Marin on Tromso R6 – Originality at the Top

8/9/2014 – After each round of the Olympiad our special commentator GM Mihail Marin picks out one to three games and annotates them, quite extensively, in his own inimitable didactic style for you – making sure you understand the spirit of the game. In round six, looking at the pairings, he was sure there would be a lot of originality on the top boards. Turns out he was absolutely right.

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Marin on Tromso – round six selection

From the moment when I saw the players paired on board 1.1, I knew this would inevitably be a highly original round. So even before the round started I decided to orientate my selection and general discourse accordingly. There were times in chess history when people started fearing the exhaustion of our favourite game. Quite obviously, the computer era makes no exception. And yet, looking at the games examined below, I get the feeling there still is so much room for originality and man to man fights, even at the highest level.

I knew it would be not before long that the first (pre-selected already!) game from the selection would leave the usual path. I was only curious who would be the one to manage making the first step in this direction!

Shakh Mamedyarov (left) with friends and family

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø¸"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Jobava, Baadur"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A41"] [WhiteElo "2743"] [BlackElo "2713"] [Annotator "Marin, Mihail"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Azerbaijan"] [BlackTeam "Georgia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "AZE"] [BlackTeamCountry "GEO"] 1. d4 d6 ({It is worth comparing the position after Jobava's 6th move with that arising in a Benoni hybrid used by Rudolf Spielmann, the last of the romantics, as he was named.} 1... Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 d6 4. c4 ({Against} 4. Nc3 {Spielmann used to play the same:} Bf5) 4... Bf5 5. Nc3 h6 {followed by ... g7-g5.[#]This is not very common nowadays, but last year it was played in one game between strong players, Caprio-Ivanisevic, Bergamo 2013 (Black won in 30 moves).}) 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 Bf5 {This is not really a main opening for Black, but the variation has been tried out in quite a few games. So far, both players have been blitzing out their moves, but Mamedjarov now stopped for almost three minutes.} 5. d5 $5 {A rare move, making the first step towards originality.} h6 6. g3 c5 {Jobava kept playing fast, but I wonder whether he realised that he got trapped in the Spielmann Benoni with a tempo down. I am not that dogmatic to claim that a tempo is always important, nor will I preach using Tartakower's classic "Chess is the tragedy of one tempo" (as almost anything else that he wrote, this actually is a play on words, hinting at the theater world, too). But if you are black and play a hyper-hyper-modern opening, the thought that every tempo is important could at least briefly cross your mind.} 7. Nh4 $5 {White decides to prevent the planned ...g7-g5 followed by ...Bg7, but this could have backfired.} ({Being a player of the boring type, I would use my extra tempo for continuing my development with} 7. Bg2 {As for White's chances for an advantage, I can only quote some words of wisdom heard from Kortschnoj during one of our post-mortems: "If you do not win, bad luck; but you have to play like this!" But then it would not become such an original game...}) 7... Bh7 8. f4 {[#] Jobava finally stopped from the blitzing fury and took 16 minutes before answering. This is what they used to preach when I was a kid: play by intuition for most of the game, but do stop for a deep thought in the two or three critical moments. However, the way the game turns, this seems to have been the wrong decision.} Rg8 $2 {Black needs finding a way to develop his f8-bishop.