Candidates R03: Aronian beats Topalov

by Sagar Shah
3/13/2016 – The tradition of one decisive game per day continues at the World Championship Candidates 2016 in Moscow: with a black win Levon Aronian joined the leaders at 2.0/3. It was by far the most interesting day so far – all the games had some or the other critical moment in them. Let’s take a closer look – we have extensive Elo-boosting analysis and some exclusive pictures from the venue in our Round Three report.

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The 2016 FIDE World Chess Candidates Tournament is a 14-round event, which determines the next Challenger to Magnus Carlsen's title, is taking place in Moscow from March 10–30. Eight players, including six of the World’s top-ten rated grandmasters. The time control is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one. The guaranteed prize fund is US $420,000.

Candidates: Three leaders after three rounds

Express report from Moscow by IM Sagar Shah

A full report with more pictures, ananlysis, opinions, will follow soon.
Here for now are the results, game summaries and a few pictures.

Round 3, Sunday 13 March 2016
Nakamura Hikaru
Svidler Peter
Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon

Video: Daniel King on Giri vs Karjakin and Topalov vs Aronian

As we said in the blurb, all the games of round three had some or the other interesting moment in them. For example: Anish was a pawn up against Karjakin and later sacrificed a piece, Anand was ready to expose his king with the move gxh4 to prove that he had an edge, Aronian showed some new ideas in the opening and Topalov played what was the worst game of his life, and lastly Svidler showed some phenomenal preparation and pressed Nakamura right to the very end. We have three leaders now: Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian, all on 2.0/3.

Anish Giri – Sergey Karjakin 0.5-0.5

Anish Giri was in a jovial mood at the start of the round.
Here he is seen chatting with the chief arbiter Werner Stubenvoll.

But as the game progressed he wasn’t particularly happy with the position he got out of the opening

"Sergey played the (Queen’s Indian) structure so well yesterday with white against Nakamura that I thought he won’t repeat the same with the black pieces today.” That is what Anish Giri said in the press conference after his game against Sergey Karjakin. But the Russian grandmaster has no such prejudices. He learnt from his opponent’s (Nakamura’s) mistakes and applied it in his own game today. Not going for c7-c5 and keeping the pawn on c6 was one such improvement. It seemed as if Black was comfortable, but suddenly Karjakin pushed his pawn to h5. As Alexandra Kosteniuk pointed out, “Yesterday the move h2-h4 proved highly successful against Nakamura, and maybe Sergey wanted to try something similar again!” However, the move 18…h5 was a bad one and Anish took advantage of it with the move 19.Bh3. The Dutch GM could have very well got a huge advantage with the move 20.f3 instead of 20.Nf4, which he played in the game (further analysis show that 20.f3 might also be not sufficient for a huge edge). After the inaccuracy the game was still interesting, but the danger had passed for Sergey. He sacrificed a pawn for compensation. Giri retaliated with a piece sacrifice. But that was clearly not enough and he had to repeat the moves and split the point.

