Zurich 2016 day one: Anand wins two

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/13/2016 – An explosive start for the Tiger of Madras! He started the day off by annihilating Aronian in 19 moves, and he followed it up by taking advantage of Giri's ambitiousness and he quickly retaliated against a wrongful pawn push from the Dutch. Nakamura is close behind as he drew Giri in the first round and beat Shirov in a strange game in round two. Meanwhile Gelfand beat Morozevich in their exhibition match.

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5th Zurich Chess Challenge 2016

From 12 to 15 February 2016 the world chess elite will arrive again in Zurich for the fifth edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville.

The oldest chess club in the world and its honorable member Oleg Skvortsov have suggested a most important innovation for the future of new classical chess: a new time control of 40 minutes per game with additional 10 seconds for each move.

Round One

The big news of round one was Anand's total demolition of Aronian:

[Event "5th Zurich CC 2016"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "1"] [White "Anand, V."] [Black "Aronian, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C48"] [WhiteElo "2784"] [BlackElo "2792"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2016.02.12"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 {The four knights opening is a surprisingly unpopular version of avoiding the Berlin, mainly due to the fact that Black has plenty of options that supposedly give him an acceptable game.} Bd6 { ultra-solid. The point is that the bishop will retreat to f8 eventually or move to c5 when e5 is properly defended.} 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 Re8 7. a3 {I can't find any super-high level example of this move, though it does make sense to clear a2 for the bishop.} h6 8. Bc4 Bc5 9. Be3 Bxe3 10. fxe3 d6 {In this position Black's rook would rather be on f8. White has a couple of extra tempi, but I feel Black is solid enough to be ok. } 11. Nh4 Be6 12. Nf5 Bxc4 $6 {Even though it is natural to break up the structure, Black's position is so underdeveloped and the pressure on the kingside is mounting at such an alarming rate that this trade may already be too ambitious.} (12... Nb8 {immediately was probably a safer choice}) 13. dxc4 Kh7 $2 (13... Re6 {trying to hold on to the kingside, was been better.}) 14. Qf3 $1 {Anand smells blood!} (14. Nd5 {was also good enough for a big initiative, but is not as accurate as the text-move.}) 14... Nb8 {With the idea of solidifying the kingside with Nb8-d7. But this is too late.} (14... Ng8 { is a sad move to make, but might have already been necessary. After} 15. c5 { clearly White stands better.} (15. Qg3 $5)) 15. Nxh6 $1 Kxh6 (15... gxh6 16. Qxf6 Qxf6 17. Rxf6 Kg7 18. Raf1 {is hopeless. White is too active and has an extra pawn.}) 16. Qh3+ Kg6 (16... Nh5 17. Rxf7 (17. g4 {are both winning easily.})) 17. Rf3 {not the only winning move, actually, but the most exact. White threatens Rg3+ or Qf5+ and Rh3.} Nh5 18. Rf5 Nf6 19. Qh4 {Black gets mated next move.} 1-0

Coming in strong, first in the blitz and
now in the rapids: Viswanathan Anand (Photo: David Llada)

Giri put pressure on Nakamura, but was unable to deliver the finishing blow:

Stylish Anish Giri had the upper hand in a Najdorf (Photo: David Llada)

