FIDE Candidates: Caruana annotates game two

5/7/2011 – Of the four games our GM annotator has selected the decisive (and most exciting one). "Topalov came prepared with a good novelty, but he didn't follow it up correctly," says Super-GM Fabiano Caruana. In fact, it only took one mistake for White's position to go downhill – that's how it works in these sharp lines." Once again Fabiano provides wonderfully insightful commentary. Learn and enjoy.

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May 2011
M T W T F S S
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2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

From 3 to 27 May 2011 the FIDE Candidates matches are being held in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, with eight strong GMs competing to qualify as Challenger for the 2012 World Champion match. Time controls in the four regular games are 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 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 61. In case of a tie there will be four rapid chess games, and if the tie is still not broken then up to five two-game blitz matches 5'+3". Finally there may be a sudden-death final decider. The prize fund of the candidates is 500,000 Euros.
 

Scoreboard

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Levon Aronian
ARM
2808
½
½
           
1.0
 
Alexander Grischuk 
RUS
2747
½
½
           
1.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Vladimir Kramnik
RUS
2785
½
½
           
1.0
 
Teimour Radjabov 
AZE
2744
½
½
           
1.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Veselin Topalov
BUL
2775
½
0
           
0.5
 
Gata Kamsky
USA
2732
½
1
           
1.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Boris Gelfand
ISR
2733
½
½
           
1.0
 
Shak. Mamedyarov 
AZE
2772
½
½
           
1.0
 

Round one commentary

By GM Fabiano Caruana

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Kamsky,Gata (2732) [A15]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.2), 06.05.2011 [Caruana]

This match between two great players of vastly contrasting styles was highly anticipated. And they didn't dissapoint! 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5. Just like in their last match played two years ago, Kamsky remains faithful to the Grunfeld. Topalov quickly steers the game into unconventional lines, where he has a powerful new idea. 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qb3 Nb6 6.d4 Bg7 7.Bf4 Be6 8.Qa3








White's queen is often the biggest problem in the Qb3 lines of the Grunfeld. Here she is completely sidelined and in danger of getting trapped in some variations. On the other hand, if Black isn't able to take advantage of this factor, then he will simply have a strategically inferior position due to the strength of White's center. In this game it's clear White didn't justify the position of his queen on a3: it didn't move for the rest of the game.... 8...Nc6. The knight is aiming for the great b4-square after ...a5. Of course, Black must play as concretely as possible at this stage, and cannot afford luxuries such as castling. For example, after 8...0-0 9.e3 (9.e4 also deserves attention.) 9...Nc6 10.Be2 a5 11.0-0 Nb4 White is in time to play 12.Rfc1 , defending against ...Nc2, after which he will slowly unravel and begin exploiting his strong center.

9.0-0-0!N A novelty, and a very interesting one! On the one hand, White is playing for complete central domination with e4 and d5, but on the other, if he doesn't manage then his king could end up very exposed on the queenside. The play quickly becomes sharp and unusual, and the game could steer one way or the other as a result of mistakes on either side. Previously the obvious 9.e3 had been played. As a matter of fact, Gata himself defended the Black pieces twice here! 9...a5 10.Be2 (10.Bb5 0-0 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Qc5 Nd5 13.Be5 Nxc3 14.Qxc3 Bd5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 and Black compensated his bad pawn structure with active piece play in Eljanov-Kamsky, Ohrid 2009.) 10...Nb4 11.0-0 and here Ivanchuk-Kamsky, Jermuk 2009 continued 11...c6, but Black could have ventured 11...Nc2 12.Qc5 Nxa1 13.Nb5 (13.Bxc7 Nd7 14.Bb5 Kf8! is a nice variation which ends with an extra exchange for Black.) 13...Nd5 14.Bxc7 Qd7 , with chaotic play where it's at first sight difficult to understand who is playing for what - but my computer assures me that Black is doing very well here! I imagine all these variations were checked deeply by both players and their seconds before the match, and they came to the conclusion that Black is well off.

9...Nd5 Not what Black wants, but there was no other defence to the threat of d5. 9...a5?? 10.d5 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Bxd5 12.e4 simply wins a piece. 10.Bg3 Bh6+!? Although it's probably not enough to equalize, I'm nevertheless impressed by this unconventional solution to Black's problems. It seems very strange to "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" a natural move like e3, but Gata saw that if he could prevent White from playing e4 and maintain central stability, then he would have enough counterplay against White's king. Not only a great concept, it also seemed to take Topalov out of his preparation, and as we will see he immediately went astray. The cooperative 10...Nxc3?! grants White an advantage: 11.bxc3 Qd5 12.e3 , and White will continue to expand with c4 next. 11.e3. The point is of course that 11.Kb1?? is met by 11...Bf5+ 12.Ka1 Ndb4 , winning. 11...a5








12.h4? Topalov is too keen on attacking, when he should have tried to realize his main plan of central expansion. This very serious conceptual mistake leads to a very pleasant position for Black. 12.Kb1! , preparing e4, would have been a logical continuation of White's opening strategy: 12...Ncb4 (12...Bf5+ 13.Bd3 Bxd3+ 14.Rxd3 gives Black nothing but trouble, since his counterplay has totally run out.) 13.e4! , and here Black is unable to play 13...Nxc3, but the computer comes up with the astonishing 13...c6!? A brilliant way to "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" the knight on d5. Unfortunately, it isn't clear what Black's next move will be, so now White can consider 14.h4 , with the dual threats of h5 and Ng5. 12...Ncb4.


