Elista Finals round four: GM Mihail Marin comments

6/11/2007 – Another day of dramatic, exciting chess in Elista. Sergei Rublevsky defeated Alexander Grischuk to equalise in this match, while the other three games were tough, hard-fought draws. Our GM commentator's commentary is less extensive, since he is himself preparing for a strong tournament. But you will get it in full in ChessBase Magazine. For now here are the highlights of round four.

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The Finals of the Candidates Matches for the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament are being held in Elista, Russia, from June 6th to June 14, 2007. Eight candidates advanced from the first stage and are now playing six-game matches to fill four places in the 2007 World Championship in Mexico City.

The following express commentary was provided by Romanian GM Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin will study the games of the Candidates Finals in greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Candidates Finals: Round four commentary

By GM Mihail Marin

Starting with today, my comments will become less comprehensive. I have a good reason for that: quite soon, I will participate in the Spanish team championship, where the expected rating average of my opponents corresponds ‚to the 18th cathegory. One does not play against Svidler and Ivanchuk every day, and I feel I should be doing some preparation for this special occasion. However, I will analyze the most interesting games from the remaining rounds in Elista in greater detail for the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Bareev,E (2643) - Leko,P (2738) [E32]
WCh Candidates Finals Elista RUS (4), 10.06.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3. Against Judit, Bareev displayed excellent preparation in the Quen's Indian. For some reason, he applies another treatment to Judit's countryman. 3...Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.e3. Leko's play against Gurevich in the lines starting with 8.f3 was quite convincing. Besides, Bareev is a specalist of the system introduced by the text move. 8...d6 9.Ne2 Nbd7 10.Qd3 Ba6 11.Qc2 Qc8 12.b4 c5 13.dxc5 bxc5

14.b5 Bb7. The mutual losses of time tend to compensate each other. However, the fact that White has been forced to block the queenside can be regarded as an achievement for Black, whose advantage in the centre will persist untill deep in the endgame. 15.a4 d5 16.a5 Rb8 17.Ng3 Qc7 18.Be2 Qe5 19.Bxf6 Nxf6 20.0-0 h5 21.h4 Rfd8 22.Rad1 g6 23.Bf3 d4 24.Bxb7 Rxb7 25.Rfe1 Qc7 26.exd4 cxd4 27.Qd3 Ng4 28.Nf1 Ne5 29.Qe2 Ng4

30.a6. White avoids the repetition of moves mainly because of the unfavourable match situation. 30...Rbb8 31.Qd3 Rbc8 32.Re4 e5 33.f3 Nf6 34.Ree1 Nd7 35.Nd2 Nc5 36.Qa3 Re8. White's position is difficult. His queenside pawns are blocked, while the enemy centre is quite threatening. Bareev recurs to desperate means. 37.Nb3 Nxb3 38.Qxb3 Qxc4 39.Qxc4 Rxc4 40.Rc1

The permanent possibility of creating a far advanced passed pawn offers White reasonable saving chances. 40...Rc3 41.Kf2 Rec8 42.Ra1 Rc2+ 43.Kg3 R2c5 44.Reb1 Kg7 45.b6 axb6 46.Rxb6 R5c7 47.Rd6 Rc1 48.Ra5 R8c5 49.Ra4 R1c4 50.Ra1 Rc1 51.Ra4 R1c4 52.Ra1 Rc1. With the intention of eternally pursuing the white rook or, in case of exchange, place his own rook behind the passed pawn. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Evgeny Bareev, speaking after game four


Peter Leko listening intently to the remarks of his opponent


Rublevsky,S (2680) - Grischuk,A (2717) [C45]
WCh Candidates Finals Elista RUS (4), 10.06.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6. Rublevsky wisely deviates from 5.Be3, which led to plain equality in the second game. Generally, he is known for having a stable and narrow repertoire. However, just as in the third game, he proves that he can display flexibility in choosing his opening variations for such an important event as the Candidates' Matches. 5...Qf6

6.Qf3!? In fact, the aforementioned flexibility started manifesting itself slightly earlier. In 2006 and 2007 Rublevsky played this relatively rare move in a couple of games. Previously, he just stuck to the well-studied 6.Qd2. 6...bxc6 7.Qg3 h5 8.h4 Nh6 9.f3 d5 10.Nc3 Bb4 11.Bd2 dxe4 12.0-0-0 e3 13.Bxe3 Bxc3

