High drama in Morelia

by ChessBase
2/20/2008 – The tournament in Morelia provided another round of exciting chess. The leader Veselin Topalov lost to Alexey Shirov, but the drama of the day was Ivanchuk's blunder in a winning position against Aronian. The ratio of decisive games is unusually high for such a top tournament: nine out of 16 games ended with a win for one side. Remarkable indeed! GM Dorian Rogozenko analyses.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The following express commentary was provided by Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenko, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Rogozenko will study the games of the World Championship tournament in much greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Round four commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenko

Round 4: Tuesday, February 19th

Vishy Anand 
 Teimour Radjabov
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Levon Aronian
Alexei Shirov 
 Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen 
 Peter Leko

The tournament in Morelia provided another round of exciting chess. The leader Veselin Topalov lost to Alexey Shirov, but the drama of the day was Ivanchuk's blunder in a winning position against Aronian. Thus after four rounds there are three leaders with 2.5 points: Anand, Aronian and Topalov. Each of the eight participants lost already at least one game. The ratio of decisive games in Morelia is unusually high for such a top tournament: nine out of 16 games ended with a win for one side. Remarkable indeed!

The start of the round four game between Anand and Radjabov

Anand,V (2799) - Radjabov,T (2735) [C63]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 19.02.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5

Even more aggressive than Sicilian. The so-called Janisch Gambit has a dubious reputation, but last year Radjabov included it in his repertoire and has already played it several times. However, the first one who has tested the Janisch gambit in the recent high-level practice was Levon Aronian in 2006, though the Armenian did it only in rapid chess. 4.d3. Radjabov's last experience in this opening was a month ago: 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Nf6 6.Qe2 d5 7.Nxf6+ gxf6 8.d4 Bg7 9.dxe5 0-0 10.e6 Ne5 11.0-0 Bxe6 12.Nd4 Bg4 13.f3 Bc8 14.f4 c6 15.fxe5 fxe5 16.Rxf8+ Qxf8 17.Bd3 e4 18.Bxe4 Bxd4+ 19.Be3 Bxe3+ 20.Qxe3 dxe4 21.Qg5+ Qg7 22.Qd8+ Qf8 23.Qg5+ Qg7 1/2-1/2 Polgar,J (2707)-Radjabov,T (2735)/Wijk aan Zee 2008. 4...fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6 6.0-0 Bc5

7.Bxc6. The most principled continuation – White takes the sacrified pawn. Black was doing fine in the blitz game Carlsen,M (2693)-Radjabov,T (2747)/Porto Vecchio 2007: 7.Qe2 d6 8.Qc4 Qe7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Bg5 a6 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Be3 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Qf7 14.Nd2 0-0 15.Qxf7+ Kxf7] 7...bxc6 8.Nxe5 0-0 9.Bg5 [In 2006 Leko against Aronian returned the pawn: 9.Nd3 Nxe4 10.Nxc5 Nxc5 but considering that it was a blind-rapid game, maybe the Hungarian didn't notice that Black can just take it back? In any case Black is doing fine after regaining pawn e4.; Another blind-rapid game went 9.Nc3 d6 10.Nd3 Bd4 11.Ne2 Bb6 12.Bg5 Qe8 13.Bxf6 Rxf6 with compensation for the pawn, Carlsen,M (2690)-Radjabov,T (2729)/Monte Carlo 2007. 9...Qe8 10.Bxf6 Rxf6 11.Nd3 Bd4

Now we reach a curious moment. The only defeat Radjabov suffered in the Janisch Gambit was at the end of 2007 in a very important game of the World Cup against the Polish Grandmaster Bartlomiej Macieja. In that game White continued 12.c3 and won convincingly. Nevertheless Radjabov repeats the variation and White deviates first. Probably both Anand and Radjabov came to the conclusion that Black has sufficient counterplay after 12.c3. 12.Nd2. 12.c3 Bb6 13.Nd2 d6 (Macieja recommends 13...d5) 14.c4 Qg6 15.Kh1 Bg4 16.f3 Be6 17.f4 Macieja,B (2606)-Radjabov,T (2742)/Khanty-Mansiysk 2007] 12...Ba6 13.Rb1 A new move [13.c4 was played once before. 13...d6 14.c4 c5

