Bilbao Masters – Nakamura steamrolls Aronian; Carlsen wins too

10/8/2011 – Mathematically, Ivanchuk can still be caught, though Carlsen and Nakamura are the likeliest candidates. While Ivanchuk and Anand drew after a long duel, Carlsen was staring at a draw until Vallejo blundered a piece. Meanwhile, Nakamura completely outplayed Aronian in an equal endgame for a brilliant win. Report, videos, and notes by GM Romain Edouard.

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The first leg of the Grand Slam was staged in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park, from September 25th to October 1st, the second leg takes place in Bilbao, Alhóndiga, from 5th to 11th October. Tournament system: double round robin with six players over ten rounds. Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 60 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the first move. Games begin at 16:00h local Spanish time (10 a.m. New York, 18:00h Moscow).

Round eight

Round 8: Saturday, October 8, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo

With two-thirds of the players tied for second, and this the last chance to make a move on Ivanchuk to arm wrestle for first, the eighth round promised to be a tense affair as all the players set out to make their final bids. The game between Ivanchuk and Anand was quite revelatory in that sense. The game was equal throughout, and despite a dead equal endgame in which neither player could claim to have greater practical chances than the other, Anand pushed it to the rail, possibly because he too had judged this the do-or-die round.


Anand provides some insight on the game...


...while Ivanchuk considers it himself.

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.08"] [Round "8"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vasili"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2765"] [BlackElo "2817"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Nc3 Bb7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 Be7 7. Qc2 c5 8. dxc5 bxc5 9. e3 O-O 10. Be2 d6 11. O-O Nbd7 12. Rfd1 Qb6 13. Rd2 Rfd8 14. Rad1 a6 15. h3 Bc6 16. Ne1 $146 Qc7 17. Bf3 Ne5 18. Bxc6 Qxc6 19. b3 Ra7 20. Bg3 Qc8 { Maybe a good move, especially since the World Champion played it, but I simply don't like it. I feel Black shouldn't be so passive.} (20... Ng6 {was one decent option, followed by ...Rad7.}) 21. Na4 ({An option for White was simply } 21. Bxe5 dxe5 22. Rxd8+ Bxd8 23. Nf3 Nd7 {and then a move like} 24. g4 $5 { with a space and structure advantage. However, Black is still extremely solid and has no special weakness. Though White's play on the white squares should be quite easy, I believe Black should hold.}) 21... Re8 22. Bh4 (22. Bxe5 $1 { was simply strong in my opinion:} dxe5 23. Nf3 (23. e4 $5) 23... e4 {The "tactical" way, but I'm not sure it is a good idea for Black!} (23... Qc7 24. e4 $5 {seems simply very unpleasant for Black to me. Maybe Black should hold, but without a light squared bishop, I would not like to play that position with Black.}) 24. Ne5 h5 (24... Qc7 25. Ng4 {looks very good for White:} Qc6 26. Nc3 Nxg4 27. hxg4 f5 28. gxf5 exf5 29. Rd5 g6 30. Ne2 {and Black is under huge pressure.}) 25. g4 $5 {A logical option, though there are some others. All Black's pieces stand on the queenside, so White tries to act on the kindside! Somehow, White's pieces should be faster to come there.} ({The engine suggests} 25. Nc3 {but after} Qc7 26. Nd7 Nxd7 27. Rxd7 Qxd7 28. Rxd7 Rxd7 29. Qxe4 Red8 {I don't think White can be so much better.}) 25... Qc7 26. Qb2 hxg4 27. hxg4 Qc8 (27... g5 28. Rd7 Nxd7 29. Rxd7 Qxd7 30. Nxd7 Rxd7 31. Qe5 {is much better for White (maybe even winning): all Black's pawns are hanging!}) 28. g5 Nh7 29. g6 fxg6 30. Nb6 $1 Qc7 31. Nbd7 Ng5 32. Kg2 {and Black is in huge trouble.}) 22... Ned7 23. Nc3 Ra8 24. f4 Qc7 25. Nf3 Rad8 26. e4 Nb8 27. e5 {Maybe too early.} ({Something like} 27. Qd3 Nc6 28. Qe3 {in order to centralize all the pieces might be better. Black is always under pressure, since e5 may come at any moment, and maybe White can start pushing the kingside pawns (g4 and so on) sooner or later. Of course Black is very solid, but the position seems pretty tough to play for him.}) 27... dxe5 28. fxe5 Rxd2 29. Qxd2 Rd8 30. Qe1 Rxd1 31. Nxd1 Nh7 32. Bxe7 Qxe7 33. Nf2 (33. Qa5 {would have been the only chance to get some advantage, but after} Nc6 $1 ({ After} 33... Qa7 34. Qd8+ $5 {(not the only way)} Nf8 35. Nb2 Nbd7 36. Nd3 Qb7 37. Nd2 Qc6 38. Kf2 {maybe Black is suffering a little bit.}) 34. Qb6 (34. Qxa6 Qc7 $11) 34... Qd7 35. Nf2 Nd4 36. Qd6 Nxf3+ 37. gxf3 Qb7 38. Ne4 Ng5 {I guess Black draws by force.}) 33... Qc7 {That position is simply equal.} 34. Ne4 Nf8 35. h4 Nbd7 36. Nf2 Ng6 37. Nd3 Ne7 38. Qe4 Qc6 39. Nf2 Qxe4 40. Nxe4 Nc6 41. Kf2 Kf8 42. g4 Ke7 43. g5 a5 44. Ke3 Ncxe5 45. Nxe5 Nxe5 46. Nxc5 hxg5 47. hxg5 f5 48. gxf6+ gxf6 49. a3 f5 50. Kd4 Nc6+ 51. Kc3 Kd6 52. b4 axb4+ 53. axb4 e5 54. Nb3 e4 55. b5 Nd8 56. c5+ Kd5 57. Nd4 Kxc5 58. Nxf5 Nb7 1/2-1/2


