Kortchnoi Zurich Challenge: No heroes in time trouble

by Srinath Narayanan
4/15/2017 – The match-ups on show in the second and third rounds of the 'New Classical' were all interesting and full of 'time-trouble' miracles. While Svidler's incredible ...Nf5 not only saved him from defeat but even won him the game against Hikaru. Vladimir Kramnik was a piece up against Ian Nepomniachtchi but the latter, armed with an irritating passer, fished out a draw! But that was not all—Gelfand missed a win against Kramnik as well! Report and grandmaster analysis.

Photos by Frederic Friedel

Round 2

Svidler-Gelfand followed on the heels of the 2016 games of Matlakov-Dominguez, and Kovalenko-Salgado Lopez. Peter didn’t show anything great and the game petered away to a draw pretty quickly and was the first to end.

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "2"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A34"] [WhiteElo "2747"] [BlackElo "2724"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "46"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Ng5 $5 e6 8. d3 Bg7 9. Nge4 $146 {This is the second time Svidler has this position. The previous time, he had got a sizeable advantage against Caruana in the 2016 candidates.} b6 {keeping things more flexible, instead of the direct 0-0. The drawback is that it allows some tactics with Qa4, as happened in the game. This move was played by Polugaevsky, 28 years ago already!} (9... O-O {it's not necessary to commit this move so early. White exploits this by} 10. h4 b6 11. h5 Bb7 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Bh6 Nxc3 14. bxc3 f5 15. Qc1 fxe4 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Qh6+ Kf6 18. dxe4 Rh8 19. e5+ Kf7 20. Qf4+ Kg7 21. Rxh8 Qxh8 22. O-O-O $1 $16 {Svidler,P (2757)-Caruana,F (2794) FIDE Candidates 2016 (7) 1/2-1/2}) 10. Qa4 (10. h4 {now is met by} h6) ({A nomal move like} 10. Bd2 {would be met by} Bb7 {and Black has a comfortable position.}) (10. Bg5 f6 11. Bd2 Qd7 $5 $11) 10... Bb7 ({here, Polugaevsky went wrong with} 10... Bd7 11. Nxd5 exd5 12. Nd6+ Ke7 13. Nxf7 $18 {Dzindzichashvili,R (2540)-Polugaevsky,L (2575) New York op 1989 (6) 0-1}) 11. Bg5 f6 12. Bf4 Nxf4 13. Nxf6+ Kf7 $1 (13... Bxf6 14. Bxc6+ Bxc6 15. Qxc6+ Kf7 16. gxf4 {would just win a pawn.}) 14. gxf4 Bxf6 15. Bxc6 Bxc3+ 16. bxc3 Qf6 {[#] This double attack/tactic is the point of Kf7, to take on f6 with the Queen. Now White is forced to return back one of the pawns, and the position is equal. Black didn't really require any special preparation, as this is already the 3rd game in this position, which indicates that Svidler was quite content to draw.} 17. d4 Bxc6 18. Qxc6 Qxf4 19. e3 Qf6 20. Qc7+ Qe7 21. Qf4+ Qf6 22. Qc7+ Qe7 23. Qf4+ Qf6 1/2-1/2

Yannick Pelletier got a decent, complicated position out of opening against Viswanathan Anand, but it seemed to me that Yannick was too passive in the game.

Vishy was on to him like a Tiger catching a deer. You can see Anand showing his claws to the Swiss before the game even began. Yannick should have picked up the clues...

