Lessons from a 2600+ grandmaster (2)

by ChessBase
5/16/2015 – After his successes in three strong back to back tournaments, India GM (and Anand second) Surya Shekhar Gangul provided us with many interesting insights into key games – not just related to calculations and analysis but also to human psychology, preparation and playing under pressure in crucial games. Here's the final game, annotated with quiz questions and very instructive analysis.

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Surya Shekhar Ganguly annotates (2)

In the first part of our interview with Surya Shekhar Ganguly we had promised to bring you three games annotated by the Indian GM. They are his favourite from his one-month tour where he played 27 games in three different events. These games have been meticulously annotated by the 2627 player and he has revealed many interesting points not only related to calculations and analysis but also with human psychology, preparation and playing under pressure in crucial games.

Lovers of the game can go over Ganguly’s analyses on our JavaScript boards or download the PGN and have a look at them on their ChessBase software. For ambitious players, however we recommend the latter. But before going through the analyses, you can spend ten minutes on the two test positions given at the beginning of each game. Write down your analysis and then go over the game on a chess board. This might be time consuming, but you are effectively receiving lessons from a 2600+ GM.

Ganguly vs Wang Hao, final round of the Bangkok Open 2015

This is the position reached after White’s 19th move Bd2. How do you assess this position and what is the best plan for White here. You can later compare your answer with Ganguly’s text and see how close you were to his thinking.

Position after 19.Bd2. How do you assess the position and what is the best plan for White here.
You can later compare your answer with Ganguly’s text and see how close you were to his thinking.

Variation to Black’s 38th move. This is an excellent position to hone your skills in strategic thinking.
You need to come up with a plan as to how you can put maximum pressure on the black position.
You can later compare your answer with Ganguly’s thought process.

In the following JavaScript replay screen you can use the browser magnification function (Ctrl + in Chrome and Firefox) to enlarge the board and notation. You can also download the PGN and do your own research and analysis in ChessBase or Fritz.