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.13"] [Round "3"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2760"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "57"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 d5 { The great thing about these players is that they are able to handle a system from both sides. For example Karjakin played this same position from the white side against Nakamura yesterday and today against Giri he is ready to try it with black.} 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. Ne5 Bb7 12. Bc1 Nbd7 13. Bb2 Bd6 14. Nd3 (14. f4 {is the normal way to play such positions but as Anish said in the press conference, he didn't really want to go into this structure because Black's way to respond here is quite typical and well known. On the other hand, after retreating the knight to d3 it is not so obvious what the best way for Black is to proceed, and it can present more practical problems.}) 14... a5 {Karjakin was a little bit worried about White going b4 and hence prevented it with this move.} 15. Rc1 c6 $5 {[%csl Ga5,Gb6,Gc6,Gd5] This structure of a5-b6-c6-d5 is not very common in this opening, but the way Karjakin played this game may make it quite popular in future.} 16. Na4 Rc8 17. e3 Ba6 18. Re1 h5 $6 {This was an over-ambitious move and resulted in Giri snatching the initiative.} (18... Ne4 {is much better. The point is that f3 can be met with Nxg3 sacrifice.} 19. f3 Nxg3 $1 20. hxg3 Bxg3 $40 {With Qh4 coming up this looks like a slow but very strong attack. As Giri said later, "if I would have allowed this and Sergey would have won the game with the knight sacrifice on g3, after he had beaten Nakamura yesterday when the latter incorrectly sacrificed his knight on g3, it would have made him a genius."}) 19. Bh3 $1 Ng4 $5 (19... h4 20. Ne5 $1 $14) 20. Nf4 {Anish thought that Black was forced to take on f4, which would give him a fine position. It turns out that Sergey was ready to give up a pawn rather than settle for a passive position.} (20. f3 $5 {[#] was the critical move of the game. The computers at first are highly enthusiastic about White's chances, but later they spot a very nice resource for Black.} Rxe3 $5 {This move is something that should be considered before we draw conclusions about the move f3.} (20... Nxe3 21. Qd2 Bxd3 22. Bxd7 $1 (22. Qxd3 Qg5 $11) 22... Qxd7 23. Qxd3 $14 {With e3 falling and also b6 this is a very strong position for White.}) 21. Rxe3 Nxe3 22. Qd2 Bxd3 23. Qxd3 (23. Bxd7 Qxd7 24. Nxb6 (24. Qxd3 Re8 $15) 24... Qh3 25. Qxe3 Bxg3 $40) 23... Qg5 24. Kh1 $1 (24. Bxd7 Bxg3 $1) 24... Rd8 25. f4 {when the complications end in White's favour. Although truth be told over here too Bxf4 will lead to some unclear play. But in any case this was all not so easy to calculate over the board and hence Anish understandably decided to take the other way.}) 20... g6 21. Bxg4 hxg4 22. Qxg4 {White is a pawn up, but his pieces on the queenside, the bishop on b2 and the knight on a4 look completely passive and hence Karjakin has compensation.} Nf6 23. Qg5 Be7 $1 {At first the knight sacrifice on g6 looks tempting, but on closer inspection it seems like its just a draw.} (23... Kg7 24. h4 Rh8 25. e4 $1 {was a nice variation pointed out by Anish.} Nxe4 26. Rxe4 dxe4 27. d5+ $18) 24. Nxg6 fxg6 25. Qxg6+ Kh8 (25... Kf8 $2 26. e4 $1 dxe4 27. Nxb6 $18) 26. Nc5 (26. e4 {was a possibility for Anish.} Bb4 $1 (26... dxe4 27. Nxb6 $1 Qxb6 28. Rc5 $1 $18) 27. Re3 Bd2 $11 {and this also ends in a draw. But it must be said that it looks pretty scary for Black.}) 26... bxc5 27. dxc5 Rf8 28. Qh6+ (28. Rc4 $5 { would have been a way to show off before making a draw!} dxc4 29. Qh6+ $11) 28... Kg8 29. Qg6+ {Seeing nothing better Anish agreed to a draw. It was a short game but with a lot of interesting moments.} 1/2-1/2

I cannot believe I didn’t play 20.f3!?
Anish discusses the game with his opponent Sergey Karjakin.

Viswanathan Anand – Fabiano Caruana 0.5-0.5

Vishy Anand tried to put pressure on his opponent, but Fabiano Caruana was up to the task

After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 ask what the black pawn on a7 feels. No one cares about it anymore! Caruana too played 3…Nf6 and Anand took the game into the Anti-Berlin territory with 4.d3. Fabiano must have definitely studied the game Anand against Topalov from round one. Hence, Anand deviated on move seven with 7.h3 instead of 7.Nbd2. That put Fabiano into some thought. He came up with this interesting plan of ...exd4 followed by ...c5! In the ensuing middlegame Black was saddled with a small weakness on d6 that was compensated by active pieces. Anand held an advantage and with Caruana approaching time pressure, things looked good for Vishy. But the American kept his calm and combined with some indecisiveness from Vishy the game was abruptly drawn due to many exchanges.

