São Paulo Masters – Aronian draws first blood; Anand and Carlsen draw

9/26/2011 – The Grand Slam officially started its first leg in São Paulo, with the world's elite playing. Anand-Carlsen was the foremost game on the card, but was sadly the least exciting, ending in a lackluster draw. Nakamura and Ivanchuk immediately shirked theory, but also drew, while Aronian struck first and beat Vallejo in an offbeat Slav. Round one report with analysis by GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

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1st leg in São Paulo, Ibirapuera Park, from September 25th to October 1st.
2nd leg in Bilbao, Alhóndiga, from 5th to 11th October.
Tourney sytem: double round robin with 6 players over 10 rounds
Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 10 seconds/move starting with the 1st move
Game start: 15h for all rounds in São Paulo (14h - NY time / 20h Paris time) --- 16:00 in Bilbao
Rest day: 29th September and 9th October

Round one

Round 1: Monday, September 26, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo

In spite of no lack of great events, especially the World Cup, a tournament that brings together the three top players, including both the World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the world number one Magnus Carlsen, is still accorded special attention. The first leg of the event is taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, and is the strongest event held in Brazil since the Interzonal of 1979.


Fans mill around to get a closer view

The first round immediately brought the largest clash, with both Anand and Carlsen paired against each other. However, possibly due to it being the first round, and neither having gotten into fifth gear yet, the game between the two highest rated players was a non-starter as a Berlin quickly extinguished into exchanges and a lifeless ending with opposite-colored bishops.

[Event "4th Final Masters"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP"] [Date "2011.09.26"] [Round "1"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2817"] [BlackElo "2823"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2011.09.26"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 h6 10. h3 Ne7 11. Be3 Ke8 12. Rad1 Bd7 13. a3 Rd8 14. Rfe1 a6 15. Ne4 Bf5 16. Nc5 Rxd1 17. Rxd1 Bc8 18. Nd3 Ng6 19. Nf4 Nxf4 20. Bxf4 Be7 21. Nd4 Bc5 22. Be3 Bxd4 23. Rxd4 Ke7 24. f3 Rd8 25. Rxd8 Kxd8 26. g4 h5 27. Kf2 g6 28. Bg5+ Ke8 1/2-1/2


Ivanchuk obligingly gives an autograph

The game between top US player, Hikaru Nakamura, and Vassily Ivanchuk, the most active top player in the circuit, was a strange affair. From the very first moves, both strove to leave the theoretical battlefield to have a war of purest chess. Sadly, this did not lead to anything excessively exotic, and few efforts were made to display their great imaginations.

[Event "4th Final Masters"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP"] [Date "2011.09.26"] [Round "1"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2765"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2011.09.26"] 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Bb4+ 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. a3 Be7 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Nfd7 7. Ngf3 a5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Nb1 c5 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Nc3 Be6 12. Bb5+ Nc6 13. O-O O-O 14. Be3 Rc8 15. Rb1 Nd7 16. Nxd5 Ndxe5 17. Nxe7+ Qxe7 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Re1 Nc4 20. Qa4 Nxe3 21. Rxe3 b6 22. Bd3 Rfd8 23. Bf5 Qd7 24. Qxd7 Bxd7 25. Bxd7 Rxd7 26. g3 g6 27. b4 axb4 28. Rxb4 Rc6 1/2-1/2

The only game to really break the monotony was Aronian's game against Vallejo, and this too had an unusual start. Aronian played an extremely offbeat 6.Nb1 in the Slav, and 7...Qxd4 was already the novelty. This turned out to be an unwise choice by the Spaniard playing Black, and he might have had better play choosing Vitiugov's 7...Nf6. As it were, he was unable to find a satisfactory development plan, and soon his pieces were not only uncoordinated, but struggling to leave their home squares. It was an offday for Vallejo as he made one imprecision after the other, and was soon facing a decisive attack giving Aronian the honor of first blood. The following comments are by GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

