GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 7th round

Sergey Karjakin – Levon Aronian

Ruy Lopez C65

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.0–0 Re8. Aronian already employed this not very popular, but quite logical move. As far as I can see, Black would like to save a tempo on d7-d6 and hopefully play d7-d5 in some lines.

7.Nbd2 a6 8.Bxc6. Earlier Levon faced 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bb3 (if 9.Bc2 then 9…d5) 9…d6 (here 9…d5 is bad due to 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Ng5!, and White seizes the initiative) 10.Re1 Be6 11.Nf1 Bxb3 12.axb3 d5, and Black solved opening problems in Radjabov – Aronian, London 2013.

8…dxc6 9.Nc4 Nd7 10.b4 Bd6.


11.Qb3. A novelty. 11.Bg5 was played before exclusively, but after 11…f6 12.Be3 Nf8 Black never had any trouble, for instance, 13.Nfd2 Be6 14.Nb3 Qd7 15.Qe2 Ng6 16.Rfd1 Bf8 17.Nc5 Bxc5 18.bxc5 f5 19.f3 Bxc4 20.dxc4 Qe6 with complete equality, Rublevsky-Kurnosov, Eilat 2012.

11…Nf8. The computer suggests 11…h6, but I like Levon’s move more – White gains nothing by Bg5, and h7-h6 creates a weakness.

12.Bg5 Qd7 13.Be3 Ng6 14.Nfd2 Bf8. White carries out the most logical plan in the position – 15.d4, but after 15…Qe7 16.dxe5 Be6 17.Qc2 Bxc4 18.Nxc4 Nxe5 Black’s activity balances out White’s structural achievements.

19.Nd2 a5 20.a3 axb4 21.axb4 Qe6 22.f3 Nc4 23.Bf4 c5 24.b5 Nd6 25.Rxa8 Rxa8 26.Rb1 b6 27.e5 Nc4 28.Qe4 Ra4 29.Rc1 h6.


30.h4?! This is where Sergey started to lose control over the situation. The prophylactic 30.Bg3! is the way to go, as Black cannot really get rid of the pin, while White cannot really make any use of it. For example, 30…Nb2 31.Qc2, and now Black has to discover 31…Ra3! to hold.

30…Nb2! 31.c4 Qd7! 32.Rb1 Ra2 33.Be3?! Black was threatening Qd4, yet White should have preferred 33.Nb3 Nd3 34.Bg3 (weaker is 34.Rd1? Rxg2+ 35.Kxg2 Nxf4+ 36.Qxf4 Qxd1) 34…Nb4 35.Kh2, and it is hard to Black to make progress, especially with his f8-bishop being out of play.


33…Na4! 34.Rb3?! A desperate attempt to lighten the load and create some counterplay, however, there was a better way to do that: 34.Re1!? Nc3!? (in the case of 34…Rxd2 35.e6 fxe6 36.Bxd2 Qxd2 37.Qxe6+ Kh8 38.g3! Nc3 39.f4! the black bishop is still out of play, and his king is weak, which gives White sufficient counterchances) 35.Qg4!? Qxg4 (perhaps more promising for Black is 35…Qd3 36.Ne4 Nxe4 37.Qxe4 Qxe4 38.fxe4 Be7 39.g3 Kf8) 36.fxg4 Be7 37.g3, and White should be able to hold this ending.

34…Rxd2 35.Bxd2 Qxd2 36.Rd3! The last chance to make counterplay! 36.Re3 does not help, as Black continue 36…Qd4 37.e6 Qxe4 38.Rxe4 Be7! with a decisive advantage in the endgame.

36…Qc1+ 37.Kh2 Nb2! Starting a forced sequence, in which Black has the last word.  

38.Rd8 Qxc4 39.Qa8 Qxh4+ 40.Kg1 Qe1+ 41.Kh2 Qxe5+ 42.g3! 42.Kg1? does not lead to the move repetition, as after 42…Qe1+ 43.Kh2 Qe7 44.Re8 Black has 44…Qd6+ 45.g3 c4!–+

42…Qe2+ 43.Kh3 Nd3 44.Rxf8+ Kh7.


