León 2011: Anand beats Shirov 4.5-1.5

6/6/2011 – Day three of the León Masters was a continuation of the previous days, which can only be considered a boon to chess lovers – with the exception of Shirov fans perhaps. It was more exciting fighting chess until the very last game, and Anand showed his irreproachable class by winning the León Masters for the eighth time. Final report.

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The Anand-Shirov six-game match in León, Spain, is being played under the FIDE Active Chess rules. Each player has 45 minutes per game + 30 seconds increment after each move. Two games are played each day, and all six games will be played, even if the match winner has been already decided. In case of a tie, a pair of five-minute games will be played immediately after the sixth regular normal game. If there is still a tie, and Armageddon will decide the winner: White gets five minutes against four minutes for Black, who will be considered the winner if there is a draw.


Viswanathan Anand
Alexei Shirov

Day three of the Leon Masters was a continuation of the previous days, which can only be considered a boon to chess fans, with the exception of Shirov fans perhaps. Exciting fighting chess until the very last game, and Anand showed his irreproachable class by winning the Leon Masters for the eighth time.

Game five saw the players repeat the opening moves of the Caro-Kann from game three that had caused such a stir, and the question foremost among the pundits was: has Shirov come up with a satisfactory reply to Anand’s novelty? For this particular game, the answer would appear to be a clear-cut no.  Instead of his preferred 4.g4, Shirov chose 4.h4, which while it might seem similar, led to a very different game. Sadly for the Spaniard: a different game, but not result.

Shirov,Alexei (2709) - Anand,Viswanathan (2817) [B12]
24th Leon Masters Leon ESP (5), 05.06.2011

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5. So the question now is: has Shirov found an antidote to Anand's novelty in game three? 4.h4. Nope! 4...h5 5.Bg5 Qb6 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Qa6. Although never played at GM level, this move is not strange. Since b2 is taboo, this exchange offer makes sense, gaining a tempo to develop the knight, or challenging the white queen's dominating position. 7...e6 8.Nd2 Qa6 9.c4 Bb4 10.b3 Ne7 11.Ngf3 Nf5 12.0-0 0-0 13.Rfc1 Nd7 14.a3 Bxd2 15.Qxd2 Rac8 16.a4 Rfe8 17.Qc3 c5 18.cxd5 exd5 19.Qd2 Qe6 20.Bf4 Nxd4 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Qxd4 b6 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Rd1 Rc5 25.b4 Rc4 26.Qxd5 Qxd5 1/2-1/2 (26) Shomoev,A (2562)-Akopian,V (2700)/Moscow 2008/CBM 123; Theory considers 7...Qxb2 to be unplayable, and the databases show a whopping 8.5/9 score for White, whether Black goes straight for the rook or sidesteps. The continuation has gone 8.e6 and the highest rated player to take on b2 as Black was Lalith (2480) in 2009. 8...Qxa1 9.Qb3 Qxd4 10.Qxb7 fxe6 11.Be3 Qa4 12.Qxa8 Qa5+ 13.Nd2 Qd8 14.Ngf3 Nf6 15.0-0 g6 16.Rb1 Nbd7 17.Qxc6 Bg7 18.Ng5 1-0 (18) Perunovic,M (2580)-Lalith,B (2480)/Dubai 2009/CBM 130 Extra 8.Qf3 e6 9.Ne2 c5 10.c3 Nc6 11.Nd2 Nge7 12.Nb3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nf5 14.0-0 Be7 15.Bxe7 Ncxe7 16.g3. It is somewhat ironic that Black's queen is still on a6 but is now the stronger one. 16...b6 17.Nf4 g6

18.Nh3?! An odd choice considering the knight and queen are hardly in any position to deliver mate even after Black castles. The plain development move 18.Rfc1 was stronger. 18...0-0 19.Qf4 Qe2 20.Rfd1

20...Rac8. Anand prefers to continue the positional path, however there was no reason why the pawn could not be taken with 20...Qxb2 For example 21.g4 (21.Rd2 Qa3) 21...hxg4 22.Qxg4 a5 23.h5 a4 just looks winning for Black. 21.Rd2 Qg4 22.Qxg4 hxg4 23.Ng5 a5 24.f3 Rc4 25.Kf2 Rfc8 26.fxg4 Nh6 27.Rad1. The rook must exit to give the knight an escape square. 27...a4 28.Na1 Nxg4+ 29.Kf3 Nh6 30.Kf4 Nef5 31.Nf3 b5 32.Ne1?