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Pelletier, Yannick"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2541"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be3 b6 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bb5 Ndb8 $5 {Looks unusual to me, returning to the stable.} (9... Bb7 { appears more normal and here White can play in various ways.}) 10. Qf2 { (3) played relatively quickly by Vishy, this move forces Black to close the position, allowing White to go after Black's kingside with f5.} c4 (10... cxd4 11. Nxd4 Bd7 12. Nf3 $5 {looks quite odd for Black. For example, where is the b8 knight going to go?}) 11. Ne2 (11. f5 exf5 12. Qg3 Kf8 13. Bxc4 dxc4 14. d5 {Looks interesting for White, but Black has} Nxe5 $1 15. Qxe5 (15. Nxe5 Bh4) 15... Bd6 16. Qd4 Bc5 {And Black has neutralized White's initiative.}) 11... a6 12. Bxc6+ Nxc6 13. c3 b5 (13... h5 $5 {was worth considering.} 14. f5 exf5 15. h4 Be6 16. Nf4 Kd7 {with a game.}) 14. g4 {Having made the necessary prophylaxis on the queenside with c3, White starts. The position still appears balanced to me. Black plays on the queenside, and White on the kingside. Due to the closed nature of the position, the kings are free to roam around.} h5 $6 {inspired by King's Indian, where Black meets White's b4 with a5, as I heard in the post game. The classical rule goes like 'Do not move pawns on that side where you are weak.'} (14... b4 {seems like a good alternative.} 15. Ng3 Qa5 16. Bd2 bxc3 17. bxc3 Rb8 18. f5 Rb2 {and it seems to me that Black has adequate counterplay.}) 15. gxh5 Rxh5 16. h4 Rh8 (16... b4 17. f5 $5 exf5 18. Nf4 Rh6 19. Qg2 {is (0.00) according to the engine, but it appears better for White to me. At least practically, it's much easier to play as White.}) 17. Qg2 Bf8 18. f5 $1 exf5 19. Bg5 {Here, the position is already difficult for Black. Yannick spent 11 minutes on his next move, bringing his time remaining to just 4 minutes, opposing to Vishy's 27.} Qc7 (19... Qa5 20. h5 Be6 21. h6 b4 22. Kf2 Kd7 23. h7 {looks difficult for Black, but at least maybe he could try for some counter play with} bxc3 24. bxc3 Rb8 25. Bc1 Qa4 {and try something.}) 20. h5 Be6 21. h6 {comes by force.} Kd7 (21... gxh6 22. Bf6) 22. h7 Re8 23. Bd2 { After this move, Black's kingside is paralyzed. Having subjugated a part of Black's army to one part, White goes about exploiting the weaknesses on other sides.} Kc8 24. a4 $1 b4 25. Nf4 Qd7 26. Ng5 g6 27. Kf1 (27. Kf2 {was stronger as pointed out by Vishy. Point is to prepare Rh2,Rah1, take on e6 and then take the rook either via Nf7 or Ng6.}) 27... b3 28. Re1 {Rook comes to h-file anyway. Since Black has no counterplay, White can take all the time he wants.} Nd8 29. Re2 Qb7 30. Ngxe6 {harvest time.} Nxe6 (30... fxe6 31. Qxg6 $18) 31. Nxd5 Be7 32. Nxe7+ Rxe7 33. d5 Nf8 34. Bh6 Re8 (34... Nxh7 35. Bg7 $18) 35. Bxf8 Rexf8 36. Rh4 Kd8 37. Rd2 Re8 38. e6 Re7 39. Qg5 1-0

Hikaru Nakamura played an excellent game against Grigoriy Oparin and outplayed him comprehensively. Grigoriy tried to keep up and fought toe to toe, but at critical moments, Hikaru just proved to be a notch higher.