} ({It goes without saying that} 8... g6 $2 {is simply awful. While preparing to activate one bishop, it paralyzes the other.}) ({Or if} 8... e6 $2 9. dxe6 fxe6 10. Bh3 {the absence of the light-squared bishop from the queenside causes Black major problems.}) ({I am almost certain that for a player like Jobava the first impulse suggests the dynamic} 8... g5 $1 { preparing the development of the dark-squared bishop without molesting his colleague.} 9. fxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Ne4 {Followed by ...Bg7 and ...Nd7 with excellent compensation for Black. Quite possibly, during his long thought Baadur managed to "convince himself there was no need for such radical measures. I must confess that I am very surprised with myself. For decades, I have countless times adviced: "Do not rush, take a deep breath once in a while". But now, I advocate the opposite: "If you are in your element, don't hesitate, go for what your heart tells you!"}) 9. Nf3 $1 {The knight returns into play, leaving Black with the problem of developing his f8-bishop.} Ne4 { After another long thought, 14 minutes. This time, there really was what to think about.} (9... g5 $6 {does not work out so well now:} 10. fxg5 hxg5 11. Nxg5 {The knight which would have remained on the edge of the board in the previous line gains now a vital tempo, covering the e4-square at the same time. }) 10. Qc2 $1 {Due to the unusual position of the black rook, this creates a relative pin.} Qa5 (10... Nxc3 $2 11. Qxh7 {would trap the rook in an amusing (surely not for Black) way.}) 11. Bd2 Ng5 12. Qb3 Nxf3+ 13. exf3 {[#]The dynamic phase has come to an end. White has considerable space advantage and a huge lead in development. At this level, this is equivalent to being close to winning.} Nd7 14. Bh3 ({The greedy} 14. Qxb7 {would have been possible and quite good actually. Both players must have stopped after} Rb8 15. Qc6 Rxb2 { , overlooking that the simple} 16. Rd1 $1 {unpins the knight threatening the decisive Nb5.}) 14... O-O-O 15. Nb5 Qa6 {Not a fortunate square for the queen.} ({But} 15... Qb6 16. Qa3 {threatening Ba5 and Nxa7+ at the same time would be even worse for Black.}) 16. O-O g5 {The impact of this move is neglectable, while White's queenside attack will be simple to carry out and quite effective! } 17. Rfe1 ({A natural developing move, preventing ...Bg7 and getting out of the range of the h7-bishop (if a4-a5 and Qa4, then ...Bd3 could come), but the immediate} 17. a4 {would have been quite strong, too.}) 17... Kb8 18. a4 Nf6 19. a5 g4 {With the queen caged on a6, Black's attack is rather symbolic.} 20. fxg4 Nxg4 21. Qa4 h5 22. b4 h4 {[#]} 23. Rac1 {(!!) When I saw this move, my first impulse was to check whether there was a black bishop along the a1-h8 diagonal. The diagonal is completely empty, so I had to look for a deeper reason for the last move - not the only, but quite a strong one. By defending the c4-pawn, White creates the deadly threat Nc7!! followed by b5, trapping the queen! Since 23...b6 looks suicidal, Black is forced to release the tension, thus opening files for White's attack.} cxb4 24. Bxg4 Rxg4 25. Be3 { [#]Black's army is cut in two. The kingside pieces cannot provide the king with any support, while the queen cannot attack the white king. And there is no satisfactory way to prevent Bxa7+.} b6 26. Qd1 Qc8 27. axb6 hxg3 28. h3 { The simplest. With a bit of care, the g3-pawn is the white king's best friend.} Rh4 29. Qa4 Qd7 30. c5 Rxh3 {[#]} 31. f5 $1 ({By "a bit of care" I meant avoiding the trap} 31. c6 $4 Rh1+ $1 {turning the g3-pawn into the king's worst enemy. after} 32. Kxh1 Qh3+ 33. Kg1 Qh2+ 34. Kf1 Bd3+ {with mate in two. Remarkably, such an oustanding tactician like Mamedjarov needed only three seconds to play his last move!}) 31... Bxf5 {Blocking the queen's access to h3 for a decisive instant.} ({Keeping the queen acitve with} 31... Qxf5 {allows a similar scenario in the opposite corner of the board:} 32. Qxa7+) 32. c6 a5 33. Qxa5 1-0

