Bilbao Masters – Vallejo overcomes Ivanchuk

10/7/2011 – It was a round full of tough chess, and fascinating games for all tastes. The first game to finish was Anand against Nakamura in a Ruy Lopez Berlin that went the distance. Aronian found himself suffering throughout the game against Carlsen though he survived. Vallejo beat Ivanchuk, when the latter faltered in time trouble. Illustrated report with video and annotations by GM Romain Edouard.

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The first leg of the Grand Slam was staged in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park, from September 25th to October 1st, the second leg takes place in Bilbao, Alhóndiga, from 5th to 11th October. Tournament system: double round robin with six players over ten rounds. Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 60 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the first move. Games begin at 16:00h local Spanish time (10 a.m. New York, 18:00h Moscow).

Round seven

Round 7: Friday, October 7, 16:00h
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen 
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura



The technical crew behind the scenes

If anything, the tournament has been anything but predictable, and the seventh round merely compounded that. With the world's top three playing, who would have expected Ivanchuk to just run away with it, yet that is pretty much what he has been doing.


Leontxo García leads the post-game interview with Anand

Anand met Nakamura for the second time, and faced Hikaru's Berlin, a very tough nut to crack. The World Champion was hard pressed to do so, and despite gaining an extra pawn in the latter stage, it was impossible to work it to his advantage.


A post-mortem question for the World Champion

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.07"] [Round "7"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2817"] [BlackElo "2753"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Ke8 10. h3 h5 11. Bf4 Be7 12. Rad1 Be6 13. Ng5 Rh6 14. g3 Bxg5 15. Bxg5 Rg6 16. h4 f6 17. exf6 gxf6 18. Bf4 Nxh4 19. f3 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ $146 (20. Kf2 {was played in Motylev-Malakhov 2011, with a draw a few moves later.}) 20... Kxd8 21. Kf2 Nf5 22. Rh1 Ng7 23. Bd2 (23. b3 $5 {was the way to keep all pawns:} Bf5 24. Nd1 $1 {The c2-pawn is untouchable. But White's knight is still far from the f4/h4 squares, and I believe Black should hold just playing passively. For ex:} Be6 (24... Bxc2 $2 25. Ne3 Bf5 {The only move. } 26. Ng2 $1 $16) 25. Bc1 b6 {and Black will face} 26. Ne3 {by playing} Bf7 ({ or} 26... Rg5 $5) 27. Ng2 Ne8 28. Nf4 Rg5 {and I don't see how White can get more than some strategical draw. Black's rook still has many squares, especially f5.}) 23... Bf5 24. Nd1 Bxc2 25. Ne3 Bd3 26. Ng2 Ne6 {Black had to give up the h-pawn, which is a good achievement by White (by far worth the c2-pawn). Even so, Black is up a pawn, though I think the position is a dead draw. White cannot risk too much on the kingside since he's a pawn down, and Black cannot insist either, since White's majority is simply stronger than Black's. Furthermore, White is simply much more active. My feeling is that the position is equal.} 27. Rxh5 Rg7 28. Bc3 Ke7 29. Rh6 Rf7 30. g4 Bb1 31. a3 f5 { A drawish move, and though he is not worse by any means, Black can never hope for more.} 32. g5 $1 {Giving a second pawn, but White clearly has enough activity to draw.} Nxg5 33. Nf4 Ke8 34. Rg6 Nh7 35. Rg8+ Rf8 36. Rg7 Rf7 { Naka's famous comment after the game, "Thanks to Kramnik I was able to just play something silly like the Berlin and draw against the World Champion relatively effortlessly." actually says much : )} 1/2-1/2

Aronian played a creative game against Carlsen, but when facing such a player, one had best be very well-covered to not find one's inventiveness the cause for one's demise. That seemed dangerously close to happening, as a hidden move missed by Levon left him with a very unpleasant position to defend. Despite having to suffer for the second time straight, he also avoided disaster once again.


