Oh the intensity... Wijk round two analysis

by ChessBase
1/14/2008 – The second round was characterized by intense fight on practically all boards. True, we saw only two decisive games (compared with three in the inaugural day), but the move average increased dramatically. Gelfand-Aronian featured a complex strategic fight in which Gelfand blundered in a difficult position. Carlsen played a great technical game against Eljanov. Commentary by GM Mihail Marin.

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Wijk aan Zee 2008

GM Mihail Marin in his analysis kitchen at home in Romania

The following express commentary was provided by Romanian grandmaster Mihail Marin, who is the author of a number of very popular ChessBase training CDs and articles for ChessBase Magazine. GM Marin 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.

We have sand – lots of it. Wijk aan Zee is a seaside resort

Sand in your gears? A maintenance check on the North Sea beach

Another often more reliable form of transportation in Wijk

But let's get to the chess – and there was a lot of excitement in yesterday's round

Round two commentary by GM Mihail Marin

The second round was characterized by intense fight on practically all boards. True, we saw only two decisive games (compared with three in the inaugural day), but the move average increased dramatically.

Remember cuff links? Armenian GM Levon Aronian is leading the tournament with 2/2

Gelfand-Aronian featured a complex strategic fight in which the telling factor was the exposed position of the white king. After blundering in a difficult position, Gelfand resigned on move 30.

Carlsen played a great technical game against Eljanov. The young prodigee gradually (and patiently!) increased his pressure until Black's weakneses became impossible to defend.

Magnus Carlsen vs Pavel Eljanov resulted in a second victory for the Norwegian GM

In Kramnik-Radjabov and Leko-Adams, White had an extra-pawn in basically drawn positions. In both games, Black defended carefully and a draw was agreed after 98 (!) and 79 moves, respectively.

Once again, Topalov faced an interesting psychological situation, when Ivanchuk chose the Benoni, which used to be one of the Ex-Champion's favourite surprise weapons. The game took an independent course rather soon, but ended in a draw by repetition after 30 moves.

ChessBase programmer Jeroen van den Belt moonlighting as a photographer [photo ChessVista]

White obtained promissing positions in Van Wely-Polgar and Anand-Mamedyarov. In both games, Black defended actively, helped by the exposed position of the white king and managed to reach a draw.

Gelfand,B (2737) - Aronian,L (2739) [D15]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (2), 13.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nc3 b5 6.c5

6...Nbd7. The initial idea of the Slav Defence was to maintain the possibility of developing the light-squared bishop "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" the own chain of pawns. Here, 6...Bg4 has been frequently played, but the absence of the bishop from the queenside can lead to white initiative after a4, with the permanent threat of a piece sacrifice on b5, resulting in a pair of connected passed pawns. Aronian prefers to delay the bishop's development and carry out a thematic pawn break himself. 7.Bd3 e5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Ng4 10.f4 Bxc5 11.Qf3 Qb6

12.Ke2. Steinitz would be proud of this move. The first World Champion tried to prove in his own games (and sometimes on his own skin) that the king can be an active and useful piece in the middlegame, too, not only in the endgame. For while, things will seem to work perfectly well for White in the present game, but later the exposed king's position will become an increasingly irritating problem. 12...Nh6 13.h3 Nf5 14.g4 Ne7 15.Bd2 0-0

White is better developed and has an advantage of space in the centre. However, he cannot open play to soon, because this would leave His Majesty exposed to simple attacks. Besides, his central structure is not flexible enough to allow launching a kingside attack. 16.Rac1. White could have prevented Black's next move with 16.f5, but the weakness of the e5-pawn would allow Black obtain counterplay with 16...Qc7 17.Qf4 Ba7 18.Rac1 (Threatening f6 followed by Nxd5) 18...Rd8! (Parrying the threat and intending to open play in the centre with ...d4.) 16...f6! Played in accordance with Nimzowitsch' theories. Any unpromoted pawn majority (or mobile formation) should be submitted to attacks. 17.exf6 Rxf6

White has a backwatd pawn on the e-file. His next move is correct from strategic point of view, because it eliminates the potential weakness, but puts the king in a dangerous situation. 18.e4 Bd4 19.exd5 cxd5 20.Kd1 Rf7 21.Re1 Bb7