14.bxc3! An important novelty. Earlier this year, Rublevsky won a game after 14.Bg5 Bxb2+ 15.Kb1 Rublevsky-Tkachiev, Poikovsky 2007. We can understand Grischuk from being ready to repeat this line. It is obvious that Black will get ample compensation for the queen that he has to sacrifice in view of the threatened mate on d8. 14...0-0 15.Qg5 Nf5 16.Qxf6 gxf6 17.Bf4

White has the pair of bishops and the better pawn structure. Rublevsky is not the kind of player to let such a chance slip away. 17...Be6 18.Ba6 Nd6 19.Bxd6 cxd6 20.Rxd6 Rab8 21.Rxc6 Bxa2 22.Kd2 Rfd8+ 23.Bd3 Be6 24.Ra1 Rd7 25.Rc5 f5 26.Ke3 Re7 27.Kf4 Rb2 28.g3 Kg7 29.Kg5 Rd7 30.Ra3 Rb1 31.Rca5 Re1 32.Rxa7 Rd8 33.Ra1 Re5 34.R1a5 Re1 35.Bxf5 Bd5 36.Kf4 Rf1 37.Be4 Bxe4 38.Kxe4 Re1+ 39.Kf4 Rc8 40.Rg5+ Kf6 41.Ra6+ Ke7 42.Re5+ Rxe5 43.Kxe5 Rxc3 44.Ke4 Rxc2 45.Ra5 Rc4+ 46.Kd3 Rc1 47.Rxh5 Rg1 48.g4 Rh1 49.Re5+ Kf6 50.Rf5+ Kg7 51.h5 Re1 52.Rf4 Ra1 53.Ke3 Ra3+ 54.Kf2 Ra2+ 55.Kg3 Ra1 56.Rf5 Rh1 57.Kf4 Rh3 58.Kg5 Rh1 59.f4 Rh2 60.Rd5 Ra2 61.h6+ Kg8 62.Rd8+ Kh7 63.Rd7 Kg8 64.h7+ Kh8 65.Rxf7 Ra7 66.Rf8+ 1-0. [Click to replay]


Sergei Rublevsky and Alexander Grischuk in the post match press conference


Grischuk quite devastated by the unexpected defeat


Julia Parterikina, press officer in charge of translating the press conferences


Gelfand,B (2733) - Kamsky,G (2705) [D94]
WCh Candidates Finals Elista RUS (4), 10.06.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 a6 5.e3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.a4

8...Be6. The approved reaction against White's last move is 8...a5. 9.Ng5 Bc8 10.Qb3 b6. Even here, 10...a5 deserves being considered. 11.Bd2 e6 12.Nf3 Nbd7 13.cxd5 exd5 14.a5 b5

White has obtained a favourable queenside structure. Besides, the apparently modest development of his queen's bishop will be entirely justified soon. 15.Rfd1 Re8 16.Rac1 Bf8 17.Na2 Bb7 18.Bb4 Bh6 19.Rc2 Ne4 20.Nc1 Re6 21.Nd3 Qf6

22.Nfe5. In order to prove an advantage, White has to exchange one of the knights defending the c5-square and then occupy it with the d3-knight. The main (and, possibly, better) alternative to the text move was 22.Nd2 . Gelfand might have feared the piece sacrifice 22...Nxf2 23.Nxf2 Bxe3 but after 24.Nf3 Rae8 25.Bf1 White seems to be able to stabilize the situation to his favour. 22...Nxe5 23.dxe5 Rxe5! However, this sacrifice is entirely sound. 24.Nxe5 Qxe5 25.Bf3 Re8 26.Bxe4 Qxe4. Black has entirely adequate compensation for the sacrificed exchange. White will not be able to breakthrough on the queenside. Instead, he will have to prepare to open play in the centre in a way or another. Until then, Black will have to put as much pressure as possible on the white kingside in order to keep the balance even. 27.Bc5 Bg5 28.Qd3 Qe6 29.Bd4 Be7 30.Rdc1 h5 31.Qd2 Bd6 32.b4 f6 33.Qd3 Kf7 34.Bc5 Bb8 35.f3 Bc8 36.Re2 h4 37.Qc3 h3 38.g3 Bd7 39.Rce1 g5 40.e4 dxe4 41.Rxe4 Qa2 42.R1e2 Qb1+ 43.Re1 Qa2 44.R1e2 Qb1+ 45.Qe1 Qxe1+ 46.Rxe1 Be6

