Morelia R1: GM Dorian Rogozenko annotates

2/16/2008 – The starting round in Morelia provided three decided games out of four. Topalov and Leko won with the white pieces against Aronian and Radjabov respectively, while Anand scored a win with black against Shirov. "Let's hope that 'the return of the Sicilian' will remain the trend of this extremely strong tournament," says our GM commentator Dorian Rogozenko, in his analysis of round one.

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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 one commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenko

The starting round in Morelia provided three decided games out of four. Topalov and Leko won with the white pieces against Aronian and Radjabov respectively, while Anand scored a win with black against Shirov. Carlsen-Ivanchuk was the only draw. Let's hope that "the return of the Sicilian" will remain the trend of this extremely strong tournament.

Round 1: Friday, February 15th

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

Shirov,A (2755) - Anand,V (2799) [B96]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (1), 15.02.2008

Vishy Anand in the final stages of his game against Alexei Shirov

1.e4 c5. Anand usually replies 1.e4 with either 1...e5 or 1...c5. In the last decade he lost with 1...e5 extremely rare and won almost every fourth game (in average, naturally). Sicilian is a much riskier choice for the World Champion: he lost considerably more games after 1...c5 than after 1...e5. Nevertheless his winning quota with Sicilian is also much higher. Considering Anand's large plus score against Shirov, the choice of Sicilian was expectable - the World Champion intended to play for a win right from his very first game in Morelia!

2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5. Shirov has played many games with 6.Be3 against Najdorf, but he switched to 6.Bg5 lately, so Anand was certanly well prepared to meet it.

6...e6 7.f4 Nbd7. Other examples from Shirov's recent practice in this variation are: 7...Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 h6 11.Bh4 dxe5 12.fxe5 Nfd7 13.Ne4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.Be2 Bc5 17.Bg3 Bxd4 18.Rxd4 Qa5+ 19.Rd2 0-0 20.Bd6 Nc6 21.0-0 f5 22.Bxf8 Nxf8 23.Nd6 b5 24.Bf3 Bd7 25.Nxf5 exf5 26.Rxd7 Nxd7 27.Bxc6 Rd8 28.Bxd7 1-0 Shirov,A (2715)-Guliyev,N (2545)/Calatrava (rapid) 2007; 7...Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Be2 Nc6 10.Qd3 h5 11.0-0-0 Bd7 12.Nf5!? exf5 13.Nd5 Qa5 14.Nxf6+ Kd8 15.Nxd7 Kxd7 16.Qb3 with a complete mess, Shirov,A (2739)-Akopian,V (2713)/Khanty-Mansiysk 2007.

8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 b5 10.Bd3. Shirov remains true to his style. He prefers to go for complicated battle rather than make short draws, which is very appealing to spectators. The drawback of this style is that sometimes his opponents are trying to take advantage of Shirov's fighting mood. [The chess theory is so much developed, that even in the sharpest variations there are often forced draws. Take a look at the following game: 10.e5 Bb7 11.Qh3 dxe5 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.Qxe6+ Be7 14.Bxb5 axb5 15.Nxb5 Qc6 16.Nd6+ Kd8 17.fxe5 Kc7 18.Qxe7 Rxa2 19.exf6 Ra1+ 20.Kd2 Qd5+ 21.Kc3 Qa5+ 22.Kd3

Analysis diagram

Now draw by repetition: checks on d5 and a5. The entire variation is more or less forced: after 10.e5 Black should objectively go for it and repeat moves in the end. The diagram position is from the game Nisipeanu,L (2584)-Shirov,A (2734), Las Vegas 1999, where the Romanian Grandmaster quite unexpectedly forced such a draw with the white pieces in the first game of their mini-match. Normally this should have meant a psychological victory for Shirov, who made an easy draw with black, but on the other hand it provoked him to play the second game even more aggressive than usual. Nisipeanu won it with Black, cleverly using Shirov's hyper-aggressive play...