Black achieved good compensation for the pawn. He plans Qf7 and Rf8 with pressure on f2. Anand tries to create some activity too, but in any case the bishop pair secures Black enough counterplay. 15.b4 Qf7 16.Kh1 Rf8. 16...Bxf2? loses in view of 17.e5 dxe5 18.Nxe5 Qe6 19.Ng4; 16...Bxc4 is possible, but Radjabov prefers to bring the last piece into play first. 17.f4 Bxc4 18.Nxc4 Qxc4 19.bxc5 dxc5

White's better pawn structure is compensated by activity of the black pieces, especially strong is the centralized bishop on d4. Anand failed to prove any advantage. 20.e5 Rb6 21.Rc1 Qd5 22.Qf3 c6. Most likely massive exchanges will follow, so the players agreed to a draw right away. A moral victory for Radjabov, who again showed strong home preparation. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Radjabov and Anand analysing

Carlsen,M (2733) - Leko,P (2753) [E32]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 19.02.2008

Leko didn't have any problems with Black against Carlsen. He made a small improvement over a recent game and achieved a pleasant position. The young Norwegian tried to create some pressure, but his position just didn't contain enough resources to fight for advantage. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Bb7 8.e3 d6 9.Ne2 Nbd7 10.Qc2 c5 11.Rd1 cxd4 12.Rxd4 h6 13.Bh4 Qc7 14.Nc3 d5 15.Bg3 e5 16.cxd5

16...Bxd5. After 16...Nxd5 17.Rc4 Qb8 18.Be2 N7f6 19.0-0 Ba6 20.Nxd5 Nxd5 21.Bf3 Rd8 22.Rd4 Bxf1 23.Rxd5 Ba6 24.Bxe5 White won a pawn in Bareev,E (2653)-Grischuk,A (2715)/Khanty-Mansiysk 2007. 17.Be2 Rac8. 17...Bxg2 18.Rg1 Bb7 19.Rc4 Qb8 20.Qf5 leaves White with good attacking prospects. 18.e4 Bc6 19.f3 Nh5 20.Rd2 Nxg3 21.hxg3 Nf6 22.0-0 Qe7 23.Rfd1 Bd7 24.Ba6 Rc7 25.Qd3 Be6

26.Qd6 Bb3 27.Nb5 Qxd6 28.Rxd6 Bxd1 29.Nxc7 Ba4 30.Rd3 Rb8 31.b3 Bd7 32.Nb5 Bxb5 33.Bxb5 Rc8 34.Ba6 Rc1+ 35.Kf2 Kf8 36.Rd8+ Ke7 37.Ra8 Rc7 38.g4 h5 39.gxh5 Nxh5 40.Bc4 Nf4 41.g3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Ivanchuk,V (2751) - Aronian,L (2739) [C88]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 19.02.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.d4 Nxd4 9.Nxd4. The Ukrainian is the first one to deviate. Being a step ahead of your opponent's preparation means a lot. Kasparov said once that analyzing critically his own victories in order to find improvements (even if everything ran smoothly) helped him to remain on top for more than 20 years. The complications after 9.Bxf7+ Rxf7 10.Nxe5 Rf8 11.Qxd4 c5 12.Qd1 Qc7 13.Ng4 lead to a complex middlegame in the mentioned game from the second round. 9...exd4 10.e5 Ne8 11.Qxd4 Bb7 12.c4 bxc4 13.Qxc4 d5 14.exd6 Nxd6 15.Qg4 Nb5 16.Nc3 Nxc3 17.bxc3 Bd6 18.Bf4 Qf6 19.Bxd6 cxd6 20.Rad1 Rad8

