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GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 6th round

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

Veselin Topalov – Vladimir Kramnik
Queen’s Gambit D37

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 Nh5. This variation was very popular during the 2011 candidates matches, attended by both players.

1

8.Be5. A rare move. It seems like avoiding the main lines in favor of tactical-oriented sidelines is the cornerstone of Topalov’s opening preparation to his tournament – just recall what he did against Svidler yesterday. In a majority of games White continued by 8.Bd3, but not very successfully – the number of draws in this variation is very high.

8…c6 9.Bd3 g6. A novelty at an early stage. Once Topalov faced 9…f5, and got a big advantage after 10.b4 a6 11.h3 Nxe5 12.dxe5 f4 13.e4 a5 14.a3 g6 15.0–0 b6 16.Na4 axb4 17.axb4 bxc5 18.Nxc5 Rxa1 19.Qxa1 – Black not only has the usual problems with the c8-bishop, but also a sindelined knight on h5. Topalov-Campora, Barcelona 2000 continued 19…Qb6 20.Qd4 Qb8 21.Rc1 Rd8 22.Qc3 Ng7 23.Bc2 Bd7 24.Qd4 Be8 25.exd5 cxd5 26.Qxf4 Qb6 27.Bd3 Ra8 28.g4 Bb5 29.Kg2 Rb8 30.Nd4 Bxd3 31.Nxd3 Bg5 32.Qxg5 Qxd4 33.Qe3 Qe4+ 34.Kg3 h5 35.Qxe4 dxe4 36.Nf4 hxg4 37.hxg4 g5 38.Nh3 Rxb4 39.Nxg5 Rb8 40.Nxe4, and White won.

10.h4. A very ambitious move – White wants to retreat the bishop to h2, and if Black takes on е5, White will go for a pawn storm with g4 и h5.

10…f5.

2

11.Bh2!? Offering a pawn, which Kramnik did not take, suspecting his opponent analyzed everything with the computer.

11…b6. An attempt to divide the opponent’s attention with some queenside activity. 11…Bxh4 12.Nxh4 Qxh4 looks dangerous for Black after, for example, 13.Qd2 e5 14.0–0–0 exd4 15.exd4, and now 15…Qxd4 is bad due to 16.Bd6 Qg7 17.Rde1! with the strong initiative.

12.b4 f4. Shutting down the h2-bishop. The more consistent 12…a5 is met by 13.b5 (but not 13.a3 axb4 14.axb4 Rxa1 15.Qxa1 f4, and Black is fine) 13…Bb7 14.cxb6 Nxb6 15.0–0 with queenside pressure, e. g., 15…c5 16.dxc5 Bxc5 17.Na4 Nxa4 18.Qxa4.

13.0–0! The rook leaves the h-file, but there is a lot of work to do in the center.

13…a5?! Black’s position is already suspicious, and Kramnik’s decision to sharpen the game makes it even worse. After 13…Bxh4 White continues 14.Bxf4 Nxf4 15.exf4 Rxf4 16.g3 Rxf3 (16…Rg4 is weaker in view of 17.Qe2 Kg7 18.Nxh4 Qxh4 19.Qxe6, and after 19…Rxg3+ 20.fxg3 Qxg3+ 21.Kh1 Qh4+ 22.Kg2 Qg5+ 23.Kf2 Nxc5 24.Qe3 Qxe3+ 25.Kxe3 Nxd3 26.Kxd3 Ba6+ 27.b5! cxb5 28.Ne2! the rook is stronger than Black’s numerous pawns) 17.Qxf3 Bf6, and Black should have decent compensation due to his strong dark-squared bishop.

3

14.b5! bxc5. The patient 14…Bb7 does not work – after 15.bxc6 Bxc6 16.cxb6 Nxb6 (16…Qxb6 17.Rb1 Qd8 18.Qe2) 17.Ne5! White’s advantage is overwhelming.

