Qatar Masters: Kramnik brings down Giri

by Sagar Shah
12/3/2014 – He was on the path to a straight caruana (seven wins in the first seven rounds of a very strong tournament). But Anish Giri, who yesterday was sporting a performance rating way above 3000, was stopped in his stratospheric flight by former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. Now the two of them lead with 6.0/7 points. With two rounds to go it's going to be an exciting finish.

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The Qatar Masters Open 2014 is being held from November 25 to December 5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Doha, Qatar. There are 92 grandmasters participating, or 60% of the 154 total players. 56 GMs are rated over 2600, and an incredible 14 over 2700. Let those numbers sink in for a moment! This tournament truly is a convention of brilliant chess minds.

Kramnik brings down Giri

The decisive seventh-round game: you start, no, you go ahead – wait, White must start!

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.12.02"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D43"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2776"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:10:33"] [BlackClock "0:02:58"] {Giri was off to a flyer in the tournament with six wins on a trot. But now he faced the most severe test in the tournament as he was up against Vladimir Kramnik with the black pieces. If someone could stop Anish, it was definitely Kramnik.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 {Giri chooses the Meran Variation in the Slav. Kramnik is usually in pretty aggressive mood in such open events and hence something sharp was expected of him. Would he go for the Bg5 into the labyrinths of Moscow or Botvinnik variations?} 5. g3 $5 {Kramnik chooses a quieter line that is recently gaining in popularity. It's advantages are that it is relatively unexplored and also Kramnik likes such Catalan structures.} dxc4 {Taking up the challenge. This is the right way to play according to me.} 6. Bg2 b5 {Giri sticks to the line which he played with the young Ilya Nyzhnyk in 2011. Anish lost that game.} (6... Nbd7 {is another option. It prevents Ne5 but it has its own drawbacks.} 7. O-O Be7 8. e4 {with complicated play.}) 7. Ne5 a6 (7... Nd5 8. e4 {initiates a crazy line.} Nb4 9. a3 Qxd4 $5 10. axb4 Qxe5 11. Bf4 $36 {When White has a strong initiative.}) 8. O-O ({of course taking the pawn was not such a good idea.} 8. Nxc6 Qb6 9. Ne5 Bb7 $11 {and Black is more than fine.}) 8... Bb7 9. b3 $5 {a powerful pawn sacrifice.} (9. a4 {looked the most logical but Black is doing very well there. }) 9... cxb3 (9... b4 {leads to some complications and could well be a better option.} 10. Na4 c3) 10. axb3 {So White is a pawn down. What are his compensating factors? 1. The bishop on b7 is quite dead while the bishop on g2 is powerful. 2. The a1 rook is into the game without having made a move. 3. White is ahead in development. 4. It's difficult for Black to complete his development. All in all this was an excellent pawn sacrifice by White.} Be7 11. Bb2 O-O 12. Qc2 Nfd7 (12... Qb6 13. Ne4 Nbd7 14. Nxc6 $1 {is a nice tactic worth noting.} Rfe8 15. Nxe7+ Rxe7 $14) 13. Nd3 $1 {When ahead in space avoid exchanges.} Qb6 14. Ne4 {White clamps down the c5 break. Black is going to have a very tough time breaking free from this bind.} a5 15. Ndc5 Bc8 16. Qc3 $5 {This is a very interesting idea by Vladimir. He could have just continued with Rfc1, but he creates the threat of d5 and forces the black pawn to come to b4 when they lose their mobility.} b4 17. Qe3 Na6 18. Rfc1 Nc7 19. Nxd7 Bxd7 20. Nc5 Be8 (20... Bxc5 {would be a horrible decision positionally, as it opens the b2 bishop but tactically too it is flawed.} 21. dxc5 Qb7 22. Bxg7 $1 $18 (22. Qd4 Ne8)) 21. Ra2 {looking to double on the a-file.} Qb5 22. Qd3 (22. Rca1 Bxc5 23. dxc5 f6 $11 {followed by e5 would be really a fine position for Black.}) 22... Qxd3 (22... Bxc5 23. Qxb5 Nxb5 24. Rxc5 $14 {keeps up the pressure.}) 23. Nxd3 {The queens are off the board but the pressure remains.} Nd5 24. Ne5 Ra6 {For the time being Black is defending everything, but now Kramnik brings the final guy into the battle.} 25. Bf1 $1 {Threatening e4.} Nc3 {Giri panics and gives back a pawn. The pawn is gone but the pain remains.} (25... Nc7 {was much better.}) 26. Bxc3 bxc3 27. Rxc3 {Black is still completely bound up.} c5 {The pressure is so great that Giri gives back another pawn. Vladimir happily chops it off.} 28. dxc5 {From being a pawn down, White is now a pawn up.} Bf6 29. f4 Bb5 30. Bg2 {The c-pawn has everything in place now for its advance.} Ra7 31. c6 Be7 32. Be4 {This is a very nice move by Vlad. He would like to play his knight to f3 and then to d4, but he wants his bishop to be open and hence brings it to e4.} f6 33. Nf3 Rd8 (33... f5 34. Nd4 $16) 34. e3 {Nd4 is too strong.} e5 (34... f5 35. Nd4 Rxd4 36. exd4 fxe4 37. c7 $18) 35. fxe5 fxe5 36. Rc1 {Another accurate move. Now the e5 pawn is hanging.} a4 {another pawn to ease the pain.} (36... Bf6 37. Rc5 $18) 37. bxa4 {And this was a successful pawn sacrifice by Anish because it convinced him to resign and cut short the torture. A great game by Kramnik.} 1-0