It wasn't his most brilliant victory, but a win is a win, and Carlsen is in the mix

Carlsen-Vallejo was a strange game. Though one could look at the result and conclude that Carlsen had used his superior ability to make his move over the Spaniard, the truth his he had gotten nothing at all out of the opening or middlegame, and it was only the gift of a piece on move 32 that gave him his chance.


The friendly Vallejo had showed his ability to play with the best,
only to trip tragically at the finish line.

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.08"] [Round "8"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2823"] [BlackElo "2716"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Be4 7. f3 Bg6 8. Qb3 Qb6 9. Nxg6 hxg6 10. Bd2 Bd6 11. h3 Nbd7 12. O-O-O Qxb3 13. axb3 a6 14. Kc2 Nh5 15. Bd3 Ng3 16. Rhe1 O-O-O 17. e4 $146 {Some other moves were played before without achieving anything.} dxe4 18. fxe4 c5 19. d5 Rde8 20. Na2 $1 {An important idea. White wants to play b4, exchange the b3 pawn for c5, and push b4 again. Of course it is not easy to manage in good conditions. According to the engine, White never succeeds if Black plays correctly, but from a human point of view, I believe it should be definitely easier to play for White.} exd5 {I'm not sure whether not taking could bring Black something or not!} ({ However, after} 20... Ne5 21. b4 f5 {the engine found some impressive draw:} 22. bxc5 Bxc5 (22... Nxd3 23. Kxd3 fxe4+ 24. Kc2 Bxc5 25. Bf4 Nh5 26. d6 Kd7 27. Be5 {followed by b4 is bad for Black.}) 23. exf5 $8 exd5 24. Rxe5 {The rest is simply fine for Black.} Rxe5 25. Bf4 dxc4 $1 26. Bxe5 (26. Bxc4 $6 Nxf5 $1) 26... cxd3+ 27. Rxd3 Nxf5 28. Rc3 b6 29. b4 Re8 30. Bh2 Nd4+ 31. Kd3 (31. Kb1 Re1+ 32. Kb2 Re2+ 33. Ka1 Rxg2 34. Be5 Rg1+ 35. Kb2 Rg2+ $11) 31... Rd8 { and Black simply gets a draw by miracle.}) 21. exd5 Nf5 (21... Ne5 22. b4 f6 $1 {might be enough for equality:} 23. bxc5 {(of course White has no obligation to take so fast, but what else?)} (23. Re3 $6 Nf5 {is very good for Black.}) 23... Bxc5 24. Bf4 (24. b4 $2 Bf2 $15) 24... Bf2 25. Bxg3 Bxg3 26. Re2 Nxd3 27. Rxe8+ Rxe8 28. Rxd3 Bd6 {followed by ...Kd7, ...b6.}) 22. b4 Nd4+ (22... Nh4 23. bxc5 (23. Bf1 Nf5 24. bxc5 Nxc5 25. b4 Ne4 {is very good for Black.}) 23... Nxc5 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Rf1 Nxd3 26. Kxd3 f6 27. g4 g5 {and Black is just fine: White's pawn are not bringing anything special. Black will just put his king on d7, bishop on e5, some ...Rh8 move or whatever, and I think White cannot make progress at all. Once again, it is very tough, over the board, to leave White two beautiful central pawns like this.}) 23. Kb1 Nb3 {Maybe not the most accurate, but still fine.} (23... cxb4 $5 24. Nxb4 (24. Bxb4 Bxb4 25. Nxb4 Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Kc7 $11) 24... Nc5 25. Bc3 Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Rh4 $1 {and, since Black seems to manage to keep control over the dark squares, I believe the position is equal again.}) 24. Bc3 cxb4 25. Nxb4 Be5 26. Na2 Bxc3 27. Nxc3 (27. Rxe8+ { to try to be clever (check comments of the further moves) would not make sense before of} Rxe8 28. Nxc3 Re3 {and the initiative goes to the black side.}) 27... Ndc5 $6 {Problems started from here. Actually, while analyzing the game, I noticed that taking the opponent's rook first was very often making many differences.} (27... Rxe1 $1 28. Rxe1 Ndc5 {might have been even more precise, since} 29. Bc2 $2 {is bad due to} Nd2+ $17) 28. Rxe8+ Rxe8 29. Bc2 Re3 30. Ka2 $6 (30. Bxb3 $1 Nxb3 31. Kc2 Nc5 32. b4 Nd7 33. Rd3 {and, though Black should hold, the position is very unpleasant to play.}) 30... Na5 31. Rd4 Rg3 32. Ne4 Rxg2 $4 {After having so many possible options each move, Black entered time trouble and eventually blundered. Maybe a bit of luck for Magnus, but I would say he also chose the position well: unusual enough to make his opponent spend a lot of time.} (32... Nxe4 33. Bxe4 Nb3 $1 34. Rd1 Re3 $1 35. Bc2 Nc5 36. b4 Nd7 {is simply fine for Black: White doesn't have enough pieces for central pawns to achieve anything big.} (36... Ne4 $5)) 33. Rd2 $1 $18 {Nice trick! Maybe some unconcious payback for their first game? :)} Rxd2 34. Nxd2 {Black loses a piece!} b5 35. b4 Nab7 36. bxc5 Nxc5 37. Ne4 Nb7 38. c5 f5 39. c6 fxe4 40. cxb7+ Kxb7 41. Bxe4 Kc7 42. Kb3 a5 43. Kc3 a4 44. Bc2 g5 45. Kd4 Kd6 46. Bd1 1-0