45.Re8? This is a decisive mistake. The only way to continue fighting is  45.Rh8+ Kg6 46.Qc6+ Kg5! 47.Qd5+ Kf6 48.Qc6+ Qe6+ 49.Qxe6+ Kxe6 50.Kg2, and Black must show some technique.

45…Nf2+ 46.Kh4. 46.Kg2 loses by force to 46…Ne4+ 47.Kh3 Qf1+ 48.Kg4 Nf6+ 49.Kf4 Qc1+ 50.Re3 g5+ 51.Kf5 Qxe3, and White cannot take the knight due to a checkmate on e6.  

46…Qxb5 47.g4!


White resits as hard as he can. Now Black has the only winning move, and Levon finds it in 15 minutes.

47…Qc4! Black controls the е4-square, parrying the Kg3 threat.

48.Qc8. 48.Rh8+ also doesn’t help – 48…Kg6 49.Qc6+ Qe6 50.Qxe6+ fxe6 51.Rc8 Nd3 52.Rxc7 b5!, and Black wins.

48…Qf4! Forcing the queen trade, which makes Black’s queenside passed pawns unstoppable.

49.Qf5+ Qxf5 50.gxf5 c4 51.Re7 c5 52.Rxf7 c3 53.f6 Kg6. White resigns.

Dmitry Andreikin – Veselin Topalov

Queen’s Gambit D30

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bxf6 Qxf6 6.Nbd2. This  modest, but very safe opening choice proved right against zealous Veselin.  

6…Be7. The flexible 6…Nd7 is more popular, but Black has no opening problems after the game continuation as well.

7.Qc2. This novelty hardly changes the reputation of the line as being harmless for Black.

7…0–0 8.e3.


8…c5!? This pawn sacrifice was supposed to equalize the game.

9.dxc5 Nd7. 9…Bd7 looks like a serious alternative. After 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Nb3 a5 12.a4 Rc8! White may even encounter some problems.

10.cxd5 exd5 11.Nb3 a5 12.a4. Topalov is unable to regain a pawn quickly, so he chooses a very ambitious plan.

12…b6 13.c6 Bb4+ 14.Kd1 Nc5 15.Nbd4.


The white king got stuck in the center early, however, an extra pawn on c6 (which is very hard to capture) and a good location for a knight on d4 gives White strong trumps.  

15…Ne4?! Black’s first misstep. He should have chosen another square for a knight – 15…Bg4 16.Bb5 Ne6! 17.Kc1 Bc5!, and Black breaks the blockade on d4 with good counterchances, e. g., 18.Qd2 Rac8 19.Kb1 Bxf3 20.Nxf3 Nd8 21.Qxd5 Nxc6 with the dangerous initiative for a pawn.

16.Bb5 g5?! For some strange reason Veselin abstains from the most natural idea of placing a rook on the c-file. After 16…Ra7 17.Ke2 Bg4! 18.Rhd1 Bc5 19.Kf1 Bxd4 20.Nxd4 Bxd1 21.Rxd1 Rc7 Black has good chances to hold.

17.h3 h5. Consistent play – Black sort of renews the threat g5-g4, but he completely overlooked Andreikin’s excellent reply.


18.Kc1! A very beautiful maneuver – White defends against Black’s swift attack but slowly moving the king to a safe place, and then begins his counterattack.

18…Bc5. After 18…g4 19.hxg4 hxg4 20.Kb1! gxf3 21.gxf3 Ng5 22.Ka2! Qg6 23.Rag1 White should win.

19.Kb1 Re8 20.Ka2 Ra7 21.Rad1. White has an extra pawn with very safe king and excellent development – his advantage is almost decisive.  

21…Kf8. 21…Rc7 22.Rhf1 Bb4 23.Ka1!, preparing Nе2 and Nfd4.

22.Rhf1 Kg7 23.Ka1 Bf8? Black’s position is already difficult, and this move loses even more material. Black could still fight after 23…Rc7 24.Nb3 Be6, although White’s position there is nearly winning.


24.Ne2! The decisive maneuver!

24…Rd8 25.h4. Securing the f4-square for a knight.

25…g4 26.Nf4 Kg8 27.Nxd5. Black loses more material, so Topalov resigned.


