GM Mihail Marin annotates the round five games

9/20/2007 – Anand managed to neutralize Svidler's initiative in the Marshall Attack, then initiated a queenside diversion, which led to a winning attack on the opposite wing. Grischuk elegantly refuted Morozevich' strategically over-ambitious opening plan. Gelfand came up with a new plan that yielded him a favourable version of the Benoni against Aronian. Comments by GM Marin and videos by Vijay Kumar.

World Championship 2007 Mexico

The World Championship 2007 will take place from September 12 to 30 in the Sheraton Centro Histórico Hotel in Mexico City. Eight players are qualified – the tournament will be a double round robin. The prize fund is US $1.3 million.

Round five commentary by GM Mihail Marin

The free day seems to have had a refreshing effect over the players. For the first time from the start of the tournament, three of the games were decided! Anand managed to neutralize Svidler's initiative with an ease rarely seen nowadays in the Marshall Attack. Later, he initiated a queenside diversion, which was eventually crowned by a simple attack on the opposite wing. Svidler resigned after losing two more pawns from his king's guard.

Grischuk found an elegant way to refute Morozevich' strategically over-ambitious opening plan. When the complications were over, White was an exchange up, with just vague chances for Black to mud the waters. Leko did not take too much risks with white against Kramnik and a draw was agreed after mass exchanges in an almost symmetrical position.

Playing with white against Aronian, Gelfand came up with a new plan that yielded him a favourable (for white) version of the Benoni. However, he delayed his castle unnecessarily and Aronian came back into the game. Premature activity in a complicated position left Black without compensation for the sacrificed material and Gelfand emerged as winner.

Anand,V (2792) - Svidler,P (2735) [C89]
WCh Mexico City MEX (5), 18.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6

Earlier in this tournament, Svidler managed to put the Marshall Attack under strong pressure in his game against Leko. Now, he finds himself on the other side. 12.Re1 Bd6 13.g3!? This was one of Fischer's favourite move order. White prevents the standard move ...Qh4. 13...Bf5. This move has been played before, but it remains an open question what could have prepared Anand against 13...Qd7 followed by ...Qh3, with probable transposition to the main lines. 14.d4 Qd7 15.Be3 Rae8 16.Nd2 Bg4 17.Qc2 Bf5 18.Qc1

18...Re7. Svidler deviates from 18...h5 , which had been played by Anand himself! In Leko - Anand, Cap d'Agde 2003 Black won, but this was just a rapid game and Anand might have drawn his own conclusions despite the favourable result.] 19.Nf3 [The first new move of the game. Previously, 19.Nf1 was played (Almasi-Gyimesi, Kazincbarcika (Hungary) 2005). Rather than placing it passively on the back rank, Anand uses his knight for putting the enemy kingside under some pressure, which will eventually cause some weaknesses in Black's camp. 19...Bg4 20.Nh4 Rfe8 21.Qd2 h6 22.Qd3

Black exerts his usual pressure against the e3-bishop, but White is fully developed and retains his extra-pawn. Anand's opening experiment has been crowned by sucess. 22...g6 23.Bd1 Bh3 24.Bf3 g5. If not followed by a concrete attacking action, this move will just leave the kingside desperately weak. 25.Ng2 Bf5 26.Qd1 Nf6 27.a4 Since the e-file is under severe Black control, Anand creates a queenside diversion. It is interesting that this will be just a prelude to a... kingside attack, one of Mikhail Tal's favourite methods. 27...Ne4 28.axb5 axb5 29.Ra6 Qb7 30.Qa1 Bc8 31.Ra8 Bb8 32.Bc1 Nf6 33.Rxe7 Rxe7 34.Qa3 Rd7 35.Ra5 Ba7

Black has managed to hold his own on the queenside, but his coordination is rather poor. 36.Ne3! Black has no adequate way to parry the simple threat Nf5. 36...Qc7. 36...Re7 37.Bxc6; or 36...Rc7 37.Qd6 are equally hopeless. 37.Nf5 c5 38.Nxh6+ Kh7 39.Bxg5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Grischuk,A (2726) - Morozevich,A (2758) [D38]
WCh Mexico City MEX (5), 18.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4. Although 1.e4 is Grischuk's main weapon with white, he has successfully experimented with the queen's pawn during the last years. It is hard to believe that he had prepared anything concrete for this game, given the unpredictable character of Morozevich' opening choice. It is more likely that he simply intended to avoid his opponent's specific preparation. 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.e3 c5 8.Bd3 Qa5 9.Qc2 c4 10.Bf5 0-0 11.0-0 Re8 12.Nd2 g6 13.Bh3

