Shanghai Masters: Shirov wins, catches Aronian

9/5/2010 – There is nothing quite as bittersweet as a missed opportunity and that was the tale of round three. After a blunder by Shirov, Wang Hao came within a hair's breadth of winning, but then returned the favor and was never himself again. Kramnik played a rare line of the Slav against Aronian, wittingly or unwittingly following original analysis from the Rybka4 opening book. All this in an empty hall?

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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 are 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, which will be held a month later in the “Atrio de Alhóndiga Bilbao” in Bilbal, Spain.

Round three

Round 3: Sunday, 5th September 2010

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

There is nothing quite as bittersweet as a missed opportunity. The stars were lined up right, the wind was blowing in the correct direction, in sum, all the conditions were met until an undesirable screw-up demotes it to a heartbreaking lament.

This was true of both games today, but more so for Wang Hao’s game against Shirov. The Chinese player had emerged from a Sicilian Kan opening as Black a pawn down that he tried to compensate for with some activity around the king. Objectively he had nothing, and Shirov seemed well on his way to slowly but surely converting his material advantage. Then a terrible oversight, or fear of ghosts (see the analysis and judge for yourself), caused him to enter a line in which Wang Hao held all the cards. Black played perfectly and was soon completely won, until... you guessed it, lightning struck. A mistaken retreat by the bishop let Shirov off the hook and with good chances for survival. The Chinese player seemed unable to recover his equanimity after this huge missed opportunity, one in which he would come out the hero in his home country, and slowly compounded error after error until it was he who lost in the end.

Shirov,A (2749) - Wang Hao (2724) [B42]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (3), 05.09.2010

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 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Nf3 0-0 11.Rd1. Though Shirov is not new to the Kan variation, in previous games he chose Bf4. 11...Nc6 12.Bc2. A very rare continuation. Usual is h3 or Bf4. 12...Nd7 13.Be3 Nde5 14.Bb3 Bd7 15.Qd2. Obviously his pawn structure is about to be shattered, but a pawn is a pawn. 15...Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Qa5 17.Qxd6 Qh5 18.Qg3 Ne5 19.Kg2 Bc6 20.f4 Ng4 21.Bd4 f5?! An imprecision. Black had to finish his development with 21...Rae8. 22.f3 Bxd4








23.Rxd4?? A blunder by Shirov that completely changes the evluation. He is now in trouble. 23.fxg4 was the only move. 23...fxg4 Don't forget the queen is en prise. 24.Rxd4 e5 25.c5+ Kg7 26.Rd3 exf4 27.Qf2 admittedly unpleasant looking, but White's king is fairly well protected by his pieces, and the Black pawns actually provide him with cover: they aren't about to promote, and the Black pieces cannot jump over them. 23...Ne3+ 24.Kf2 fxe4! 25.Kxe3 e5! 26.Rxe4 Bxe4 27.f5








27...Bc6? Alas! If Black had simply taken with 27...Bxf5 28.c5+ Kg7 29.Qxe5+ Kh6 then 30.Qf4+ would no longer be possible because of 30...g5 and White is dead. But Wang Hao trips just before crossing the finishing line and lets Shirov off the hook. The Spaniard remains a bit worse, but is no longer lost. 28.c5+ Kg7 29.Qxe5+ Kh6 30.Qf4+ Qg5 31.Qxg5+ Kxg5 32.Ne4+ Kxf5 33.Rg1. Remarkably, White is threatening mate here. 33...h6 34.Bc2








34...Rae8? Visibly rattled by the missed chance that has clearly passed, Hao now makes a mistake that passes Shirov the reins. White is now a tad better. 34...Rg8 had to be played instead. 35.h4 Rae8 36.Kd4 Rd8+ 37.Ke3. 35.Kd4 Rd8+ 36.Nd6+ Ke6 37.Rxg6+ Rf6 38.Bb3+ Ke7 39.Rg7+ Kf8 40.Rh7








