23 March 2016
Shura Balaganov’s Failure
The initial six rounds of the Candidates tournament in the review of Dmitry Kryakvin.
According to many experts, it will not be an exaggeration to qualify the Candidates Tournament, currently held at the premises of the Moscow’s Central Telegraph building, as a milestone event. The competition is going to determine the great one to challenge the invincible Magnus Carlsen. The 2016 Moscow event has started with hot battles even prior to the start of such over the chessboard. The owner of the rights to run the championship cycle, the company Agon Limited, has announced its prohibition for other chess sites to display the moves of the games played by the eight strongest chess men of the modern era, and the best that could be attempted by those “online workers” was to provide a reference, written in capital letters, to the official competition’s website.
The chess world has taken in such developments in more than one way. On behalf of Runet and the audience of the largest CIS chess website a protest was filed by Artur Avetisyan, chief editor of the ChessPro.ru, but other than that the Russian sites have refrained from exhibiting a fierce opposition, thus leaving our chess fans deprived of the traditional online commenting offered by such renowned grandmasters and talkmasters as Michael Krasenkow, Evgeny Gleizerov, Konstantin Sakaev, Alexei Korotylev (I beg your pardon if anyone’s name has been omitted), etc.
The Western websites, however, reacted to this organizer’s demarche by engaging in a hand-to-hand melee. ChessBomb and Chess24 have never suspended transmitting game moves, despite Ilya Merenzon’s warnings to bring the matter to court should his demand not be complied with. Somewhere I ran across an explanation of one of the European players, advanced in legal issues, who alleges that an unlicensed transmission of pictures in football is a clear case of owner’s rights violation, whereas supplying text explanations of sportive events, even if they are occasionally accompanied with short-video streams, is practiced by hundreds of various internet resources, while embarking upon legal proceedings against such resources would be invariably doomed to failure.
Nevertheless, given the old experience of Evgeny Ellinovich Sveshnikov and the ChessAssistent company it would be interesting to know the end such a litigation process and who would be justified in this situation in terms of the letter of the law? Nevertheless, such developments are not the most fascinating ones and do not pay tribute to our ancient, intelligent, and noble game!
However, let’s go back to our main topic.
The air is calm with zero wind…
The general feeling from the start of the competition is that participants are extremely nervous and afraid of taking any risks. I remember the epic London battles with participation of Carlsen and Kramnik in which blood was flowing in rivers, while the chess board was a place that edged out even a slightest hint of cowardice. How about repeating moves in a position that looks suspiciously dangerous? No way! In the current event, however, a decent number of participants is predetermined to win the tournament with the +4=10 or +3=11 result. However, early goals have not been scored by all players, and those who failed to do so create quite modest impressions indeed. There is no doubt that in the second half Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri, and the victimized Hikaru Nakamura will remain other than inactive. Nevertheless, they were expected to come up with a different type of performance!
Talking about the visual appeal of the games, the situation is further enhanced by a brilliant level of home preparation of the candidates - in certain cases the boards witnessed beautiful computer draws or analyses that would send the game flow sailing the into the dams, pre-polished up to draws, upon which both players would leave the playhall for rest, leaving us with their impeccable homeworks to admire.
Nakamura – Giri
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Be2 0–0 8.0–0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Be2 Bb7 11.e4 e5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nd4 Neg4 14.g3 Re8 15.Nf5 Bc5 16.Bf4 Qb6 17.Kg2 g6 18.h3 Ne5 19.Nh6+ Kg7 20.Bg5 Bd4 21.Bxf6+ Kxf6!
22.f4 Nc4 23.Bxc4 bxc4 24.f5 c5!!
25.fxg6+ Kxg6 26.Nxf7 Rf8 27.Nd5 Qxb2 28.Ne7+ Kg7
29.Nf5+! Kg6 30.Ne7+ Kg7 31.Nf5+ Kg6 32.Ne7+ What a beautiful draw! However, this beauty is of a laboratory nature.
Levon Aronian has adhered to a good old Queen's Gambit; Peter Svidler has been demonstrating his phenomenal preparation in the 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Kf3 Kf6 4.Kc3 dxc4 5.a4 e6 line, which has been labeled, according to the apt remark by Evgeny Bareev, as the "Hungarian sushi" from as far back as the 2004 Brissago match. The Queen's Indian Defence, Sergey Karjakin’s trustworthy shield, has served him faithfully, while Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana and Veselin Topalov have paid tribute to the main tabiya of the modern chess – an all-powerful centrifuge of draws known as the "Berlin".
Giri - Karjakin
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Nc3 d5 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bg2 0–0 10.0–0 Re8 11.Ne5 Bb7 12.Bc1 Nbd7 13.Bb2 Bd6 14.Nd3 a5 15.Rc1 c6 16.Na4 Rc8 17.e3 Ba6 18.Re1 h5 19.Bh3 Ng4 20.Nf4 g6 21.Bxg4 hxg4 22.Qxg4 Nf6 23.Qg5 Be7
24.Nxg6 fxg6 25.Qxg6+ Kh8
26.Nc5!? bxc5 27.dxc5 Rf8 28.Qh6+ Kg8 29.Qg6+ Kh8 30.Qh6+ Kg8 Draw.
Soon the tournament has set its own pace with 3 draws out of four games in each round. And who knows which pace it would have been otherwise if not for the start failure of one of its participants? Standing apart in this regard is a dramatic super-fight of round six – a topic which we are going to cover in a separate discussion.
One celebrated his birthday, and then there were seven
Usually a tournament with an incredible solid lineup would soon see a casualty dropping behind the main peloton - a player underperforming from the initial rounds of the event. A classic example of above said is the 2012 Superfinal, which ended in a victory of Dmitry Andreikin and was marked by an unprecedented number of tiebreaker matches. Back then the largest amount of win/loss games was demonstrated by Sanan Sjugirov. Sanan, by and large, proved the tournament savior in terms of not sending all other participants, who shared the first place with a score of 4.5 out of 9, into the tiebreakers.
As for this event, a double misfire occurred with Veselin Topalov - one of the top bullfighters of the Candidates Tournament. Although the Bulgarian’s opening against Vishy Anand was superb, he failed to discover a simple tactical shot and ended up being gradually squeezed into the corner of the ring. Yet another bad blunder that happened in his game against Levon Aronian plummeted Veselin right to the bottom of the tournament table. From then on, each participant was set on an uncompromising type of struggle against Topalov, who, on top of everything else, was to celebrate his birthday on the day of his game with Fabiano Caruana. Brewing for him was 0:3, but then Caissa took pity on the 2005 FIDE World Champion... That being said, let’s go through these developments one by one.
