Candidates Rd7: Pandora's Box

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/21/2014 – The players today took immense risks. Kramnik turned a solid position with a slight plus into complete mayhem, he was losing at some point but Mamedyarov tricked himself and lost. Topalov self-destructed after going for Andreikin's throat. Aronian's game was more stable; he outplayed Karjakin to tie with Anand for first place. At the halfway mark, it's anyone's tournament.

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The FIDE Candidates Tournament is taking place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia). The first round will start on Thursday, March 13 at 3 p.m. local time, the final round is on Sunday, March 30, 2014. The event is a double round robin (14 rounds). The time control is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 and 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61.

The tournament will determine the challenger who will face the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a title match later this year. The prize fund is 600,000 Euros (= US $832,000), the first place 135,000 and last (8th) place 25,000 Euros.

Carlsen comments!

World Champion Magnus Carlsen has been keenly observing the events in Khanty-Mansyisk. He published a video with his thoughts of the tournament so far:

Round seven

Round seven – 21.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
0-1
Aronian Levon
Svidler Peter
½-½
Anand Viswanathan
Kramnik Vladimir
1-0
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Andreikin Dmitry
1-0
Topalov Veselin

Daniel King shows the highlights of round 7

Karjakin, Sergey 0-1 Aronian, Levon

Annotations by grandmaster Elshan Moriadiabadi. Bio coming up shortly.

