GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko comments on the games of the 9th round

Sergey Karjakin – Vladimir Kramnik

Queen’s Pawn Opening D02

 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4. Sergey refuses to participate in a home analysis contest and shows his intention to compete at the board even without any opening advantage.

This is a reasonable strategy, but one could not expect it to be that successful!

3…c6 4.e3 Bg4 5.c4 Nbd7 6.Nc3 e6 7.Qb3.


7…dxc4?? It is still unclear what kind of hallucination occurred to Kramnik. He didn’t come up with a convincing answer at the press-conference either. After this move Black loses a pawn without any compensation, which at this level equals losing. After 7…Bxf3 8.gxf3 Qb6 9.c5 Qxb3 10.axb3 e5! 11.dxe5 (11.Bxe5 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.b4 Nxe5 14.f4 Nd7 does not look dangerous for Black either) 11…Nh5 12.b4 Nxf4 13.exf4 g5! 14.fxg5 h6! Black can afford being ambitious.

8.Qxb7 Bxf3 9.gxf3 Nd5. In the case of 9…Rc8 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Be2 Bd6 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.Qxa7 White already has two extra pawns, while Black is yet to show his compensation for one.

10.Bg3 N5b6 11.Qxc6 Bb4 12.Qb5 Qe7 13.a3 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 0–0 15.Bxc4. This move gives Black some play on the light squares at least. Perhaps more practical is 15.a4 a5 16.Be2 – in such structures White stands better even with equal material, and in this situation his advantage is definitely decisive.

15…Nxc4 16.Qxc4 Rac8 17.Qd3 Nb6 18.0–0 Rc4 19.Rfb1 Rfc8 20.Rb3 h5 21.e4.


21…Qg5. Here Vladimir missed his last more or less real chance to fight for a draw. By 21…h4 22.Bf4 h3 Black created some back rank motives, which, combined with his light-square play, could cause White technical problems.

22.h4 Qa5 23.Rc1 Qa4 24.Qb1 Nd7 25.Kg2 Nf8 26.Qb2. 26.Rb8 Qxa3 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.c4 seems more powerful – the pair of passed pawns smashes everything on their way.

26…Qe8. An attempt to regain one of the pawns does not work: 26…Rxd4 27.cxd4 Rxc1 28.Qxc1 Qxb3 29.Qc8! Qb6 30.d5 exd5 31.exd5, and White should win.

27.Rb7 a6 28.Qb6 Ng6 29.Qxa6 Qd8 30.Qb5 e5 31.Rh1 Rxc3 32.dxe5 Nf8 33.Qd5 Qe8 34.Ra1 Ne6 35.Qd7 Qf8 36.Qe7 Qxe7 37.Rxe7 Nd4.


38.a4! Nxf3 39.e6 fxe6 40.Rxe6. A pragmatic decision. 40.a5 is more ruthless – Black cannot do anything about the h-pawn march combined with possible (if the knight retreats) Bе5.

40…Nd4 41.Re5 Ne2 42.Rxh5 Nxg3 43.fxg3 Re3 44.a5!? The greedy 44.e5 is also possible, for example, 44…Rcc3 45.Rg5 Ra3 46.Rxa3 Rxa3 47.Rg4 Re3 48.Rd4 Rxe5 49.Rd2 followed by Rа2.

44…Rxe4 45.a6 Re7 46.Rb5 Kh7 47.Kh3 Ra8 48.Rb6 Raa7 49.Ra5 Re3 50.h5 Rd3 51.Kh4 Rd4+ 52.g4 Re4 53.Kg5 Rf7.


54.Rg6! Avoiding a trap 54.a7? Rff4, and White cannot win: 55.Re5! (certainly not 55.a8Q Rxg4+ 56.Kf5 Rgf4+ with a draw) 55…Rxg4+ 56.Kf5 Ra4 57.Rb7 Rgf4+ 58.Ke6 Rf6+ 59.Kd5 Ra5+ 60.Ke4 Ra4+ 61.Ke3 Ra3+ 62.Kd4 Ra4+ 63.Kc3 Rf3+ 64.Kb2 Rfa3 65.Ree7 Ra2+, and White either allows the perpetual or loses the a7-pawn.