Anand – Topalov
"There will be no Sicilian this time..." – and it happened exactly as predicted by certain foreign online viewers. I must say that Veselin has suffered more than enough from Vishy in the "quiet" Najdorf lines!
2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 0–0 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 10.Re1
Everything is according to the plan so far. Do you agree to play the "Berlin"? No, this time it is going to be the Anti-Berlin for a change. OK, then I'll play the Kramnik 7...Ne7! idea, and you still get nothing at the end. In lieu of the conventional 10.b3, 10.h3 or 10.Bd3 Anand opts for an offbeat track.
Topalov himself, playing Nakamura in the last St. Louis event, has painted a majestic canvas after 10...Ng6 11.h3 c6 12.Bd3 Nh5 13.Nc4 Bc7 14.d5! Nhf4 15.Bf1 f5 16.e5! Nxd5 17.exd6 Bxd6 18.Nxd6 Qxd6 19.b3 – and two powerful white bishops went on to do their decisive job. However, this time around the supervisee of Silvio Danailov is on the side of the dark army, aiming at demonstrating the proper recipe for the Berlin side.
Even though this is a novice approach, it must be added that the statistics after 12.Qb3 d5 13.e5 Nd7 14.a4 a5 is quite depressing for White with numerous lethal wounds inflicted to him along the way. Neither has this cup passed by Veselin in the battle against Caruana. Indeed, the black pieces are very compact and harmonious. The aggressive advance by Anand aims to destroy this very harmony.
This is a sober, cool-minded approach, whereas after 12...a5 13.Nc4 Bxf3 (or 13...c6 14.Nxb6 Qxb6 15.Bf1 Bxf3 16.gxf3!?) 14.Qxf3 Bxd4 15.Rd1 Bc5 (15...c5 16.Be3) 16.e5 the former World Champion was likely to demonstrate us the power of his home preparation.
13.Bf1 Re8 14.a5 Ba7 15.Qb3 Nc6!
This is yet another great move, while in the case of an alternative 15...Rb8 16.Qc3! Qd7 17.b4 the Indian grandmaster would have obtained a small "plus" with almost no efforts invested. Now the nature of the game becomes significantly sharper.
Some commentators advised 16.Ra4, but what is the essence of it, I wonder? After 16…Qd7 17.e5 dxe5 18.dxe5 Nd5 there is little sense in 19.Rh4 Bg6, while in general the white pieces are discombobulated. A greedy 16.Qxb7 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.Bxa6 d5 would have also surrendered initiative to Black. Therefore, in order to be able to fight for the brighter future Anand has to go all out by grabbing the pawn under slightly different circumstances and taking it from there, giving his opponent a free hand to demonstrate the practical aspect of his initiative.
16...Nd4 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.Qxb7 Nd7!
The knight is racing to c5 and simultaneously opening the gate for the queen to raid the position of the white castling. The silicon friend is convinced that the only way out for Anand was in the Petrosian-like 19.Ra3! Qh4 20.Rae3!! Nc5 (the hasty 20...Bxe3 21.Rxe3 gives White an excellent compensation for the exchange as the a6- and c7-pawns are en prise) 21.Qxc7 f5! with a sharp game. Here Vishy committed an error and escaped a much worse fate only miraculously.
19.Nc4? Nc5 20.Qc6 Nb3?
It is clear that 20...Qh4 21.Be3 yields nothing, but Black has had as many as two tactical ideas at his disposal. The first idea sort of came in sight of the Bulgarian: 20...f6! 21.Be3 Bxe3 22.Rxe3 Re7! – trapping the queen, but 23.b4 Be8 24.Qxa8 Qxa8 25.bxc5 dxc5 26.Nd2 Bb5 27.Rc3 gives White decent compensation and chances of building up a fortress. Topalov was unsure of his winning opportunities in this position.
However, much stronger is 20...Bxf2+! 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.g3 Nxe4+ 23.Rxe4 Qxe4; the position features material equality from the formal point of view, but the black queen threatens to land on f3, making White’s defensive tasks very challenging indeed. For instance, 24.Ne3 (24.g4 Qe1+ 25.Kg2 Bg6 26.Nd2 Rab8 results in an unpleasant position) 24...Qf3+ 25.Kg1 Qxg3+ 26.Ng2 Qxh3 27.Ra3 Qg4 28.Bxa6 Qd1+ 29.Bf1 Be2 30.Ne3 Qe1 31.Qc3 Qg3+, with a strong initiative. Even though the position remains complex and the price of each move is extremely high, it is still Black who would be conducting an offensive.
The blow on f2 would be a solution typical of Topalov, whereas Veselin’s not finding it sent the alarming bells ringing for his team... Alas, it was not the last time those bells were disturbed.
Errors would not travel unaccompanied. 21...Bg6 or 21...f5 would have allowed reclaiming the е4-pawn to restore the material balance, while following the text move Topalov remains down material.
22.Rbxc1 Rb8 23.Qxa6 Qh4?!
This is yet another inaccuracy, following which the game could have finally entered into its technical stage. However, the 23...f5 resource belongs to the advanced geometry study course designed for senior students - 24.exf5? Bxf2+! 25.Kxf2 Qh4+ 26.g3 Qd4+ 27.Kg2 Bf7!, and the outcome of the battle is no longer clear. Nevertheless, White has 24.Ne3 at his disposal, and Anand had every reason to find it.
24.Rc2 Rxe4 25.Ne3 Qd8
25... Bxe3 26.Rxe3 Rxe3 27.fxe3 Qd8 28.Qa7 gives no counter chances, so Topalov has to keep his bishop as a blocker of the remote passed pawn of White.
26.Qc4 Bg6 27.Bd3 Rf4 28.Bxg6 hxg6 29.g3 Re4 30.a6 Qe8
White is up a healthy, remote passed pawn. Throughout his career Anand has easily and artistically converted such situation to wins on numerous occasions, without giving his opponents even slightest of chances to bail out. However, this time it happened otherwise.
It spoils nothing, but Vishy refrained from calculating the simple line 31.Qxc7 Bxe3 32.Rxe3 Rxe3 33.fxe3 Qxe3+ 34.Kh2, upon which Black might as well resign there and then.
31...Bb6 32.Qd3 Ra8
This is a serious error, which could have cost Anand his deserved victory. Anand simply gave up the stem of his position, whereas after 33.b4!, intending to meet 33…Rxb4? with 34.Nc2!, should have been an easy win.
