Sofia World Championship: Giri on game nine

5/7/2010 – Many of our readers were feeling frustrated. After annotating a number of games at the beginning of this match GM Anish Giri suddenly disappeared. Had we "fired" him? Replaced him with older, more experienced commentators (Anish is fifteen)? No, he was playing in the French League and on a brief holiday with his family. Now Anish is back and has sent us some truly remarkable commentary.

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Commentary on game nine by GM Anish Giri

The ninth game was one of the tensest of the championship so far, where we could see that both players get very tired and nervous. Anand desided to stop the Catalan debate and used his other weapon – the Nimzo with 4.e3. The champion was also better prepared and quickly got some edge in a complicated position with two rooks for queen. Later Topalov had some ways to equalize, but the position was too complicated. Anand also did not play perfectly. Nevertheless after the second time control he got winning position (for the second time in the game), but he erred on move 53 and the game was drawn. Another disappointment for the World Champion.

There is a replay link here and at the end of the game, which takes you to a JavaScript board. There you can click on the notation to follow the analysis which was provided by Anish on the graphic chessboard. You can also download the game in PGN and study it in peace, e.g. with Fritz 12 or ChessBase. There is a tremendous amount to learn from our young GM's notes – ignore them at your own peril.

Anand,Viswanathan (2787) - Topalov,Veselin (2805) [E54]
World Chess Championship Sofia / Bulgaria, 06.05.2010 [Giri, Anish]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3. Anand refuses the Catalan, which brought him two wins, and opts for another complicated opening – the Nimzo. 3...Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0


A very famous position, which was played in other World Championships as well. Here some very big theory starts, with thousands of games played. 7...cxd4. One of the main moves. 7...Nc6 8.a3 Bxc3 9.bxc3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Qc7 and; 7...dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nbd7 are other big main lines. 8.exd4 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b6. Developing the bishop first, which is much more flexible in this case. 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Re1 Nbd7 12.Rc1 Rc8


So far everything was simple, both players were developing, but now Anand has a choice – which he already made at home. 13.Bd3. Not forcing anything yet. 13.Qb3 is what Kramnik managed to beat Kasparov with, in London back then in 2000. However, later Black found a way to deal with it. 13...Be7 (13...Bxc3! is safer) 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 (14...Bxf6!?) 15.Bxe6! Is how Kramnik-Kasparov from the other World Championship Match went. 13...Re8 14.Qe2 Bxc3. Black has already made all useful moves, so now it is time for this exchange. White get's the bishop pair, but Black is solid and has an easy development. 15.bxc3 Qc7


16.Bh4. Trying to attack the queen that has just appeared on c7. 16.c4 is too early: 16...h6! and if 17.Bh4 then 17...Nh5! 16...Nh5! Typical way to meet all Bh4's. 17.Ng5. 17.Bxh7+ doesn't work: 17...Kxh7 18.Ng5+ Kg6! 19.g4! Qf4! 20.gxh5+ Kh6 and Black will take over. 17...g6


18.Nh3!?N. A new move. It seems a little bit ugly, but White protects the f4 square, which is more important. Another possible and more logical way of solving the problem is 18.Qd2 but then Black is still able to go to f4, though this time with his queen. 18...Qf4!?; 18.Nxh7?? Nf4! 18...e5. This breakthrough seems very good, but in fact now this pawn is kind of pinned and the pin is actually pretty anoying for Black. 18...Qd6!? first, made sense, avoiding f3. 19.f3? Rxc3! 19.f3! Protecting e4 and bringing the bishop to f2. 19...Qd6. 19...exd4 20.Qxe8+ Rxe8 21.Rxe8+ Kg7 22.Bf2!; 19...Bd5!? 20.Qd2 (20.g4 Nhf6 21.Bg3 h5 22.Nf2) 20...Bc4 21.Bb1 Qd6. 20.Bf2


20...exd4?! Topalov just ignores the pin and sacrifices his rooks for White's queen. I think it was not needed. 20...Nhf6! Seems much safer and better to me. Now exd4 and also e4 are threats. I think Black more or less equalizes: 21.Qb2 exd4!? seems fine for Black. White knight looks odd on h3, and in case of cxd4 the black knight will enjoy the d5 square. (21...e4!?). 21.Qxe8+ Rxe8 22.Rxe8+ Nf8


23.cxd4. White also had an option of taking with bishop, which was strong, but Anand decides to go for a safe option. 23.Bxd4! Black may try to transfer one of two knights to e6, but in both cases White will meet it with Re3 and the bishop will be free to go to e5. 23...Ng7 (23...Bc6 24.Re3 Ne6 25.Be5 And white is better.) 24.Re3 Nge6 25.Be5 Qc5 26.Rce1 Nd7 27.Bg3 Nf6 28.c4! And all the threats are neutralized and white's advantage is big and clear. 23...Nf6 24.Ree1 Ne6 25.Bc4!


Very clever. White wants to play Bg3 without giving up the d4 pawn. 25...Bd5 26.Bg3 Qb4! Topalov rightly decides to enter some complications. 26...Qd7 was bad due to 27.Be5! 27.Be5! Nd7!


