CBM #148: Commended for the serious player

8/9/2012 – This issue of ChessBase Magazine has 13 detailed opening surveys, ranging from the Caro-Kann to the King’s Indian. In addition there are 11 videos, among them an extraordinary presentation by Shirov of the French Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 and the Sicilian Rossolimo (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5). "Alexie knows his stuff, having lit fire on both sides of the board!" writes Prof. Nagesh Havanur. Review.

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ChessBase Magazine # 148 (DVD+Booklet)

Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur

Misha Tal once confessed, he didn’t relish playing matches, seeing the same opponent day after day. But he loved the hurly-burly of the tournament hall and taking on a new opponent every round! Just for this reason he would have enjoyed the recently concluded European Championship at Plovdiv, though I don’t know how he would have managed with rules like “no smoking”.

This issue of ChessBase magazine devotes considerable space to the Plovdiv marathon, with 348 players and 11 rounds, offering 1877 games.

It was a dramatic contest with changing fortunes, several leading grandmasters suffering unexpected defeats in the hands of younger players.

Eventually the tournament was won by Dmitry Jakovenko, who beat the leader Fressinet in the last round to take the trophy with 8.5/11.The decisive encounter is annotated by Jakovenko himself in this issue.

There are also games from recent tournaments like Bundesliga 2011-2012 and Russian Team Championship. Curiously, it’s a different event that receives more attention here: the Zürich Chess Challenge, a friendly match between Kramnik and Aronian.

Most of the games were hard-fought and the match ended with honours even (3:3). In this issue they are annotated by several hands, with Kramnik himself analyzing his victory against his talented opponent. However, there is one game that appears to have escaped the attention of annotators. It was played in rather exceptional circumstances. The fourth game had ended in a draw before the prescribed minimum of 30 moves or three hours. So according to match rules a rapid game had to be played (not counted in the final score).

[Event "Zürich Chess Challenge"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.04.25"] [Round "?"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C77"] [WhiteElo "2801"] [BlackElo "2820"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. c3 d6 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 Bb6 10. Nbd2 Rb8 11. Qe2 a5 12. a4 b4 13. O-O g5 14. Bg3 O-O 15. Nc4 Ba7 16. Nfd2 h5 17. h3 h4 18. Bh2 Kg7 19. Kh1 Rh8 20. d4 bxc3 21. bxc3 exd4 22. e5 dxc3 23. exf6+ Qxf6 24. f4 cxd2 25. fxg5 Qe6 26. Qd1 Rxb3 27. Qxb3 Ba6 28. Qf3 Bxc4 29. Qxc6 Bd4 $1 30. Bg1 Bxa1 31. Rxa1 Re8 32. g6 Qf6 33. Qxc4 Re1 34. Kh2 Rxa1 35. Bd4 Rh1+ $1 0-1

An imaginative performance by Aronian. But what went wrong with Kramnik? Insufficient attention to his b3- bishop proved to be his undoing. He could have taken better care of the piece with 13.Bd5!? (Shipov’s idea) or 15.Rab1 (Mikhalevski’s suggestion). In the middle game also he had his chances with 24.Ne4! and again with 26.Ne5! Once he missed them, it was Aronian all the way.

This brings me to the other sections of the Magazine. There are 11 videos in this issue. Among them I would single out Shirov’s presentation on the French Winawer 7.Qg4 Qc7 Variation and the Sicilian Rossolimo (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5). Alexie knows his stuff, having lit fire on both sides of the board!