Carlsen made Aronian sweat before finally drawing


Aronian and Carlsen in the post-game conference

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.07"] [Round "7"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D55"] [WhiteElo "2807"] [BlackElo "2823"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 h6 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 8. Rc1 c6 9. h4 {Only played once in over a thousand known games, but what a reference!} c5 $5 {Grunfeld-like! Only Black's g7-pawn breaks the illusion. Of course, it is normal to react in the center when you are attacked on the kingside. Otherwise White is going to play g4 next, which is very unclear, though I will not try to guess Aronian's preparation!} (9... Nd7 10. g4 g6 11. cxd5 exd5 12. h5 g5 13. Bd3 Bg7 14. Bf5 Re8 15. Kf1 Nb6 16. Nd2 Bxf5 17. gxf5 Nc8 18. Ne2 Bf8 19. Kg2 Bd6 20. Nf1 Qf6 21. Qd3 Bc7 22. f3 Nd6 23. Neg3 Rad8 24. b3 g4 25. f4 Kh8 26. Rc2 Re7 27. Kg1 Rde8 28. Rhh2 Bb6 29. Kh1 Bc7 30. Rhg2 Rg8 31. Kg1 Bb6 32. Kh1 Ne4 33. Kg1 Nd6 34. Kh1 a6 35. Rh2 Ba7 36. Rhg2 Ne4 37. a4 Bb6 38. Nxe4 dxe4 39. Qc3 Qxf5 40. d5+ Kh7 41. Qb4 Bd8 42. dxc6 Qxh5+ 43. Rh2 Qa5 44. Qxa5 Bxa5 45. Ng3 Re6 46. cxb7 Rb8 47. b4 Bb6 48. a5 Bxe3 49. Rc7 Rf6 50. Rhc2 Rxf4 51. b5 Rf6 52. Kg2 axb5 53. Nxe4 Re6 54. Nc5 Bxc5 55. R2xc5 b4 56. Rb5 Kg6 57. Rc8 {1-0 (57) Botvinnik,M-Ragozin,V Moscow 1944}) 10. dxc5 Na6 11. cxd5 Nxc5 12. Bc4 (12. Qd2 {should be the only move to try something, but it really looks like a "good Grunfeld" to me: not even the kingside is weakened with a move such as ...g6. For example:} Bxc3 (12... a6 $5) 13. Qxc3 Ne4 14. Qb4 Qxd5 15. Rd1 (15. Bc4 Qd6) 15... a5 $1 {is drawish.}) 12... exd5 13. Nxd5 (13. Bxd5 Bf5 14. O-O Bd3 15. Re1 Bxc3 16. Rxc3 Qxd5 17. b4 Ne4 18. Rxd3 Qxa2 $11) 13... Bxb2 14. Rc2 b5 15. Be2 Na4 16. Rc7 $6 {Aronian continues creatively, but Black has a brillant refutation.} (16. O-O a6 {and Black is more than fine.}) 16... Be6 17. Ne7+ Kh8 18. Qc2 Bc3+ $8 19. Rxc3 Qa5 $1 { Maybe the move Aronian overlooked! The next moves are just forced.} (19... Nxc3 $4 20. Ng5 {wins for White!}) 20. Ng5 Qxc3+ 21. Qxc3 Nxc3 22. Nxe6 fxe6 23. Ng6+ Kg8 24. Nxf8 Rxf8 25. Bg4 e5 26. O-O {I believe Black has decent chances here, but the next move allows huge drawing simplifications.} b4 $6 ({After} 26... a5 {Black probably doesn't have enough to win, though objectively it will not be fun for White.}) 27. a3 {Now the position is completely equal.} Rb8 28. axb4 Rxb4 29. Rc1 Rb1 30. Rxb1 Nxb1 31. Kf1 Nc3 32. Ke1 Kf7 33. Bf5 Nb5 34. Kd2 Nd6 35. Bc2 Ke6 36. Bb3+ Kf5 37. f3 Kf6 38. g4 g5 39. hxg5+ hxg5 40. Kc3 a5 41. Bc2 Ke6 42. Bb3+ Ke7 43. Bc2 Kd7 44. Bd1 Kc6 45. f4 Kc5 46. fxg5 Ne4+ 47. Kb3 Nxg5 48. Ka4 Kc4 49. Bc2 Kc3 50. Bf5 e4 1/2-1/2


An ever pensive Ivanchuk

Life tends to balance things out, and this game did just that at Ivanchuk's expense. In the sixth round, Vallejo had had a large advantage against Aronian, and was very close to beating him though the path to victory eluded him. This time, he merely had a minor advantage against the tournament leader, yet Caissa saw fit to reward him as Vasily tripped fatally in time trouble.


