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MTel R6 analysis by GM Mihail Marin

5/18/2006 – This was quite an eventful round. Gata Kamsky overcame Ruslan Ponomariov's stubborn defence; Peter Svidler won a model Gruenfeld against favourite Topalov; and Anand decided to allow the Marshall Attack against Bacrot, and drew. Short analytical comments by Mihail Marin.
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Round six commentary

Round 6: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Veselin Topalov 
 Peter Svidler
Gata Kamsky  
 Ruslan Ponomariov
Vishy Anand 
 Etienne Bacrot

All games so far in PGN


Commentary by GM Mihail Marin

Quite an eventful round. Kamsky maintained his positional pressure against Ponomariov for a long time. At some point, the latter decided to relieve his position with a pawn sacrifice, missing a similar move by his opponent, which had decisive effects. Svidler won with black a model game in the Gruenfeld against local favourite Topalov. Anand decided to allow the Marshall Attack against Bacrot, and the game soon reached an interesting position. By weakening the e4-square to soon, White allowed his opponent equalize comfortably; over-ambitious play even led to some slight problems for White, who nonetheless managed to overcome them rather easily.

The following notes are much shorter than in previous reports on the Sofia tournament. Full annotations will appear in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine. You can replay the shorter versions here.

Kamsky,G (2671) - Ponomariov,R (2738) [C88]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (6), 17.05.2006 [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.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Qd7. Kamsky does not mind playing this variation with both colours. This is the third time in this tournament that he reaches this very position. The first time it happened against the same opponent, but with reversed colours. 11.Nbd2. But now he deviates from Ponomariov's 11.Nc3. 11...Rfe8. Ponomariov shows that he has his own ideas, too. 11...Nd8 was succesfully tried in Anand-Kamsky, Sofia 2006. 12.Nf1 Nd8 13.Ng3 Ne6 14.c3 c5 15.d4.

If we compare with the game Anand-Kamsky, Black cannot hold his e5-pawn here, because White is much better developed and the threat of winning a pawn is quite real. 15...exd4 16.cxd4 d5 17.e5 Ne4 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.Be3 Rac8 20.dxc5 N6xc5 21.N5d4 The almost absolute stability on the d4-square offers White the more pleasant position. 21...Nxb3 22.Qxb3 Nc5 23.Qd1 a5 24.Qb1 Ne4 25.Rd1 b4 26.axb4 Bxb4 27.Nc2 Qe7 28.Nxb4 Qxb4 29.Qa2 Ra8 30.Rd4 Qb5 31.Ra4 Bc6 32.Rxa5 Rxa5 33.Qxa5 Qxb2 34.Rc1 Ba8 35.Rc7.

In spite of simplifications, White maintains unpleasant pressure. With his next move, Ponomariov tries to solve his problems by unblocking the d4-square and activating the a8-bishop (something Nimzovich would certainly recommend from general point of view) but misses Kamsky's spectacular reply. 35...d4? 36.e6!! This successive pawn moves are very much related to each other regarding their basic ideas but differ enormously from the point of view of their objective merits. White cleares the fifth rank for his queen and the long dark diagonal for his bishop, forcing Black to weaken his seventh rank at the same time. Can we ask for more from a modest pawn? 36...Qb1+ Removing the queen from the exposed b2-square. The immediate 36...fxe6 would have been met by 37.Rxg7+!. 37.Kh2 fxe6 38.Qh5 The Black king is helpless against the combined action of the white pieces. 38...Nd6 39.Bxd4 The bishop captures this pawn 3 moves later than Ponomariov might have expected and with devastating effect we must say. 39...Bxf3 40.Rxg7+ Kf8 41.Qh6. After 41.Qh6 Re7 (What else?) 42.Qf6+ Black has a choice betwen two echo-variations: 42...Rf7 (In case of 42...Nf7 43.Rg8+ Kxg8 the mate is delivered on a different square: 44.Qg7#) 43.Rg8+ Kxg8 and now 44.Qh8#. 1-0.

Anand,V (2803) - Bacrot,E (2708) [C89]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (6), 17.05.2006 [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 Finally! It has been quite some time since I have seen White allowing the Marshall Attack in super-tournaments. 8...d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Re4 g5.

16.Qe1. This is a rare move. More customary is 16.Qf1. 16...Bf5 17.Nd2 h6 Bacrot slowly consolidates his position, relying on his advnace of development. Also possible is 17...Nf6 aiming to dislocate the rook from e4, for instance 18.f3 c5 19.Qe3 h6 20.Qf2 cxd4 21.cxd4 Rad8 22.Re2 Bd3 23.Re3 Qf5 Shchekachev-Gustafsson, Austria 2005; The immediate capture on e4 with 17...Bxe4?! 18.Nxe4 would only help White continue his development. 18...Rae8? is impossible now because of 19.Bxd5 cxd5 20.Nf6+ winning a whole rook. 18.f3 Kg7 This is a novelty, continuing the policy induced by the previous move. Here, too 18...Nf6 is possible: 19.Re2 Bd3 20.Re3 Rae8 21.Nf1 c5 Zhigalko-Livshits, Instanbul 2005. 19.a4 Bxe4 20.fxe4 Rae8 21.axb5 axb5 Strategically, White has more than sufficient compensation for the exchange, in view of his strong centre, the active light-squares bishop anmd the weakness of the f5-square. His only problem remains the incomplete development. 22.Nf1?! White should not have weakened the e4-square. More consistent seems to be 22.Qf2. 22...Qg4 23.Bc2 Re7 24.Bd2 Rfe8.

