GM Mihail Marin on missed opportunities in Mexico

9/17/2007 – Kramnik showed excellent home preparation in an almost non-existent variation, gaining a decisive advantage. But Grischuk defended accurately and managed to draw. Anand won a pawn and was more or less winning against Morozevich. But he could not bring home the point. Leko lost his patience, a piece and the game against Aronian. GM comments and video interviews.

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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.

Change of plans: Last night we announced that this analytical report would appear with a twelve-hour delay, since we were travelling to Mexico, which from Hamburg is a 19-hour door-to-door endeavor. However at the airport this morning KLM – the Royal Dutch Budget carrier – announced that the flight had been cancelled due to technical problems with the plane. Reminds us of our adventure losing our luggage on the way to San Luis in 2005 (and Marge Simpson saying about Lionel Hutz: "Why do we keep hiring that guy?"). Anyway, there were no reasonable alternatives on this day, and we have switchted to travelling on Tuesday. As a result the GM commentary by Mihail Marin will not be delayed after all – which we assume will not cause anyone serious inconvenience.

Round four commentary by GM Mihail Marin

There have been many missed opportunities in this World Championship so far and this round is no exception. Playing with white against Grischuk, Kramnik once again proved his excellent home preparation in an almost non-existent variation. Later, he converted his slight advantage into a decisive one, but during his opponent's time trouble transposed to an endgame which offered him only slim chances for success. Grischuk defended accurately and obtained a draw.

Anand won a pawn with Black relatively quickly in his game against Morozevich. His position remained more or less winning for a long time, but he missed several favourable possibilities. Even in the moment when he forced a draw by repetition, White was still far from equality...

Svidler-Gelfand was a relatively uneventful game which ended with a draw. The Israeli GM seems to be quite confident in the Petroff defence... Aronian-Leko developed as a slow manoeuvring game, typical for the Hedgehog structure. At some point Leko seems to have lost patience and sacrificed a piece without obtaining real compensation. Aronian won without any difficulties.

Kramnik,V (2769) - Grischuk,A (2726) [E06]
WCh Mexico City MEX (4), 16.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5. Frankly speaking, it seems to me that entering the Catalan paths against Kramnik nowadays is a bit like playing with fire. This subtle opening seems to suit the World Champion's present personality and style perfectly. In this game, he will once again prove his deep opening preparation and only a time trouble miracle will save Grischuk. 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Ra7

11.a3!? A very rare move. White usually develops his king's rook to c1 or d1, waiting for Black to develop his knight, in order to play Ba5. Kramnik seems to believe that the modest advance of the a-pawn, keeping the enemy pawns under control, is a more useful waiting move. 11...Nbd7 12.Ba5 Qa8!? Grischuk aims for rapid activation of his pieces, probably with the secret hope to surprize his well prepared opponent. If the latter is true, a bitter disappointment awaited him... A more common continuation would have been 12...Be4 13.Qc1 Qb8 14.Nbd2 Ba8 15.b4 White has stabilized the queenside and could think about gradual central expansion. 13.Qxc7. Played without too much thinking. 13...Rc8 14.Qf4 Rc2 15.Nbd2 Rxb2 16.Rfc1 Nd5 17.Qe4

Up to this moment, Kramnik had spent less than a quarter of an hour. Quite suggestive for the degree of successfulness of Grischuk's surprize... 17...b4 18.Qd3 bxa3 19.Nc4 Bc6 20.Nxa3 Bb5 21.Nc4 Bb4 22.Qd1 Bxc4 23.Rxc4 Bxa5 24.Rxa5

White has the more compact pawn structure and a very strong light-squared bishop. However, this position might have caused Kramnik contradictory feelings. To a certain extent, the position is similar to the first game of his match against Topalov. On that occasion, he had to defend for a long time on the edge of the precipice, but eventually won. 24...Qb8 25.Nd2 N5b6 26.Rc1 g6 27.Ne4 Rb5 28.Ra2 a5 29.Nc5 Qd6 30.Nb7 Qb8 31.Qd3 Rh5 32.Nc5 Nd5 33.Qc4 N5b6 34.Qc3 Nd5 35.Qa1 Nxc5 36.Rxc5

