Morelia 06: No quarter given, no holds barred

2/23/2008 – The last free day in the Morelia part of the tournament allowed the grandmasters to rest and come fresh to their games in the fighting mood again. In this unpredictable tournament it is highly difficult to guess the results, but one thing the spectators can be sure of: the players are always trying hard to show their best. The sixth round was no exception. GM Dorian Rogozenko analyses.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The following express commentary was provided by Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenko, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Rogozenko will study the games of the World Championship tournament in much greater detail and provide the full results of his analysis in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.

Round six commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenko

Round 6: Friday, February 22nd

Veselin Topalov 
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
 Peter Leko
Teimour Radjabov 
 Magnus Carlsen
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Alexei Shirov

Topalov,V (2780) – Anand,V (2799) [E21]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 22.02.2008

The central game of the round ended in an interesting draw. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3. For the first time in their classical encounters Topalov allows the Nimzo Indian. Previously he was quite successful with 3.Nf3 against Vishy: two wins and two draws. 3...Bb4 4.Nf3. Topalov is ready to repeat the variation from the first round against Aronian. 4...c5 5.g3 b6. Vishy deviates right away by making a move he never used before. I'll remind that Levon played 5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 Ne4 but failed to solve the problems in a complex middlegame and lost. 6.Bg2 Bb7 7.0-0 cxd4 8.Qxd4 Nc6 9.Qd3 0-0 10.b3 d5 11.cxd5

11...Ne7. A small trick. White can't keep the extra pawn since 12.dxe6 loses the knight from c3 after 12...Qxd3. 12.Bd2 Rc8. Anand makes a new and strong move. The previously played 12...Bxc3 13.Bxc3 Qxd5 14.Qc2 leaves White with advantage thanks to his bishop pair.; Neither enough is 12...Bxd5 13.Nxd5 Nexd5 14.Rac1 Bxd2 15.Qxd2 Rc8 16.Rxc8 Qxc8 17.Rc1 Qb7 18.Qc2 when the control over the c-file secures White better prospects. 13.e4. The most aggressive continuation. In case of 13.Rfd1 Black can already take on d5 with the bishop 13...Bxd5 since 14.Nxd5 Nexd5 15.Rac1 brings White nothing anymore: 15...Bxd2 16.Qxd2 Nc3! and Black makes full use of his rook on c8. 13...Bxc3 14.Bxc3

14...Nxe4. This small combination is the only way to solve the problems. 14...exd5 15.Bxf6 is of course not an option for Black. White has a clear advantage after 15...gxf6 16.Nd4 dxe4 17.Bxe4 Bxe4 18.Qxe4. 15.Bxg7. A counter-sacrifice: before dying the bishop takes an important pawn. Bad for White is 15.Qxe4 Rxc3 16.Ng5 Ng6 17.Qd4 Rc8 and the pawn d5 is still pinned. 15...Kxg7 16.Qxe4 Bxd5 17.Qg4+ Ng6

After the more or less forced sequence of moves we reach a position where thanks to his better pawn structure and a slightly vulnerable king on g7 Topalov has objective reasons to fight for advantage. On the other hand all this should not be overestimated: Black will place the queen to f6 and his pieces will control most important files and diagonals. In fact the position is very close to equal. 18.h4. The alternative was 18.Rfd1 Qf6 19.h4 Bxf3 20.Bxf3 Rc3 21.Be2! (21.Bg2 Rc2) and if 21...Kh8 then 22.Rac1 Rfc8 23.Rxc3 Rxc3 24.h5 with initiative. 18...Bxf3. The easiest decision. Anand eliminates a potentially dangerous attacking piece. 19.Qxf3. With insufficient time it's difficult to calculate the complications arising after 19.Bxf3 f5 20.Qa4 Ne5 21.Bg2 (21.Qxa7+? Rf7). 19...Qf6 20.Qb7 Qe7. Vishy cleverly exploits the fact that White has no advantage in endgame. 21.Qe4 Qc5 22.Rad1. The last real chance to fight for advantage was 22.Rac1 after which Black should probably continue 22...Qe5 (rather than 22...Qxc1 23.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 24.Kh2 and the rooks are bad defenders of black king). 22...Rfd8 23.Rfe1 Rxd1 24.Rxd1 Rc7 25.Bf3 Qe5. The same simple strategy: the exchange of pieces favours Black, who won't feel any problems with the king after that. 26.Qb4 Qc3 27.Qg4 f5 28.Qh5 Qf6 29.Bg2

29...e5. Considering the fact that Topalov was short on time Anand makes some attempts to fight for the initiative. 30.Bh3. Topalov immediately notices the newly created weakness – pawn f5. 30...Rf7. After 30...f4 31.Bg2 Rf7 32.Qg4 fxg3 33.fxg3 Qf2+ 34.Kh2 Black's aggressivity could easily backfire: White has a very unpleasant threat to advance the h-pawn. 31.Qe2 e4 32.Rd5 f4 33.Rf5 Qa1+ 34.Kh2 fxg3+ 35.fxg3 Rxf5 36.Bxf5