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "2"] [White "Oparin, Grigoriy"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2604"] [BlackElo "2793"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O a6 7. a4 {The latest trend in Italian.} O-O 8. Re1 Ba7 9. h3 Ne7 10. Nbd2 Ng6 11. d4 Re8 12. Qb3 Qe7 13. Nf1 c6 14. dxe5 dxe5 15. Ng5 Rf8 16. a5 {White has achieved some space on the queenside. However, with Queen having gone towards the queenside, the kingside appears a little less controlled.} Nh4 17. g3 Ng6 {b8 knight's journal: provoke weakness - check.} 18. Kg2 Ne8 19. Qc2 $2 (19. h4 $142 h6 20. Nf3 $11) 19... Nd6 20. Bb3 Kh8 $2 (20... Qd7 $142 $5 {would've made the situation very awkward for White, as} 21. g4 {appears forced to me, and now, after} Qc7 {Black is better due to White's weak kingside.}) 21. Qe2 {White tries to go directly against Black's king, but direct threats can be directly defended....} h6 22. Qh5 Qe8 23. Be3 $2 (23. Nxf7+ {doesn't work simply due to} Rxf7 $19) (23. Kh2 $142 {prohylaxis against the discovered check.} f6 (23... Bxf2 24. Rd1 Bc5 25. Be3 $16) 24. Nf3 Kh7 25. Rd1 Be6 $11) (23. Kg1 f6 24. Nf3 {was also possible, as after} Nf4 25. Qxe8 Nxh3+ 26. Kg2 Rxe8 27. Be3 Bxe3 28. Rxe3 {White has full compensation for the pawn as Black's pieces aren't well co ordinate and the h3-knight is offside.}) 23... f6 24. Nf7+ Nxf7 25. Qxg6 Bxh3+ 26. Kh2 {I am curious what Grigory misevaluated here, but Black is just a pawn up.} Bxf1 27. Bxa7 Ng5 28. Qxe8 Rfxe8 29. Rxf1 Rxa7 30. Rad1 {Black is a pawn up, but conversion is still not taken for granted. First step is to activate the pieces.} b6 $1 31. axb6 Rb7 32. Bc2 a5 33. Rd6 Rxb6 34. b3 Ne6 35. Rb1 Nc5 36. b4 axb4 $2 (36... Nb7 $8 37. Rd3 Rb8 $15) 37. Rxb4 Ra6 {[#]} 38. Rc4 $2 {the decisive mistake.} (38. Bd1 $142 {A very powerful move. On one hand, White does prophylaxis against f2, on the other hand, White's bishop is heading towards a deadly location.} Ra3 (38... Kh7 39. Bg4 $11) 39. Bh5 Rc8 40. Bg6 Rxc3 41. Rxc6 $11) 38... Ra2 39. Bd1 Nb7 40. Rdxc6 Rxf2+ 41. Kg1 (41. Kh3 Na5 42. Rc8 (42. Bh5 Rf8 43. Rc8 Nxc4 44. Rxf8+ Kh7 45. Rb8 Nd6 $19) 42... Nxc4 43. Rxe8+ Kh7 $19) 41... Rd2 42. Bh5 Ra8 {the point! White isn't in time for Bg6 due to mate threat. Black just coasts home.} 43. Rc8+ Rxc8 44. Rxc8+ Kh7 45. Bg4 Nd6 46. Rc6 Kg6 47. Bf3 Nf7 48. c4 Ng5 49. Bg2 Kh5 50. c5 Kg4 51. Ra6 Rc2 52. c6 Kxg3 53. Ra3+ Kf4 54. Ra6 h5 0-1

Vladimir Kramnik was, again, sheer class as he was flawless for the most part of the game and ended up a piece up.

However, Nepomniachtchi kept persisting without resigning, and Vlad, playing with 30 seconds increment for a long time, underestimated the dangers of his opponent’s a-passer and ended up frittering away half a point. Welcome to the New Classical time control, Vlad!

