CBM 172: Recommended for the tournament player

by Nagesh Havanur
7/18/2016 – “Professional chess is demanding and success eludes the best. If you study the games in this issue you will know how battles are won and lost at this level.” Those are the thoughts of Prof. Nagesh Havanur on Volume #172 of ChessBase Magazine, which has become the essential study tool of ambitious players. The current issue has 837 OTB games, 115 of which are annotated (by Kasimdzhanov, Marin, Krasenkow, Ftacnik and others). The Telechess section includes 20147 correspondence games, 29 games annotated. And 14 exemplary openings surveys.

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ChessBase Magazine #172

Review by Prof Nagesh Havanur

ChessBase Magazine #172 (DVD + Booklet)
Date: June 2016/July 2016
Languages: English, German
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Level: Any
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In a way this issue belongs to Sergei Karjakin who deservedly won the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament this year. While it has as many as 837 games, the pride of place belongs to the decisive encounter, Karjakin-Caruana annotated by the winner himself. A few questions remain. Soon after the tournament Karjakin gave an interview to the Russian media and mentioned how he felt when the crisis of the game was reached:

To Caruana’s credit, you can say that he did a very good job of making things sharper. After all, he had to play for a win with Black, and at some point he was outplaying me. But then, closer to the time control, he lost the thread and then I played 30.e5! giving up a pawn for the initiative.

Was he outplayed any time during the game? The annotations here do not say so. But if you read between lines you will find gaps. What a grandmaster leaves unsaid is what we need to explore and find out. That way we will be better prepared against an opponent who merely copies the moves of a grandmaster.

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.03.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B67"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2794"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 {The Richter-Rauzer Attack.} e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 h6 $5 {A favourite of the Chinese player Li Chao with which he had scored a number of wins. As it transpired, Caruana had studied his games.} (9... b5 {is the Main Line}) 10. Bh4 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. f5 $1 ({Li Chao faced only} 12. Kb1 b4 13. Nce2 { in recent games.}) 12... Qb6 13. fxe6 ({In his analysis Karjakin prefers the move order} 13. Nxc6 Qxc6 (13... Bxc6 {is met by} 14. Kb1 b4 15. Ne2 Bxe4 16. fxe6 fxe6 17. Nf4 $16) 14. Bd3 {and here White has a lead in development and initiative.}) 13... fxe6 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 {Karjakin approves this move. However, as his own analysis shows later, it does not sove Black's problems.} ({After} 14... Bxc6 {he gives} 15. Bd3 h5 16. Kb1 b4 17. Ne2 Qc5 18. Rhf1 Bh6 19. Qe1 a5 20. b3 {While Black's counterattack on the queenside would take time it is not a bad position for him.} ({Karjakin does not consider} 20. Rxf6 {after which there follows} Ke7 $1 ({but not} 20... Qe5 $2 21. Nd4 $1 Qxf6 22. Nxc6 $36) 21. Rf3 Raf8 $11)) 15. Bd3 h5 16. Kb1 b4 17. Ne2 Qc5 18. Rhf1 $2 ({After the game Karjakin found} 18. e5 $1 fxe5 (18... Qxe5 19. Bg6+ Kd8 20. Rhe1 $36 {is also good for White.}) 19. Qg5 $16 {penetrating Black's position.}) 18... Bh6 19. Qe1 a5 20. b3 Rg8 21. g3 Ke7 22. Bc4 Be3 23. Rf3 ({Karjakin writes that} 23. Nf4 {deserves attention. Indeed, white's position is more harmnoius with the knight on f4.}) 23... Rg4 24. Qf1 Rf8 25. Nf4 Bxf4 26. Rxf4 a4 ({In the post-mortem Caruana offered} 26... Bc6 {If} 27. Qd3 Rf7 {a suggestion that Karjakin also accepts.}) 27. bxa4 $5 {This move is a brave attempt to stop ... a3 followed by...Qe5.} ({If} 27. Qd3 a3 28. Qd4 Qxd4 29. Rxd4 e5 30. Rxg4 hxg4 31. Rd2 f5 $17 {The line highlights the dangers of white's position.}) ({ Engines recommend} 27. e5 $1 Qxe5 {and only now} (27... dxe5 28. Qd3 Bc6 29. Qh7+ Rf7 30. Qxh5 Rgg7 31. Qh3 Bd5 32. Bxd5 exd5 33. Rc4 Qb5 $13) 28. bxa4 f5 { with chances for both sides.} ({Now that the e-file is opened, Black bishop cannot leave his post on d7.} 28... Bxa4 $4 {would be met by} 29. Bxe6 $1 { as pointed out by GM Tony Kosten.})) 27... Bxa4 28. Qd3 ({Karjakin gives} 28. Bb3 Bxb3 29. axb3 Rgg8 $15) ({A sharp, double-edged position would have come about after} 28. e5 $1 dxe5 29. Rxg4 hxg4 30. Qd3 Be8 $13) 28... Bc6 ({Engines suggest} 28... Rfg8 29. Bb3 Bc6 $15 {with latent pressure on the e-pawn.}) 29. Bb3 Rg5 (29... Rfg8 {was still possible.}) 30. e5 $1 Rxe5 31. Rc4 Rd5 32. Qe2 Qb6 33. Rh4 Re5 34. Qd3 Bg2 35. Rd4 d5 36. Qd2 Re4 $4 ({Karjakin gives} 36... Be4 37. Rxb4 Qc6 38. Kb2 $11) (36... Bf3 37. Rxb4 Qc6 $11 {comes to the same thing.}) 37. Rxd5 $3 {A stunning sacrifice.} exd5 38. Qxd5 Qc7 39. Qf5 Rf7 40. Bxf7 Qe5 41. Rd7+ Kf8 42. Rd8+ 1-0