[Event "Bangkok Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.04.19"] [Round "9"] [White "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Black "Wang Hao"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2619"] [BlackElo "2713"] [Annotator "Surya Shekhar Ganguly"] [PlyCount "137"] {Before the last round of Bangkok Open the championship was quite wide open. There was one player (Wang Hao) on 7.0/8 points and half point behind him were five players on 6.5 points. They were followed by four players on 6.0 points. Who could have predicted that after the last round still there will be only one player (Wang Hao!) on 7.0 points and nobody else would manage to reach that! It turned out all players on 6.5 points had decisive results while all players on 6.0 points drew their games! I was also on 6.5 points and was paired against Wang Hao on top board. This was very good news not because I got the strongest opponent in the tournament but because this was the only way I could have got double white.} 1. e4 e5 {Considering Wang Hao's wide repertoire of the French, Caro Kann, all sorts of Sicilian, Petroff and Classical 1..e5 lines it was not at all easy to predict what opening he would chose. It was a morning round and I thought if he is happy with draw he would probably chose 1...e5 or Caro Kann, while if he wants a complex battle he would perhaps go for French or some sort of Sicilian.} 2. Nf3 Nf6 {So he is not really looking for a complex battle and perhaps will not mind an easy draw. } 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Qe2 {This was an interesting psychological attempt to play for a win. Many people including some very strong players asked me if I was happy with draw or I was seriously trying to win. I prepared this line with Harikrishna at the end of 2012. We were very impressed with two games (Nakamura-Giri and Shirov-Topalov) which are given below. Hari tried this with Bu Xiangzhi at Biel 2013 and despite getting a good position couldn't win the game due to very good defence by Bu. Yes, this was a winning attempt and I was looking forward to long game. I would not have agreed for a short draw.} Qe7 6. d3 Nf6 7. Nc3 Qxe2+ (7... c6 {was Bu's choice against Hari.} 8. Bf4 Qxe2+ 9. Bxe2 Be7 10. Ne4 Nxe4 11. dxe4 Nd7 12. O-O-O Nc5 13. Bxd6 Bxd6 14. Rxd6 Nxe4 15. Rd4 Nf6 16. Bc4 O-O 17. Ne5 $14 {Hari - Bu, Biel 2013}) 8. Bxe2 Be7 (8... g6 9. Be3 Bg7 10. h3 O-O 11. O-O-O Re8 12. Rhe1 a6 13. g4 h6 14. Nd2 Nc6 15. Bf3 Bd7 16. Nde4 Nxe4 17. Bxe4 Rac8 18. Nd5 Nb8 19. f4 Bc6 20. h4 Nd7 21. g5 hxg5 22. hxg5 $16 {and Shirov went on to win this game against Topalov back in 2002 at Dortmund}) 9. O-O O-O 10. h3 a6 (10... h6 {Now this is the game we were very impressed by. I want to give the whole game as the finishing is very pretty. It was an outstanding game by Hikaru, who outplayed Anish positionally. Anish getting positionally outplayed is something that we don't get to see that often.} 11. Re1 Rd8 12. Nd4 Bf8 13. Bf3 c6 14. b4 Nbd7 15. g3 Nb6 16. Bg2 a5 17. bxa5 Rxa5 18. a4 Nbd7 19. Nb3 Ra6 20. a5 Nc5 21. Nxc5 dxc5 22. Ra4 Nd5 23. Nxd5 cxd5 24. Bf4 Bd7 25. Raa1 Bc6 26. Bc7 Rc8 27. Bb6 Bd6 28. h4 Raa8 29. Bh3 Rcb8 30. c3 Kf8 31. h5 Re8 32. Bg2 Rxe1+ 33. Rxe1 Rc8 34. Rd1 Be7 35. f4 f6 36. Kf2 d4 37. Bh3 Ra8 38. c4 Bd6 39. Re1 Re8 40. Be6 Re7 41. g4 Re8 42. f5 Re7 43. Re2 Re8 44. Rb2 Ra8 45. Rb1 Ke8 46. Re1 Be5 47. g5 hxg5 48. h6 gxh6 49. Rxe5 fxe5 50. f6 Bd7 51. f7+ Ke7 52. Bxd7 Kxd7 53. Bxc5 h5 54. f8=Q Rxf8+ 55. Bxf8 h4 56. Bh6 g4 57. Bg5 h3 58. Bh4 Kd6 59. Bg3 Ke6 60. Ke2 Kd6 61. Kd2 Kc5 62. Bxe5 Kb4 63. Kc2 Kxa5 64. Kb3 Kb6 65. Bxd4+ {1-0 (65) Nakamura,H (2783) -Giri,A (2730) London ENG 2012}) 11. Re1 Nc6 12. a3 {Our preparation was on a very general level and I was ready to continue with such positions, looking forward to a long game. It's feels the position is almost dead and Black can play almost anything. However Black should still be little cautious and solve his microscopic problems of being two tempos down. The main psychological point was Wang Hao probably felt I was just looking for an easy draw and had no intention to play on.} (12. Be3 {allows} Nb4) 12... Re8 13. Be3 Bd7 (13... d5 $5 14. Bf4 d4 15. Ne4 Nd5 16. Bg3 {[%cal Gf3d2,Ge2f3] and White plays Nfd2-Bf3 and keeps some pressure at least. Thanks to the extra tempo of h3 White need not bother about f5-f4.}) 14. d4 $1 {This way White stops the game from being completely dead.