Khanty-Mansiysk Final: Kamsky draws first blood

by ChessBase
12/14/2007 – Gata Kamsky has scored a first victory in game two of this four-game match. Avoiding a theoretical fight in the Sveshnikov the American GM produced a novelty on move nine and then went on to outplay his opponent Alexei Shirov, a world-famous firebrand, in a very volatile position. Kamsky now leads 1.5:0.5. Full report with analysis by GM Dorian Rogozenko.

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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 two – Friday, December 14th

Gata Kamsly took the lead by winning game two of the World Cup final against Alexey Shirov. Kamsky avoided a theoretical fight in the Sveshnikov Sicilian, by choosing 3.Nc3. His 9.0-0 was a novelty, 9.Bb5+ having led to a draw in the game Svidler-Smirin, Russia v Rest of the World rapid match, 2002. The critical moment came at move 18. After 18...Qg7, White has to be very careful not to lose immediately, but Kamsky naturally found the forced saving line. Instead of 22...Qf6, Black should probably prefer 22...Qg4. After 23.Qxe5, Black has the spectacular try 23...Rh2+!?, but after the calm reply 24.Kg1 Rg8+ 25.Ng3, White still emerges with an extra pawn. Shirov instead chose to exchange queens immediately, but although he managed to activate his rooks on the seventh rank, White's passed f-pawn rapidly proved decisive.– Steve Giddins.

Kamsky,G (2714) - Shirov,A (2739) [B30]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.2), 14.12.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 d6 6.Nd2 Bg5 7.Qh5 Nh6 8.h3 Nd4 9.0-0 0-0 10.Nb3 Bxc1 11.Raxc1 Ne6 12.Ne2 Qf6 13.Nd2 Kh8 14.c3 g5 15.d4 Rg8 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Nf3 Rg6 18.h4 Qg7 19.Bxe6 Bxe6 20.hxg5 f6 21.gxf6 Rxg2+ 22.Kh1 Qxf6 23.Qxe5 Qxe5 24.Nxe5 Rg5 25.f4 Rh5+ 26.Kg1 Rg8+ 27.Kf2 Rh2+ 28.Ke3 Rgg2 29.Ng1 Rxb2 30.f5 Bxa2 31.Rcd1 Rbc2 32.Rd8+ Ng8 33.Ngf3 Rxc3+ 34.Kf4 Rh6 35.Rg1 Rf6 36.Ng5 h6 37.Ngf7+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenko

Today Kamsky and Shirov produced a highly entertaining game. The American achieved a slight positional advantage in the opening thanks to opponent's misplaced knight on the edge of the board. In reply Shirov used all his creativity to build a direct attack against Kamsky's king. The Spaniard succeeded in destroying the white king's pawn shield and indeed creating a strong attack, but Kamsky's cool defense must have confused Shirov, who in time-trouble lost the thread of the game. After the queen exchange Black continued the attack, but it soon turned out that White is much better mobilized. Kamsky used this factor to his advantage and created the decisive attack himself.

The handshake before the start of game two

The Arbiter starts the clock, the game can begin

Alexei Shirov, the imaginativ attacking player

Cool defender: Gata Kamsky in, as many readers remarked, his "lucky shirt"

Kamsky,G (2714) - Shirov,A (2739) [B30]
World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk RUS (7.2), 14.12.2007

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6

Shirov is ready to play the Sveshnikov Sicilian again. As the readers probably remember, with this opening Alexey achieved a good position against Karjakin, which ended with that curious endgame mentioned in the previous report. 3.Nc3. This is the second most popular move for White if he is willing to avoid the Sveshnikov Siclian, which is possible after 3.d4 (for that purpose only 3.Bb5 is played more often, but Shirov has a vast experience with the bishop sortie). Notice also the subtle psychological battle: never before did Kamsky play 3.Nc3. 3...e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 d6 6.Nd2. Preparing the maneuver Nd2-f1-e3. This type of position is generally very close to equal, although White can claim a small plus thanks to the weakness of square d5. 6...Bg5. Shirov remains true to his preferences. He has used this move twice in the past. It's idea is to exchange the dark-squared bishops, which in this formation favours Black. The alternative is 6...Nf6.

7.Qh5!? A very rare continuation, showing once again Kamsky's incredible ability to surprise his opponents in Khanty-Mansiysk. The amazing thing is that all his surprises have a true value and represent indeed good moves. With 7.Qh5 White created a "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" threat: mate in one. Its idea is that in order to protect f7 Black must make some positional concessions. In the diagram position White usually played 7.h4, but Shirov faced it before and didn't experience major problems: 7...Bxd2+ 8.Bxd2 Nf6 9.Bg5 (9.0-0 Be6 10.Nd5 0-0 11.Bg5 Bxd5 12.Bxd5 h6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 Svidler,P (2735)-Shirov,A (2713)/Monte Carlo (rapid) 2005) 9...Be6 10.Nd5 Bxd5 11.Bxd5 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Qd2 Ne7 14.Bc4 0-0 15.Kf1 Rad8 16.Re1 d5 17.exd5 Nxd5 Ponomariov,R (2727)-Shirov,A (2715)/Linares 2002. Both these games ended with a draw. 7...Nh6. A natural reaction: Shirov develops a piece and creates a counter-threat: 8...Bg4. On the other hand this knight on the edge will be the main cause of Shirov's problems later on... The other defense also had its drawbacks. After 7...g6 White retreats the queen either to f3 or even back to d1 and Black won't be so happy anymore with the previous plan to exchange the dark-squared bishop. There is a high probability that the weaknesses on f6 and h6 created by the move 7...g6 will play a negative role for Black in the future. 8.h3 Nd4