Vladimir Kramnik – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Queen’s Gambit D38

This game is so incredibly complex that I will only highlight a few spots.  

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Qc2 c5 8.e3 Qa5 9.Bd3 c4 10.Bf5 0–0 11.0–0 Re8 12.Nd2 g6 13.Bxd7 Nxd7. One of the key positions of the Ragozin defense arose, and after Kramnik selected a less popular 14.h4, Shakhriyar, apparently caught unprepared, responded with a very exotic 14…b5, which was played just once.


15.a4. A novelty. 15.a3 Bxc3 16.bxc3 Nb6 17.f3 Na4 18.Rac1 Nb6 19.Ra1 Na4 20.Rac1 f6 21.Bf4 Qd8 led to a complicated game in Lekic-Mikhalevski, Budva 2009, and Black slowly took the upper hand.

15…Bxc3 16.bxc3 b4 17.cxb4 Qxb4 18.Nb1 Qd6?! Perhaps not the optimal choice. The computer insists on placing the queen on а5 – 18…Qa5 19.Nc3 Rb8, but here 20.Rfb1 Rb6 21.e4 gives White unpleasant initiative.

19.Nc3 Qc6 20.Rfb1. Threatening Rb5, so Black has to spare a tempo on prophylaxis. White has a small but lasting advantage.

20…Ba6 21.Qd1 f6 22.Bf4 Rad8 23.Qf3 Nf8 24.Bh6 Kf7 25.Rb2 Ne6 26.Rab1 Ng7 27.g4 Kg8 28.Qf4 Kf7.


Here Kramnik decided the position is ripe for action.

29.e4!? Ne6. Another key line is 29…dxe4 30.d5 Qd6, and White has to choose between an unclear endgame after 31.Qxd6 Rxd6 32.Rb7+ Bxb7 33.Rxb7+ Re7 34.Rxe7+ Kxe7 35.Bxg7 Kf7 36.Bh6 g5! 37.hxg5 fxg5 38.Bxg5 Rg6 and equally unclear middlegame after 31.Qe3.

30.exd5 Nxf4 31.dxc6 g5! The position is filled by tactical motives for both sided. After the inaccurate 31…Rxd4 White gets an advantage by 32.Rb7+! Bxb7 33.cxb7 Rb8 34.Nb5! Ne6 35.Nxd4 Nxd4 36.a5 a6 37.Rb6.

It seems Black survives after 34…Rxb7! 35.Nd6+ Ke6 36.Nxb7 c3 37.Nc5+ (37.Bxf4 Rxf4, and White loses many pawns on the 4th rank) 37…Kd5 38.Rb5! Kc6 39.Nb3 Rxa4 40.Rc5+ Kd6 41.Bxf4+ Rxf4 42.g5 fxg5 43.hxg5 Rf5 44.Rxc3 Rxg5+ 45.Kf1 a5 – or at least White has significant technical difficulties.

32.hxg5 fxg5.


33.c7!? Kramnik finds an amazing idea of maintaining pressure. White bets on passed pawns! An attempt to save the offside bishop with an exchange sacrifice leads to a draw:- 33.Rb7+ Bxb7 34.Rxb7+ Kg6 35.Bg7 Re1+ 36.Kh2 Rf1 37.Be5 Rxf2+ 38.Kg3 Rc2 39.Rg7+ Kh6 40.Ne4, and Black gives the perpetual by 40…Ne2+ 41.Kh3 Ng1+.

33…Rd6 34.Bxg5 Nh3+ 35.Kg2 Nxg5 36.d5 Bc8. Black cannot destroy the с7-pawn – after 36…Rc8? 37.f4 his knight is trapped. The machine gives an interesting move – 36…h5 37.f4 Nh7 38.g5 Rd7 39.Rb8! Bc8 (39…Rxc7? 40.g6+) 40.R1b4 Rxc7 41.Nb5 Re2+ 42.Kf1 Rce7 43.Nd6+ Kg7, and the epic struggle justly ends in a draw by perpetual.

37.Rb8 Rf6.