32...f6! The beginning of the end. 33.exf6

33...e5+!! Anand blows up the position to attack Shirov's king. 34.Kxe5 Ne3 35.Rb1 Re8+ 36.Kf4

It is not a pretty picture. Aside from the king trying to fend off Black's army by himself, the knight on a1 and the rook on b1 make for a very ugly picture. 36...Rc6! 37.Kg5 Re4! The World Champion plays the most efficient mating line. 38.Kxh6

38...Rg4?? Time is the culprit behind two unfortunate blunders. This move would actually allow White to save the game. 38...Ng4+ would have finalized the mating pattern. 39.Kxg6 Rxf6+ 40.Kg5 Kg7 41.Ng2 Rg6+ 42.Kf5 Nh6# 39.Rf2?? Tit for tat. 39.f7+! would save the game incredibly. 39...Kxf7 40.Kh7 Rxg3 41.Nd3 Rc7 42.Kh8 Rh3 43.Ne5+ Ke6 44.Nxg6 Rc8+ (44...Kf6? 45.Rg1! Nf5 46.Rf2 and White's rooks and knight start doing acrobatics worthy of the Cirque du Soleil. Ex: 46...Rc8+ 47.Kh7 and White threatens Rxf5+ and Ne7. 47...Rc7+ 48.Kg8) 45.Kh7 Rc7+ 46.Kg8 Rc8+ 47.Kh7] 39...Nf5+ 40.Rxf5 gxf5 41.Kh5 Rc7 0-1. [Click to replay]

What went wrong? Alexei Shirov

There might have been concern that last game of the match would lack fight considering the result was already decided, but whether because they are true fighters to the end, or because Shirov still wanted to try and extract his pound of flesh from the encounter, the game was no pushover.

Anand,Viswanathan (2817) - Shirov,Alexei (2709) [D43]
24th Leon Masters Leon ESP (6), 05.06.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 Bd6 9.e4 dxc4 10.e5 Qd8 11.Bxc4 Be7 12.Qe2 Nb6 13.Bd3 Nd5 14.g3 Qa5 15.Rc1 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Bd7 17.0-0 c5 18.Rb1 Bc6 19.Be4 0-0 20.Bxc6 bxc6 21.Rb7 Bd8 22.Qc4 Bb6 23.dxc5 Qxc5 24.Qxc5 Bxc5 25.Nd4 Rab8 26.Rfb1 Bb6 27.Rxb8 Rxb8 28.a4 Rd8 29.a5 Bxd4 30.cxd4 Rxd4 31.Rb8+ Kh7 32.Rb7 Kg6 33.Rxa7 Ra4 34.Kg2 Re4 35.f4 Re2+ 36.Kh3 Ra2 37.Rc7 Rxa5 38.Rxc6 Ra2 39.Rc7 h5 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Fans and press clamor around to see the post-match press conference

Vishy Anand with tournament organizer Leontxo Garcia and Alexei Shirov


Thursday, June 2nd Arrival, drawing of lots in Conde Luna Hotel
Friday, June 3rd Games 1 and 2 (16:30), León auditorium
Saturday, June 4th Games 3 and 4 (16:30), León auditorium
Sunday, June 5th Games 5 and 6 (16:30), + Tiebreaks
Monday, June 6th Closing ceremony, Prizegiving (14:30)
Simuls (17:30), León University


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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