FIDE Candidates Finals G5: No winner in trenchwar

by ChessBase
5/24/2011 – Today's game was a battle through and through, and textbooks will probably pick up on it, owing to its singularly narrow strategic focus. In a Queen's Gambit Declined, the players quickly set out to fight for the e5 square: Gelfand to slip in his pawn break, and Grischuk to prevent it. The positional complexities were enormous, so here is the detailed GM Commentary by Elshan Moradiabadi.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


May 2011
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.


Boris Gelfand
Alexander Grischuk

Finals - Game five

After a dry spell of fighting chess, the fifth round was everything we could expect from a top-flight game: action, deep deep strategy, and a rousing battle. And to show that his objection was to fightless games and not with the players, much less the readers, GM Elshan Moradiabadi sent us detailed notes which he apologized they might not be deep enough. A quick glance will show that his definition of superficial is diametrically opposite the rest of the world's.

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Gelfand,Boris (2733) [D37]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (3.5), 24.05.2011 [Elshan Moradiabadi]

1.d4. After two timid days, our deserved finalists decided to show us some aspects of their strength! This game is a very rich positional game and contains everything one would expect of a high-level game. 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3. Alas! We will never know what Gelfand had in mind against the Catalan! 4...Be7

The QGD seems to be one of Gelfand's main black weapons prepared for this event. A very classical approach which is mostly explored in the 1927 WC match between legendary Capablanca and Alekhine. Funnily enough, Grischuk has not had enough of it in this cycle!

5.Bf4. An interesting choice which one would expect from Grischuk. The question many asked themselves here is how many moves it would take before he offered a draw! At least the previous ones were not very combative except his first game against Gelfand. 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Qb3 dxc4 8.Qxc4 0-0 9.g3 b5!N 10.Qxb5 Nd7 11.Bg2 c5 12.0-0 Rb8 13.Qa4 a5 14.dxc5 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Gelfand,B (2733)/Kazan RUS 2011 5...0-0 6.e3. 6.Rc1 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.e3 Nc6 9.a3 d4 10.exd4 Nxd4 11.b4 Nxf3+ 12.Qxf3 Bd4 13.Nb5 e5 14.Bg5 Re8 15.Bxf6 e4 16.Bxd8 exf3+ 17.Kd2 Rxd8 18.Nxd4 Rxd4+ 19.Kc3 fxg2 20.Bxg2 Rg4 21.Rhd1 Be6 22.Bxb7 Rxc4+ 23.Kb2 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Gelfand,B (2733)/Kazan RUS 2011 (49) 6...Nbd7. This move skips the activity with 6..c5 in favor of a rock solid but slightly cramped position for Black. 7.c5 This is the most radical approach. White neutralizes the tension in the center in order to obtain a spatial advantage on the queenside. [7.Qc2 c5 8.Rd1 Qa5 9.Nd2 cxd4 10.exd4 dxc4 11.Nxc4 Qd8 12.Bd3 Nb6 13.0-0 Bd7 14.Nxb6 Qxb6 15.d5 Kh8 16.dxe6 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Kramnik,V (2785)/Kazan 2011/CB19_2011 7...Nh5 8.Be2!?N

No more draw offers! A good sign for me and the spectators! 8.Bd3 used to be the "Tabiya" in this line, which has been played thousands of times. Did Grsichuk have something special up his sleeves? The continuation proved that he did! ; 8.b4 Nxf4 9.exf4 c6 10.Bd3 b6 11.0-0 a5 12.a3 Qc7 13.g3 Ba6 14.Bxa6 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A (2747)-Kramnik,V (2785)/Kazan 2011/CB19_2011 8...c6 9.0-0 Nxf4 10.exf4. To be perfectly honest, I have trouble seeing the special appeal behind Grischuk's idea. The bishop on d3 seemed more attractive to me! 10...f6 The right decision at the wrong time. Gelfand believes that he can play e5, and he is right, except that...this is exactly what Grischuk is waiting for! 11.b4 Qc7 12.Qd2 Rf7?! Why does Gelfand avoid e5 and instead accept a slightly worse position? Let us examine the following lines:

For better or for worse Black had to go for 12...e5! 13.Rfd1?

a) 13.Rfe1! is a good move, because it keeps both Bf1 and Bd3 as possible choices. 13...Kh8 14.Bf1 was the alternative. (14.Bd3 a5! (14...e4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 Bd8 17.Rae1 a5 18.Re8! axb4 19.Rxf8+ Nxf8 20.Re8 g6 21.Rxf8+ Kg7 22.Re8 and White is clearly better.) 15.b5 e4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 Nxc5! 18.dxc5 cxb5 19.Nd4 Bxc5 20.Nxb5 Qf7 The dust has settled and Black seems to have the better prospects.) 14...a5 (14...e4? 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 Bd8 17.Rae1) 15.b5 (15.fxe5? fxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.Rxe5 axb4-/+) 15...e4 16.Qe3 (16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 Nxc5 18.dxc5 Bxc5=/+) 16...Bd8 17.b6 Qb8 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Qxe4 f5 20.Qe3 Nf6 21.Ne5 g6 22.Bc4 Kg7 23.Rad1 And White enjoys fine compensation. This is probably what Gelfand tried to avoid, but instead he ended up in a clearly worse position!;

b) 13.Rae1!? This or the other rook to e1 is probably what Grischuk had in mind. 13...Kh8! A very strong prophylactic move confirmed by the silicon mind! (13...e4? 14.Nxe4! dxe4 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.Rxe4+/=) 14.Bd3! What is this? A blunder?

