MTel R7 analysis by GM Mihail Marin

by ChessBase
5/19/2006 – Topalov used his pet variation of the Najdorf to take revenge on Anand for the defeat in the first half of M-Tel. Ponomariov played a good positional game against Svidler and obtained a generally deserved victory. Kamsky used an original variation of the Slav against Bacrot but allowed his opponent survive an inferior ending. Commentary by Mihail Marin.

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Round seven commentary

Round 7: Thursday, May 18, 2006

Vishy Anand 
 Veselin Topalov
Etienne Bacrot 
 Gata Kamsky
Ruslan Ponomariov 
 Peter Svidler

All games so far in PGN


Commentary by GM Mihail Marin

Playing with Black against Anand, Topalov used his pet variation of the Najdorf to take revenge for the defeat of their previous encounter. Ponomariov played a good positional game against Svidler and, in spite of the fact that at some moment he might have commited a slight inacuracy, obtained a generally deserved victory. Kamsky employed an original variation of the Slav against Bacrot and obtained a better position with surprising ease. With his closer followers Anand and Svidler in trouble already, everything seemed to go his way in the tournament, but the careless advance of the h-pawn allowed his opponent survive an inferior ending.

The following notes are the short version of the full training analysis that is scheduled to appear in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine. You can replay the shorter versions here.

Anand,V (2803) - Topalov,V (2804) [B80]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 b5 8.Qd2 b4 9.Na4. The alternative is 9.Nce2 as played by Svidler against Topalov, earlier in this tournament. 9...Nbd7

10.c4. A new move, deviating from the course of the controversial game Leko-Topalov played in the very first round of the World Championship from San Luis, which continued 10.0-0-0 d5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Bc4 N7f6?! (Recently, 12...Bb7 has been tested with success: 13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Qe2 Ne5 15.Bb3 h6 16.Bd2 Be7 17.Rhe1 Nc6 18.Nf5 Na5 19.Nxg7+ Kf8 20.Nxe6+ fxe6 21.Qxe6 Nxb3+ 22.axb3 Qc6 and Black managed to repell the attack and win in Motylev-Bologan, Moscow 2006.) 13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Bxd5 Nxd5 15.Rhe1 with considerable advantage of development for White, Leko-Topalov, San Luis 2005. 10...bxc3 With the white knight on a4, Black could not keep the c5-square under firm control in case he would refrain from this exchange. 11.Nxc3 Bb7 12.Be2 After the structural modifications, castling queen side looks too dangerous for White. With the game continuation Anand aims for a normal position with some advance in development for White. 12...d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.0-0 Indeed, if we reduce the problem to mathematical elements, we can state that White is two whole tempi ahead in development. However, Black's better control of the centre compensates for this aspect. 15...Qb8! A strong, multi-purpose move. Black's immediate threat is to develop the bishop with gain of tempo, either on b4 or on d6. In such situations, White is best adviced to react in an energetical way; if his advance in development will vanish, Black's activity in the centre would offer him excellent play. However, in this concrete position, it is not easy to find an effective active plan, which strongly suggests that Black has won the theoretical dispute. 16.Nf5 As a consequence of this seemingly active move, the knight will soon land on a more passive square. 16...Qe5 17.Ng3 Bb4! 18.Qxb4 Qxe3+ 19.Kh1

Almost everything has worked out perfectly for Black. He has developed and exchanged the king's bishop and weakened the dark squares from the enemy camp. With one exception: he cannot castle yet. However, this element might have been over-estimated by Anand in his previous calculations, since Black's strategic superiority will allow him solve the problem in a relatively easy way. 19...Rb8! The following sequence of moves reveals a hidden detail: it is not the black king that is held captive by the white queen. On the contrary, Her Majesty is practically confined to a very limited area, including the a3-f8 diagonal, in order to avoid a clear strategic inferiority. In case of the more simplistic 19...Qc5 20.Qxc5 Nxc5 White can activate his queen side with 21.b4. 20.Qd6 Rb6 21.Qc7 Rc6 22.Qb7 In order to prevent the enemy king from castling, the queen has been forced to occupy a miserable position. 22...Rc2!? The less ambitious 22...Qb6 23.Qxb6 Rxb6 24.b3 Ke7 would have also led to comfortable play for Black, but removing the queen from the perfect e3-square looks like a bigger concession than the loss of the relatively unimportant a6-pawn. 3.Qxa6 0-0 24.b3 Ne5 25.Rae1 Qd2 26.Rd1 Qf4 White has managed to survive to the first wave of black initiative, but his knight remains passive, while the queen is isolated from her own army. 27.Bb5 h5! As mentioned in the notes to the game Svidler-Topalov, the FIDE World Champion enjoys advancing his h-pawn in the Sicilian, especially when there is a knight on g3. 28.Ne2. Black's last move was not really a sacrifice, since 28.Nxh5? Qh4 29.Ng3 Ng4! would lead to mate (capturing on f3 would be also winning). 28...Qe3 29.a4 Played more with the aim of consolidating the bishop on b5 rather than with the hope of promoting this pawn. 29...Rb2 30.Qd6 Rc8 31.Rde1.