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "2"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2811"] [BlackElo "2751"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Nbd2 d6 6. c3 c5 7. Bd3 b6 8. O-O Bb7 9. Re1 Nc6 $6 {I am not entirely sure if this is the right place for the knight in this setup. Usually, it goes to d7} (9... Nbd7 10. e4 (10. h3) 10... cxd4 11. cxd4 h6 {with a position.}) 10. h3 Rc8 11. Qe2 Rc7 12. a3 {I think White already has a slight edge here.} Qc8 13. e4 cxd4 14. cxd4 Nd7 {White has built a strong center, while Black's pieces suffer from asphyxiation due to lack of space. Vlad spends 6 minutes and finds a concrete continuation that ends with a clear advantage.} 15. e5 $5 (15. Qe3 $14 {was another possibility, continuing to suffocate Black.}) 15... dxe5 16. d5 Nd4 17. Nxd4 exd4 18. Bxe7 Re8 (18... Bxd5 19. Bxf8 Qxf8 $5 {is possible but I don't think Black gets much compensation.} 20. Rac1 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Nc5 22. b4 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 h6 24. Nb3 $16) 19. d6 Rc5 20. f4 $1 {[#] A very strong move, taking control. White just has a huge space advantage now. The bind by the e7-d6 is especially strong.} Nf6 21. Nb3 Rc6 22. Rac1 {exchanging the active rook.} (22. Bb5 Rc2) 22... Nd5 23. Bb5 Nxf4 {White has various ways to win a piece now.} 24. Qg4 (24. Qf1 $142 {would've ended the game at once.} Ne6 (24... Rxc1 25. Rxc1 Qe6 26. Qxf4 Rc8 27. d7 $18) 25. Rxc6 Bxc6 26. Rc1 $18) 24... Rxc1 25. Nxc1 d3 26. Nxd3 Nxd3 27. Qxc8 Bxc8 28. Rd1 Nxb2 29. Rc1 Bd4+ 30. Kf1 Nd3 31. Bxd3 Be6 32. Bb5 Rb8 33. d7 a6 34. Rd1 Bxd7 35. Bxd7 Be5 {The position is just winning, but Kramnik had only one minute remaining.} 36. Rd5 Bb2 37. Bd6 Ra8 38. Rd2 Ba1 39. Bc7 b5 40. Ba5 (40. Bc6 Rc8 41. Rd7 $18) 40... Bf6 41. Re2 Kg7 42. Kf2 Bd4+ 43. Kf3 Bc5 44. Bc3+ Kf8 45. Bb4 Bxb4 46. axb4 Rd8 47. Bc6 Rd4 48. Re8+ Kg7 49. Re7 Rxb4 { After the loss of this pawn, Black gets some counterchances.} 50. Bd5 Kf6 51. Rxf7+ Ke5 {This king's placement is very important as it forces White's bishop to vacate from a2-g8.} 52. Bb7 a5 {Now, the pawn sprints towards a2. It's already a draw.} 53. Rxh7 (53. Re7+ Kd6 54. Rxh7 a4 55. Be4 a3 56. Ra7 Ra4 57. Rxa4 bxa4 58. Bb1 Kc5 59. Ke3 Kb4 60. Kd2 Kb3) 53... a4 54. Bc6 a3 {Probably Kramnik was counting on Ra7 here when looking afar, which just fails to.....} 55. Bxb5 (55. Ra7 Ra4 56. Rd7 (56. Rxa4 bxa4) 56... a2 57. Rd5+ Kf6 58. Rd1 Ra3+ 59. Kg4 b4 $19) 55... Rxb5 56. Ra7 Rb3+ 57. Kg4 Kd4 58. Kg5 Kc3 1/2-1/2

Kramnik searching for his win.

Round 3

Pelletier-Oparin was a solid affair. The game looked pretty equal throughout with little chances for either side. And thus, Yannick got off the mark (with a draw).

Nepo-Vishy’s opening was very similar to Svidler-Gelfand earlier in the day, but Vishy definitely kept things interesting. He achieved equality, but unlike the earlier game, the middlegame was by no means lifeless. However, White’s position was practically easier to play and Nepo made use of his resources to set Vishy problems. Vishy proved fully up to it till the 36th move, when he was down to 5 minutes. Even at the cost of sounding cliché, I’ve to repeat this in Zurich often, ‘There are no heroes in time trouble’.