[Event "4th Final Masters"] [Site "Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP"] [Date "2011.09.26"] [Round "1"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2807"] [BlackElo "2716"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2011.09.26"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 {Hmmm....Is Vallejo worried about the Exchange Slav?!} 4. e4 b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nb1 {A rare continuation that doesn't have a lot of takers.} Ba6 7. Qc2 $5 {I like this choice of Aronian, both practically and psychologically.} Qxd4 $6 $146 {Vallejo plays with fire. Personally I have always praised his uncompromising style but I believe he is too optimistic in this game.} ({Vitiugov has faced it several times as Black the last few years with excellent results.} 7... Nf6 8. Nd2 e6 9. Bxc4 Bxc4 10. Qxc4 c5 11. Ngf3 Nbd7 12. O-O cxd4 13. e5 Nd5 14. Nb3 Be7 15. Qxd4 Qc7 16. Qe4 Rc8 17. Nbd4 O-O 18. Bd2 Qc4 19. Rfd1 Nc5 20. Qg4 Rfd8 21. Bh6 Bf8 22. Bg5 Rd7 23. h3 b3 24. Nd2 Qb4 25. N4xb3 Qxg4 26. hxg4 Nd3 27. Nf3 Nxb2 28. Rdb1 Nd3 29. Nbd2 h6 30. Bh4 Nc3 31. Rb3 Nxe5 32. Nxe5 Rxd2 33. Rb7 g5 34. Bg3 Ne2+ 35. Kf1 Nxg3+ 36. fxg3 Rcc2 37. Rxf7 Bg7 {0-1 (37) Khismatullin,D (2662)-Vitiugov,N (2720) Aix les Bains 2011}) (7... e5 {is what one of Aronian's seconds, Sargissians, faced a few months ago against Balogh. This move is the first choice of Houdini and Rybka, besides which its logic is quite simple. White has better development as a result of the temporary pawn gambit there, so why not reciprocate?!} 8. Nf3 b3 9. Qc3 {We are still within "engine" territory!} Nf6 10. Bxc4 exd4 11. Qxb3 Bxc4 12. Qxc4 c5 13. b4 Nc6 14. Ba3 Be7 15. bxc5 Nxe4 16. Nbd2 Nxd2 17. Nxd2 O-O 18. O-O Qd7 {and Black got a fairly "easy" position! 1/2-1/2 (72) Sargissian,G (2663)-Balogh,C (2643) Ningbo 2011}) 8. Nf3 Qd7 9. Bxc4 e6 {Let's have a look at the position: White's compensation thanks to his better development is indisputable.} 10. O-O Nf6 11. Bg5 Be7 (11... Bxc4 12. Qxc4 Qc7 13. Bxf6 (13. Nbd2 Nbd7 {seems sound for Black.}) 13... gxf6 14. Nbd2 Nd7 15. Rfd1 Be7 {Although the computer likes Black's position, I do not know how it plans to improve the position. Black's king has no shelter, the pawn pawn structure is weakened and his pieces suffer from a lack of cordination, and all this for just ONE pawn! Nevertheless, it was preferable to what happened in the game.}) 12. Nbd2 h6 $6 {Again the silicon mind likes this move, however to my eyes, a humble human being, it is just a waste of two tempi. Note that the bishop has to go back to e7 after White's e5).} ({I prefer:} 12... O-O 13. Rfd1 Bxc4 14. Nxc4 Qc7 15. Bh4 $1 {with a slight edge for White.}) 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Rfd1 O-O 15. e5 Be7 16. Ne4 Qc8 $6 {No doubt planning to play Bxc4 followed by Qa6 to improve his piece play, but Aronian is having none of it.} (16... Qc7 $1 {This at least could hinder Aronian's plan.} 17. Ba2 Nd7 {attacks e5 immediately. White cannot go for the typical} 18. Rxd7 $2 Qxd7 19. Rd1 Qc7 20. Bb1 {since after} Rfd8 21. Nd6 g6 {he is just lost due to insufficent counterplay for the sacrificed material.}) 17. Ba2 $1 { Now the Bishop on a6 is just shooting the ground, Bang Bang! And now Ladies and Gentleman! A typical retreat which one expects from players of this level. White's bishop joins its heavy arsenal for a final blow. Aronian plays like a champion and no wonder we have seen this typical plan played by so many of them!} b3 $5 {Black returns the pawn to force White to take and give Black time to regroup, and possibly survive this opening fiasco.} 18. Bxb3 {Black is really struggling here and needed to take more energetic measures to recover some ground in his development.} Nd7 {Vallejo avoided the mating attack, nevertheless White's advantage is clear now and Aronian proves it in a spectacular way.} 19. Nd6 Bxd6 20. Rxd6 c5 21. Rad1 c4 22. Ba2 Nc5 23. Bb1 { All White's pieces are beautifully placed. A Triumph of Harmony! Smyslov would have loved to see it!} g6 24. h4 {Typical. White tries to create weaknesses on the kingside.} h5 (24... Nd3 $2 25. Qd2 Kg7 26. Bxd3 cxd3 27. Rc1 Qb7 28. Rcc6 {loses the bishop.}) 25. Qc1 Bb7 $1 {Vallejo tries to complicate things though sadly for his sake, it is rather late.} 26. Nd4 (26. Ng5 {was stronger, not only preventing Ne4, but if} Nd3 27. Bxd3 cxd3 28. Qf4 Bd5 29. Rxd3 Qc2 30. Rc3 Qb1+ 31. Kh2 Qf5 32. Qxf5 gxf5 {the position is easily won, with the queens off, the extra pawn and the rooks on the seventh.}) 26... Ne4 $2 {Really not the Spaniard's day as he continuously fails to find the most resistant moves.} 27. Qh6 $1 {The attack that follows is really textbook stuff.} Nxd6 28. Bxg6 $1 {The continuation is a straightforward line to calculate and Aronian has no problem reeling in the point.} fxg6 29. Qxg6+ Kh8 30. Qh6+ Kg8 31. Nxe6 Nf5 32. Qg6+ Kh8 33. Qxh5+ Kg8 34. Qg6+ Kh8 35. Nxf8 Qxf8 36. Rd7 Qh6 37. Qxf5 Rf8 38. Qg5 Qxg5 39. hxg5 Be4 40. Rxa7 Rb8 41. f3 Bf5 42. Rc7 Be6 43. Rc6 Bg8 44. f4 Rxb2 45. e6 Re2 46. f5 Re5 47. g4 Re4 48. Kf2 Rxg4 49. e7 Bf7 50. g6 Kg7 51. gxf7 Kxf7 52. Re6 Ke8 53. f6 1-0

