CBM 171: an arsenal for aspiring tournament players

by Nagesh Havanur
4/12/2016 – "The chess world is (arguably!) divided into two camps,", writes Nagesh Havanur, "those who love Magnus and those who don’t." He himself belongs to neither of these camp and has to avoid being caught in the crossfire. In issue #171 of ChessBase Magazine we have reports on three major events, one won by Magnus, two by Nakamura. Prof Havanur gives us a comprehensive review of the contents.

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ChessBase Magazine #171

Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur

ChessBase Magazine #171 (DVD + Booklet)
Date: April 2016/May 2016
Languages: English, German
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Any
Price: €19.95 €16.76 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
($18.10) (without VAT)

The chess world is (arguably!) divided into two camps, those who love Magnus and those who don’t. Suppose you do not belong to either camp, like the author of these lines, you have to avoid being caught in the crossfire. In issue #171 of ChessBase Magazine we have reports on three major events. The first is won by Magnus, the second and the third by Nakamura.

Now if you are a Magnus fan you would prefer the report on Wijk aan Zee that he won with a handsome score of 9/13 ahead of Caruana and Ding Liren. For a bonus, you have his own annotations to his game with Michael Adams. The opening also turned out to be a surprise, with the world champion playing the Italian Game. (If you read between the lines he is serving notice on his opponents that they would better be ready for non-Spanish Openings, and not merely the Berlin they have “always” expected from him).

Magnus’ road to victory was not entirely smooth. He was bogged down by draws in the first four rounds. He did not have to worry about a draw in the next, though. Loek Van Wely, his opponent, is not known for signing a peace treaty with anyone. Having competed with the likes of Kasparov, Karpov and Timman he is hardly daunted by Magnus. In an era obsessed with ratings King Loek still plays with a devil-may-care attitude.

Here he was on home turf and the public expected a roaring fight. They were not disappointed with the rivals going for each other’s throat like angry lions. The tension reached its peak with Magnus sacrificing a piece and overplaying his hand. Unfortunately, Loek was in desperate time trouble, missed his way through complications and lost. In this issue the game is annotated by Igor Stohl. Here is a critical moment.

White to move

In the position here Magnus has three pawns for the piece. But his forces are disorganized and the king is in a precarious position. With time running out Loek must have thought he just needed one move to prevent …Qxb2 and also create threats of his own with the rook on the third rank. So he played 29.Rc3 and there followed a tragic denouement:

[Event "Wijk aan Zee"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Van Wely, Loek"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Igor Stohl"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/pp3p2/2b1pkpQ/4q3/4P3/3B4/1P2N1r1/2R1K2R w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 29. Rc3 $2 (29. Qh4+ $1 Qg5 (29... Rg5 30. Rg1 $18) (29... g5 {cutting off the retreat of his own rook!-NSH} 30. Qh3 $1 Rxe2+ 31. Bxe2 $18) 30. e5+ Kg7 ({If} 30... Ke7 31. Qb4+ Kd7 32. Qd6+ Ke8 33. Rh8# {-Mihail Marin}) (30... Kxe5 $4 31. Qd4#) 31. Qh7+ Kf8 32. Qh8+ Ke7 33. Qxc8 $18) 29... Rd8 30. Qh3 Qg5 31. Rf1+ Kg7 32. Qf3 Rd7 33. Rf2 Rg4 34. Nf4 Qh4 35. Be2 Rg1+ 36. Bf1 Kg8 37. Ne2 Rxf1+ 38. Kxf1 Rd1+ 39. Kg2 Bxe4 0-1

In a comment on ChessBase news page Mihail Marin wrote:

… after 29.Qh4 Qg5 30.e5 the hardest line to see with little time is 30...Ke7 31.Qb4 Kd7 32.Qd6 and Rh8. Initially the e-pawn is blocked and the fourth rank isn't available so the human eye needs some time adapting to the sudden changes. Another hard to see move is 29…g5 30.Qh3. Anyway a great game both opponents can be proud of.

Apart from Carlsen, Caruana and Ding Liren have also annotated a game each from this event.

Zürich Chess Challenge won by Nakamura was a strong field with Anand, Aronian, Kramnik and Shirov. The new format of blitz+rapid games resulted in some fascinating encounters. Here is a clever finish by the winner.