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "2"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2811"] [BlackElo "2751"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Nbd2 d6 6. c3 c5 7. Bd3 b6 8. O-O Bb7 9. Re1 Nc6 $6 {I am not entirely sure if this is the right place for the knight in this setup. Usually, it goes to d7} (9... Nbd7 10. e4 (10. h3) 10... cxd4 11. cxd4 h6 {with a position.}) 10. h3 Rc8 11. Qe2 Rc7 12. a3 {I think White already has a slight edge here.} Qc8 13. e4 cxd4 14. cxd4 Nd7 {White has built a strong center, while Black's pieces suffer from asphyxiation due to lack of space. Vlad spends 6 minutes and finds a concrete continuation that ends with a clear advantage.} 15. e5 $5 (15. Qe3 $14 {was another possibility, continuing to suffocate Black.}) 15... dxe5 16. d5 Nd4 17. Nxd4 exd4 18. Bxe7 Re8 (18... Bxd5 19. Bxf8 Qxf8 $5 {is possible but I don't think Black gets much compensation.} 20. Rac1 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Nc5 22. b4 Nxd3 23. Qxd3 h6 24. Nb3 $16) 19. d6 Rc5 20. f4 $1 {[#] A very strong move, taking control. White just has a huge space advantage now. The bind by the e7-d6 is especially strong.} Nf6 21. Nb3 Rc6 22. Rac1 {exchanging the active rook.} (22. Bb5 Rc2) 22... Nd5 23. Bb5 Nxf4 {White has various ways to win a piece now.} 24. Qg4 (24. Qf1 $142 {would've ended the game at once.} Ne6 (24... Rxc1 25. Rxc1 Qe6 26. Qxf4 Rc8 27. d7 $18) 25. Rxc6 Bxc6 26. Rc1 $18) 24... Rxc1 25. Nxc1 d3 26. Nxd3 Nxd3 27. Qxc8 Bxc8 28. Rd1 Nxb2 29. Rc1 Bd4+ 30. Kf1 Nd3 31. Bxd3 Be6 32. Bb5 Rb8 33. d7 a6 34. Rd1 Bxd7 35. Bxd7 Be5 {The position is just winning, but Kramnik had only one minute remaining.} 36. Rd5 Bb2 37. Bd6 Ra8 38. Rd2 Ba1 39. Bc7 b5 40. Ba5 (40. Bc6 Rc8 41. Rd7 $18) 40... Bf6 41. Re2 Kg7 42. Kf2 Bd4+ 43. Kf3 Bc5 44. Bc3+ Kf8 45. Bb4 Bxb4 46. axb4 Rd8 47. Bc6 Rd4 48. Re8+ Kg7 49. Re7 Rxb4 { After the loss of this pawn, Black gets some counterchances.} 50. Bd5 Kf6 51. Rxf7+ Ke5 {This king's placement is very important as it forces White's bishop to vacate from a2-g8.} 52. Bb7 a5 {Now, the pawn sprints towards a2. It's already a draw.} 53. Rxh7 (53. Re7+ Kd6 54. Rxh7 a4 55. Be4 a3 56. Ra7 Ra4 57. Rxa4 bxa4 58. Bb1 Kc5 59. Ke3 Kb4 60. Kd2 Kb3) 53... a4 54. Bc6 a3 {Probably Kramnik was counting on Ra7 here when looking afar, which just fails to.....} 55. Bxb5 (55. Ra7 Ra4 56. Rd7 (56. Rxa4 bxa4) 56... a2 57. Rd5+ Kf6 58. Rd1 Ra3+ 59. Kg4 b4 $19) 55... Rxb5 56. Ra7 Rb3+ 57. Kg4 Kd4 58. Kg5 Kc3 1/2-1/2

Hikaru was coasting on his way to his third victory in a row. His domination of Zurich is well known. Peter was again less impressive with his opening play, and after 21 moves, White had a very strong strategic move which would’ve made things very difficult for Black. However, there was a twist in the tale.

After Svidler’s 23…Nf5!!, there was no looking back. Svidler won to throw the race wide open!
 