33...Qa4 34.b3 Rd4 35.bxa4?
The former FIDE World Champion puts his stakes on the trade of queens, upon which his two rooks and a knight will try to weave a mating net for the black king while the dark forces are busy eliminating the pesky passed pawn of White’s. In the game the plan of the great chess player was 100% justified, but it happened only due to a bad blunder on behalf of Topalov.
35.Qc2! Qxa6 would be an effective winner. 35...Qb5 runs into 36.Qc6!! Qxc6 37.dxc6 Rxa6 38.Nc2, and the knight forks both rooks: 38…Rd5 (38...Rd3 39.Nb4) 39.Nb4!
36...gxf5 leads to mate after 37.Re8+ Rxe8 38.Rxe8+ Kh7 39.Qxf5+ g6 40.Qxf7+ Kh6 41.Rh8+.
37.Ne7+ Kf8 (or 37...Kh7 38.Re4 g5 39.Rc4) 38.Qc6, and the black king is doomed.
35...Rxd3 36.Nc4 Rxa6
The queens have been traded off and two White’s pawns are hanging in the meanwhile...
Given lack of time for thinking such stabs are unpleasant indeed! While 37...Bxa5? fails to 38.Ra1, 37...Bc5! was a path to reach a draw: 38.Re8+ Kh7 39.R1e7 Rxd5 40.Rxc7 (40.Rxf7 Rf5! would be no better) 40...Rf5 41.Re2 d5 42.g4 Rxf2+ 43.Rxf2 Bxf2 44.Kxf2 dxc4 45.Rc5 f5, and Black should survive.
37…Bd4? 38.Re8+ Kh7 39.R1e7 Rc3 40.Nd2!?
This time control move threatens to dispatch the knight further to join in in setting up a mating net! Anand rejected to submit to the natural grasping reflex 40.Rxc7 Rc2 41.h4 f5 (41...Rxf2+ 42.Kh3 f5 43.Rc6) 42.Kh3, even though it would have been an objectively stronger continuation leading to a clear superiority.
Black’s life would be not so easy after 40...f5 41.h4 Bf6 42.Rd7 g5 43.Re6, but the computer is by no means discouraged and believes that the black monarch should not yet embark upon premature quests for a wooden box sizing a meter by two. As for now, the advent of the white knight on e4 shuts the cage door for good.
Although 41...g5 42.Rxf7 Rxa5 43.Rf5 does not go down immediately, it is obviously not a cup of tea either.
42…Rxa5 43.Rf7 g5 44.h5!, and further resistance makes no sense: 44…Rxf2+ 45.Nxf2 Ra2 46.Rff8 Rxf2+ 47.Kh3 g4+ 48.Kxg4 f5+ 49.Rxf5 Black resigns. The game is full of creative ideas, but the quantity of errors is too high if we take into consideration the level of both opponents…
It goes without saying that Topalov wanted to take an immediate revenge and, following a quick draw with Svidler, was fully determined to close in on Aronian. It should be said that the Armenian grandmaster was not especially upset about it.
Topalov – Aronian
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0–0 6.Nd5
The main continuation in this old line of the English opening is 6.0–0, but the idea of Veselin’s early knight lunge is to prevent any solid lines arising after 6…Bхс3.
The line 6...Nxd5 7.cxd5 Nd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 has been subjected to testing ever since the times of confrontation between Karpov and Korchnoi; also possible is 6...Bc5 7.0-0 d6, but Levon prefers the most principled approach.
This is yet another tough move as opposed to 7...Re8 8.0–0 Bc5 9.d3. Black hints at his immediate desire to capitalize on the precarious position of the h4-knight.
This capture is of a forced nature, because after 8.0–0 g5 9.d4 h6! the compensation for the doomed h4-knight is rather questionable, whereas taking the central pawn cannot be recommended either : 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 9.Bxe4 Re8 10.Bg2 (10.Bf3 Bh3) 10...Bg4 with a very strong attack. Although White gets a bishop pair advantage, he wastes time doing that, which Aronian uses to take up the center.
8...Nxb4 9.a3 Nc6 10.d3 d5 11.0–0 exd3 12.Qxd3
Veselin strives for a large-scale play. A different version of the pawn sacrifice 12.cxd5 dxe2 13.Qxe2 Nxd5 14.Rd1 Be6 gives Black a far clearer plan of further actions, whereas after 12.exd3 h6! the white bishops’ scope is limited.
This is a true provocation! Why not 13.Qc2 Nxc4 14.e4 with a good compensation in exchange for the minimal material loss? The Bulgarian grandmaster, seeking to undermine Levon’s defensive lines, sends his queen into voluntary exile, and it so happenes that the final word in the game belonged by the opponent’s queen.
13...Nxc4 14.e4 Be6 15.b3 Na5 16.Qa4 Nc6?!
Aronian aims at fulfilling the minimum program goals, while the ambitious 16...c5! 17.b4 (17.Bd2 runs into 17…b6 18.exd5 Bd7!) 17...cxb4 18.axb4 Nc4 would lead to a clear edge in the form of an extra pawn and an outpost for the knight. However, the effect of the retreat proved higher by far!
It cannot be described other than a mere blackout. We could once again define the compensation arising after 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.Bb2 as a typical one, saying that Topalov is very skilled in such type of positions (please refer once again to the above mentioned game against Nakamura), but seeing such a blunder as soon as round two of the Candidates Tournament... What is going to happen then when it comes to the second half of the event?
The knight is invincible - 18.Bxe4 Qf6!, therefore Black ends up having two pawns to his good.
18...Qe7, and Levon went on to gradually convert his advantage.
Following such strokes of fate the Bulgaria’s number one was destined to be faced off on the day of his birthday against Fabiano Caruana, the latter longing to open the score of his victories and biting down with his powerful positional tyrannosaur’s jaws into the throat of a herbivore, which has strayed from the rest of the flock.
Caruana – Topalov
White has broken through along the b-file, whereas 37...Bxe4 38.Qxe4 Qe7 does not bring any relief to the defender: 39.R1b2 Qg5 40.g3! Nh5 41.Bd3 Nf6 42.Qe3 Qh5 43.Kg2. While all Back’s threats are parried, Black himself needs to guard the b1-h7 diagonal, and his queenside pawns are doomed.
At this moment a real miracle happened: Veselin undertook such an adventure which, by and large, should have been refuted by anyone performing at the candidate master’s level. However, Caissa guarded one of her most faithful heroes, whereas the iron hand of Don Fabio faltered unexpectedly.