Both sides have accomplished the aforementioned plans and it will soon appear that White cannot win this ending. 47.Kf2 f5 48.R4e2 Bc7 49.Rd2 Rd8 50.Rxd8 Bxd8 51.Rd1 Bd5 52.f4 g4 53.Ke3 Bf6 54.Re1 Be4 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


Boris Gelfand, 39, Israeli grandmaster, born in Minsk, Belarus


Gata (Gataulla) Kamsky, 33, top US grandmaster, born in Siberia


Shirov,A (2699) - Aronian,L (2759) [C88]
WCh Candidates Finals Elista RUS (4), 10.06.2007 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.Nbd2 Nc6 13.Nf1 Bc8 14.c3 Be6 15.Bxe6 fxe6

Aronian seems to enjoy this structure. Just remember the first game of his semi-finalmatch against Carlsen. 16.b4 d5 17.Ng3 dxe4?! However, this means going too far. Black's structure will be in ruins now. 18.Nxe4 c4 19.dxc4 Qxd1 20.Nxf6+ Bxf6 21.Rxd1 e4 22.cxb5 axb5 23.Ng5

23...Nxb4. The double pin is nice, of course, but Black is just worse. 24.Nxe4 Nd5 25.Rb1 Ra5 26.Nxf6+ gxf6 27.Rb3 Rc8 28.Bd2 Rc4 29.Rdb1 Nc7 30.Kf1 Kf7 31.Rb4 Rxb4 32.axb4 Ra2 33.Be1 Nd5

White has managed to consolidate his material advantage, but Black's activity will make the technical part quite difficult. 34.Rd1 h5 35.Rd3 Ra1 36.g3 f5 37.Ke2 Ra2+ 38.Bd2 Nb6 39.Kf1 Nd5 40.Rd4 Nf6 41.Be1 Rc2 42.Rd8 Ne4 43.Rh8

43...Kf6!! After a long thought, Aronian finds an excellent practical chance. In case of 43...Kg6 44.Rb8 Nd6 45.Rb6 it wold be all over. 44.Rxh5 Ng5! 45.f4. White has no time to activate his rook with 45.Rh8 because of 45...Nf3 when he would have to part with the bishop. 45...Nf7 46.g4 Kg6

A highly pictoresque position. White is two pawns up, but his rook is trapped. The win becomes quite problematic now. 47.Kg1 Re2 48.Bf2 Rc2 49.Bd4 Re2 50.Rh4 Re4 51.Kg2 Re2+ 52.Kf3 Rc2 53.Ke3 Rc1 54.Kd3 Ra1 55.Be5 Rd1+ 56.Kc2 Re1 57.Bd4 Re2+ 58.Kd3 Re1 59.Bc5 Re4 60.Be3 Rc4 61.Bd4 Nh6 62.Kd2 Nf7 63.Kc2 Nh6 64.Rh5 Nf7 65.Kb3 Rc8 66.Bc5 Rd8 67.Kc2 Ra8 68.Rh4 Ra1

69.g5. Finally Shirov loses his temper. Blocking the kingside will offer Black the possibility to more-or-less force a draw. Now (or at some previous point) he should have considered 69.c4 bxc4 70.Bd4 , when the b-pawn could still cause Black troubles. 69...Ra2+ 70.Kd3 e5 71.fxe5 Nxe5+ 72.Ke3 Kxg5 73.Be7+ Kg6 74.Rh8 Kg7 75.Rc8 f4+ 76.Ke4 Re2+ 77.Kf5 f3 78.Bc5 Nd3 79.Bd4+ Kf7 80.Rb8 f2 81.Rb7+ Re7 82.Rxe7+ Kxe7 83.Bxf2 Nxf2 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]


So close... Alexei Shirov still needs a win to catch Levon Aronian

Photos by Frederic Friedel in Elista

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