Khanty-Mansiysk Final: First game drawn

12/13/2007 – As expected by many the first encounter in the FIDE World Cup final ended in a draw, but it was a high-quality game from both players. Kamsky showed once again that he came to Khanty-Mansiysk very well prepared. Meanwhile, promped by readers, our annotator GM Dorian Rogozenko discovered that in the semi-finals Shirov had overlooked a clear win – in 208 moves!

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A total of 126 participants turned up on November 23 for the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, located about 1400 miles (2250 km) east of Moscow. The competition is taking place from November 24 to December 18.

  Name Nat Rtng
R2 B1 B2 SD
 Shirov, Alexei   ESP 2739
 Kamsky, Gata USA 2714

Round seven (Final) Game one – Thursday, December 13th

Commentary by GB Dorian Rogozenko

The first game of the World Cup Final match ended in a draw. Kamsky improved on his earlier game from Khanty-Mansiysk and without many visible problems neutralized Shirov's slight initiative. After looking at the game I would like to return to the position from the first tiebreak encounter between Karjakin and Shirov.

Shirov,A (2739) - Kamsky,G (2714) [C95]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.1), 13.12.2007

Shirov and Kamsky met 21 times before. In rapids and blinds Kamsky leads with 3,5-0,5, but in serious games, according to my database, the score is 8:2 for Shirov, not counting draws.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8. The so-called Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Black brings the knight to d7, where it won't disturb his own pieces and pawns in the fight for the center.

Gata Kamsky (right) playing 5...Be7 (in the background the trophy)

Alexei Shirov contemplating 9.h3

10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.b3. The main move is 15.a4 but Shirov has played it before and it didn't bring him much: 15...c5 16.d5 c4 17.Bg5 h6 18.Be3 Nc5 19.Qd2 h5 20.Bg5 (20.Ra3 Nfd7 21.Rea1 Bg7 22.Bg5 Bf6 23.Bh6 Qe7 24.Qc1 Nb6 25.axb5 axb5 26.Ra5 Qd7= Shirov,A (2715)-Kramnik,V (2809)/Monte Carlo (rapid) 2002) 20...Be7 21.Ra3 Rb8 22.axb5 axb5 23.Rea1 Qc7 24.Qe3 Ra8 25.Bh6 Nh7 26.Nh2 Rxa3 27.Rxa3 h4 28.Ne2 Ra8 29.Rxa8+ Bxa8 Shirov,A (2710)-Van der Sterren,P (2555)/Wijk aan Zee 1998. 15...a5. This is Kamsky's novelty introduced in his 4th round game versus Svidler. White achieved some pressure there and Shirov is ready to repeat Svidler's play. The usual move is 15...Bg7, another critical continuation is 15...d5. Shirov himself experienced troubles with black after 15...c6 16.Bg5 Bg7 17.Qd2 Qc7 18.a4 d5 19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Bf4 Qe6 22.e5 Nd7 23.Bh6 Bh8 24.f4 Carlsen,M (2581)-Shirov,A (2726)/Drammen 2005. 16.a4 b4 17.cxb4 axb4 18.Bb2 Bh6 19.dxe5 dxe5 20.Bd3

20...Nc5. It is Kamsky who deviates first. The knight on c5 is very active, while the task to protect pawn e5 is left for the other knight. [In the mentioned game versus Svidler Kamsky didn't fully equalized: 20...Bf4 21.Qc2 Ra5 22.Rad1 Rc5 23.Qe2 Qe7 24.Nf1 Nb6 25.g3 Bh6 26.Bc1 Bxc1 27.Rxc1+/= Svidler-Kamsky, Khany-Maniysk 2007. 21.Bb5. Rightly provoking the advance of the c-pawn. Too passive is 21.Bc2 After 21...Bf4 Black takes over the initiative. 21...Qxd1 22.Raxd1 c6 23.Bc4 Nfd7