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "3"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A36"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2747"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 c5 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nc6 5. e3 e5 6. Nge2 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. Nd5 d6 9. Nec3 Bf5 10. d3 Qd7 11. a3 Bh3 $5 12. Rb1 Bxg2 13. Kxg2 Nxd5 14. cxd5 Ne7 15. b4 (15. e4 {Svidler was worried about this in the post game.} Rac8 { prophylaxis against b4.} (15... f5 16. b4 cxb4 (16... b6 17. bxc5 bxc5 18. Qa4 $14) 17. Rxb4) 16. Bd2 f5 {Black seems alright to me. The position seems balanced.} 17. b4 {would be met by} c4 $11) 15... cxb4 16. axb4 Bh6 {logically getting rid of the bad bishop.} 17. e4 {Black has got rid of his bad bishop, but among the remaning pieces, the e7 knight isn't exactly well placed. The knight is well controlled by White's pawns.} Bxc1 18. Rxc1 Rfc8 19. Qd2 Rc7 20. f4 Rac8 21. fxe5 dxe5 {[#]} 22. Rc2 (22. Rf6 Nf5 23. exf5 Rxc3 24. Rxc3 Qxd5+ 25. Kh3 Rxc3 26. Qxc3 Kg7 {and the rook is trapped, as there's no b6 square.}) (22. Rf2 $1 {is an immensely strong move here, threatening d6. If Black defends against this with} a6 {then White now goes} 23. Rf6 {the important point being that Nf5 doesn't trap the f6 rook because it now has b6, after Black has played a6.} Kg7 24. Rcf1) 22... Qd6 $2 23. Qf2 {[#]} Nf5 $1 {A brilliant move, possibly underestimated by Hikaru.} 24. exf5 Rxc3 {In one stroke, Black has exchanged his bad knight for White's better knight, and has left White's position with weak pawns all over.} 25. Rxc3 Rxc3 {White loses a pawn by force.} 26. Qf3 gxf5 27. Qxf5 Qxd5+ 28. Kh3 Rc6 {Black is a pawn up here, but apart from that, White's queenside/center pawn is also quite weak. Black is bound to win a second pawn, and Svidler converts his advantage flawlessly. White's position is so bad that even Hikaru couldn't save this.} 29. g4 Rd6 30. Rf3 Qe6 31. Qg5+ Kf8 32. Re3 Qh6+ 33. Qxh6+ Rxh6+ 34. Kg3 Rb6 35. Re4 f6 36. h4 Rd6 37. Re3 Rd4 38. g5 Kg7 39. b5 Rb4 40. gxf6+ Kxf6 41. Rf3+ Kg7 42. Rf2 Rxb5 43. Ra2 a5 44. Kg4 Kf6 45. Ra3 Kg6 46. h5+ Kf6 47. Ra1 Rb4+ 48. Kg3 a4 49. Rf1+ Kg5 0-1

Gelfand-Kramnik was a very interesting game that looked equal until almost the very end. However, I suggest going right to White’s 41st move if you want to get the full story yourself!

