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Kavalek in Huffington: Amazing chess brilliancy of Vishy Anand

1/22/2013 – Anand's recent victory over Levon Aronian reminds HuffPo chess columnist GM Lubomir Kavalek that the ghosts of the glorious chess past are still alive. After the game, the Indian grandmaster said that it looked incredibly close to the classic duel between Gersz Rotlewi and Akiba Rubinstein, a marvelous tactical masterpiece played more than a century ago. Kavalek looks at both games.
 

Amazing Chess Brilliancy of Vishy Anand

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

"It could easily be one of my best games," said the world champion Vishy Anand after he brilliantly defeated the Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian in the fourth round of the traditional Tata Steel Chess Tournament in the Dutch coastal town of Wijk aan Zee this week. The game would make a nice addition to Anand's award-winning collection of his well-annotated games, published by Gambit Publications.

Anand's victory reminds us that the ghosts of the glorious chess past are still alive. After the game, the Indian grandmaster said that it looked incredibly close to the classic duel between Gersz Rotlewi and Akiba Rubinstein, a marvelous tactical masterpiece played more than a century ago. Today, computers would have won the game differently than Rubinstein, depriving us of seeing one of the finest combinations in chess history. Let's have a look at both games.

Aronian, the last year's winner at Wijk aan Zee and currently rated number three in the world, talked about falling into an opening trap in the Semi-Slav defense, but it was not that simple. Anand acknowledged that he prepared the variation for the last year's world championship match against Boris Gelfand, but didn't say where precisely the preparation ended and the game began. His three seconds, Rustam Kasimzhanov, Radek Wojtazsek and Surya Shekhar Ganguly, used the idea after the match, but their games didn't not take the path chosen by Aronian. And Anand used it in a spectacular way.

Anand's love of the Semi-Slav defense goes way back. In 1991 in Brussel, the then 21-year-old Indian grandmaster made headlines by exchanging punches with the former world champion Anatoly Karpov during their quarterfinal Candidates match. The Semi-Slav was Anand's main defense. The score was tied before the last game.

I was there as Nigel Short's coach, guiding him to victory over Boris Gelfand. Before the last round I accidentally bumped into Karpov on the street. "Is there anything good against the Slav?" he asked desperately, but with a guilty smile. He knew I would remain silent.

The next day both Anand and Gelfand lost and were eliminated. But time heals and we saw them back last year in Moscow, playing for the world title. Vishy could not use his Semi-Slav analysis there, but it served him well now in Wijk aan Zee against Aronian.

The magical use of the long diagonal h1-a8 helped Anand to win the world championship matches against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008 (Game 3) and Veselin Topalov in 2010 (Game 12). He owns the diagonal, it is his highway to the chess crown. Aronian saw the light bishop come to life and it was a monster. And things got worse after Anand also included the dark bishop into his attack.

