Wijk final round: an exciting farewell

1/28/2008 – The players chose a nice way to say farewell to the spectators: almost all the games were hard fought, two of them were decided. The two leaders drew their games after prolonged and balanced fights. Anand obtained a promising attack against Kramnik's Petroff but failed to take advantage of the favourable situation and had to content himself with a draw in 61 moves. GM Mihail Marin annotates.

Wijk aan Zee 2008

GM Mihail Marin in his analysis kitchen at home in Romania

The following express commentary was provided by Romanian grandmaster Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin will study the games of the World Championship tournament in much greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Round thirteen commentary by GM Mihail Marin

Group A: Round 13 - Sun. Jan. 27th
Vassily Ivanchuk - Loek van Wely
Judit Polgar - Levon Aronian
Veselin Topalov - Michael Adams
Boris Gelfand - Pavel Eljanov
Peter Leko - Shak. Mamedyarov
Magnus Carlsen - Teimour Radjabov
Vishy Anand - Vladimir Kramnik

The players chose a nice way to say farewell to the spectators from all continents. Almost all the games were hard fought, although only two of them were decided.

Leko employed an active plan against Mamedyarov's favourite setup in the Ruy Lopez. Black did not find efficient ways to neutralize White's initiative and resigned in a joyless position after 27 moves.

Gelfand-Eljanov started as a balanced positional struggle, but then Black lost his thread and got under a devastating attack. White won in 38 moves.

The co-winner of the tournament, Magnus Carlsen, at the start of his final game

The two leaders of the tournament drew their games (Polgar-Aronian and Carlsen-Radjabov) after prolonged and balanced fights, in 57 and 65 moves, respectively.

Magnus Carlsen watching Judit Polgar vs Levon Aronian

Judit Pogar during her last-round game in Wijk

In the other game with high relevance for the first places, Anand obtained a promising attack against Kramnik's Petroff defence, but failed to take advantage of the favourable situation and had to content himself with a draw in 61 moves.

Teimour Radjabov looks on while Anand and Kramnik begin the showdown

Another interesting draw was Ivanchuk-Van Wely, which featured successive structural modifications and resulted into almost complete simplifications.

The fire extinguisher was not required in the last round...

A rather disappointed Topalov did not seem to find strength to finish the tournament in the spirit of the Sofia rule and agreed on a draw with white against Adams after just 23 moves.

Gelfand,B (2737) - Eljanov,P (2692) [A17]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (13), 27.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 b6 7.e3 Bb7 8.b4 d6 9.Bb2 Nbd7 10.Be2

By delaying the advance of the d-pawn to d4, White maintains the indirect control over the e4-square, preventing the active plan based on ...Ne4 and ...f5. 10...c5 11.0-0 Rc8 12.d4 Now that Black has committed himself to the positional queenside plan, there are no special reasons to delay this move anymore. 12...Ne4 13.Qb3 Rc7 14.Rfd1 Qe7 15.a4 d5 16.dxc5 bxc5 17.b5 Nd6 18.cxd5 exd5 19.Rac1 Rb8 20.Qc2 Rcc8

This position with hanging pawns is quite complicated. White's dark-squared bishop looks very strong, but does not have the possibility of creating dangerous threats yet. Both sides have placed their forces on optimal squares and further improvement of the position is not easy to achieve. In such situations, a waiting phase is likely to follow, with both players being concerned about maintaining the harmony of the position. 21.Ba3!? Not threatening anything concrete, but inhibiting the advance of any of the central pawns. 21...h6. This natural move, preparing the occupation of the e6-square with the queen without fearing Ng5, will eventually lead to troubles. However, the real mistake will come later. 22.Bb2!? White has some sort of plan now. He will induce a new kingside weakness (...f6) after which the g6-square will become available for his pieces. The bishop's manoeuvre cannot be considered a loss of time, because, as mentioned above, it was not easy to prove a constructive plan. 22...Qe6 23.Qc3 f6 24.h3 Nb6 25.Qc2 Nbc4 26.Ba1

White has achieved his partial aim, but Black has activated his play, too. 26...Re8?! Black continues manoeuvring, failing to notice that concrete action was called for. He should have questioned White's stability on the queenside with 26...a6 , now (preferably) or even on the next move. 27.Qg6 Rbd8 28.Bd3 Ne4 29.Nh4!