[Event "Kortchnoi ZCC 2017"] [Site "Zurich"] [Date "2017.04.14"] [Round "3"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D41"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2811"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Nf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11. Rc1 b6 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. O-O Nd7 14. Qf4 h6 15. h4 Rc8 16. Rxc8 Qxc8 17. Rc1 Qb8 18. Qxb8 Rxb8 19. Rc7 Nf6 20. Ne5 Bxe4 21. Bxe4 Nxe4 22. Rxf7 a5 23. Rc7 b5 24. f3 Nd6 25. Ra7 a4 26. h5 Nf5 27. Nc6 Rc8 28. Ra6 {Both sides have played relatively fast until now. The position is (0.00) objectively but practically Black has to be precise. His pawns have been stopped for now, and White's pieces are well placed, controlling a good number of important squares. On the kingisde, the h5 pawn is a useful asset for White. I believe Black should just disturb the c6-knight and he can neutralise.} Kh7 $6 (28... Kf7 29. Kf2 Ne7 30. Ne5+ Kf6 {was maybe more accurate. Black has advanced his king, unleashed his rook.}) 29. Kf2 b4 30. g4 (30. Nxb4 Nxd4 31. Rxa4 Rc4 32. a3 Nc2 {is probably a 3 vs 2 rook endgame draw. }) 30... b3 31. axb3 axb3 32. gxf5 b2 33. Rb6 Rxc6 34. Rxb2 exf5 35. Ke3 { Maybe this looks drawish, but to me it looks like unnecessarily playing with fire, especially against Boris, who is perhaps among the best chess players ever in rook endgames. The alternate 28...Kf7 looks much more safer to me.} Rc3+ 36. Kf4 g5+ 37. Kxf5 Rxf3+ 38. Ke4 Rf1 (38... Rh3 39. Rb7+ Kg8 40. d5 Kf8 41. Kf5 Rf3+ 42. Ke6 g4 43. d6 Re3+ 44. Kd7 g3 {manages to just hold on.}) 39. Rb7+ Kg8 40. d5 g4 $4 {[#] Gelfand had just 1 minute remaining here and the position looks like a draw. But turns out that it actually wins!} (40... Re1+ $1 41. Kf5 (41. Kd4 g4 42. d6 Kf8 {And here the White king doesn't advance fast to d7.} 43. Kd5 g3 $11) 41... g4 $1 42. Kxg4 (42. d6 Kf8 43. Rh7 Ke8 { And Black is now safe.}) 42... Re5 43. d6 Rd5 44. d7 Kf8 $11) 41. Rb6 $4 (41. d6 $142 $1 Rd1 (41... g3 42. d7 Rd1 43. Rb8+ Kf7 44. d8=Q $18) (41... Kf8 42. Rb8+ Kf7 43. d7 $18) 42. Ke5 Kf8 43. Ke6 $1 Re1+ (43... g3 44. Rb8+ Kg7 45. Rb3 Re1+ 46. Kd7 {leads to a similar position in the 43...Re1+ variations.}) 44. Kd7 g3 {and now} 45. Rb3 $1 {whereas, in the other position, Black's rook was on e3. Now, the g3 position is lost by force.} Rg1 (45... g2 46. Rf3+ Kg7 47. Rg3+ Kf6 48. Rxg2 $18) 46. Rf3+ Kg7 47. Ke7 Re1+ 48. Kd8 Rg1 49. d7 g2 50. Rf2 $18 {And now White simply wins by Rc2 and Kc8.}) 41... Kf7 42. Rxh6 g3 43. Rg6 Rh1 44. Rxg3 Rxh5 45. Kd4 Ke7 46. Kc5 Rh6 47. Rg7+ Kd8 {Rook endings are complex and just beautiful :)} 1/2-1/2

More Impressions

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Alexei Shirov playing Russian talent FM Andrey Esipenko (2492) in the Open Masters.

The Zurich Alphorn! You can listen to four being played here.

Standings

Please note that the winner gets 2 points while a draw earns other player 1 point.

Games

 

Schedule

Date Wed, 12 April 2017 - Mon, 17 April 2017
Venue Opening: Hotel Savoy Baur en ville (Grand Ballroom),
Paradeplatz, Zürich Tournament: Kongresshaus (Gartensaal)
Participants

GM Kramnik Vladimir (RUS), Elo 2811
GM Anand Viswanathan (IND) Elo 2786
GM Nakamura Hikaru (USA) Elo 2793
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian (RUS) Elo 2751
GM Svidler Peter (RUS) Elo 2747
GM Gelfand Boris (ISR) Elo 2724
GM Oparin, Grigoryi (RUS) Elo 2604
GM Pelletier Yannick (SUI) Elo 2541

Format/Time Control
  • 7 rounds New Classical, 45min + 30sec, April 13 to 16
  • 7 rounds Blitz, 10min + 5sec on 17 April
Program 12 April: 6 p.m.: Opening ceremony, concert and Opening Blitz
13 April: 5 p.m.: New Classical, 1st round
14 April: 12:30 p.m.: 2nd round, 5 p.m. 3rd round
15 April: 12:30 p.m.: 4th round, 5 p.m. 5th round
16 April: 12:30 p.m.: 6th round, 5 p.m. 7th round
17 April: 11 a.m.: Blitz tournament, 5 p.m.: Closing ceremony

According the rules of the Zurich Chess Challenge 2017 the winner of a classical game is awarded two points for the overall standings. A draw gives each player one point, and the loser gets zero points. In the final Blitz tournament on Monday, 17 April, the winner is given one point, a draw gets half a point, and the loser gets zero points.

Link to Official site


Srinath Narayanan is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe. He is a critical thinker and enjoys to think deeply not only about chess but life itself.
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