37...Qe7?! 38.Nxd6 Nxh3+ 39.Qxh3
39.gxh3? obviously fails to 39…Rf3; now White is simply up a knight and just needs to fend off any threats against the f2-square.
39...Rf6 40.Nc8 Qd8
Despite a rich choice of winning opportunities, Caruana suddenly makes up his mind in favor of the rook ending, which turns out to be a drawish one! Something like 41.Rxf6 Qxf6 42.Rb2 e4 43.Re2 e3 44.f3 Bd3 (44...Qd8 45.Qe6+) 45.Rxe3 Qd4 46.Qe6+ does not seem to require much in terms of calculation efforts, the same being true about a bunch of other continuations of the 41.R1b2 Bf5 42.Qe3 type, which should have left the Italian-American quite content since despite Topalov’s winning back his knight, Black would still be losing his other pawns. All in all, the root f2-pawn would have remained alive!
41...Rxf2 42.Rxg6 Rxf1+ 43.Kh2 Qxc8 44.Qxc8
Despite the seeming sharpness of the 44.Qxh6 Qd7 45.Rg3 line, it would have guaranteed White reasonable chances for success. Fabiano, however, is fully determined to sweep the queens off the board.
This self-suggestive move allows Black escaping in a study-like fashion! Reasonable winning chances were still offered by 45.Rxa5! Now an attempt to launch counterplay similar to the one that was seen in the actual game would fail to 45…Re8 46.Rxc5 e4 47.Rc7 Rf7 48.Rxf7 Kxf7 49.Re6, and White is winning. Meanwhile, the ideas of infiltrating along the 7th rank and capturing of the с5-infantryman are in the air.
45...Re8 46.Rcxc5 e4 47.d6 Rd8!
Bad is 47...e3 48.d7, but the counter-attack has the effect of introducing discoordination into the harmony of White’s rooks and passed pawns.
48.Rc6 Rd1 49.c5 e3 50.Rb2 Rd2 51.Rb1
Worth trying was 51.Rb7 e2 52.Re7, subjecting Veselin to testing in terms of his capability of finding the following nicest of lines 52…Rf8 53.Rcc7 Rf7 54.Re8+ Rf8 55.Re4 Rf4! 56.Re3 Rf3! 57.Rc8+ Kh7 58.Rce8 Rxe3 59.Rxe3 Rd5 60.Rxe2 Rxc5 61.Rd2 Rc8, with a draw (taken from the game review posted on the ChessPro website).
51...e2 52.Re1 Rf8, and a draw was agreed in view of the following line 53.Rb6 Rf1 54.Rbb1 Rxe1 55.Rxe1 Kf7 56.Kg3 Rc2 57.Kf2 Rxc5 58.Rxe2 Rd5 59.Re7+ Kf6 60.Ra7.
It just defies any comprehension whatsoever! Involvement of some higher powers is the most plausible explanation for what has happened! Now, let's switch from the underdog to the hero of the start.
Sergey painted the board in the style of Van Gogh
While other tournament heroes, with the exception of Sergey’s main rival Levon Aronian, performed with varying degrees of success, the first place was advanced into by a knight whose coat of arms features red, yellow, orange and green stripes, as well as some six incomprehensible letters written in the English language. Sergey Karjakin’s power play advanced him to the "+2" level, making it even without assistance from Veselin. Victories over Nakamura and Anand are valuable assets indeed, but none of the game commentators have paid due tribute to it, even though these particular opponents have been traditionally troublesome for the Russian grandmaster! For those of you who are curious to know, I will explain the title of this chapter devoted to Sergey: in both games that Karjakin has won he created abstract structures on the board around his king, worthy of the pen of the Dutch postimpressionism artist.
Karjakin – Nakamura
Position after 29. h2-h4.
Karjakin – Anand
Position after 18. g2-g3.
We need to admit that such irrational decisions of Sergey have provoked quite a different reaction from his opponents. Hikaru was astonished, "How come he dare play like that against me, Hikaru, moving the pawns away from his king?" He immediately went on to sacrifice a piece, miscalculating and giving up. Anand, on the contrary, fell into depression, and, instead of looking for counterplay as befits the Tiger of Madras, helplessly floated down the stream and into a difficult for him endgame, perishing in the wilds of it.
Karjakin – Nakamura
Although the horrible b7-bishop makes the positional evaluation unambiguous, as could be seen from the line 29...Nxd4 30.Bxd4 Bxd4 31.exd4 Qf6 32.Qb2, Hikaru did everything so as to make the Russian hero’s win absolutely trouble-free.
30.fxg3 Nxd4 31.Bxd4 Bxd4 32.exd4 Qe3+ 33.Qf2 Qxd3 34.Rc7!
This string of moves does not seem to be very complex from the calculation point of view. Behind the tournament scenes they say that this line was discovered even by some young spectators. Giving up immediately would be probably a proper thing to do and in keeping with traditions of big players, but Hikaru went on to make a few more moves.
34…f5 35.Rxb7 h6 36.Bxd5+ Kh7 37.Bg2 Re2 38.Bf1 Black resigns.
Karjakin – Anand
The opening of the game unfolded as follows: 1.Nf3 d5 2.e3?! Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.b3 Be7 5.Bb2 0–0 6.Nc3 c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.h4!
The 1.Nf3, 2.e3 development has been actively promoted by the 2014 Russian Champion Igor Lysyj as of lately, and your author has had a recent luck to play a game with Igor with the black pieces in the Rapid Grand Prix in Ulan-Ude. The hotel and the shop in the capital of Buryatia, not far from which the grandmaster from Yekaterinburg and I happened to have breakfast, is named Sagaan Morin (in the Buryat language means a "White Horse"), so an idea occurred to me to name the opening likewise - the Sagaan Morin Opening. It does not matter that it used to be employed by Blackburn – his statistics is by far inferior to that of Lysyj’s! Meanwhile, the name sounds beautiful and will give pleasure to our friends from Ulan-Ude to know about it!
So, the review of round 4, published on the Chess Base website, claimed that it was Lysyj himself who had prepared Sergey Karjakin for the game. I tried to make my friend come clean, but Igor would give up neither passwords nor places of secret meetings!
Here the chat and guest rooms would raise a unanimous cry, "How on earth would his hand allow him making a move like that? All is well for White, save for the weak king, and it is him that you need to pay attention to! Why would he trade off his light-squared bishop in the first place? "
I will refrain from jumping at any similar emotional conclusions, but it looks like that day Vishy arrived at the game not for the purpose of fighting Karjakin, but rather showing up to get off with a draw. It turned out otherwise, however. Indeed, the simple 18...Qb6 19.Qe2 a6 would lead to an interesting complex game. Now Sergey takes his opponent down by going into a painful submission lock along the weakened squares.
