Round seven commentary
Round 7: Thursday, May 18, 2006
| Veselin Topalov
| Gata Kamsky
| Peter Svidler
All games so far in
Commentary by GM Mihail Marin
Playing with Black against Anand, Topalov used his pet variation of the Najdorf
to take revenge for the defeat of their previous encounter. Ponomariov played
a good positional game against Svidler and, in spite of the fact that at some
moment he might have commited a slight inacuracy, obtained a generally deserved
victory. Kamsky employed an original variation of the Slav against Bacrot and
obtained a better position with surprising ease. With his closer followers Anand
and Svidler in trouble already, everything seemed to go his way in the tournament,
but the careless advance of the h-pawn allowed his opponent survive an inferior
The following notes are the short version of the full training analysis
that is scheduled to appear in the next issue of ChessBase
Magazine. You can replay the shorter versions here.
Anand,V (2803) - Topalov,V (2804) [B80]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 b5 8.Qd2 b4
9.Na4. The alternative is 9.Nce2 as played by Svidler against Topalov,
earlier in this tournament. 9...Nbd7
A new move, deviating from the course of the controversial game
Leko-Topalov played in the very first round of the World Championship from San
Luis, which continued 10.0-0-0 d5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Bc4 N7f6?! (
has been tested with success: 13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Qe2 Ne5 15.Bb3
h6 16.Bd2 Be7 17.Rhe1 Nc6 18.Nf5 Na5 19.Nxg7+ Kf8 20.Nxe6+ fxe6 21.Qxe6 Nxb3+
and Black managed to repell the attack and win in Motylev-Bologan,
13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Bxd5 Nxd5 15.Rhe1 with considerable advantage
of development for White, Leko-Topalov, San Luis 2005. 10...bxc3
white knight on a4, Black could not keep the c5-square under firm control in case
he would refrain from this exchange. 11.Nxc3 Bb7 12.Be2
After the structural
modifications, castling queen side looks too dangerous for White. With the game
continuation Anand aims for a normal position with some advance in development
for White. 12...d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.0-0
Indeed, if we reduce
the problem to mathematical elements, we can state that White is two whole tempi
ahead in development. However, Black's better control of the centre compensates
for this aspect. 15...Qb8!
A strong, multi-purpose move. Black's immediate
threat is to develop the bishop with gain of tempo, either on b4 or on d6. In
such situations, White is best adviced to react in an energetical way; if his
advance in development will vanish, Black's activity in the centre would offer
him excellent play. However, in this concrete position, it is not easy to find
an effective active plan, which strongly suggests that Black has won the theoretical
As a consequence of this seemingly active move, the knight
will soon land on a more passive square. 16...Qe5 17.Ng3 Bb4! 18.Qxb4 Qxe3+
Almost everything has worked out perfectly for Black. He has developed and exchanged
the king's bishop and weakened the dark squares from the enemy camp. With one
exception: he cannot castle yet. However, this element might have been over-estimated
by Anand in his previous calculations, since Black's strategic superiority will
allow him solve the problem in a relatively easy way. 19...Rb8!
sequence of moves reveals a hidden detail: it is not the black king that is held
captive by the white queen. On the contrary, Her Majesty is practically confined
to a very limited area, including the a3-f8 diagonal, in order to avoid a clear
strategic inferiority. In case of the more simplistic 19...Qc5 20.Qxc5 Nxc5 White
can activate his queen side with 21.b4. 20.Qd6 Rb6 21.Qc7 Rc6 22.Qb7
order to prevent the enemy king from castling, the queen has been forced to occupy
a miserable position. 22...Rc2!?
The less ambitious 22...Qb6 23.Qxb6 Rxb6
24.b3 Ke7 would have also led to comfortable play for Black, but removing the
queen from the perfect e3-square looks like a bigger concession than the loss
of the relatively unimportant a6-pawn. 3.Qxa6 0-0 24.b3 Ne5 25.Rae1 Qd2 26.Rd1
White has managed to survive to the first wave of black initiative, but
his knight remains passive, while the queen is isolated from her own army. 27.Bb5
As mentioned in the notes to the game Svidler-Topalov, the FIDE World
Champion enjoys advancing his h-pawn in the Sicilian, especially when there is
a knight on g3. 28.Ne2.
