Marin on Tromso R2 – round two selection

by Mihail Marin
8/3/2014 – For many participants, one of the main attractions of the Olympiads is the presence of World Champions (the reigning one, former ones and, who knows, maybe the next one). And the champions themselves do not mind rubbing shoulders with mere mortals, even though this may look risky for their ratings. GM Mihail Marin looks at three interesting and exciting games.

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Marin on Tromso – round two selection

By GM Mihail Marin

Olympiads seem to cast some magic over personal on-board (and sometimes off-board) rivalries. Karpov and Kasparov have been teammates on four occasions and, what is really remarkable, the US Federation managed to have Fischer and Reshevsky playing next to each other at the Siegen 1970 Olympiad!

I will not hide that I waited with impatience and curiosity for the moment when Magnus Carlsen (above) would step in. Fortunately, the reigning World Champion does not seem to have lost any single bit of his interest for the game after reaching unprecedented rating heights and conquering the supreme title at all the official time rates (classical, rapid and blitz). Maintaining the flame of enthusiasm alive when there is no higher level to aim at is a task not many World Champions have dealt with sucessfully. Anyway, since his presence in the team surely makes a big difference, Carlsen was ready for the fight as soon as in round two.

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Nyback, Tomi"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D11"] [WhiteElo "2594"] [BlackElo "2877"] [Annotator "Marin,Mihail"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Finnland"] [BlackTeam "Norwegen"] [WhiteTeamCountry "FIN"] [BlackTeamCountry "NOR"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 {An interesting choice of the opening. Carlsen has played the Slav in the past, but it is by far not his main weapon. The puzzling thing is that in a game where the big rating difference strongly required to play for a win, he exposes himself to a transposition to the symmetrical structure resulting after 4.cxd5 cxd5. The Exchange variation is not as dull as it seems and players like Botvinnik or Portisch have made good use of it with white, but Black has his reasons for content, too. Objectively, he should be close to equalizing, which actually is just one preliminary step on the way towards taking over the initiative.} 4. Qc2 {(!) Played almost without hesitation. I assume that Tomi was not really bothered by the idea of a draw (although I may be wrong), but even though the exchange variation makes part of his repertoire, he does not show himself ready for such early relasing of the tension.} dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg4 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. e4 {[#]} e5 $5 {Quite typical for Carlsen. He takes the game into almost unexplored territory as soon as on move seven! He had been doing that during the match against Anand quite a lot, depriving the then reigning champion to display his massive preparation.} (7... Bxf3 {is played almost unanimously, with 7...e6 a minor alternative.}) 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. dxe5 Be6 10. Qd3 Ng4 11. Qxd8+ Rxd8 12. Bf4 $1 {White prefers returning the pawn in the near future for the sake of completing his development} ({If} 12. f4 Bc5 {Black's initative becomes threatening.}) 12... Bc5 13. Bg3 Bd4 14. Rd1 Bxe5 15. Rxd8+ Kxd8 16. Bxe5 Nxe5 17. f4 Ng4 18. Be2 Nh6 19. Kf2 f6 {[#]The game has entered Carlsen's predilect territory - the endgame. Much to his praise, White keeps playing with ambition and even manages to put some pressure on his mighty opponent.} 20. h3 Nf7 21. Bg4 Ke7 22. Bxe6 Kxe6 23. Rd1 Rd8 24. Rxd8 Nxd8 {[#]The structure is quite similar to that from the last match game against Anand. Even though in Chennai Carlsen was black, inboth cases, he had two groups of three pawns each, against his opponent's two plus four. But in the current game, White's position is a bit more active.} 25. b4 Kd6 26. Ke3 a6 {A somewhat mysterious move. The threat of b4-b5 was not real, as it would allow . ..Kc5, but Carlsen might have intended to but his queenside majority into motion with ...b5 and ...c5, or even ...c5 right away.} 27. Na4 Ne6 {Renewing the threat ...b5..} 28. f5 $1 {A committal decision after only five minutes of thinking. White gives away the e5-square, but gets some queenside pressure in exchange.} Nd8 29. Kd4 Nf7 30. Nc5 {It may seem that the weakening move ... a7-a6 is about to cause some major problems. But Carlsen is not that easy to catch on the wrong foot in the edngame.} b6 $1 {Played instantly.} ({If} 30... Nd8 31. a4 {threatening a4-a5, Black would soon be in Zugzwang. Actually, even now the best saving chance would be giving up the apwn with} b6 {under lesss favourable circumstances already.}) 31. Nxa6 Ne5 {The black knight has occupied the fantastic central square, while his rival has no obvious way back into the game.} 32. a4 Nd7 {Threatening ...c5, which would open the king's way towards the knight. The final move repetition took place rather quickly, although White twice took a minute for refelction.} 33. Kc4 Ne5+ 34. Kd4 Nd7 35. Kc4 Ne5+ 36. Kd4 1/2-1/2

After becoming a World Champion by breaking Kasparov's invincibility myth, Vladimir Kramnik (above during round two in Tromsø) crossed a period with descending curve of the results. It was not before his defeat in the match with Anand freed him of the supreme crown's burden that he returned on the ascending track. Kramnik seems to be living a second and prolonged chess youth playing with ambition and, for us, spectators, rather entertainingly. Even though at the moment Kramnik is not the highest rated member of the formidable Russian team, as a fromer World Champion he remains a symbol and it is not really unnatural that he plays on the top board.