19.Bxa6 Rxa6 20.Qc3 Rb6 21.Rac1 Qd6 22.Ne5 Rb7?!
A lot more stubborn is 22...Qf6!, intending to hold the rook ending after 23.Nd7 Qxc3 24.Rxc3 Ra6 25.Nxc5 Rxa3 26.Na4 Rxc3 27.Nxc3 Rxb3 28.Nxd5 Rb7 29.Nxe7+ Rxe7 30.Ra1 g6, even though we could easily imagine Magnus probing Black’s position further via stationing his rook on a6 and undermining Black on the kingside via g3-g4. Driving the knight forward was not mandatory for White: 23.Nd3 Qxc3 24.Rxc3 Ra6 25.Nf4 would give White better opportunities of reducing Black into the “four versus three” endgame. Nevertheless, Anand would have fared better from this option rather than from the setup with the knights which came about in the game.
Honestly speaking, I am surprised that here and there Vishy would still be praised as a great defender. Anand is a chess genius. He is a true professional and the god of the modern type of preparation, his highest class is beyond any doubt. Nevertheless, age takes its toll and the defensive skills of the Indian at present days have been very well demonstrated not only by the game with Karjakin, but also by the game played against Gledura in the Gibraltar.
Black is unable to just mark his time - 23...Rbc7 24.Nf4 Rc6 25.Rc2 Qd7 26.Nh5, therefore is forced to agree to further concessions that weaken his position.
There is yet another disappointment in store for the Indian as 24...dxc4 fails to 25.Ne5 Qe6 26.Qxc4!! It means that Black ends up in a position with a weakened king and an isolani, whereas two weaknesses, according to the classical predecessors, should be enough to win the game.
Swapping or not swapping the queens is a matter of taste. On the one hand, according to the scale of Josif Dorfman’s well-known theory the side with a safe king should refrain from trading queens. Indeed, 25.Qa1 Rxc1 26.Qxc1 or 25.Qa5 Rbc7 26.Rb1 do look menacing. On the other hand, Sergey was subtle in his evaluation about his of rook and knight tandem not allowing the black king into the center while the a7- and d5-pawns are as good as doomed.
25...Rb6 26.Rb1 Qxe5 27.Nxe5 Ra4 28.Rbc1 does not alter much.
26.Nxe5 Rxc1 27.Rxc1 g6 28.Rc5 Kg7 29.Ra5 Kf6 30.Nd3!
While the king is on f6, Black cannot go for 30...d4 31.exd4 Nc6 32.Ra4 Rd7 33.Ra6!, therefore Black is confined to defending his weaknesses.
31.Ra6+ Kg7 32.Nf4 Rd7 33.Kf1 Ng8
Black lacks time to activate his knight via 33...Nc8 because of 34.Ke2 Nb6 35.Kd3. However, an attempt to make the knight active via a different route fails to bring any dividends either.
It was only here that the native of Moscow committed a small but quite pardonable inaccuracy, because 34.Ke2 Nf6 35.f3 Rb7 36.Kd3 would have been a lot more convincing continuation. However, being within so close proximity of the time control move, Karjakin quite reasonably held back from evaluating more sophisticated lines involving side checks from the black rook.
34...Kf7 35.Nd4 Ne7 36.Nb5 Nc8 37.a4!
There is no need to allow 37.Ke2 Rb7 38.Nd6+ (38.a4 Rb6) 38...Nxd6 39.Rxd6, because White is no longer satisfied with the “four versus three” version of the endgame!
37...Rb7 38.Rc6 Ne7 39.Ra6 Nc8 40.Rc6 Ne7 41.Rd6
Having repeated moves to gain some additional time according to the Capablanca - Botvinnik recommendations, the Russians moves into the phase of action – in the case of 41...Nc8 42.Rxd5 Nb6 43.Rc5! (not so good is 43.Rd4 Ke7 44.Ke2 a5, as a threat of transition into the rook ending is again in the air) 43...Ke7 (43...Nxa4 44.Nd6 + Ke7 45.Nxb7 Nxc5 46.Nxc5 would drop a piece) 44.Nc3 Nd7 45.Ra5 a position would arise with no chances for Black to bail out against such a technical player as Sergey Karjakin. It goes without saying that one should continue fighting to the last, but the 46-year-old Anand managed to preserve only a little amount of nervous and physical resources... To sum it up, we can add that the passive stance of the defender would fail to help him out because of the above-mentioned march of the white king up to the d4-square.
41…Rb6? 42.Rd7 a6 43.Nc3 Black resigns, because 43...Rc6 44.Nxd5 Ke6 45.Rxe7+ Kxd5 46.Rxh7 Kc4 (or 46...Rc4 47.Rh6) 47.Rb7 would be absolutely hopeless for him.
He has not opened a window yet
We cannot but highlight a truly amazing preparation by Peter Svidler both with the white and the black pieces... It seems as if the depth of Peter Veniaminovich’s analyses in all lines of any opening extends well beyond move 30! Svidler easily fended Karjakin off with the black pieces and, frankly speaking, could have demonstrated a little bit of more persistent play in the ending against his opponent from the latest World Cup final. A quick draw with Topalov was followed by yet another masterpiece of home preparation from the native of St. Petersburg, who nearly tortured Hikaru Nakamura to death in the endgame. It was a true scoring chance, much more sureproof than his practically inconvertible double pawns superiority against Aronian back from round 4.
Nakamura – Svidler
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 e6 6.e3 c5 7.Bxc4 Nc6 8.0–0 cxd4 9.exd4 Be7 10.Qe2 0–0 11.Rd1 Nb4 12.Bg5
12...Bd7 is well known to give Black nothing but sufferings alone: 13.d5! exd5 14.Nxd5 Nbxd5 15.Bxd5 Nxd5 16.Rxd5 Bxg5 17.Nxg5 h6 18.Qd2 hxg5 19.Rxd7 Qf6, and Black, being down a pawn, can only dream of making a draw in this position after 20.Rd1, as in Kramnik – Wan Hao, 2013 or 20.Rxb7 Rab8 21.Qb4, as in Rotstein – Duda, 2015.