[Event "Zürich Chess Challenge"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Nakamura, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Milos Pavlovic"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5pp1/nq2p2p/3pQ3/1p1N1P2/2r1P2P/6P1/R5K1 b - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] {As Milos Pavlovic points out in his annotations to the game, White has weakened himself with f2-f4 advance.} 37... Nc7 $1 {A move with an insidious threat. Nakamura prepares it by guarding...e6 first.} 38. Rb1 (38. Re1 f6 39. Qh5 b3 $19 {is also hopeless-NSH}) 38... f6 {The point.} 39. Qh5 Rxe3 0-1

The Gibralter event turned out to be a race between Nakamura and Vachier Lagrave and Hikaru could prevail only in the Armageddon game. For once Anand could not get going in this open event (255 players!) and lost to Frenchman, Adrien Demuth and Benjamin Gledura, a fresh talent from Hungary.

Mihail Marin annotating the performance by the 16-year-old writes:

This was the greatest upset of the Gibraltar tournament, but for Gledura it was not the first time he had defeated a World Champion. In October 2015 he eliminated Anatoly Karpov with 2-0 in the semi-finals of the rapid Highlander Cup, organised by the Judit Polgar foundation in Budapest.

In all, this DVD has 2324 recent games of which 93 are annotated in detail. Among the commentators I would single out veterans, Stohl and Marin and youngsters, Krisztian Szabo and Baskaran Adhiban. The latter won Group B event at Wijk aan Zee and presents two of his games in this issue.

This brings me to other sections of the Magazine. There are 12 opening surveys ranging from the English Opening to the French Defence. Among them Bronznik’s article on the Chigorin and Robert Ris’ essay on the Blumenfeld deserve special mention.

Bronznik is an authority on the Chigorin, having written a detailed treatise on it way back in 2005. The present article is the first part of his new series and deals with the line 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3. This is a promising beginning. The other critical line is 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3. cxd5 Qxd5. Hopefully, the rest of the series would deal with the same.

[Event "Chigorin Defence"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bronznik, Valeri"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "D07"] [Annotator "Valeri Bronznik"] [PlyCount "14"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nf3 ({The critical test is} 3. cxd5 Qxd5 4. e3 e5 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 {or 7.Bxc3-NSH}) 3... Bg4 4. Nc3 e6 5. cxd5 (5. Bf4 Nf6 (5... Bxf3 6. gxf3 Bb4 $13 {was played in Gelfand-Ivanchuk, Candidates' 2013.}) 6. e3 Bb4 $11) 5... exd5 6. Bf4 Bd6 7. Bg3 Nge7 $11 *

The Blumenfeld is a fascinating gambit wherein Black offers a pawn on the b-file hoping to build a powerful centre. None other than Tarrasch became its victim when Alekhine employed it against him in Pisyan1922. In the present survey Robert Ris draws his inspiration with a countergambit 5.e4!, an idea of Akiba Rubinstein.

[Event "Blumenfeld Gambit"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Ris, Robert"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "E10"] [Annotator "Nagesh Havanur"] [PlyCount "17"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5 {The Blumenfeld Gambit} 5. e4 $5 { A powerful idea of Akiba Rubinstein} (5. dxe6 fxe6 6. cxb5 d5 {was played in the stem game, Tarrasch-Alekhine, Pistyan 1922. Improvements have been found here and it continues to be the main line.}) 5... Nxe4 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8. Nc3 a6 {Now} ({not} 8... O-O $2 9. cxb5 exd5 10. Nxd5 $1 Nxd5 11. Bxh7+ Kxh7 12. Qxd5) 9. Bf4 {sets problems for Black according to Robert Ris.} *

Apart from these surveys, there are regular exercises in opening traps, middle game tactics and endgame technique. Among the opening videos I enjoyed Simon Williams’ exposition of a fun line, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!?. Not entirely safe, but enough to frighten an opponent who knows only the main lines.

[Event "Anti-Grünfeld"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Williams, Simon"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "E60"] [Annotator "Simon Williams"] [PlyCount "9"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. h4 $5 (3. Nc3 d5 4. h4 c5 $1) 3... Bg7 (3... d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. h5 $36 (5. e4 $5 {-NSH})) 4. Nc3 d5 5. h5 $36 *

If you are an aspiring tournament player there is a lot of arsenal here that you can use for days to come.

