GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 8th round

Peter Svidler – Sergey Karjakin

Reti Opening A05

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.d3 c5 6.e4.


An interesting pawn sacrifice, which only occurred a couple of times. The standard continuation is 6.Nbd2. 

6…Nc6. If Black accepts the offer – 6…dxe4 7.dxe4 Qxd1 8.Rxd1 Nxe4 9.Ne5 Nd6 10.Na3, White gets long-lasting positional compensation, like in some lines of a Catalan.

7.Qe2!? The point of Svidler’s move order – White saves time by abstaining from Nbd2, which allows him to arrange the pieces more harmoniously.

7…0-0 8.e5 Nd7 9.c4 d4 10.h4. The classical kingside attack plan looks even stronger here, as inclusion of ￱4-d4 significantly restricts Black’s options on the queenside, plus White got a nice transit square on e4.

10…Kh8 11.Bf4 f5 12.Ng5. 12.exf6!? gxf6 (other recaptures give White complete control over the e4-square and a very comfortable advantage) 13.Nbd2 e5 14.Bh6 Rg8 15.h5 with a Benoni-style game.

12…Bxg5 13.hxg5 Qc7.


14.g6!? A tempting pawn sacrifice. After 14.Nd2 g6! the white dark-squared bishop is completely out of play for a long time, and the pressure on the h-file can be neutralized by placing a knight on f8. After 14…Nb6 the pawn sacrifice is even more effective: 15.g6 hxg6 16.Bxc6 Qxc6 17.Nf3.

14…hxg6 15.Nd2 Kg8 16.Nf3 Re8 17.Ng5 Nf8! Right on time.

18.g4!? Adding more fuel to the fire. An attempt to force the way to the enemy king fails: 18.Bxc6 Qxc6 19.f3 Nh7!, and Black is in order.

18…Nd8.  18…Nh7 is not good here due to 19.gxf5! Nxg5 20.fxg6 Nf7 21.gxf7+ Qxf7 22.Bg5 with a clear advantage for White.

19.Kh2. Switching the play to another flank deserved attention: 19.b4!? cxb4 20.a3!? On the other hand that would slow down White’s attack.

19…Bd7. The next few moves are logical – White adds pressure, Black defends and tries to decrease White’s attacking potential by trading material.

20.gxf5 exf5 21.Bd5+ Nde6 22.Rg1 Bc6 23.Qf3 Rad8 24.Rae1 Qd7.


25.Bxe6+?! In the case of 25.Nxe6 Nxe6 (25…Rxe6 26.Bxe6+ Nxe6 27.Qg3 Qf7 looks attractive, but the computer gives White an edge) 26.Rxg6 Bxd5 27.cxd5 Qxd5 28.Qh5! Black must discover 28…Rd7! (28…Nxf4? 29.Rxg7+ Kxg7 30.Rg1+ Qg2+ 31.Rxg2+ Nxg2 32.Qg5+ Kh8 33.Qf6+ Kg8 34.Kxg2, and White has good winning chances) 29.Bh6 Rf7 30.f4 with a completely computerized position that should end in a draw after 30…Qxa2 31.Rxg7+ Nxg7 32.Bxg7 Qxb2+ 33.Kh3 Rxg7 34.Qxe8+ Kh7 35.Qh5+.

25…Nxe6 26.Qg3 Rc8 27.Nh3 Qf7 28.Qh4 Bf3! Black transfers the bishop on the kingside to help defending. Somewhere around here Svidler should have started thinking about a draw.

29.Bd2. 29.Ng5!? Nxg5 30.Bxg5 Bg4 31.Kg3 b5 32.f3 Bh5 33.b3, and Black’s advantage is negligible.

29…Bg4 30.Rg3 Qe7 31.Qxe7 Rxe7 32.Ng5 Nxg5 33.Bxg5 Re6 34.f3 Bh5. The bishop is temporary locked, and if White could bring his king to f4, he would be more optimistic about the future.

35.b3. 35.Rh3 Rce8 36.Bf4 Ra6 37.Ra1 Kf7 – Black brings the king to e6 and then opens up the queenside.

35…Kf7 36.Rh3 Rce8 37.Bf4 Ra6 38.Re2 Ke6 39.Kg3 Rb8 40.Bg5.


40…f4+!? With his control move Karjakin makes an important decision to change the pawn structure. It seems he didn’t want to see the white king on f4.

41.Bxf4. 41.Kxf4?? loses at once to 41…Rf8+ 42.Ke4 Rf5 43.Bf4 g5 44.Bh2 Bg6 with a checkmate next move.