14...a5! (Hardly. If 14...e4? 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 White obtains a strong initiative! Deep preparation by Grischuk?!) 15.fxe5 axb4! (15...fxe5 16.b5 e4 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Rxe4 Bf6 19.Rfe1 Qd8 20.h4! And once again White has a dangerous initiative.) 16.exf6 Nxf6 17.Nd1 with unclear play.;

c) 13.fxe5? fxe5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxd5?? Nxf3+ 16.Bxf3 cxd5-+; 13...a5! 14.a3 Re8 and Black is very well prepared to open up the game after which he can enjoy his pair of bishops.

13.Rae1 Nf8 14.Bd3. This is the right moment for the Bishop to come to d3...Do you understand? Yes Mr.Grischuk! We understand! 14...Bd7 15.g3 Re8 16.Re3 Bd8 17.Rfe1

White is clearly better at this point, however Gelfand stays calm and prepares a trap. 17...Qb8 18.Na4! Bc7 19.Nb2. A typical maneuver for the knight! 19...Rfe7 20.Qc3 Rd8! Gelfand is trying to get free his bishop from the pawn chain via e8-h5. 21.Bf5. This is too hasty, yet it does not harm White. He remains in full control! Still, he should go for 21.a4!? Be8 22.a5 Bh5 23.Nh4!

Black has just one weakness but is left with no counter play and is running out of space! 23...Qc8 (23...g5?! 24.fxg5 fxg5 25.Nf5 Ree8 26.Nd6! Black's position is becoming like Swiss cheese on the dark squares! 26...Bxd6 27.cxd6 Qxd6 28.Qd2 Qe7 29.a6 b6 30.Bc2! White's knight will head to e5 and Black has to defence against an annoying attack despite his material advantage.) 24.Be2 Bf7 25.Nf3 Bh5 (25...Rde8 26.b5+/-; 25...Ng6 26.Bf1 Rde8 27.Nd3 a6 28.h4 Qd7 29.Bh3 Nh8! This is a position riched with strong positional maneuvers...Black has to bring his knight to d8. 30.Qd2 Bh5 31.Qe2 Kf8 32.Nb2 Nf7 33.Kg2 Nd8 34.Na4 Bg6 White is better, nevertheless it is not easy to crack Black's position. White has to exploit a drastic plan sooner or later.) 26.Nd3 Rde8 27.Nh4 Bf7 28.Qb2 a6 29.Bg4 and White is clearly better. 21...Rf7!? This is the trap Gelfand had prepared! 22.Bg4?! Grischuk goes astray. He had to retreat the bishop back to d3.

22...e5! Well calculated by Gelfand! 23.Bxd7 exf4 24.Be8 fxe3 25.Qxe3 Ng6 26.Bxf7+ Kxf7 27.Qe6+ Kf8 28.Qh3. 28.Nd1 Re8 29.Qf5 is also equal. 28...Qc8! This strong move seals the game's fate. Grischuk has to concede to a draw! 29.Qxc8. 29.Qxh7? loses an exchange to 29...Kf7 30.Qh5 Rh8 31.Re7+ Kxe7 32.Qxg6 Kf8 29...Rxc8 30.Kf1 Re8 31.Rb1 Ke7 32.Nd3 a6 33.a4 Kd7 34.b5 axb5 35.axb5 cxb5 36.Rxb5 Rb8 37.Nb4 Ne7 38.Ne1 Nc6 39.Nxc6 A nice fighting game! I believe that all spectators must have enjoyed it a lot! 1/2-1/2

Click for full-page replay or download PGN – you can also replay the game in this window.
Note that in the replay window below you can click on the notation to follow the game.


About the author

Born in Tehran, Iran in 1985, Elshan Moradiabadi learned chess at the age of seven from his father. He became one of Iranian chess’s "New wave" players, which included many talents, some of whom are GMs and teammates. In 2001 he won the Iran Championship with a score of 10.0/11 and a 2712 performance. After entering the Sharif University of Technology, Iran’s top engineering school, to study Chemical Engineering, despite being only rated 2350 at the time, he became an IM and GM within 18 months. This leap included a run of three GM norms in three tournaments in a row in 27 days in 2005.

His interests include books,movies, old songs and music, and stand-up comedy, and his favorite thinkers are Erich Fromm, Sigmund Freud, Alain Badiou, Avram Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins.

Remaining schedule

All games start at 15:00h local time – 13:00h Berlin/Paris, 07:00 New York (check your local time here)

Day Date Game
Commentary on Playchess
Tuesday May 24 Round 3 Game 5 Daniel King live
Wednesday May 25 Round 3 Game 6 Daniel King live
Thursday May 26 Tiebreaks, closing    
Friday May 27 Departure    

Live broadcast

The games are being broadcast live on the FIDE web site and on the chess server In addition you can watch the games live on a regular browser on our live broadcast site, which can be accessed in any regular browser, even Apple, without the need to download a special client.

When you go to the Chesslive broadcast page you get a list of all the games that are currently available in the broadcast room. The ones with the most viewers are on top, so it is easy to access the most important games. You can load and follow multiple games by clicking on "Games" on the left, to get the list. Each loaded game has its own icon, and clicking on these will jump to that game. If there is a "public engine" running its assessment of the position will appear as a bar chart below the notation. Note that you can resize the windows in the game applet.

The Russian Chess Federation is providing excellent hi-res live video coverage from
the playing hall in Kazan, with live commentary (in Russian).

  Watching a game on the Playchess server with live audio GM commentary


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a Playchess member you can download ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games.

Copyright ChessBase

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register