ChessBase Magazine 154 – with star commentators

7/12/2013 – ChessBase Magazine #154 was keenly awaited by subscribers. It deals with the recent Candidates' Tournament, as well as the FIDE Grand Prix in Zug and the Alekhine Memorial in Paris and St. Petersburg. ChessBase Magazine 154 has 806 games of which about 89 are annotated, by players like Kramnik, Aronian, Caruana, Gelfand and Ponomariov.  Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur.

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ChessBase Magazine #154

Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur

For quite some time chess fans have been waiting for a detailed analysis of the games from the recent Candidates’ Tournament. The ChessBase Magazine #154 edition has all the games from the star-studded event with live commentary by Danny King and annotations by experts like Mihail Marin, Michal Krasenkow and Krisztián Szabo.

This issue also has exclusive reports on the FIDE Grand Prix in Zug as well as the Alekhine Memorial in Paris and St. Petersburg. The first event was won by Topalov who is staging a comeback after a relative decline in form. The second was won by Aronian, anxious to prove himself after his poor result in London. It’s his happy visage that has graced the cover of this issue.

The Candidates’ Tournament, however, has taken much of the space in this issue and deservedly so. The event saw many memorable games. My own favourite is the following encounter from the third round with analysis by Evgeny Postny.

My favorite from the Candidates is the following game from the third round, with analysis by Evgeny Postny.

[Event "FIDE Candidates"] [Site "London"] [Date "2013.03.17"] [Round "3"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D52"] [WhiteElo "2740"] [BlackElo "2872"] [Annotator "Postny,E"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2013.03.15"] [EventRounds "14"] [EventCountry "ENG"] [EventCategory "22"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2013.05.15"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 Qa5 7. cxd5 (7. Nd2 { used to be the main line, but recently Black has been doing well after} Bb4 8. Qc2 O-O 9. Be2 c5) 7... Nxd5 (7... exd5 {leads to Carlsbad structure where the queen on a5 is doing nothing.}) 8. Rc1 {This move is relatively rare.} (8. Qd2 {is the main continuation.} Bb4 9. Rc1 h6 10. Bh4 {This position has been defended mainly by grandmasters Alexei Shirov and Alexey Dreev. Here is one recent example:} b6 11. a3 Bxc3 12. bxc3 c5 13. c4 Qxd2+ 14. Nxd2 Ne7 15. f3 Ba6 16. Be2 cxd4 17. exd4 Rc8 18. O-O Nf5 19. Bf2 O-O 20. Rfd1 Rfd8 21. g4 Ne7 $11 {1/2-1/2 (31) Potkin,V (2663)-Dreev,A (2677) Eilat 2012}) 8... Nxc3 9. bxc3 Ba3 (9... Qxa2 10. Bd3 Bd6 11. O-O Qa5 ({Black must be careful:} 11... O-O $2 12. Ra1 Qb2 13. Bxh7+ $1 Kxh7 14. Qd3+ Kg8 15. Rfb1 $18) 12. c4 {with good compensation for the pawn.}) 10. Rc2 b6 {Preparing the favourable exchange of the light-squared bishops.} 11. Bd3 Ba6 12. O-O Bxd3 13. Qxd3 O-O (13... h6 14. Bh4 O-O 15. c4 Rfe8 16. e4 (16. Rd1 $5) 16... e5 17. d5 Nc5 18. Qe2 Qa4 $11 { 1/2-1/2 (38) Malakhatko,V (2548)-Michiels,B (2489) Antwerp 2011}) 14. e4 {I think the plan adopted by Boris is not the best.} (14. c4 h6 15. Bf4 (15. Bh4 Rfe8 16. Rd1 {is another option. Then White can put his bishop on g3, preventing the advance e6-e5.}) 15... Rad8 16. Rb1 Rfe8 17. Bc7 (17. c5 $2 e5) 17... Rc8 18. Bg3 Rcd8 19. c5 $1 Nxc5 20. Qc3 Ne4 21. Qxa5 bxa5 22. Rxc6 $14) 14... Rfe8 15. e5 $6 {This is a committal decision. White doesn't really have chances for an attack on the kingside. Meanwhile, the move in the text weakens the light squares.} ({In the event of} 15. c4 $6 e5 16. d5 Nc5 {Black will get a nice square for his knight.}) (15. Bf4 {would be preferable.}) 15... h6 16. Bh4 c5 17. Nd2 cxd4 18. cxd4 Rac8 $1 {The structure is now favourable for Black. So, it's up to White to prove something.} 19. Nc4 Qb5 {Black doesn't lose a piece.} ({Of course, not} 19... Qa6 $4 20. Qxa3 $18) 20. f4 Rc7 21. Qxa3 {White has to release the pressure before Black doubles the rooks along the c-file.} (21. f5 Rec8 22. fxe6 fxe6 23. Qxa3 Rxc4 24. Rxc4 Qxc4 $15) 21... Rxc4 22. Rxc4 Qxc4 23. Bf2 Qc7 {Black has to spend a move on protecting the Pa7, so White seizes the c-file.} 24. Rc1 Qb7 25. Qd6 {White's position looks very active, but he has no objects to attack.} ({From the practical point of view it was preferable to swap queens:} 25. Qf3 $5 Qxf3 26. gxf3 {White's pawn structure has been spoiled, but the rook is going to penetrate to c7. The position is balanced. For instance:} Nf8 27. Rc7 Ng6 28. f5 exf5 29. Rxa7) 25... Nf8 26. g3 ({After} 26. Qc7 Qa6 {the black queen becomes active.}) 26... Rc8 27. Rxc8 Qxc8 28. d5 {White should get rid of this pawn.} exd5 29. Qxd5 g6 30. Kg2 Ne6 {The position is very close to equality, but White is the one who has to play accurately. The well-known duo queen + knight might cause the white king some troubles.} 31. Qf3 Kg7 32. a3 h5 33. h4 $1 {Seemingly illogical, placing the pawns on the same colour as the bishop, but preventing the possibility of h5-h4 which could weaken the Pf4.} Qc2 34. Qb7 Qa4 35. Qf3 b5 {Sooner or later Black is going to organise a passed pawn on the queenside.} 36. f5 {With must hurry up with his counterplay against the black monarch.} gxf5 37. Qxf5 Qxa3 38. Qxh5 a5 39. Qg4+ Kf8 40. h5 $2 {The decisive mistake.} ( 40. Qh5 Qc3 41. Qh8+ Ke7 42. Qf6+ Ke8 43. Qh8+ Kd7 {Otherwise it's a perpetual check.} 44. Qf6 Qc6+ 45. Kg1 Nd8 46. e6+ $1 Qxe6 47. Qg5 {White is not worse as his h-pawn is also very dangerous.}) 40... Qc1 $1 {Preventing the further advance of White's h-pawn.} 41. Qe4 b4 42. Be3 Qc7 (42... Qc8 {was also strong} 43. h6 b3 $19) 43. Qa8+ Kg7 44. h6+ Kh7 45. Qe4+ Kg8 46. Qa8+ Qd8 {No perpetual check.} 47. Qxd8+ (47. Qf3 Qd3 48. Qg4+ Kh7 {is also hopeless for White.}) 47... Nxd8 48. Kf3 a4 49. Ke4 Nc6 50. Bc1 Na5 $1 51. Bd2 b3 52. Kd3 Nc4 $1 {The knight assists the passed pawns very effectively.} 53. Bc3 a3 54. g4 Kh7 55. g5 Kg6 56. Bd4 b2 57. Kc2 Nd2 {White has to give up a piece, so he resigned.} 0-1