Rustam Kasimdzhanov-Vladimir Kramnik

Before the start of the round six game between Kramnik and Kasimdzhanov

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø¸"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6"] [White "Kasimdzhanov, Rustam"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2700"] [BlackElo "2760"] [Annotator "Marin, Mihail"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Uzbekistan"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UZB"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] {This duel between former World Champions could not have had a more classical start. But originality does not refer to the opening only. The tactical phase starting after 20 moves would fit in any collection of games from the so-called romantic period.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bf4 dxc4 6. e3 Bd6 $5 {A rare move. The main continuations are 6...Nd5, 6...Nb6 and 6...a6.} 7. Bxd6 cxd6 8. Bxc4 a6 9. a4 {[#]} d5 {A solid move, leading to some sort of Exchange Slav structure.} ({But when playing the Queen's Gambit I am usually looking for more interesting play, so here I would consider something like} 9... b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Qe2 O-O 12. e4 Qe7 {with a flexible position for Black.}) 10. Bd3 b6 11. O-O O-O 12. Qb3 Qe7 13. Rac1 Bb7 14. Rc2 Rfc8 15. Rfc1 {[#]With a slightly different move order, all this has been played in Gelfand-Carlsen, Moscow 2013. Both players have been playing relatively quickly so far, but Kramnik invested 11 minutes into his next move.} Qd6 {Still following Carlsen's play. In principle, d6 is the best square for the queen, but the last move allows White changing the character of the fight.} ({Black could play some neutral, generally useful, moves, for instance:} 15... h6 16. h3 ({The knight jump is less effective than in the game:} 16. Ne5 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Nd7 {with counterplay.}) 16... Rab8) 16. Ne5 {We can only guess whether Kasimdzhanov came up with this new idea during his 15 minutes thought or he used this time to remember his analysis. Given the (so far!) static character of the position, I would assume that both opponents were kind of getting on their own already.} ({The aforementioned game went} 16. Na2 Rxc2 17. Rxc2 Rc8 {with gradual simplifications and a draw.}) 16... Nxe5 {Facing the positional threat f2-f4, Kramnik decides to pick up the gauntlet.} 17. dxe5 Qxe5 18. Qxb6 {Frm static point of view, things have gone Black's way, as he exchanged a knight pawn for a central one. But dynamically he has some problems, as his queenside is under pressure.} Rcb8 $5 {Kramnik played this somewhat surprising move rather quickly, after only two minutes.} ({There are two possible reasons for refraining from} 18... Rab8 {One possible problem is that he wanted to answer} 19. Ne2 {with} Nd7 {which now loses material to} 20. Rxc8+ {followed by Qd8+.}) ({Or maybe he feared the following queen sacrifice which would kind of suit his own trademark?} 18... Rab8 19. Bxa6 Rc6 20. Qxb7 Rxb7 21. Bxb7 {However, Black seems to be able to neutralize White's initiative with a series of only moves:} Rb6 22. Nxd5 exd5 23. Rc8+ Ne8 24. Bc6 Rxc6 25. R1xc6 g6 26. a5 d4 {with initiative to Black already.}) 19. Ne2 Nd7 20. Qd4 Qd6 21. f4 {Things have calmed down for a moment. White has a pleasant control on dark squares, active rooks and a potentially dangerous queenside majority. Black's main trump is his superiority in the centre, which Kramnik hurries to take advantage of.} e5 $1 22. fxe5 Nxe5 23. Qf4 {[#]} Qe7 $2 {A heavy, probably decisive, mistake in a fairly balanced position. Curiously, Kramnik spent a quarter of an hour on it.} ({Believe it or not (the players surely didn't), starting the fighr for the open c-file with} 23... Rc8 $3 {was possible. The point is that after} 24. Qf5 g6 25. Rxc8+ Bxc8 26. Rxc8+ {Black has} Kg7 $3 {The double exclaim refers to the fact that this move had to be seen in advance.} 27. Qh3 ({Or if} 27. Nd4 Rxc8 28. Qxc8 Nxd3 29. Qc3 Ne5 30. Nf3 f6 {with perfect equality.}) 27... Rxc8 28. Qxc8 Qb4 $1 ({This Zwischenzug, threatening mate on e1, is slightly more accurate than} 28... Nxd3 29. Qc3+ Ne5 30. Qd4 {followed by Nf4 with certain pressure.}) 29. Nc3 Nxd3 $11) ({But even without seeing all these, the re-developing} 23... Re8 $5 24. Rc7 Rab8 {would have been entirely safe for Black, while after the last move White's attack continues naturally.}) 24. Rc7 Qe8 25. Bf5 {This bishop will have an important part in the final phase.} Nc4 26. Bd7 Qf8 27. b3 Nb6 {[#]With most of the black pieces massed on the queenside, White's kingside pessure is decisive.} 28. Bf5 $1 {Not the only winning move, but its idea is very elegant.} d4 {Hard to judge whether Kramnik had not seen the threat, or he simply wanted to have some fun before resigning.} ({For the truth's sake, it should be mention that restricting the bishop with} 28... g6 {would not help, either:} 29. Rf1 {With threats such as Bxg6 or Be6 followed by Rf7, or just Bb1, hitting f7 by simple means.} gxf5 30. Rf3 {With a decisive attack.}) 29. Rxf7 $1 {A thematic demolishing combination, reminiscent of Botvinnik's 18.Rc7xf7 from his game with Portisch at Monte Carlo 1968.} Kxf7 ({The main variation of the combination is} 29... Qxf7 30. Bxh7+ Kf8 31. Qd6+ Qe7 ({Or} 31... Ke8 32. Bg6 { wins the queen.}) 32. Rf1+ {with mate in sight.}) 30. Bxh7+ 1-0