[Event "Candidates 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS"] [Date "2014.03.21"] [Round "7.3"] [White "Sergey Karjakin"] [Black "Levon Aronian"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [TimeControl "7200+1640"] [WhiteClock "0:07:20"] [BlackClock "0:30:19"] {A very important game for both players. On one hand, this game may have been Karjakin's last chance to enhance his score before the start of the second half of the event. On the other hand, Aronian has been trying to catch Anand after his stumble in the first round.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 { "Berlin" has become the "pet" variation in elite level. Karjakin himself, emplyed Berlin a round earlier for a comfortable draw against Vishy.} 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 $5 {An Interesting choice, d6 followed by Ne7 (What Anand played against Svidler today) is considered the most solid-direct continution. Aronian shows his willingness for a long game.} 7. Nbd2 ({Another "Classical" continuation could be:} 7. Re1 a6 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bb3 d6 10. Bg5 Be6 $5 {0-1 Anand,V (2775)-Carlsen,M (2870)/Chennai 2013/EXT 2014 (67)}) 7... a6 {Aronian is familiar with this position: A sweet victory in the last candidates!} 8. Bxc6 {Karjakin deviates from his recent game against Leko. I personally do not find this move that impressive. Does Karjakin have something up his sleeve?} ( 8. Ba4 b5 9. Bb3 d6 10. a4 (10. Re1 Be6 11. Nf1 Bxb3 12. axb3 d5 13. Qc2 h6 { 0-1 Radjabov,T (2793)-Aronian,L (2809)/London 2013/CBM 154 (54)}) 10... Rb8 11. axb5 axb5 12. Re1 Bb6 13. Nf1 Ne7 {1/2-1/2 Karjakin,S (2782)-Leko,P (2737)/ Kiev 2013/CBM 154 Extra (57)}) 8... dxc6 9. Nc4 Nd7 10. b4 $5 {An interesting plan which was first introduced by legendary world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in his game against Leonid Stein.} Bd6 11. Qb3 $146 {According to my Database this is a Novelty.Both "Normal" Bg5 and Be3 have been tried before in Grandmaster level games. Karjakin's plan is obvious. He wants to prevent f7-f6. } (11. Bg5 f6 (11... Be7 $6 12. Be3 Bf6 {Bishop does not belong to this square. } 13. Qc2 Qe7 14. a4 Nf8 15. Nfd2 $14 {1-0 Najer,E (2669)-Balogh,C (2605)/ Austria 2009/EXT 2010 (57)}) 12. Be3 Nf8 13. Nfd2 Be6 {1/2-1/2 Rublevsky,S (2693)-Kurnosov,I (2660)/Eilat 2012/CBM 151 (60) With an even play}) 11... Nf8 (11... Qf6 $5 {could be a less conventional way to play this position.} 12. Re1 Nb6 13. Nxd6 cxd6 14. Be3 Be6 15. c4 Nd7 16. a4 Qg6 {Looks quiet ok for black.} ) 12. Bg5 Qd7 13. Be3 Ng6 14. Nfd2 $6 (14. a4 Bf8 15. Rad1 {Seems more plausible}) 14... Bf8 {Aronian successfully solves his opening problem. Now the e5 square is well-protected and black is ready to use his light-square bishop for his benefit!} 15. d4 {This move is forced. Due to the previous move, the pawn on d3 was becoming an issue for white.} Qe7 16. dxe5 Be6 17. Qc2 Bxc4 18. Nxc4 Nxe5 19. Nd2 a5 {a simple move which gives black some initiative.} 20. a3 axb4 21. axb4 Qe6 22. f3 Nc4 {Aronian rightfully tries to capitalize on c4 square's weakness.} 23. Bf4 c5 (23... b5 {fixes the b4 pawn and would let black to play c5 more effectively. Needless to say, the pawn on c7 is a taboo.} 24. Bxc7 $4 Ne3) 24. b5 Nd6 25. Rxa8 Rxa8 26. Rb1 b6 {Aronian has maintained his edge. It is hard to find a useful move for white at this point.} 27. e5 $2 {This is too much! weakening the pawn and putting an end for the Bishop on f4?} (27. g3 {could at least hold the position for a couple of more moves.}) 27... Nc4 28. Qe4 Ra4 29. Rc1 h6 30. h4 Nb2 31. c4 Qd7 {Aronian plays very accurate. Now d3 square is an issue. The rook on a4 is more active than the one on c1. Black is accumulating small advantages for the sake of final strike.} 32. Rb1 Ra2 33. Be3 Na4 $1 {A nice tactic which wins material for black. Both Rd2 and Nc3 are threats which could not be faced simultaneously.} 34. Rb3 (34. Re1 { was probably the last practical try. Although it is hard to figure out what white could do after} Nc3 35. Qg4 Qd3 36. e6 Ne2+ 37. Kf2 Nd4 38. exf7+ Kxf7 39. Qh5+ Kg8 40. Qd5+ Kh7 41. Qe4+ Qxe4 42. fxe4 Kg6) 34... Rxd2 35. Bxd2 Qxd2 36. Rd3 Qc1+ 37. Kh2 Nb2 38. Rd8 Qxc4 39. Qa8 Qxh4+ 40. Kg1 Qe1+ 41. Kh2 Qxe5+ 42. g3 {After "harvesting" white's pawns, black has enormous material advantage, however, it requires high accuracy to convert it into full point. Today, unlike round six, Aronian tends to show his skills!} Qe2+ 43. Kh3 Nd3 $1 (43... Qe7 44. Re8 Qd6 45. Rd8 {could not help black}) 44. Rxf8+ Kh7 45. Re8 Nf2+ 46. Kh4 Qxb5 $1 {Accurate play by Aronian!} 47. g4 Qc4 48. Qc8 Qf4 49. Qf5+ Qxf5 50. gxf5 {With foru pawns for the exchange, the rest does not require much of an effort from Aronian.} c4 51. Re7 c5 52. Rxf7 c3 53. f6 Kg6 { A nice strategic game, in which, Aronian managed to outplay his opponent gradually. The weakness of c4 square played an important role in this game. Now Aronian catches Anand in the lead and make tomorrow's encounter more exciting! Chess world do look forward into it!} 0-1

Aronian missed his chances yesterday, but today he did not forgive.
He is now tied for first place with Anand.

Svidler, Peter ½-½ Anand, Viswanathan
Svidler employed an anti-Berlin in yet another Spanish. However Anand very clearly outplayed his opponent. Svidler was almost forced into sacrificing a pawn for murky compensation on move 20, but Anand did not take it. That was an understandable position as Black's king would have been very exposed and his position still underdeveloped, but the computer seems to give the pawn grabbing continuation a stamp of approval.

Anand could have taken a pawn and risked it all, but chose not to

After declining the pawn sacrifice it is possible that Black still stood minimally better, but after an unusual queen sacrifice his chances for an advantage had all but evaporated. The game ended in a draw in an unwinnable endgame for both sides with Rook and Bishop for Anand against Queen for Svidler.