54…Ra7 55.Kh4 Rb4 56.Rc6 Re4 57.Rb6 Re1 58.Ra4 Re3 59.g5! Ree7 60.Rb8 g6 61.Rb6 gxh5 62.Rab4 Re1 63.Rb7+ Kg6 64.R4b6+. Black resigns.


Dmitry Andreikin – Peter Svidler

Sicilian Defense B90

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e5 7.Nb3. A rare move, 7.Nde2 is much more popular.

7…Be6. The most principled reaction – Black prepares d5.


8.g4. 8.f4 occurs more often, preventing Black’s break in the center. 8…b5 9.f5 Bc8 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Qf3 Nbd7 12.0–0–0 Be7 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 led to a complicated game in Grischuk-Wojtaszek, Riga 2013.

8…d5 9.g5 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Bg2 Nc6 13.Bxe4 Kc7. Black does not experience any special problems in the endgame.

14.Bd2. There was no alternative to this modest bishop move, as after 14.Be3 Rd8 15.Nc5 Bxc5! 16.Bxc5 h6 White lags too much in development.

14…h6 15.h4. Weaker is 15.gxh6 g6 16.Bg5 Bxh6 17.Bf6 Rhe8 18.h4 Bf5 19.Bxf5 gxf5, and Black’s central pawn mass offers him better chances in the forthcoming struggle.

15…hxg5 16.hxg5 Rxh1+ 17.Bxh1 Be7 18.0–0–0 Rh8.


Black’s position looks more attractive, but Svidler didn’t manage to convert his slightly more active pieces into anything more significant.

19.Be3 Rh4 20.Bg2 b6 21.a3 a5 22.Re1 g6. 22…a4 offers too little: 23.Nd2 Nd4 24.g6! f6 (24…Rg4 25.Bxd4 exd4 26.Bf3! (26.gxf7?? Rxg2 27.Rxe6 Rg1+ 28.Nf1 Rxf1+ 29.Kd2 Rxf2+ 30.Kd3 Rxf7–+) 26…Rxg6 27.Bh5 Rf6 28.Bxf7 Bxf7 29.Rxe7+ Kc6 30.Ne4! Rf4 31.Kd2=) 25.f4 Nf5 26.fxe5 Nxe3 27.Rxe3 Rg4 28.exf6 Bxf6 29.Rxe6 Rxg2, and Black cannot seriously hope to win it.

23.Nd2 Nd4 24.Nf3 Rg4 25.Bh1 Bd6 26.Bd2 Nc6.


The е5-pawn was hanging, and after 26…Nxf3 27.Bxf3 Rh4 28.Be3 Black’s winning chances didn’t look realistic for Svidler, so he offered a draw after 27.Be3 Nd4 28.Bd2 Nc6 29.Be3 Bf5 30.Rg1 Rxg1+. And his offer was accepted.

Indeed, after 31.Nxg1 Nd4 32.c3 (after 32.Bxd4 exd4 33.Ne2 d3 34.cxd3 Bxd3 Black at least has the bishop pair) 32…Nb3+ 33.Kd1 Black’s winning chances are nebulous, however, I am sure one of the future World Chess Championship participants (hint: the one who is not in Khanty-Mansiysk right now) would definitely play on.

Viswanathan Anand – Veselin Topalov

Sicilian Defense B90

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e6 7.g4 Nfd7 8.Bg2 Be7 9.Be3 Nc6 10.h4!? A rare move, according to my database – this position occurs only for the third time.

10…Nde5 11.g5 Bd7. A novelty. After 11…Nc4 12.Bc1 0–0 13.b3 Qa5 14.Nde2 Na3 15.0–0 b5 Black got a good game in Nestorovic-Hajbok, Kazan 2013.