38.Ra8?! It is hard to blame Vladimir for being inaccurate in such a head-spinning situation, especially bearing the outcome in mind! The computer gives 38.Rf1!? Nh3!? 39.f3 (39.Kxh3 Rf3+ 40.Kg2 Rxc3 41.Re1!? Rg8 42.d6 Rd3 43.Rxc8 Rxc8 44.Re7+ Kf6 45.d7 Rxd7 46.Rxd7 Ke6 47.Rxh7 c3 48.Kf3 c2 49.Rh1 Rxc7 50.Rc1 Rc4! leads to a draw) 39…Nf4+ 40.Kg3 Nd3 41.Ne4 Rg6 42.d6 Ke6 with an absolutely surreal position! After 43.Rh1 h6 44.Rh5 Kd7 45.Rf5 Rxd6 46.Rf7+ Kc6 47.Nxd6 Kxd6 48.Rh7 the outcome is still in doubt.

38…Rf4 39.f3 Rxf3?! Stronger is 39…Nxf3 40.Kg3 (the only reply; 40.d6? Ne5–+) 40…Rxg4+ 41.Kxf3 Rg6!, threatening a discovered check with a bishop and a checkmate after Rf6+. White is forced to play 42.Rxc8 Rf6+! 43.Kg4 Rxc8 44.Rb7, and 44…h5+ 45.Kh4 a6 is the most accurate for Black and gives him excellent winning chances.

40.d6. White’s control move initiates another tactical skirmish, and even the computer cannot assess it correctly at first.

40…Bxg4 41.Rxe8? Mamedyarov failed to refute this move, but objectively White should prefer 41.Rd8. In the following sequence almost each move is forced: 41…Bh3+ 42.Kh1 Rxc3 43.d7 Re2 44.Rg1 Bf5 45.Rf8+ Kxf8 46.d8Q+ Kf7 47.Qd5+ Be6 48.Rf1+ Kg6 49.Qxe6+ Rxe6 50.c8Q Kh5, and the game should end in a draw.

41…Kxe8 42.Rb8+ Kf7 43.Rd8 Bh3+ 44.Kh2 Rxc3 45.d7 Rc2+ 46.Kg3 Rg2+ 47.Kh4 Be6 48.Rf8+.


48…Kxf8? Shakhriyar fails one step away from the victory: 48…Kg6!! 49.Rg8+! (in the case of 49.Rf6+ Kxf6 50.d8Q+ Kf7! the newborn queen does not save White) 49…Kh6! 50.Rxg5 Rh2+ 51.Kg3 Bxd7 52.Rg8 Ra2 53.Rd8 Ra3+ 54.Kf4 Rxa4 55.c8Q (55.Rxd7? c3+ 56.Ke3 Rc4) 55…Bxc8 56.Rxc8 Kh5, and Black should win despite technical difficulties.

49.c8Q+ Kg7?! On the previous move Mamedyarov missed a win, now he misses a draw. It seems Black could still hold by 49…Kf7! 50.Kh5! (50.d8N+ is insufficient: 50…Kf6 51.Nxe6 Nxe6 52.Qxc4 Rg7 – Black’s fortress cannot be taken) 50…Bg4+ 51.Kh6 Ne6 52.Qe8+ Kf6 53.d8Q+ Nxd8 54.Qxd8+ Ke5 55.Qc7+ Kd4 56.Qxa7+ Kd3 57.Qxh7+ Kd4, and it is hard to believe White can win – Black can sacrifice two pieces for the a-pawn and bring his own passed pawn to c2.  



Now this is all over – the d7-pawn costs Black too much.

The game continued 50…Nf3+ 51.Qxf3 Rh2+ 52.Kg5 h6+ 53.Kf4 Rh4+ 54.Ke5, and Mamedyarov resigned.


Peter Svidler – Viswanathan Anand

Ruy Lopez C65

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0–0 6.0–0 d6 7.Nbd2 Ne7. The Anti-Berlin positions resemble the Italian Game with 4.d3.

8.Re1. Svidler does not repeat himself. 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 10.h3 d5 11.e5 Ne4 12.Bd3 Bf5 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Nb3 f6 15.Be3 Qd7 16.Rac1 a6 17.exf6 Rxf6 18.Ne5 Nxe5 19.dxe5 Rg6 20.Kh2 Qe7 21.Bxb6 cxb6 22.Bxe4 Qxe5+ 23.f4 Qxe4 24.Qd2, and White gradually won this equal position in Svidler-L’Ami, Warsaw 2013.

