Shanghai Masters: Kramnik joins Shirov for Grand Slam final

9/9/2010 – The last round had promised to be a tense affair with both Kramnik and Aronian tied for second/third, and only one spot in the final up for grabs. On paper, Kramnik's chances seemed preferable, but neither he nor Aronian were able to break the deadlock. This left it to a two-game blitz playoff, which also went the distance, and only after the Armageddon, did Kramnik prevail. Final report.

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Shanghai Masters 2010

The Shanghai Masters is taking place from September 3rd to 8th, 2010, to coincide with the WorldExpo in Shanghai, China. The participants in Shanghai are Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov, Wang Hao. The two winners will join Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen for the second (final) half, to be held a month later in the “Atrio de Alhóndiga Bilbao” in Bilbao, Spain.

Round six

The last round promised to be a tense affair after Kramnik’s game-changing win over Aronian, which left them both tied for second/third, and the final spot in the grand final up for grabs. On paper, the draw of the final round favored Kramnik as he had white against Wang Hao, possibly still not recovered from his shock loss from the previous day. Aronian had black against Shirov, and while one might argue about the latter’s fortunate turnarounds against Wang Hao, his competitive resilience could not be questioned.

Round 6: Wednesday, 8th September 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Wang Hao
Alexei Shirov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian

Though a full twelve moves longer, the game between Shirov and Aronian was over first. The reason is simply in the opening, a Spanish Marshall, were the players rattled off 25 moves before the novelty came to the fore. Though the ultra-analyzed variation is the subject of constant evolution, this particular line had a history between them. In 2009, the players had played it precisely in the Grand Slam final, when the Armenian benefited from a late blunder by the Spaniard and took the point. In this game Shirov chose a slightly different route, with a novelty prepared, but the forced line led to a dry ending with no winning chances for either side.


Shirov and Aronian at the onset of the last round.

Shirov,A (2749) - Aronian,L (2783) [C89]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (6), 08.09.2010

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 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Rae8 17.Nd2 Qh5 18.Bc2 Although there are certainly more recent references, it is worth noting that the players are following their own game from last year's Grand Slam Final, when Shirov had chosen 18.a4 and lost after a blunder at the end. Despite the opening not being the culprit, nor had it been inspiring, so White chooses a different line. 18...f5 19.f3 Bh3 20.Bf2 Nf4 21.gxf4 Bxf4 22.Bg3 Qg5 23.Bb3+ Kh8 24.Nf1 h5 25.Qc2N. 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 26.Bf7 Re7 27.Bxh5 Bxf1 28.Qxf1 Be3+ 29.Kh1 Qxh5 was the previously known line though only draws ensued. 25...h4 26.Qf2 Bxf1 27.Qxf1 hxg3 28.Qh3+ Qh6 29.Qxh6+ gxh6 30.hxg3 Bxg3 31.Re6 Rxe6 32.Bxe6 Re8 33.Bxf5 Re2








There really isn't much to say. The line has been pretty straightforward with few alternatives. Black's rook on the 2nd, combined with the potential threat of the h-pawn should White decide to stray with his bishop, ensure an easy draw. 34.a4. 34.Rb1 h5 35.Bd7 h4 36.Bxc6 h3= 34...Rxb2 35.axb5 axb5 36.Ra6 h5 37.Rxc6 h4 38.Rb6 Kg7 39.Bd7 Be1 40.Rxb5 Rxb5 41.Bxb5 Bxc3 42.d5 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Vladimir Kramnik and Wang Hao

Kramnik played the 5.Bf4 line against Wang Hao’s QGD, but was unable to achieve anything and the game eventually sputtered to a draw after 30 moves.


The playoff

With neither player able to break the deadlock in the last round, their lot was to be decided by a two-game blitz playoff, played at four minutes plus three-second increment, and if still undecided, then a final Armageddon blitz would. With so much at stake, the blitz games were exciting affairs with both players putting it on the line as they set about trying to maximize their chances.