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Al-Modiahki, Mohamad"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E94"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2549"] [Annotator "Marin,Mihail"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Russland"] [BlackTeam "Katar"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "QAT"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O {[#]} Qe8 $5 {A rare move, trying to step out of the heavily analysed variations.} ({It would make little sense to go for the Mar del Plata attack with:} 7... Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 {Kramnik is a leading expert of the Bayonet attack initiated by} 9. b4 { a line with which he managed to "convince" Kasparov abandoning his beloved King's Indian!}) 8. dxe5 dxe5 {[#]} 9. b4 $5 {Kramnik played this relatively rare move instantly. The same as in the aforementioned variation, he starts the queenside attack on the first given occasion.} ({The main variation is} 9. Be3) 9... Qe7 {After having managed to clear matters in the centre, Black needs regrouping in order to resume the process of development. It is worth mentioning that starting with this move Black spend big amounts of time on almost every move.} 10. b5 a6 $146 {A new and probably not very inspired move.} ({Previously,} 10... c6 11. a4 Rd8 {was played.}) 11. a4 axb5 12. cxb5 Rd8 13. Qc2 {[#]From a very general perspective, the consequences of the queenside operation favours Black, who has exchanged his rook pawn for a more central one. But this would apply only if he was better developed. With respect to the lines with ...c6 instead of ...a6, the queen does not have the c7-square at her disposal and the d5-square is not defended properly.} Nbd7 {Black obstructs the bishop, a piece that, sadly, wil not get the chance for developing in this game.} ({With hindsight, it is easy to recommend} 13... Bg4 {followed by ...Nbd7, which would also put up some fight for the d4-square.}) 14. Ba3 Qe8 15. Rfd1 {[#]White is fully developed and exerts strong pressure along files and diagonals. Black is very passive and his move choice is strongly limited.} Bf8 $6 {Strategically, it is right to exchange these bishops, but concretely Black loses a pawn. But, as Tarrasch would say, in bad positions all moves are bad. Hm, or was it Tartakower?! Whoever he was, I can only agree with him!} 16. Bxf8 Nxf8 ({Or if} 16... Qxf8 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. Rxd5 { Black lsoes either the c7- or the e5-pawn.}) 17. Rxd8 Qxd8 18. Nxe5 Qd4 19. Nf3 Qc5 20. Qb2 Ng4 21. Nd1 $1 {This apparently passive retreat annihilates Black's initiative. White is a pawn up, has the safer king and more active play. Black is lost without even having got out of the opening, as some of his pieces are still on their initial squares.} Nd7 22. Rc1 Qb6 23. Nd2 $1 {More knight retreating, preparing for the final assault.} Nc5 (23... Ngf6 {could be met with} 24. Ne3 Rxa4 25. e5 {with a decisive attack.}) 24. Nc4 Qf6 $2 { Shortening the agony.} 25. Bxg4 ({And in view of} 25. Bxg4 Qxb2 26. Ncxb2 $1 { (attacking the c5-knight)} Nb3 27. Bxc8 {with decisive material gains, Black resigned.}) 1-0

Postgame interview with Vladimir Kramnik after round two

Over her 25 years as the World's strongest female player, Judit Polgar never abandoned the treademark style of the young girl she was when emerging into the high chess arena. Although the increasing strength of her opponents required safety and prudence, Judit rarely missed an occasion to deliver her stunning attacks, combinations or simply tricks. Her game of today is a good illustration of the risks she is ready to take in front of Caissa's altar.