15.bxc6 Nb8 16.Bb5 Ba6?! It seems Black’s best chance to defend is 16…c4. White has a decent advantage after 17.Ne5 Bb4 18.Ne2 Bd6 19.Nxf4 Bxe5 20.dxe5 Nxf4 21.Bxf4, but there is a lot of struggle ahead. 16…Qb6?! is strongly met by 17.Ne5, and the с6-pawn lives. 16…cxd4 17.Qxd4 Qc7 18.Rac1 Bf6 19.Bxf4 Nxf4 20.Qxf4+-.

17.a4 Qc8?! This leads to a hopeless ending. 17…Nxc6 18.Bxc6 Bxf1 19.Bxa8 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 Qxa8 is also insufficient, but at least Black has some dynamic chances, although White should win after the energetic 21.Bxf4! Nxf4+ 22.exf4 Rxf4 23.Qe2.

18.dxc5 Nxc6.

4

19.Nxd5! exd5. Bad is 19…Bxc5 20.Rc1+-.

20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Qxc6 Qxc6 22.Bxc6 Rac8. Maybe Black should try 22…Bxf1 23.Bxa8 Ba6 – at least White doesn’t have a dangerous passed pawn on the queenside here. Still he has good winning chances after 24.Bc6 Bxc5 25.Nd4.

23.Bb5 Bxb5 24.axb5 Bxc5 25.Rxa5 fxe3 26.fxe3 Bxe3+ 27.Kh1 Rc2? This counterplay attempt made under the time pressure is easily refuted – Black fails to create any serious threats, and White’s passer becomes unstoppable. The computer recommends 27…Nf4 intending to take on g2 after the careless 28.Rb1?! (much stronger is 28.Ra6! and b6), but after 28…Nxg2 29.b6 Bxb6 30.Rxb6 Ne3 31.Be5+ Kg8 32.Rf6! Rxf6 33.Bxf6 Rc1+ 34.Ng1 White retains serious winning chances.

28.Rb1 Rfc8.

5

29.Raa1! This prophylactic move is necessary! 29.b6?? Rc1+ 30.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 31.Bg1 Bxb6=.

29…Bb6 30.Be5+ Kg8 31.Ra6! Breaking through the blockade on b6. Now white passed pawn cannot be stopped.

31…Be3 32.b6 Rc1+ 33.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 34.Kh2 Rb1 35.g4! Topalov is ruthless, once again he chooses the absolute best move. After 35.Ng5 Kf8 36.g4 Black could keep fighting for a while – 36…Bf4+ 37.Bxf4 Nxf4, although 38.Nxh7+ Ke7 39.Ng5 should give White an easy win.

35…Bf4+ 36.Kg2 Bxe5 37.Nxe5 Nf4+ 38.Kf3 Ne6 39.b7 Rb3+ 40.Kf2 Rb2+ 41.Ke3. Black resigns.

 

Viswanathan Anand – Sergey Karjakin
Ruy Lopez C67

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0. The first real Berlin Variation, as both grandmasters noticed at the press-conference. I have to admit I don’t believe in my ability to understand the nuances of this fundamental variation, so my notes will be short and general.

4…Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5. The only drawback of the solid system with h5 is Black’s total lack of ambition.

11.Bf4. Vishy is first to deviate from their earlier game. The text-move was used by Karjakin several times as well. After 11.Rd1 Be7 12.Bg5 Be6 13.Rd2 (13.b3 h4 14.Kf1 a5 15.a4 Rh5 16.Bc1 Bb4 17.Ne2 Bd5 18.Ne1 Rd8 19.Bb2 Rh6 20.c4 Be6 21.Nf3 Be7 22.Rxd8+, draw, Ivanchuk-Karjakin, Wijk aan Zee 2012) 13…Rd8 14.Rad1 Rxd2 15.Rxd2 h4 16.Bxe7 Kxe7 17.Ne2 Bd5 18.Nfd4 Nxd4 19.Nxd4 Black could hardly complain about the opening outcome, although later he played poorly and lost, Anand-Karjakin, Moscow 2009.