White has very strong attack now. 29...Ncd6 30.Bxe4 Nxe4 31.Nf5 Rd7 32.Nxh6+ Kf8 33.Nf5 d4 34.exd4 Qa2 35.Rf1 cxd4 36.Bxd4 Qd5 37.f3 Nd6 38.Bc5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Leko,P (2753) - Mamedyarov,S (2760) [C72]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (13), 27.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 [mamedyarov had had a couple of suspicious positions after 5.c3 Bd7 6.d4 g6 lately, but he managed to survive every time. Therefore, Leko tries to give play a different, more open, character.] 5...Bd7 6.d4!? exd4. After 6...b5 7.Bb3 Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 White cannot capture on d4 because of ...c5 and ...c4, winning the bishop, but after 9.c3 his better development would offer him excellent compensation for the pawn. 7.Nxd4 b5 8.Nxc6 Bxc6 9.Bb3 Nf6

10.c4! Before developing the knight, Leko increases his influence in the centre. 10...Be7 11.Nc3 0-0 12.Re1 Re8 13.Bf4 Rb8 14.Qc2 b4 15.Nd5 Nd7 16.Be3

White has a very active position. Black's defence relies on the control of the c5-square and the temporary passivity of the b3-bishop. 16...Bf8 17.f3 Ba8 18.Rad1 c6 19.Nf4 Qc7 20.Nd3

20...a5. Black could have prevented the following pawn break with 20...c5 , but after 21.Ba4! Bc6 22.Nf4 White's control over the d5-square ensures him a stable advantage. 21.c5! After this move, White's advanatge is indisputable. Black's queen's bishop is passive now and he has lost his stability. At the same time, all White's pieces are very active. 21...Bb7. The manoeuvre initiated with this move is too time-consuming to ensure equality... 22.Bf4 Ba6 23.cxd6 Bxd6 24.Bxd6 Qxd6

25.Ne5! Avoiding the exchange on d3 and ensuring the occupation of the seventh rank. 25...Qxe5 26.Rxd7 Red8 27.Red1 Black's resignation looks a bit premature, but I must admit I would not like playing on in such a position, with the f7- and b5-pawns under fire and without chances for counterplay. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Anand,V (2799) - Kramnik,V (2799) [C42]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (13), 27.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bf4 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nc5 10.Be3 Re8 11.Bc4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Nxe6 13.h4 Qd7 14.Qd5 Qc6 15.Qf5 Qc4 16.Kb1 g6 17.Qh3 h5 18.Nd2 Qe2 19.Rde1 Qg4 20.Qh2 d5 21.f3 Qa4 22.g4 Bd6 23.Qf2

23...hxg4!? In Mexico, Kramnik achieved a relatively easy draw with 23...Ng7 against Svidler. It is hard to say whether Kramnik feared a possible improvement from Anand (after all, if the World Champion entered this line, he must have prepared something) or if, having lost with white in the previous round, he was avid for revenge with black... 24.fxg4 Qxg4 25.Reg1 Qh5 26.Nf3 Re7

White has concentrated all his pieces on the kingside, but in order to successfully carry out the atack, it would be essential to drive the enemy queen away from h5, which is not easy to achieve. 27.Bg5 Ree8 28.Be3 Re7. This is more or less necessary, in order to over-defend f7 and be able to answer Ng5 with ...Ng7, maintaining stability on the kingside. 29.Bg5 Rd7!? After this avoidance of the repetition, we can assume that Kramnik intended to play for a win when he took the pawn. 30.Nd4 Nxd4 31.Qxd4 Bf8

32.Qe3! This move received Kasparov's praise. White temporarily takes over the control of the only open file and (even more important) enables an elegant manoeuvre, which will unblock the h-pawn. 32...c6 33.Qh3. The point. Black has to place his rook on a dark square. 33...Rd6 34.Bf4 Re6 35.Rg5 Qh8 36.h5. White has a strong attack now. 36...Rae8 37.Bd2 Bc5 38.Rg3 Re2 39.Kc1 Qg7

40.a3!! A truly visionary move, which could have proven of decisive importance, had Anand found the correct continuation 11 moves later. For the time being, there seems to be no need to make the a2-square available for the king, but in a certain line this would prove useful... 40...Bd6 41.Rgg1 Bc5 42.Rg3 Bd6. Playing for a repetition already. 43.Rg4 R8e6 44.hxg6 Rxg6 45.Rxg6 fxg6

46.Be3! Threatening Bd4. 46...Qe5 47.Qh7+ Kf8 48.Bd2 Qf6 49.Qxb7 Rh2

50.Re1. The careless 50.Rd1? would allow 50...Rxd2! when White is lucky still that he has a draw by perpetual. However, the intermediary capture of two (!) pawns with 50.Qa8+ Kg7 51.Qxa7+ Kf8 before playing 52.Re1 would be entirely viable. 50...Qf2

51.Kb1?! The logical consequence of 40.a3 would have been 51.Rd1!, leaving Black with problems defending his queenside pawns. Here is the line in which the a2-square is essential: 51...Qxd2+? (51...Bf4? also loses to 52.Qb4+) 52.Rxd2 Rh1+ 53.Rd1 Bf4+ 54.Kb1 Rxd1+ and now 55.Ka2. 51...Qxd2 52.Rf1+ Kg8 53.Qf7+ Kh8 54.Qxg6. White maintains strong initiative, but... is a bishop down. 54...Qg2 55.Qe8+ Qg8 56.Qxc6 Bf8

57.Qa8. According to the kibitzing Kasparov, 57.Qc8 was probably Anand's last chance for an advantage. 57...Bc5 58.Qxg8+ Kxg8 59.Rf5 Rd2 60.c4 Kg7 61.b4 Be7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Pictures by Jeroen van den Belt


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