[Event "Wijk aan Zee"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee NED"] [Date "2013.??.??"] [Round "4"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D47"] [WhiteElo "2802"] [BlackElo "2772"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2013.01.12"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 ({The 1991 Karpov-Anand games revolved around the line} 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 {and now 9...Qe7 or 9...a6.}) 6... dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bd6 ({Anand spent a lot of time choosing the bishop move over the Meran variation} 8... a6 9. e4 c5) 9. O-O O-O 10. Qc2 Bb7 11. a3 Rc8 $5 {The rook helps black to break with c6-c5 and white has no way to stop it.} ({It is an improvement on} 11... a6 {that can be met by} 12. Ng5 Bxh2+ 13. Kxh2 Ng4+ 14. Kg1 Qxg5 15. f3 Ngf6 16. e4 Qh4 17. Be3 {and with strong center and a bishop pair, white has an excellent compensation for a pawn, as was played, for example in the game Anand-Aronian, Linares 2009. The roles were now reversed.}) 12. Ng5 ({The c-pawn can't be chained with} 12. b4 {because black can still play 12...} c5 $1 {as Anand's team found out, concluding it leads to a draw. And these were the reasons:} 13. bxc5 Bxf3 {And these were the reasons:} 14. gxf3 (14. cxd6 $5 { Perhaps the best practical chance, played by Anand's second Ganguly.} Nd5 ( 14... Ng4 15. h3 (15. gxf3 Qh4 16. Rd1 $2 Rxc3 $1 $19) 15... Bxg2 16. Kxg2 (16. hxg4 Qh4 17. f3 Bxf1 $11) 16... Qg5 17. Qe2 $1 Ngf6+ (17... Nxe3+ 18. Kf3 $18) 18. Kh2 Rxc3 19. e4 $16) 15. gxf3 Nxc3 (15... Qg5+ 16. Kh1 Nxc3 17. Bxh7+ Kh8 18. Be4 Nf6 $11) 16. f4 Nf6 17. Qb2 Qd7 $5 (17... a6 $6 18. Bd2 Na4 19. Qb1 Nc3 20. Qb2 Na4 21. Qb1 Nc3 22. Qb3 Nfe4 23. Be1 Qf6 24. Kh1 Qf5 25. Bxc3 Nxf2+ 26. Rxf2 Qxd3 27. Rc1 Qxe3 28. Qb2 Rfd8 29. Rg2 Qxf4 30. Rcg1 g6 31. Bb4 Rc4 32. Qd2 Qe4 33. Qg5 Rd7 34. Qe5 Qxd4 35. Qxd4 Rxd4 36. Rc2 Rc4 37. Rxc4 bxc4 38. Rc1 a5 39. Bc5 f5 40. Rxc4 e5 41. Ra4 Kf7 42. Rxa5 Ke6 43. Rb5 e4 44. Kg2 f4 45. a4 Kd5 46. Be3+ Kxd6 47. Bxf4+ Kc6 48. Rb4 {1-0 (48) Ganguly,S (2619) -Zherebukh,Y (2627) Fujairah City 2012}) 18. Bd2 e5 $1 {threatening 19...Qg4+ and equalizing.}) 14... Nxc5 $1 {An amazing temporary piece sacrifice, equalizing the chances.} 15. dxc5 Rxc5 16. f4 (16. Bb2 Bxh2+ 17. Kxh2 (17. Kh1 Nd5 $19) 17... Rh5+ 18. Kg2 Rg5+ $11) 16... Nd5 17. Bb2 Nxc3 18. Bxc3 Qc7 19. Rfc1 Rc8 20. Bxh7+ Kh8 21. Bd3 Rxc3 22. Qxc3 Qxc3 23. Rxc3 Rxc3 24. Bxb5 Bxa3 25. Kg2 g6 26. Rd1 Rc7 27. Rd7 Rxd7 28. Bxd7 Kg7 29. e4 Kf6 30. Kf3 a5 31. e5+ Ke7 32. Ba4 Bc5 33. h3 Bb6 34. Bb5 Bc5 35. Ba4 Bb6 36. Bb5 Bc5 37. Ba4 {1/2-1/ 2 (37) Topalov,V (2752)-Kasimdzhanov,R (2684) London 2012}) 12... c5 $1 { Everything breaks loose. When black's pieces aim at the white king, a couple of pawns is not important. It is stronger than grabbing the pawn} (12... Bxh2+ 13. Kxh2 Ng4+ 14. Kg1 Qxg5 15. f3 Ngf6 16. b4 {and white had the edge in Wojtaszek - Negi, German Bundesliga 2012.}) ({White succeeds tying black up after} 12... g6 13. Nge4 Bb8 14. b4 {.}) 13. Nxh7 ({Aronian wins a pawn, but his knight gets stranded. Anand was sure that after} 13. Bxh7+ Kh8 {black is fine.}) 13... Ng4 $1 {Rubinstein's final attacking sequence also begins with this knight leap. Anand pointed out that from the time consumption it was clear he tried to check and recheck his analysis, but it was nice to have this position as a starting point. He knew that black's chances are good and he could play with confidence.} ({Not as good is} 13... c4 14. Nxf6+ Nxf6 15. Be2 $14) 14. f4 {Aronian blocks the diagonal h2-b8, but Anand finds a cleaver way to find a new roadway for his dark bishop.