Kramnik, Vladimir 1-0 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar

A true roller coaster

[Event "FIDE Candidates Tournament 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk"] [Date "2014.03.21"] [Round "7"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2787"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Qc2 c5 8. e3 Qa5 9. Bd3 c4 10. Bf5 O-O 11. O-O Re8 12. Nd2 g6 13. Bxd7 Nxd7 14. h4 {This has all been played before. Actually, Mamedyarov has had this position with Black before.} b5 {unusual. These positions are strategically dangerous for Black. He is a little underdeveloped and his pawns can easily come under pressure.} 15. a4 $1 Bxc3 16. bxc3 b4 17. cxb4 Qxb4 18. Nb1 $1 {An important regrouping. White's knight on c3 is a monster as it attacks d5, defends a4 and b1 and it seems like this position already favors White.} Qd6 19. Nc3 Qc6 20. Rfb1 Ba6 21. Qd1 f6 22. Bf4 Rad8 23. Qf3 Nf8 24. Bh6 Kf7 25. Rb2 Ne6 26. Rab1 Ng7 {Kramnik considered that this was a strategically winning position. He was trying to strengthen his position while Black has very little to do.} 27. g4 Kg8 28. Qf4 Kf7 29. e4 $2 {Giving counterplay to Black. Kramnik didn't know exactly why he played this, he thought he had calculated it to a forced win. He suggested doing this without g4 so as to not give as much counterplay to Black.} (29. Rb5 $5 {was mentioned by Kramnik in the press conference and White starts collecting some important pawns.} Bxb5 30. axb5) (29. Bxg7 Kxg7 30. e4 dxe4 31. d5 $13) 29... Ne6 30. exd5 Nxf4 31. dxc6 g5 $1 {The move that Kramnik overlooked. The bishop on h6 is trapped and Black has real play. Now there are many variations to calculate.} 32. hxg5 fxg5 33. c7 (33. Rb7+ $1 Bxb7 34. Rxb7+ Kg6 35. Bg7 Ne2+ 36. Nxe2 Rxe2 {This position is not easy to assess. Both sides are in danger and Kramnik decided not to go down this path.} 37. Kf1 $5) 33... Rd6 34. Bxg5 Nh3+ 35. Kg2 Nxg5 36. d5 Bc8 {Mamedyarov thought he was at least fine by this point, not worse in the worst case scenario} 37. Rb8 Rf6 38. Ra8 $2 {"Any move was better than ra8. It was better to skip the move than to play that" - Vladimir Kramnik} (38. Re1 $2 Rxe1 39. Rxc8 Nf3 $1 {With an amazing mating attack} 40. Rf8+ $1 Kxf8 41. c8=Q+ Kg7 42. Qc7+ Kh6 $1 $17) 38... Rf4 $1 {A very strong move. Suddenly Black has mating threats connected with Nf3.} 39. f3 $1 Rxf3 (39... Nxf3 $1 40. Rxc8 $1 Rxc8 41. Nb5 Ke8 42. d6 Kd7 43. Nxa7 Rff8 {and Black defends, but he is not winning.}) 40. d6 $2 (40. Rbb8 $1 {A very difficult move to find in time pressure.} Bxg4 (40... Rxc3 41. Rxc8 Rc2+ 42. Kg3 Rc3+ {and again White's king is safe and Black has no choice but to perpetual.}) 41. Rxe8 $18 {White's king is not getting mated.}) 40... Bxg4 41. Rxe8 Kxe8 42. Rb8+ Kf7 43. Rd8 Bh3+ 44. Kh2 Rxc3 45. d7 {White's pawns are powerful, and they will queen, the question is how much counterplay can Black create with his active pieces against White's naked king.} Rc2+ 46. Kg3 Rg2+ 47. Kh4 Be6 $3 {An excellent move. The bishop removes itself from the way and renews mating threats.} 48. Rf8+ (48. c8=Q Nf3+ 49. Kh5 Rh2# {is the point.}) 48... Kxf8 $4 {Blundering a full point away} (48... Kg6 $1 49. Rg8+ Kh6 50. Rxg5 Rh2+ 51. Kg3 Bxd7 $19 {is winning for Black.}) 49. c8=Q+ Kg7 $2 { Making White's life much easier.} (49... Kf7 {is hard to crack.} 50. Kh5 $3 { A move that is almost impossible to find.} (50. d8=N+ Kf6 51. Nxe6 Nxe6 52. Qxc4 $11) 50... Bg4+ 51. Kh6 $1 {White's king joins the fray and the mating attack is dangerous.} Ne6 52. Qe8+ Kf6 53. d8=Q+ Nxd8 54. Qxd8+ Ke5 55. Qb8+ Kd4 56. Qxa7+ {And this position seems to be winning for White.}) 50. Qb7 {Now d8(Q) is a decisive threat, but the rook on g2 is also hanging. The game is essentially over.} Nf3+ 51. Qxf3 Rh2+ 52. Kg5 h6+ 53. Kf4 Rh4+ 54. Ke5 {A roller coaster ride, for sure, but one that Mamedyarov cannot be happy about.} 1-0