13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Ne4 b6
This line clearly testifies to its Dutch origin. For example, after 14...Be7 15.Ne5 Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.a5 Qc7 18.Qh5 Rd8 19.Qe5 Van Wely gave an instructive thrashing to his supervisee Van Foreest. White maintains his initiative also after 14... Nd5 15.Ne5 Be7 16.Nc3 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Qc7 18.Qe4.
At this year’s "Aeroflot Open" a meticulous opening researcher Denis Wagner succeeded in keeping his position together against Wei Yi after 15...Be7 16.Ra3 Bb7 17.Qg4, but the line is risky and not to everyone’s liking. Usually the folks would prefer taking the g3-square away from the white rook.
This is a new move which Svidler meets fully prepared. The famous game Tomashevsky - Mchedlishvili from the triumphant for the Russians European Championship witnessed 16.Ra3 Bb7 17.Rh3, but it has been long since proved that in this position 17...Nd5 is by far a more precise move than 17...Bd5, tested by the Georgian chess player.
It looks dangerous indeed because17... Bb7, for example, is followed by 18.a5 bxa5 19.Nxf7 Rxf7 20.Qxe6 Qe8 21.Rxa5 with a tremendous attack. However, when preparing for the game Peter Svidler did find a narrow path through the minefield with the assistance of the experienced employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations from the Northern capital.
17…Bf6 18.d5 Qc7!
It is obvious that 18...exd5 fails to 19.Nxd5.
19.d6 Qc5 20.Ng4
Even though White is on the offensive, he has a weakness on c3 while his d6-pawn might fall victim to being surrounded by the opponent’s army. Neither 20.Qe4 Bxe5 21.Qxa8 Qxc4 nor 20.d7 Bb7 21.Nxf7 Qc6! work out well for White.
20...Bxc3 21.bxc3 Nc6!
Another display of precise play! The rook is not to be granted access to the d4-square: 21...Nd5 22.Rd4 Qxd6 23.Nxh6+ gxh6 24.Qh5.
The rook move forces Black to weaken his b6-pawn since the square ahead of this pawn requires protection now.
22...a6 23.d7 Bb7
24.Bd3 Rfd8 25.Qe4
Although the battery is lined up with all White’s pieces seemingly rushing forward, the real struggle is right in its full swing, while Svidler’s analysis is just in its very beginning. However, looking at the position with a healthy eye one might find out that Black’s statics is excellent, with the e7-square being reserved for the king and the idea of a counter strike h6-h5 in the air so as to follow up the retreat of White’s knight with Ne5!
The temperamental Nakamura whaled into the Russian classical player, but was close to reliving the sad experience of Moriarty’s duel against Sherlock Holmes at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls abyss. At the press conference Peter Veniaminovich told about his home book having the entries about the accurate 26.Bc2 or 26.Be2 Rab8 27.Qe3 - and according to the powerful analytical team from St. Petersburg the perfect type of play from both sides should end up in a position with lone, or almost lone, kings dozens of moves later.
Following 27.Be4 hxg4 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Qxg7 Rg8 30.Qh6 Na5 White is left with just a piece down for nothing, therefore it is necessary to sound a retreat and summon the unlucky queen home from her subversive activities without further delay.
27...Ne5 28.Be4 Bxe4 29.Qxe4 Ra7
This is the only trick that allows Nakamura staying afloat. A haste-free 30.Rd4 would stumble upon a crusher 30...f5!, therefore Hikaru attempts to liquidate into a heavy-piece ending.
Should the pawn be captured, then after 30...Raxd7 31.Qxe5 Rxd5 32.Rxd5 Rxd5 33.Qb8+ Ke7 34.Rxb6 Rd1+ (even though 34...Qc4!? is a more treacherous move, it does not change the nature of things, however) 35.Kg2 Qd5+ 36.Kh3 White would be close to salvation because his counter-threats are strong enough not to be reckoned with. With this in mind, Svidler prefers to keep the nights from exchanging and comes up with an excellent technical solution.
30...Ng4 31.Ne3 Nf6 32.Qb4 Qxb4
Also possible was 32...Raxd7 33.Qxc5+ bxc5 34.Rxd7 Rxd7 35.Rb6 Rd3 36.Rxa6 (36.c4 Ne4 should be avoided) 36...Rxc3 – although it again boils down to the “four versus three” superiority configuration that runs like a golden thread through our review of the game.
33.Rxb4 Nxd7 34.Rxb6 Nxb6 35.Rxd8+ Ke7 36.Rd4 a5 37.Nc4 Nd5 38.Rd3 Rc7 39.Nxa5 Nxc3 40.Kg2 Nxa4 41.Ra3 Nc3 42.Nb3
The resulting position is far from being an easy one to handle. In fact, the black side should strive at trading off the rooks because according to the Botvinnik’s rule the majority of knight endings are subject to evaluation as if they were pawn endings, so that arranging defensive measures on a single flank can be problematic, associated with possible zugzwang positions and knight shuts off. Rook endings, on the other hand, are known for defensive methods even when a weaker side was not in time to set up a "breakwater” structure with h2-h4.
It was for this reason that 42.h4 Ne4 was rejected by the American grandmaster in favor of bringing the knight into the action first - the white stallion will shield the squares against the infiltration of the enemy’s rook.
42...g5 43.Nd2 f5 44.h3 Kf6?!
This move fails to prevent further simplifications. More reliable was 44...Nd5 with the idea of 45.Nf1 Rc3, preventing both the g3-g4 advance and the rerouting of the white knight.
Alas, 45...fxg4 would now fail to 46.Rxc3!; Nakamura managed to exchange a pair of pawns, while in view of the inherent features of the pawn structure White gets the e3-outpost for his knight, which up to recently has been in his dreams only.
This is yet another inaccurate move. It was still possible to discourage the knight from landing on е3! 46...Rc2 47.Ne4+ Kxf5 48.Ng3+ Kg6 49.Ne4 Rc4, with an arduous defense in store for White.
47.Nf1 Nf4+ 48.Kg3 Rc1 49.Ne3+ Kg6 50.Kh2 Rb1 51.Ng2
Even though it is unclear how to break through Hikaru’s defensive formations, it was still worth prolonging the American’s sufferings via 51...Ne2. I imagine Magnus Carlsen sitting there playing the black pieces with a ruthless look on his face! Rook endings, according to the apt remark of Tartakower, do not lend to winning. However, more about it is in the review of the Aronian - Nakamura ending, which is still out there waiting for our attention.