Thanks to his strong novelty Kamsky practically equalized the position. White's trumps are slightly better pawn structure and the passivity of bishop b7. But a closer look reveals that these factors are not problematic for Black: the bishop will enter the game via a6, while the pawn formation is perfectly acceptable for Black: the weakness of pawn b3 secures Black sufficient resources for counterplay. 24.Re2. Transferring the rook to the c-file looks like the most logical plan. 24...Bf4 25.Rc2 Re7 26.Ne2 Bh6 27.Ng3 Bf4

A silent draw offer by repeating the moves. In spite of having less time on the clock, Shirov decides to continue the game. This is quite understandable - after all Shirov is a fighter and wouldn't be happy with a short draw as white. 28.Bc1 [28.Ne2 Bh6=] 28...Ba6! 28...Bxg3 29.Bg5! (Not 29.fxg3 Nxe4) 29...Ree8 (Worse is 29...Bxf2+ 30.Rxf2 Ree8 31.Nh2 Rf8 32.Ng4 with a strong attack for White) 30.fxg3 favours White. 29.Bxf4 exf4 30.Ne2 Bxc4 31.Rxc4 Nxb3 32.Rxb4 Nbc5

Kamsky has simplified the position, and although White keeps a slight initiative, Black easily achieves the draw. 33.Nc3 Ree8 34.Rd6 Re6 35.Rbd4 Rxd6 36.Rxd6 Ra6 37.e5 Rb6 38.Rd1 Rb3 39.Ne2 Ra3 40.Ned4 Rxa4 41.Nxc6 Nf8 42.Ne7+. A high-quality game from both players. Kamsky showed once again that he came to Khanty-Mansiysk very well prepared. The American can be happy with the opening outcome of the first game and it is rather Shirov who must start thinking what to change in their third game, when the Spaniard will have again white pieces. However, tomorrow in the second game Kamsky will be on the white side and there are little doubts that we'll see another tense battle. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Karjakin,Sergey (2694) - Shirov,Alexei (2739)
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (6.3), 11.12.2007

In my report after this game I wrote that the position after White's 49th moves is a draw. The readers of the ChessBase news page drew my attention to the fact that according to the tablebases the position is in fact winning for Black ... in 208 moves of the best play for both sides!

Well, we certainly deal with a very special position here. Never before have I met a case of such a long forced win. True, when writing the annotations I followed my human feelings, giving the verdict that the position is a draw, which turned out to be wrong. Nevertheless I wonder how an arbiter would deal with the situation if the weaker side (White in our case) would claim a draw according to the existing 50-moves rule. It states that if for 50 consecutive moves there were no pawn moves and no pieces capture, the game is declared a draw. For some positions this rule was extended to 100 moves (according to my knowledge, the position of rook and bishop versus two knights is not mentioned there, but this is not even so important). In the diagram position the first piece capture happens after 192 moves!

Correct me if I am wrong: suppose in the diagram above both sides play perfectly and after 100 moves Black is 108 moves closer to the victory than in initial position. Bad news for Black anyway: White would be right to claim a draw and, as much as I understand, the arbiter will act correctly by declaring the game a draw. A paradoxical case: the position is winning, but at the same time according to the existing rules it's actually a draw. Perhaps some arbiters can clarify the situation?! Below I provide the best moves for both sides. Most of them look quite ridiculous for us, who are, after all, mere humans.

49...Ra2 50.Ne7+. In the game Karjakin played "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" 50.Nf4+ to which Shirov replied 50...Kh6 and so on. 50...Kh5 51.Nd5 Kh6 52.Ne3 Ra4 53.Nf5+ Kh5 54.Kf4 Bg2 55.Nfd6 Kg6 56.Ke3 Ra7 57.Kf2 Bh1 58.Ke3 Rd7 59.Nc8 Rh7 60.Ncd6 Rh4 61.Kd3 Bf3 62.Ke3 Bg2 63.Kd3 Bh3 64.Kd4 Bd7 65.Ke5 Rh5+ 66.Kf4 Bc6 67.Ng3 Ra5 68.Nde4