11…Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5.

6

13…Rh6! A typical developing maneuver in this variation. Karjakin got a better game as White after 13…Bc4?! 14.Rfe1 Rd8 15.b3 Bd5 16.Nce4 Bxe4 17.Rxd8+ Bxd8 18.Rxe4 Bxg5 19.Bxg5 h4 20.Rf4 Rh5 21.Rxf5 g6 22.Rf4 Rxg5 23.e6 fxe6 24.Rxh4 in Karjakin-Nakamura Moscow 2010, but the game was drawn anyway.

14.Rfe1 Bb4 15.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 Ne7 17.Nxe6 Rxe6 18.Kg2 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Rd8 20.Rxd8+. A novelty. Earlier practice saw 20.Rb1 b5 21.Kg3 Rd5 22.c4 Rc5 23.Re4 a6 24.Rb3 Ng6 25.Ra3 f6 26.Rxa6 Nxf4 27.Kxf4 Rexe5 28.Rxe5+ fxe5+ 29.Kf5 Kf7 30.Ra7 g6+ 31.Kg5 e4+ 32.Kh6 Rxc4 33.Rxc7+ Ke6 34.g5 Rxc2 35.Kxg6 Rxf2 36.Rxc6+ Kd5 37.Rb6 Kc5 38.Re6 Kd4 39.Rd6+ Kc5 40.Re6 Kd4 41.Rd6+ Kc5 42.Re6, draw, Karjakin-Grischuk, Moscow 2013.

20…Kxd8 21.Rh1 Nd5! 21…Ng6!? 22.Bg5+ Ke8 23.f4 c5, and it is hard for White to make progress.

7

22.Bg3 g5. Black created some kind of a fortress – White cannot utilize his pawn majority and cannot create an iconic second weakness.

23.c4! Nc3 24.Kf3. Trying to restrict the black knight. The best chance is 24.Rh7, and the early recommendation of the computer 24…Ne2 loses to 25.Rxf7 Nxg3 26.Kxg3 Rxe5 27.Rf5 Re4 (bad is 27…Rxf5 28.gxf5 Ke7 29.Kg4 Kf6 30.c5!+-) 28.Rxg5 Rxc4 29.Re5 – more advanced pawn are much more valuable! Black must reply by 24…Ke8 25.Rh8+ Kd7! (but not 25…Ke7? 26.f4! gxf4?? 27.Bh4+ Kd7 28.Rd8#) 26.Rf8 Re7!, although here White can try to increase pressure – 27.f4 gxf4 28.Bxf4 c5 29.Kf3 Nxa2 30.Bg5 Rxe5 31.Rxf7+ Ke8 32.Rg7, and try to queen the g-pawn without much risk.

24…Rg6?!

8

25.a3. Rook invasion still looks promising – 25.Rh8+ Kd7 26.Rf8 Rg7 27.e6+!? Kxe6 (27…fxe6 28.Be5 Rh7 29.Bf6!, and here Black’s position looks very suspicious, although the computer remains optimistic) 28.Re8+ Kd7 29.Rb8 b5 30.Rb7 Rg6 31.Rxc7+! Ke8 32.Rxa7, and Black to work hard for a draw.

25…Na4 26.Ke4 Nc5+ 27.Kf5 Ne6. Black just completed his defensive wall, now White cannot break anywhere.

28.Rh8+ Kd7 29.c3 Ng7+ 30.Ke4 Ne6 31.f3 c5 32.Bf2 a6 33.Be3 b6. Draw.

 

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Peter Svidler
Dutch Defense A81

1.d4 f5. An opening surprise on the move one! According to my database, Svidler played the Dutch just once.

2.g3. That game went on 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 Be6 7.Qf3 g6 8.Nge2 Nd7 9.0–0–0 Qc7 10.h3 0–0–0 11.g4, and White is slightly better, Grischuk-Svidler, Riga 2013.