41…Rf8 42.Rf2 Rf5 43.Bc1 Rxe5 44.Rh1?! A strange move. Stronger is 44.Rh4 Kd7 45.Re4. White achieves a favorable rook trade and should survive the resulting endgame: 45…Rae6 (stronger is 45…Rf5 46.Rf4 Re6 47.Rxf5 gxf5 48.Bd2, but White’s position is not at all hopeless) 46.Bf4 Rf5 47.Rxe6 Kxe6 48.Re2+ Kd7 49.Re5=.

44…Kf7 45.Bf4 Rf5 46.Bb8. The bishop broke free, but White lost control of the e3-square, and Karjakin immediately utilizes it.

46…Re6 47.Rh4 Re3 48.Rf4 a6 49.Bd6? Much more accurate is 49.Ba7 Rxf4 50.Kxf4 Kf6, which transposes to the game after 51.Bxc5 g5+ 52.Kg3 Rxd3, etc.

49…Rxf4?! By 49…Ke6! 50.Rxf5 gxf5 51.Bxc5 Rxd3 Black gets an improved version of the endgame.



50…Kf6! 51.Bxc5 g5+. Pushing the white king further away from the d-pawn.

52.Kg3 Rxd3 53.Kg2 Be8 54.Kf1 Bh5 55.Ke2 Re3+ 56.Kd2 Ke5 57.Rg2. A sad necessity… It looks like Black wins after 57.Re2 Rxe2+ 58.Kxe2 g4 59.fxg4 Bxg4+ 60.Kd2 Bf5 61.Be7 Bb1 62.a3 Ke4 63.b4 Bd3 64.c5 Bb5 followed by the king transfer to c4.

57…Kf4 58.Bxd4 Re7 59.Re2 Rd7 60.Kc3 Bxf3 61.Re8 Be4 62.Rf8+? This is probably a decisive mistake. After 62.Rg8 g6 63.Rg7 Black cannot win by 63…Rxd4 64.Kxd4 g4 65.Re7! Bf5 66.Rxb7 g3 67.Re7 g2 68.Re1 Kf3 69.Rc1 Kf2 70.b4 g1Q 71.Rxg1 Kxg1 72.b5 axb5 73.cxb5 Kf2 74.b6 Bc8 75.Ke5, and White destroys all black pawns. White also holds after 63…Rxg7 64.Bxg7 g4 65.Kd2 g3 66.Bd4 Bb1 67.a4 a5 (67…Ba2 68.Kc3!) 68.Ke1 Ba2 69.Bb6 Bxb3 70.Bxa5 Bxc4 71.Bb6 Kf3 72.a5 g2 73.Kd2=.

62…Bf5 63.Rg8 g6 64.Rg7.


It looks like White achieved a lot, but…

 64…Rxd4! 65.Kxd4 b6! The only way! The g-pawn will cost White a rook now, while his attempt to create a passed pawn on the queenside is nicely refuted.

66.Kc3 Ke3! And again the only move.

67.Rb7 (67.Re7+ Be4) 67…g4 68.Rxb6 g3 69.Rd6 g2 70.Rd1 g5. Even more accurate is 70…Bg4 71.Rg1 (71.Rc1 Be2! with the idea Bf1) 71…Kf2 72.Rc1 g1Q 73.Rxg1 Kxg1, and this is it.

71.b4 Kf2 72.a4 g1Q 73.Rxg1 Kxg1 74.b5 axb5 75.axb5 g4 76.c5 g3 77.c6 g2!? An elegant move! Black can also play 77…Be4 78.Kd4 Bf3 79.Kc5 Kh2 80.b6 g2 81.b7 g1Q+, etc.

78.b6 Kf2 79.b7 g1Q 80.b8Q.


80…Qc1+ 81.Kd4 Qe3+ 82.Kc4. A bit more stubborn is 82.Kd5 Be6+ 83.Kd6 Qf4+ 84.Kxe6 Qxb8 85.Kd7, and Black wins by 85…Qb5!

82…Be6+. White resigns.

Levon Aronian – Viswanathan Anand

Reti Opening A11

1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Qb3. Not the most popular more in this position, to say the least.



The players made history – a novelty (at least according to my database) on the 3rd move in a candidates event!

4.e3 c5!? An ambitious pawn sacrifice. Maybe this move took all Vishy’s ambition in this game?

5.Qb5+. White must accept the challenge, otherwise he just stands worse.

5…Nc6 6.Qxc5 e5 7.Qb5 a6 8.Qb3. White made five queen moves out of the first eight, and no wonder Black has an excellent compensation for a pawn!