Streaming video from Kazan, with Veselin Topalov thinking after Kamsky has played 12...Ncb4


The Russian commentators discussing a variation with three cameras on the players

13.h5. Consistent. White also had another option. 13.Ng5 The bishop on e6 is very annoying for White, so it makes sense to drive it away. Unfortunately for White, Black can provoke a crucial weakness with 13...Bg4 14.f3 (After 14.Rd2 f6 15.Nge4 c6 , the position is pretty complicated, but it doesn't seem like White has made much progress over the last few moves. Meanwhile, Black's pressure on the queenside is extremely unpleasant.) 14...Bc8! , and I'm not sure exactly how White can deal with the weakness on e3, especially since Black is also threatening ...f6. By the way, there is also the option of 14...Nxe3, which follows a long line leading in an extremely complicated position which is probably good for Black. But simpler is better! 13...c6 Gata's play makes good sense to me. He is securing his position and will prepare counterplay with ...b5. On the other hand, I don't understand what White is playing for. 14.hxg6 hxg6








15.Rd2?! An awkward move. I imagine Topalov wanted to prevent ...Nxc3, but Black almost never wants to do that anyway, After 15.Ng5 Bg4 16.Rd2 Kf8 , Black has a good position. He just plans ...Kg7. (16...f6 can be met by the bizarre 17.e4!? Nc7 18.Qb3 fxg5 19.Be5 , with weird complications. Let's avoid that.) 17.e4 is also met by 17...Kg7; White should have tried 15.Be2 I still don't like White's position, because Black's queenside play is very dangerous, but at least White needs the option of doubling on the h-file to get some counterplay, 15...f6 (I would rather avoid 15...b5?! 16.Ng5 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Nxa2+ 18.Kc2 Bd5 19.Qc5 , when Black's knight is sadly trapped on a2 and will probably never get out,) 16.Ne4 b6 17.Rh2 Kf8 18.Rdh1 Kg7 , and White has again run out of ideas. Black can do whatever he wants on the queenside. A main idea would be to prepare ...c5.

15...f6 Calm positional play is the most unpleasant for White. Since he could never achieve e4 or bother Black in any way, White is just clearly worse now! The sad remnants of a strong opening novelty and failed strategy.... 16.Ne4. 16.Kb1 is always met by 16...Bf5+. 16...b6 17.Be2 Qc8 18.Rh4 Kf7. Everything according to plan. Black is slowly preparing ...c5. I can't even criticize the move 18.Rh4, which just made it worse for White, because I can't find any decent alternatives. 19.Rd1 g5








After good preparation all Black's pieces are perfectly placed for the final breakthrough, which Gata executes in model style! 20.Rh2 g4 21.Nfd2 c5 22.dxc5 f5. Of course, now White's king will be under the combined attack of Black's entire army. 23.Rxh6. 23.Nc3 Qxc5 is obviously hopeless for White. 23...Rxh6 24.Ng5+ Kf8. Now Black is up material with an attack to boot. One could argue that the computer's suggestion of 25.Nb3 could have prolonged the game, but it wouldn't have made a real difference. 25.Nxe6+ Qxe6 26.Bc4 Rc8 27.Bf4 Rf6 28.e4 Rxc5 29.exd5 Qxd5

30.b3 Qd4








31.Be3. 31.Qb2 Nd3+ would have been a comical finish for a queen stuck on a3 the whole game. 31...Qc3+. An interesting game. Topalov came prepared with a good novelty, but he didn't follow it up correctly. In fact, it only took one mistake for White's position to go downhill – that's how it works in these sharp lines. Kamsky, however, really played fantastically the whole game, reacted calmly to the novelty and controlled the game without allowing undue counterplay. A very deserving win for him. 0-1.


Topalov resigns, with Radjabov watching. The board still shows the position after 30...Qd4

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About the author

Fabiano Luigi Caruana (born July 30, 1992) is a grandmaster and chess prodigy with dual citizenship of Italy and the United States. On 15 July 2007 he made his final GM norm and, at the age of 14 years, 11 months, 20 days, the youngest grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States. In the January 2011 FIDE list, he has an Elo rating of 2721, making him 25th in the world. His current rating is 2714, at rank 28.

Over the years we have had a lot of fun with Fab Fab (Fabulous Fabiano). Take a look at this page, and after that at this page. We however add a word of caution: the second report contains images that some readers may find unbearably cute.

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