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.13"] [Round "3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2794"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. e4 {It worked for him in game one and Vishy continues with 1.e4.} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {Berlin! I wonder how the a-pawn must be feeling at this point of time. Earlier just about everyone used to pushing it. Now no one really cares about it and goes for Nf6!} 4. d3 {This seems to be Anand's weapon against the Berlin in this event.} Bc5 5. O-O d6 6. c3 O-O 7. h3 $5 {A small change by Anand. In his game against Topalov he had gone Nbd2, whereas here he plays the little rook pawn move. It has two advantages: 1. it stops Bg4 in the future, and 2. it gets Caruana out of his preparation.} Ne7 {Caruana sticks to his plan of transferring his knight to the kingside.} 8. d4 Bb6 9. Bd3 { Definitely more common is Re1. However, Anand played this move quickly. Caruana went into a think after this, which meant that he hadn't really revised the line before the game. The variation with Bd3 is less played than Re1, but it has been essayed by players like Magnus Carlsen and Vasily Ivanchuk!} (9. dxe5 {leads to absolutely othing for White after} Nxe4 $11) 9... Ng6 (9... d5 {was Kramnik's reaction against Carlsen. And after} 10. Nbd2 dxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Bxe4 exd4 13. Qc2 h6 14. a4 $5 {we saw an extremely interesting game develop.}) 10. Re1 Re8 11. Qc2 {At this point Anand had used only two minutes of his time while Caruana down by twenty five minutes. The interesting thing is that Anand has already played this opening with black against Michael Adams in 2013.} exd4 $146 {Caruana comes up with a new move, but this is not home preparation. It was played after due thought.} 12. cxd4 c5 {An interesting move by Caruana trying to fight for the dark squares.} 13. dxc5 (13. d5 Ba5 {leads to a very odd kind of a Benoni which should be completely fine for Black.}) (13. e5 $5 {is an interesting move. Although both players rejected it after Nd5, it could be interesting to see a few more moves.} Nd5 { Threatening Nb4.} (13... dxe5 14. dxe5 {looks completely crushing for White as after} Nd7 15. e6 fxe6 16. Bxg6 $18 {Black is busted.}) 14. Bg5 $1 (14. a3 { might be too slow as after} cxd4 {Black is completely fine.}) 14... Qc7 { After the game Fabi said that he was planning to play this move but it wouldn't have been great as White can now play} (14... Nb4 15. Qc3 Qc7 16. Bb5 $13) (14... f6 $6 15. dxc5 $1 dxc5 16. Nc3 $1 Nxc3 17. exf6 $1 gxf6 18. Bxg6 { with a very strong attack.}) 15. Nc3 $1 {The main idea is to connect the rooks on the first rank.} Nb4 (15... Nxc3 16. exd6 $1) 16. exd6 $1 $18 {Not an easy move to see from a distance but now the rook on e8 is undefended.}) 13... Bxc5 14. Nc3 Be6 15. Be3 Qc8 (15... Ne5 $5 {After the game Miroshnichenko suggested this smart move for Black which seems to equalise immediately.} 16. Nxe5 Bxe3 $1 17. Nxf7 Bxf2+ 18. Qxf2 Bxf7 {This looks like a much preferable position for Black than was reached in the game.}) 16. Bxc5 Qxc5 17. Qd2 Ne5 18. Be2 $1 Nxf3+ 19. Bxf3 {Black has an isolated pawn on d6 while White is relatively solid. This should give White an edge. However, it is not so clear as to how White should proceed.} Rad8 20. Red1 $5 {One of the most difficult questions in the game of chess is where should I place my rooks. In this position White has many options. The most natural of course looks to be Rad1, but Red1 also has its point. Vishy would like to put the a rook on c1.} (20. Rac1 {looks natural. Black could reply with} Qe5) (20. Rad1 {is also answered by} Qe5 21. Qd4 a6 22. Qb4 $14 {when White has an edge.}) 20... h5 $5 21. Qd4 Qg5 22. Qd2 ( 22. Qxa7 Bxh3 $132) 22... Qe5 {I asked Fabiano whether he wanted to play on and that was the reason why he chose Qe5 instead of Qc5. He said his queen was much better placed on e5 than on c5 and Vishy would not have repeated the position again.} 23. Qe3 $1 {Attacking the a7 pawn and getting ready to double rooks on the d-file.} a6 24. Rd4 Bd7 $5 {The bishop wasn't doing much on e6. On c6 it would not only control the d5 square but also attack the one on e4.} 25. Rad1 Bc6 26. g3 Re6 27. Bg2 {White gets ready to start his expansion with f4. Vishy truly has played really well until this point.} h4 {[%cal Gh5h4]} 28. gxh4 $1 {[#] An extremely bold move by Vishy. Usually in chess not many times you will see people taking such a pawn and accepting doubled rook pawns. However, here it is more important to make sure that White is getting in f4 and hence this gxh4 move is very flexible and meets the demands of the position.} (28. g4 $5 {Keeping the pawn structure intact is definitely an idea. But it can be possible that Vishy was afraid of} g5 {When f4 is stopped. However, White should at least be a tad better after} 29. Qd2 $14) (28. f4 $2 Qc5 29. g4 $2 Bxe4 $1 30. Nxe4 Nxe4 31. Bxe4 Rde8 $15) 28... Rde8 (28... Nh5 $2 {Trying to keep an eye on the f4 square loses to} 29. Rd5 $1 Bxd5 30. Rxd5 $18) 29. Bf3 {After the game Vishy thought that this was extremely clever as he was preparing Bg4.} (29. f4 Qc5 $13 {The e4 pawn would be falling in this case.}) 29... a5 30. a4 $6 {Anand wants to stop all these ideas beginning with b5 but this was a crucial loss of time.} (30. Bg4 R6e7 (30... Nxg4 31. hxg4 $16) 31. Rxd6 Nxe4 32. Nxe4 Qxe4 {Should be around equal.}) (30. a3 {was definitely much better remaining flexible.} b5 31. Bg4 $1 $14) 30... Qc5 31. Qf4 (31. Bg4 R6e7 $11) (31. Rxd6 $5 Qxd6 32. Rxd6 Rxd6 33. Qc5 Rde6 34. Qxa5 Nxe4 35. Nxe4 Bxe4 36. Bxe4 Rxe4 {might be an edge for White but will most probably end in a draw.}) 31... Re5 32. R1d3 {Not really sure what this move is all about, but it keeps up the pressure.} (32. Rxd6 Nxe4 33. Nxe4 Bxe4 $11) 32... R8e6 33. Kh2 Qb6 34. Rd2 Qd8 35. Qg3 $6 {This lets Caruana equalise immediately.} (35. h5 $5 Nxh5 36. Bxh5 Rxh5 37. Rxd6 Rxd6 38. Qxd6 Qxd6+ 39. Rxd6 f5 {Black should regain his pawn, but in any case White will maintain a small edge.}) 35... Bxe4 36. Nxe4 Nxe4 37. Bxe4 Rxe4 38. Rxe4 Rxe4 39. Rxd6 Qxh4 40. Qxh4 {and a draw was agreed. It should be said that Anand seemed to be slightly better throughout the game, but was never really able to cash in.} 1/2-1/2

