(1) Shirov,Alexei (2709) - Anand,Viswanathan (2817)
XXIV Magistral Ciudad de León León (1.1), 03.06.2011

The world champion, Vishy Anand, drew the black pieces in the in the drawing of lots held by international arbiter Joaquín Espejo in the celebrated halls of Hotel Conde Luna. The match which will pit him against Alexei Shiron in a best of six games played at 40 minutes per game with a 30-second increment after each move.

1.e4 c6
The Caro Kann defense that Anand has employed with great success against Shirov in the past with four victories and four draws. A result that is nothing to spit upon.

2.d4 d5 3.e5
Shirov, true to himself, employs the most agressive system.

3...Bf5 4.Nf3
[4.Nc3 e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2 is a variation much to Alexei's taste, but which has not yielded good results against the Indian GM.]

4...e6 5.Be2 Ne7
A continuation used by the Vietnamese phenom Le Quang Liem, never played by the two protagonists however. [5...Nd7 6.0-0 Ne7 7.Be3 Bg6 8.Nh4 Nf5 9.Nxf5 Bxf5 10.g4 Bg6 11.f4 f5 was an interesting struggle which ended in a draw in Shirov,A (2690)-Anand,V (2725) Wijk aan Zee 1996.; y 5...c5 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7 8.c4 Nbc6 9.Nc3 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Nc6 12.Bb5 Be7 13.0-0 0-0 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Ne2 c5 led to an equal game that Anand was able to turn to his favor in Shirov, A (2710)-Anand,V (2770) Linares 1998.]

6.0-0 c5 7.dxc5 Nec6
This is the idea behind Ne7, reserving the d7 square for the queen's knight.

8.Bg5 Be7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.c4 dxc4 11.Na3 c3 12.bxc3 Nd7

A new idea prepared in advance by Shirov if one is to judge by the little time spent. [In the aforementioned game they played 13.Bb5 Qxc5 14.Nc4 0-0 15.Qxd7 Qxb5 16.Nd6 Qb6 17.Qxb7 Nxe5 18.Qxb6 Nxf3+ 19.gxf3 axb6 20.Nxf5 exf5 21.Rfb1 Ra6 and only Black can aspire to anything in Naiditsch,A (2684)-Le Quang Liem (2681) Dortmund 2010.]

13...0-0 14.Nd6 Nxc5 15.Bb5 Bg4
[Of note was 15...Be4 pressuring the e5 pawn as in the game and keeping the option of capturing the knight on c6.]

16.Bxc6 bxc6
We can now take stock of the opening: Anand seems to be about equal but it did take over twelve minutes while his opponent still has his initial 40 minutes almost intact and a strong knight on d6 which may give Black a serious headache in the future.

[Not 17.Qd4?! since after 17...Bxf3 18.Qxc5 Qg5! 19.g3 Qh5 and White is starting to get into trouble.]

17...Bh5 18.g4!?
Shirov fights for the initiative.

18...Bg6 19.Qd4 Nb7!
[Another option was to play against e5 with 19...Nd7 20.Rad1 f6 21.Rfe1 fxe5 22.Nxe5 Nxe5 23.Qxe5 Rf3 24.Re3 Rxe3 25.Qxe3 and now both 25...e5 (as well as 25...Rd8 26.Qe5 seem to give White an advantage.) 26.f4 ]

20.Rad1 c5! 21.Qa4?!
[21.Qe3 was safer, keeping c5 under attack and control of the kingside.]

21...Nxd6 22.Rxd6
[Not 22.exd6 Qf6 23.Kg2 Qxc3 and White would have to deal with both his material deficit and kingside weaknesses.]

highlighting the weakened kingside, though also giving White full control of the d-file.

23.Rd7 Qe8
[23...Be8 was less convincing due to 24.Rxe7 Bxa4 25.Rb1 fxg4 26.Ng5 Bc6 27.hxg4 even though the position doesn't give White anything clearcut.]

24.Rfd1 fxg4 25.Qxg4 Rf7!
Anand neutralizes White's rook activity.

26.Rxf7 Qxf7 27.Ng5 Qf5!

[After a long think, Shirov decides to forgo 28.Nxe6 Qxe5 29.Rd7 Qe1+ 30.Kg2 Be4+ 31.Kg3 Qxc3+ (not 31...Qg1+? 32.Kf4 winning.) 32.Kh2 Qe5+ and Black holds.]

28...Re8 29.Qxf5 Bxf5 30.Rd7

[Capturing the h3 pawn with 30...h6?! would be less precise since after 31.Nf7 Bxh3 White can play 32.Nd6! (Not the superficial 32.Rxa7? Rf8 33.Kh2 Rxf7 34.Rxf7 Kxf7 35.Kxh3 g6! which leads to a won pawn endgame by Black.) 32...Ra8 33.Rc7 and White gets the advantage.]

As a result of Black's perfect defense, Shirov liquidates into an equal rook endgame, in which White is the one who must play with care.

31...h6 32.Nxe6 Bxe6 33.Rxe6 Rxf4 34.Ra6 Rf3!
Anand chooses the continuation that gives him the most practical chances: if the h3-pawn is eliminated, the position could become perilous for White.

35.Rxa7 Rxh3 36.e6 Re3 37.Re7
[37.a4 seems drawn after 37...Rxe6 38.a5 Re2 39.Rc7 Ra2 40.Rxc5 g5 41.c4 Kg7 42.Rb5 Kg6 43.c5 and White would have no trouble holding the draw,]

[37...g5 38.Kf2 Rxc3 39.Re8+ Kg7 40.Rh8!! A study-like move that forces the draw.; 37...Rxc3 leads to a draw. 38.Re8+! Kh7 39.Kf2! Rc4 40.Kf3 Rc1 41.Kf2 ]

38.Rf7+ Kg8 39.Re7 Kf8 1/2-1/2