Kramnik,V (2780) - Aronian,L (2783) [D10]
Shanghai Masters Playoff Shanghai CHN (1), 08.09.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Bf4 Nc6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Qb3. Kramnik chooses a sideline to keep his opponent guessing. 7...Na5 8.Qa4+ Bd7 9.Qc2 e6 10.Bd3 Rc8 11.Nf3 Bb4 12.0-0 Nc4 13.Bxc4. Threatening 13...Nxb2 14.Qxb2 Bxc3 13...Rxc4 14.Ne5 Rc8 15.Qb3 Qa5 16.Nxd7 Nxd7 17.a3! Bxc3








18.Qxb7! 0-0 19.bxc3 Nb6 20.Bc7 Qb5 21.Qxa7 Nc4 22.Bg3 Ra8 23.Qe7 Rfc8 24.h3 Qa5 25.Qb4 Nxa3 26.Bd6 Qxb4 27.cxb4 Nc4 28.Bc5 Na3 29.Ra2 Nb5 30.Ra5 Rab8 31.Rfa1 h6 32.Ra6 Kh7 33.R1a5 Nc3 34.Ra7 Kg6 35.Rd7 Nb5 36.f3 Rc6 37.Kh2 f6 38.e4 dxe4 39.fxe4 Kh7 40.d5 exd5 41.exd5 Rcc8 42.d6 Rc6








43.Rxb5! Rxb5 44.Rc7! Rbb6 45.Rxc6. After 45.Rxc6 Rxc6 46.d7 it is over. 1-0. [Click to replay]


Aronian,L (2783) - Kramnik,V (2780) [A07]
Shanghai Masters Playoff Shanghai CHN (2), 08.09.2010

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bg4 4.0-0 Nd7 5.d3 e5 6.Qe1 Ngf6 7.e4 dxe4 8.dxe4 Bc5 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.h3 Bh5 11.Nc4 Re8 12.Nh4 b5 13.Na5 Qc7 14.a4 Bb6 15.Nb3 a6 16.Bg5 c5 17.a5 Ba7 18.c4 Rab8 19.Nd2 h6 20.Be3 Nf8 21.f4 exf4 22.Bxf4 Qd8 23.Nf5 Ne6 24.e5? 24.Bxb8! 24...Nd4? 24...Nxf4 25.gxf4 25.Nd6 Re6 26.Qf2 Ne8 27.g4 Nxd6 28.exd6 Re2 29.gxh5 Rxf2 30.Rxf2 Qh4 31.Re1 Ne6 32.Bh2 bxc4 33.Re4 Qxh5 34.Nxc4 Qd1+ 35.Rf1 Qc2 36.d7 Rd8 37.Ne5 Bb8?








38.Nxf7! Bxh2+ 39.Kxh2 Rxd7 40.Rxe6! Rd2. If 40...Rxf7? then 41.Re8+ Rf8 42.Rfxf8+ Kh7 wins. 41.Re8+ Kh7 42.Rg1 Qf5 43.Rf8 Qf4+ 44.Kh1 Rxg2 45.Rxg2 Qf1+ 46.Kh2 Qf4+ 47.Kg1 Qc1+ 48.Kf2 Qd2+ 49.Kf3 Qd3+ 50.Kf2 Qd2+ 51.Kg3 Qe3+ 52.Kh2 Qf4+ 53.Kg1 Qc1+ 54.Kf2 Qd2+ 55.Kf3 Qd3+ 56.Kg4 Qe4+ 57.Kg3 Qe3+ 58.Kh4! A blunder. You might ask why there is an "!" instead of the usual "?" denoting a mistake. The reason is that if he were to play the 'correct' Kh2, it would lead to a three-fold repetition which would lose the playoff on the spot. Aronian needs to prolong it by any means possible. 58...Qf4+ 59.Rg4 Qf2+ Black lost on time. 1-0. [Click to replay]


Finally, with neither player able to win it, it all came down to the Armageddon game, where Black receives only four minutes to White’s five, but benefits from a draw. Kramnik chose black and though one might expect him to just try to hold the fort, he played a strong positional piece sacrifice that left Aronian tied up with little play.