Caruana hasn’t shown anything special in these three rounds of the Candidates 2016,
but he is solidly placed with 1.5/3

A win against Topalov, successful opening preparation against Levon Aronian and having the better side of a draw against Fabiano Caruana – the first three rounds of the tournament have gone well for Vishy Anand.

Veselin Topalov – Levon Aronian 0-1

Levon Aronian’s new idea in the opening and Veselin Topalov’s over-ambitious approach,
led to a relatively easy win for the Armenian. Aronian now joins the leaders with 2.0/3.

It was one of those games that Topalov would want to forget. First he was outprepared as Aronian essayed a new idea in the English Four Knights from the black side. Veselin was ambitious and didn’t want to settle for an equal position. He tried to be adventurous and it ended up badly. After just thirteen moves he was worse. A blunder on the seventeenth move cost the Bulgarian another pawn. And although Aronian was far from his best in converting the plus position, the situation was so much in his favour that these small inaccuracies didn’t matter. A relatively easy win for Levon who now joins the leaders Anand and Karjakin.

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.13"] [Round "3"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A10"] [WhiteElo "2780"] [BlackElo "2786"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "100"] 1. c4 {Topalov plays his first white today and opens with the c-pawn.} Nf6 { Aronian played this quite instantly, so the English Opening wasn't really a surprise for him.} 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bb4 5. Bg2 O-O 6. Nd5 e4 7. Nh4 { This is quite a common position and usually Black replies Re8. But Aronian went for a relatively unknown move which has not been played by any top player. } d6 $5 {This move has been played by Aronian's country-mate Minasian, and it is quite possible that Levon picked it up from him.} 8. Nxb4 (8. Nxf6+ Qxf6 9. Bxe4 Re8 $1 10. Bg2 Bg4 $1 {Just have a look at the black pieces. This is a completely winning position for Black.} 11. f3 Be6 $19) 8... Nxb4 9. a3 Nc6 10. d3 d5 $1 {A very concrete way to approach the position.} 11. O-O (11. cxd5 Qxd5 $1 12. dxe4 Qxd1+ 13. Kxd1 Rd8+ 14. Kc2 Nd4+ $36) 11... exd3 12. Qxd3 $6 (12. exd3 $11 {would have given White an entirely viable position, but without any advantage. This was not to Topalov's liking.}) (12. cxd5 {is also fine but does not give an advantage.} dxe2 13. Qxe2 Nxd5 $11) 12... Ne5 13. Qd4 (13. Qc2 Nxc4 14. e4 {is a possible way to play. The queen is of course better placed on c2 than on d4.}) 13... Nxc4 14. e4 Be6 15. b3 Na5 16. Qa4 Nc6 (16... c6 17. Bd2 b6 18. Bxa5 bxa5 19. Qxc6 (19. exd5 cxd5 $17) 19... dxe4 20. Bxe4 Rc8 21. Qa4 Qb6 $17 {is some sort of a computer line showing that even c6 was not so bad.}) (16... c5 {is possible and Topalov as intending to meet it with} 17. b4 cxb4 18. axb4 Nc4 $15 {Black seems to be slightly better.}) 17. Rd1 $2 { [#] This was a big blunder by Veselin, after which he is effectively two pawns down.} (17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Bb2 $44) 17... Nxe4 $1 18. Bb2 (18. Bxe4 Qf6 $1 $17 { This move, which attacks the a1 rook, was missed by Topalov.}) 18... Qe7 $17 { Black is two pawns up and with some care he should win the game with ease. Aronian didn't realise his advantage in the best possible manner but it was good enough.