One of the main tabyias of the Westphalia variation of the Ragozin System. White has a better development and a generally promissing plan of opening play in the centre with e4. However, Black's advantage of space and piece pressure on the queenside offers him good chances for counterplay. The final evaluation of the positoon depends to a great extent on White's ability to find a useful job for his slightly awkwardly placed h3-bishop. 13...Kg7 14.Rae1. Planning f3 and e4. Optically, White's piece regroupment looks impressive, but the structural modifications induced by Black's next move are far from one-sided. 14...Ne4 15.Ndxe4 dxe4

Black has cleared the d5-square and if he will manage to transfer here his knight (or, eventually, the light-squared bishop), he would obtain wonderful play. However, his delay in development makes it relatively difficult to stabilize the position. White's main threat is f3, when his kingside positional attack would take alarming proportions. 16.Bf4 f5. This ambitious move was not played before. Morozevich is famous for preparing at home interesting novelties in well-known positions, but in this case he seems to have worked it out over-the-board, judging from the time he took before moving. Or maybe he just wanted to remember and check his analysis?! Black's intention is to cage the h3-bishop. If crowned by success, such a plan would offer him an advantage, but if it fails for some tactical reasons, the chronic weakening of the dark squares would leave Black in trouble. 17.f3 Nf6 18.a3 Bxc3 19.bxc3 h5. Consequent, but very risky. Black weakens his king's poition even more, delaying his quenside development at the same time. Morozevich might have feared that in case of 19...Bd7 , White would open the position with g4, either here or after the intremediate capture on e4.

20.Qf2!! Simple and very strong. White abandons his queenside pawns to the mercy of fate, in oder to concentrate his forces against the poorly defended black kingside. 20...Bd7 21.Qg3 Qxc3 22.Be5 Qxa3 23.fxe4 Rxe5

It might seem that Black's risky strategy has been crowned by success. After 24. Qxe5 Re8 followed by either ...Nxe4 or ...Rxe4, he would stabilize the position, retaining excellent compensation for the exchange. 24.exf5! Shattering all Black's ilusions. The weakness of the g6-square prevents Black from maintaining his temporary material advantage. 24...Rxf5 25.Bxf5 Bxf5 26.Rxf5 White is close to winning. Black's pawns are not dangerous yet, while the king has not reached absolute safety yet. 26...Re8 27.Re5 Qd6 28.Rxe8. Possibly not best. By symplifying the position, White reduces his attacking chances. 28.Rb5 cae into consideration, when 28...Qxg3? loses an important pawn to the intermediate 29.Rxb7+!+-. 28...Nxe8 29.Qf3 b5 30.Qb7+ Nc7 31.Qxa7 b4

The position has become optically unclear, but it is hard to say whether Black has real saving chances. In the game, he failed to prove that. 32.e4 c3 33.e5 Qe7 34.Qb7 Kh6 35.Rf1 c2 36.Rc1 Qg5 37.Rxc2 Qe3+ 38.Rf2 Ne6 39.Qxb4 Qc1+ 40.Rf1 Qe3+ 41.Kh1 1-0. [Click to replay]

Leko,P (2751) - Kramnik,V (2769) [C24]
WCh Mexico City MEX (5), 18.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4!? Anything is preferable to a Petroff. 2...Nf6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nf3 d6 5.c3 Nc6

From the Bishop's Opening, play has transposed to the Italian game, the Giuoco Pianisimo variation. Although there are more subtleties here than the quiet character of the position might suggest, I have the feeling that it better suits Kramnik's style than Leko's, which makes me doubt whether the opening choice was really inspired. Or maybe Leko just wanted to takesome sort of additional day-off after his defeat from the previous round?! 6.Bb3 a6 7.0-0 Ba7 8.Re1 0-0 9.h3 h6 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.Nf1 Be6 12.N3h2 Bxb3 13.axb3 Qd7 14.Qf3 Qe6 15.Ng3 Ne7 16.b4 c6 17.Ng4