8…Bc5. 8…Nf6!? deserved serious attention. After 9.exd4 e4 10.d5 exf3 11.dxc6 Bc5! White’s position is very dangerous – 12.d4 (12.cxb7 Qe7+ 13.Qe3! Bxe3 14.bxa8Q Bd4+ 15.Kd1 0-0 16.gxf3 Bb7 17.Qxf8+ Kxf8 18.Be2 Ng4) 12…Bxd4 13.Be3 Ng4 with a strong attack.

It looks like White must play 9.d3, but after 9…Bb4+ 10.Bd2 Bxd2+ 11.Nbxd2 dxe3 12.fxe3 Ng4 Black’s initiative looks threatening.

9.d3 Nf6 10.e4. Now White at least has time to consolidate.

10…0-0 11.Be2 Bb4+ 12.Nbd2 a5 13.0-0 Nd7 14.Qd1 Bd6 15.Ne1. The computer suggests 15.Nb1!? and transfers the knight to b5, but after 15…Nc5 16.Na3 f5 17.exf5 Bxf5 18.Nb5 Bb8 19.b3 Nb4 20.Ba3 Ra6 Black’s activity is threatening.

15…Nc5 16.Nb3 Na6. Black could continue the game by 16…Ne6, but… see the note to Anand’s fourth move.


17.Nd2. Levon was unable to force himself to continue, and the shortest (so far?) game of the candidates tournament concluded after 17…Nc5 18.Nb3 Na6 19.Nd2. Draw.

Veselin Topalov – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Sicilian Defense B90

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 g6 7.g4 Bg7 8.Bg2 0-0 9.Be3 Nc6 10.Qd2 Bd7 11.0-0-0. The game started as a Najdorf, but now transposes to a Dragon-like setup.


11…Rc8. A very sharp fight in Dominguez-Carlsen, Sofia 2009 ended in a draw: 11…b5 12.f4 Rc8 13.e5 b4 14.Nce2 Nxd4 15.Bxd4 dxe5 16.fxe5 Qa5 17.a3 Nd5 18.e6 fxe6 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Qd4+ Kg8 22.axb4 Qa2 23.Nc3 Qa1+ 24.Kd2 Qxb2 25.Rhf1 Rxf1 26.Rxf1 e6 27.Rb1 Qa3 28.Rb3 Qa1 29.Rb1 Qa3 30.Rb3 Qa1.

12.f4 Na5. Technically White’s previous move is a novelty, but 12…b5 instead of the text would transpose to the aforementioned game.

13.b3 Qc7 14.Nde2 b5 15.Nd5. This position occurred via move transposition in Admiraal-Bosboom, Haarlem 2010. White played 15.Kb1 and after 15…Be6?! 16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 got an advantage.

15…Nxd5 16.exd5 Rfe8. Black prepares for e7-e6 or even e7-e5.


17.Rhf1. The typical 17.Bd4 offers White nothing – Black continues 17…e5 18.dxe6 Bxe6 19.Bxg7 and now, instead of an automatic recapture on g7, plays 19…Bxb3!! The only way to create problems for Black is 20.Nd4! Nc4! (20…Ba4!? 21.Bf6 Nc4 22.Qf2 Na3 23.Rd3! Nxc2 24.Nc6 d5 25.Rc3 Qxc6 26.Rxc6 Rxc6 27.Bxd5 Rxf6 28.f5, gives White a better game, although it is far from over) 21.Qc3 Re3 22.Rd3 Rxd3 23.cxd3 (23.Qxd3 Bxa2 24.Bh6 Qa5 25.Bd5 Bb3 26.Bxc4 Bxc4 27.Nc6! Rxc6 28.Qd4 Qa3+ 29.Kd2 Qb4+! with perpetual) 23…Ne3 24.Nxb3 Qd7 25.Be4 Rxc3+ 26.Bxc3 d5 with a very unclear position (the computer say it is balanced).

17…e6 18.Rf2.


18…Nc4?! This brave piece sacrifice does not offer Black equality, but leads to very complicated positions and is justified in a practical game. After 18…exd5 19.Bd4 White’s advantage is stable, and the resulting dry position does not suit Shakhriyar’s explosive style.

19.bxc4 bxc4 20.Bd4. After this move Black regains a piece and transposes to an equal ending. 20.c3? is weak due to 20…Rb8 followed by …Qa5, and the white king is under fire. The strongest move is rather hard to find – 20.Qb4! Now after 20…Rb8 21.Qa3 Bb2+ 22.Qxb2 Rxb2 23.Kxb2 c3+ 24.Ka1 Bb5 25.Nc1 exd5 26.Bd4 Qa5 27.Nb3 Qb4 28.Rf3 Rc8 29.Rb1 White has a clear advantage.