The pawn cannot be saved anymore. 36...Nb4 37.Raxa5 Nc2 38.Rxa7? This spectacular move lets the advantage slip away. 38.Qa2! would have won the pawn and, most probably, the game. 38...Nxa1 39.Ra8 Qxa8 40.Bxa8 Rxc5 41.dxc5 Kf8 42.c6 Ke7 43.c7 Kd7 44.Bc6+ Kxc7 45.Ba4

White still has some winning chances. The knight is isolated in the corner, while the black pawns are vulnerable. A new miracle is needed... 45...Kb6 46.Kg2 Kc5 47.Kf3 Kb4 48.Be8 f6 49.Bf7 Nb3. Indirectly defending the pawn and winning an essential tempo. 50.e3 Nc5 51.h4 Kc3 52.Bg8 h6 53.Bf7 g5 54.Kg4 Ne4 55.hxg5 hxg5 56.Bxe6 Nxf2+ 57.Kf5 Kd3

The incredible has just happened. Black's pieces came back into play just in time. 58.Kxf6 Ne4+ 59.Kg6 Nxg3 60.Kxg5 Kxe3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Morozevich,A (2758) - Anand,V (2792) [D47]
WCh Mexico City MEX (4), 16.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 a6 10.e4 c5 11.d5

There was a time when one could play the Reynolds Attack just by inspiration. Now, (almost) everything is deeply analyzed... 11...c4 12.Bc2 Qc7 13.dxe6 fxe6 14.Nd4 Nc5 15.Be3 e5 16.Nf5 g6 17.Nh6 Bg7

Strategically, Black is more than okay. He has a mobile queenside majority and the d4-square at his disposal for the knights. Besides, all his pieces are actively placed; with one exception, the king: His Majesty cannot be transferred to the kingside, while the long castle supposes certain dangers. 18.Qf3 Ne6 19.Qh3 Bc8 20.Qh4 Qe7 21.Rfe1

21...Nd5! The culmination of Black's defensive plan. After the exchange of queens, the king will feel much safer and Black would maintain the favourable aspects of his position. 22.Qxe7+ Nxe7 23.Nd5. Since the remote times when I played 1.e4, I remember that it is always useful to play 23.a4 before jumping with the knight to d5. However, there is a small tactical detail here: after 23...Nf4 the h6-knight feels uncomfortable. 23...Bb7 24.Ng4. Hoping to get some counterplay against the e5-pawn in case of the immediate double capture on d5. 24...Nd4 25.Bd1 Nxd5 26.exd5 0-0-0 27.Bg5 Rxd5

White has lost an important pawn without any compensation. However, Black's kingside structure is far from optimal, which offers White chances to stay alive for a while. 28.b3 c3 29.Ne3 Rc5 30.Rc1 Rc7 31.b4 Kb8 32.h3 h6 33.Bh4 Nf5 34.Nxf5 gxf5 35.Bc2 Rc4 36.Be7 e4 37.Bb3 Rd4 38.Bc5 Rd3 39.Be6 Bc8 40.Bb3 Re8 41.Bf7 Re5 42.Be3 Re7 43.Bg6 Be6 44.h4 Bxa2 45.Bxf5 Bd5 46.Bc5 Re8 47.f3 Kb7 48.fxe4 Bc6

White has managed to win his pawn back, but his king is very exposed. 49.Kf2 Rd2+ 50.Ke3 Be5. Not the only good move. Black could have created a second passed pawn with 50...a5!? since 51.bxa5? is impossible because of 51...Rd5! winning one of the bishops. 51.Kf3 Red8 52.Re3 Rg8 53.g4 Rh2 54.h5 Rd8 55.g5 Rxh5 56.Be7