Aronian,L (2783) - Kramnik,V (2780) [A07]
Shanghai Masters Playoff Shanghai CHN (3), 08.09.2010

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.0-0 Bg4 5.d3 Nbd7 6.Qe1 e5 7.e4 dxe4 8.dxe4 Bc5 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.h3 Bh5 11.a4 a5 12.Nc4 Qc7 13.Bd2 b6 14.Nh4 Ne8 15.Kh2 f6 16.b3 Nd6 17.Nb2 Rfe8 18.Nd3 Nf7 19.Nxc5 Nxc5 20.Kh1 Rad8 21.Bc3 Ne6 22.Nf5 c5 23.Ne3 Nd4 24.f3 Qc8 25.h4 Nd6 26.Rd1 Bf7 27.Qf2 Qc6 28.Rd2 Qa8 29.Rfd1 b5 30.axb5 N6xb5 31.Bb2 a4 32.bxa4 Qxa4 33.f4 Nd6 34.fxe5 fxe5 35.c3








35...Bg6! For the piece, Black will get two giant passed pawns in the center, which will pretty much quash any winning hopes White might have. 36.cxd4 Nxe4 37.Bxe4 Bxe4+ 38.Ng2 exd4








39.Re1 Rf8 40.Qg1 Ba8 41.Kh2 Qc6 42.Rde2 Rb8 43.Bc1 Qf3 44.Bf4 Rbd8 45.Rf2 Qc6 46.Re7 Rd7 47.Qe1 Rxe7 48.Qxe7 Rf7 49.Qd8+ Rf8 50.Qe7 Rf7 51.Qe2 h6 52.Qa2 c4 53.Be5 d3 54.Rxf7 Kxf7 55.Bc3 Qd5 56.Qf2+ Kg8 57.Kg1 Qe4 58.Kf1 Bd5 59.Ne1 Qh1+ 60.Qg1 Qe4 61.Qh2 Qf5+ 62.Kg1 Qe4 63.h5 Qg4 64.Qh4 Qxh4 65.gxh4 Bf7 66.Kf2 Bxh5 67.Ke3 g5 68.hxg5 hxg5 69.Kd4 Be2 70.Bd2 g4 71.Ke3 Kf7 72.Kf4 Ke6 73.Bc3 Kd5 74.Ng2 Kc5 75.Ne3 Kb5 76.Ke5 Ka4 77.Kd4 Kb3 78.Be1 g3 79.Ng2 Kc2 80.Ne3+ Kb3 81.Nxc4 g2 82.Bf2 Kc2 83.Ke3 Kb3 84.Nd2+ Kc3 85.Ne4+ Kc4 86.Nd2+ Kd5 0-1. [Click to replay]

With this final victory, Kramnik rejoins Shirov, as both will set forth to play Anand and Carlsen in the grand final to take place in Bilbao, Spain, from October 9th to 15th.


Shirov and Kramnik at the closing ceremony

Photos by Hu Xi (Chinese Chess Federation) and the official site.

Bilbao system scores

Player
games
wins
draws 
losses
points
Alexei Shirov
6
3
3
0
12
Vladimir Kramnik
6
1
4
1
7
Levon Aronian
6
1
4
1
7
Wang Hao
6
0
3
3
3

Traditional:


Schedule and results

Round 1: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Wang Hao 
0-1
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Alexei Shirov

Round 2: Saturday, 4th September 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Alexei Shirov
Wang Hao 
½-½
 Vladimir Kramnik

Round 3: Sunday, 5th September 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Alexei Shirov 
1-0
 Wang Hao

Round 4: Monday, 6th September 2010

Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Wang Hao
Alexei Shirov 
1-0
 Vladimir Kramnik

Round 5: Tuesday, 7th September 2010

Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Vladimir Kramnik
Wang Hao 
0-1
 Alexei Shirov

Round 6: Wednesday, 8th September 2010

Alexei Shirov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Wang Hao

Blitz playoff

 Vladimir Kramnik 
1-0
 Levon Aronian
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Vladimir Kramnik
Armageddon blitz
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Vladimir Kramnik

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