68...Ba8. Why on a8? Because other moves prolong Black's win. For sure. 69.Nc3 Kg7 70.Nce4 Kf7 71.Ng5+ Kf6 72.N3e4+ Kg6 73.Nf3 Ra4 74.Nfd2 Rd4 75.Ke3 Rd8 76.Kf4 Rf8+ 77.Ke5 Rf5+ 78.Kd4 Rd5+ 79.Ke3 Kf5 80.Nc4 Rd8 81.Nc5 Bd5 82.Nd2

82...Bg8. Again the quickest path to the victory. 83.Nde4 Bc4 84.Nf2 Bd5 85.Na4 Re8+ 86.Kd4 Bb7 87.Nc5 Ba8 88.Na4 Rh8 89.Nc3 Rh4+ 90.Ke3 Rf4 91.Ncd1

91...Bb7. Here actually Black has a good alternative: after 91...Bc6 he also wins in just 166 moves. All other options are weaker. I wonder about the size of human's brain at the moment when somebody will be able to explain all these maneuvers. 92.Nd3 Re4+ 93.Kd2 Re8 94.Ne3+ Kg5 95.Nc5 Bh1 96.Nd1 Kf5 97.Nd3 Ba8 98.N1f2 Bd5 99.Nb4 Bg8 100.Nbd3 Bh7 101.Kc3 Re2 102.Kd4 Kg5 103.Nd1 Re4+ 104.Kc3 Re8 105.Nb4 Rd8 106.Ne3 Bg8 107.Nd3

107...Rd6. Don't be surprised by the long series of the following moves. They are the best for both sides... 108.Nc4 Rd5 109.Nd2 Kf5 110.Nb2 Rd8 111.Nbc4 Bh7 112.Kb4 Ke6 113.Kc5 Rc8+ 114.Kd4 Rf8 115.Kc5 Rf5+ 116.Kd4 Rd5+ 117.Ke3 Rd3+ 118.Kf4 Rd4+ 119.Ke3 Rh4 120.Nb6 Bf5 121.Nbc4 Bc2 122.Kf2 Rd4 123.Ke3 Rd8 124.Nf3 Kd5 125.Ncd2 Re8+ 126.Kf4 Re2 127.Nf1 Re4+ 128.Kg3 Ba4 129.N1d2 Re8 130.Kf4 Re2 131.Kg5 Bc6 132.Kf5 Ba8 133.Kg4 Kc5 134.Kf4 Bd5 135.Kg4 Kb4 136.Nf1 Kc3 137.Ng3 Rf2 138.Nh4 Kd4 139.Ngf5+ Ke5 140.Kg5 Be6 141.Ng3 Bd7 142.Ng6+ Kd5 143.Nh4 Rf7 144.Ngf5 Rf8 145.Kh6 Ke4 146.Ng3+ Ke3 147.Kg5 Rb8 148.Ngf5+ Kd3 149.Kf6 Rb6+ 150.Ke5 Re6+ 151.Kf4 Re4+ 152.Kg5 Re5 153.Kf6 Re6+ 154.Kg5 Ra6 155.Ng3 Bh3 156.Nhf5 Ra4 157.Nh6 Kd4 158.Ng4 Kd5 159.Nf2 Bc8 160.Nf5 Ke6 161.Ng4 Ra5 162.Ngh6 Ke5 163.Ng3 Bh3 164.Kh4 Bg2 165.Kg5 Ba8 166.Ng4+ Ke6+ 167.Kf4 Ra3 168.Nh2 Bb7 169.Ne2 Ra4+ 170.Ke3 Re4+ 171.Kf2 Kd6 172.Nf3 Re8 173.Ned4 Kc5 174.Kg3 Be4 175.Ne2 Bc2 176.Ned4 Bd3 177.Kf4 Kd5 178.Nb3 Re4+ 179.Kg3 Ra4 180.Nbd2 Bc2 181.Nf1 Bg6 182.Kf2 Ra1 183.N1d2 Bh5 184.Ng5 Ra3 185.Ndf3 Rc3 186.Nd2 Ke5 187.Ngf3+ Kf4 188.Ne1 Be8 189.Ng2+ Ke5 190.Nf3+ Ke4 191.Nd2+ Kd3 192.Nf3 Bb5 193.Ng5 Rc2+ 194.Kg3 Ra2 195.Ne1+ Ke2 196.Nef3 Ke3 197.Nh4 Bd7 198.Ng2+ Kd4 199.Nf3+ Ke4 200.Ng5+ Kf5 201.Nf3 Ra3 202.Kf2 Bc8 203.Nge1 Bb7 204.Ke2 Ba6+ 205.Kf2 Ra2+ 206.Kg3 Bb7 207.Nh4+ Ke4 208.Nhf3 Rb2 209.Ng2 Rb3 210.Ngh4 Bc6 211.Kf2 Rd3 212.Ke2 Rd6 213.Ng2 Rf6 214.Nge1 Bb5+ 215.Kf2 Rf5 216.Kg3 Be2 217.Nh2 Bh5 218.Kg2 Rb5 219.Kf2 Rb8 220.Kg3 Rb3+ 221.Kf2 Re3 222.Ng2 Rh3 223.Nf1 Rf3+ 224.Kg1 Kd4 225.Nh4 Rf8 226.Kg2 Be2 227.Ng3 Bd3 228.Nf3+ Ke3 229.Ne5 Bc2 230.Ng4+ Kf4 231.Nf6 Bb3 232.Ngh5+ Kf5 233.Nd7 Rh8 234.Ng3+ Kf4 235.Nf6 Be6 236.Nfh5+ Ke5 237.Kf3 Rf8+ 238.Ke2 Bg4+ 239.Ke3 Rf7 240.Kd2 Rh7