} Bf8 {From now on Black had more or less one issue – to activate his f8 bishop.} (14... d5 $6 {Of course if Black gets Bd6 next then we can shake hands. But White gets advantage by:} 15. Ne5 $1 $14) (14... Bf5 15. d5 Ne5 16. Nd4 {Like the earlier variation (13....d5) here Black can't go Bg6. Compared to White he doesn't have a square for his bishop after f4-f5.} ) 15. Bg5 (15. d5 {doesn't make any sense.} Ne7) (15. Bd3 h6 16. Re2 {This was also another slow approach. White would progress on the kingside with g4/Kg2/ Kg3 etc. and Black still has to find a way to activate his dark bishop and look for counterplay. I understand this position, like in the game, is also equal (or I would say extremely close to equal), but I would still prefer to be White here than Black.}) 15... Ne4 16. Nxe4 Rxe4 17. Bd3 (17. d5 Ne7 (17... Nd4 18. Nxd4 Rxd4 19. Bf3 {the rook on d4 looks misplaced}) 18. c4 h6 19. Bd2 { This was possible, but I didn't want to fix the structure with d5 so soon.}) 17... Rxe1+ 18. Rxe1 h6 19. Bd2 {[#]The position looks equal. My engine gives something around +0.20, but I do feel Black should be fine with some precise moves. However while I was trying to asses the position while playing 15.Bg5 I felt Black has one or two things to solve. First of all his dark square bishop is quite passive. Then he also has to take care not to get too passive with his kingside pawn structure, as White is going to progress there with g4/Kg2/ Kg3/h4 etc. soon. Black can of course exchange rooks, but then that doesn't solve the two problems mentioned above.} Be6 (19... g5 {is a very committal computer move and honestly I didn't pay much attention to it.}) (19... Re8 { This felt natural} 20. Rxe8 Bxe8 21. g4 $1 (21. Bf5 Ne7) 21... Bd7 22. Kg2 g6 23. Be4 Bg7 24. c3 Kf8 25. Kg3 {Again I believe with some precise manoeuvres Black will find the best way to make a draw. But there were two things that made me happy during the game while looking at such positions. First of all White is playing for two results, while Black is playing for one; and secondly it is still Black who has to find some precise moves to make draw. It probably should end in draw, but I am sure any player would prefer to be White here, which is natural as every single white piece, including the king, is more active than it's counterpart, and White has more space.}) 20. c3 {In order to be ready for Bd5 with Nh4.} (20. g4 Bd5) 20... Na5 {Black is creating some counterplay on the queenside, and there is very little White can do about it.} (20... Bd5 21. Nh4 {and c4 is threatend}) 21. g4 $1 {So I decided to progress on the kingside, which I have to do at some point in order to gain more space and restrict the f8 bishop further.} Bd5 22. Kg2 Nb3 {I didn't see where this knight is going after this, although it does look nicely placed at the moment.} (22... Nc4 23. Bc1 b5 24. Kg3 {I was mostly expecting to get this position with plans similar to those mentioned above.}) 23. Be3 b5 24. Kg3 Re8 (24... c5 25. dxc5 dxc5 26. Rd1 Re8 (26... Bd6+ {just worsen things} 27. Kg2 {[%csl Gd1, Rd5,Rd6]}) 27. Bc2 {Here White might actually be just better. Once again the main problem of f8 bishop has not been solved.}) 25. Bf4 (25. h4 $1 {is the engine suggestion and also the other move I was considering during the game. However I wasn't sure how to react after c5.} c5 {Now Black threatens d4.} 26. Bc2 $1 $14 {[%csl Rf8] is a nice simple way to avoid it, which I underestimated. Here White can still continue his kingside progress while Black has no threats on queenside.}) 25... Rxe1 {This came with a draw offer, which is not surprising: after all computers also give 0.00.} 26. Nxe1 {I felt there is lot to play for. Even if it is equal it is definitely not dead yet. White has an active king and more space, especially on the kingside. On the other hand Black's king is not at all active and his dark square bishop is really passive. White can still progress on kingside and try to restrict Black further.} Na5 (26... c5 $1 {During the game it was not clear whether this will create real counterplay on d4 or just merely make a weakness on d6. It is understandable that Wang Hao didn't want to create any weakness and believed he would hold the position by normal moves, just by keeping the structure solid.