Wijk round ten: So many wins, so little time...

1/24/2008 – What a way to lose. Loek van Wely got his young opponent Magnus Carlsen into trouble soon after the opening. But then the Dutch grandmaster became confused when he was faced, at each each step, with the uncomfortable task of choosing between several clear wins! He let his advantage slip away completely and then blundered, allowing Carlsen to start a decisive attack. Analysis and video.

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 ten commentary by GM Mihail Marin

Group A: Round 10 - Wed. Jan. 23th
Loek van Wely - Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand - Peter Leko
Vladimir Kramnik - Boris Gelfand
Teimour Radjabov - Veselin Topalov
Shak. Mamedyarov - Judit Polgar
Pavel Eljanov - Vassily Ivanchuk
Michael Adams - Levon Aronian

Playing with black against van Wely, Carlsen got into trouble soon after the opening. Van Wely became confused when being faced on each step with the uncomfortable task of... choosing between several winning moves! With his last two moves before the time control he let his advantage slip away completely and then blundered again, allowing Carlsen to start a decisive attack.

Lost the game searching for a win: Dutch GM Loek van Wely

Unlucky in round nine, lucky (loeky?) in round ten: Magnus Carlsen

Ivanchuk surprized Eljianov with a rare, but apparently quite strong move (13...b5) in the opening and soon obtained an advantage of space in the centre. He played with great accuracy and deservedly obtained his first victory in the tournament.

Vassily Ivanchuk analysing

Gelfand managed to hold his own until the end against Kramnik's Queen's Indian/Catalan setup, an outstanding achievement if we take into account the Ex-World Champion's results with this opening nowadays!

Veselin Topalov, with Jan Timman in the background

Radjabov-Topalov featured an intense fight, with unusual structural modifications. At some point, Topalov carried out his (formerly) trademark exchange sacrifice, but a draw was agreed on move 47 in a position that remained complicated.

Judit Polgar surprized Mamedyarov with the... French Defence and had little trouble equalizing. A draw was agreed in a simplified position after 28 moves.

Anand-Leko and Adams-Aronian ended in draws after 19 and 21 movs, respectively, in positions where there seemed to be some play left still.

Van Wely,L (2681) - Carlsen,M (2733) [A58]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (10), 23.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

Both players had suffered losses in the previous round, which usually generates a delicate psychological situation. Would they agree to a draw soon, in order to recover properly, or, on the contrary... Well, let's see. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5. Not really a peaceful opening. 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Bg7 9.Bg2 Nbd7 10.Rb1 Qa5

This early development of the queen is aimed to prevent White from regrouping properly. 11.Bd2!? Actually, a logical move. The enemy queen is put under indirect pressure immediately. Carlsen had obtained good counterplay after 11.0-0 Nb6 12.a3 Nc4 in his Candidate's match against Aronian, Elista 2007. The position soon simplified and a draw was agreed. 11...Nb6 12.b3 Qa3?! But maybe this is too much already. Carlsen might have overlooked the knight's transfer to c2, which would cause Black additional loss of time. 13.0-0 0-0 14.Ne1 Bb7 15.Nc2 Qa6 16.e4 Ne8 17.a4 Nc7 18.Re1

White has completed his development in acceptable way, while Black's counterplay did not really start yet. 18...Rae8. Since three of Black's minor pieces are hitting onto the well defended d5-pawn, it is just logical to prepare the opening of the cenre with ...e6. However, the rook's departure from the queenside will allow White get strong initiative on what is traditionally considered "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" in the Volga Gambit. 19.b4! It is clear now that something has gone terribly wrong for Black. 19...Nd7 20.Nb5!? White had many ways to obtain a crushing advantage. Van Wely opts for a dynamic solution, which will yield him a winning position soon. A more static, but equally unpleasant for Black approach would be 20.b5 Qa5 21.Re3! After this rook lift, White threatens to push the enemy queen away with Ne2, for instance 21...Nb6 22.Ne2! Qxa4 (This loses immediately, but if the queen retreats the game would not last too long either after the gradual but unstoppable advance of the passed pawns) 23.Ra3 Qc4 24.Ne3-+. 20...Rc8 21.Bh3 f5 22.Bg5 Ne5 23.bxc5 Qxa4 24.Nxc7 Rxc7 25.c6