That's how hard this game is! Anish Giri during game seven

Is there something wrong with my glasses, or is the position simply bad?

Vladimir Kramnik does not seem to have derived great pleasure from his win over Anish?!

Postgame analysis between the joint leaders

Okay, he is satisfied by his win, the fifth in succession, and his 2900+ performance

No, he is not standing on a box: Vladimir Kramnik with chess fans

Tournament director GM Mohamed Al-Medaihki with his lovely
daughter from former Women's World Champion GM Zhu Chen

All photos by Maria Emelianova and Dmitry Rukhletskiy from the official website photo gallery

Video report by Vijay Kumar

Some more impressions from round seven

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.12.02"] [Round "7.5"] [White "Mamedov, Rauf"] [Black "Salem, A.R. Saleh"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C26"] [WhiteElo "2652"] [BlackElo "2586"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/2p2p2/6pp/3Pr1q1/1Q2P2n/7P/2P4K/R4R1B b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:33:29"] [BlackClock "0:20:19"] {It is Black to play and win. What would you play?} 42... Rxd5 $1 {and it is all over! White resigned.} 43. exd5 (43. Rad1 Qe5+ $1 44. Kg1 Qg3+ 45. Bg2 Qxg2#) (43. Rf2 Qe5+ 44. Kg1 Qxa1+ $19) 43... Re2+ 44. Rf2 Rxf2+ 45. Bg2 Qxg2# {GM Salem A.R. Saleh is having a wonderful tournament here. He beat Fedorchuk, Movsesian and Mamedov and has drawn with Yu Yangyi, Sanan Sjugirov and Yuri Kryvoruchko. With a performance of 2856, he now faces Kramnik in the eighth round.} 0-1