Postgame analysis of Kasimdzhanov-Kramnik

It is fascinating watching the analysis of Rustam Kasimdzhanov and comparing it with Marin's comments

What it feels like to beat former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

Fabiano Caruana-Magnus Carlsen

What it feels like to play Magnus Carlsen...

[Event "41st Olympiad Tromso 2014 Open"] [Site "Tromsø¸"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2801"] [BlackElo "2877"] [Annotator "Marin, Mihail"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [WhiteTeam "Italy"] [BlackTeam "Norway"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ITA"] [BlackTeamCountry "NOR"] {If games between former World Champions are always followed with interest, what could we say of the duel between the reigning champion and one of the main aspirants to the throne? But I believe that the word originality somewhat loses its meaning when we speak about Carlsen. Originality in the opening is one of his main threads, so he would be original to himself only if he did something very common. Which would be a great pity, of course.} 1. e4 d5 {A big surprise on the very first move: Carlsen never played the Scandinavian before! His opening choice must be a bit more than a display of peninsular patriotism; if intended as a psychological weapon, it worked wonderfully well. The Scandinavian Defence used to be a frequent guest in Bent Larsen's games, but otherwise it is very uncommon at such a high level. True, when things started going wrong during his match with Kasparov, Anand unexpectedly used this opening and even got an advantage with it, but this was just an exception. } 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 {White gets a developing tempo for free, but placing the knight in front of the c-pawn is likely to restrict his strategic possibilities. I remember that when 30 years ago I switched from 1.e4 to 1.d4, one of my main ghosts was precisely the Scandinavian. I simply could not find a way to a harmonious development!} ({If now I would decide to switch back to 1.e4, I would consider} 3. d4 {, aiming for a development based on c4, Nc3, Nf3, with full control in the centre. One possible problem is that after} e5 { White's advantage might prove symbolical.}) 3... Qd8 {Without being new, of course, this really looks provocative. After three moves Black has not developed any piece yet! But on the other hand, he will not have to spend additional time retreating with his queen from d6 or a5, whenever attacked by a white minor piece.} 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. h3 Bxf3 7. Qxf3 c6 {[#]} 8. Ne2 { A rare but logical move, clearing the path for the c-pawn in an attempt to restore White's harmony. However, the knight will still need doing a bit of jumping before reaching a perfect square.} ({The usual continuation is} 8. Be3 e6 9. O-O-O {or 9.Bd3.}) 8... e6 {A new move, leaving the queen's acess to d5 open.} ({Black retained a solid but somewhat passive position after} 8... Nbd7 {Fedorchuk-Danielsen, Kolkata 2014.}) 9. g4 {Being better developed and enjoying more space, White surely can afford such active moves.} ({But against such a strong strategist as Carlsen, I would consider the more restrained} 9. g3 Qd5 10. Bg2 {True, after} Nbd7 {the queen would not have the g3-square at her disposal, which more or less forces White castling short. As we will see, Caruana had other plans for his king.}) 9... Qd5 10. Bg2 Nbd7 11. Qg3 Qc4 $1 { After the bishop has parted from the f1-a6 diagonal, the queen can cause some minor problems in the surrounding area.} 12. Qb3 {Caruana spent 25 minutes on this move. This was a critical moment, indeed, when White had to decide whether to exchange queens or not.} ({The main alternatives are} 12. c3) ({and } 12. g5 Nd5 13. c3) 12... Qxb3 {I would consider this an important strategic concession, allowing White to recapture towards the centre, but Carlsen played it almost without thinking. Eventually, White lost because of his double pawns and even though his position looked very promising for a long while, I will refrain from attaching an "?!" to the last move. Since the Carlsen era seems to be lasting for a while, I suggest introducing a sign for "inspired, even though probably not the best, move". I would use that here.