White has not only preserved his extra-pawn, but has pushed it onto the 6th rank as well! Black's position is hopeless. In the next phase of the game, Carlsen will desperately try to fish in muddy waters. 25...Bc8 26.exf5 Rxf5!? Hoping to get the d5-pawn some day. Which will actually happen in the game... 27.f4 Nc4 28.Rb4 Qa7+ 29.Kg2 Qc5 30.Rb8 Nb2 31.Qf3 Qxc2+ 32.Re2 Qb1

33.Bxf5 Qxf5 34.g4 Qf7 35.Bxe7 h5 36.Bxd6 hxg4 37.Qe4 Kh7

On each move, White has a choice between several completely winning moves, his main concern being to avoid any form of black counterplay. This is quite tireing, especially that the position looks a bit unusual. 38.Bxc7?! After this (also winning) move, White will lose the d5-pawn, allowing Black to activate his play in a still completely losing position. From practically point of view, it would have been better to play 38.Rexb2 in order to make the c4-square available for the queen (for the eventuality of ...Bf5). After 38...Bxb2 White can play 39.Bxc7 already. 38...Bf5

The situation has become slightly obscure. In order to retain his decisive advantage, hite has to do some calculation. 39.Qe3?! This move, probably dictated by the natural desire to keep the own king defended, throws away the biggest part of the advantage. From practical point of view, 39.Rh8+! would have been the simplest way to a win, because it would have led to the forced exchange of queens and the unstoppable advance of the far advanced passed pawns.; In the heat of the fight and under time pressure it is not easy to spot the other winning move 39.Qe7 , creating the unpleasant threat of Qh4+. The point is that after 39...Qxd5+ 40.Kg1 (But not 40.Kg3?? because of 40...Qf3+ followed by mate. In fact, if you see this during the game, you do not feel like investigating the consequences of 39.Qe7 anymore)) 40...Qd1+ 41.Kf2 Qd4+ 42.Kg3 Qg1+ 43.Kh4 the king escapes from checks and is ready to participate to the creation of a mating net around his colleague! 39...Qxd5+

40.Kg3? After this new inaccuracy, the game should end in a draw. The paradoxical 40.Kg1!? would have retained some advantage for White, because the aparently winning 40...Bd4 (Black has nothing better) 41.Rh8+! followed by Be5(+) would again force favourable simplifications. It is true that after the elimination of the d5-pawn things are not the same as after 39.Rh8!+... 40...Nc4

41.Qf2? The losing move. It must have been hard for van Wely to switch from the choosing-between-several-absolutely-winning-moves mode to finding-the-only-saving-move. Anyway, it was essential to maintain the third rank defended with 41.Qb3 when after 41...Qh1 42.Be5 the game should end in a draw by perpetual. 41...Qd3+ 42.Kg2 Be4+. Black's attack is decisive now. Unlike his opponent, Carlsen adapted himself to the new circumstances perfectly. 43.Rxe4 Qxe4+ 44.Kf1 Qd3+ 45.Qe2 Nd2+ 46.Ke1 Nf3+ 47.Kf1 Nxh2+ 48.Ke1 Bc3+ 49.Kf2 g3+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Eljanov,P (2692) - Ivanchuk,V (2751) [E00]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (10), 23.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Be7 5.Bg2 d5 6.Nf3 c6 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Bf4 Nh5 10.Bc1 Nhf6 11.Bf4 Nh5 12.Bc1 Nhf6