The point of Qb4. Now the position gets complicated, and it seems that objectively Black is holding, though I may be wrong. 28.a3?! Those moves are always nice to make- it seems not to change the position much, but it offers the opponent a choice and confuses him a bit. 28.Bxd5! however, was objectively stronger. 28...Nxe5 29.Bxe6 Nd3! 30.Rc8+ Kg7 31.Rd1 fxe6 Now White has a choice: to grab the pawn, or not to and have a better piece cooperation. White has winning chances in both cases, but I would prefer to take the pawn. 32.Rc7+ (32.Rc2!? Kf6! protecting g5. Now White has nothing better than exchanging the knights 33.Nf2 Nxf2 34.Kxf2 And White has winning chances, but because Black will have a passed pawn on the queenside I think he should draw this.) 32...Kf6 33.Rxa7 Qb2! Protecting f2 and keeping and eye on a2. (33...Qxd4+?! 34.Kh1 Qb2? 35.Rd7!) 34.Rf1! Qxd4+ 35.Nf2 h5 36.Ra3! Nxf2 37.Rxf2 h4 And here White will slowly unpin and then be having very fine winning chances.

28...Qa4. 28...Qb2! Was equalizing easier, for example- 29.Bxd5 (29.Rb1 Qc3! 30.Bxd5 Nxe5 31.Bxe6 Qxd4+ 32.Nf2 Nd3 33.Rf1 Nxf2 34.Bxf7+ Kxf7 35.Rxf2 h5! 36.Rc1 a5 37.g3 h4 with equality.) 29...Nxe5 30.Bxe6 Nd3 31.Rc8+ Kg7 32.Rd1 fxe6 33.Rc7+ Kf6 34.Rxa7 Qxd4+ 35.Kh1 h5 And the difference between the knights is the reason why Black holds this position easily. 29.Bxd5 Nxe5 30.Bxe6


30...Qxd4+? Topalov probably couldn't calculate all the complications of Nd3! till the end and went for the "safe" option. In fact now Black's position becomes critical – he is maybe already lost. However the complications after 30...Nd3! are in his favour. Black seems to be equal in all lines. For example 31.Rc4!? (31.Bxf7+ Kxf7 32.Ng5+? Kg7 33.Rc7+ Kh6! and it is not the black king but White who will be in trouble.) 31...Qxa3 32.Bxf7+ Kxf7 33.Ng5+ Kf6 34.Ne4+ Ke7 35.Rf1 Nf4 36.Rc7+ Kd8 37.Rxh7 Qb2 38.Nf2 Ne2+ 39.Kh1 a5 with counterplay that is enough for equality. 31.Kh1 fxe6 32.Ng5! Finally the knight is back! 32...Qd6


33.Ne4? Anand decides again not to calculate everything but to play simple positional chess. 33.Rc8+! was winning immediately! 33...Kg7 34.Rec1 Kh6 (34...Qd2 35.R8c7+ Kg8 36.Ne4 and White wins) 35.h4 Qd4 (35...Kh5 36.Rh8 h6 37.Re1+-) 36.g3! Nd7 37.Kg2! and it is clear that Black is lost. 33...Qxa3 34.Rc3 Qb2 Probably not the best square, but without a computer it is hard to see which square is best and why.


35.h4. The immediate 35.Rc8+! was also possible 35...Kg7 36.Rc7+ and Black is losing a pawn – h7 or a7... or both... 35...b5? I am curious, why Topalov touched this pawn on not a-pawn, which fits much more with queen b2. 35...a5!? Was more logical than pushing the b-pawn, but perhaps it is not quick enough.. 36.Rc8+ Kg7 37.Rc7+ Kg8 38.Rd1 Nd3! 39.Rd7 Nc5 40.Ra7 Nd3 41.Kh2 Qe2 42.Rd2 Qe3 43.Nf6+ Kf8 44.Nxh7+ Ke8 45.Nf6+ Kd8 46.Ne4 and Black's position seems horrible – but may in fact be holdable..; The clever 35...Qb4!? is interesting too; 35...Nf7 is safe, but I think Black shouldn't be passive, and his chance is in pushing the pawn – the a-pawn, not the b one... 36.Rc8+ Kg7 37.Rc7+ Kf8 38.Ng5 Ke8


39.Rxh7. A safe move. 39.Nxe6! was winning, for example 39...Nxf3!? 40.Rd1! Nd2 41.Rxa7! Qe5 42.Rxh7!! Qxe6 43.Ra1! Qc6 44.Ra8+! and after playing five moves in a row with an exclamation mark White wins! 39...Qc3