10...Bb7 11.Rhe1 Qb6. Anand is not willing to wait for Shirov's improvement over his loss against Van Wely last year: 11...Be7 12.Qg3 b4 13.Nd5 exd5 14.exd5 Kd8 15.Nc6+ Bxc6 16.dxc6 Nc5 17.Bc4 Nfe4 18.Qe3 f5 19.g4 g6 20.gxf5 gxf5 21.Rd5 Bxg5 22.fxg5 Rf8 23.Rf1 Qxc6 24.Rdxf5 Rxf5 25.Rxf5 Qe8 26.Rf7 Rc8 27.Rxh7 Qe5 28.g6 Na4 29.g7 Qxb2+ 0-1 Shirov,A (2699)-Van Wely,L (2674)/Foros 2007. 12.Nb3 Rc8. A rare move. [In December 2007 Shirov obtained a promising position against the more popular 11...b4: 12...b4 13.Nb1 Be7 14.N1d2 Qc7 15.Qh3 e5 16.Nc4 0-0 17.Nba5 Bc8 18.Qg3 Re8 19.Kb1 but with accurate defense Black achieved a draw, Shirov,A (2739)-Karjakin,S (2694)/Khanty-Mansiysk 2007. 13.Qh3. In the only available game with this position White continued 13.Kb1.

The first critical position. 13...Rxc3! Thanks to this quite typical Sicilian positional exchange sacrifice Black break opponent's pawn structure and build good attacking perspectives. 14.bxc3 Qc7 15.Kb1. 15.Kb2 is weak in view of 15...Nb6 followed by a check on a4. 15...Be7

It turns out that Black's play is easier (Nb6-a4, 0-0 and Rc8, or at some moment d6-d5), while it is not easy to indicate a clear plan for White. Shirov starts active actions in the center. 16.e5. Without the knight on c3 this advance has the obvious drawback that allows Black's knight to come to d5. 16...dxe5 17.f5. After 17.fxe5 Black has a rather pleasant chopice between 17...Nxe5 (or 17...Nd5 ) 18.Qg3 Bd6 19.Bxf6 gxf6. 17...Nd5. Stronger than 17...exf5 18.Bxf5 Nb6 19.Qg3. 18.Bxe7 Kxe7 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Qg3 g6. Again Anand's play is better than 20...Nxc3+ 21.Ka1 Nxd1 22.Qxg7+ Kd6 23.Rxd1 when it is White who has the initiative. 21.Rd2 Rc8

The second critical position. Notice that Anand cleverly postponed taking on c3 with the knight. Thus he first of all keeps the d-file closed and secondly puts more pressure on Shirov, who must always calculate more variations for Black. 22.Qg5+? Up to this point both opponents played strongly, but now Shirov loses the thread. [Necessary was 22.Qh4+ forcing the knight to come to f6. Then 22...N7f6 23.Rf2 would have kept the position double-edged. 22...Ke8 23.Qg4 Nothing brings 23.Bxg6+ hxg6 24.Qxg6+ Ke7 25.Qg7+ Kd6 with advantage for Black.; 23.Qh4 is also not the same anymore, although it was preferable to the game. Black keeps better chances after 23...N7b6. 23...Nxc3+ 24.Ka1 Bd5. Right in time. Black has everything protected and his pieces coordinate perfectly. 25.Re3 Nf6 26.Qh4 Qe7 27.Bf1

27...Bxb3! 28.cxb3. 28.axb3 is mate in one: 28...Qa3#. 28...Nce4 29.Rb2 Rc1+ 30.Rb1 Qc5. The mate is inevitable: 30...Qc5 31.Rd3 Qc2 A great victory for Anand. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Anand talking to journalists in the press center after the game

Look what wife Aruna found: a bottle of coke!

Actually the bottle was interesting. For some reason the label is in Tamil, Vishy and Aruna's mother tongue. The Tamil bit says "Coca-Cola – Registered trade mark... etc." Below that in Spanish: "The whole world together at one table with Coca-Cola, in Mexico and Sri Lanka."