Vallejo once again scores and has almost rejoined the others

[Event "Chess Masters Final 2011"] [Site "Bilbao/Spain"] [Date "2011.10.07"] [Round "7"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vasili"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A16"] [WhiteElo "2716"] [BlackElo "2765"] [Annotator "Romain Edouard"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2011.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. h4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 h6 7. e4 Bg7 8. d4 c5 {We reach a normal Grunfeld setup... with h4 and ...h6 included.} 9. Bb5+ (9. Rb1 {would be like the main line, but my feeling is that the "h4-h6" difference cannot help White.}) 9... Nc6 10. d5 Qa5 11. Rb1 a6 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. O-O Bg4 {Till there, things went more or less normally.} 14. d6 $5 (14. dxc6 Rc8 {is about equal.}) 14... Rd8 15. Bf4 exd6 (15... O-O 16. dxe7 Rxd1 17. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 18. Rfxd1 Kg8 {is proposed by the engine, but since I doubt Black has any winning chance here, it's better to go for the text move.}) 16. Bxd6 Bf8 (16... Bxf3 17. gxf3 Be5 $6 18. Rb8 $1 Rxb8 19. Bxe5 Rd8 20. Qc1 {is unpleasant for Black.}) 17. e5 Bxd6 18. exd6 O-O 19. Qd2 Bxf3 20. gxf3 Rd7 21. Rfd1 Rfd8 22. Qxh6 Qxc3 $6 {A bit over optimistic. Now Black will have to be careful.} (22... Rxd6 23. Rxd6 Rxd6 {seems like a dead draw to me, though I might be missing something.}) 23. Qf4 c4 24. h5 Qg7 $6 {The beginning of Black's problems.} (24... Qa5 {(or maybe even 24...Qh8!)} 25. hxg6 Qh5 {should be a draw, since Black's pieces are going to get free. Still, this is already a purely computer defense, even if it is admittedly not entirely anti-thematic. }) 25. Rb6 Rc8 (25... Kh7 $5 {might be a good defensive move. I cannot see a good path for White:} 26. Rxc6 gxh5+ 27. Kf1 Qg6 28. Rd5 (28. Qxc4 Rxd6 29. Rcxd6 Rxd6 30. Rxd6 Qxd6 31. Qxf7+ Kh6 {should be drawn.}) 28... Qb1+ 29. Kg2 Rg8+ 30. Rg5 Rxg5+ 31. Qxg5 Qg6 32. Qxg6+ Kxg6 33. Rxa6 Kf6 34. Rc6 Ke6 35. Rxc4 Rxd6 {with a probable draw.}) 26. h6 Qc3 $2 (26... Qf8 {was necessary.} 27. Rxa6 c3 28. Qc1 c2 29. Qxc2 Qxh6 {and White is better, though Black has good chances to hold.}) 27. Rd4 $6 (27. Kg2 $1 Kh7 28. Rd4 $18) (27. Rb4 $5 { is not better than 27.Kg2, but I liked quoting it :)} {The idea of course is} Qxb4 $4 28. Qf6 {and mate.}) 27... Qe1+ 28. Kg2 Qe6 {Black's only move.} 29. Rxa6 c3 30. Ra3 Rcd8 31. Rxc3 Rxd6 32. Rxd6 (32. Rcd3 {seems better to me:} Rxd4 33. Rxd4 Ra8 34. a4 {and Black still has problems to solve, though the position is far from clear.}) 32... Qxd6 $2 (32... Rxd6 $1 {should hold:} 33. Rc5 (33. a4 Rd5 34. Re3 Qf5 $11) 33... Qf6 34. Qxf6 Rxf6 35. Kg3 Rd6 {and Black will stop the a-pawn, or at least keep the c-one. I guess it's an easy draw.}) 33. Qxd6 $6 (33. h7+ $1 Kg7 (33... Kh8 34. Qxf7 Rf8 35. Rxc6 Rxf7 36. Rxd6 $18) 34. h8=Q+ Kxh8 35. Qxf7 Rd7 36. Qe8+ Kg7 37. a4 {and I don't think Black can draw this!}) 33... Rxd6 34. a4 Kh7 $2 (34... Rd5 35. Rxc6 (35. Ra3 Ra5 36. Kf1 Kh7 37. Ke2 Kxh6 38. Kd3 Kg5 39. Kc4 Kf4 40. Kb4 Ra6 41. Kc5 Ke5 $1 {and White cannot make progress. This setup is very important.}) 35... Ra5 (35... Rd4 $5 {should also be a draw.