CBM 169: Exciting games and fascinating analysis

by Nagesh Havanur
1/28/2016 – ChessBase Magazine 169 has 1631 OTB games, of which are 97 are annotated. Particularly interesting for Prof. Nagesh Havanur was the final World Cup duel between Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler, who was leading 2-0 and then managed to lose – quite traumatically. The key positions are analysed by GM Mihail Marin, who explains the psychology behind such a turn of events. Review.

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ChessBase Magazine #169

Review by Prof Nagesh Havanur

ChessBase Magazine #169 (DVD + Booklet)
Date: December 2015/January 2016
Languages: English, German
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Any
Price: €19.95 €16.76 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
($16.76) (without VAT)

The last quarter of 2015 saw fierce battles over the board. In this issue of ChessBase Magazine we find games from the World Cup and European Cup, besides other events like the Poikovsky Tournament.

I was particularly interested to see the final duel between Karjakin and Svidler from the World Cup. As is known, the first two games resulted in the score 2-0 in favour of Svidler. In this magazine Mihail Marin offers detailed annotations to both. He has an interesting explanation to offer for Karjakin’s blunder in the second game. Here is the position:

[Event "FIDE World Cup"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2727"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Nagesh Havanur"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5bk1/3n1rp1/2q4p/8/2BQ4/7P/1R3PP1/6K1 w - - 0 37"] [PlyCount "4"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.12.19"] 37. Rb5 $2 {This move was probably intended to prevent the advance of the knight with...Ne5 according to Marin.} (37. Rb3 {allows} Ne5) ({Perhaps} 37. Rc2 $5 {deserves attention, though Black has a draw with perpetual check after} Kh8 38. Bxf7 Qxc2 39. Qxd7 Qc1+ 40. Kh2 Qf4+ $11) 37... Kh8 $1 ({One may add, Karjakin also had a tactical motif that backfired in the end. After} 37... Bc5 $2 38. Rxc5 $1 Qxc5 (38... Nxc5 39. Qd8+) 39. Bxf7+ $16 {As the proverb goes, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.}) 38. Rd5 $4 ({After} 38. Qd5 Qxd5 39. Bxd5 Rf5 {Black will have to demonstrate techique to win the ending.}) 38... Nb6 {and a stunned Karjakin resigned.} 0-1

At the end of his annotations Marin comments: ”With hindsight, Karjakin's blunder can be regarded as a non-intentional psychological gambit. Had the game ended in a draw, Svidler might have kept his composure and his minimal advantage on the score table, but facing the perspective to win easier than expected he took a few highly uninspired decisions.”

This is at best a debatable point. In fairness to Svidler he was not complacent. “Is it over?" a reporter asked him in the press conference. "No!” he replied. “It will be over only once I get that half a point." He played energetically in the next game presenting his opponent a terrible choice. Either he had to exchange queens and take a draw or take risks and fight. Karjakin courageously chose the latter. As he himself put it later, he thought it would be better to die like a man. So it was. He took appalling risks when he sacrificed his knight on the 25th move. Svidler accepted the sacrifice and blundered twice, first missing a win and then a draw. Here is what happened.