52.Nxf4+ gxf4 53.Kg1 e5 54.Ra5 Re2
The immediate king activation via 54...Kf5 would have led to a position similar to the one which occurred in the second victorious game of the Armenian grandmaster here in Moscow, with the only difference that there the strongest side had the f-pawn rather than the e-pawn advanced. As was demonstrated by round six, Nakamura would have had a lot of opportunities to commit "lapsus manus" yet, so that it would have been still too early to write this position off as a draw. Following a less energetic rook move the American managed to demonstrate a nice path to a draw.
There is also no progress forward for Black’s king after 55...Kf5 56.f3, but even now the draw is available.
56.Kh2! Rxf2+ 57.Kg3 Re2 58.Kxf3, and Hikaru managed to hold his ground after all.
On the one hand, strong and confident play displayed by Peter Svidler in the first five rounds communicated a great share of optimism to the Russian fans, but on the other hand a little premonition thought about the canonical rule justification "if you fail to score..." would start gnawing at you from time to time. Regrettably so, this premonition did materialize itself in the end.
Slaughter № 6
It seems that the gladiators believed the duration of five rounds to be a sufficient enough warm-up, and in round six in lieu of old penknives they produced their resharpened spears, swords, and hatchets. The quickest to finished their game were Anand and Svidler, and quite unexpectedly so.
Anand – Svidler
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.a4 Bb7 9.d3 Re8 10.Nbd2 Bf8 11.c3
This Anti-Marshall tabiya was subjected to initial trials in the Kasparov - Short match of 1993. Prior to fighting the Englishman Garry Kimovich received the blessing of Efim Petrovich Geller for commissioning of this line and went on to confidently lay one on Nigel after 11...h6 12.Ba2 d6 13. Nh4! Qd7 14.Ng6 with a stable plus. Afterwards no strong players have ever ventured into it again.
Nowadays the line rests on the ideas of Alexander Onischuk, whereas in the complications arising after 12.Ba2 c5 13.Nf1 d5 Black is OK.
12...c5 13.d4 exd4 14.cxd4 d5?!
Something incongruous started happening at this moment. Svidler would produce his moves very quickly and... landed straight into a lost position. It is hard to imagine that in the course of preparation Peter's team could rely on the game Shirov - Onischuk 2004 without checking it first ... Did the Russian get anything wrong? He is highly unlikely to have neglected this line altogether.
Complex play results after 14...cxd4 15.e5 Nd5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Nxd4 Nb4 – and Black would be happy about both 18.Nxb5 Nxc2 19.Qxc2 Qb6 and 18.Bb1 Nac6.
This is an important improvement, found over the board. The intermediate exchange of pawns needs to be included, because the immediate sacrifice of the exchange - 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 (17.Bxe4 Bxe4 18.Rxe4 Qd5 with a powerful compensation which outweighs the missing pawn) would bump into 17...Nb3!, upon which 18.Ng5 fails to 18…Nxa1 19.Qh5 Qxg5! 20.Bxg5 g6 21.Qd1 Nxc2 22.Qxc2 Bxe4 23.Qxe4 cxd4, and a pair of rooks is superior to the queen. 18.Rh4 Bxf3 19.Bxh7+ Kh8 20.Rh3 Bxd1 21.Bg6+ leads only to the perpetual check, whereas Shirov, chasing the illusion of an attack, miscalculated in his game against Onischuk and after 18.Bg5 Be7 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.Rb1 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 Bxe4 22.Bxe4 Rad8! White ended up losing material.
However, White’s attack clearly gains a lot of momentum from his a1-rook’s view being unobstructed.
White’s main trump is a typical sacrifice on h7: 16...Nxd2? 17.Bxd2 axb5 18.Bxh7+! Kxh7 19.Ng5+, with a winning attack.
17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Rxe4! Nb3?
Bad is 18...Bxe4 19.Bxe4 Ra7 20.Bxh7+, but why would Peter Veniaminovich refrain from 18...g6 or 18...Nc4 after all? Black would have retained compensation for the missing pawn, and the fate of the game would have remained unclear yet. Instead, the native of St. Petersburg invented a way to create counter threats to the white king and miscalculated in one of the lengthy strings of moves.
19.Rxa8 Bxa8 20.Ng5! Nxc1
Losing is 20...h6 21.Nxf7 Kxf7 22.Rf4+ Kg8 23.Qd3.
The queen easily prevails in the following line 21...Qxg5 22.Qxg5 Bxe4 23.Qxc1 (23.Bxe4 Ne2+ 24.Kf1 Nxd4 25.Bd5) 23...Bxc2 24.Qxc2 cxd4 25.f4, whereas 21...Bxe4 22.Bxe4 h6 23.Qxf7+ Kh8 24.Qg6 leads to a mate.
22.Qxf7+ Kh8 23.Rg4 Qa5
There is no relief in any other continuation either. 23...hxg5 is nicely checkmated after 24.Rh4+ gxh4 25.Qh5+ Kg8 26.Bh7+ Kh8 27.Bg6+ Kg8 28.Bf7#, while an attempt to set up the trap via 23...Ne2+ fails to 24.Kf1!
There is a momentary impression about White being in a plight here and not so easy to find a right move to make. Opening a bolthole for the king via 24.h3? leaves Black up a piece after 24…Qe1+ 25.Kh2 Ne2 26.Nf3 Bxf3 27.gxf3 Nxd4 28.Be4 Rd8 29.Rg2 Qe2, whereas 24.Nf3!? Bxf3 (24...Qa1 25.h3 Bxf3 26.gxf3 Rd8 27.Kh2) 25.gxf3 Qe1+ 26.Kg2 Ne2 27.Qxe8 Qg1+ 28.Kh3 Qf1+ 29.Rg2 Nf4+ 30.Kg4 Qxg2+ 31.Kxf4 Qxh2+ 32.Ke4 Qh4+ 33.f4 seems to lead to success even though the line is too lengthy and complicated indeed!
But Anand is Anand, and this is especially true when he is in the world of his own. The Indian grandmaster has foreseen an elegant resource in his advanced calculations, which puts an end to this miniature of a game.
24.h4!, and the Russian recognized his defeat in view of 24…Qe1+ 25.Kh2 Ne2 26.Nh3 – the white king is safe, but who is going to provide safety for his black counterpart?
However, the fans of the many-time Russian Champion should not lose their heart too early: I am more than confident that Svidler will not fail to make his voice heard in this tournament yet, just as used to be the case back there in London!
Anish Giri, playing with the black pieced, was fighting Vaseline Topalov to the last bullet, trying to punish the opponent for the daring Korobov-like 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? However, the Bulgarian refused to give up, defending well and eventually saving a knight ending with "two versus three" pawns. Nevertheless, that evening an honor to be called a defender undoubtedly belonged to Sergey Karjakin.