A tense battle! If you look at White’s position on the 27th move, you would see why Karjakin felt he was being outplayed at this point. While the engine suggestion, 27.e5! is better than 27.bxa4 in the game, one can be only glad that Karjakin did not make that move. In that event the combination with 37.Rxd5!! would not have appeared on the board. Currently 9…h6 line against the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian is under a cloud and Karjakin’s recommendation of 13.Nxc6 Qxc6 14. Bd3 could prove to be a critical test.

The second encounter of interest, Anand-Svidler from the Candidates’ is annotated by IM Sagar Shah. It followed an earlier game, Shirov-Onischuk, Calvia Olympiad 2004 that White lost.

[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C88"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. a4 Bb7 9. d3 Re8 10. Nbd2 Bf8 11. c3 Na5 12. Bc2 c5 13. d4 exd4 (13... cxd4 $1 14. cxd4 Qb6 $11 {is best.}) 14. cxd4 d5 $2 {An ambitious attempt that meets its refutation.} (14... cxd4 $1 15. e5 Nd5 {was still available to try and reach equality.}) 15. e5 Ne4 16. axb5 $1 {A novelty that Anand found over the board.} ({An earlier game saw} 16. Nxe4 dxe4 17. Rxe4 Nb3 $1 18. Bg5 $2 (18. Rh4 $1 Bxf3 19. Bxh7+ Kh8 20. Rh3 Bxd1 21. Be4+ $11) 18... Be7 19. Bxe7 Qxe7 20. Rb1 Nxd4 21. Nxd4 Bxe4 22. Bxe4 Rad8 23. Bxh7+ Kf8 24. Qf3 Rxd4 25. Re1 Qg5 26. h4 Qd2 27. Rf1 Rxh4 {0-1, Shirov-Onischuk, Calvia Olympiad 2004}) 16... axb5 17. Nxe4 dxe4 18. Rxe4 $1 $16 Nb3 $5 (18... Bxe4 $2 19. Bxe4 Ra7 20. Bxh7+ Kxh7 21. Ng5+ Kg6 22. g4 Rxe5 23. Qc2+ $18) (18... g6 {was the lesser evil, though White has a superior position after} 19. Bg5 $14) 19. Rxa8 Bxa8 20. Ng5 Nxc1 21. Qh5 h6 22. Qxf7+ Kh8 23. Rg4 $1 Qa5 24. h4 $1 {and Svidler resigned. If} ( 24. h3 $4 Qe1+ 25. Kh2 Ne2 $19 {was the last trap.}) 24... Qe1+ 25. Kh2 Ne2 { White has} 26. Nh3 {and after} Rd8 {follows up with} 27. Qg6 $18 1-0