White builds up his typical kingside attack, but Black is slightly better developed and has the possibility of racting in the centre. 17...Nxg4. This is probably better than 17...Nh7 , as played in Leko-Anand, Sarajevo 1999. White maintained some pressure for a while, but later he lost a pawn and had to fight for a draw. 18.hxg4 d5 19.Nf5 Rad8 Black has completed the mobilisation of his forces and has at least equal chances. 20.g3 f6 21.Kg2 dxe4 22.dxe4 Nxf5 23.gxf5 Qc4 24.Be3 White decides to complete his development, practically giving up any hope of a sacrificial attack based on Bxh6 and tacitly offering a draw. 24...Bxe3. Black controls the only open file, but White has no weaknesses and his king has a safer residence. Therefore, the draw agreement is entirely justified. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Gelfand,B (2733) - Aronian,L (2750) [E00]
WCh Mexico City MEX (5), 18.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 b5

Aronian had some previous experience with this slightly exotical continuation, in the spyrit of the Blumenfeld Gambit. In their rapid chess match earlier this year, Kramnik played the unexpected 6.Nd2 and eventually emerged with a clear advantage after a complicated sequence of moves. Generally, many players who do not play the Benoni against iother move orders prefer 5...d6 followed by ...g6 here, because the fianchetto system is supposed to put Black under less pressure than others. However, Aronian seems to be of a different opinion. In his semi-final Candidates' match against Carlsen, he obtained one of his victories with White precisely in the fianchetto Benoni... 6.Nf3!? White almost authomatically develops his bishop with 6.Bg2 , but Gelfand believes that the bishop can be useful on the f1-a6 diagonal still. 6...d6. This natural move is a novelty. In the few previous games where White played 6.Nf3, Black reacted with 6...Bb7. 7.e4!? a6. In case of the exchange of pawns, White would develop very quickly, which would suit Gelfand's entreprising style quite well. 8.a4 b4 9.Bd3. Now that the c4-square has been weakened, the bishop belongs on this diagonal. The relative weakness induced by the move g3 does not put White in danger, but could restrict his active possibilities at a later stage. 9...g6 10.Nbd2 Bg7 11.Nc4 0-0 12.Bf4 Ne8 13.a5 The further course of the game suggests that this generally desirable move should have been delayed until after castling. 13...Bh3 14.Ng5 The only way to get castled, but the knight is awkwardly placed here. 14...Bd7 15.0-0 Bb5 16.Qd2 h6 17.Nf3 g5 18.Be3 At the cost of weakening his kingside, Black has managed to eliminate the annoying pressure against the d6-pawn. 18...Bxc4 19.Bxc4 Qf6 20.Qd1 Nd7. Aiming to complete his development. 20...Qxb2 would be risky because of 21.e5 , when chaos would be reigning in Black's army. 21.Rb1 Qe7 22.Nd2 Nef6 23.Re1 Rfe8 24.f3

White has managed to maintain his blockade on light squares, but his pawn centre is not easy to advance. In the meanwhile, Black has completed his development and could think about ways to take advantage of the slight weakness of White's kingside. 24...Qd8 25.Ra1 g4!? Aronian hurries to give further meaning to the previous advance of his g-pawn, but, with hindsight, his last move might be premature. He could also have strengthened his position with 25...Ne5 26.Be2 Qc8 followed by ...Ra7-e7, keeping the threat ...g4 in reserve. 6.fxg4 Ne5 27.Be2 Qd7 28.g5 Nfg4 29.Bf4 hxg5 30.Bxg5 f5 31.Rf1 Rf8 32.exf5 Rxf5 33.Bf4

White has the pair of bishops, a safe position of his king and an extra-pawn. The relatively exposed b2-pawn and Black's queenside majority cause the position to be not entirely clear yet, but Aronian will fail to obtain adequate counterplay. 33...Nf6 34.g4 Rxf4 35.Rxf4 Nf7 36.Nc4 Re8 37.Qd3 Qe7 38.Bf3 Ne5 39.Nxe5 Qxe5 40.Rf5 Qxb2 41.Rf1 b3 42.Kh1 Nd7 43.Bd1 c4 44.Qxc4 Nc5 45.Qf4 Ne4 46.Rf7 Bf6 47.Rb7 Qd2 48.Qxd2 1-0. [Click to replay]

All results of the round

Round 5: Tuesday, Sept. 18th 2007, 14:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
 Peter Svidler
Alexander Grischuk 
 Alexander Morozevich
Peter Leko 
 Vladimir Kramnik
Boris Gelfand 
 Levon Aronian

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