Caruana – Karjakin
The b3-b4 advance has turned into a rather unpleasant surprise for Black. 18... Rc8 19.b5 Rxc3 20.bxa6 promises stable advantage to White, and we know how great Don Fabio is when it comes to operating a pair of bishops. All of it put together persuaded Karjakin that he should bravely part ways with his queen!
18...Bxb4! 19.Nc6 Bxc3 20.Nxd8 Bxe2 21.Qb3
21.Qc2 Bxa1 22.Rxa1 Raxd8 23.Rxa7 Nc4 24.Bg5 Bh5 would not have been significantly different if compared to what happened in the game.
21...Bxa1 22.Rxa1 Raxd8
Sergey is not to be distracted by some petty things like 22...Rexd8 23.Bc7 because his aim is to reduce the number of pieces on the board and build up a fortress on one flank.
23.Rxa7 Nc4 24.h3 Bh5 25.Bg5 Bg6 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.g4 Kg7 28.Qc3
Caruana’s play is very logical and full of ideas, attempting to besiege Karjakin’s weaknesses on the kingside. As there is no time to waste, Sergey sets in motion a beautiful and precisely calculated positional transformation of a combinational nature. We cannot but mention that both Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in his analysis and Alexandra Kosteniuk during the online broadcasting recommended to disturb Black with 28.h4!? However, in this tournament the exclusive rights to advance the pawn to h4 apparently belong to Sergey.
28…d4! 29.Qxc4 d3 30.g5?!
White tries to put his opponent up against some practical problems towards the time trouble, but it runs into a string of brilliant moves from the native of Moscow.
A simple 30.Kh2 d2 31.Bf3 d1Q 32.Bxd1 Rxd1 was an objective way to make a draw, although Black should be especially careful about White’s potential of launching a pawn assault on the kingside.
Taking the pawn is impossible, of course: 30...fxg5? 31.Bd5! d2 32.Qd4+, and the passed pawn goes down.
We cannot qualify 31...Kxf6?! 32.Qc3+ Kg5 33.Bf3 d1Q+ 34.Bxd1 Rxd1+ 35.Kh2 Kh6 36.Qf6 Re6 37.Qf4+ Kg7 38.Rxf7+! Bxf7 39.Qg4+ Kf8 40.Qxd1 as a poor continuation, but the fact that there is no immediate fortress setup in view that the black pieces could line themselves up into spells plenty of suffering in store for him. But what was on Black’s mind when he refused from taking this most critical of pawns as simply as that?
Karjakin’s defense is based on this bishop shot, which in turn reminds White about existence of his own king as well! Even losing for White would be 33.Qxf7? d1Q+ 34.Bxd1 Rxd1+ 35.Kh2 Rg8 36.Qxg8+ Kxg8, whereas 33.Bg4 Rg8 34.Ra1 d1Q+ 35.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 36.Kh2 Bd5 does not spell any troubles for Black.
This is yet another blow upon which Fabiano decides to give the queen back in order to avoid any further surprises.
A somewhat more spectacular finish to the game would have occurred in the following line: 34.Qh4 Rg8! 35.Rxf7 (35.Bxd5 d1Q) 35...Bxf7 36.Be4 Bg6 37.f7 d1Q 38.Qf6+ Rg7 39.f8Q+ Rxf8 40.Qxf8+ Rg8 41.Qf6+ with a perpetual check.
34...Rg8 35.Bd1 Rxg4 36.hxg4 h6, and Caruana acknowledged the impregnability of his opponent's position. This is a bright piece of the modern classical chess!
Sergey left the stage with a light heart, but his leaving the round for the second day off as a sole leader was being decided in the game still in progress.
One touched a piece, and then there were six
The chess topic of taking moves back in the nature of something like "I touched, but will not move the touched piece," or "let me take my move back", if committed to paper, is likely to evolve into a brilliant article, if not into a whole book! However, gathering a decent set of the most striking and classical examples would undoubtedly require the experience of no less persons than Gennady Sosonko or Evgeny Gik because we, the young journalists, remember the most recent examples from the XXI century only, such as Carlsen trying to take a move back when losing to Boris Savchenko. Garry Kasparov, even after elapse of so many years, is still attempting to prove in one his latest books not withdrawing his hand from the touched piece in the game with Polgar. In addition to that, the works of the “FIDE supervisor" Zurab Azmaiparashvili might also feed you with something to munch upon.
I do not blame Hikaru Nakamura. Having touched his king on that wonderful spring evening in Moscow, the American had something reminiscent of the Ilf and Petrov’s hero Shura Balaganov. If you happen to remember, "Passing by Ostap, Shura whispered bitterly: - What the hell is this? I did it mechanically, after all.” Standing nearby, however, wearing pince-nez and holding a briefcase was a judge accompanied by the owner of a stolen tortoiseshell-shaped powder box. While no vigilant police officer was there on the scene of action, the guardian of order’s role on the stage was performed by a bunch of cameras instead.
Aronian – Nakamura
What happened at this moment has been already vividly painted by dozens of chess sites as well as by hundreds of chess and sports journalists. The analysis of this exciting endgame showed that an easy draw was to be reached both after 74...Ra5, followed by a stalemate idea of Alexey Jarovinsky (while White makes rearrangements with his king going to e4 and f4-f5 to follow, Black meets it with h5-h6 and Kh6!), as well as after 74... Ra4, anticipating 75.e6, which is then answered by the rook check along the fifth rank and the black king’s redeployment to f6.
However, Hikaru got relaxed, soothed by his awareness of the drawing methods, seemingly easily demonstrated by him in a similar ending at the press conference with Peter Svidler. It looks like he was really aware of all hidden hazards and pitfalls... What happened next is known very well: he touches and withdraws his hand, Levon appeals to conscience, hinting at available evidence. Black was forced to play 74...Kf8?? 75.Kf6 Ra6+ 76.Rd6!, and it was before long that the diarchy came to rule the tournament. The only thing that remains unclear is who was happier with this result: Levon Aronian or Ian Nepomniachtchi, who took in absentia moral revenge?!
The chess feast continues, and we are looking forward to the Karjakin - Aronian duel, which is likely to have a significant, if not a decisive say in this event. I'll come in touch with you with my follow-up report in six rounds from now!
Tournament standings after round six:
1-2. Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian – both with 4 points; 3. Viswanathan Anand - 3.5 points; 4-5. Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri – 3 points; 6. Peter Svidler - 2.5 points; 7-8. Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov – with 2 points.