Mihail Marin on Wijk round seven

1/20/2008 – "A very interesting round," writes our GM commentator, "with only two decisive games, but a surprisngly high average of moves per game." Judit Polgar obtained a stable advantage out of the opening, but lost control of the position and lost. Aronian beat Radjabov with accurate play and a small material advantage. In a joyless position, Radjabov blundered. Annotated games.

Wijk aan Zee 2008

GM Mihail Marin in his analysis kitchen at home in Romania

The following express commentary was provided by Romanian grandmaster Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin will study the games of the World Championship tournament in much greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Round seven commentary by GM Mihail Marin

A very interesting round, with only two decisive games, but a surprisngly high average of moves per game.

Judit Polgar obtained a stable advantage out of the opening. She opted for a dynamic way to convert it, which seemed to be right, but then lost control of the position and landed into an unpleasant ending with two rooks vs queen and pawn. Anand's initiative took decisive forms soon and Black resigned after 53 moves.

In Aronian-Radjabov, White countered Black's opening experiment with accurate play and retained a small material advantage and clear strategic superiority. In a joyless position, Radjabov blundered to some elegant but simple tactical tricks, lost his knight and resigned soon.

Adams-Mamedyarov featured a complicated fight which ended with the perfect draw: king versus king! Topalov-Carlsen did not reach such extremes, but both players played with ambition in a position where a draw was predictable from an earlier stage than when actually agreed.

Kramnik's Petroff defence once again proved impenetrable against Ivanchuk. Which is a pity basically, because if confronted with problems in this dry opening, the Ex World Champion would have to display his huge talent and strength with some other, more interesting, weapon.

Gelfand decided to give play a static character in his favourite Catalan against Leko. However, Black's position proved solid enough to stand White's slight pressure and ensure a draw.

Eljanov obtained considerable advantage against Van Wely, but then misplayed the position terribly and had to fight for a draw in another "tablebases ending", with rook versus rook and two pawns.

Polgar,Ju (2707) - Anand,V (2799) [B90]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 19.01.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nf3

This retreat of the knight induces several differences compared to the more popular 7.Nb3. The b3-square is left available for the bishop and sometimes Ng5 can be a nasty threat. However, the black queenside will be under less pressure now and in the long run the knight might remain passive, being restricted by Black's central pawns. 7...Be7 8.Bc4 0-0 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Bb3 Be6 11.Bg5 Nd7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.Nd5 Qd8 14.Qe2 Nc5 15.Rad1 b5 16.Ne3 Nxb3 17.axb3 Qc7 18.Rd3 Nb4 19.Rd2 Qe7 20.Rfd1 Rad8

White's opening play has been crowned by success. The d5-square and the d6-pawn are under severe pressure while the black knight cannot find a favourable square. In principle, it should be transferred to f6, but how to achieve that without losing the d6-pawn? However, White also needs to solve the problem of her f3-knight, which is placed rather far from the critical d5- and f5-squares. 21.Nf5!? White opts for a dynamic solution of the srategic task. After the forced exchange on f5, the e4-square would become available for the white pieces, while the d5-square would remain undefended. She would have maintained a stable advantage with 21.c3 Nc6 22.b4 , too. 21...Bxf5 22.exf5 Rfe8 23.c3 Nc6 24.Qe4 Na5

Generally speaking, not a great square for a knight, but with the b3-square weakened White will need to spend part of her forces to neutralize Black's pressure on that wing. 25.Qd5 Defends b3 and threatens Ra1. 25...Qf6!? 26.Re2. The idea behind Anand's ingenious defence is that 26.Ra1 could be answered with 26...e4 followed by ...Re5 and ...Nc6. 26...Rc8

Now that the e4-square is controlled by White, Black prepares a symmetrical rook lift with ...Rc5. 26...Qxf5? would leave the e4-pawn pinned and lose the knight to 27.Ra1! 27.Nd2?! The desire to transfer the knight to e4 is understandable, but the exchange of pawns that follows will make Black's position a lot easier. White should have insisted with 27.Ra1 when after 27...Rc5 28.Qd1! , keeping the b3-pawn defended, Black would have found himself in a precarious situation. For instance, 28...Nb7 29.Rxa6 Qxf5 30.b4 Rc7 31.Qd5 with white domination. The necessity of maintaining the d6-pawn defended has forced the knight to occupy an awful square. 27...Qxf5 28.Ne4 Qe6 29.Nxd6?! The pin allowed by this move will leave White hanging. It would probably have been safer to more or less force a draw with the simplifying operation 29.b4 Nc4 30.Qxe6 Rxe6 31.b3 f5 32.Ng5 Rg6 33.bxc4. 29...Rcd8 30.Red2 Nxb3 31.Nxe8 Rxd5 32.Rxd5 h6