} ({The computers suggest that the position is still level after} 14. h3 Bh2+ $1 {- an important check according to Anand -} 15. Kh1 Qh4 {and black has plenty of counterplay, for example:} 16. d5 (16. Be4 Bxe4 17. Qxe4 f5 $1 18. Qxe6+ Kxh7 19. Qxd7 Bb8 20. Kg1 (20. f4 cxd4 21. Qxd4 Nf2+ 22. Kh2 Rfd8 {and white can't cope with the activity of black pieces.}) 20... Bh2+ 21. Kh1 Bb8 {leads to a repetition.}) 16... Rfd8 17. f3 (17. f4 b4 18. Ne4 c4 $11) 17... c4 18. Be4 Be5 19. fxg4 Nc5 $11) ({Taking the exchange leads to a disaster after} 14. Nxf8 Bxh2+ 15. Kh1 Qh4 $19) 14... cxd4 $1 {The exchange sacrifice weakens white's center. Anand used 30 minutes for this move. Black has fully equalized. It is a critical moment for white.} 15. exd4 $6 ({This was the right time to capture the exchange} 15. Nxf8 Bxf8 16. h3 $1 ({After} 16. exd4 $2 Ndf6 $1 {white can't protect the d-pawn and after} 17. h3 Qxd4+ 18. Kh1 {black wins with either 18...Bc5! or 18...Nh5.}) 16... dxc3 17. hxg4 {with roughly equal chances, for example:} Qh4 (17... Nf6 18. Rd1 (18. g5 $2 cxb2 $19) 18... Qb6 $11) 18. g5 cxb2 19. Qxb2 Nc5 20. Qe2 Nxd3 21. Qxd3 Qg3 22. Ra2 Bd5 23. Rc2 a5 $11) 15... Bc5 $1 {This astonishing bishop sacrifice is designed to gain the diagonal g1-a7. It took Aronian aback. } 16. Be2 $2 ({Aronian perhaps underestimated black's next move. Otherwise he would have opted for} 16. dxc5 $5 Nxc5 {with black's edge, for example:} 17. Qe2 {- Aronian: I am worse because the bishop on b7 is such a monster. -} (17. h3 $5 Nxd3 18. Nxf8 Qd4+ 19. Kh1 Ndf2+ 20. Rxf2 Nxf2+ 21. Kh2 Kxf8 $15) 17... Qd4+ 18. Kh1 Nxd3 19. Qxg4 Kxh7 $15) 16... Nde5 $3 {Anand's pieces walk on hot embers without getting burned. The world champion is not showing off, it is the most precise way to victory. He could have tried to take different paths, for example:} (16... Qh4 17. Bxg4 Bxd4+ 18. Kh1 Qxg4 19. Nxf8 Nf6 20. Qe2 Qh3 21. f5 e5 22. Rf3 Bxf3 23. Qxf3 Qh4 $17) (16... Bxd4+ 17. Kh1 Ndf6 (17... Nf2+ $6 18. Rxf2 Bxf2 19. Nxf8 Nxf8 20. Bf3 Bxf3 21. Qxf2 $15) 18. Nxf6+ {spoiling the fun.} (18. Bxg4 $2 Nxg4 19. Nxf8 f5 {transposes to the game.})) 17. Bxg4 ({ The other knight can't be taken:} 17. fxe5 Qxd4+ 18. Kh1 Qg1+ 19. Rxg1 Nf2#) ({ White gets also mated after} 17. dxc5 Qd4+ 18. Kh1 (18. Be3 Qxe3+ (18... Nxe3) 19. Kh1 Qh3 {threatening 20...Qxh2 mate.}) 18... Nf2+ 19. Rxf2 Qxf2 { threatening 20...Bxg2 mate and after} 20. Ne4 Qe1+ 21. Bf1 Qxf1#) 17... Bxd4+ 18. Kh1 Nxg4 19. Nxf8 ({After} 19. Ng5 f5 20. h3 Rf6 {wins.}) 19... f5 $1 { Anand was proud of this move. White is lost.} ({There was no reason to allow white to escape after} 19... Qh4 20. Qh7+) 20. Ng6 {Preventing the queen sortie 20...Qh4 for the time being.} (20. Qd3 Qh4 21. Qg3 Qxg3 22. hxg3 Kxf8 23. Rd1 (23. Nd1 Ke7 {threatening 24...Rh8 mate.}) 23... Bxc3 $19) (20. Qe2 Qh4 21. Qxe6+ Kxf8 22. Qxf5+ Kg8 23. Qe6+ Kh8 {wins.}) 20... Qf6 21. h3 {Other moves would not help either.} (21. Qd3 Qxg6 22. Qg3 Nf2+ $19) (21. Ne5 Nxh2 $1 22. Rf2 (22. Kxh2 Qh4#) 22... Qh4 23. Kg1 Qg3 $19) 21... Qxg6 22. Qe2 (22. hxg4 Qh6#) 22... Qh5 $1 {Threatening 23....Qxh3 mate. It is the queen, not the Rubinstein's rooks, that finishes white off.} 23. Qd3 {Losing outright.} ({The game deserved the following brilliant ending:} 23. Qxe6+ Kh8 24. Nd5 Rd8 25. Qe7 Qxh3+ $3 26. gxh3 Bxd5+ {and black mates soon.}) ({White could have only prolonged the suffering with} 23. Rf3 Nf2+ 24. Kh2 (24. Rxf2 Qxh3+ 25. Kg1 Qxg2#) 24... Bxf3 25. Qxf3 Qxf3 26. gxf3 Bxc3 {and there is no doubt about black's victory.} (26... Nd3)) 23... Be3 $1 {Blocking the defense of the h-pawn and threatening to mate with 24...Qxh3+.} (23... Be3 24. Bxe3 Qxh3+ 25. Kg1 Qxg2#) 0-1