Recommended – more info on the DVD is here


All opening articles in CBMagazine #161

Marin: Reti/English Double Fianchetto A05
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 d5 5.c4 dxc4 6.bxc4 c5 7.Bg2 0-0 8.0-0 Nc6

In the closing third part of his series on White’s double fianchetto Mihail Marin examines positions in which Black has played ...d5 so as to exchange on c4 immediately. As in Parts 1 and 2 White does not always get an advantage, but he usually does get the more pleasant game.

Schipkov: English A25
1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Rb1 Nf6

With 5.Rb1 White has in mind above all the advance b2-b4, but he is also delaying the development of his Ng1. Boris Schipkov recommends 5...Nf6. After that Black can set about matters on the kingside (...Nh5, ...f5) or possibly get his d-pawn to d5 in a single move.

Szabo: King’s Indian - London System A48
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.h3 d6 6.Be2 b6 7.0-0 Bb7 8.c3 Nbd7

From White’s point of view, this setup constitutes a universal weapon against the Grünfeld Defence and above all the King’s Indian – very popular amongst those not keen on learning a lot of theory. Our author Krisztian Szabo considers the subject above all from Black’s point of view.

Moskalenko: Dutch A80
1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 a6

With his suggestion for Black (2...d5) Viktor Moskalenko is proposing a setup based above all on the fact that the Nc3 then occupies an unfavourable position. In Part 1 (3.Bf4) 3...a6 prepares a rapid ...c5.

Gormally: French C06
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3

In his closing part Daniel Gormally examines the remaining plans on Black’s 7th move, above all 7...g6 and 7...f6. White must be prepared to sacrifice a pawn quickly. Things usually become very sharp, however positional struggles are in no way excluded.

Langrock: French C11
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Qf2 Qe7

In the 11.Qf2 Qe7 variation a lot has been happening in recent years and Hannes Langrock can see good reasons for re-examining it after his article in CBM 136. The German author considers the variation to be very playable and considers it “on an upward path as far as popularity is concerned”.

Stohl: Grünfeld Reversed D02
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c5 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.d4 Nf6 5.0-0 cxd4 6.Nxd4 e5 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.c4

The game Svidler-Vallejo Pons, Reykjavik 2015, came as a great surprise for Igor Stohl, because it involved the employment of the Exchange Variation of the Grünfeld Defence by White. But the Spanish player demonstrated that White cannot generate an advantage from his extra tempo.

Bronznik: Chigorin Defence D07
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Nc3 e6

With his book “Chigorin Defence” (Schachverlag Kania 2001, 2nd edition 2005) Valeri Bronznik wrote the standard work on this opening. In the first part of his article for ChessBase Magazine he deals with lines in which the bishop is developed to f4.

Kuzmin: Slav D10
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Nc6 7.Qxb7 Bd7

White’s move order (3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3) is actually based on the fact that 4...Bf5 is not so good on account of the attack on d5 und b7. But Alexey Kuzmin shows in his article that the pawn sacrifice is “absolutely correct”.

Krasenkow: Grünfeld Defence D85
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0-0 Bg4

The move order after 8.Rb1 and especially 12...Bg4 is seen as a safe equalising continuation for Black. Many lines have even been almost completely analysed to a finish and have a high drawing ratio. In his article Michal Krasenkow offers a repertoire for Black.

Postny: Catalan E01
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 d5 6.Bg2 e5 7.Nf3 d4 8.0-0 Nc6 9.e3

Conquering the centre with 5...d5 has of course a certain appeal. But although Black can equalise in the position in the diagram (only with 9...Be7), Evgeny Postny sees some practical difficulties for the second player.

Ris: Blumenfeld Gambit E10
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5 5.e4

Until now the question was whether accepting the pawn sacrifice with 5.dxe6 fxe6 6.cxb5 or with 5.Bg5 offers White the better chances of an advantage. For those players who do not have a ready answer, Robert Ris suggests the move 5.e4. White now himself plays a gambit – with good chances of an advantage!

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Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as chessbibliophile) is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for more than a decade. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.
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