40.Rh8+? Anand lets the black king escape, on the famous 40th move. Probably Anand thought that Black has to repeat the moves, missing 41...Nd3! after 41.Rd1. 40.Re2 was winning for White. Black has no pepetuals whatsoever, and White will eventually get to Black's king. For example 40...b4 41.Nxe6 b3 42.Kh2! a5 43.Rc7 Qa1 44.Rb7 Qc3 45.Rb5 Nc4 46.Rb8+! Ke7 47.Rxb3! Qxb3 48.Nd4+ Qe3 49.Rxe3+ Nxe3 50.Nc6+ winning. That was of course just one of the possible lines.; 40.Re4 would win as well 40...Kd7 41.Rh7+. 41.Rd1+ Nd3! could be what Anand missed. 41...Kc6 42.Re4. Even though the black king is out of the dangerous zone, his position is still tricky and difficult to play. 42...b4?! The immediate 42...Kb6! is much stronger, e6 is untouchable due to Nxf3! while Kb6 is neccesary in any case. 43.Re7 Nc6 44.R7xe6 b4 45.Nf7 Ka5! and it will eventually finish in a draw. 43.Nxe6 Kb6 44.Nf4


44...Qa1+. 44...Qc1+! was drawing in a study like way: 45.Kh2 Nc6 46.Rh6 b3 47.Rxg6 Qd2!! (47...b2? 48.Nd3 b1Q 49.Nxc1 Qxc1 50.Ree6+-) 48.Rc4 b2 49.Rgxc6+ Kb7 50.Rc7+ Kb8 51.Rc8+ Kb7 52.R4c7+ Ka6! with a draw. Strangely enough White can't get anything more. 45.Kh2 a5 46.h5


46...gxh5. Now it's over for Black again. 46...g5!? was perhaps stronger, but it is not clear if it was enough to save the game. However, over the board it is not clear if it is better than gxh5, so we should forgive Topalov. 47.Rxh5 Nc6 48.Nd5+ Kb7 49.Rh7+ Ka6 50.Re6 Kb5 51.Rh5 Nd4 52.Nb6+! Nice check, forcing the black king to stay inside the mate zone. Now White is totally winning, for about the third time in this game... 52...Ka6 53.Rd6 Kb7


54.Nc4?! Making things a bit more complicated, though White is still winning. 54.Nd5! centralizing the knight was much simpler, and black can resign. 54...Nxf3+ 55.gxf3 Qa2+ 56.Nd2 Kc7


57.Rhd5?! Again an inaccuracy: 57.Rhh6! was stronger. White will play Kg3 and Ne4 and mate Black. 57...b3 58.Rd7+ Kc8 59.Rd8+ Kc7 60.R8d7+ Kc8 61.Rg7!


Here all Anand's fan were relieved again – he seemed to have found a win. But... 61...a4 62.Rc5+?! Okay, just repeating the moves, nothing wrong yet... 62.Rdd7 a3 63.Kg3 Qa1 64.Rc7+ Kb8 65.Rb7+ Kc8 66.Nxb3 Qg1+ 67.Kf4 Qh2+ 68.Ke3 Qe5+ 69.Kf2 Qh2+ 70.Kf1 Qh3+ 71.Ke2 Qh2+ 72.Kd3. 62...Kb8 63.Rd5 Kc8


64.Kg3? This and the quick next move give away the win for the last time in this game. But to be honest, it wasn't so easy anymore, especially for someone who played for some five to six hours already. And, well, White had easier wins earlier in this game... 64.Rdd7 was an easy move, but the win wasn't easy to calculate: 64...a3 65.Kg3 Qa1 66.Ra7 Qg1+ (66...Qe5+ 67.f4 Qe1+ 68.Kf3 Qh1+ 69.Kf2 Qh2+ 70.Ke3+-) 67.Kh3 Qh1+ 68.Kg4 Qg1+ 69.Kf5 Qc5+ 70.Ke4 Qb4+ 71.Kd3 Qd6+ 72.Kc3 Qe5+ 73.Kxb3 Qb2+ 74.Kc4 Qc2+ 75.Kb5 Qb2+ 76.Kc5 Qe5+ 77.Kb4 Qd6+ 78.Kc3 Qe5+ 79.Kc2 Qc5+ 80.Kd1 And the king managed to hide. Black had other possibilities of checks, but white always manages to hide somewhere. 64...Qa1 65.Rg4? 65.Rdd7 was probably still winning, but Anand played Rg4 almost instantly. 65...Qe1+ 66.Kg4! and I will just trust my Fritz, who says that White is winning... 65...b2. Now it is already over, Black will draw easily. 66.Rc4+ Kb7 67.Kf2 b1Q 68.Nxb1 Qxb1 69.Rdd4. Black doesn't need his pawn to make a draw. 69...Qa2+ 70.Kg3 a3 71.Rc3 Qa1 72.Rb4+ Ka6 73.Ra4+ Kb5 74.Rcxa3 Qg1+


With rooks on a3 and a4, it is obvious that there is a perpetual check. 75.Kf4 Qc1+ 76.Kf5 Qc5+ 77.Ke4 Qc2+ 78.Ke3 Qc1+ 79.Kf2 Qd2+ 80.Kg3 Qe1+ 81.Kf4 Qc1+ 82.Kg3 Qg1+ 83.Kf4. A very comlicated game, full of fight, but also mistakes. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

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