Black's last move was not really a sacrifice,
since 28.Nxh5? Qh4 29.Ng3 Ng4! would lead to mate (capturing on f3 would be also
winning). 28...Qe3 29.a4
Played more with the aim of consolidating the
bishop on b5 rather than with the hope of promoting this pawn. 29...Rb2 30.Qd6
We are used to Topalov's habit of sacrificing exchanges. In
this game we shall see that he can handle the fight of rooks versus minor pieces
equally well. In fact, we could see a similar situation in the game between the
same opponents from the first round of the M-tel 2005 tournament, where Topalov's
queen helped by couple of pawns held her own against a rook and two minor pieces.
32.gxf3 Bxf3+ 33.Rxf3 Qxf3+ 34.Kg1 Qe3+ 35.Kf1 Qf3+ 36.Kg1 Qxb3
point of view, Black is not worse, but positionally speaking he has a clear advantage.
The white king is weak while in case of the exchange of queens the king side mass
of black pawns could become very dangerous. 37.Qe5 Rd8 38.Qc3 Qxc3 39.Nxc3
h4 40.Re4 Rb3 41.Ne2 g5 42.Re5 Rd5
In such endings, the exchange of one pair
of rooks is very important. Left without their stronger colleague, the minor pieces
will face problems maintaining their coordination. This is the reason why Topalov
agrees with the slight deterioration of his pawn structure for the sake of provoking
this exchange. 43.Rxd5 exd5 44.Bc6 Ra3 45.Nd4 Kg7
Black starts centralizing
his king, which will have decisive efefcts. 46.Bxd5?!
Anand might have
misjudged the consequences of this move, but his position was not easy to defend
anyway. 46...Rd3 47.Nf5+ Kf6 48.Be4 Rd1+ 49.Kg2 Rd2+ 50.Kf3.
to abandon the h2-pawn. In case of 50.Kg1 Ke5 he would lose a piece. 50...Rxh2
The a-pawn is safely controlled now, while theblack pawns are ready to advance.
The rest is a matter of technique. 52.Bc6 Ra3 53.Kf2 Ra1 54.Bd7 Ke5 55.Kf3
Ra3 56.Kf2 Ke4 57.Bc6+ Kf4 58.Ng2+ Ke5 59.Ne3 Ra2+ 60.Kf3 f5 61.Bd7 h3 0-1.
Ponomariov,R (2738) - Svidler,P (2743) [B42]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 Qc7 7.Qe2 d6 8.c4
g6 After the success obtained with the Grünfeld Defence, Svidler's desire
to develop his bishop in fianchetto again is entirely understandable. 9.Nc3
Bg7 10.Nf3 The standard attack based on f4-f5 would be less effective now,
against Black's well defended king side. Therefore, White concentrates his efforts
against the d6-pawn, which has been slightly weakened after ...Bg7. 10...0-0
11.Bf4 Nc6 12.Rac1 Nd7 13.Qe3 Nce5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Be2 b6 16.Rfd1 Re8 17.Qd2.
17...Nxc4 18.Bxc4 Qxc4 19.Qxd6
From structural point of view, the exchange
of these pawns is supposed to favour Black. However, Black's dark squares have
been weakened even more now, especially after the dissapearance of the black knight.
Besides, the light-squared bishop will be severly restricted by the white central
chain of pawns. These latter aspects allow White count on a minimal, but stable
advantage. 19...Bb7 20.Be5!
Exchanging the last remaining defender of the
dark squares. 20...Bxe5 21.Qxe5 Rad8 22.f3 b5 23.Kf2!!
The initiation of
a very original plan. The transfer of the king to e3 is motivated by two aspects.
Firts of all, in case of an attacking action of the other pieces, His Majesty
could easily remain exposed on the back rank, as a consequence of the relative
weakness of the g1-a7 diagonal. Secondly, the presence of this "extra-piece"
in the centre will allow White consolidate his domination. Such a plan is possible
only because Black's bishop is so desperately passive. Although all this looks
quite logical, the artistic impression (or, if you wish, extravagancy) is similar
to that caused by a football goal-keeper advancing to attacking positions. 23...Qc6
24.Ne2 Qb6+ 25.Rd4 Rd7 26.b4
Taking just another dark square under control.