[Event "5th Zurich CC 2016"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "1"] [White "Nakamura, Hi"] [Black "Giri, A."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2787"] [BlackElo "2798"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2016.02.12"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be3 Be6 9. Bf3 Nbd7 10. O-O O-O 11. a4 Qc7 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 Bf5 14. c3 Bg6 15. a5 f5 16. Ra4 b5 17. axb6 Nxb6 18. Ra2 Nc4 19. Bc1 a5 20. Nd2 Nb6 21. Ra3 a4 22. c4 Bf6 {Something has clearly gone wrong for White. His development is far from ideal, Black's position is active and he has pressure on the queenside as well as expansion possibilities in the center or on the kingside. Nakamura senses the danger and tries to change the landscape.} 23. g4 $1 {Weakening the kingside horribly, but obtaining control over e4.} Bg5 24. gxf5 Bxf5 25. Rc3 Nd7 $6 { Missing a computer-like win.} (25... a3 $1 26. bxa3 (26. Rxa3 Rxa3 27. bxa3 Bh3 28. Re1 Qf7 {and there is no good way of meeting the threat of Bxd2.}) 26... Na4 27. Rb3 Nc5 28. Rc3 Qa5 {and defending the rook on c3 is impossible.}) 26. b4 axb3 27. Nxb3 Bxc1 28. Qxc1 Nc5 $2 {Probably Giri's big error in the game. He should have kept the pieces, maybe start eyeing the f4 square with Nf6 or something similar. The trades allow Nakamura to release the pressure and simplify into a drawn endgame.} 29. Nxc5 Qxc5 30. Qe3 Qxe3 31. Rxe3 Rfc8 32. Be2 g6 33. f4 exf4 34. Rxf4 Re8 35. Rxe8+ Rxe8 36. Kf2 Kg7 37. Bg4 Re5 38. Bxf5 Rxf5 39. Rxf5 gxf5 40. Ke3 Kg6 41. Kd4 Kf6 42. c5 dxc5+ 43. Kxc5 Ke7 44. d6+ Kd7 45. Kd5 f4 46. Ke4 Kxd6 47. Kxf4 1/2-1/2

The ever-resourceful Hikaru Nakamura busted
out g4! and saved the game (Photo: David Llada)

The game between Shirov and Kramnik was a very quiet Berlin. After many, many trades an opposite colored bishop endgame arose that was clearly drawn. Kramnik defends another Berlin rather easily.

Round Two

Nakamura essayed the French against Shirov - he obtained a very comfortable position from the opening but let his advantage slip. When White seemed to have stabilized his position, he inexplicably gave up a rook for a knight

[Event "5th Zurich CC 2016"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Shirov, A."] [Black "Nakamura, Hi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C02"] [WhiteElo "2684"] [BlackElo "2787"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2016.02.12"] 1. e4 e6 {It's unusual to see Nakamura play a French...} 2. d4 d5 3. e5 { Most French players will tell you that if they knew that White will play 3. e5 for sure, they would play the French all day every day!} c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. a3 Nh6 7. b4 {I've never beelieved in the lines that involve Bxh6 against the French, even though the great advance French expert, Grischuk, recently used it against Caruana. (In a blitz game, in which he lost!). } cxd4 8. Bxh6 gxh6 9. cxd4 Bd7 10. Ra2 Rg8 11. h3 (11. g3 {Grischuk-Caruana, 2014 Dubai Blitz WCH}) 11... h5 12. g3 h4 13. g4 Be7 14. Be2 f6 {Typical French stuff. Black has the pair of bishops and is fighting to break open the center.} 15. b5 Nd8 {Making way for f7. The knight has plenty of potential from there.} (15... Na5 $5) (15... Nxd4 16. Qxd4 Qxd4 17. Nxd4 fxe5 { is a bit too optimistic, but not suicidal.}) 16. Qd3 Rg7 17. Nc3 Nf7 18. O-O $6 {Brave, but foolish. Why castle into it?} (18. exf6 Bxf6 19. Qe3 $15) 18... h5 (18... fxe5 19. Nxe5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 Rc8 $17 {was probably stronger, leaving h5 for a later moment while finishing the development of the queenside. We will see soon how this is important.}) 19. Na4 Qd8 20. exf6 Bxf6 21. Nc5 hxg4 22. hxg4 b6 (22... Rxg4+ 23. Kh1 {leaves Black's position a tad awkward as White does have a lot of threats here.}) 23. Nxd7 Qxd7 24. Kh1 Rc8 25. Rc2 Rxc2 26. Qxc2 Nd6 27. Ne5 Bxe5 28. dxe5 Ne4 29. Kg2 Nc5 30. Rh1 Qe7 31. Qc1 Rh7 32. Qe3 Qg7 33. Rc1 Qf8 {It seems that White has managed to stabilize his position.} 34. a4 (34. f3 $11) 34... Rf7 35. f3 Rf4 36. Rxc5 $4 {This move is hard to understand. Perhaps Shirov thought he had adequare counterplay with his passed pawns?} bxc5 37. a5 h3+ (37... Rb4 {is also totally winning... Black is just up the exchange.}) 38. Kg3 $2 h2 39. Kxh2 Qh6+ 40. Kg2 Rxg4+ { costs White a queen.} 0-1