36...Nxh4 37.Bxe4 Qe5 38.Qg4+ Ng6 39.Bxg6 hxg6 40.Qd7+ Kh6 41.Qxa7 Qe2+ 42.Kh3 and the draw was agreed only in the position where Black gives perpetual check. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Radjabov,T (2735) – Carlsen,M (2733) [C65]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 22.02.2008

1.e4 e5. No more funny business – Magnus gives a rest to the Alekhine Defense, which brought him a win in the previous round against Topalov. By the way, there was a small inaccuracy in the notation of that game: Black resigned after 44.g5. The move 44...Ke5 wasn't actually played in the game. 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6

Carlsen would like to play the famous Berlin Defense – a variation that became popular after the match Kasparov-Kramnik. With the help of this opening variation Vladimir Kramnik succeeded neutralizing Kasparov's 1.e4.

4.d3. Radjabov is not willing to play an endgame. Not yet. The main line goes 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 with a complicated endgame. Strictly speaking this endgame is objectively the right direction for White to fight for advantage and that's exactly what Kasparov did in the 2000 World Championship match against Kramnik. But again and again Gary was failing to set problems to Kramnik. Later Kasparov said that during the match he was advised to play 4.d3, but that he simply wouldn't listen to such advices... Radjabov's decision to avoid the "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" is wise for pure psychological reasons: Carlsen played three times 3...Nf6 before. He won the game when White played 4.0-0 Nxe4 etc, but scored only half a point out of the other games, where his opponents protected the e4 pawn. 4...Bc5 5.c3 0-0 6.0-0 d5 7.Nbd2 dxe4

8.Nxe4. A new move. It turns out that Radjabov is ready to play an endgame after all. But a different one from what Carlsen was prepared to. 8...Nxe4 9.dxe4 Qf6 10.Qe2. This time Teimour prepares a more subtle invitation to exchange queens. Most likely Radjabov didn't consider seriously to win a pawn with the variation 10.Qd5 Bd6 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Qxc6 After either 12...Rb8, or 12...Bg4 13.Nd2 Qg6 Black achieves sufficient activity for the pawn. 10...Bg4 11.h3! Bxf3. After 11...Bh5 12.g4 Bg6 the bishop is out of play on g6 and White easily grabs the initiative: 13.Bg5 Qe6 14.b4 Bb6 15.Bc4 Qe8 16.a4 with advantage. 12.Qxf3 Qxf3. This at least breaks White's pawn structure. Running away with the queen would have left Black with no compensation for opponent's bishop pair. 13.gxf3

It is curious that by choosing the Berlin Defense Carlsen aimed for an endgame with an worse pawn structure, but with the bishop pair. But things went differently in the game: the situation is exactly the opposite. 13...Ne7. One more move – Ng6 – and Black won't have the slightest problem. 14.f4! Just in time. Suddenly things become dangerous for Black. 14...c6 15.Bc4 exf4 16.Bxf4 Ng6 17.Bg3 Rfe8 18.Rfe1 Rad8 19.Rad1!

White is better thanks to his two strong bishops. A passive defense is not to everyone's taste and Carlsen decides to accept the pawn sac. 19...Rxd1 20.Rxd1 Rxe4 21.Rd8+ Nf8 22.Bd3 Re1+ 23.Kg2. Radjabov's energetic play secured him excellent compensation for the pawn. All his pieces are active and it is very unpleasant to defend such positions with the black pieces: one never knows where the danger is coming from. The problem is that White has a sufficient small threats and resources to improve his pieces, while Black can't simplify the position. 23...a5 24.Ra8 Rd1 25.Bc4 Bb6. To a difficult position for Black leads 25...b5 26.Rxa5 Bxf2 27.Be2 Bb6 28.Ra6 Rd2 29.Kf3 Bg1 30.Rxc6 Rxb2 31.Rc8 Rd2 32.Bxb5; Perhaps the best option was 25...b6. 26.Rb8 Rd7

Apparently Black protected everything, but... 27.Ba6! A great move. Radjabov conducts the game excellently, using tactics in order to solve his strategical targets. With the help of the last move White regains the pawn. 27...bxa6 28.Rxb6 f6 29.Rxa6. The material equality is restored and White has a clear advantage thanks to better pieces and Black's weak queenside pawns. 29...Rd2 30.b4 axb4 31.cxb4 Rb2 32.Bd6. The main problem in such positions for the side with the knight is that the bishop is much stronger. 32...Ne6 33.a4 Rc2 34.a5 Kf7