2…Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 d6 7.Nc3 Qe8. A critical position of the Leningrad Dutch arose.

8.b4. A rare reply that aims to gain space on the queenside. In return Black is allowed to carry out е7-е5. Playing White against Nakamura, Svidler went for the most principled 8.d5 Na6 9.Nd4 Nc5 10.b3 Bd7 11.Bb2 c6 12.Rb1 a5 13.Ba3 Nfe4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Bb2 cxd5 16.cxd5 a4 17.Ne6 Bxb2 18.Rxb2 Bxe6 19.dxe6 Qb5, and Black equalized, Svidler-Nakamura, Stavanger 2013.

8…e5 9.dxe5 dxe5.

9

10.Ba3. A new move. Statistically the most popular move here is 10.e4, but the score favors Black.

10…e4 11.Nd4 Rf7. Black can consider the typical idea 11…Qf7 12.Qb3 Nc6!?, and he is fine after 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.b5 Rd8 15.bxc6 Be6, because the g2-bishop is out of play.

12.Qb3 Nc6 13.Nxc6 Qxc6. Black prefers to keep his pawn structure flexible, but gives the opponent time to save the imprisoned bishop.

14.b5 Qe8 15.f3 Be6 16.Rad1. Holding on е4 is no longer possible, but Peter’s queenside play should equalize comfortably.

16…a6!? 16…c6 is also possible. 17.fxe4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 fxe4, and now 19.Bxe4 is not good – after 19…Rxf1+ 20.Rxf1 Bh3 21.Bg2 Bd4+ 22.e3 Bxe3+ 23.Kh1 Bxg2+ 24.Kxg2 c5 Black’s position is even more pleasant.

17.bxa6 Rxa6 18.fxe4 fxe4 19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Rxf1+ 21.Rxf1 b5! 22.Qe3?! 22.Bc5!? Bxc4 23.Bd5+ Bxd5 24.Qxd5+ Re6 25.e3 with an approximately even game is more accurate.

10

22…bxc4?! By 22…Qd7! 23.Bc5 Bxc4 24.a3 Re6 Black obtains a better game – after the only possible reply 25.Qf3 Rf6 26.Qe3 Bh6! 27.Qd4 (27.Qxh6 loses to 27…Rxf1+ 28.Kxf1 Qd1+ 29.Kg2 Qxe2+, mating in a few moves) 27…Qxd4+ 28.Bxd4 Rd6 (also interesting is 28…Rxf1+ 29.Kxf1 Bf8!?) 29.Bc5 Rd2 White has to work hard to make a draw.

23.Bc5 Qc8?! The first move of the inexplicable sequence that led Black to a complete disaster. The computer defends against Bd5 by 23…Qd7, and after 24.Rb1 Bf6 25.Rb8+ Kg7! White must take the move repetition 26.Bf8+ Kf7 27.Bc5, as there is nothing better.

An attempt to bring back the rook loses quite nicely – 23…Bf7? 24.Rxf7! Qxf7 (after 24…Kxf7 25.Bd5+ Re6 26.Bxc4 Black perishes due to the eternal pin) 25.Bd5! Qxd5 26.Qe8+ Bf8 27.Qxf8#.

24.h4. Stronger is 24.Rd1! Bf8 (24…Bf7 is again bad, now it is refuted by 25.Bb7!, and Black either loses a rook or gets mated after 25…Qxb7 26.Rd8+) 25.a4 Bf7 26.Qd4! Bxc5 27.Qxc5, and it is still hard for Black to defend.

11

24…h6?? A completely inexplicable blunder. Black could still defend by 24…Kh8 25.Bd4 Qd7 26.Rf8+ Bg8 27.Bc3 Re6 28.Kg2! (28.Qf3 Rxe4 29.Qxe4 Bxc3 30.Rxg8+ Kxg8 31.Qxc4+ Qf7 32.Qxc3 Qxa2 with equality) 28…Qd6! 29.Qf3 Bxc3 30.Qf7 Qxf8 31.Qxf8 Bg7 32.Qa8 c6 33.Bxc6 Rxe2+ 34.Kh3 Rd2 with good chances to make a draw.