Topalov,V (2780) - Aronian,L (2739) [E20]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (1), 15.02.2008

Topalov and Aronian met last time in the second round of Wijk aan Zee tournament (January 2008). In that game Topalov achieved advantage with Black, but completely misplayed the position and lost. In the end Aronian shared first place, while Topalov made a minus score, finishing on the 9th place... 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3

This system was prepared by Kasparov and very successfully implemented in his second match versus Karpov (Moscow 1985), which was a surprise at that time, since 4.Nf3 has been considered a harmless move until then. In the past decades the theory of 4.Nf3 developed a lot. Topalov and Aronian have a vaste experience with it with both colours. 4...c5 5.g3: The arising positions are often a sort of mixture between Nimzo, Catalan and English Opening. 5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 Ne4 7.Qd3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Nc5 9.Qf3 d6 10.Bg2

A solid variation for Black, who has a better pawn structure as the compensation for opponent's bishop pair. White's task is to exert pressure on Black's queenside and on the d-file, trying to open the position. 10...e5. The alternative 10...Nbd7 was met in practice of both Topalov and Aronian. They must have come to the conclusion that White's chances are preferable after that. 11.Qe3! An important novelty in the well-known position. White's idea is to retreat the knight to b3 with greater effect. 11.Nb3 Nba6 12.Ba3 Qc7 13.Rd1 Be6 14.Bxc5 Nxc5 15.Nxc5 dxc5 (Better looks 15...Qxc5 16.Qxb7 Rc8 and Black must achieve a draw rather easily) 16.0-0 Rb8 17.Qh5 0-0 18.Bd5 Rfe8 19.Bxe6 Rxe6 20.Rd5 Re7 21.Rfd1 and Aronian squized a full point in Aronian,L (2756)-Nielsen,P (2646)/Turin 2006. 11...0-0. In case of 11...Nba6 Black must reckon first of all with 12.f4; 11...Qc7? 12.Nb5 Qb6 13.Ba3 Nba6 (or 13...0-0 14.Nxd6) 14.Rd1 winning. 12.Nb3 Qc7. Possibly this is already inaccurate. Critical is 12...Nba6 13.Ba3 Qc7. 13.Nxc5 dxc5. The endgame after 13...Qxc5 14.Qxc5 dxc5 15.Be3 is unpleasant for Black. 14.0-0 Nd7

15.f4! The right position for Topalov: White has the initiative and enough resources to exert pressure on opponent. Considering that in opposite to Aronian the Bulgarian must have analyzed the position at home, it becomes clear that Levon's task was exceptionally difficult. 15...exf4. During the next few moves the position will become from good to almost winning for White, so around here Black should look for improvements. 16.Rxf4 a5. Very creative: the rook will enter the game via a6. Unfortunately for Aronian, this does not solve Black's problems. 17.Qe7 Qe5 18.Qxe5 Nxe5 19.Be3 Nd7

20.Re4! The rook goes to e7 and it becomes clear that White's advantage should be decisive. 20...Ra6 21.Rb1 Rg6 22.Re7 b6 23.Bf4

A complete domination of white pieces. On top of all Aronian was already experiencing problems with the time on the clock, so the rest was a technical matter for the ex-World Champion. 23...h5 24.Be4 Re6 25.Rxe6 fxe6 26.Bd6 Rf6 27.Rd1 Kf7 28.Bf4 Kg8 29.Bc7 Rf7 30.Bg6 a4 31.Bxh5 Nf6 32.Bxf7+ Kxf7 33.Bxb6 Ba6 34.Bxc5 e5 35.a3 Bxc4 A very "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" and important win for Topalov. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Leko,P (2753) - Radjabov,T (2735) [B33]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (1), 15.02.2008