This issue also features other heavyweight encounters from the Candidates’ like Anand-Karjakin in which the former world champion inflicted the only defeat on the winner of the tournament. Here it is annotated by Anand himself. While Vishy shone as white in flank openings he could not perform the same way with Black. Consequently he lost to Karjakin, Caruana and Nakamura. The major disappointment was the poor performance of Aronian.

However, he scored in Norway Tournament, coming second behind Carlsen. The world champion’s participation has become a benchmark for other players’ performance. In this event Aronian was the only player to beat Carlsen and the game is annotated by Mihail Marin. It should be noted that the same game is also annotated by Aronian himself in New in Chess Magazine and also 64 Review, a Russian chess magazine. While Aronian’s deeply personal commentary offers rich insights into the mind of a great player Marin’s analysis here is not without merit. He is an authority on the English Opening that was employed in this particular game. For reasons of space I shall only mention the point that he makes on the opening phase of the game.

[Event "Norway Chess 2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.04.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "*"] [ECO "A11"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. c4 ({Marin gives a line from Reti that nearly transposes to the moves in the game.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. b3 Bg7 4. Bb2 d5 5. c4 dxc4 6. bxc4 c5 7. Bg2 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 $11) 1... Nf6 2. g3 c6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 g6 5. b3 Bg7 6. Bb2 O-O 7. O-O dxc4 $6 (7... Bg4 8. d3 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 e6 $11) 8. bxc4 c5 9. d3 ({In the post-mortem that followed the game Carlsen mentioned to Aronian that} 9. Na3 { is the best move. Among other reasons it allows White to play d4 at one go-NSH} ) 9... Nc6 {Carlsen has reached the same position in the first note with a tempo down.} *

It is clear from Marin’s analysis that Black remains a tempo behind with the line chosen by Carlsen. Thereafter if White plays 9.Na3, a line suggested by Magnus himself Black may have problems. After the advance, d2-d4, he can put pressure on Black’s queenside. Apart from the knight on a3 He also has a bishop on g2 and a semi-open b-file to do the job for him.

Besides the Candidates’ and Norway Tournament, the issue also includes games from the US Championship, Moscow Aeroflot and Bundesliga events among others. This brings me to other sections of the Magazine. There are as many as 14 opening surveys ranging from the Sicilian to the Semi-Slav Defence. Among them I would single out Robert Ris’ survey of a colorful line in the Italian Game.





The Max Lange Attack has a chequered history with some of the greatest players contributing to its theory, Steinitz, Tarrasch, Chigorin and Marshall among others. When you examine Ris’ analysis you would make quite a few discoveries.