} ({And if I had to choose a move without thinking,} 12... Nb6 {would surely be my candidate. If White wants to exchange queens, let him activate my knight!}) 13. axb3 Bd6 14. c4 a6 {[#]Preparing the long castle. White has the bishop's pair and more space on practically the whole board, but the relative weakness of the b4- and f4-squares offers Blck hopes for counterplay.} 15. Be3 ({A natural move, but it would make sense solving one of the aforementioned problems by playing} 15. Bd2 {This could turn the weakness into a strenght by means of b4-b5.}) 15... O-O-O 16. O-O-O {Another natural move and again an original available alternative.} ({White could have tried} 16. Kd2 $5 {followed by Kc3 and b3-b4. In many cases, the rook would be useful on a1, being ready for activating along the fifth rank.}) 16... Rhe8 {This looks a bit dogmatic: centralisation without a clear purpose.} ({Black cannot think of starting a counterplay in the centre, for instance} 16... e5 $6 17. d5 cxd5 $6 18. g5) ({But the rook could have been more useful on h8 than in the centre. Black could have tried either} 16... h5) ({or the immediate knight transfer to g6 with} 16... Nf8) 17. Ng3 Nf8 18. Bf3 {Preparing h4-h5.} ({But I see no reason to keep the g-pawn on a light square, restricting the bishop, so why not} 18. g5 {followed by h3-h4? This would have prevented Black's plan of exchanging the dark-squared bishops.} ) 18... Ng6 19. h4 Bf4 $1 {Even though this will strengthen White's control in the centre, it will mainly offer Black some stability on dark squares and some breahing space.} 20. h5 Bxe3+ 21. fxe3 Ne7 22. e4 $6 {Played after eight minutes, this move marks a turning point on the game.} ({White would have retained a positional advantage in a rather one-sided position with either} 22. g5 Nd7 23. Bg4) ({or} 22. h6 g6 23. e4 {It is curious that Caruana neglected the dark squares issue that much.}) 22... h6 $1 {Finally, Black gets some stability on at least one part of the board.} 23. e5 Nh7 24. Ne4 Rf8 25. Nd6+ Kc7 26. Bg2 Ng5 {[#]White has installed a magnificent knight on d6, having gained tempi in the meanwhile, but it will soon become clear that the knight is kind of hanging there!} 27. Rhf1 f6 $1 {Starting with this moment, Carlsen plays at full strength. Even though the position is approximately equal still, Black's play is easier to carry out.} 28. Kc2 fxe5 29. dxe5 Nc8 30. c5 {When playing this ambitious move, consolidating the knight but concealing the d5-square, Caruana might have still been under the spell of his previous advantage.} ({Frim practical point of view, it would have been safer to exchange the active black knight with} 30. Ne4) 30... Ne7 {[#]} 31. b4 $2 { Played after a quarter of an hour, this move leads to some trouble. Any move taking measures against the thteatened ...Nd5-e3 would have been enough for maintaining equality.} Nd5 $1 {Played almost without thinking. Finally, the weakness of the double pawns makes itself felt. Black not only attacks b4, but also threatens ...Ne3, attacking three white pieces and the g4-pawn. How did he do that? How could he confuse his strong opponent that badly? Did the knight manoeuvre along the route b8-d7-f8-g6-e7-c8-e7-d5 hypnotise Caruana?} 32. Bxd5 cxd5 {Suddenly, there are some problems defending the e5-pawn against the threats ...Nf3 or ... Rf3.} 33. b5 {This desperate attempt at counterplay weakens the c5-pawn.} axb5 34. Nxb5+ Kc6 35. Nd6 Nf3 36. b4 Ra8 37. Ra1 Rxa1 38. Rxa1 Nxe5 {[#]The first pawn has dropped and in view of the hanging (rather than active) white knight, grabbing the second one is not far away...} 39. Ra7 Rb8 40. Ra3 b6 41. Ra7 bxc5 42. Ra6+ Kc7 43. bxc5 Nd7 44. Ra7+ Kc6 45. g5 Nxc5 {The rest is simple.} 46. Nf7 d4 47. Ne5+ Kd5 48. Nd7 d3+ 49. Kc1 Nxd7 50. Rxd7+ Ke4 0-1

Magnus Carlsen about to play 48...d3+

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

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Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 8/9/2014 11:52
Great analysis from Marin. Thank you.