A position considered equal by the theory. Ivanchuk shows that White can still exert some pressure. 21.Qb4. 21.Re3 Rfe8 22.Rde1 Rxe3 23.Rxe3 g6 24.h4 h5 25.Qb4 Rd7 26.Rd3 Re7 27.Qd4 Re1+ 28.Kh2 Qe7 29.Re3 1/2-1/2 Carlsen,M (2693)-Leko,P (2738)/Dortmund 2007. 21...Ba8. Or 21...Rd7 22.Re3 with a plus for White. 22.Re3. This is a great square for the rook. It protects pawn c3, can be switched to the kingside if needed and at the same time White is ready to double on either "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" or "e" file. 22...g6. It turns out that Black cannot exchange a pair of rooks, since after 22...Rfe8 White has 23.Qxd6! Qxd6 24.Rxd6 and Black loses one more pawn! 23.Qb6! Actually White wins at least a pawn. Again Ivanchuk's opening preparation of a relatively harmless variation prevailed. 23...Qg5 24.Rg3 Qb5 25.Rxd6 Rxd6 26.Qxd6 a5 27.Qf4 Bd5 28.Rg5

White is a pawn up and has the initiative. Black's only hope is to use somehow his opponent's back rank weakness. 28...f5? The only move which would have left chances to survive was 28...Qe8 when after 29.Qd2 Bxb3 30.axb3 a4 White can't keep all the queenside pawns with 31.b4 due to 31...Qe4 32.h3 Ra8 with good counterplay for Black. 29.Qe5 Rd8

30.h4. Both players missed 30.Qxf5! Bxb3 31.Qxb5 Rd1+ 32.Qf1 winning at once. 30...a4 31.Bc2 Qb8 32.Qxf5 Bxa2 33.Bxa4 Bf7 34.h5 Qb6 35.hxg6 hxg6 36.Qf4 Rc8

With two pawns up the win is a matter of technique. But sometimes it's a matter of time. 37.Rg3?? In severe time trouble Ivanchuk defends against the threat 37...Rxc3, missing the second threat. Several moves win, for instance 37.Qd2, or 37.Qb4 and if 37...Qxb4 38.cxb4 Rc4 then simply 39.Rb5. 37...Rc4 Surprise! A double attack. 38.Qh6?? As it often happens, a bad mistake is followed by a bigger one. White should have prevented black queen to come to f6. [After the forced 38.Qe5 Rxa4 39.Rh3 Ra1+ (39...Kf8 loses the rook: 40.Rh8+ Bg8 41.Rxg8+ Kxg8 42.Qe8+ Kg7 43.Qxa4) 40.Kh2 Kf8 41.Rh8+ Bg8

Analysis diagram

White makes a draw: 42.Rxg8+ (The computer even prefers 42.Qf4+ Kg7 43.Rh3 with attack for White, but nevertheless that must be a draw as well) 42...Kxg8 43.Qe8+ Kg7 44.Qe7+ Kh6 45.Qh4+ with a perpetual check. 38...Rxa4 39.Rh3 Ra1+ 40.Kh2 Qd6+ 41.f4 Qf6

Black defended and kept the extra piece. Levon won't let it escape. 42.Qh7+ Kf8 43.Qh6+ Ke7 44.Re3+ Kd7 45.Kg3 Ra4 46.Rd3+ Kc6 47.Rd4 Ra3 48.Rd3 Bd5 49.Qh3 Qf5 50.Qxf5 gxf5 51.Kh3 Ra1 52.Rd2 Rh1+ 53.Kg3 Rh6 54.Re2 Re6 55.Rd2 Rg6+ 56.Kh3 Kc5 57.Re2 Kc4 58.Rd2 Be4 59.g4 Kxc3 60.gxf5 Bxf5+ Now Aronian shares the first place, Ivanchuk the last. Who said that luck is not a factor? 0-1. [Click to replay]