The game between Kramnik and Aronian was quite interesting. Big Vlad sacrificed an exchange for plenty of activity, but it didn't look like it was enough for an advantage. The Russian's activity was always enough to secure compensation, and Aronian found no way to break through. He was eventually forced to give up the exchange and Kramnik found himself up a pawn in a opposite bishop endgame that was simply drawn.

Kramnik tried to spice things up, but it wasn't enough. (Photo: ChessBase).

Finally Anand won his second game of the day after Giri underestimated Black's chances:

[Event "5th Zurich CC 2016"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Giri, A."] [Black "Anand, V."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C50"] [WhiteElo "2798"] [BlackElo "2784"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2016.02.12"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 O-O 8. Re1 h6 9. h3 Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Be3 Bxe3 12. Rxe3 Qd7 13. Nbd2 Qf7 14. g3 Nd7 15. Kg2 a5 16. Qc2 Nc5 17. Rf1 Qd7 18. b3 Ne7 19. Nc4 b5 20. axb5 Qxb5 21. Rb1 Nc6 22. Ncd2 Rab8 23. d4 exd4 24. Nxd4 Nxd4 25. cxd4 Na6 26. Qc3 Qb6 27. Nf3 Nb4 28. Qc4 Rbe8 29. Rc1 Rf7 {The position is relatively level. Black's strong knight on b4 has a comfortable outpost, but White enjoys more space and some pressure against c7.} 30. Nd2 Ref8 31. f4 $6 (31. Rf1 {should keep the balance, but Giri gets too ambitious.}) 31... e5 $1 {The Dutch player must have underestimated this move. White has no good way of dealing with this break.} 32. Nf3 (32. fxe5 d5 33. exd5 (33. Qe2 Rf2+ 34. Qxf2 Rxf2+ 35. Kxf2 Qxd4 { is also very bad.}) 33... Rf2+ 34. Kh1 Rxd2 {gives Black an extra piece.}) ( 32. dxe5 Qxe3 {is impossible.}) (32. f5 exd4 $17) 32... exf4 33. gxf4 d5 $1 34. exd5 Qd6 $1 {Black is in no hurry: with the powerful blockade of the d5 pawn and the weakness on f4 he is almost winning, the king on g2 is too exposed.} 35. Ne5 Rxf4 36. Kg1 Kh7 37. Rg3 R8f5 38. Rg4 Qf6 39. Rxf4 Rxf4 40. Rf1 Qg5+ 41. Kh2 Re4 {When you're attacking, don't trade pieces} 42. Nf3 Qf4+ 43. Kg2 Re3 44. Qc1 Re2+ 45. Kh1 Qg3 {White is soon getting mated. A nice start for Anand!} 0-1

Giri definitely had a disappointing day. (Photo: ChessBase)


The exhibition match between Morozevich and Gelfand saw a draw in a Grunfeld in the first game. After some tactics too many pieces and pawns came off the board and the players finished a fighting game with a draw.