Schedule and results

Round 1: Monday, September 26, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Francisco Vallejo
Round 2: Tuesday, September 27, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Francisco Vallejo
Magnus Carlsen 
   Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Viswanathan Anand
GamesReport
Round 3: Wednesday, September 28, 15:00h
Viswanathan Anand 
   Vassily Ivanchuk 
Levon Aronian 
   Hikaru Nakamura
Francisco Vallejo 
   Magnus Carlsen
GamesReport
Round 4: Friday, September 30, 15:00h
Levon Aronian 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
   Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
   Hikaru Nakamura
GamesReport
Round 5: Saturday, October 1, 15:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Magnus Carlsen
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Francisco Vallejo
Viswanathan Anand 
   Levon Aronian
Games Report
Round 6: Thursday, October 6, 17:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Hikaru Nakamura
Magnus Carlsen 
   Viswanathan Anand
Francisco Vallejo 
   Levon Aronian
GamesReport
Round 7: Friday, October 7, 17:00h
Francisco Vallejo 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
   Magnus Carlsen 
Viswanathan Anand 
   Hikaru Nakamura
GamesReport
Round 8: Saturday, October 8, 17:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Viswanathan Anand
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen 
   Francisco Vallejo
GamesReport
Round 9: Monday, October 10, 17:00h
Magnus Carlsen 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Francisco Vallejo 
   Hikaru Nakamura
Levon Aronian 
   Viswanathan Anand
GamesReport
Round 10: Tuesday, October 11, 16:00h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Levon Aronian
Viswanathan Anand 
   Francisco Vallejo
Hikaru Nakamura 
   Magnus Carlsen 
GamesReport

Links

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