White maintains the tension in the centre without the necessity of abandoning
the control of the c-file. 27...Rxd4 28.Nxd4 Rd6 29.Qf6 Rd7 30.Rc5 Qd6 31.g3
a5 32.a3 axb4 33.axb4 Qa6 34.Ne2 Qd6 35.Qc3 h5 36.Qd4 Qe7
Of course, with
such a centralized white king, Black would have no interest in entering into the
endgame. 37.Qe5 f6 38.Qb8+ Kg7 39.Nc3.
Possibly not best. 39.e5 would
have allowed White make further progress with his strategy on dark squares. 39...e5.
Black has managed to cover the king side dark squares in acceptable way. However,
the d5-square has been weakened now, which determines White switch to another
plan. 40.Nd5 Bxd5 41.exd5
Like recommended by Nimzowitsch, the strong outpost
has been converted into a strong passed pawn. However, the king starts feeling
a bit insecure now. 41...f5.
This activity in the centre will only result
into material losses. 41...Ra7 might have offered better chances for counterplay.
42.Qxb5 f4+ 43.Kf2 e4 44.fxe4 fxg3+ 45.hxg3 Qf6+ 46.Kg2 Qb2+ 47.Kh3 Rf7 48.Qd3.
Black's attack has failed completely. He now has to allow the exchange of
queens, thus reaching a hopeless rook ending. Otherwise the white queen would
occupy the a1-h8 diagonal, when, all of a sudden, the black king would find himself
under strong attack. 48...Qxb4 49.Qc3+ Qxc3 50.Rxc3 Re7 51.Rc4 Kf6 52.Kh4 Ke5
En elegant way to finish the game. The e4-pawn is taboo in view of
the check on e6. Otherwise, White plans to play Kg5 and give the check on e6 anyway.
Bacrot,E (2708) - Kamsky,G (2671) [D15]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Qb6!? A relatively rare move, which
will eventually transpose to an improved versionof Black's position compared
to Kamsky's game against Topalov. 5.c5 Qc7 6.g3 Bg4 7.Ne5 Be6 8.Bf4 Qc8 9.Bg2
g6 10.0-0 Bg7 11.b4 0-0 12.Re1 Nh5 13.e3 Nd7 14.Bf3 Nxf4 15.exf4 Nxe5 16.fxe5
f6 17.exf6 Bxf6.
White's opening strategy has been a complete fiasco. The d4-pawn is chronically
weak, while the white bishop is restricted by the enemy pawns. On the contrary,
the black pair of bishops is quite active. 18.Bh1 g5 19.Qd2 Qd7 20.Re3 Bf5
21.Rae1 e6 22.Bg2 Qg7 23.Ne2 Kh8 24.Rd1 Rae8 25.Nc1 Re7 26.Nb3 h5 27.Qe2 h4 28.g4
Bg6 29.b5 e5 30.bxc6 bxc6 31.Re1 e4 32.Qd2 Be8 33.f3 exf3 34.Bxf3 Bd7 35.Bd1 Rxe3
36.Rxe3 Bd8 37.Rf3 Rxf3 38.Bxf3 Qg6 39.Bd1 h3?!
Black unnecessarily weakens
this pawn. Kamsky might have intended to attack the g4 pawn, but White will be
faster. 40.Qe3 Kg7 41.Qxh3 Qb1 42.Qf1
If Black would manage to transfer his bishops to e4 and f4, his
position would be close to winning. Unfortunately for him, this plan is rather
time consuming. 43.Qe2 Bg6 44.Kf2 Kf7
Covering the e7-square in order to
prepare ...Bc7-f4. 45.Nd2!
[White equalizes completely now. The knight
is heading for e5. 45.Qf3+ Ke8 46.Qe2+ Kd7 would have only improved the black
king's position.] 45...Qxa2 46.Nf3 Qxe2+ 47.Kxe2 Bf6 48.Ba4 Be4 49.Bxc6 Ke6
50.Nd2 Bxd4 51.Nxe4 dxe4 52.Bxe4 Bxc5 1/2-1/2.
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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