20…c3! 21.Qxc3 Qxc3 22.Nxc3 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Rxc3 24.dxe6 Rxe6 25.Rfd2 Rg3 26.Rxd6 Rxd6 27.Rxd6 Bxg4 28.hxg4 Rxg2 29.g5 Rf2 30.Rd4 f6 31.a4 fxg5 32.fxg5 Rf5. Draw.

Vladimir Kramnik – Dmitry Andreikin

Slav Defense D15

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.g3 b5 6.b3 Bf5 7.Bg2 Ne4. A rare move, 7…e6 is more popular.

8.Nxe4. Vladimir immediately shows a novelty. Earlier White tried 8.Bb2 and 8.Bd2.

8…Bxe4. Recapturing with a pawn 8…dxe4 hardly deserves attention, as 9.Ng5 e5 10.0-0! Qxd4 11.Qxd4 exd4 12.Nxe4 gives White a big advantage.

9.0-0 Nd7.


10.Ba3!? Aimed against Black’s development.

10…g6 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Qd2 Bg7 13.Rac1 0-0 14.Bh3!? Bxf3 15.exf3 Re8. 15…a5 16.Rc6 b4 17.Bb2 e6 18.Rfc1 deserved attention. White seizes the c-file, while Black succeeds in neutralizing the opponent’s powerful dark-squared bishop. The game is unclear.

16.Rc6 e6.


17.Rfc1!? An interesting pawn sacrifice that allows White, according to Kramnik, to play almost risk-free.

17…Qf6 18.Rc7 Nf8?! More accurate is 18…Rad8, keeping an eye on ￱5 – after 19.Rb7 Qxd4 20.Qxd4 Bxd4 21.f4 Nf6 22.Rcc7 Ne4 23.Rxf7 Nxf2 24.Kg2 Nxh3 25.Kxh3 h6 White cannot win despite very strong rooks on the 7th rank, as on the next move Black begins chasing them by Rb8.

More promising is 19.Bb2 Qxf3 20.Ra7 Nf6 21.Rcc7 Ne4 22.Qc2 Rf8 23.Bg2 Qf5, but here Black has excellent counterchances as well.

19.Bc5 Qxf3 20.Rc3 Qh5 21.g4 Qh4 22.Qf4.


22…f6. After the strongest 22…f5! 23.Qg3 Qxg3+ 24.hxg3 fxg4 25.Bxg4 e5! Black equalizes by force – 26.Bxf8 (26.Bf3 Ne6 27.Bxd5 exd4 28.Rd3 Rad8 │→│ 28.Bxd4 Bxd4 29.R3c6 Kh8=) 26…Rxf8 27.Be6+ Kh8 28.Rd7 Rad8! 29.Ra7 Ra8=.

23.Be7. In the case of 23.Qd6 f5! it looks like White has to transpose to the line above by 24.Qg3.

23…Qg5 24.Qg3. At the press-conference the players discussed 24.Qxg5 fxg5 25.Bxg5 Bxd4 26.R3c6 and agreed that after 26…Be5 27.Rb7 Rec8 28.Rxc8 Rxc8 neither side is at particular risk.



25.g5?! Black’s task would be more challenging after the correct 25.Qe3. 25…Qd1+? 26.Kg2 e5 is just bad – after 27.Bxf8 Rxf8 28.dxe5 fxe5 (28…d4?? 29.Rxg7+ Kxg7 30.Rc7+ Kg8 31.Qh6+-) 29.Rd3 Qa1 30.Rxd5 Rad8 31.g5! Rxd5 32.Be6+ Kh8 33.Bxd5 Black is faced with tough defensive problems, and the naive 33…Qxa2? loses immediately: 34.Rxg7 Kxg7 35.Qxe5+ Rf6 36.Qxf6#.

After 25…Qxe3 26.fxe3 f5 27.g5 the missing pawn is fully compensated by pieces activity. Black is practically paralyzed, and 27…e5 only makes things worse – after 28.Bg2 e4 29.R3c6 f4?! 30.Kf2! Black runs out of reasonable moves.

25…Qxg5 26.Qxg5 fxg5 27.Bxg5 Bxd4 28.R3c6.


Black has two extra pawns already, but White’ activity is still sufficient for a draw.

The game continued 28…a5 29.Bh6 b4 30.Kg2 a4 31.bxa4 Rxa4 32.Bxf8 Rxf8, and in view of 33.Bxe6+ Kh8 34.Rc8 Rxc8 35.Rxc8+ Kg7 36.Bxd5 with total equality the players agreed to a draw.

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