} 27. Nc2 (27. Nf3 $5) 27... g6 {is a move I felt more natural} (27... g5 {is the typical computer way:} 28. Be3 Be7 29. Bf5 Kg7 30. f4 Bb7 {I didn't see this way of regrouping pieces and it looks like even though Black has d6-c5 and g5 to defend, he can do it without any further difficulties.}) 28. h4 Bb7 29. Be2 {[%cal Ge2f3] Trying to exchange the light square bishops and make a route for the king.} Be4 30. Bd1 {[%cal Gc2b4] and now the tactical Nb4 is coming} cxd4 31. Nxd4 Nxd4 32. cxd4 Bg7 33. Be3 Bd5 {However its not clear how White will make progress here.}) 27. Nc2 Nc4 {The knight has come to a better square, but it does very little to solve Black's fundamental problem on the kingside.} 28. Bc1 Nb6 {Here I had two choices. First was to just continue with my original plan of progressing on the kingside with h4, which is what was my first instinct. But then I noticed that I can get my knight to f5, which will stop any kind of Black activity on the kingside, as long as my knight stays there.} 29. Ne3 (29. h4 $5) 29... Bb3 30. Nf5 {Now unless this knight is being exchanged there is very little hope for the dark square bishop, and more importantly for Black's king to come into the game.} Nd5 {Very logical human choice: trying to exchange the knight and activate his kingside pieces.} (30... d5 {There are many computer moves which I never really took very seriously and this is one of them.} 31. h4 $14 {I think White is better, irrespective of computer evaluations. Or perhaps I am simply using a poor machine!}) 31. Be4 $1 {Since the knight exchange is inevitable it made sense to restrict the bishops further in the upcoming bishop pawn endgame.} (31. h4 Ne7 32. Nxe7+ Bxe7 33. Be4 c5 $1 {is something I didn't want to allow, although White will still be pressing here.}) 31... Ne7 32. Nxe7+ Bxe7 33. Bb7 a5 34. Bc6 Bc4 35. h4 $1 g5 {Otherwise Black may not get to activate his kingside pawns for rest of the game.} 36. hxg5 {This was an easy decision} ({as } 36. h5 d5 37. f4 f6 $11 {looked like a fortress.}) 36... hxg5 {Now there were many ways and I wasn't sure which one would keep maximum chances.} 37. d5 $5 {[%cal Gg3f3,Gf3e4]} (37. f4 gxf4+ 38. Bxf4 {looked interesting, but I wasn't thrilled about exchanging his weak g5 pawn for my f2 pawn.}) (37. Kf3 { Of course if I can get my king to e4 without having played d5 that is always preferable. But I just wasn't sure whether I will be able to break his fortress after he plays d5} d5 38. a4 $1 {Otherwise Black plays a4 and it is a total fortress.} bxa4 39. Bxa4 $14 {White still keeps some chances. I was hesitating between this position and the one which happened in the game. In the end I decided to stick with my original approach of playing against the dark square bishop.}) 37... Kg7 38. Kf3 Bb3 $6 {This move allows White to get an an outside passed pawn. On the other hand it was not easy to conclude whether Black simply maintains the fortress by allowing Ke4.} (38... a4 {would also get to similar positions mentioned below}) (38... Bf6 {[#]During the game I wasn't sure if I can make real progress here or not, but I had one plan in mind, and for it I chose 37.d5 over 37.Kf3.} 39. Ke4 a4 {Here I thought I can probably fix his dark square bishop on d8 by getting my dark square bishop to b8. Then at right moment I could bring my c6 bishop to d3 and exchang it for the c4 bishop, then clear the path for my king to the queenside with c4. Once this light square bishop is exchanged I don't have to bother about his kingside play, as I can always stop f5 with f3 and there will be no king entry via e5, as I will play Ba7-d4 at the right moment. However these are very general strategies/plans that I was thinking about, and in reality it is very difficult to achieve all of it. Black always gets some counterplay, as we will see. On the other hand Black also can't be completely sure if he will hold or not. Hence it is understandable why Wang Hao opted for Bb3: in order to stop Ke4 instead of just sitting tight and hoping for a fortress.} 40. Be3 Kg6 41. Ba7 Be2 42. Bb8 {The first part.} (42. Bd7 Bc4 43. Bf5+ Kg7 44. Bd4 { Exchanging this bishop doesn't make any sense:} Bxd4 45. Kxd4 Kf6 $11) 42... Bd8 43. Bd7 {The second part as per the plan.} Kf6 44. Bf5 Bd1 $1 {Of course Black will not cooperate.} (44... Bc4 {If Black decides to simply wait then it can get dangerous.} 45. Kd4 Be2 46. Ba7 $1 {Prophylaxis against a future Ke5.