After two timid days, our deserved finalists decided to show us some aspects of their strength! This game is a very rich positional game and contains everything one would expect of a high-level game.
1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Alas! We will never know what Gelfand had in mind against the Catalan!
4...Be7 The QGD seems to be one of Gelfand's main black weapons prepared for this event. A very classical approach which is mostly explored in the 1927 WC match between legendary Capablanca and Alekhine. Funnily enough, Grischuk has not had enough of it in this cycle!
5.Bf4 An interesting choice which one would expect from Grischuk. The question many asked themselves here is how many moves it would take before he offered a draw! At least the previous ones were not very combative except his first game against Gelfand. [5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Qb3 dxc4 8.Qxc4 0-0 9.g3 b5!N 10.Qxb5 Nd7 11.Bg2 c5 12.0-0 Rb8 13.Qa4 a5 14.dxc5 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Gelfand,B (2733)/Kazan RUS 2011]
5...0-0 6.e3 [6.Rc1 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.e3 Nc6 9.a3 d4 10.exd4 Nxd4 11.b4 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Bd4 13.Nb5 e5 14.Bg5 Re8 15.Bxf6 e4 16.Bxd8 exf3+ 17.Kd2 Rxd8 18.Nxd4 Rxd4+ 19.Kc3 fxg2 20.Bxg2 Rg4 21.Rhd1 Be6 22.Bxb7 Rxc4+ 23.Kb2 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Gelfand,B (2733)/Kazan RUS 2011 (49)]
6...Nbd7 This move skips the activity with 6..c5 in favor of a rock solid but slightly cramped position for Black.
7.c5 This is the most radical approach. White neutralizes the tension in the center in order to obtain a spatial advantage on the queenside. [7.Qc2 c5 8.Rd1 Qa5 9.Nd2 cxd4 10.exd4 dxc4 11.Nxc4 Qd8 12.Bd3 Nb6 13.0-0 Bd7 14.Nxb6 Qxb6 15.d5 Kh8 16.dxe6 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Kramnik,V (2785)/Kazan 2011/CB19_2011]
7...Nh5 8.Be2!?N No more draw offers! A good sign for me and the spectators! [8.Bd3 used to be the "Tabiya" in this line, which has been played thousands of times. Did Grsichuk have something special up his sleeves? The continuation proved that he did! ; 8.b4 Nxf4 9.exf4 c6 10.Bd3 b6 11.0-0 a5 12.a3 Qc7 13.g3 Ba6 14.Bxa6 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Kramnik,V (2785)/Kazan 2011/CB19_2011]
8...c6 9.0-0 Nxf4 10.exf4 To be perfectly honest, I have trouble seeing the special appeal about Grischuk's idea. The bishop on d3 seemed more appealing to me!
10...f6 The right decision at the wrong time. Gelfand believes that he can play e5, and he is right, except that...this is exactly what Grischuk is waiting for!
11.b4 Qc7 12.Qd2 Rf7?! Why does Gelfand avoid e5 and instead accept a slightly worse position? Let us examine the following lines: [For better or for worse Black had to go for 12...e5! 13.Rfd1? (13.Rfe1! is a good move, because it keeps both Bf1 and Bd3 as possible choices. 13...Kh8 14.Bf1 was the alternative. (14.Bd3 a5! (14...e4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 Bd8 17.Rae1 a5 18.Re8! axb4 19.Rxf8+ Nxf8 20.Re8 g6 21.Rxf8+ Kg7 22.Re8 and White is clearly better.) 15.b5 e4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 Nxc5! 18.dxc5 cxb5 19.Nd4 Bxc5 20.Nxb5 Qf7 The dust has settled and Black seems to have the better prospects.) 14...a5 (14...e4? 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 Bd8 17.Rae1|^ ) 15.b5 (15.fxe5? fxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Rxe5 axb4-/+ ) 15...e4 16.Qe3 (16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 Nxc5 18.dxc5 Bxc5=/+ ) 16...Bd8 17.b6 Qb8 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Qxe4 f5 20.Qe3 Nf6 21.Ne5 g6 22.Bc4 Kg7 23.Rad1© And White enjoys fine compensation. This is probably what Gelfand tried to avoid, but instead he ended up in a clearly worse position!; 13.Rae1!? This or the other rook to e1 is probably what Grischuk had in mind. 13...Kh8! A very strong prophylactic move confirmed by the silicon mind! (13...e4? 14.Nxe4! dxe4 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.Rxe4+/= ) 14.Bd3! What is this? A blunder? 14...a5! (Hardly. If 14...e4? 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 White obtains a strong initiative! Deep preparation by Grischuk?!) 15.fxe5 axb4! (15...fxe5 16.b5 e4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Rxe4 Bf6 19.Rfe1 Qd8 20.h4! And once again White has a dangerous initiative.) 16.exf6 Nxf6 17.Nd1 with unclear play.; 13.fxe5? fxe5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxd5?? Nxf3+ 16.Bxf3 cxd5-+ ) 13...a5! 14.a3 Re8 and Black is very well prepared to open up the game after which he can enjoy his pair of bishops.]