40...Rxf3?? A final blunder that seals his fate. 41.Be6! b6 42.b4 bxc5+ 43.bxc5 Be8 44.Bd5 Rf2 45.Rh8+ Ke7 46.Rxh6 Bf7 47.Be4? 47.Ke3 instead would win simply. 47...Bxd5 (47...Rf1 48.Bxf7 Rxd6 49.Rxd6 Rxf7 50.Rxa6) 48.Kxf2. 47...Rxa2 48.Rh7 Rxd6+ 49.cxd6+ Kxd6 50.Rxf7 Rxh2 51.Rf6+ Ke7 52.Ke5 a5 53.Ra6 Rd2 54.Rh6 Rf2 55.Re6+ Kd7 56.Ra6 Kc7 57.Rc6+ Kd7 58.Rb6 Rd2 59.Rb7+ Kc8 60.Rh7 Re2 61.Kd5 Kb8 62.Re7 a4 63.Kc6 Rf2 64.Re8+ Ka7 65.Kc5 1-0. [Click to replay]


Kramnik also has to feel somewhat frustrated after missing an excellent chance to beat Aronian and promote his ticket to the grand final in Bilbao. He played a main line Slav that he has faced more than once as Black, but not as White, and seemed to be going for yet another sideline, in which he could dodge his opponent’s preparation and outplay him.

The 15th move Be7 was a theoretical novelty according to the databases, but was actually known and published analysis. Where from, you might ask? From none other than the Rybka 4 Opening Book. You may recall reading that the special book contains a great deal of original analysis and many theoretical novelties, for which the Topalov team paid top dollar to have exclusive access to during the World Championship. Well, this line is there and analyzed as well. It takes White’s play away from the kingside, where he usually tries to develop, and instead focuses on the queenside where he hopes to cramp and strangle Black. Kramnik’s strategy was quite successful and he had Aronian in a real bind. Unfortunately, he fumbled at the crucial moment, and played a move that saw his advantage completely evaporate, after which a draw was quickly agreed upon.

Kramnik,V (2780) - Aronian,L (2783) [D19]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (3), 05.09.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Qe2 0-0 10.e4 Bg6 11.Bd3 Bh5 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 14.Qe3 Re8 15.Bd2. Kramnik has faced this line as Black twice before. Once against Topalov in 2006, and again in 2008, against Anand. 15...Be7








The databases will assert this is a theoretical novelty, and rightly so. However, this is still analyzed theory. From where, you might ask? From the special Rybka 4 opening book, where this was analyzed in detail. 16.Rfc1 a6 17.Ng5. Finally the players deviate from the analysis which had b4 as the recommended move. 17...h6 18.Nh3 Bg6 19.Nf4. An intriguing decision. Was there a compelling reason to not play 19.Bxg6 fxg6 20.Qb3 Qb6 21.Qd3 Nf8 22.a5 with a nice advantage for White. 19...Bg5 20.Be2 Kramnik sticks to his guns. He clearly feels that he is better off not exchanging Black's bad bishop for his good, even if at the gain of the pawn structure. 20...Bh7 21.g3 Nb8 22.h4 Be7 23.Nd3 Bf8 24.b4 Re7 25.Bf1 Nc6 26.Nc5 a5 27.b5 Nb8 28.Rc3 Rc7 29.Rac1 Nd7








30.Nb3?? A mistake that throws the advantage away. After 30.Qf4 removing the queen from the 3rd rank. The threat of Nxd7 or Nxe6 would force Black to exchange knights with 30...Nxc5 (30...Rac8 31.Nxb7; 30...b6 31.Nxe6!; 30...Rcc8 31.Nxb7) 31.dxc5 and Black may be strategically lost already. 30...Rxc3 31.Qxc3 Ba3 32.Ra1 Bb4 33.Qb2 Qf8 34.Nc1 Be7 35.Nb3 Bb4 36.Nc1 Be7 37.Nb3 Bb4 38.Nc1 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Please, please tell us that the playing hall at this Grand Slam final...


... was not empty, with zero spectators! That would be deeply alarming.


At least there appear to have been some in the hallways...

Photos by the Chinese Chess Federation

Bilbao system scores

Player
games
wins
draws 
losses
points
Levon Aronian
3
1
2
0
5
Alexei Shirov
3
1
2
0
5
Vladimir Kramnik
3
0
3
0
3
Wang Hao
3
0
1
2
1

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 
 Wang Hao
Alexei Shirov 
 Vladimir Kramnik

Round 5: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Levon Aronian 
 Vladimir Kramnik
Wang Hao 
 Alexei Shirov

Round 6: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Alexei Shirov 
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
 Wang Hao

Links

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