} Bc4 47. Bd3 $1 Bxd3 48. Kxd3 Ke5 49. c4 bxc4+ 50. Kxc4 Ke4 51. Bd4 $18 {[%cal Gb2b3]}) 45. Kd4 Bf3 46. Ba7 (46. Bd3 Bxg4 47. Bxb5 Bd1 {is just equal}) 46... Kg7 $1 47. Bd7 Be2 48. Ke3 Bc4 49. Ke4 Bf6 {and it's not clear how I would have achieved my dream plan.}) 39. Ke4 $1 Bc2+ 40. Ke3 Bb3 41. Bxb5 $1 Bxd5 42. b4 $1 {Once White gets an outside passed pawn his chances will be serious.} c6 43. Be2 Bd8 (43... axb4 44. cxb4 {could be very dangerous}) 44. c4 Be6 (44... Bb6+ {drops a pawn} 45. Kd3 Be6 46. bxa5 $18) 45. Bb2+ f6 46. Bc3 (46. Bd4 { also looked nice, but I was keen to get an a-passer rather than one on the b-file.} axb4 47. axb4 Bc7 48. Kd2 $14) 46... Bb6+ $6 (46... axb4 $1 47. Bxb4 Bb6+ 48. Kd3 (48. Kf3 $5 c5 49. Bd2 d5 50. a4 d4 51. a5 Bc7 52. a6 Bb6 53. Ba5 Ba7 54. Ke4 Kf7 {and it is not clear how White will progress here.}) (48. Kd2 $5 Bxf2 49. Bxd6) 48... Bxf2 (48... c5 49. Bc3 Bc8 (49... d5 50. cxd5 Bxd5 51. Bd1 $14 {Thanks to his outside passed pawn White still keeps some chances alive.}) 50. a4 Ba6 51. a5 (51. Bf3 Bc8) 51... Ba7 52. Bf3 Bc8 53. Kc2 Bd7 54. Kb3 {Black runs out of moves.} Bb8 (54... Kf7 55. Bd5+ Kg6 56. f3 $18) (54... Be6 55. Bc6 Bxg4 56. Ka4 $18) 55. a6 Ba7 56. Ba5 Bc8 57. Bb7 Bxg4 58. Bc7 $18) 49. Bxd6 f5 $1 (49... Bc8 50. Bf3 c5 51. a4 Kf7 52. Bc7 Ke6 53. Bc6 f5 54. Ke2 Bd4 55. gxf5+ Kxf5 56. a5 {is still dangerous.}) 50. Bf3 fxg4 51. Bxc6 g3 { Black has enough counter here to make a draw I think.}) 47. c5 $1 dxc5 48. bxa5 Ba7 (48... Bc7 49. f3) 49. f3 $1 {[%cal Ge2d1,Gd1c2] In order to activate light square bishop.} Kf7 50. Bd1 (50. Bd3 $4 c4+) 50... Bc4 (50... Ke7 51. Bc2 $16 {[%cal Gc2e4]}) 51. Bc2 Ba6 $2 (51... Ke7 52. Bd3 Bb3 53. Be4 {Most of the game, when engines say it is equal, I felt White is slightly better. Now the same engines says White is totally winning, and I am not sure what the plan is. White is better for sure, but whether he is winning or not would require deep analyses.} Ba4 {Now if White gets his bishop to c4 I think he will win. But its not that easy to get it there.} 54. Bf5 Bb5 55. Bc8 (55. f4 Bb8) 55... Ba4 56. a6 (56. Ba6 Bb3 57. Kd3 Bd1 58. Ke4 Bb3) 56... Bb5 {Black is completely fixed, but the question is does White have a proper plan to break the fortress? } 57. f4 {Not sure if White can manage without this.} gxf4+ (57... Bb8 58. fxg5 fxg5 59. Ke4 $18) 58. Kxf4 Bb8+ 59. Ke3 Ba7 60. Ba5 Kf7 61. Kd2 {Back to the plan of getting the light square bishop to c4.} Ke7 62. Bc7 Ba4 63. Kd3 Bb5+ 64. Kc3 Ba4 (64... Kf7 65. Bd8 {only worsen things}) 65. Bf5 Bb5 66. Bd3 Ba4 67. Be2 (67. Bc4 Bd1) 67... Kd7 68. Bg3 Ke7 69. Bh4 $1 Bb8 (69... Ke6 70. Bc4+ Ke7 71. Kd2 {Target achieved. Now White can bring his king to kingside.}) 70. Bf2 Ba7 71. Bg3 Kd8 72. Kd2 {[%cal Ge2c4]} (72. Bc4 Bd1) 72... Bb3 73. Kd3 Ke7 {I am not sure how to make progress here. It feels close, but I don't see a direct win. Perhaps it needs more time and closer look.}) 52. Ba4 $1 c4+ (52... Bb5 53. Bxb5 cxb5 54. Ke4 Ke6 55. a6 Bb6 56. Ba5 Ba7 57. Bd8 c4 58. Ba5 $18) 53. Bd4 c5 54. Bc3 {Now both black bishops are bad.} Ke6 (54... Bb8 55. Bc6 Bf4+ 56. Ke4 Ke6 57. Bd5+ Kd6 58. Bxf6 $16) 55. Bc6 f5 (55... Bb8 56. a4 Bf4+ 57. Ke2 $1 {and Bb5 is coming.}) 56. gxf5+ Kxf5 57. Bd7+ (57. a4 $1 {was more direct, but I liked restricting Black's king.}) 57... Kg6 58. Be6 Bb8 {The only way to look for counterplay.} 59. Ke4 Bf4 {and Black suddenly creates counterplay by threatening Bc1-a3-b4.} 60. a4 (60. Kd5 Bb7+ 61. Kxc4 Bxf3 62. Kxc5 {was also possible and similar to the game continuation.}) 60... Bc1 ( 60... Bb7+ 61. Bd5 Ba6 62. Ba8 $1 {[%cal Ge4d5,Gd5c6] is a nice aesthetic move I was very tempted by.}) 61. Kd5 Bb7+ 62. Kxc4 Bxf3 63. Kxc5 {white is faster here} g4 64. Bd4 Ba3+ (64... g3 65. a6 g2 66. Bd5 $16) 65. Kb6 g3 66. a6 g2 67. Bd7 Bb2 68. Bg1 Kf6 69. Bc6 {Unfortunately beating such a strong player in the last round on the top board was not enough to win the championship, as on the third board the old dinosaur Nigel Short managed to win another bishop pawn endgame against young Diptayan Ghosh from my city of Kolkata. Diptayan just needed a draw to make his GM norm. It turned out that Nigel's tiebreak was better than mine just by one point, and I had to be happy with second place. However, nothing to complain about as the game itself was a huge satisfaction.} (69. a7 Ke5 $1 {and suddenly it gets unnecessarily complicated, although} 70. Kc5 {should still win.}) (69. Bc6 Bxc6 70. Kxc6 Ke5 71. a7 Bd4 72. Bxd4+ Kxd4 73. a8=Q g1=Q 74. Qa7+) 1-0