31...Nxf3! We are used to Topalov's habit of sacrificing exchanges. In this game we shall see that he can handle the fight of rooks versus minor pieces equally well. In fact, we could see a similar situation in the game between the same opponents from the first round of the M-tel 2005 tournament, where Topalov's queen helped by couple of pawns held her own against a rook and two minor pieces. 32.gxf3 Bxf3+ 33.Rxf3 Qxf3+ 34.Kg1 Qe3+ 35.Kf1 Qf3+ 36.Kg1 Qxb3 From material point of view, Black is not worse, but positionally speaking he has a clear advantage. The white king is weak while in case of the exchange of queens the king side mass of black pawns could become very dangerous. 37.Qe5 Rd8 38.Qc3 Qxc3 39.Nxc3 h4 40.Re4 Rb3 41.Ne2 g5 42.Re5 Rd5 In such endings, the exchange of one pair of rooks is very important. Left without their stronger colleague, the minor pieces will face problems maintaining their coordination. This is the reason why Topalov agrees with the slight deterioration of his pawn structure for the sake of provoking this exchange. 43.Rxd5 exd5 44.Bc6 Ra3 45.Nd4 Kg7 Black starts centralizing his king, which will have decisive efefcts. 46.Bxd5?! Anand might have misjudged the consequences of this move, but his position was not easy to defend anyway. 46...Rd3 47.Nf5+ Kf6 48.Be4 Rd1+ 49.Kg2 Rd2+ 50.Kf3. White has to abandon the h2-pawn. In case of 50.Kg1 Ke5 he would lose a piece. 50...Rxh2 51.Ne3 Ra2.

The a-pawn is safely controlled now, while theblack pawns are ready to advance. The rest is a matter of technique. 52.Bc6 Ra3 53.Kf2 Ra1 54.Bd7 Ke5 55.Kf3 Ra3 56.Kf2 Ke4 57.Bc6+ Kf4 58.Ng2+ Ke5 59.Ne3 Ra2+ 60.Kf3 f5 61.Bd7 h3 0-1.

Ponomariov,R (2738) - Svidler,P (2743) [B42]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 Qc7 7.Qe2 d6 8.c4 g6 After the success obtained with the Grünfeld Defence, Svidler's desire to develop his bishop in fianchetto again is entirely understandable. 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Nf3 The standard attack based on f4-f5 would be less effective now, against Black's well defended king side. Therefore, White concentrates his efforts against the d6-pawn, which has been slightly weakened after ...Bg7. 10...0-0 11.Bf4 Nc6 12.Rac1 Nd7 13.Qe3 Nce5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Be2 b6 16.Rfd1 Re8 17.Qd2.

17...Nxc4 18.Bxc4 Qxc4 19.Qxd6 From structural point of view, the exchange of these pawns is supposed to favour Black. However, Black's dark squares have been weakened even more now, especially after the dissapearance of the black knight. Besides, the light-squared bishop will be severly restricted by the white central chain of pawns. These latter aspects allow White count on a minimal, but stable advantage. 19...Bb7 20.Be5! Exchanging the last remaining defender of the dark squares. 20...Bxe5 21.Qxe5 Rad8 22.f3 b5 23.Kf2!! The initiation of a very original plan. The transfer of the king to e3 is motivated by two aspects. Firts of all, in case of an attacking action of the other pieces, His Majesty could easily remain exposed on the back rank, as a consequence of the relative weakness of the g1-a7 diagonal. Secondly, the presence of this "extra-piece" in the centre will allow White consolidate his domination. Such a plan is possible only because Black's bishop is so desperately passive. Although all this looks quite logical, the artistic impression (or, if you wish, extravagancy) is similar to that caused by a football goal-keeper advancing to attacking positions. 23...Qc6 24.Ne2 Qb6+ 25.Rd4 Rd7 26.b4 Taking just another dark square under control. 26...Red8 27.Ke3!