} 19. b4 a6 20. Qc2 f6 21. Rac1 Rad8 22. Bf1 Rd7 23. f3 Nd6 24. Re1 (24. Bd3 g5 25. Ng2 Nc4 26. Bxc4 dxc4 27. Rxd7 Qxd7 28. Rd1 Qe7 29. f4 { was a line suggested by Aronian in the press conference as better than what Topalov played in the game. But here the computer comes up with an anti-intuitive move that gives Black a strong advantage.} gxf4 $5 {Usually humans would never make such a move because the knight on g2 was passive and on f4 it would sit very nicely. But the engine sees that the knight on f4 cannot do much due to the bishop on f7 and Black has a huge advantage.} 30. Nxf4 Bf7 $19) 24... Qf7 25. Bd3 g5 26. Ng2 Nc4 27. f4 Nxb2 28. Qxb2 Bh3 29. a4 h6 30. b5 axb5 31. axb5 Ne7 32. Qf2 Nf5 33. Qf3 Kg7 34. Kh1 Re7 35. Rxe7 Qxe7 36. Qh5 (36. Qxd5 {is possible, but after} Rd8 37. Qe4 Qxe4 38. Bxe4 Nd6 39. Rxc7+ Rd7 40. Rxd7+ Bxd7 41. Bd5 Bxb5 $17 {Black should have excellent winning chances.}) 36... Bxg2+ 37. Kxg2 Ne3+ 38. Kg1 f5 39. Qe2 Rf6 40. Qb2 gxf4 41. gxf4 Kh7 42. Kh1 Qg7 43. Qe2 d4 44. Qf3 c6 45. bxc6 bxc6 46. h3 Rg6 47. Rb1 Rg3 48. Qh5 Qd7 49. Kh2 Rg2+ 50. Kh1 Qd5 {One can say that this was a pretty one sided affair and Topalov didn't really have a chance in the game after he was two pawns down.} 0-1

Two losses in three games and yet he has a smile on his face: hats off to Veselin Topalov!

After the game I went up to Veselin and asked him the following question, “I have been following you since the London Chess Classic. Over there and in the first three rounds of the Candidates your performance hasn’t been so great. Yet you always maintain a smile on your face and show some great sportsman spirit in the press conference. We haven’t really seen this in any of the top players. Can you tell me how you maintain such a positive attitude?” To which Topalov thought for a while and said, “You know, I wasn’t really planning to play in this Candidates event. At the last moment I said let’s give it a try. The thing with these tournaments is that you have to finish first. Other spots don’t really matter. It will not make a difference whether you are second or eighth. Right now it doesn’t matter much to me that I am losing. Tomorrow is a rest day and I hope to be back refreshed.”

Hikaru Nakamura – Peter Svidler 0.5-0.5

Hikaru Nakamura vs Peter Svidler was, perhaps, the most interesting game of round three

One hour forty-five minutes on the clock after twenty five moves! Amazing opening preparation by Svidler

Peter Svidler was on fire today. He had prepared his opening in such great depth that it was simply mind blowing! Nakamura started with 1.d4, maybe expecting that Peter would reply with the Grunfeld. However, Svidler stuck to the same line he played against Karjakin in the first round. While Karjakin had opted for the relatively safe 9.Nxd4, Nakamura chose the much more critical 9.cxd4 line. Until move 20 it seemed that both the players were relatively well prepared. But Peter went a step further and showed that he had seen the position in much greater depth. When he made his 25th move he already had one hour forty five minutes on his clock – five minutes more than when he started the game! Nakamura was in great difficulties. With immense resourcefulness he steered the game towards a rook + knight endgame in which he was a pawn down. Whether that endgame is winning or not requires the microscopic eye of our endgame expert Karsten Mueller. But sufficient to say that Svidler ran out of energy towards the end and Hikaru was able to hold the game. A great battle indeed and at some levels both players could claim a moral victory out of it.