12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.b3.


13…f5. A concrete approach, typical for Topalov. The Bulgarian provokes an immediate crisis. 13…Qa5 deserves attention – after 14.Bd2 (14.Qd2 Ng4) 14…Qc5 the black queen does not allow White to arrange his pieces harmoniously, for example, 15.f4 Nd7 16.Qe2 Rc8 17.a4 Bd8!? with the idea Bа5.

14.f4 Ng4 15.Qe2 Nxe3 16.Qxe3 fxe4?! It was better to wait with this capture. 16…0–0 17.0–0–0 Rc8 forced White to spend a tempo for defending the g2-bishop sooner or later, and then Black could take on fxe4.

17.0–0–0 d5 18.Nxe4 Ba3+ 19.Kb1 Qe7 20.Nf2!


A typical French Defense structure arose.

20…Bc5 21.Qg3 Bxf2. After 21…0–0 22.Rhe1 Qf7 23.Nd3 Bd6 24.Qe3 White has a small but lasting advantage.

22.Qxf2 0–0 23.Qd4 Rf5 24.Rde1 Raf8 25.Rhf1 Qd6 26.Re5 Rxe5 27.fxe5 Rxf1+ 28.Bxf1 Qe7 29.a4. The game proceeded to an endgame, but Black’s problems remained the same – White has a spatial advantage, and the e6-pawn is weak.

29…Be8 30.Kb2 Bg6 31.Bh3.


31…h6? Desire for active counterplay ruins Veselin. After 31…Qd7 followed by the king’s march to е7 I was unable to find a straightforward plan for White, although defending the position after 32.a5 Kf7 33.Qb6 Ke7 34.Bg4 Be4 is not a pleasant task.

32.gxh6 gxh6 33.Qg4! Kf7 34.h5! White puts a pawn on a “wrong” square (matching his bishop), but fixates a weakness on h6, which completely paralyzes Black.

34…Be4 35.a5! Bh7 36.c3!


Black is in zugzwang.

36…Be4 37.c4 Bf5 38.Qf4 dxc4 39.Bxf5 exf5 40.Qxf5+ Ke8 41.Qc8+ Kf7 42.Qxc4+ Kg7 43.Qd5. The queen endgame is hopeless for Black due to the domination of the white queen and because a pawn ending is not an option. So Black has no counterplay, while White can gradually improve his position.



44.Kc3. This works as well, but White could win by force by 44.Qd6! Qxd6 45.exd6 Ke8 46.Kc3 Kd7 47.Kc4! (maybe Vishy missed this move) 47…Kxd6 48.Kd4! Ke6 49.Kc5 Kd7 50.Kd5! and wins.

44…Ke8 45.b4. 45.Qd6 was still playable.

45…Qc7+ 46.Kd4 Qe7 47.Qg8+ Kd7 48.Kd5. 48.e6+! Qxe6 (48…Kd6 49.Qb8+ Kxe6 50.Qe5+ Kf7 51.Qxe7+ Kxe7 52.Ke5+-) 49.Qxe6+ Kxe6 50.Kc5 Kd7 51.Kd5+-.

48…Kc7 49.Qg6 Qh4 50.Qd6+ Kc8 51.Kc5 Qf2+ 52.Qd4 Qf7 53.Qc4 Qg7 54.Kb6+ Kb8 55.Qc5 Qf7 56.Qd6+ Kc8 57.e6. Black resigns.


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Levon Aronian

Nimzo-Indian Defense E20

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 0–0 5.e4 d5 6.e5 Nfd7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3. This line is considered dubious for White, but Shakhriyar has a different opinion.

9…f6 10.exf6. 10.f4? occurred a few times, and after 10…fxe5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.fxe5 Qh4+ Black won all games.


10…Qe8+!? The simple 10…Qxf6 is the most popular. After 11.Bd3 Nb6 12.Ne2 Bf5 the chances are basically even.