The game Rotlewi-Rubinstein was played at the Lodz club championship in 1907. Lodz was at that time a large textile Polish city that was a part of the Russian Empire. Rotlewi's career was cut short. He died in 1920 at the age of 31. Rubinstein became one of the best players in the world before World War I.

Andrew Soltis ranks Rubinstein's signature masterpiece as number ten in his book The 100 Best Games of the 20th Century, Ranked, published by McFarland. It is a model game on how to act in symmetrical positions. White's inaccurate opening play is punished by three incredible rook moves, making it one of the most famous combinations.

The parallels with Anand's game are striking: the same knight leap into the attack, a bishop pair on the same diagonals bearing down on the white king at the same corner and the decisive queen sortie to the h-file.


Rubinstein pictured around the time the game was played

[Event "Lodz"] [Site "Lodz"] [Date "1907.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Rotlewi, Gersz "] [Black "Rubinstein, Akiba"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D40"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "1907.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "POL"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 c5 4. c4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7. a3 a6 8. b4 Bd6 9. Bb2 O-O 10. Qd2 Qe7 $1 11. Bd3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 b5 13. Bd3 Rd8 14. Qe2 Bb7 15. O-O Ne5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bc7 18. e4 Rac8 19. e5 $2 {White wasted too much time in the opening and this is a losing move.} Bb6+ 20. Kh1 {With the rooks on the open files and the bishop combo looking at the white king, something is bound to happen. Rubinstein only needs to unlock the last pieces for a powerful storm.} Ng4 $1 {A signal to a decisive attack, threatening 22... Qh4. It is based on a poorly protected light bishop on d3.} 21. Be4 ({After} 21. Qxg4 Rxd3 {, threatening 22...Rd2 and 22...Rdxc3, white is in dire straits. }) ({White can't plug the diagonal h1-a8 with} 21. Ne4 {because of} Qh4 $1 22. h3 Rxd3 $1 23. Qxd3 Bxe4 24. Qb3 (24. Qxe4 Qg3 25. hxg4 Qh4#) 24... Be3 $1 { finishing the same way as the Aronian-Anand game, threatening 25...Qh3 mate.}) 21... Qh4 $1 ({Today, computers would spoil Rubinstein's elegant combination with} 21... Nxh2 $1 {, for example} 22. Qh5 (22. Rfe1 Rxc3 $1 23. Bxc3 (23. Qh5 g6 24. Qxh2 Rb3 $19) 23... Qh4 24. g3 Qxg3 25. Qxh2 Bxe4+ 26. Rxe4 Qxc3 27. Rae1 Rd1 $1 $19) 22... Bxe4 23. Kxh2 Bxg2 $1 $19) 22. g3 ({The black pieces are ready to pounce after} 22. h3 Rxc3 $1 23. Bxc3 (23. Bxb7 Rxh3+ 24. gxh3 Qxh3+ 25. Qh2 Qxh2#) (23. Qxg4 Rxh3+ 24. Qxh3 (24. gxh3 Bxe4+ 25. Kh2 Rd2+ $19) 24... Qxh3+ 25. gxh3 Bxe4+ 26. Kh2 Rd2+ {and black mates soon.}) 23... Bxe4 24. Qxg4 (24. Qxe4 Qg3 $1 25. hxg4 Qh4#) 24... Qxg4 25. hxg4 Rd3 26. Kh2 (26. Rac1 Rh3#) 26... Rxc3 27. Rac1 Rc4 $1 $19) 22... Rxc3 $3 {An astonishing queen sacrifice, combining pins and deflections. White can't stop the attacking fury. } 23. gxh4 {Other moves don't help either:} (23. Bxc3 Bxe4+ 24. Qxe4 Qxh2#) ( 23. Bxb7 Rxg3 {and white's position is hopeless, for example:} 24. Rf3 (24. Bf3 Nxh2 $1 25. Qxh2 Rh3 $19) (24. Rad1 Rxd1 (24... Rh3 $19) 25. Rxd1 Nxh2 26. Qxh2 Rh3 $17) 24... Rh3 25. Rxh3 Qxh3 26. Qg2 Nf2+ 27. Kg1 Rd1+ 28. Rxd1 Nxd1+ 29. Kh1 Nf2+ 30. Kg1 Ng4+ 31. Kh1 Qd3 $1 {and black wins.}) 23... Rd2 $3 {The final deflection, leaving the light bishop on e4 vulnerable. The queen is simply overworked.} 24. Qxd2 {White doesn't have much choice. Other moves lead to mates, for example:} (24. Bxc3 Bxe4+ 25. Rf3 Bxf3+ 26. Qxf3 Rxh2#) (24. Bxb7 Rxe2 25. Bg2 Rh3 $1 26. Bxh3 Rxh2#) 24... Bxe4+ 25. Qg2 Rh3 $3 {Diagram [#] A clincher! Black uses a pin to deliver a pretty mate.} (25... Rh3 $3 26. Qxe4 Rxh2#) 0-1

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.

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