Black has completed his development and has obtained some advantage of space himself. White's king is relatively safe for the moment, but his presence in the centre somewhat hinders White's coordination. Maybe it is early to claim an advantage for Black, but his play is easier to carry out anyway. 22.Qe2. The attempt to evacuate the king offers Black the initiative after 22.Kc2 Bxc3 23.Bxc3 d4 24.Qf2 Nd5 followed by either ...Nb4+ or ...Nxf4, depending on White's answer. 22...Ng6 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.Qe6 Rd8 25.Qxb6 Bxb6 26.Re6 Ba7

For the time being, the bishops' placement looks modest, but after the unstoppable advance of the d-pawn they will exert devastating pressure against the white kingside. 27.Ne2 d4 28.Ng3 d3

29.Rxg6?? Overlooking the fact that the king is close to the zone of influence of the enemy bishops', too. 29...Bf2! The knight cannot move because of ...Bf3 mate. 30.Ba5 Bxg3. Threatening two consecutive checks on f3 and f4. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Carlsen,M (2733) - Eljanov,P (2692) [D91]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (2), 13.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg5. The systems based on Bg5 (with or without 4.Nf3) are a reasonable way to avoid long theoretical disputes while maintaining chances for a complex strategic fight. 5...Ne4 6.Bh4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 dxc4

8.Qa4+. This queen manoeuvre supposes considerable loss of time. However, after 8.e3 Be6 White might well not win the pawn back, while; 8.e4 would weaken the d4-pawn, which is quite significant once the bishop has been developed far from e3. Black would answer 8...c5 with excellent counterplay. 8...Qd7 9.Qxc4. White has obtained significant advantage in the centre, but the delay in development is not easy to eliminate after Black's next move. 9...b6 10.e3 Ba6 11.Qb3 Bxf1 12.Kxf1 0-0 13.Ke2!

White continues his development by connecting rooks. For several reasons, his king is much better placed on this square than in the game Gelfand-Aronian: Black cannot open the position in the centre (the e-file basically) that easily; in case of emergency, the king can be easily evacuated with Kf1 (only after Rhd1, of course!); the position is somewhat simplified and in case of reaching an endgame (or queenless middlegame) the king belongs in the centre... 13...c5 14.dxc5 Na6! A typical Grünfeld move! Black is more interested in the c5-square than in the pawn itself. 15.Rhd1 Qb7 16.c6! The only way to fight for the initiative. After 16.cxb6?! Nc5 followed by ...axb6, Black would activate his knight and queen's rook with gain of time. The c3- and a2- pawns would be a permanent source of worry for White. 16...Qxc6 17.Bxe7 Rfe8 18.Ba3 Qxc3 19.Qxc3 Bxc3 20.Rac1 Bb4 21.Bb2 Bf8 22.Nd4 Nc5

The tactical phase has finished and time has come to draw some conclusions. Both sides have good development and excellent outposts for the knights. If this was an endgame, Black's queenside majority would be a telling factor. However, the position looks more like a queenless middlegame and soon White's kingside majority will become very threatening. It is important that he can advance his pawns without affecting the stability of the knight (which does not apply for Black, by the way). 23.g4 Re4 24.Kf3 Rae8 25.h3 f6 26.Ba3 Kf7 27.Rc2

27...Na6?! Black was under certain pressure, but his position was quite solid. His desire to simplify the position even more is understandable, but opening the c-file for an instant will allow White invade Black's territory with all his remaining pieces. 28.Bxf8 Kxf8 29.Rc6 Kg7 30.Nb5 R4e7 31.Rdd6 Nc5 32.Nc7 Rf8 33.h4

A picturesque situation. White's domination is almost complete. In the past, Petrosian and (slightly later) Karpov were great specialists of installing the own pieces on such advanced squares, right in the soul of the enemy position. 33...Rff7 34.Nd5 Rd7 35.Rxd7 Nxd7 36.Kg3 Nc5 37.f3 h6 38.Nf4 g5 39.Nh5+ Kg6 40.f4 gxf4+ 41.exf4 Kh7