Black threatens now to equalize by sacrificing the exchange back with ...Rxe4. Anand's ambitious continuation is not without risks. 25.e5 f6 26.h3!? Qxh3 27.Qe4 Kh8! A rather unaesthetical, but strong defensive move. 28.Ra6 fxe5 29.Rxc6 Rf8 30.Bd3 Ref7 31.Qg2 Qxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Rf6 33.dxe5 Bxe5 34.Rc5 Rd6 35.Be4 Rfd8 36.Rxb5 Bg7.

If White could transfer his dark-squared bishop on a favbourable square, such as f2, his chances would be better, but this is not easy to accomplish. 37.Bc1. For instance, 37.Be1 would be met by 37...Re6 pinning the bishops and forcing favourable simplifications. 37...Nf6 38.Bf3 g4 39.Be2 Re8 40.Bc4 Rd1 41.Bf4 Ne4 In view of the dangerous situation of his king, White has to be careful now. 42.Be2 Nxc3 43.Bxd1 Nxb5 44.Bxg4 Re1 45.Ne3 Nd4 46.Nc4 Rb1 This pawn will not be too easy to capture; Anand's bishops control a lot of important squares. 47.Bd2 Nb3 48.Be3 Nd4 49.Bd2 Nb3 50.Be3 Nd4 1/2-1/2.

Topalov,V (2804) - Svidler,P (2743) [D87]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (6), 17.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 In spite of the small disaster from Morelia and Linares, Svidler remains faithfull to his beloved Gruenfeld. His persistence will be fully rewarded. 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 Qc7. Black chooses one of the oldest systems of development, employed by such players like Botwinnik and Fischer. Of course, the forced variations arising after 10...Bg4 11.f3 Na5 would entirely suit Topalov's style of play (and home preparation).; In Linares, Svidler tried 10...Na5 against the same opponent, but failed to solve the opening problems. 11.Rc1 Rd8.

12.Bf4. This move started becoming very popular in the late eighties. Previously, 12.Qd2 was considered to be the main move. The greatest specialist of the past with this system, Boris Spassky, always played f4 in this variation, immediately or after such preparatory moves as 12.h3 or 12.Qe1. Quite successfully, I must say, since he twice inflicted two painfull defeats to his successor to the champion's throne: Robert Fischer. 12...Qd7 13.d5 Na5 14.Bd3 The black knight certainly looks awkward on a5, but Black plans to make the d6-square available for it, by either ...e5 or ...e6 and ...exd5. 14...b5 15.Rb1 a6 16.c4 A novelty by Topalov and, possibly, not a very adequate one! The knight is allowed to get into play without having to spend additional time. The main continuation is 16.Qc1 , removing the queen from the d-file and taking two important dark diagonals under observation (in view of the possible threats Bh6 and Qa3). 16...e6 17.Bg5 Re8 18.Qd2 18.cxb5 exd5 would allow Black obtain strong counterplay in the centre. 18...Nxc4 19.Bxc4 bxc4 20.d6 If White will manage to consolidate this pawn, his chances would be obviously better, but this will not happen. 20...Bb7 21.Qe3 f6 22.Bh4 g5 23.Bg3 f5.

This is the kind of positions where we can see why one likes to play the Gruenfeld. The position is very hard to control by White. 24.Qxg5 Bxe4 25.Rb6 Qd8! By exchanging the queens, Black avoids any dangers regarding the slightly exposed position of his king. 25...Bd3 would be less clear after, say, 26.Re1 e5 27.Nc3 followed by Nd5. 26.Qxd8 Raxd8 27.Rd1 Rd7 It becomes clear now that Black has a big advantage. His powerfull pair of bishops control the numerous weak square available in White's camp, while the c-pawns are not easy to block. 28.f3 Bc2 29.Re1 Bd3 30.Rxa6 c3 31.Ra3 Bxe2 32.Rxe2 Rb8 33.Rb3 Rxb3 34.axb3 Kf7 35.Kf1 Rb7 36.Ra2 Bf6 37.Ke2 c4! Ths simplest. Black wins material now. 38.b4 Rxb4 39.Ra7+ Kg6 40.Rc7 c2 41.Kd2 f4 42.Be1 Rb1 43.Rxc4 Rd1+ 44.Kxc2 Rxe1 45.Rxf4 Re2+ 46.Kd3 Re5 47.Rg4+ Kf7 48.Ra4 Rd5+ 49.Ke3 Rxd6 50.Ra7+ Kg6

This ending is not easy to win yet. With his next move, Topalov simplifies his opponent's technical task. 51.Kf4? He should have removed the rook from the exposed a7-square. 51...Rd4+ 52.Kg3 After 52.Ke3 Rh4 (threatening ...Bd4+) 53.Ra6 Rxh2 54.Rxe6 Rxg2 the presence of rooks on board ensures a win, in spite of the fact that the promoting h1-square is not controlled by the bishop. 52...Bh4+ 53.Kh3 Bf2 With the brutal threat of mate in onw. 54.g3 Rh4+! After the exchange of rooks, Black wins easily. 55.Kxh4 Bxa7 56.Kh3 Kf5 57.Kg2 Be3 58.Kh3 Ke5 59.Kg4 Bg1 60.h4 Bf2 61.h5 h6 0-1.

Mihail Marin, 41, Romanian Grandmaster, three times national champion (1988, 1994, 1999), nine times member of the Olympic team, participant in two Interzonals (Szirak 1987 and Manila 1990). In 2005 Marin was the second of Judit Polgar at the FIDE world championship in San Luis. Highest rating: 2604. Author of the ChessBase opening CDs English 1.c4 e5 and The Catalan Opening and the books: Secrets of Chess Defense, Secrets of Attacking Chess and Learn from the Legends. Graduate from the Polytechnic Institute Bucharest (Specialty Electrotechnic) in 1989.

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