Shanghai Masters: Aronian wins first game

9/3/2010 – Aronian, Kramnik, Shirov and Wang Hao are playing in this classical double round robin, originally intended as a summit of the winners of selected Grand Slam tournaments. Magnus Carlsen disrupted the system by winning most of them, so other players had to be invited "on the basis of their sports merits". Aronian beat Wang Hao with black in round one. Annotated games, video impressions.

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Shanghai Masters 2010

The Shanghai Masters is taking place from September 3rd to 8th, 2010, to coincide with the WorldExpo in Shanghai, China. The participants are in Shanghai are Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov, Wang Hao. The two winners will join Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen for the second (final) half, which will be held a month later in the “Atrio de Alhóndiga Bilbao” in Bilbal, Spain.

Originally the participants in the Masters were to quailify by winning tournaments that were part of the "Grand Slam": Corus Wijk aan Zee, Holland, Ciudad de Linares, Spain, Pearl Spring in Nanjing, China and the Kings Tournament in Bazna, Romania. Along with these winners, others players have been invited fortheir sports merits. But in the end Magnus Carlsen disrupted the system by winning most of the tournaments (Wijk, Nanjing, Bazna), while Veselin Topalov, who won Linares, withdrew for personal reasons. So the organisers pragmatically chose to invite other players "on the basis of their sports merits". The final choice:

  • Levon Aronian, 27 years old, who needs no introduction as one of the top 3-4 players in the world these last years, and was the winner of the 2009 edition of the Bilbao Masters.

  • Vladimir Kramnik has been among the top players for 15 years, and dethroned the legendary Kasparov in 200o in a historic match. His invitation was as a result of his fourth place in the FIDE rating list published July 1st.

  • Alexei Shirov, who has often been considered the spiritual heir to Mikhail Tal, whose uncompromising chess has deservedly garnered him fans all over. He is the highest ranked player in Spain, whom he represents in the Chess Olympiads, hence his invitation.

  • Wang Hao, 21 years old, who was the no.1 rated Chinese player at the time of the invitation (recently leapfrogged by Wang Yue in the most recent list), and is currently rated 2724.

Rules

The rate of play is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 extra seconds per move from move number 41. The following additional rules apply:

  • Sofia Rule: players are not allowed to agree draw without arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with a technical assistant.
  • Bilbao scoring system: Players get three points for winning a game, one point for drawing and zero points for losing.
  • Tiebreaks: If two players tie for first, they will play a blitz match of two games at the rate of 4+3 (all the moves in four minutes with a three-second increment per move). If this match is tied, they play a one game Armageddon (White has five minutes, Black four, with a draw giving Black first place. If more than two players tie for first the first two are decided on the basis of the traditional 1-½-0 scoring system, individual results, the Koya system and finally Sonneborn-Berger.


The participants at the opening ceremony: Aronian (streching), Kramnik, Wang Hao and Shirov. Incidentally, Article 7 of the Tournament Rules states: "Players who do not attend the official reception or the closing ceremony will be fined with €6,000. All four were present.


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Round one

Round 1: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Wang Hao 
0-1
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Alexei Shirov

In the first day's decisive game Wang Hao played Aronian, who chose to face the Chinese player’s Closed Catalan with an offbeat variation. The ploy couldn’t have worked better, as he found himself with a better pawn structure, bishop pair, and space. Wang Hao missed his chance to balance the position in the middlegame, after which Black made use of White’s weakened king position to finish him off with a deadly attack.

Wang Hao (2724) - Aronian,L (2783) [E10]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (1), 03.09.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 c6. The first time Aronian plays this line, an offshoot of the Closed Catalan. Usual is 0-0. 7.Qc2 0-0 8.0-0 b6 9.Bf4 Ba6 10.Nbd2 Nbd7 11.Rfe1 Nh5 12.Ne5. The novelty for all practical purposes, though this sideline of the Closed Catalan is extremely offbeat as it is. 12...Nxe5 13.Bxe5 f6 14.Bf4 Nxf4 15.gxf4 Bb4. With the bishop pair, untouched pawn structure and greater space, Black already has a comfortable edge. 16.Red1 Qd6 17.Nf1 dxc4 18.a3 Ba5 19.f5 Kh8 20.Ne3 b5 21.Qe4 Bb7








22.Qxe6?! After 22.a4! a6 (22...Bc7 doesn't actually threaten anything more than a check, so 23.axb5! Qxh2+ 24.Kf1 and White is better.) 23.fxe6 Rfe8 24.Nf5=. 22...Qc7 23.Qe4 Rae8 24.Qg4 Bb6 25.Nf1. Wang Hao can already see the storm looming in front with the heavy artillery pointed at his king. All that is missing is for Aronian to bring in the rooks on the g-file, which is why White hurries to try and cover it by bringing the knight to g3. 25...Bc8 26.Ng3 g6 27.e3 gxf5 28.Nxf5 Qd7 29.e4 Qf7 30.Qf3








30...Bxf5! One more defensive piece is removed. 31.Qxf5 Rg8 32.Kh1 Rg5 33.Qf3 Qg6 34.d5 Rg8 35.Bh3?!