11.Qe2 Qf7!? A novelty. The only preceding game continued 11…Nxf6 12.Qxe8 Nxe8 13.Ne2 Nd6 14.Bf4 Rd8 15.Ng3 Nc6 16.Bd3 Be6 17.Kf2 Bf7 18.Nf5 Bg6, draw, Shmeliov-Kraai, Las Vegas 2007.

12.fxg7 Re8 13.Be3 Nc6. In exchange for two sacrificed pawns (besides, one of them can be regained at will) Black gets dangerous initiative. His knights are ready to seize control over the с4-square.

14.Qd2 Na5 15.Rb1 Nb6.


16.Rb4. The only way to avoid an immediate crushing defeat is this exchange sacrifice, which makes the game completely unclear.

16…Nac4 17.Bxc4 dxc4!? 18.Rb5. White could also consider 18.Ne2 Nd5 19.Bh6 Nxb4 20.axb4 with compensation.

18…Bf5?! Giving White an option he was deprived of after 18…Nd5 19.Rxd5 Qxd5 20.Ne2 Bf5 21.Kf2. White’s compensation for an exchange is doubtless.

19.Kf2. Shakhriyar keeps playing by his plan and does not dare to deviate, although 19.Re5 seems stronger than the text. 19…Rxe5 (19…Rad8 20.Bf4 c5 21.Ne2 cxd4 22.Nxd4 Rxe5+ 23.Bxe5 Re8 24.f4 Bd3 25.Nf3 Nd5 26.Kf2 Nf6 27.Bxf6 Re2+ 28.Qxe2 Bxe2 29.Be5 gives White a clear advantage) 20.dxe5 Qe7 21.Ne2 Qxe5 22.Nf4 Re8 23.Kf2 Qxg7 24.Re1, and the position is still not equal, because the black king is wide open.

19…Nd5 20.Rxd5 Qxd5 21.Ne2.


The computer evaluates this position as equal, but from practical point of view playing White is way simpler – he has a clear kingside attack plan, while it is hard to Black to create any real threats.

21…a5. This queenside counterplay comes too late. Perhaps one should have preferred centralization by 21…Rad8 followed by с7-с5.

22.h4 b5 23.h5 b4 24.cxb4 axb4 25.axb4 Qb5 26.Re1. The computer prefers 26.d5 Bd3 27.Nf4 with a clear advantage for White, e. g., 27…Qd7 28.Bd4 Qd6 29.g3!? c6 30.Kg2 cxd5 31.b5.

26…Bd3. This turns out to be unsuccessful, but Black’s position is already difficult. For example, 26…Ra3 27.Nc3! Qxb4 28.Bh6! Raa8 29.Rxe8+ Rxe8 30.g4 Be6 31.Qf4! Bf7 32.Ne4 Re6 33.Nf6+ Rxf6 34.Qxf6 Qd6 35.Qxd6 cxd6 36.Bf4 Kxg7 37.Bxd6, and the endgame seems winning for White.

27.Nf4 Ra3.


28.d5! Bb1 29.Kg3. White also wins by 29.Qd4 Qxb4 30.Bd2 Qb8 31.Rxe8+ Qxe8 32.d6!

29…c3 30.Qc1 Rb3 31.Bc5 Rxe1 32.Qxe1 Qd7 33.h6 Qf7 34.Nh5!? 34.Qe5 and d5-d6 is the quickest.



35.Qe8+! The only winning move (and it was clearly planned ahead by Mamedyarov).

35…Qxe8 36.Nf6+ Kf7 37.Nxe8. Now Black kills a newborn queen – 37…Ra3 38.Nf6 Ra8 39.g8Q+ Rxg8 40.Nxg8 Kxg8, but this is his last achievement in this game. After 41.Kf4 Bd3 42.Ke5 Kf7 43.Be3 Bf1 44.g4 Aronian resigned.