The pawn c2 is under attack, but... 9.0-0. This is the real novelty. Kamsky is ready to sacrifice the c2-pawn in order to complete development quickly. The only game with the diagram position continued 9.Bb5+ Kf8 10.Qd1 f5 11.Bc4 g6 12.exf5 Nhxf5 13.Nde4 Bxc1 14.Qxc1 Kg7 with approximately equal position, Svidler,P (2690)-Smirin,I (2676)/Moscow 2002. 9...0-0. Shirov decided not to check Kamsky's analysis. After 9...Nxc2 10.Nf3 Bxc1 (10...Nxa1? 11.Bxg5+-) 11.Raxc1 Nd4 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Nd5 White has compensation thanks to Black's poor knight on h6 and the active possibility f2-f4. (or first 13.Bb5+ ). 10.Nb3 Bxc1 11.Raxc1 Ne6 12.Ne2 Qf6 13.Nd2. The knight had nothing to do on b3.

Black must do something about his knight on h6, otherwise White will slowly prepare either the advance d3-d4 (with the previous c2-c3, of course), or f2-f4. 13...Kh8!? This might seem like preparing ...Nh6-g8, or at some point ...f7-f5. But Shirov had other ideas in mind. 14.c3 g5!?

Black simply starts an attack on the g-file. A very unexpected, but quite interesting and good plan from Shirov. 15.d4. Kamsky follows the classical rule to meet a side attack by opening the center. 15...Rg8. Both captures on d4 leave Black with lots of weaknesses: 15...cxd4 16.cxd4 exd4 17.Nf3; Or 15...exd4 16.cxd4 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 cxd4 (17...Qxd4? 18.Qxh6+-) 18.Nb3 g4 19.h4. 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Nf3 Rg6

This move creats a threat to catch the white queen with 18...Ng7 (which was bad at once due to the vulnerability of pawn g5). The extremely intense battle already costed both players a lot of time. In the upcoming "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" both players had to rely mostly on their intuition. 17...g4 18.hxg4 Nxg4 19.Ng3+/=. 18.h4 Qg7 [18...g4? 19.Nxe5] 19.Bxe6 Bxe6 20.hxg5

20...f6! 21.gxf6. White can't take the knight. After 21.gxh6? Rxh6 the queen is trapped on h5. 21...Rxg2+ 22.Kh1

Shirov's inventive play led to a very wild position, which, curiously enough, is approximately equal. But the time factor and the tension start to play their role. 22...Qxf6. Stronger is 22...Qg4! 23.Qxg4 (23.Qxh6? Qxf3-+) 23...Rxg4 24.Ng3 (24.Nxe5?) 24...Nf7 25.Kg2 (or 25.Rcd1 Rf4) 25...Rg6 and Black's chances are by no means worse. 23.Qxe5 Qxe5 24.Nxe5 Rg5 25.f4 Rh5+ 26.Kg1

Although it looks like Black still has an attack, in fact his situation is quite dangerous: White's connected passed pawns are very powerful. Possibly with a very energetic play Black is still able to keep some dynamic balance, but from the practical point of view Kamsky's task was easier: his next few moves are more or less forced, while Black must always create some threats, otherwise White's central pawns will decide the outcome. 26...Rg8+ 27.Kf2 Rh2+ 28.Ke3

28...Rgg2. Now or at the next move Black had to exchange the knights, although I believe White keeps slightly preferable chances anyway. 28...Ng4+ 29.Nxg4 Bxg4 30.Ng1 Rxb2. 29.Ng1 Rxb2. As mentioned, again better is 29...Ng4+. 30.f5! Bxa2 31.Rcd1

Now Black is in troubles. It turns out that his own king lucks space and defenders, while the pieces are not coordinated. 31...Rbc2? [31...Nf7 would have been more stubborn.] 32.Rd8+ Ng8 33.Ngf3 Rxc3+ 34.Kf4 Rh6 35.Rg1 Black is lost. White pieces are much more active and Kamsky easily builds the decisive attack. 35...Rf6 36.Ng5! h6 37.Ngf7+! 37.Ngf7+ Bxf7 38.Nxf7+ Rxf7 39.Rgxg8+ Kh7 40.Rh8+ Kg7 41.Rdg8+ Kf6 42.e5+ Ke7 43.Re8+ Kd7 44.e6+ A great achievement for Kamsky, who used opponent's inaccuracies in a very precise way. So far the match trend favours the American, who shows a very good control of the game from the beginning till the end. Shirov faces a highly difficult task. In the two remaining games we'll see if Alexey will be able to find a way to shaken Kamsky's excellent play. 1-0. [Click to replay]

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

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. The family name can be pronounced in two different ways: ro-ga-zyEN-ka or ra-ga-zyEN-ka is how the Russians pronounce it, but since Dorian's family was always Romania-oriented he prefers the Moldavian-Romanian version: ro-go-zEn-ko.

Dorian 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). Unfortunately he will not be able to annotated the two final games of this match.


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