These two principled top Grandmasters are best specialists of the Sveshnikov Sicilian. What did it mean in their encounter of the first round in Morelia? They played a long theoretical variation and both went to a certain position, but evaluated it differently. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c3 0-0 12.Nc2 Bg5 13.a4 bxa4 14.Rxa4 a5 15.Bc4 Rb8 16.b3 Kh8 17.Nce3 Bxe3 [The main move is 17...g6 which requires a very good home preparation due to the wild complications arising after 18.h4 Bxh4 19.g3 Bg5 20.f4] 18.Nxe3 Ne7 19.0-0

So how to evaluate this position? In his book the Russian GM Y.Yakovich considers it equal after 19...Bb7. I also wrote once a book about the Sveshnikov Sicilian and expressed the opinion White is better. My logic was simple: White can attack weaknesses on a5 and d6 easier than Black can create pressure on pawn b3. Of course the position is very close to equal, but it is Black who must always solve some small problems. 19...f5. Or 19...Bb7 20.Qc2 with a slight edge] 20.exf5 Bxf5 [20...Nxf5 will very likely lose a pawn after 21.Nxf5 followed by Qd5 and then either Rfa1, or Rd1. 21.Ra2!? The rook goes to d2. Black has an easier defense after 21.Nxf5 Rxf5. 21...Be4 22.Rd2 Rb6 23.Re1 Qb8

24.Qa1! White tries various set-ups to pressure Black's weaknesses. Now the queen will go to a3 and the rooks will be doubled on the d-file. 24...Qc7 25.Red1 h6. Curious enough, only this is a new move. In one game Black lost a pawn after 25...Rc6 26.Kh1 Qb6 27.Qa3 Nf5 28.Nxf5 Rxf5 29.Re2 Rf4 30.f3 Bg6 31.Red2 Rf6 32.Rd5. 26.h3 Bb7 27.Qa3 Rd8 28.Be6

Black is under pressure and must decide in which position he will have the best chances to escape. Giving the fact that there is no clear draw, this is not a simple task. 28...Qxc3. The alternative was 28...d5 29.Nxd5 Nxd5 30.Bxd5 Rxd5 31.Rxd5 Bxd5 32.Rxd5 Qxc3 after which White should not exchange queens, allowing Black to achieve a theoretical draw with a pawn down, but instead he must continue the attack: 33.Qf8+ Kh7 34.Qf5+ Rg6 35.g3 (35.Rd6? Qc1+ 36.Kh2 Qf4+ is a draw) 35...Qc1+ 36.Kh2 Can Black hold this position? Difficult to say. 29.Rxd6 Rbxd6 30.Rxd6 Qe1+? Necessary was 30...Qc7 31.Rxd8+ Qxd8 although White has an obvious pressure after 32.Qc5. 31.Kh2. Now the queen is away and Black doesn't have time to defend everything. 31...Re8. 31...Rxd6 32.Qxd6 Qb4 (32...Qxf2 33.Qxe7 loses at once) 33.Qxe5 is also difficult for Black, since besides an extra pawn White also has a strong attack. For instance 33...a4 loses due to 34.Nf5 Nxf5 35.Qb8+ Kh7 36.Qg8+ Kg6 37.Qf7+ with mate. 32.Rd7. White wins a piece. 32...Nc6. 32...Qxf2 also loses: 33.Rxe7 Qf4+ 34.Kh1] 33.Bf7 Ra8 [33...Rb8 34.Rxb7 Rxb7 35.Qf8+ Kh7 36.Bg8+. 34.Rxb7 Qxf2 35.Bd5 Rc8. 35...Rc8 36.Rf7 Qxe3 37.Bxc6 Rxc6 38.Qf8+ Kh7 39.Qxg7# The game went unexpectedly smoothly for Leko, who exploited very well the advantages of White's position. In the game Carlsen-Ivanchuk the young Norvegian achieved a pleasant advantage out of the opening but could not break through Ivanchuk's defense. Considering the fact that last year in the Morelia/Linares tournament Carlsen scored two wins against Ivanchuk, their result yesterday is clearly an achievement for the Ukrainian. 1-0. [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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