In the round up show, GM Maurice Ashley also weighed in on the game, which we are sharing here with you.

 
GM Maurice Ashley analyzes Carlsen-Vallejo on Playchess

The rest of the show and game analysis is available on Playchess for those who missed it.

After obtaining bad positions in the opening and then clawing his way back to a draw, Aronian had to have been pleased in his game against Nakamura to finally achieve a good opening, however, that is where the smile ended.


Aronian showed his usual composure in the post-game interview

Soon enough Nakamura equalized, and then did what one would not have expected against a player of Aronian's renowned technique: he proceeded to completely outplay him in the endgame, inching forward with confidence and ability making it seem as if it had been an obvious win. A fantastic achievement by the American, showing new weapons in his growing arsenal.


On the steady rise, Nakamura displayed refined tools in pursuit of the magic 2800

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.08"] [Round "8"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2807"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "157"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 c6 6. e3 Bf5 7. g4 {The main line, actually!} Be6 8. h4 (8. h3 $5 {is the other option where White's plan is to play Bd3, Qc2, Nge2, 0-0-0 and so on.}) 8... Nd7 9. h5 Nh6 10. Be2 Nb6 11. Nh3 g5 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Bg3 $146 (13. f3 Bh4+ {followed by ...g5 and ... f5 was usually played - and very fine for Black.}) 13... Qd7 ({Was Naka's novelty pure bluff? It seems that after the brillant} 13... Nxg4 $3 14. Bxg4 Qd7 {Black is actually better!}) 14. Nf4 O-O-O 15. Nxe6 Qxe6 16. Rg1 Bd6 17. Qc2 Bxg3 18. Rxg3 f5 19. O-O-O Nxg4 20. Bxg4 fxg4 21. Rdg1 Rh4 22. Qe2 Rf8 23. Nd1 Rf4 24. Kd2 $5 Nc4+ 25. Ke1 {Till there, apart from the 13...Nxg4 possibility, everything has proceeded normally. Black is doing very well, and got a very pleasant equality, however Aronian's next move was a bit surprising: too soft or too light. I call it surprising, since it goes, in my opinion, against Aronian's superb active style.} Rf3 $6 (25... Rf6 26. Rxg4 Rh2 {and Black is never going to be worse. For example:} 27. e4 {(the only way to try anything)} Qd6 $5 (27... Qe7 28. a3 Re6 29. Ne3 Rxe4 30. Rxe4 Qxe4 31. Nxc4 Qxe2+ 32. Kxe2 dxc4 33. Rxg6 Rh3 $11) 28. a3 Re6 29. Kf1 Qd7 30. Ne3 (30. e5 c5 31. b3 Nd6 $15) 30... Rf6 (30... Nxe3+ 31. Qxe3 dxe4 32. Rxe4 Rxe4 33. Qxe4 Qf7 34. Qg4+ $11) 31. Nd1 {and White probably holds, though he's definitely not trying to win.}) 26. Rxf3 gxf3 27. Qxf3 Qf5 $6 (27... Kd7 $5 28. b3 Nd6 {and Black still has no problem at all.}) 28. Qg3 $1 Rh6 29. b3 Nb6 30. Qg4 $1 { Already White's position is a bit easier to play.} Nd7 31. Qxf5 gxf5 32. Nc3 Nf6 33. Ne2 Ng4 $6 {Too light again in my opinion. Black should try to take a bit of control of the queenside, and find some stable setup, otherwise White is going to dominate everywhere as in the game.} (33... Rh2 $5 34. Nf4 a5 $1 35. Nd3 Ne4 {and maybe here Black just holds. Some tactics out of White's queenside pawns are a plus for Black's defense.}) 34. Nf4 Rh2 35. Nd3 {The right place for White's knight. Now White's king is going to g3 and f4. Somehow Black's conception is wrong.