25.Bxg6 Bd5 26.h5. 26.Bf5 Qa8 27.Rf4!+- followed by Rg4 is even stronger.

26…Qd7. This leads to a lost ending. Black’s last chance to resist was to bring the rook back to the 8th rank – 26…Ra8, however, his position after 27.Kh2 (taking h3 under control) 27…c6 28.Bd4 Bxd4 29.Qxd4 hardly calls for optimism – it should be lost.

27.Bd4 Re6 28.Bf7+ Qxf7 29.Rxf7 Rxe3 30.Rxg7+ Kf8.

12

31.Rg5! An elegant way to finish off the game. Svidler resigned in view of 31…hxg5 32.Bxe3 g4 33.a4, and White has too many passed pawns.

 

Levon Aronian – Dmitry Andreikin
Reti Opening A11

1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.g3. This is a so-called Reti Gambit, a rare guest at the top level.

3…dxc4 4.Bg2 Nd7 5.0–0 Ngf6 6.Qc2 Nb6. A first critical position of the variation. White is at the crossroads.

13

7.Na3. If White includes 7.a4 a5 8.Na3, the safest option for Black is 8…Qd5 9.Ne1 Bf5, and after 10.Bxd5 Bxc2 11.Bxc6+ bxc6 12.Naxc2 g6 13.d3 Bg7 he has sufficient counterplay on the b-file.

7…Be6. Now after 7…Qd5 8.Ne1 (also interesting is 8.b3 cxb3 9.axb3 g6 10.Nc4 Nxc4 11.bxc4 with Benko-type compensation, Adams-Kanep, Caleta 2013) 8…Bf5 9.Bxd5 Bxc2 10.Bxc6+ bxc6 11.Nexc2 e6 12.b3 cxb3 13.axb3 a5 14.Bb2 White’s position is more pleasant due to more compact pawns, Marin – Ris, Reykjavik 2009.

8.Ne5!? A relatively recent development in the theory of the line. It looks like Black neutralized the old main line 8.Ng5 by 8…Bg4 9.Nxc4 Bxe2 10.Ne5! Bh5! 11.Re1 h6! 12.Ne4 e6 13.Nxf6+ gxf6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Bxc6+ Nd7 16.Qf5 Bg6 17.Rxe6+ Be7 18.Qxf6 Rg8 19.Re1 Kf8 20.Qf4 Rc8 21.Qxh6+ Rg7 22.Qh8+ Rg8 23.Qh6+ Rg7 24.Qh8+ Rg8, draw, Dubov-Potkin, Moscow 2012.

8…Qd4. Andreikin accepts the challenge! It doesn’t look like White can achieve anything real after a modest reply 8…g6 9.Naxc4 Nxc4 10.Nxc4 Bg7 11.b3 Bd5 12.Bb2 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 c5, although Pantsulaia-Sargissian, Khanty-Mansiysk 2010 ultimately ended in White’s favor.

14

9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bxc6+ Kd8 11.Nb5 Qc5 12.Bxa8 Qxb5. After 12…Nxa8 13.a4 a6 14.d4 Qf5 15.Qxf5 Bxf5 16.Na3 White’s chances in a complex ending should be preferred.

13.Bg2 Bd7. A novelty that aims to develop Black’s frozen kingside. Timman-Smeets, Wijk aan Zee 2013 saw 13…h5 14.h4 Bf5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a4 Nxa4 17.e5 Ne8 18.Re1 e6 19.Bf1 Bc5 20.d3 Qb3 21.Qxc4 Qxc4 22.dxc4, and White won this ending.

14.b3 e5 15.Rb1 cxb3. In the case of 15…Bd6 16.bxc4 Qxc4 17.Qxc4 Nxc4 18.Rb7 the game is one-sided, so Black decides to snatch the e2-pawn, taking even greater risks due to slow development.