[Event "CBM 148"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Winawer Variation"] [Black "Shirov, Alexei"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C18"] [Annotator "Shirov,Alexei"] [PlyCount "54"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 {The Winawer Variation.} 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 (7. h4 $5 {preserving the option of Qg4 is a sharp alternative. }) (7. Nf3 {is the positional treatment.}) 7... Qc7 {A time-honoured variation. Here Leko and Shirov have found a TN that sets problems for Black.} 8. Bd3 $5 ( 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 {is the main line-NSH}) 8... cxd4 9. Ne2 dxc3 (9... Qxe5 $2 10. cxd4 {is dangerous for Black according to Shirov.} Qc7 {For example,} 11. Qxg7 Rg8 12. Qxh7 Rxg2 13. Kf1 Rg8 14. Rg1 Rxg1+ 15. Kxg1 Nbc6 16. Bg5 $40 {-NSH}) 10. Qxg7 Rg8 11. Qxh7 Qxe5 (11... Nd7 12. f4 {If} Rxg2 13. Ng3 {and the rook is trapped.}) 12. Bf4 Qf6 13. h4 Rxg2 14. Kf1 Rg8 {(so far Leko-Shirov, 1/2-1/2 in 21 moves, Saratov 2011)} (14... Rg4 $2 15. Bg5 Qf3 16. Rh2 $1 {threatening 17.Ng1 trapping the queen}) 15. Bg5 $1 $146 Qh8 16. Qxh8 Rxh8 17. Bf6 (17. Nxc3 Nd7 18. Nb5 (18. Ke2 $5 {bringing the other rook also into ply deserves attention -NSH}) 18... Kf8 $44 {White has compensation for the pawn with his piece activity. Nothing more according to Shirov.}) 17... Rg8 18. Bh7 {Isn't Black losing the exchange?} ({An attempt to advance the passed pawn comes to nothing.} 18. h5 Nd7 19. Bxc3 f6 $1 20. Nd4 e5 21. Nb5 (21. Nf5 $6 Nxf5 22. Bxf5 Nc5 23. Bg6+ Ke7 $17 {-NSH}) 21... Kf7 22. Nd6+ Ke6 23. Nb5 Kf7 24. Bb4 e4 25. Be2 Ne5) 18... Nd7 $1 19. Bxc3 (19. Bxe7 Rh8 {and one of the bishops is lost.}) 19... Rf8 20. Bg7 f5 21. h5 (21. Bxf8 Nxf8 {and the bishop is trapped.}) 21... Rf7 22. h6 Nf8 23. Bg8 (23. Bxf8 Kxf8 {Again the bishop has nowhere to go, an elegant echo of previous variations-NSH }) 23... Nxg8 24. Bxf8 Rh7 25. Bg7 Kf7 26. Nd4 Nf6 27. Nf3 Ne4 {Although Black has a pawn plus, his position is none too pleasant or comfortable according to Shirov.} *

Going by Shirov’s analysis, it appears that 8.Bd3 sets quite a few problems for Black in this variation (7.Qg4 Qc7) But the merits of other option 7…cxd4 still remain an open question, especially after 8.Bd3. Nevertheless, it’s a treat to listen to Shirov.

There are 13 detailed opening surveys on CBM 148, ranging from the Caro-Kann to the King’s Indian. For reasons of space I have not done them justice here. Apart from these surveys, there are also exercises in opening traps, middle game tactics and endgame technique. Dr. Karsten Müller is the master of ceremonies for the latter.

GM Karsten Müller (right), seen above with GM Rainer Knaak, editor of ChessBase Magazine

Müller is rightly regarded as one of the greatest experts on the final phase of the game. Here is a pearl from his selection of endgame positions.

[Event "German Championship 2012"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bluebaum, Matthias"] [Black "Tabatt, Hendrik"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3K4/8/7n/3Pk1pP/4B3/8/8/8 w - - 0 65"] [PlyCount "33"] 65. Ke7 $3 {A move worthy of an endgame study.} Kxe4 66. d6 Nf5+ 67. Kf6 $1 { It's astonishing that White is giving up the very pawn for whose advance he had sacrificed the bishop.} Nxd6 68. h6 {The point. White had sacrificed his bishop and d-pawn to deflect the Black king & knight so that this pawn can advance.} g4 69. h7 Kf3 70. h8=Q Ne4+ 71. Ke5 Nf2 72. Qa8+ {and Black resigned. At first sight one does not see why.Couldn't he have saved himself with the advanced pawn and the knight? Sadly, not.} Kg3 73. Kf5 Kh2 74. Kf4 g3 75. Kf3 g2 76. Qb8+ Kh1 77. Qh8+ Kg1 78. Qd4 Kh1 79. Qh4+ Kg1 80. Qxf2+ Kh1 81. Qxg2# 1-0

Overall, this DVD has 2954 games of which 95 are deeply annotated.

Commmended for the serious player.

P.S.: The European Championship was not without its share of controversy:

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