[Event "Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.13"] [Round "3"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2790"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "127"] 1. d4 {Nakamura invites Svidler to play his favourite Grunfeld.} d5 {No thank you! I will stick to the Slav.} 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 { Svidler shows that the opening that he essayed in the first round against Karjakin was not just a one round flick. He was serious about his opening and has prepared it deeply.} 6. e3 c5 7. Bxc4 Nc6 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 {This is definitely much more challenging than Nxd4 which was played by Sergey Karjakin in the first round.} Be7 10. Qe2 O-O 11. Rd1 Nb4 {Preventing the d4-d5 break.} 12. Bg5 {Interestingly Svidler reached this position twice in his games, once against Ivanchuk and once against Kazhgalayev. However, on both occasions he chose a different move. h6 is the modern treatment of this line making White decide where he would like to keep his bishop.} h6 13. Bxf6 {This is a highly concrete move. The idea is not related with the d5 break but to get the knights to menacing locations in the centre - on the e4 and e5 squares.} (13. Bh4 Bd7 14. Ne5 Bc6 {is the other critical position of the opening, and if Svidler tries this Slav line again the chances of this position arising can be quite good.}) 13... Bxf6 14. Ne4 (14. d5 {doesn't really look too threatening as after} exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Qe8 $11 {Black has solved most of his opening problems because the b2 pawn is as weak as the b7 pawn.}) 14... b6 15. Ne5 {We are still following five games, but we have reached a stage where you can no longer find games played by amateurs. All the games have taken place in the practice of 2600+ players.} Bh4 $5 {This has already been played by two players Mchedlishvili against Tomashevsky and van Foreest against Ikonnikov.} ( 15... Bb7 $2 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 (16... gxf6 17. Ng4 Kg7 18. Qd2 $18) 17. Nd7 $16) 16. g3 $146 (16. Ra3 {was played in both the games but after} Bb7 17. Rh3 { It looks scary but after} Nd5 $11 {According to the computer this looks completely fine for Black.}) 16... Be7 17. Nc3 Bf6 {Svidler has got this covered. Even though White played a novelty, the Russian player is well prepared.} (17... Bb7 $6 {Looks the most natural but fails to} 18. Nxf7 $5 Rxf7 19. Qxe6 Qe8 20. Re1 $40 {with a most probably decisive attack for White.}) 18. d5 Qc7 19. d6 Qc5 20. Ng4 Bxc3 21. bxc3 Nc6 22. Rab1 a6 {Preventing Rb5. It is simply amazing that this is all Svidler's preparation until now.} 23. d7 { It seems like Nakamura missed something over here. He couldn't remember his preparation and played the most obvious move, pushing his pawn to d7. However, he could have just played Bd3 directly which is what he thought was the move he had prepared.} (23. Bd3 f5 $5 24. Ne3 $13) 23... Bb7 24. Bd3 Rfd8 25. Qe4 Kf8 {[#] At this point Peter had one hour forty five minutes! Completely mind boggling! Will it create a fear in the minds of his future opponents? Will they try to steer clear of well-known lines against him? We will have to wait and see. As of now Nakamura was under grave pressure.} 26. Qh7 {This position looks really scary if you are unprepared. However, if you know the intricacies this might well be enjoyable to play, like the current position where Black has only one good move but Peter plays it! As Svidler said after the game he had considered only two moves in this position Be2 and Bc2. So Qh7 was a new move for him, and he found himself in a common situation where you know that the move made by your opponent is not the best, but you don't know why.} h5 $1 (26... Qg5 $2 27. Ne3 Ne5 28. Be4 Bxe4 29. Qxe4 $18 {The d7 pawn is untouchable and the queen is completely misplaced on g5.}) (26... Ne5 $5 27. Qh8+ Ke7 28. Qxg7 Qd5 29. Qf6+ Kf8 30. Qh8+ {is a draw.