The lists above show all Gagnuly's opponents in each event, their ratings, nationalities,
the points they finished the tournament with, the colour he had and the result.

Sagar Shah, who received the game annotations from Ganguly, writes: "Personally for me, these have been the best annotated games I have seen in the recent times. I cannot stress how much I learnt going over these games with Ganguly’s annotations. I hope you too enjoyed them and learnt a lot. A huge thanks to Surya Shekhar Ganguly for treating the readers of ChessBase with some really high quality annotations."

Achievements of Surya Shekhar Ganguly

  • World U-10 Championship, Warsaw 1991: Won bronze medal in his first foreign trip, at the age of eight.
  • World U-10 Championship, Bratislava 1993: Shared bronze medal with Jakovenko, ahead of Grishchuk.
  • World U-12 Championship, Szeged 1994: Shared bronze medal with Ponomariev, Vallejo Pons behind Levon Aronian and Bacrot, and ahead of Grishchuk.
  • World U-12 Championship, St. Lorenzo 1995: Won silver medal behind Bacrot.
  • In 1995, at the age of 11, he beat a Grandmaster, the youngest player ever to do so until that time.
  • Ganguly became an International Master at 16 and a Grandmaster at 19.
  • He won Indian National Championship for a record six consecutive times from 2003–2008.
  • Winner of the Asian Championships in 2009.
  • World Team Chess Championship 2010: His team India won bronze and he won the individual gold for himself.
  • Winner of many international events like Bangladesh International 2005, ONGC International 2006, Sydney International 2008, Parsvanath 2009, Indonesia Open 2011, Fujairah Open 2012.and many more.
  • He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2005 by the Government of India for his outstanding achievement in sports.
  • He worked in the team of seconds that assisted Anand in winning the World title matches against Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Gelfand in 2008, 2010 and 2012 respectively.

(Source: Wikipidea)

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