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Guerrero Vargas, Andres"] [Black "Polgar, Judit"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B46"] [WhiteElo "2318"] [BlackElo "2676"] [Annotator "Marin,Mihail"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Venezuela"] [BlackTeam "Ungarn"] [WhiteTeamCountry "VEN"] [BlackTeamCountry "HUN"] 1. e4 c5 $1 {The Sicilian has been one of Judit's greatest chess loves ever since her childhood. Surely, there are some solid openings around, but why not remain true to her style?!} 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 Nge7 {This way of developing was advocated by former World title Candidate Mark Taimanov.} 7. Nf3 b5 8. a3 Bb7 9. Bd3 Ng6 10. O-O Qc7 11. Ng5 f6 ({Judit was not keen to fall under the kind of attack she would gladly launch hersefl after:} 11... h6 12. Nxf7 Kxf7 13. Qh5) 12. Nh3 Bc5+ 13. Kh1 O-O-O {Quite a brave move, openly aiming at sharp, almost irrational play with opposite castles.} (13... O-O {would offer Black pleasant play at no risk.}) 14. Qh5 Nce7 15. Qe2 e5 ({After the game, Judit indicated} 15... Rhe8 {followed by ... d7-d5 as a safer alternative. But this was not meant to be a safe game at all!} ) 16. fxe5 {A curious decision, giving up the e5-square for the sake of activating the h3-knight.} Nxe5 17. Nf4 h5 18. a4 {[#] The last two moves are symmetrical, but the impact of White's move is stronger, as it threatens opening the queenside at once.} g5 $1 {Doubtlessly Judit's favourite move (together with g2-g4). In her games, the resolute advance of the g-pawn may have all kind of tactical or strategic aims, such as gaining space or weakening the enemy structure. In this case, she intends to clear the h2-b8 diagonal in order to continue the attack with ... Ng4.} 19. axb5 $1 {But White does not cooperate and bravely sacrifices a piece for the sake of speeding up his own attack.} gxf4 20. bxa6 Bc6 21. Bxf4 Rdg8 {The position looks completely chaotical. None of the players has concrete threats yet, and the mutual attacks ned to be built up still.} 22. Bc4 Rg4 23. Nd5 Bxd5 24. Bxd5 Nxd5 25. exd5 Kb8 $5 {The king is rushing into the corner, where it will get relative safety, blocking the potentially dangerous a6-pawn at the same time.} 26. Rf3 Ka8 27. h3 {[#]} Rhg8 {It is hard to evaluate this move. Objectively, it is not entirely sound, but in a practical game it is the kind of guarantee for brilliancy. By attacking g2, Black practically forces White to take the rook, but this is less dangerous than it looks at first sight.} (27... d6 { would have ensured safety along the long light diagonal, maintaining the attacking chances intact.}) 28. d6 $1 ({A strong intermediate move, kindly declining the invitation to a cooperative mate after} 28. hxg4 hxg4 29. Rc3 Rh8+ 30. Bh2 Rxh2+ 31. Kxh2 Nf3+ 32. Kh1 Qh2#) 28... Qc6 ({If} 28... Qxd6 29. hxg4 hxg4 30. Qe4+ {Black is forced to exchange queens with} Qc6 {with rather questionable compensation for the material.}) 29. hxg4 hxg4 30. Rc3 ({As indicated by Judit,} 30. Re3 {would not offer adequate defence due to} Rh8+ 31. Kg1 Qe4) 30... Rh8+ 31. Bh2 Qxd6 {Renewing the threat of ...Rxh2+ with the familiar mating pattern.} 32. Qe4+ Nc6 {[#]The critical moment. White has two ways of preventing mate on h2. Which one would you choose?} 33. g3 $2 {Missing a trademark Judit trick.} ({Instead, the kamikadze} 33. Rh3 $1 {would parry the threats with a winning position. But this is not the first time (and definitely not the last) when Caissa smiles to the brave ones...}) 33... Rxh2+ $1 34. Kxh2 Qd2+ {There is no defence against ...Qh6+ followed by ...Qh3 mate! Under pressure, it is easy to underestimate the high mobility of Her Majesty. Not a perfect game, but surely a proof that chess can and should be fun above all!} 0-1

Mihail Marin

Born in 1965, GM Mihail Marin has several times been Romanian champion and first made the leap over the Elo barrier of 2600 in 2001.

Marin possesses a rare gift for a grandmaster – he is able to explain in readily comprehensible terms the ideas behind moves, variations and positions. This ability is there for all to admire in his contributions to ChessBase Magazine.

Marin has written some books which have earned the highest of praise, among which are "Secrets of Chess Defence" and "Learn from the legends".

Marin lives in Bucharest and is married to women's International Master Luiza Marin.

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GM Mihail Marin, born in 1965, has several times been Romanian champion. He possesses a rare gift for a grandmaster – the ability to explain in readily comprehensible terms the ideas behind moves, variations and positions. This ability is there for all to admire in his contributions to ChessBase Magazine.
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Chris Herberger Chris Herberger 8/5/2014 09:47
To allegories:

Do you really think that the author has "a permanent grudge against Anand" because he does not "stick to the topic"? You fanboys are just incredible!
AgainstAllOdds AgainstAllOdds 8/4/2014 02:53
In the Polgar-game, I think 22. Nb5 had been better.
After the knight has left c3, the move b2-b4 can be played much better, because Bxb4 doesn`t come up with a tempo.
So here is my main Variation, which shoud be better for white, btw, I would feel comfortable with:
22.Nb5 Bxb5
23.Bxb5 N7g6
24.Bg3 h4
25.Be1, and now white can storm ahead with his queenside-pawns.
allegories allegories 8/4/2014 01:32
Looks like the author has a permanent grudge against Anand ! There is no need for the passing mentions regarding future champion, match preparation n stuff when the article is supposed to cover a current event.
Stick to the topic, GM!
Chris Herberger Chris Herberger 8/4/2014 10:18
Dear GM Marin!

It was indeed the great Tarrasch. He famously once said: "If one piece is badly placed, your whole game is bad!" (so-called 'Tarrasch formula')

Please keep up with your annotations for Chessbase; they are so instructive!