}) 27. Ne3 (27. Qh8+ Ke7 28. Qxg7 hxg4 29. Qxg4 $19) 27... Ne5 $1 $15 {Black's king looks safe, and the pawn on d7 doesn't look threatening. The light squared holes on the kingside might cost White dearly.} 28. Be4 {Before things went completely wrong Nakamura exchanges the powerful b7 bishop.} Bxe4 29. Qxe4 Ra7 $1 {Svidler also made this move relatively quickly. Not sure whether he was still in his preparation but he must have seen similar ideas when he worked on this opening and that can be one of the reasons why he made this move quickly.} 30. Nd5 $5 { Nakamura is in damage control mode now. He sees that the position has spiraled out of control. Hence he tries to simplify the position, even ready to go into a pawn down or an inferior rook ending.} Ng4 (30... Raxd7 {looks pretty natural, but after} 31. Qxe5 Rxd5 32. Rxd5 Rxd5 (32... Qxd5 33. Qxd5 Rxd5 34. Rxb6 $11) 33. Qb8+ Ke7 34. Rxb6 (34. Qxb6 $2 Rd1+ 35. Kg2 Qd5+ 36. f3 (36. Kh3 Qf5+ $19 {[%cal Gf5b1]}) 36... Rd2+ 37. Kg1 Qa2 $19) 34... Rd1+ 35. Kg2 Qd5+ 36. Kh3 {and there is no real finishing shot available for Black at this point. This might be the reason why Svidler steered clear of this variation.}) 31. Ne3 Nf6 (31... Nxe3 32. Qxe3 Raxd7 33. Rxd7 Rxd7 34. Qxc5+ bxc5 35. Rb6 $15 { With a three vs four rook endgame being reached.}) 32. Qb4 Qxb4 (32... Raxd7 33. Rxd7 Nxd7 34. Qxc5+ Nxc5 35. Rxb6 Nxa4 36. Rxa6 Nxc3 {would also lead to something similar that we will see in the main game.}) 33. Rxb4 (33. cxb4 Rdxd7 {is just a pawn down position.}) 33... Nxd7 $5 {Such a move can be made by only very strong player.} (33... Raxd7 34. Rxd7 Nxd7 35. Nc4 Rb8 {might be very favourable for Black who is not only a pawn up but also has everything under control.}) 34. Rxb6 Nxb6 35. Rxd8+ Ke7 36. Rd4 a5 $1 {Svidler instead of winning a pawn wanted to reach this endgame, which shows his excellent feel for the game. He thought that here with his pieces co-ordinated, he has much better chances of converting the position.} 37. Nc4 $1 {This move was not really given importance by Peter. If Black could have played his rook to c7 before Nc4 then he was winning. But in that case it will end in a position with 4 vs 3 on the same side.} Nd5 38. Rd3 Rc7 39. Nxa5 Nxc3 40. Kg2 Nxa4 41. Ra3 Nc3 42. Nb3 g5 {Black has an extra pawn and more space on the kingside. With just the rooks it would have been drawn, but with the knights things look pretty good for Black. In any case Nakamura has a very tough defensive task ahead of him.} 43. Nd2 f5 44. h3 Kf6 45. g4 $5 {As always it is a decision of whether to do something in the position of just sit steady. Nakamura felt that he had to do something against the slow advance of Black's forces and hence goes for this move. It might well be that the position is lost after this but White also has some targets to attack.} Nd5 46. gxf5 Kxf5 47. Nf1 $1 {Nakamura sees that e3 will be the best spot for his knight.} Nf4+ 48. Kg3 Rc1 49. Ne3+ Kg6 50. Kh2 Rb1 51. Ng2 Rb2 (51... Ne2 {Maybe Svidler could have considered keeping the knights on the board.} 52. Re3 Nd4 $17) 52. Nxf4+ gxf4 {This endgame looks much more drawish than with the knights on the board. Let's have a look if that is the case.} 53. Kg1 (53. Kg2 {looked as if it was not accurate because White would like to meet e5 with f3. But maybe that is not very important as after} e5 54. Ra6+ Kf5 55. Rh6 $1 Kg5 56. Re6 $11) 53... e5 54. Ra5 (54. f3 h4 {Nakamura and Svidler thought this was a winning position for Black, but turns out that this will also be a draw.} 55. Ra5 Kf5 56. Ra6 $1 {Cutting the king off from e6 and preventing its entry.} (56. Rc5 Ke6 57. Rc6+ Kd5 58. Rh6 Kd4 59. Rh5 e4 60. fxe4 Ke3 $19)) 54... Re2 55. h4 f3 56. Kh2 $1 Rxf2+ 57. Kg3 Re2 58. Kxf3 {With excellent play Nakamura finally could heave a sigh of relief. He had successfully made it to a draw.} Re1 59. Ra8 Rh1 60. Ke4 Rxh4+ 61. Kxe5 Rb4 62. Rg8+ Kh7 63. Rg1 Kh6 64. Kf5 1/2-1/2