13.Rae1 Nf8 14.Bd3 This is the right moment for the Bishop to come to d3...Do you understand? Yes Mr.Grischuk! We understand!
14...Bd7 15.g3 Re8 16.Re3 Bd8 17.Rfe1 White is clearly better at this point, however Gelfand stays calm and prepares a trap.
17...Qb8 18.Na4! Bc7 19.Nb2 A typical maneuver for the knight!
19...Rfe7 20.Qc3 Rd8! Gelfand is trying to get free his bishop from the pawn chain via e8-h5.
21.Bf5 This is too hasty, yet it does not harm White. He remains in full control! Still, he should go for [21.a4!? Be8 22.a5 Bh5 23.Nh4! Black has just one weakness but is left with no counter play and is running out of space! 23...Qc8 (23...g5?! 24.fxg5 fxg5 25.Nf5 Ree8 26.Nd6! Black's position is becoming like Swiss cheese on the dark squares! 26...Bxd6 27.cxd6 Qxd6 28.Qd2 Qe7 29.a6 b6 30.Bc2! White's knight will head to e5 and Black has to defence against an annoying attack despite his material advantage.) 24.Be2 Bf7 25.Nf3 Bh5 (25...Rde8 26.b5+/- ; 25...Ng6 26.Bf1 Rde8 27.Nd3 a6 28.h4 Qd7 29.Bh3 Nh8! This is a position riched with strong positional maneuvers...Black has to bring his knight to d8. 30.Qd2 Bh5 31.Qe2 Kf8 32.Nb2 Nf7 33.Kg2 Nd8 34.Na4 Bg6 White is better, nevertheless it is not easy to crack Black's position. White has to exploit a drastic plan sooner or later.) 26.Nd3 Rde8 27.Nh4 Bf7 28.Qb2 a6 29.Bg4 and White is clearly better.]
21...Rf7!? This is the trap Gelfand had prepared!
22.Bg4?! Grischuk goes astray. He had to retreat the bishop back to d3.
22...e5! Well calculated by Gelfand!
23.Bxd7 exf4 24.Be8 fxe3 25.Qxe3 Ng6 26.Bxf7+ Kxf7 27.Qe6+ Kf8 28.Qh3 [28.Nd1 Re8 29.Qf5 is also equal.]
28...Qc8! This strong move seals the game's fate. Grischuk has to concede to a draw!
29.Qxc8 [29.Qxh7? loses an exchange to 29...Kf7 30.Qh5 Rh8 31.Re7+ Kxe7 32.Qxg6 Kf8 ]
29...Rxc8 30.Kf1 Re8 31.Rb1 Ke7 32.Nd3 a6 33.a4 Kd7 34.b5 axb5 35.axb5 cxb5 36.Rxb5 Rb8 37.Nb4 Ne7 38.Ne1 Nc6 39.Nxc6 A nice fighting game! I believe that all spectators must have enjoyed it a lot! 1/2-1/2