Max Lange (1832-1899)
photo courtesy: Wikipedia

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Max Lange Attack"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C56"] [Annotator "Havanur,Nagesh "] [PlyCount "39"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Bc5 {Accepting the challenge} ({Black can avoid the ensuing complications with} 5... Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qh5 $11 (8... Qa5 {is the older line.})) 6. e5 {The Max Lange Attack} d5 7. exf6 dxc4 8. Re1+ (8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Bxe7 Kxe7 11. Re1+ Kf6 $1 12. Re4 Kxg7 13. Nxd4 Kh8 $1 $11 {as in Smerdon-Flear, 4NCL Rapid Championship, 2014}) 8... Be6 9. Ng5 {threatening 10.Nxe6 followed by 11.Qh5+ and 12.Qxc5.} Qd5 (9... Qxf6 $2 10. Nxe6 fxe6 11. Qh5+ {[%cal Rh5c5,Rh5e8] wins a piece.}) (9... Qd7 $2 {leads to the same thing.}) 10. Nc3 Qf5 11. Nce4 ( {The older move} 11. g4 {is met by} Qg6 $1 (11... Qxf6 $2 12. Nd5)) 11... O-O-O 12. g4 Qe5 ({Not} 12... Qd5 $2 13. fxg7 Rhg8 14. Nf6 Qd6 15. Nge4 Qe5 16. f4 d3+ 17. Kg2 Qd4 18. c3 $18 {and White went on to win. Chigorin-Albin, Berlin 1897 (1-0.35 moves)}) 13. Nxe6 (13. f4 $2 {is easily met by} d3+) 13... fxe6 14. fxg7 Rhg8 15. Bh6 d3 16. c3 Rd7 {The best move according to Robert Ris.} ( 16... d2 17. Re2 (17. Nxd2 $2 Bxf2+ 18. Kxf2 Qxh2+ $19) 17... Rd3 18. Qf1 (18. Nxd2 $6 Qf6 19. g5 Qf4 $15) 18... Qd5 19. Nxd2 $1 Bd6 20. Ne4 Be5 ({White need not fear} 20... Ne5 $2 21. Nf6 Qf3 (21... Nf3+ 22. Kh1 Qc6 23. Qg2 $18) 22. Nxg8 Nxg4 23. Qg2 Qxe2 24. Ne7+ Kd7 25. g8=Q Bxh2+ 26. Qxh2 Nxh2 27. Qc8+ $1 ({ Not} 27. Kxh2 $4 Qxf2+ 28. Qg2 Qh4+ 29. Kg1 Rg3 $19) 27... Kxe7 28. Qxc7+ Ke8 29. Qxh2 $18) 21. f4 Bxg7 22. Bxg7 Rxg7 23. Qg2 Rf7 24. Rf1 $14) (16... Be7 $5 17. Qf3 (17. f4 Qd5 18. Qd2 Bh4 $13) 17... Qd5 18. Qf7 Rde8 19. Rad1 Ne5 $13 { -NSH}) 17. Nxc5 Qxc5 18. Qf3 Qd5 19. Qxd5 exd5 20. f4 $14 {with a slightly superior position. But Black may get a draw with precise play according to this survey by Robert Ris.} *

Where do we go from here? Black can play 16… Rd7 and go down to an ending with fighting chances. Or he can try 16…Be7!?, a less explored line. Both need more tests over the board. If you are still anxious about the Max Lange, you can always opt for the more pleasant 5…Nxe4, a regular line of Two Knights’ Defence.

Apart from these surveys, there are regular exercises on opening traps, middle game tactics and endgame technique. Mihail Marin’s column on strategy deserves a special mention. This time he writes on kingside majority, an important theme in attack.

There are 837 OTB games of which 115 are annotated. They include Kasimdzhanov, Marin, Krasenkow and Ftacnik among others. The Telechess section includes 20147 correspondence games of which 29 games are annotated by Roberto Alvarez. One can only ask for more.

Recommended – more info on the DVD is here

The editor’s top ten

  1. The decisive game in Moscow: The new WCh challenger Karjakin analyses his final round win against Caruana.
  2. Out-manoeuvred: Anand shows how he inflicted on defensive artist Karjakin his only defeat of the candidates tournament.
  3. Theoretical advantage against Anand: Kasimdzhanov shows on video how his protégé Caruana outplayed the ex-world champion straight from the opening.
  4. “Battle of the Scandis”: Daniel King demonstrates Carlsen-Grandelius with its piece sacrifice and attack worthy of a world champion (video).
  5. Romanticism put to the test: Robert Ris discovers great potential for both sides in the Max Lange Attack.
  6. Successful experiment: Nakamura tries a Kasimdzhanov idea and wins a sharp Petroff game.
  7. How to play the Najdorf! Vachier-Lagrave explains his textbook attacking game against Giri.
  8. What do you do with a pawn majority on the kingside? Strategy expert Mihail Marin shows you the options!
  9. “A seemingly well protected king”: Together with Oliver Reeh destroy the black king position one move at a time.
  10. A diamond against the French with 3…dxe4. Together with Simon Williams dismantle the Rubinstein Variation – "Move by Move"!