Finally a draw offer with this last game ending at 20:46 Moscow time

A tired but at the same time relieved Hikaru Nakamura. It was an amazing piece of defensive effort by the American grandmaster. When your opponent is playing so quickly and has everything prepared it is often difficult to maintain your cool. But Hikaru did just that. I feel that this was a very important game for him. After the rest day we might see a completely rejuvenated Nakamura who may start winning one game after another.

“As surprising as it may sound I still work sometimes on chess!” – Peter Svidler
when asked how he prepared the line in such great depth.

Video: Peter Svidler on his phenomenal preparation against Nakamura.
Subscribe to ChessBase India's YouTube channel to see some interesting chess related videos.

Pictorial impressions:

Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Kirsan Illyumzhinov, ECU and FIDE presidents respectively,
keenly follow the games at the start of the third round

By far the cutest player in the tournament hall! This nine-year-old kid was the Moscow
Under Nine finalist and made the opening move in the game between Anand and Caruana.

We wonder how strong Sopiko Guramashvili will become in a few years from now. She is currently an IM and rated 2390, but constantly following high level games of Anish, and discussing games with a strong trainer like Vladimir Tukmakov, is bound to improve her chess! We won’t be surprised if she becomes a full-fledged grandmaster soon.

Chess like love, like music, has the power to make a man happy! – Siegbert Tarrasch

There are chess boards set up outside the playing hall along with DGT clocks, and any spectator can come and play a few games on it. Mind you, the pieces are the same as the ones being used by the players inside the playing hall. On some boards you have grandparents playing…

…while on others you have the grandchildren!

Three strong grandmasters, Evgeniy Najer, Sanan Sjugirov and Jakov Geller
try to make Anish Giri’s piece sacrifice work

The young and talented local grandmaster Vladimir Fedoseev analyzing with a friend

Former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk is doing
an excellent job as the official commentator at the event

Co-anchor is the experienced Ukrainian grandmaster and trainer Evgeny Miroshnichenko. Apart from commentating Miro is also creating some valuable training material for the viewers. For example: on the third day he showed us this very instructive study. Have a crack at it yourself, and if you do find the answer post it in the comments section below:

The black knight seems to have blockaded the d6 pawn and will not let it pass.
But White can win here. Can you see how?

14th of March, Monday, is a rest day for the players. We will be back with in-depth coverage from the venue for the fourth round on Tuesday. Stay tuned for all the action.

Pictures by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India

Pairings and results

Round 1, Friday 11 March 2016
Karjakin Sergey
Svidler Peter
Nakamura Hikaru
Caruana Fabiano
Giri Anish
Aronian Levon
Anand Viswanathan
Topalov Veselin
Round 2, Saturday 12 March 2016
Svidler Peter ½-½ Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon ½-½ Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano ½-½ Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey 1-0 Nakamura Hikaru
Round 3, Sunday 13 March 2016
Nakamura Hikaru
Svidler Peter
Giri Anish
Karjakin Sergey
Anand Viswanathan
Caruana Fabiano
Topalov Veselin
Aronian Levon
Rest day, Monday 14 March 2016
Round 4, Tuesday 15 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Aronian Levon
Caruana Fabiano   Topalov Veselin
Karjakin Sergey   Anand Viswanathan
Nakamura Hikaru   Giri Anish
Round 5, Wed. 16 March 2016
Giri Anish   Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan   Nakamura Hikaru
Topalov Veselin   Karjakin Sergey
Aronian Levon   Caruana Fabiano
Round 6, Thursday 17 March 2016
Anand Viswanathan   Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin   Giri Anish
Aronian Levon   Nakamura Hikaru
Caruana Fabiano   Karjakin Sergey
Rest day, Friday 18 March 2016
Round 7, Saturday 19 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Caruana Fabiano
Karjakin Sergey   Aronian Levon
Nakamura Hikaru   Topalov Veselin
Giri Anish   Anand Viswanathan
Round 8, Sunday 20 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Karjakin Sergey
Caruana Fabiano   Nakamura Hikaru
Aronian Levon   Giri Anish
Topalov Veselin   Anand Viswanathan
Round 9, Monday 21 March 2016
Topalov Veselin   Svidler Peter
Anand Viswanathan   Aronian Levon
Giri Anish   Caruana Fabiano
Nakamura Hikaru   Karjakin Sergey
Rest day, Tuesday 22 March 2016
Round 10, Wed. 23 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Nakamura Hikaru
Karjakin Sergey   Giri Anish
Caruana Fabiano   Anand Viswanathan
Aronian Levon   Topalov Veselin
Round 11, Thursday 24 March 2016
Aronian Levon   Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin   Caruana Fabiano
Anand Viswanathan   Karjakin Sergey
Giri Anish   Nakamura Hikaru
Round 12, Friday 25 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Giri Anish
Nakamura Hikaru   Anand Viswanathan
Karjakin Sergey   Topalov Veselin
Caruana Fabiano   Aronian Levon
Rest day, Saturday 26 March 2016
Round 13, Sunday 27 March 2016
Caruana Fabiano   Svidler Peter
Aronian Levon   Karjakin Sergey
Topalov Veselin   Nakamura Hikaru
Anand Viswanathan   Giri Anish
Round 14, Monday 28 March 2016
Svidler Peter   Anand Viswanathan
Giri Anish   Topalov Veselin
Nakamura Hikaru   Aronian Levon
Karjakin Sergey   Caruana Fabiano


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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