}) 36. Rc4 Kh7 37. Kf1 Kxh6 38. Ke2 Kg5 39. Kd3 Kf5 40. Kc3 Ra8 41. Kb4 Rb8+ 42. Ka3 Ra8 {and I believe the endgame is drawn. I took a bit of time to look a bit deeper, and I believe White has no way to advance his pawn. Actually, there might be clever plans like} 43. Rc7 f6 44. Rc6 g5 45. Rb6 {in order to prevent Black's king from going to f4 and take the pawns, but even after a waiting move like} Ra7 { I cannot see a plan for White, since} 46. Kb4 {is met by} Rf7 $1 {after what .. .Kf4 is a threat and White's rook is no longer able to defend; White can, for example, play} 47. Kc5 {in order to try to advance, but after} Kf4 48. Rb3 Rc7+ {Black will take the f2-pawn, sac the rook against the a-pawn, push and make a draw. To be more precise:} 49. Kd6 Rc2 50. Ra3 Rxf2 51. a5 f5 $1 (51... Rh2 $4 52. a6 Rh8 53. Ke6 $1 $18) 52. a6 (52. Ke6 Re2+ 53. Kf6 g4 $11) 52... Rd2+ 53. Ke7 Rh2 $11) 35. a5 Kxh6 $6 (35... c5 {was probably the only way but after} 36. f4 (36. Ra3 $6 c4 37. f4 Ra6 38. Kf1 Re6 39. a6 c3 $11) 36... Ra6 (36... Kxh6 37. Ra3 c4 38. a6 c3 39. a7 c2 40. a8=Q c1=Q 41. Qh8#) 37. Rxc5 {Black got a much worse version than 34...Rd5, which I guess should be lost. Still:}) 36. a6 {Now the game seems to be over.} c5 (36... Rd5 37. Ra3 Rd8 38. a7 Ra8 39. f4 {and White will just bring his king to the queenside and win:} Kg7 40. Kf3 Kf6 41. Ke4 Ke6 42. Ra6 Kd6 43. Kd4 {and zugzwang later on...}) 37. Ra3 Rd8 38. f4 Kg7 39. Kf3 Kf6 40. a7 Ra8 41. Ke4 Ke6 42. Ra6+ Kd7 43. Kd5 Kc7 44. Kxc5 Kb7 45. Kb5 $1 Rxa7 (45... Kc7 46. Rf6 $18) 46. Rxa7+ Kxa7 47. Kc6 1-0

Since the trailing pack produced no decisive games, the effect on the Ukrainian's lead was minimal.

 
A video report with questions for Anand courtesy of liveteleshows & Vijay Kumar

Pictures by Pascal Simon


Bilbao scoring crosstable after seven rounds

Traditional crosstable after seven rounds

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, September 26, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 2: Tuesday, September 27, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Round 3: Wednesday, September 28, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk 
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 4: Friday, September 30, 15:00h
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
0-1
 Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Games Report
Round 5: Saturday, October 1, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Games Report
Round 6: Thursday, October 6, 16:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen 
½-½
 Viswanathan Anand
Francisco Vallejo 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 7: Friday, October 7, 16:00h
Francisco Vallejo 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen 
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Hikaru Nakamura
Round 8: Saturday, October 8, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
   Francisco Vallejo
GamesReport
Round 9: Monday, October 10, 16:30h
Magnus Carlsen 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
   Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian 
   Viswanathan Anand
GamesReport
Round 10: Tuesday, October 11, 16:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Levon Aronian
Viswanathan Anand 
   Francisco Vallejo
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Magnus Carlsen 
GamesReport

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