Late evening drama: Aronian vs Ivanchuk, and Topalov vs Shirov

Shirov,A (2755) - Topalov,V (2780) [B33]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (4), 19.02.2008

Shirov is a rather inconvenient opponent for Topalov, who in spite of many wins against Alexey, still has a clear minus score. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5. Few years ago when everybody on the high level played the Sveshnikov Variation it was considered that White should search for advantage after the sharp 9.Bxf6. But Black was scoring a lot of wins and people switched to the positional 9.Nd5. Indeed it turned out that here White has little risk of losing, while Black still has to solve strategical problems connected with the weakness of square d5. By the way, Anatoly Karpov always preferred 9.Nd5. 9...Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 Bg5 12.Nc2 0-0 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bc4

15...Bd7. A somewhat unexpected decision: instead of the most principled continuation 15...Rb8 Topalov chooses a rare line advocated by Radjabov. It should be mentioned that Shirov has played this position many times on the black side as well. 16.0-0 Ne7. The attractive-looking jumps forward – 16...Nb4 and 16...Nd4 - were tested in practice and the things aren't so great for Black as it seems at the beginning. 17.Ra3. Usually the rook goes to a2 in order to keep pawn b2 protected, but Shirov's plan is to advance the b-pawn, justifying the position of the rook on a3. 17.Ra2 Rc8 18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 19.Bd5 Rc5 20.b3 Rxc3 21.Rxa5 Be6 gave Black a quick draw in the rapid game Anand,V (2779)-Radjabov,T (2728)/Mainz 2006. 17...Nxd5. 17...Rc8 was met before. 18.Bxd5. It is vital for White to take with the pieces on d5, not with the pawn. To put it differently: once controlling square d5, keep it! 18...Rb8 19.b4 axb4 20.Nxb4. In case of 20.cxb4 the knight won't come to d5, while the passed pawn will be easily blockaded. 20...Qb6 21.Qe2 Bb5 22.Bc4 Rfc8 23.Bxb5 Qxb5 24.Qxb5 Rxb5

Both sides must have been happy with simplifications: White exchanged the right pieces, Black couldn't do much else anyway. How to evaluate the position now? I think that out of ten games nine would end in a draw. This must be the tenth game. 25.Rd1 g6 26.g3. 26.Rxd6?? Rxb4 27.cxb4 Rc1+. 26...Kg7 27.Nd5 27.Rxd6 Be7 28.Rd5 Bxb4 29.cxb4 Rxb4 30.Rxe5 Kf6 is an immediate draw. 27...Rc4. If Topalov knew that the standard plan of transferring the bishop to b6 leads to an unpleasant rook endgame, probably he would have played something like 27...Rb2 28.Ra6 Bd2 29.Rxd6 Bxc3 30.Rc1 Rb3 (30...Bb4 31.Rxg6+ hxg6 32.Rxc8 Be1 is a slightly more complicated draw) 31.Rd7 Rc5 followed by Bd4 with an easy draw. 28.Ra7 Bd8. After 28...Rxe4 29.Nc7 White develops a strong initiative. 29.Rd7 Ba5 30.Re1. 30.Rxd6 Rxe4=. 30...Bb6 31.Nxb6! Rxb6 32.Re3. It turns out that this endgame is not so trivial. White brings the rook to f3 and Black must wait in complete passivity. 32...Rc8 33.Rf3 Rf8 34.Kf1