A great game by Carlsen who went on to win the tournament. Kramnik, who shared the same number of points, lost out on account of the tie-break. This has come in for some serious criticism. Take a look at the scores and you will see why:

Carlsen: 8.5/14 (+5 –2 =7)
Kramnik: 8.5/14 (+4 –1 = 9)

Before the last round both players had the same number of points (8.5/13). In this final round Carlsen was paired with Svidler and Kramnik with Ivanchuk.

While the Carlsen game hung in balance, Kramnik could not make up his mind to play for a win or for a draw. At the last moment he lost his nerve and made a couple of weak moves that cost him the game. In the meanwhile Carlsen was outplayed by Svidler, ending up with a nought on the score table. If only Vlad had foreseen that result on his rival’s board… In such situations you are playing two boards instead of one!

In the commentary to the game in this issue Daniel Gormally rightly blames Kramnik’s choice of Pirc Defence, an aggressive system that Vlad does not normally play. He draws an historic parallel with the last game of 1978 World Championship Match. In that encounter Korchnoi also chose an unfamiliar system (for him!) Pirc Defence, thereby losing the game and the match.

With all my sympathy for the Kramnik I cannot help feeling that he defended bad positions with less resource than Carlsen in this tournament. Nevertheless, the tie-break should have been decided by a play-off match between the two rivals, leaving no room for doubt, as suggested by Garry Kasparov.

CBM 154 has 806 games of which 89 are annotated. Besides tournament games, it also has surveys on twelve topical openings, from the Sicilian to the King’s Indian. Among them Viktor Moskalenko’s analysis of the old Winawer line (6…Qc7 7.Qg4 f5) deserves special mention.

Moskalenko: French C18
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f5

This line, a favourite of Botvinnik has been under cloud for a long time and still has a poor reputation. Moskalenko demonstrates that it is undeserved and the line merits a better scrutiny.

The DVD has plenty of training exercises and it also has video lectures by our “usual suspects”, Dorian Rogozenco and Karsten Müller. The latter excels with his delineation of endings. Here I have only room for a fun position:

Black has a long and difficult road to victory with 66…Ra5 according to Karsten Müller. Instead he pushed forward with 66…e2?? only to be surprised with 67.Nh2! and White has the last laugh with the unstoppable threat of 68.Nf3#. Müller’s analysis is in general deep and complex. But even he does not miss the lighter shades of life.

Overall, this issue of ChessBase Magazine is a learning experience and offers much food for thought.


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