After nine consecutive draws, Ivanchuk did not seem to be in a great fighting mood. 13.Nd2. However, Eljanov, who also had not won a single game in this tournament, decided that a draw in just 13 moves would be an undesired record and avoids the repetition. 13...b5!? This move, implying a temporary pawn sacrifice, has only rarely been played here, although it is Black's only way to hope for an adequate position. If White is allowed to open the centre with e4, he would obtain a clear advantage. 14.cxb5. In the Catalan, the standard reaction to the advance of the b-pawn is 14.c5 , but here Black can obtain counterplay in the centre immediately with 14...e5. 14...cxb5 15.Nxb5 Qb6 16.Qa4 Bb7 17.Nc3 Bc6 18.Qc2 Qxd4 19.Nb3 Qb6 20.Be3 Qa6

After a more or less forced sequence of moves, White has completed his development. Optically, he seems to have an active position, but Black's advantage of space in the centre is not easy to challenge. Eljanov might have felt at home in this position, because, if we reverse colours, it strongly ressembles his favourite opening with Black against 1.d4, the Grünfeld. 21.Nd4. Four decades ago, Larsen played 21.f4 , aiming to keep the enemy centre under control. Later, he installed his bishop on d4 and gradually simplified the position. The resulting endgame was only microscopically better for White, but Larsen went on winning. 21...Bb7 22.Bg5 Rfc8 23.Rfc1 e5

White loses stability in the centre and Ivanchuk will neutralize his piece pressure by relatively simple means. 24.Nf5 Bf8 25.Qd3 Qe6 26.Nh4. Not a great square for the knight, but 26.Bh3?! Kh8! leaves White pinned and hanging. 26...h6 27.Bxf6 Nxf6 28.Qd1 Rab8

Black completes his development, creating the strong threat ...d4 at the same time. Lacking space and with his pieces passively placed, White is in trouble already. 29.e3 d4! 30.exd4 Bxg2 31.Nxg2 Rxb2 32.dxe5 Qxe5

By means of a simple exchange operation, Black has transformed his advantage of space into superior piece activity in a symmetrical position. White has problems maintaining the a2- and f2-pawns defended. 33.Qe1 Bd6!? Black is not against the exchange of queens in general, but does not wish to lose the initiative by carrying out the exchange himself. After 33...Qxe1+ White would get some hopes to activate his g2-knight with 34.Nxe1 followed by Nd3. On the contrary, after the text move the exchange on e5 would activate the black bishop in radical way. 34.Nd5. White releases the pressure by simplifying the position, but this will cost him a pawn. 34...Rxc1 35.Nxf6+ Qxf6 36.Rxc1 Rxa2 37.Nf4 Qf5 38.Qe3 a5 39.Qd4 Bf8 40.Qd8

Apparently, White has obtained some counterplay. However, the weakened position of his own king leaves him without real hopes of saving the game. 40...Qe4 41.Nd5 Re2 42.Rf1 Qa4 43.Nc3 Re8 44.Qc7 Qa3 45.Rd1 Bb4 46.Qd7 Kf8 47.Nd5 Qf3 48.Nxb4 axb4 49.Rb1 b3 50.Qb5

Apparently, White is just one step away from winning the b-pawn and achieving a draw. True, Qxb3 is not a threat because of ...Re1!+, but after the intermediate Qb4+, it will be possible to play Rxb3, because the e1-square would remain defended. However, it is Black's turn to move... 50...Re2 51.Qb8+ Ke7! Remarkably, the king feels entirely safe outside his residence. This is explained by the complete passivity of the enemy rook. 52.Qc7+ Kf6 53.Qb6+ Kf5 54.h3. The king would escape checks after 54.Qb5+ Kg4 55.Qd7+ Kh5 56.Qb5+ g5. 54...f6 55.Qd4 b2 56.Kf1 Rc2 and in view of the threats Qh1 mate or ...Rc1+, White resigned. 0-1. [Click to replay]

CORUS CHESS MEET 2008 Round 10

Interviews with Michael Adams, Vassily Ivanchuk, Etienne Bacrot and Parimarjan Negi. Author: Vijay Kumar.

Video © Vijay Kumar, published on BlipTV


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