantage.

26…Qxg7 27.Bc3.


The critical moment of the game. At the press-conference Svidler said he saw 27…Nxd4 28.Qxd4 Qxd4 29.Bxd4 with the draw being very likely, but decided to continue fighting. Such an optimistic decision deserves criticism – White’s winning chances in a practical game are pretty high, while Black needs to be very accurate to hold.

27…Nd8 28.Qb3 Rc7 29.Ba1 Rac8 30.d5 Qd7 31.Qb2 Qe7 32.Rbd1 Nf7 33.e5 Rc2 34.Qb5+.


So far Svidler was up to the task…

34…Qd7? A single mistake, and Black goes down. After the only 34…Kf8 35.e6 Nd6 Black keeps balancing on a brink – 36.Qb4 R8c4 37.Qa3 Nf5! 38.d6 Nxd6 39.Rxd6 Ke8!, still holding.

35.Qxd7+ Kxd7 36.e6+. White regains a piece in a much more favorable situation compared to 27…Nxd4 and retains good winning chances.

36…Kd6 37.exf7 Rf8 38.Re6+ Kd7 39.Rf6 Re2 40.f4 Re7 41.Be5. The time trouble is over, but Black’s suffering just begins.

41…Rexf7 42.Rd6+ Ke8?! More tenacious is 42…Ke7, intending to trade a couple of rooks by …Rd8, still fighting for a draw.

43.Re1 Re7 44.Rc1 Rff7 45.Bf6! Rd7 46.Re6+ Kf8 47.d6.


Black is completely chained, and his connected passed pawns on the queenside cannot move. White’s advantage is almost decisive.

47…Kg8 48.h4. The h-pawn breaks through Black’s kingside like a battering-ram.

48…Rf8 49.Bg5 Kf7 50.Rce1 Bc6? Offering White a chance to end the game at once. Black still fights for a draw after 50…Kg8 51.Re7 Rfd8 52.Rc1 Rxe7 53.dxe7 Re8.

51.h5?! Aronian could win by 51.Re7+ Kg8 52.Rc1 Rxd6 53.Rc7! followed by Bе7.

51…a5? The worst possible moment to push this pawn! White gets another chance to end the game, and does not let it go this time. Black needed to play 51…gxh5, although it seems White wins after 52.Re7+ Kg8 53.Rc1 Rxd6 54.Rc7 Be4 55.Be7 Rd2 56.Bxf8 Kxf8 57.g3! anyway.

52.Re7+ Kg8 53.hxg6. 53.Rc1 Rxd6 54.Rc7 was quite good, but so is Levon’s choice.

53…hxg6 54.R1e6 Rf7 55.Rxg6+ Kh7 56.Rh6+ Kg7 57.Ree6. Black resigns.