The f6-pawn is indirectly defended because of the fork on e4, but in the long run its weakness will keep Black in absolute passivity. In the meanwhile, Carlsen will gradually improve his position, with the patiente of an experienced old player. 42.f5 Kg8 43.Kf3 Nd7 44.Ke4 Kf8 45.Rc8+ Ke7 46.Kd5

It can be felt that the end is near now. 46...b5 47.Rh8 Nb6+ 48.Kc6 Nc4 49.Ra8 Ne5+ 50.Kc5 Nd7+ 51.Kxb5 Kd6 52.Rxa7 Rf8 53.Kb4 Nc5 54.Kc4 Black has lost two pawns without solving any of his problems yet. Therefore... 1-0. [Click to replay]

Van Wely,L (2681) - Polgar,Ju (2707) [E21]
Corus A Wijk aan Zee NED (2), 13.01.2008 [Mihail Marin]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 5.Qb3 c5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Ne4 9.e3 Bb7 10.Bd3 Nxg3 11.hxg3 g4 12.Ne5 d6 13.Nxg4 Bxg2 14.Rh2 Bf3 15.Be2 Bxg4 16.Bxg4 Nc6 17.Bf3 Qd7 18.0-0-0 Bxc3 19.Qxc3 0-0-0

From strategic point of view, the opening has been a success for White. He has the more compact structure, his bishop is more active than the black knight and his king seems to be in bigger safety than his colleague. Anticipating a bit, this latter aspect has a relative character... 20.Rdh1. Besides, Black cannot save his h-pawn. 20...cxd4!? 21.exd4 e5 There are several aspects that justify Black's reaction. We all know that "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". In order to avoid the undesired knight jump to d4, White will have to give up his bishop. This exchange will have two important consequences. First of all, Black's king will feel much safer. Besides, several light squares from White's camp will become vulnerable, leaving the white king slightly exposed. 22.Bxc6 Qxc6 23.d5 Qd7 24.Rxh6 Rxh6 25.Rxh6 Qg4

White has won the pawn, maintaining his structural integrity and the control of the only open file. In order to make further progress he has to secure his king, in order to avoid an eventual perpetual check. 26.b3! Consolidating the c4-pawn and preparing the evacuation of the king to... a3! 26...f5. The weakening of the seventh rank looks risky, but Black has to open a file for his pieces somehow. 27.Qe3 f4 28.gxf4

28...Rf8! The endgame would be hopeless for Black, of course. Now, an interesting tactical phase arises. 29.Rxd6?! It was hard to resist the temptation to capture this important pawn, but White loses an important tempo and temporarily spoils his coordination by cutting the rook's communication with the queen. This is more than an resourcefull player like Judit needs to save the game. At first glance, 29.fxe5?? Qg1+ 30.Kb2 Rxf2+ 31.Ka3 would bring the king into safety, maintaining the material advantage. However, the unexpected discovered attack 31...Rxa2+! wins the queen for Black.; I believe that White should have not allowed to be distracted from his main plan, consisting of the evacuation of the king. After 29.Kb2!? Rxf4 (The endgame arising after 29...Qxf4 30.Qxf4 Rxf4 31.Rxd6 Rxf2+ 32.Ka3 e4 33.Re6 Re2 34.Kb4 looks pretty bad for Black.) 30.Ka3 Black's initiative would have more or less vanished. White preserves his small material advantage and can think about initiating his own attack already. 29...Rxf4 30.Qg3. Here, too, 30.Kb2 comes into consideration. However, after the natural sequence 30...Qg2 31.Ka3 Rxf2 32.Kb4 Rxa2 33.Rh6

Analysis diagram

Black can carry out a similar plan starting with 33...Kb7! The position would remain sharp, with chances for both sides.

30...Qe2 31.Qh3+ Rg4! Black places her rook under a pin, in order to prevent the enemy queen from approaching the black king. With his army dispersed all over the board, White cannot avoid perpetual check. 32.f3 Qe1+ 33.Kc2 Qe2+ 34.Kc3 Qe3+ 35.Kc2 Qe2+ 36.Kc3 Qe3+ 37.Kc2 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Photos by Jeroen van den Belt

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