One of the black rooks protects pawn d6, the other - pawn f7. He can't do much with the rooks. The safest way to defend for Black is to improve the kingside pawn structure (with the move h7-h5) and then wait, eventually trying to prevent the march of the white king to d5. Topalov's desire to clarify the situation as soon as possible backfired. 34...g5. The idea is to free square g6 for the king. Enough should be 34...h5 35.Ke2 Rc6 and White can't make much progress: (or 35...Rb2+ 36.Kd3 Rb1 37.Kc4 Rc8+ 38.Kd3 Rf8 39.Kc2 Rb6) 36.Rd3 (36.Kd3 Rb6 37.Rc7 Rb2 38.Kc4 Rd2 39.h4 Kg8 40.Rf6 Kg7 this is the difference comparing to the game: Black can wait with the king 41.Rf3 Kg8=) 36...Rfc8 37.Kd2 Rb6 38.R7xd6 (38.Rf3 Rf8) 38...Rb2+ 39.Ke3 Rc2=. 35.h4. Nothing brings 35.Ke2 Rc6 (not 35...Kg6 36.Rd3) 36.Kd3 Kg6] 35...g4?! [It is more problematic for White to win after 35...gxh4 36.gxh4 (After 36.g4 Kg6 (with the idea h5) 37.Rf5 f6 38.Rh5 h6 39.Rxh4 Rc8 40.Rh3 Rc4 41.Re3 Ra6 the draw is obvious) 36...Kg6. 36.Rf5 h6 37.Ke2

The square g6 is not available for the black king due to a possible check h4-h5, so with the last moves Black only worsened his situation on the kingside. Now Topalov has no choice but try to prevent White from activating his king. 37...Rc6 38.Kd2 Kg6 39.h5+ Kg7 40.Kd3 Rb6 41.Rc7! Rb1 42.Kc4 Rd1 43.Kb5 Kg8. More stubborn was 43...Rc1 44.Kb6 Rb8+ 45.Ka7 Rf8 46.Kb7 Rc2 47.c4 Rc3 and it is not clear if White can win. 44.Rf6

44...Rd2. It turns out that 44...Kg7 loses the pawn g4: 45.Rg6+! Kh7 46.Rxg4 This is the result of the careless advance of the g-pawn. 45.Kc6 Shirov achieved his task. 45...Kg7 46.Rg6+ Kh7 47.Rxg4 Rxf2 48.Kxd6 Now White is clearly winning. 48...Re8 49.c4 Rd2+ 50.Kc6 Rf8 51.c5 Rd4 52.Rb7 Kh8 53.Kb5 Rd1 54.c6 Rc1 55.Kb6 Rc8 56.c7 Re8 57.Ra7 Rb1+ 58.Kc5 Rc1+ 59.Kd5 Rc2 60.Ra6 Kh7 61.Rc6 Rd2+ 62.Kc5 Ra8 63.Rh4 1-0. [Click to replay]

Alexei Shirov delivering the final shots against Veselin Topalov

Alexei Shirov (standing on the left) waits for his opponent to resign

There is a problem with the clock, which is not incrementing by ten seconds per move. The arbiters prepare to exchange it, but the game is over before this can be done.

The final minutes – no, we did not catch the cursory handshake

All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Morelia

About the author

Dorian Rogozenko was born on 18.08.1973 in Kishinev, Moldova. He has been a grandmaster since 1995 and played several Olympiads for Moldova, and then for Romania.

Rogozenko has produced several CDs for ChessBase, and two chess books. He is the editor-in-chief of the Romanian chess magazine Gambit (since 2002).


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Alexei Shirov – Training DVDs

Alexei Shirov is one of the most prolific ChessBase authors. Here are some of his widely acclaimed training DVDs

1. Alexei Shirov: My best games in the Sicilian

On this DVD Shirov focuses on his most outstanding achievements in the Sicilian (except the Najdorf, which is dealt with on a separate DVD), a peronal selection combining highest chess quality with aesthetic pleasure. His lectures are designed to not only explain the different opening lines, but also to present interesting and sometimes perplexing ideas and sacrifices in the middlegame. On this training DVD, with a total playing time of nearly four hours, you will find Shirov games against Anand, Kramnik, Leko and other top players.

2. Alexei Shirov: My Best Games in the Spanish

3. Alexei Shirov: My best games in the Najdorf

4. My best games in the Caro-Kann

5. My best games in the King’s Indian

6. My best games in the Nimzo-Indian

7. My best games in the Petroff Defence

8. My best games in the Slav and Semi-Slav

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