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.12.02"] [Round "7.13"] [White "Bu, Xiangzhi"] [Black "Guseinov, Gadir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B36"] [WhiteElo "2707"] [BlackElo "2592"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "1:08:21"] [BlackClock "0:24:13"] {Guseinov is a huge expert of the Accelerated Dragon and has wonderful results in it against the best players in the world. This game shows that no matter how experienced your opponent is in a particular setup, you can still beat him. } 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. e4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Nxd4 7. Qxd4 d6 8. Be3 Bg7 9. f3 O-O 10. Qd2 Qa5 11. Rc1 Be6 12. Be2 Rfc8 13. b3 a6 14. Na4 Qxd2+ 15. Kxd2 Nd7 16. g4 f5 17. exf5 gxf5 18. h3 Rf8 19. f4 Rad8 {This position has been reached five times in the praxis of Guseinov against very strong players like Nakamura, Fillipov, Mamedov, Smirnov and Safarli. In all the games Guseinov held the integrity of Black's position and made a draw. I have attached all the five games for you to have a look at how Black must play to equalize. Bu plays a move that occurred in 18 games before. But it was never played by anyone against Guseinov.} 20. g5 (20. Nc3 d5 21. cxd5 Nf6 22. Bb6 ( 22. Rhg1 Nxd5 23. Nxd5 Bxd5 24. Ke1 e6 25. gxf5 Rxf5 26. Bd4 Rf7 27. Bxg7 Rxg7 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Rc7+ Kf6 30. Kf2 {1/2-1/2 (30) Nakamura,H (2708)-Guseinov,G (2614) Bursa 2010}) 22... Nxd5 23. Bxd8 Rxd8 24. Nxd5 Bxd5 25. Rh2 (25. Ke3 Bxh1 26. Rxh1 Bd4+ 27. Kf3 Bc5 28. gxf5 Kg7 29. Rc1 b6 30. a4 (30. Rc2 a5 31. Bc4 Kf6 32. Rg2 Rd4 33. Rg8 Bd6 34. Rf8+ Kg7 35. Rg8+ Kf6 36. Rf8+ Kg7 37. Rf7+ Kh6 38. Ke3 Rxf4 39. Bd3 Rh4 40. f6 Bc5+ 41. Ke2 exf6 42. Rxh7+ Kg5 43. Rxh4 { 1/2-1/2 (43) Filippov,A (2637)-Guseinov,G (2616) Nakhchivan 2012}) 30... a5 31. Rd1 Rxd1 32. Bxd1 {1/2-1/2 (32) Mamedov,R (2634)-Guseinov,G (2613) Baku 2012}) 25... Bxb3+ 26. Ke1 Bxa2 27. Bxa6 bxa6 28. Rxa2 Rd4 29. gxf5 Rxf4 30. Ke2 (30. Rc5 Rf3 31. h4 Rh3 32. Ra4 Bf6 33. Rcc4 Kg7 34. Kf2 Kh6 35. Kg2 Rb3 36. Rxa6 Kh5 37. Raa4 Rb2+ 38. Kf3 Rb3+ 39. Kg2 Rb2+ 40. Kf3 Rb3+ 41. Ke2 Rb2+ 42. Ke3 Rh2 43. Rg4 Bxh4 44. Kf3 {1/2-1/2 (44) Smirnov,P (2558)-Guseinov,G (2625) Khanty-Mansiysk 2011}) 30... Rxf5 31. Rxa6 Bf6 32. Rf1 Re5+ 33. Kf3 Kf7 34. Ra4 Rf5+ 35. Kg2 Rg5+ 36. Rg4 Ra5 37. Rf2 Rb5 38. Rh4 Kg7 39. Rg4+ Kf7 40. Rh4 Kg7 41. Rg4+ {1/2-1/2 (41) Safarli,E (2656)-Guseinov,G (2621) Shamkir AZE 2014}) 20... Bf7 (20... d5 21. cxd5 Bxd5 22. Rhd1 $14) 21. Rhd1 e5 22. Ke1 exf4 23. Bxf4 Be5 24. Bxe5 Nxe5 25. Nc3 Be6 26. Kf2 Kg7 27. Rd4 f4 28. Bf1 Nf7 29. Re1 Nxg5 30. h4 Nh3+ 31. Bxh3 Bxh3 32. Ne4 $1 {Black is a pawn up but White has strong compensation in the form of much more active pieces.} h5 33. Ng5 (33. Nxd6 $16 {was stronger.}) 33... Bg4 34. Re7+ Kg6 35. Rxb7 Rde8 36. Ne4 Re6 37. Rb6 Rfe8 {Due to a few inaccuracies by White, Black has once again equalised.} 38. Nc3 Kf5 $2 {A bad move by Black and once again we see it happening around the 40th move mark, which means time trouble played its part.} (38... Re3 39. Rbxd6+ (39. Rdxd6+ Kf5 $19 40. Rd5+ R8e5) 39... Kg7 40. Rd7+ Kg8 $11) 39. Rd5+ Re5 (39... Kg6 40. Rdxd6 $16) 40. Rbxd6 Rxd5 41. Rxd5+ Kf6 42. Rd4 Kf5 43. b4 ( 43. c5 $1 $18) 43... Bf3 $5 44. a4 Re3 $2 (44... Ke5 45. Rd2 Rg8 46. Kxf3 Rg3+ 47. Kf2 Rxc3 48. b5 axb5 49. cxb5 $16) 45. Nd5 Bxd5 46. cxd5 $18 {There is no way to stop the d-pawn apart from making your own rook passive, after which it's an easy win for White. Black resigned.} 1-0

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.12.02"] [Round "7.51"] [White "Sundararajan, Kidambi"] [Black "Bologan, Viktor"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2415"] [BlackElo "2643"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/6bk/2p3p1/7p/2Pp1p2/1N1P2P1/5P1P/2q2QK1 b - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "22"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:12:37"] [BlackClock "0:28:50"] {Black doesn't have much problems. He has to exchange the queens and agree to a draw. But as happens with such clashes, the higher rated player sometimes loses his objetivity and tries to press in equal positions. And that gives the opponent the chance to win.} 35... Qc2 (35... Qxf1+ 36. Kxf1 fxg3 37. fxg3 g5 38. Na5 c5 39. Nb3 Bf8 $11 {will end in a draw.}) 36. Nc5 f3 37. Ne6 (37. Ne4 { [%cal Gh2h4] was also strong.}) 37... Bf6 38. h4 Kh6 39. Nc5 g5 $2 {A very bad move by Viktor Bologan. The only explanation can be that he was too carried away by the prospect of winning, or he was under severe time pressure.} 40. hxg5+ (40. Ne4 {was even stronger.} Kg6 41. hxg5 Bxg5 42. Qh3 $18) 40... Bxg5 41. Qh3 $1 h4 42. Ne4 Kh5 43. Qe6 $1 {It is now mate in a few moves.} hxg3 44. Nxg3+ Kh4 45. Nf5+ Kh5 46. Ng7+ {Once again I would like to stress on the importance of remaining objective. It is an extremely difficult quality to imbibe, but one that can help us to become better players.} 1-0