56...Re8?! Slowing down the rhythm. Black would have obtained a practically decisive attack with 56...Rd2 for instance 57.Rcxc3 Rhh2 Threatening mate in two and practically forcing the next move. 58.gxh6 Be8! when the king cannot survive the combined attack of all Black's pieces. Anand's failure to win this game might have been caused by the fact that he expected to achieve his goal by purely technical means, not by a sharp attack. If this is true, Morozevich' merit consists of having faced his mighty opponent with such a difficult psychological task. 57.Kg4 Rh2 58.Bf6

58...Rg2+. Anand's decision to force a draw looks premature. he could have maintained his advantage with 58...Rg8 59.Kf3 (After 59.Bxe5 Rxg5+ Black would win the f5-bishop because of the pin of the central pawn.) 59...Rxg5! 60.Bxg5 hxg5 with total domination. 59.Kh3 Rh2+ 60.Kg4 Rg2+ 61.Kh3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Svidler,P (2735) - Gelfand,B (2733) [C42]
WCh Mexico City MEX (4), 16.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bf4

Gelfand proved already his ability of defending the positions where Black is allowed to install his knight on e5. For a change, Svidler takes this square under serious observation. 7...0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nc5 10.Be3 Re8 11.Bc4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Nxe6 13.h4 Qd7 14.Qd5 Qc6 15.Qf5 Nf8 16.h5 Qd7 17.Qd5 Qe6 18.c4 Qxd5 19.cxd5 Nd7

White retains an advantage of space, but this element loses part of its relevance because of the previous simplifications. 20.Nd4 Nf6 21.Nf5 Bf8 22.Bd4 Nxd5 23.Bxg7 Ne7 24.Nxe7+ Rxe7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Aronian,L (2750) - Leko,P (2751) [A33]
WCh Mexico City MEX (4), 16.09.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Nc6

6.a3!? This move was popularized by the eternally young Viktor Korchnoi. White aims to obtain a Hedgehog structure. The move a3 could prove a loss of time at a later stage, but the c6-knight is also far from optimally placed for the aforementioned structure. 6...Be7 7.e4 0-0 8.Nf3 d6 9.Be2 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Bf4 Ne5 12.Nd2 Ng6 13.Bg3 Rc8 14.Re1 a6 15.Rc1 Qc7 16.b4

Both sides have carried out their plans in consequent way. Black's queen's knight occupies a "typical" square for this kind of positions, while the a3-pawn proves useful by sustaining his colleague from b4 for the eventuality of a central break (...d5). We shall now see a long phase of slow maneuvering. 16...Qb8 17.Bf1 Rfd8 18.Qe2 Nd7 19.Qe3 h6 20.Nf3 Ba8 21.Red1 Nde5 22.Nd2 Ng4 23.Qe2 N4e5 24.f4 Nd7 25.Nf3 Bf6 26.Qe3. White's queen has been constantly avoiding the opposition with the enemy rooks and the brutal attacks of the minor pieces. This did not cause any concession from White's part, but also prevented him from making significant progress. 26...Re8

27.Be1 [For the moment, 27.e5 was not possible yet because of 27...dxe5! 28.Rxd7 exf4 winning back the piece] 27...Bd8? [Playing with fire. 27...Rcd8 would have maintained the previous stage of the issue.] 28.e5! dxe5 29.Rxd7 exf4 30.Qe2 e5 31.Ne4 Be7 32.c5 bxc5 33.bxc5 Bc6 34.Rdd1

Black has no adequate compensation for the sacrificed piece. 34...Bb5 35.Qb2 Qa7 36.Bxb5 axb5 37.Bf2 Qa8 38.Nd6 e4 39.Nxe8 Rxe8 40.Nd4 Bf6 41.c6 e3 42.Be1 f3 43.gxf3 Nf4 44.Bg3 Ne6 45.Qb4 1-0. [Click to replay]

All results of the round

Round 4: Sunday, Sept 16th 2007, 14:00h
Peter Svidler 
 Boris Gelfand
Levon Aronian 
 Peter Leko
Vladimir Kramnik 
 Alexander Grischuk
Alexander Morozevich 
 Viswanathan Anand

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