Finally Black wins a knight. After 192 moves from our initial position (!!!). So What about the existing FIDE regulations? Let's see the cleanest win until the end: 241.Ke3 Bxh5 242.Ne4 Ra7 243.Nf2 Kd5 244.Nd3 Ra3 245.Kd2 Kd4 246.Nb4 Kc4 247.Nc6 Ra6 248.Ne7 Re6 249.Nf5 Re2+ 250.Kd1 Rf2+ 251.Kc1 Rxf5 252.Kd2 Re5 253.Kc2 Re2+ 254.Kc1 Kb3 255.Kd1 Kc3 256.Kc1 Re1# 208 moves exactly. No comment. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Quick reactions from our readers

Tim Spanton, London
Your correspondent was right in the first place and there is no need for the clarification he asks for – the position IS drawn, under FIDE rules.

Kevin Cotreau, Nashua, NH USA
While there used to be 100-move rule exceptions for rook pawns and B vs R for example. I am pretty sure those exceptions no longer exist. I also could not find them in the FIDE handbook. If you find information to the contrary, I would be interested in hearing about it.

Sotiris Logothetis, Athens, Greece
I am an International Arbiter. All extenstions to the 50-move rule were abolished at the Manila Congress in 1992, effective from July 1st, 1993. The first event with 50 moves for all cases was the Biel Interzonal back then, where a case arose with M. Gurevich, who had a winning 2Ns vs P endgame that required more than 50 moves to be won, against Rogers I think. In the end he won much earlier. According to the rules, the 50-move rule applies in ALL positions. Thus, indeed, several such endgames – that require much more than 50 moves to be won – are in practical terms drawn, provied of course the defender plays well enough.

Milen Petrov, Bulgaria, FIDE International Arbiter
I would like to pont Article 9.3 of the Laws Of Chess, which clearly states: "The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, if: a) he writes his move on his scoresheet, and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which shall result in the last 50 moves having been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or b) the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture." As a FIDE IA I would agree that the game is drawn only if one of the sides makes a correct claim according to this article. As Mr. Gijsen stated a lot of times, it is not a duty of the arbiter to make assessment of the position, but to assure that the Rules are followed. Concerning the position in question I think that this position can be won only by chess engine, using the tablebases, or by players who cheat, or when the defender commits blunders.

Alessandro Tronca, Rome, Italy
It's scary... I'm playing all of those moves on Fritz, back and forth with the arrow keys, at different speed, and I can't imagine how and when our future generations will completely understand what's going on. Our game is still a mystery...

All pictures by from Khanty by Eugene Atarov for the official World Cup web site


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