No one wins a tournament without a little luck

Andreikin, Dmitry 1-0 Topalov, Veselin

After a spectacular win, Topalov spectacularly self-destructs

[Event "FIDE Candidates Tournament 2014"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk"] [Date "2014.03.21"] [Round "7"] [White "Andreikin, Dmitry"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D30"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2785"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 h6 5. Bxf6 Qxf6 6. Nbd2 {The knight usually goes to c3, but there is nothing wrong with putting it on d2. The game strays away from theory.} Be7 7. Qc2 O-O 8. e3 c5 {This approach is certainly the most principled. White has decreased his pressure on the center and it is only natural for Black to strike at it as soon as possible.} 9. dxc5 Nd7 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Nb3 {A greedy approach. Andreikin tries to stall Black from taking his c5 pawn, at least until he has finished development.} a5 12. a4 b6 $1 {Powerful play. Topalov sacrifices the pawn entirely to put his opponent's king in danger.} 13. c6 (13. cxb6 Bb4+ 14. Nbd2 Nc5 $17 {is too much for White to handle.}) 13... Bb4+ 14. Kd1 Nc5 15. Nbd4 {White's position is only holding by a thread. His c6 pawn is his only hope for counterplay. If Black manages to coordinate around it or expose White's king on d1 Andreikin would be doomed.} Ne4 $6 {I think this is the start of Topalov's problems. White's knights on f3 and d4 are too solid and they must be eliminated. If Andreikin can hold that structure together he will be safe against any attack and his extra pawn will eventually tell.} (15... Bg4 $5 16. Bb5 Ne6 {Tries to quickly open lines against the King and deserves consideration.}) 16. Bb5 g5 $2 {Topalov initiates a plan on the kingside that does not really make sense. Yes, the g4 threat is powerful, but it is slow and easily parried. This will only cause him weaknesses.} (16... Bf5 $1 {I think this is Black's best way of increasing the pressure. The knight on d4 is powerful, and it makes sense to try to get to it.}) 17. h3 h5 18. Kc1 $1 {Andreikin's king flees the battlefield. It will seek refuge in a2, and suddenly it is unclear what Black is doing on the kingside.} Bc5 19. Kb1 {The king follow's Forrest Gump's strategy and will soon reach safety.} Re8 20. Ka2 Ra7 21. Rad1 Kf8 22. Rhf1 Kg7 23. Ka1 {That's it. The king on a1 is just as safe as the one on g7 and White has a free extra pawn. Now a long technical phase should commence, but Topalov despairs.} Bf8 $2 24. Ne2 $1 {A precise strike. Sometimes it is hard to see that a knight that has been holding the position together for so long because of its powerful positioning can move! Now the d5 pawn is doomed.} Rd8 25. h4 $1 {The point.} g4 26. Nf4 Kg8 27. Nxd5 {If anything, to me this is a deja vu of the Svidler-Topalov game. Topalov played a powerful opening and when it was time to press an initiative he played absolutely terrible.} (27. Nxd5 Qf5 28. Qxe4 Qxe4 29. Nf6+ {Leaves White three pawns up.}) 1-0

Nastja Karlovich is keeping the press conferences entertaining and asking excellent questions.
You can replay them at the official website

Date Round English commentary German commentary
March 22 Round 8 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller

Join us tomorrow for live commentary on the playchess.com server with very experienced chess stars Daniel King and Yasser Seirawan. Coverage will start at the same time as the round.