35.Bc5. Another unexpected cute tactical solution. 35...Nf4+. The endgame after 35...Nxc5 36.Rxc6! Rb2 37.bxc5 Ra2 38.a6 is lost for Black. 36.Kf3 Nd5 37.Rb6! And one more! Really impressive play. 37.Rxc6? Nxb4 is of course unnecessary. 37...Rc4. After 37...Nxb6 38.axb6 Rd2 39.b7 Rd8 40.Bd6 the pawn queens. 38.Rb7+ Kg6 39.a6 Rc3+ 40.Kg2 Nf4+ 41.Kg1 Nxh3+ 42.Kh2 Nf4 43.Be3. A high quality game from Radjabov. The finish could be 43...Nd5 44.a7 Ra3 45.Bc5 h5 46.Rb8 Nc7 47.Rc8 winning a lot of material. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Aronian,L (2739) - Leko,P (2753) [A33]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 22.02.2008

An impressive novelty from Aronian followed by a great and complicated fight ended in a draw, which can be considered a moral victory for Leko. 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Ndb5 Ne5 8.Bf4 Nfg4

9.Qa4. What a novelty! The position was played many times before and White inevitably continued 9.e3. 9...g5. After a very long thought – 80 minutes! – Leko wisely rejected the tempting Qxf2 with check and instead makes another very ambitious move. Playing without preparation the position arising after 9...Qxf2+ 10.Kd2 Qc5 (10...Qb6 11.Bh3!; 10...Kd8 just loses after 11.h3) 11.Ne4 Qc6 12.c5 looks like suicide.; 9...a6 was the main alternative. 10.Bxe5 Nxe5 11.0-0-0 a6 12.e3 Rb8 13.Nd4 Qc7 14.Be2 Be7 15.Kb1 Nc6

White achieved a very promising position. He completed development and Black's structure is full of weaknesses. One should pay credit to Peter Leko, who saved half a pawn in a highly unpleasant situation: in a bad position and with little time. 16.Rc1 [16.h4!?] 16...Qe5 17.Rhd1 h5 18.Ka1 g4 19.Bf1 f5 20.Bg2 Kf7 21.h3 Bf6 22.Qc2 Ne7 23.Nce2 b5 24.cxb5 axb5 25.Nf4 d5 26.Qc5 Rb7

27.Qb4 [27.Rh1!?] 27...Bd7 28.Nd3 Qb8 29.Nc5 Qd6 30.Qa5 Rc7 31.Nxd7 Rxd7 32.hxg4 hxg4 33.Bf1 b4 34.Nb5 Qe5 35.Qxb4 Ra8 36.Rd2 Qb8 37.Kb1 Be5 38.Rdc2

With inventive play the Hungarian grandmaster escaped with just a pawn down, for which he actually has a good compensation thanks to a strong dark-squared bishop and open files against the white king. 38...Rda7! 39.a3 Ra4 40.Qb3 Qb6 41.Rc5 R4a5 42.Be2 Rb8 43.Qb4 Kf6 44.R1c2 Rh8

45.e4 fxe4. 45...dxe4? 46.Rxe5 Kxe5 47.Qc3+ winning. 46.Bxg4 Rha8 47.Rc1 Ra4 48.Qd2 Rxa3 49.Nxa3 Rxa3 50.Rc6. 50.Rc6 Nxc6 51.Qh6+ Ke7 52.Qxe6+ Kf8 53.Qf5+ is a draw by perpetual check. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Ivanchuk,V (2751) - Shirov,A (2755) [D43]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (6), 22.02.2008

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Qd2. Ivanchuk already played once this rare move.

8...g5. From such a creative player like Alexey Shirov one can expect almost everything, but even so this advance looks highly unexpected. However, Alexey has also a subtle strategical understanding and a closer look reveals the fact that without the dark-squared bishop it is difficult for White to make use of Black's weakned structure on the kingside. 8...Qd8 9.0-0-0 Ivanchuk,V (2729)-Vallejo Pons,F (2650)/Monte Carlo (rapid) 2006. 9.Bd3 Bg7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Qc2 dxc4 12.Bxc4 c5

The critical position. Ivanchuk must have underestimated Shirov's reply. 13.Rfd1. 13.h3 cxd4 14.exd4 Nb6 15.Bd3 Bd7 16.Ne5 the things are different from the game: White will place rooks on d1 and e1 and can continue to fight for the initiative. 13...g4! Making full use of 8...g5. This advance creates new weaknesses, of course, but it is important that White won't be able to find a good job for the knight. At least Ivanchuk failed to do so. 14.Ne1 cxd4 15.exd4. 15.Rxd4 with equal position looks safer. 15...Nb6 16.Be2 h5 17.Ne4 Qg6 18.Nc3. Already here the Ukrainian invites to repeat the moves. 18...Qxc2 Black has no reasons to avoid playing a better endgame. 19.Nxc2 Bd7 20.Rd2 Bh6. 20...Rac8 keeps a pleasant advantage. 21.Ne3 f5 22.g3 f4 23.gxf4 Bxf4 24.Re1 Bc6

25.Bb5! After the exchange of bishops Black will be only marginally better, so Shirov decided to take the draw. 25...Bf3 26.Be2 Bc6 27.Bb5 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

About the author

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.

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).


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