} Kd8 $6 {Maybe that move is not actually the dubious one, but the mark goes to the conception of the next moves. White went very fast from slightly better to winning.} ({Maybe} 35... a5 36. Ke2 Rh3 {should be a good defense. Of course after} 37. Rg2 {followed by f3, Black has some problems to solve (maybe 37...Rh1!? to find counterplay), but it is somehow better than letting White's king advance.}) 36. b4 (36. Ke2 $5) 36... Ke7 $6 (36... Kc7 {followed by ...Kb6 and ...a5 seems to give Black counterplay, though White is still better. I would have prefered 36.Ke2.}) 37. a4 b6 38. Ke2 Kd6 39. Kf3 a5 40. bxa5 bxa5 41. Kg3 Kc7 42. Rc1 {Now White is just crushing.} Rh7 43. Kf4 Re7 44. Rc2 Re4+ 45. Kg5 $18 (45. Kxf5 {was possible but Black can go} Rxe3 46. Ne5 Nxe5 47. fxe3 Nc4 48. Kf4 Nd6 {which should be winning for White, though it also gives Black unnecessary chances to draw.}) 45... Re8 46. Rb2 Rf8 47. Nc5 Kc8 48. Kf4 {The rest is just a matter of technique.} Rh8 49. f3 Nh2 50. Rf2 Rh3 51. Nb3 Kc7 52. Nxa5 Kb6 53. Nb3 Ka6 54. Nc1 Ka5 55. Ne2 Kxa4 56. Ng1 Rh6 57. Kg3 Ng4 58. fxg4 fxg4 59. Rf5 Rh1 60. Kg2 Rh4 61. Ne2 Kb5 62. Nf4 Rh8 63. Kg3 Rg8 64. Re5 Kc4 65. Re6 Kb5 66. Re7 Kb4 67. Nd3+ Kc3 68. Ne5 c5 69. dxc5 d4 70. exd4 Kxd4 71. Nd7 Rd8 72. c6 Rc8 73. Re6 Rc7 74. Rd6+ Kc4 75. Kxg4 Kb5 76. Ne5 Rh7 77. Rd7 Rh8 78. Kf5 Kb6 79. Ke6 1-0

With both Carlsen and Nakmura winning their games, they have jockeyed themselves into position as the only candidates for a potential steal of first place, though Ivanchuk is still in control of his destiny and might secure it in spite of any heroics on their part. In round nine, Carlsen will face Ivanchuk, and his chances will depend entirely on how things go, while Nakamura plays Vallejo, only to face Carlsen in round ten. The games promise to be exciting.

 
A video report of round eight courtesy of liveteleshows & Vijay Kumar

Pictures by Pascal Simon


Bilbao scoring crosstable after eight rounds

Traditional crosstable after eight rounds

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, September 26, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 2: Tuesday, September 27, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 3: Wednesday, September 28, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk 
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 4: Friday, September 30, 15:00h
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Games Report
Round 5: Saturday, October 1, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Games Report
Round 6: Thursday, October 6, 16:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 7: Friday, October 7, 16:00h
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen 
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Round 8: Saturday, October 8, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 9: Monday, October 10, 16:30h
Magnus Carlsen 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
   Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian 
   Viswanathan Anand
GamesReport
Round 10: Tuesday, October 11, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Levon Aronian
Viswanathan Anand 
   Francisco Vallejo
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Magnus Carlsen 
GamesReport

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