8…c6 9.Ba4 Bb6. 9…Ng6 occurred in one of Gabriel Sargissian’s blitzgames. After 10.Nf1 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.Ng3 Qb6 13.d4 exd4 14.Nxd4 Bg4 15.f3 Bd7 Black equalized comfortably, Duda-Sargissian, Warsaw 2013.

10.d4 Ng6 11.h3. 


Here Vishy introduced a new move from his tech lab.

11…exd4 12.cxd4 d5. White pieces are caught completely off-guard.  

13.e5 Nh5 14.Nf1 Nhf4 15.Bc2?! This natural move is inaccurate and makes White’s position suspect. According to the machine, better is 15.Bxf4 Nxf4 16.Qd2, but it fails to impress a human eye – after 16…Ne6 17.Bc2 f6 Black’s bishop pair might give him an advantage.

15…f6 16.Ng3?! fxe5 17.Bxg6. The computer line 17.Bxf4 exf4 18.Nf1 is sensible, but it would be a clear declaration of poverty.  

17…Nxg6 18.Bg5. 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rxe5 Qf6 20.Be3 h6 is not an improvement for White – his e5-rook is placed very awkwardly, and Black has a clear advantage.

18…Qc7 19.Nxe5 Nxe5 20.Rxe5.


20…h6. Black rejects 20…Rxf2, which leads to a clear advantage – 21.Re8+ Rf8 22.Rxf8+ Kxf8 23.Kh2 (even worse is 23.Nh5 Qe5!) 23…Kg8, and Black successfully completes development, keeping an extra pawn: 24.Qd2 Be6 25.Bf4 Qd7.

21.Bh4!? Qf7. The simple-minded 21…g5 loses to 22.Bxg5 hxg5 23.Qd2! Rf4 (23…Kh8 24.Qxg5+-) 24.Nh5! Rf5 25.Rxf5 Bxf5 26.Qxg5+.

22.Nh5 Be6. The most critical here is 22…g5 23.Bxg5 Qxf2+ 24.Kh1 hxg5 25.Rxg5+ Kf7 – the attack looks very dangerous, but there is nothing decisive yet – 26.Qd3 Ke8 27.Rg7 Kd8! (27…Bf5? 28.Qa3! is good for White; after 27…Rf7 28.Qg6 Bxh3! 29.Nf6+ Qxf6 30.Re1+ Kd8 31.Qxf7 Qxf7 32.Rxf7 Bc8 White also should win) 28.Qg6 Bxh3 29.gxh3 Qf3+ 30.Kh2 Bc7+ 31.Ng3 Qf2+ 32.Kh1 Qxg3 33.Qxg3 Bxg3 34.Rxg3 with equality.

23.Re3 Bd8!? Planning a nice-looking positional queen sacrifice.  



24…Qxf3! The machine suggests 24…Bf5, but this is not playing for a win! After 25.Ng3 Qd7 26.Nxf5 Rxf5 27.Bxd8 Rxd8 28.Rxf5 Qxf5 29.Qd2 a draw is near.

24…Qxh5?? 25.Rxf8+ Kxf8 26.Qxh5 is too simple.

25.gxf3 Bxh4. Black has compact pawn structure and the bishop pair, which secures him for a loss, but he cannot really afford being more ambitious than that.

26.Kg2 Rf7 27.Rc1 Raf8 28.Rc3 Bg5 29.Ng3 Re7 30.b4 a6 31.a4 Bd7 32.Qb3 Kh8.


33.b5! Forces simplifications.

33…cxb5 34.axb5 Bxb5 35.Qxd5 Rd7 36.Qe4. Black risks nothing after 36.Qe6 Rxd4 37.Nf5 Bd7 38.Qe5 Bf6 39.Qc5 Rc8 40.Qxc8+ Bxc8 41.Nxd4 Bxh3+ 42.Kxh3 Bxd4 сwith equality.

36…Bc6 37.Rxc6 bxc6 38.Qxc6 Rxd4. Draw.

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