Top standings after seven rounds

Rk. Sd. Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 1 GM Giri Anish NED 2776 6.0 2950 29.5 32.5
2 2 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2760 6.0 2908 25.0 28.0
3 62 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2586 5.5 2856 27.0 28.5
4 13 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2705 5.5 2823 28.0 31.5
5 69 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2573 5.0 2800 30.0 32.5
6 44 GM Oleksienko Mikhailo UKR 2620 5.0 2782 26.5 29.0
7 39 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2627 5.0 2771 25.5 27.0
8 4 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2751 5.0 2769 26.5 29.5
9 12 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2706 5.0 2765 28.5 32.0
10 10 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2714 5.0 2762 29.0 32.0
11 70 GM Cornette Matthieu FRA 2566 5.0 2754 27.5 29.5
12 11 GM Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2707 5.0 2750 24.0 26.0
13 30 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2643 5.0 2748 28.0 31.5
14 45 GM Perunovic Milos SRB 2619 5.0 2740 27.5 30.5
15 31 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2642 5.0 2728 26.5 29.0
16 28 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2644 5.0 2698 25.0 27.0
17 26 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2657 5.0 2684 24.5 28.0
18 36 GM Adhiban B. IND 2630 5.0 2579 18.0 18.5
19 3 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2757 4.5 2718 26.5 29.5
20 52 GM Van Kampen Robin NED 2612 4.5 2707 27.5 30.5
21 6 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2725 4.5 2707 25.0 28.0
22 19 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2673 4.5 2705 28.0 31.5
23 35 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2632 4.5 2705 26.5 27.5
24 37 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2629 4.5 2699 25.5 28.5
25 8 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2719 4.5 2694 25.5 28.5
26 14 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2701 4.5 2690 26.5 30.0
27 5 GM Ding Liren CHN 2730 4.5 2685 24.5 27.5
28 24 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2659 4.5 2667 25.0 26.0
29 43 GM Naroditsky Daniel USA 2620 4.5 2666 24.0 26.5
30 25 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2659 4.5 2662 25.5 29.0
31 59 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2598 4.5 2654 25.5 28.5
32 46 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2618 4.5 2651 24.0 26.5
33 42 GM Durarbayli Vasif AZE 2621 4.5 2638 26.0 28.0
34 38 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2628 4.5 2637 24.0 26.5
35 27 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2652 4.5 2633 22.5 25.0
36 41 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan ESP 2622 4.5 2624 21.5 23.0
37 34 GM Romanov Evgeny RUS 2636 4.5 2620 22.5 24.5
38 7 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2722 4.5 2619 21.5 23.0
39 33 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2636 4.5 2590 22.5 26.0
40 65 GM Jussupow Artur GER 2581 4.5 2590 21.0 23.5

Standings and results of all 150 players here

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Topics: Qatar

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Pionki Pionki 12/4/2014 09:01
Why did Anish Giri give up? Could we have the games annotated so that the rest of us can understand? There's no point of annotating the games by a grandmaster for grandmasters. Instead of talking about Giri's torture Sagar Shah could actually say what was to follow that made Giri give up. Daniel King is a perfect example of clarity in explaining the games.
mssrclever mssrclever 12/4/2014 08:09
Lol PerfectConscience who are you kidding claiming Caruana has cheated? What is this based on? Nothing.
Paredes Paredes 12/3/2014 11:01
Kramnik has the talent to bring down any when focused on it, this particular quality is lacking in many greats.
daftarche daftarche 12/3/2014 06:47
even if giri would go 7/7, he had not performed a caruana. caruana performed like that in a super tournament playing against +2750 players.
PerfectConscience PerfectConscience 12/3/2014 06:37
Giri's specs didn't work. what a horrible game.

p.s. doing a caruana = cheating
ff2017 ff2017 12/3/2014 06:01
Vicious pairing for the top 2 in the swiss system, Giri gets the 2700 and Kramnik the 2500. Kramnik gets a relatively easy win and Giri is currently suffering.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 12/3/2014 12:13
Vlad stopped Giri from ˝going Caruana˝, but who will stop vlad in doing so? 2/2 in last two rounds is not that impossible.

PS ˝...56 GMs are over rated 2600˝ - at first I thought you must be advocating rating inflation =)
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