Games of the round:

Click on drop-down menu for all games

Standings after seven rounds

Photos from the official website

Schedule and results

Note: the games are played at 3 PM local time, which is 10 a.m. CET (Paris) and 5 a.m. EST (New York). Click here if you are uncertain what that means for your local time.

Round one – 13.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
½-½
Kramnik Vladimir
Karjakin Sergey
½-½
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
½-½
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
1-0
Aronian Levon
Round two – 14.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
1-0
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
1-0
Andreikin Dmitry
Topalov Veselin
½-½
Anand Viswanathan
Aronian Levon
1-0
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round three – 15.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
½-½
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
½-½
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
½-½
Aronian Levon
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
0-1
Anand Viswanathan
Round four – 17.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
1-0
Andreikin Dmitry
Karjakin Sergey
½-½
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
1-0
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
½-½
Kramnik Vladimir
Round five – 18.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
½-½
Anand Viswanathan
Karjakin Sergey
½-½
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Svidler Peter
1-0
Topalov Veselin
Kramnik Vladimir
½-½
Aronian Levon
Round six – 19.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
½-½
Andreikin Dmitry
Anand Viswanathan
½-½
Karjakin Sergey
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
1-0
Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin
1-0
Kramnik Vladimir
Round seven – 21.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
0-1
Aronian Levon
Svidler Peter
½-½
Anand Viswanathan
Kramnik Vladimir
1-0
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Andreikin Dmitry
1-0
Topalov Veselin
Round eight – 22.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Svidler Peter
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Aronian Levon
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round nine – 23.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan
-
Topalov Veselin
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Aronian Levon
Round ten – 25.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Karjakin Sergey
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Topalov Veselin
Anand Viswanathan
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Round eleven – 26.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Topalov Veselin
-
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
-
Aronian Levon
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Anand Viswanathan
Round twelve – 27.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Anand Viswanathan
-
Andreikin Dmitry
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin
-
Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Round thirteen – 29.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Andreikin Dmitry
-
Aronian Levon
Karjakin Sergey
-
Anand Viswanathan
Svidler Peter
-
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Kramnik Vladimir
-
Topalov Veselin
Round fourteen – 30.03.2014, 15:00h (GMT+6)
Aronian Levon
-
Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan
-
Svidler Peter
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Kramnik Vladimir
Topalov Veselin
-
Andreikin Dmitry

Playchess commentary

Date Round English commentary German commentary
March 22 Round 8 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Oliver Reeh/Karsten Müller
March 23 Round 9 Simon Williams/Alejandro Ramirez Oliver Reeh/Merijn van Delft
March 25 Round 10 Daniel King/Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
March 26 Round 11 Alejandro Ramirez/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 27 Round 12 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
March 29 Round 13 Daniel King/Irina Krush Klaus Bischoff
March 30 Round 14 Daniel King/Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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El-Ajedrecista El-Ajedrecista 3/21/2014 11:53
In the Andrenkin-Topalov game, 11.Nb3! is the correct approach. However, 12.a4!? may not be correct. Is there anything wrong with 12.Be2! a4 13.Nbd4 Nc5 14.0-0 +=? Surely black will be suffering for a long time here. The pair of bishops lack scope. Which piece is better, the d4 knight or e6 bishop!? Much more importantly, the d5 pawn is a long term weakness. Black will hold with very accurate play but has virtually no winning chances. White's control of the b5 square is icing on the cake, and also may not be totally irrelevant.
Bostonian Bostonian 3/21/2014 05:51
If Anand wants to win the tournament he must take risks and not just play placid draws. If he wants to play boring draws he should not bother to participate in such tournaments. We do not want to see a world championship match with boring play. By playing drawish games he has already lost his opportunities to gain a significant lead over others and Aronian has caught up with others very close. As a fan I am dissapointed by him.
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