From materialpoint of view, the position remains balanced, but Black's forces are easier to coordinate. The knight has finally found a favourable route, while the force of the tandem Queen + Knight is proverbial from Capablanca's time. Maybe White's position remains defensible, but in the time trouble it will deteriorate relatively quickly. 33.Rd8 Kh7 34.Nd6 Nc5 35.h3 Qg6 36.g3 Ne6 37.Rd7 Ng5 38.h4 Qe6 39.Rb7 Nf3+ 40.Kg2 Qg4 41.Rd5 Nxh4+ 42.Kf1 Qf3 43.Rd2 Nf5 44.Nxf5 Qxb7 45.Ke2 a5 46.Ne3 a4 47.Rd5 b4 48.cxb4 Qxb4 49.Rd2 f5 50.Rc2 Qb3 51.f4 exf4 52.gxf4 Qb4 53.Nc4 g5 0-1. [Click to replay]

Aronian,L (2739) - Radjabov,T (2735) [E61]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 19.01.2008

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 c5 5.d5 0-0 6.Bg2 d6 7.Nf3 e6 8.0-0 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 10.Nd2

10...b6!? [A rare variation. The main line goes 10...a6 11.a4 Nbd7] 11.Re1 Nbd7 12.h3 Ba6

This position strongly ressembles a tabyia from the Petrosian variation of the Queen's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 c5 5.d5 Ba6 6.Qc2 exd5 7.cxd5 g6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.g3, etc. It is hard to say which of them is better for White (or, for Black, of course!) Such moves like a3 (preparing b4) or h3 (preventing Ng4-e5) are useful, so that it cannot be said that White lost a tempo in any of the cases. Personally, I consider that Qc2 is more useful than Nd2 and that the knight stands better on f3 anyway, enabling Bf4 and an eventual central break with e4-e5. However, this is a subjective opinion. 13.Qa4 Bd3 An amusing way to maintain the bishop on an active diagonal. 14.Nf1 b5 15.Qd1 Bc4 16.Nd2 The bishop's adventure will come to an end soon. 16...Nb6 17.Nxc4 Nxc4!? [17...bxc4 would have maintained the material equality, but... killedBlack's queenside counterplay, leaving White with a clear advantage in the centre.] 18.Nxb5 Qa5 19.a4 Nd7

20.Bf4! White gives up the relatively unimportant b2-pawn in order to complete his development and put the d6-pawn under serious pressure. This latter detailis essential in order to justify the relatively unstable placement of the b5-knight. 20...Bxb2 21.Rb1 Be5 22.Qc1 a6 23.Qxc4 axb5 24.axb5 Nb6 25.Qc1 c4 26.Bxe5 Rxe5 27.e4

Black has not sufficient compensation for the pawn. His knight occupies a stable square, but this only serves to block White's extra-pawn. The own c4-pawn is not easy to advance, while the permanent threat f4 followed by e5 makes the king's situation rather unsafe. 27...Ree8 28.Re3 Qa2 29.h4 Nd7 30.Rc3 Nb6 31.h5 Re5 32.h6

32...f5 This move will fail to offer sufficient counterplay, while the king's positin will remain chronically weak. 33.exf5 Rxf5 34.Rc2 Qa3 35.Qd2 Qc5 36.Bh3 Rf3 37.Rc3 Rf6 38.Be6+ Kh8 39.Re3 Raf8 40.Qb2 Na4 41.Qa3 Rxf2 42.Qxc5 dxc5 43.Ra3 Nb6 44.Rd1 R2f6 45.Rda1

Black has managed to re-establish the material equality, but his position remains hopeless. His knight is passive, the king completely paralyzed and the white passed pawns remain a permanent source of worries. In scuh cases, mistakes are hard to avoid. 45...g5? Confirming Tarrasch' opinion that in bad positions, all the moves are bad. Black hoped to eliminate the h6-pawn and get some breathing space for his king... 46.Ra6! c3. 46...Nc8 loses the knight to 47.Bxc8!; while 46...Rb8 47.Rxb6 Rxb6 48.Ra8+ leads to mate. 47.Rxb6 c2 48.Rc6 1-0. [Click to replay]


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