[Event "5th Zurich CC Match"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "1"] [White "Morozevich, Alexander"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D97"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2016.02.13"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Na6 8. Be2 c5 9. d5 e6 10. O-O exd5 11. exd5 Bf5 12. Be3 Qb6 13. h3 Rfe8 14. g4 Bd7 15. Rad1 Rac8 16. d6 Be6 17. Qb5 Nb4 18. Ng5 Bd7 19. Qc4 Rf8 20. Rd2 h6 21. Nge4 Nxe4 22. Nxe4 Be6 23. Qb5 Qxb5 24. Bxb5 b6 25. d7 Rcd8 26. a3 Nd5 27. Bxh6 Bxd7 28. Bxg7 Kxg7 29. Bxd7 Rxd7 30. Rfd1 Re7 31. Nxc5 Nf4 32. Nd3 1/2-1/2

Gelfand defended successfully in the first game. (Photo: David Llada)

A costly blunder in the second game was all it took for Morozevich to lose
the match. (Photo: ChessBase)

[Event "5th Zurich CC Match"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2016.02.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Morozevich, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2735"] [BlackElo "2683"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2016.02.13"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. a3 Be7 6. e4 d6 7. Be2 Nbd7 8. Qc2 e5 9. Nb1 exd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. Nc3 a5 12. O-O a4 13. Be3 c6 14. Rad1 Qa5 15. f3 Re8 16. Kh1 Bf8 17. Bd2 Qc7 18. Bg5 Nfd7 19. Qc1 Ne5 20. Be3 f6 21. f4 Nf7 22. Bf3 Qa5 23. Qc2 Qa6 24. Be2 Nh6 25. Bg1 Bg4 26. Nf5 Bxf5 27. exf5 Nf7 28. Bxc5 dxc5 29. Rd7 Re7 30. Rfd1 Rae8 31. Rxe7 Rxe7 32. Nxa4 Qa5 33. Nc3 Qc7 34. g3 Nd6 35. Qd3 Re8 36. b4 Ra8 37. bxc5 Nf7 38. Ne4 Rd8 39. Qc2 Rxd1+ 40. Qxd1 Qa5 41. Nd6 Qxc5 42. Nxf7 Kxf7 43. Qb1 b6 (43... Qf2 $11) 44. Qe4 Qd6 $4 { Completely overlooking White's next move} (44... g6 $14) 45. c5 $1 {Black is getting mated now!} Qe7 (45... bxc5 46. Bc4+) (45... Qxc5 46. Qe6#) 46. Bc4+ Ke8 47. Qxc6+ Qd7 48. Qa8+ Ke7 49. Qe4+ Kd8 50. cxb6 {Black's king survives, for now, but it costs him two pawns. This endgame is hopeless.} Bc5 51. b7 Kc7 52. Bd5 Qb5 53. Kg2 Bxa3 54. Qe6 1-0

Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam - editor of New In Chess - doesn't miss a beat. (Photo: ChessBase)

Rapid Standings

Note: Rapid results count for double (two for a win, one for a draw, none for a loss).

Opening Blitz Standings

Note: Opening Blitz standings only count towards determining who has more whites than blacks

Replay Today's Rapid Games


Friday February 12 6 p.m. Opening Ceremony, concert, Blitz
Saturday February 13 3 pm first round, 6 pm second round
Sunday February 14 3 pm third round, 6 pm. fourth round
Monday February 15 3 pm. fifth round, 6 pm. blitz, closing

Round 1 - Sat, February 13th, 3:00 pm

White   Black
Alexei Shirov 1-1 Vladimir Kramnik
Hikaru Nakamura 1-1 Anish Giri
Viswanathan Anand 2-0 Levon Aronian

Round 2 - Sat, February 13th, 6:00 pm

White   Black
Vladimir Kramnik 1-1 Levon Aronian
Anish Giri 0-2 Viswanathan Anand
Alexei Shirov 0-2 Hikaru Nakamura

Round 3 - Sun, February 14th, 3:00 pm

White   Black
Hikaru Nakamura - Vladimir Kramnik
Viswanathan Anand - Alexei Shirov
Levon Aronian - Anish Giri

Round 4 - Sun, February 14th, 6:00 pm

White   Black
Vladimir Kramnik - Anish Giri
Alexei Shirov - Levon Aronian
Hikaru Nakamura - Viswanathan Anand

Round 5 - Mon, February 15th, 3:00 pm

White   Black
Viswanathan Anand - Vladimir Kramnik
Levon Aronian - Hikaru Nakamura
Anish Giri - Alexei Shirov


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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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