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2015 "] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.10.03"] [Round "?"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B53"] [WhiteElo "2727"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "CBM Editors"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.12.19"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 a6 5. c4 Nc6 6. Qe3 Nf6 7. h3 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Be2 Nd7 10. Rb1 Nde5 11. O-O O-O 12. Rd1 Nxf3+ 13. Bxf3 f5 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. Be4 {White is not averse to the exchange of bishops.} Qd7 16. Nd5 Qe6 17. Bxf5 Qxf5 18. Bd2 Rae8 19. Bc3 e6 20. Nb6 {Black has managed to push the knight to the sidelines.} d5 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Qc5 $1 Rf6 $5 ({A more objective move would be to push the d-pawn} 22... d4 23. Qxf5 Rxf5 $11) ({ or exchange on c4} 22... dxc4 23. Qxf5 Rxf5 24. Nxc4 Rd5 $11 {Either way White would have a level endgame.}) 23. b4 Ne5 24. cxd5 Nd3 25. Qe3 {[#]} Nxf2 $2 ({ Correct was} 25... Nf4 26. Kh2 Nxg2 $1 27. Kxg2 exd5 $1 28. Qxe8 Qxf2+ 29. Kh1 {But then Black would only have perpetual check in the end.}) (25... Qxf2+ 26. Qxf2 Nxf2 27. Re1 {would hardly benefit Black.}) 26. Rf1 Qe4 $5 27. Rbe1 (27. Qxe4 $2 {would have given Black hope. After} Nxe4 28. Rxf6 Kxf6 29. dxe6 Kxe6 { the game is level.}) 27... exd5 $5 {Black has to gamble.} (27... Ref8 28. Qxe4 Nxe4 29. Rxf6 Nxf6 30. dxe6 {gives no chance for Black.}) 28. Rxf2 $2 ({ Black would have been forced to give up the game after} 28. Qc3 $1 $18 { But after} Qf5 {he still had to calculate some variations.} 29. Rxe8 Nxh3+ 30. Kh2 $1 (30. Qxh3 $2 Qxf1+ 31. Kh2 Qf4+ $11) 30... Qxf1 31. Nxd5 $18 {-Karjakin} ) 28... Qh4 $1 ({Was he expecting only} 28... Qxe3 $2 29. Rxe3 Rxe3 30. Rxf6 Kxf6 31. Nxd5+ $18) 29. Qd2 $2 {losing his nerve completely} ({After} 29. Qxe8 $1 Qxf2+ 30. Kh2 Qxb6 31. Re7+ $1 ({not} 31. Qe7+ $2 Rf7 32. Qe5+ Qf6 33. Qxd5 Qf4+ 34. Kh1 Qxb4 $17 {NSH}) 31... Kh6 32. Qd7 ({In their interview both Svidler and Karjakin mentioned} 32. Rd7 {But after} Qxb4 33. Qg8 Qf4+ 34. Kh1 Qe5 35. Rxh7+ (35. Qxh7+ $2 Kg5 $19) 35... Kg5 {White will have to play carefully for a draw-NSH}) 32... Qd6+ 33. Kg1 {Black can still play for a win. But a draw is the more likely outcome.}) 29... Rxf2 30. Qc3+ d4 $1 {and a despairing Svidler resigned when he saw the intended} 31. Qc7+ {would be met by } Rf7 $19 {-NSH} 0-1

Despair: Peter Svidler in this poignant photo from the Russian Chess Federation news page

So far we have looked at what the computers and commentators found. What about the players themselves? As Svidler revealed in a later interview, he did see 28.Qc3! that pinned almost all Black pieces and won. But after 28…Qf4 or …Qf5 he still had to calculate some variations. Then he saw 28.Rxf2 and everything appeared simple. After 28…Qxe3 29. Rxe3 he would exchange rooks and be a piece up with a knight fork. So when he saw 28…Qh4 he was stunned and was in no frame of mind to cope with the changed scenario. He was still not lost. Reeling under shock he blundered again and capitulated.

The critical variation with 28.Qc3 runs 28…Qf5 29.Rxe8 Nxh3+ 30.Kh2! (30.Qxh3? Qxf1+ 31.Kh2 Qf4+ =) Qxf1 31.Nxd5. Karjakin who offered this variation in an interview days later said, he only saw 30.Qxh3? over the board, and not the subtle 30. Kh2! that won. How many of us would have found it in a tense finale at the World Cup? Both players deserve cheers for their bravura performance and sportsmanship.

The European Team Championship was won by Siberia, the team led by Vladimir Kramnik. In this issue Vlad himself annotates the game with Topalov (his “favourite opponent” as mentioned here with delicious irony).

Among others I found games from the Poikovsky Tournament (won by Korobov and Bologan) interesting. The participation of “old” gladiators, Morozevich and Shirov (“who said we are old?”) led to some exciting play. I would have loved to see games from the World Rapid and Blitz Championship here. Hopefully, they would find their way into the next edition of MegaBase

This brings me to other sections of the Magazine. There are eleven opening surveys ranging from the Sicilian to the King’s Indian. Among them I would single out Robert Ris’ analysis of Sicilian Wing Gambit and Alexey Kuzmin’s treatment of a new line in King’s Indian Classical Variation.

Apart from these surveys, there are regular exercises in opening traps, middle game tactics and endgame technique. In all, this DVD has 1631 OTB games of which are 97 are annotated. I missed Telechess (column on correspondence chess) in this issue. Perhaps it would be back soon.

Recommended – more info on the DVD is here

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Prof. Nagesh Havanur (otherwise known as "chessbibliophile") is a senior academic and research scholar. He taught English in Mumbai for three decades and has now settled in Bangalore, India. His interests include chess history, biography and opening theory. He has been writing on the Royal Game for more than three decades. His articles and reviews have appeared on several web sites and magazines.


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