16.Rxb3 Qxe2 17.Ba3 Bxa3 18.Rxa3 Qc4 19.Qb1 Ke7 20.Rxa7 Qd4 21.Rb7.

15

21…Na4?! This knight gets stuck on the edge and becomes a target for white pieces. More solid approach is 21…Nc8 22.Rb4 Qxd2 23.Rd1 Qc3, and in my express-analysis I failed to find an advantage for White, although playing Black after, say, 24.a4!?, is not an easy task.

22.Rc1 Rd8 23.h3. This crafty pawn move is also a very practical decision. Levon did not find anything forced and decided to make a useful move (some air for the king), giving his opponent an opportunity to make a mistake. 23.Rb4 Qd6 (23…Qxd2 is dubious: 24.Rd1 Qc3 25.Rxd7+ Rxd7 26.Rxa4, and with the queens on the board White’s chances are higher) 24.Rcc4 Qxd2 (24…Nc5? 25.Rb6) 25.Rxa4 Bxa4 26.Rxa4 Qd1+ 27.Qxd1 Rxd1+ 28.Bf1 Nd7 leads to equality.

23…Kf8 24.Qb3 e4?! The position is very complicated, and no wonder Black commits a slight error. Even the computer does not help much here. It seems Black is in order after 24…Ne4 25.Bxe4 Qxe4 26.Rb4 (also interesting is 26.d4 Be8 27.Qb4+ Kg8 28.dxe5 Qxe5 29.Re7 Qb5 30.Qe4, and Black cannot bring back his sidelined a4-knight) 26…Qa8 27.Rc7 Qa5 28.Rxd7 Rxd7 29.Rxa4 Qxd2, but White retains practical winning chances.

25.Rc4! Qd5 26.Qb4+ Kg8 27.Rd4 Qc6? Only 27…Qc5 28.Rdxd7 Nxd7 29.Qxa4 Qc1+ 30.Kh2 Qxd2 gives Black realistic hopes of survival.

16

28.Rbxd7?! Should be sufficient for a win, but 28.Bxe4! is much stronger: White just takes a pawn with tempo, as 28…Nxe4 loses to 29.Rdxd7. After Black’s best reply 28…Qe6 White gets a decisive advantage: 29.Rbxd7 Rxd7 30.Qb8+ Ne8 31.Rxa4.

28…Nxd7 29.Qxa4 Qxa4 30.Rxa4 Nf8. Also bad is 30…f5 31.Rd4 Kf7 32.d3 exd3 33.Rxd3 Ke7 34.Bc6 Ne5 35.Rxd8 Kxd8 36.Bd5, and White wins without a doubt.

31.Rxe4?! Having obtained a winning advantage, Levon started to hesitate, missing one strongest move after another. After 31.Bxe4 Rxd2 32.Ra8 g6 33.a4 Kg7 34.Ra7 the resulting endgame is a much better version of what he got in the game.

31…Rxd2 32.a4. Curiously, the computer recommends to bring the rook back to а4 – it seems Levon’s idea of defending it from the side should be considered unsuccessful.

32…Ra2 33.Bf3 g6 34.Kg2 Ne6 35.Rc4 Kg7 36.Bd5 Kf6 37.Re4 Ra3.

17

White’s task got complicated – Black managed to coordinate his pieces, and pushing the passed pawn is now more difficult. Levon decided to transpose to a rook ending.

38.Bxe6?! fxe6 39.Rf4+ Ke7. However, it turned out White cannot win here.

40.h4 h5 41.Re4 Kf7 42.Kf1 Ra2! Andreikin does not allow White to activate his king.

43.Ke1 Kf6 44.Kd1!? Ke7. The trap 44…Rxf2?? 45.Rf4+ Rxf4 46.gxf4 and White wins is too transparent.

45.f4 Ra3 46.Kc2 Rxg3 47.Rd4 Re3 48.Kb2 e5. Draw.

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