31 August 2015

A Bishop, Beloved by Chess Maharajah

Dmitry Kryakvin reacts to Grischuk beating Anand in the unorthodox 2.Bf4!

I read somewhere once that generally White's light-squared bishop is a bit stronger than Black's. Take, for example, the Ruy Lopez, where White makes approximately 10 moves, which seem not to be a must, to save his favorite bishop for a further battle. Or numerous lines of the Sicilian Defence, when the bishops on b3 or d3 demonstrate a long-range power in the attacking setup. 

At that time it came to my mind that there are other examples too - the whole Chebanenko strategy, where White's light-squared bishop is intentionally exchanged in the opening for blockade motives. 


Beating a former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand in the second round of the Sinquefield Cup, Alexander Grischuk, one of the most creative GMs in the world, said that the real Bishop's Opening is not 1.е4 е5 2.Bс4, but 1.d4 d5 (1…Nf6) 2.Bf4! 

The bishop's move to f4 has its roots in the early history. Maestro James Mason, who was considered to challenge the reigning World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz to a match for the title, was the inventor of this opening. It is this British chess player of American origin, who was the first to use White's general idea: after c7-c5 he did not create a dull wall of c3-e3, but rather took on c5, and grasped the nettle, while Black tried to finish his pieces development.  

Mason played the Bishop's Opening (with varying success) against Steinitz, Lasker, Chigorin - 150 years before the event in Saint Louis.  

Coming back to the second round of the second event in the Grand Chess Tour Series, one cannot help wondering how could Grischuk beat the famous Indian, known for his strong opening preparation, in such variation and in 30 moves? Especially when this line has already appeared in the blitz warm-up of both players in Stavanger.  

Really, for a long time hundreds of chess professionals and fans associated the Bishop's Opening, Kamsky opening, or Grachev opening exactly with speed chess or ICC drills, when your opponent's nickname turned out to be guenplen. 

However, Alexander, being true to his innovative approach, thought, that it is also possible to check the middle-aged Madras tiger in the classic game and hit right Into the bull's eye. 

So, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5

Here Black has different options. For example, Dima Andreikin chose even the eccentric 2...Nh5, driving the bishop out of an essential diagonal. But Anand, mad after his blitz failures versus Nakamura, had prepared a principal objection to 2015. I should point out, that after simple 2...g6 can follow Grischuk-Jobava attack 3.Nc3 d5 4.Qd2 – the weird Neo-Grünfeld Defence and an opportunity to play for a checkmate.  

3.e3 c5 4.dxc5 Nc6 5.Bb5 

For the first time this tabiya appeared in chess magazines in 2005 after White's success in Rouson - Dorfman. Etienne Bacrot's coach chose 5...e6 6.b4 a5 7.c3 Bd7 8.Qe2 axb4 9.Bxc6 Bxc6 10.cxb4 d4 11.Nf3 Nd5 12.0–0, but then came a bad blunder: 12...Nxb4? 13.Nxd4 Bxc5 14.Nxe6! fxe6 15.Qh5+ and White has an extra pawn. Two year later Alexander Motylev has strengthened Black's play – 12…dxe3!, outplaying Boris Savchenko in the World Cup. 
It is not clear, what Alexander Grischuk intended to do now. Perhaps this is about 8.Qb3, but top players almost haven't played so. But Anand continued Stavanger duel without a shadow of a doubt. 

5…Qa5+ 6.Nc3 a6 

Bad is 6…е6 7.a3!, as followed in a blitz game Matlakov - Lysyj, that's why White has to exchange the very same a bit stronger light-squared bishop. 

7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.Nf3 

In Norway the Moscowite played 8.Qd4 e6 9.b4 Qa3 10.Nge2 a5 11.Rb1?! (Black has a great endgame after 11.b5 Bxc5 12.Qa4 Ke7!) 11...axb4 12.Rxb4 Ba6 (stronger is 12...Nd7!) 13.0–0 Bxe2 14.Nxe2 Be7 15.Bd6 Bxd6 16.cxd6 0–0, and Black won. 
In the second try Alexander doesn't grab at the extra material, but strives to occupy black squares at the queen side, as White always does in some lines of the Paulsen Variation.  


Capturing on c5 with the queen is not good because it loses tempi, and after 8...Ne4 the Russian probably meant something like 9.0–0 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Qxc5 (dangerous is 10...Qxc3 11.Qd4 Qxc2 12.Ne5) 11.Qd4! e6 12.cxd4 Bf5 13.Rfb1 or 11...Qxd4 12.e4 Qxd4 13.cxd4 dxe4?! 14.Nd2 f5 15.Nc4. Even by quiet evaluations like +0.10 White's play is more comfortable here – there is a clear plan with the b-file breaking in. 

9.0–0 Bd7 

Not possible is 9...Bxc5 10.Nd4 – the pawn on с6 is attacked and the unpleasant Nb3 threatens. 

10. a3 Qxc5 11. Na4 Qa7 

Black has to retreat, because 11...Qb5 runs into 12.c4! dxc4 13.Ne5, and White successfully implements its main idea. 

12. c4 Be7 13. Rc1 Rc8 

Here Alexander started to think. Both 14.b4 and 14.c5 are tempting, but he eventually opted for Ficsher style move – exchanges of effective opponent's pieces followed by the rook's invasion into the opponent's camp. 

14. cxd5 cxd5 

What would the pawn c6 think about the opportunity 14...Nxd5 15.Ne5? 

15. Rxc8+ Bxc8 16. Qd4! Qxd4 17. exd4 Bd7 18. Nb6 


The last step into the abyss. Dispirited Anand for some reason didn't try 18...Bb5 or 18...0–0 with the idea 19.Nxd7?! (19.Rc1 Bb5 with a transposition) 19...Nxd7 20.Rc1 Nb6 21.Rc6 Nc4=. 
If Black was the well-conditioned Carlsen, it would be hard enough to win. And now Grischuk ends the fight in a true Fischer's manner.
19. Nxd7! Nxd7 20. Rc1, and soon Black resigned, having lost the pawn a6. The f4-bishop alone enchained the entire black army! 

Perhaps it is hard to expect this line in other games of the Saint Louis supertournament. But who knows...