Though this leads to mate, there is no saving grace now. 35...Bxf2! The threat is simply Rg1+ followed by mate. After 35...Bxf2 if 36.Qxf2 Black mates with 36...Qxe4+ 37.Bg2 Rxg2. 0-1. [Click to replay]


In the other game Vladimir Kramnik faced Alexei Shirov with White, against whom he has played many memorable games. Whether it is a result of their completely contrasting styles, their games are never boring, and today’s game, which ended in a draw, was no exception. The opening was a Cambridge Springs, a variation of the QGD that Reti once described as being an almost guaranteed draw. Of course, this was at a time when they were announcing the death of chess as it was almsot ‘solved’. Today’s treatment of the opening has changed somewhat. Kramnik played a gambit on the queenside that Shirov wisely declined, but even after the queens came off, instead of solving his problems, they only worsened. White gambited a central pawn, one that could not be refused, opening the way for his bishop pair and better placed pieces.

Kramnik,V (2780) - Shirov,A (2749) [D52]
Shanghai Masters Shanghai CHN (1), 03.09.2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd2 Bb4 9.Rc1 h6 10.Bh4 c5. This is the modern treatment of the Cambridge-Springs variation of the QGD. 11.a3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 b6. Taking the pawn with 12...Qxa3 is ill-advised. There is no instant queen loss, but Black wastes time, remains underdeveloped, and has a dangerously exposed queen, all of which are recipes for disaster. 13.c4 Qxd2+ 14.Nxd2 Ne7 15.Bd3. Kramnik's move has only been played once before, though not with such credentials. 15.f3 is White's usual continuation, to meet 15...Nf5 with 16.Bf2. 15...f5N 16.Bg3 Bb7 17.0-0 Kf7 18.Rfd1 Rac8








19.d5! Kramnik plays energetically to open the way for his bishop pair, and gain squares for his knight. 19...Nf6. If Black took with 19...exd5 then after 20.cxd5 Bxd5 21.Nc4! White's compensation for the pawn is even enough for a tangible advantage. 20.f3 exd5 21.cxd5 Bxd5 22.e4 fxe4 23.fxe4 c4? Shirov is not one to play behind the lines, but still, this move was a tactical mistake. He would have been better advised to play Be6 and make White try to articulate his compensation. 24.Nxc4 Nxe4








25.Bxe4? 25.Re1! would win the exchange. 25...Nxg3 (25...Bxc4 26.Bxc4+) 26.Nd6+ Kf6 27.Nxc8 Rxc8 28.Rxc8 Nxc8 29.hxg3. 25...Bxc4 26.Rd7 Bb5 27.Bd5+ Kg6 28.Rxc8 Nxc8 29.Rc7. In spite of the missed shot, White's advantage is significant: rook on the 7th, wide open position for his bishop pair, better piece coordination and even threats against Black's king. 29...Rd8 30.Bb3 Kf6 31.Rf7+ Kg6 32.Rc7 Kf6 33.Be1 g5 34.Bc3+ Kf5 35.Bc2+ Ke6 36.Rh7 Nd6 37.Rxh6+. Black's pawns are falling like ripe fruit. 37...Kd5 38.Rg6 Ne4








39.Bb4? White understandably wants to keep the bishops and avoid a rook and opposite colored bishop ending, but his delay of a move causes him to enter it all the same in worse conditions. 39.Bxe4+ Kxe4 40.Rxg5 Rd1+ (40...Rd5 41.Rxd5 Kxd5 42.Kf2) 41.Kf2 Bc6 42.h4. 39...Rc8 40.Bxe4+ Kxe4 41.Rxg5 Rc1+ 42.Kf2 Rc2+ 43.Ke1. The difference is that 43.Kg3 is not possible now because of 43...Bf1 and if 44.Kh3 Rxg2! 45.Rxg2 Kf3!=. 43...Bd3 44.h4 a5 45.Bd6 Ke3. Black's back rank threats make it impossible for White to win and a draw is now inevitable. 46.Rg3+ Kd4 47.Bf4 Re2+ 48.Kd1 Ra2 49.h5 Be2+ 50.Ke1 Bxh5 51.Be3+ Kc4 52.Bxb6 a4 53.Ba5 Bf7 54.Bd2 Bd5 55.Rg4+ Kd3 56.Rg3+ Kc4 57.Rg4+ Kd3 58.Rg3+ 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Schedule and results

Round 1: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Wang Hao 
0-1
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
½-½
 Alexei Shirov

Round 2: Saturday, 4th September 2010

Levon Aronian 
 Alexei Shirov
Wang Hao 
 Vladimir Kramnik

Round 3: Sunday, 5th September 2010

Vladimir Kramnik 
 Levon Aronian
Alexei Shirov 
 Wang Hao

Round 4: Monday, 6th September 2010

Levon Aronian 
 Wang Hao
Alexei Shirov 
 Vladimir Kramnik

Round 5: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Levon Aronian 
 Vladimir Kramnik
Wang Hao 
 Alexei Shirov

Round 6: Friday, 3rd September 2010

Alexei Shirov 
 Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik 
 Wang Hao

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


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