All opening articles in CBMagazine #172

Havasi: Reti Opening A11
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 Bf5

Gergö Havasi’s suggestion – 3...Bf5 instead of 3...Bg4 – first of all covers an enormous amount of territory. But the material soon divides and becomes easier to understand. According to Havasi the setup is easy to learn. In Part 1 4.c4 and lines with d4 are dealt with.

Postny: Anti-Grünfeld A16
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.h4

The Anti-Grünfeld variation with 5.h4 has become a Chinese speciality. Evgeny Postny considers ignoring the white advance with 5...Bg7 to be the best reply and points out in his conclusion that many lines remain unexplored.

Moskalenko: Dutch Defence A80
1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 c6

Our author Viktor Moskalenko considers the flexible 3...c6 better compared to the immediate 3...g6 and justifies this with a little known variation (4.Qd2! etc.). According to how White reacts to 3...c6, Black will either fianchetto his king’s bishop or not.

Kuzmin: Caro-Kann B11
1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4

The Two Knights System is becoming ever more popular and so Alexey Kuzmin offers in 3...Nf6 an equally good alternative to the popular 3...Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3. It is, however, left up to each individual whether to surrender the bishop pair or as in our subject area to prefer French type positions.

Sumets: Caro-Kann B12
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0-0 Bg6

In his extensive article Andrey Sumets treats above all the two main moves, 7.c3 and the slightly more modern 7.Nbd2. There are numerous transpositions and subtleties to be borne in mind. Although Black should equalise, this is not always so simple in practice.

Reinke: Sicilian Defence B20
1.e4 c5 2.b4 cxb4 3.a3

Spurred on by Robert Ris’ article in CBM 169 Markus Reinke wanted in his researches to go into more detail concerning the Wing Gambit. In the first part of his article he examines the continuations 3...e6, 2...Nc6, 3...Nf6 and above all 3...d5.

Gavrikov: Sicilian Defence B22
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Bf5

The natural move 4...Bf5 is played surprisingly rarely. Viktor Gavrikov has examined those lines which are possible after it; the main variation arises after 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Be3. Black should be able to equalise and to do so he does not have to learn so much theory as is the case for other variations of the Alapin.

Stohl: Sicilian Defence B94
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7

This Najdorf variation continues to remain popular, but has been analysed in less depth than the 6...e6 lines. Igor Stohl investigates in Part 1 of his article the continuations 7.Bc4 and 7.f4. Black appears able to hold his own against the two most frequently played moves.

Ris: Max Lange Attack C56
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.0-0 Bc5 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4

The forcing nature of the variations in the Max Lange Attack has always enthused opening theoreticians. In his researches Robert Ris can make fall back on practical experience in the lines, but nowadays analyses are even more influenced by strong engines.

Szabo: Ruy Lopez C65
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6

Sometimes variations disappear from practice (among top players) and one is not quite sure why. Recently Black has here been playing 7...Ne7 (instead of 7...a6). Krisztian Szabo has investigated the modern variation and is of the opinion that it is very playable for both sides.

Schandorff: London System D02
1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nbd2 Bd6

The fact that the London System has found its way into the games of the chess elite fascinated Lars Schandorff so much that he has written an article about it. In the diagram 7.Bg3 is the main move, but after 7...0-0 8.Bd3 b6 White achieves surprisingly little with 9.Ne5 and then f4.

Bronznik: Chigorin Defence D07
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.Nc3 e6

In the second part of his series on the Chigorin Defence Valeri Bronznik puts under the microscope the development of the bishop to g5. This can be played with or without the insertion of the exchange on d5. Black has no major problems, but he must be prepared for a long positional struggle.

Marin: Semi-Slav D45
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.b3 0-0 8.Be2 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Bb2

With the early b3 White somewhat restricts Black’s options in this Anti-Meran variation. Mihail Marin spots “middlegames with a more stable character” and in his extensive investigations shows himself to be optimistic for the side with White.

Krasenkow: Grünfeld Defence D80
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 Bg7

4.e3 is without doubt a modest attempt at combatting the Grünfeld Defence. Michal Krasenkow is convinced that Black has no trouble in equalising. Nevertheless, various variations require to be taken more seriously than just for the effect of surprise.

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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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