White maintains the tension in the centre without the necessity of abandoning the control of the c-file. 27...Rxd4 28.Nxd4 Rd6 29.Qf6 Rd7 30.Rc5 Qd6 31.g3 a5 32.a3 axb4 33.axb4 Qa6 34.Ne2 Qd6 35.Qc3 h5 36.Qd4 Qe7 Of course, with such a centralized white king, Black would have no interest in entering into the endgame. 37.Qe5 f6 38.Qb8+ Kg7 39.Nc3. Possibly not best. 39.e5 would have allowed White make further progress with his strategy on dark squares. 39...e5. Black has managed to cover the king side dark squares in acceptable way. However, the d5-square has been weakened now, which determines White switch to another plan. 40.Nd5 Bxd5 41.exd5 Like recommended by Nimzowitsch, the strong outpost has been converted into a strong passed pawn. However, the king starts feeling a bit insecure now. 41...f5. This activity in the centre will only result into material losses. 41...Ra7 might have offered better chances for counterplay. 42.Qxb5 f4+ 43.Kf2 e4 44.fxe4 fxg3+ 45.hxg3 Qf6+ 46.Kg2 Qb2+ 47.Kh3 Rf7 48.Qd3. Black's attack has failed completely. He now has to allow the exchange of queens, thus reaching a hopeless rook ending. Otherwise the white queen would occupy the a1-h8 diagonal, when, all of a sudden, the black king would find himself under strong attack. 48...Qxb4 49.Qc3+ Qxc3 50.Rxc3 Re7 51.Rc4 Kf6 52.Kh4 Ke5 53.Rc6 En elegant way to finish the game. The e4-pawn is taboo in view of the check on e6. Otherwise, White plans to play Kg5 and give the check on e6 anyway. 1-0.

Bacrot,E (2708) - Kamsky,G (2671) [D15]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (7), 18.05.2006 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Qb6!? A relatively rare move, which will eventually transpose to an improved versionof Black's position compared to Kamsky's game against Topalov. 5.c5 Qc7 6.g3 Bg4 7.Ne5 Be6 8.Bf4 Qc8 9.Bg2 g6 10.0-0 Bg7 11.b4 0-0 12.Re1 Nh5 13.e3 Nd7 14.Bf3 Nxf4 15.exf4 Nxe5 16.fxe5 f6 17.exf6 Bxf6.

White's opening strategy has been a complete fiasco. The d4-pawn is chronically weak, while the white bishop is restricted by the enemy pawns. On the contrary, the black pair of bishops is quite active. 18.Bh1 g5 19.Qd2 Qd7 20.Re3 Bf5 21.Rae1 e6 22.Bg2 Qg7 23.Ne2 Kh8 24.Rd1 Rae8 25.Nc1 Re7 26.Nb3 h5 27.Qe2 h4 28.g4 Bg6 29.b5 e5 30.bxc6 bxc6 31.Re1 e4 32.Qd2 Be8 33.f3 exf3 34.Bxf3 Bd7 35.Bd1 Rxe3 36.Rxe3 Bd8 37.Rf3 Rxf3 38.Bxf3 Qg6 39.Bd1 h3?! Black unnecessarily weakens this pawn. Kamsky might have intended to attack the g4 pawn, but White will be faster. 40.Qe3 Kg7 41.Qxh3 Qb1 42.Qf1

42...Be8! If Black would manage to transfer his bishops to e4 and f4, his position would be close to winning. Unfortunately for him, this plan is rather time consuming. 43.Qe2 Bg6 44.Kf2 Kf7 Covering the e7-square in order to prepare ...Bc7-f4. 45.Nd2! [White equalizes completely now. The knight is heading for e5. 45.Qf3+ Ke8 46.Qe2+ Kd7 would have only improved the black king's position.] 45...Qxa2 46.Nf3 Qxe2+ 47.Kxe2 Bf6 48.Ba4 Be4 49.Bxc6 Ke6 50.Nd2 Bxd4 51.Nxe4 dxe4 52.Bxe4 Bxc5 1/2-1/2.

Mihail Marin, 41, Romanian Grandmaster, three times national champion (1988, 1994, 1999), nine times member of the Olympic team, participant in two Interzonals (Szirak 1987 and Manila 1990). In 2005 Marin was the second of Judit Polgar at the FIDE world championship in San Luis. Highest rating: 2604. Author of the ChessBase opening CDs English 1.c4 e5 and The Catalan Opening and the books: Secrets of Chess Defense, Secrets of Attacking Chess and Learn from the Legends. Graduate from the Polytechnic Institute Bucharest (Specialty Electrotechnic) in 1989.

If you have enjoyed the commentary provided by GM Mihail Marin you should try the following training CDs by the same author. They are amongst the best in our ChessBase Shop. Get them now:

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