Zurich Rd2: Discombobulated!

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/15/2015 – There is nothing more unpleasant to face during a chess game than an unexpected move. Anand came up with an improvement of his game against Carlsen from the World Championship, sacrificing a piece and creating great complications over the board. Aronian calculated deeply, using an hour for three moves, but was unable to find the correct path. Anand joins Nakamura in the lead.

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2019 with 7.6 million games and more than 70,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!


Round Two

Round 02 - February 15, 2015, 15:00
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Nakamura, Hikaru 2776
Karjakin, Sergey 2760
Caruana, Fabiano 2811
Anand, Viswanathan 2797
Aronian, Levon 2777

Spotted in the audience: Daria Kramnik, Marie-Laure Germon (Kramnik's wife)
and FM Sunil Weeramantry (Nakamura's step-father).

Kramnik, Vladimir ½-½ Nakamura, Hikaru
Kramnik used a variation of the Catalan/Reti without d4 that he has employed in the past with great success. He played an unusual version of it by quickly taking on d5, relieving a large part of the central tension but allowing him to blast open the center and try to use his superior development.

Kramnik enjoys torturing people in slightly better positions with a little pressure

Nakamura was easily up to the task to defend his position. He cleverly sacrificed his queen for a rook and a bishop, resulting in a position where White's queen simply lacked targets. This, combined with the weak light squares around White's king, resulted in the American holding on to the draw effortlessly.

Nakamura was in no mood to have weaknesses. Being down a queen was a-ok though.

[Event "4th Zurich CC Classical"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2015.02.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Kramnik, V."] [Black "Nakamura, H."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A14"] [WhiteElo "2783"] [BlackElo "2776"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2015.02.14"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. b3 c5 7. Bb2 Nc6 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bf6 12. Qd2 Bd7 13. Bxd5 exd5 14. Rd1 Rc8 15. Nc3 Bc6 16. Nxd5 Bxb2 (16... Qxd5 17. Qxd5 Bxd5 18. Bxf6 Be6 {is asking to get tortured for no reason, though the opposite colored bishops and the incoming rook to c2 give great chances for a draw.}) 17. Qxb2 Bxd5 18. e4 Bxe4 (18... Rc5 19. Qd2 {is not nearly as convincing.}) 19. Rxd8 Rfxd8 {your computer might give a serious advantage for White, but it is a lie. It's impossible to break down Black's defenses. White's king is permanently weak and there are no weaknesses to attack.} 20. b4 a6 21. a4 Rc4 22. Re1 h6 (22... g6 23. f3 $1 $14) 23. Qe5 Bc6 24. b5 Re8 25. Qxe8+ Bxe8 26. Rxe8+ Kh7 27. Re7 f6 28. a5 Ra4 29. Rxb7 Rxa5 30. b6 Rb5 31. Kf1 a5 32. Kg2 a4 33. h4 h5 34. Rb8 Kg6 35. b7 a3 36. Ra8 a2 37. Kh3 Rxb7 38. Rxa2 Rb3 39. Kg2 Rb5 40. Re2 Ra5 1/2-1/2

Anand, Viswanathan 1-0 Aronian, Levon
There is nothing more uncomfortable in the game of chess than to be presented with a nasty surprise. Whether it is a move that you did not expect from you opponent, or a preparation that initially looks unsound, it is always difficult to know how to maneuver yourself in the resulting maze.

An important win for Anand, starting well in Zurich

Anand came well prepared; a clever piece sacrifice improved on his game against the World Champion in their title match back in November. Aronian won a piece, or rather Anand sacrificed it, and the Indian obtained a dangerous initiative. Black's knight on a6 looked fragile and awkward, while White's passed pawn on d7 created immense pressure. Aronian had too many choices: even after thinking for 20+ minutes on each move starting with 19...Be4, he was unable to find a correct continuation.

Discombobulated! Aronian could not find his way out of the maze of variations.

When Anand recovered his piece by mounting pressure on the intrepid d7 bishop, which eliminated the passed pawn, it was clear that the game would end in a White victory. The much superior coordination and the Aronian's multiple hanging pieces gave him no chance to survive. Anand won another piece with a simple tactic and the Armenian resigned.

[Event "4th Zurich CC Classical"] [Site "Zurich SUI"] [Date "2015.02.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Anand, V."] [Black "Aronian, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D97"] [WhiteElo "2797"] [BlackElo "2777"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "55"] [EventDate "2015.02.14"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 Na6 { Even though 7...a6 remains the main line and 7...Nc6 has gained a lot of popularity, the text move is still one of the most popular choices at the top level. Black prepares a quick c5.} 8. Be2 c5 9. d5 {This pawn push is the only realistic way to fight for an advantage; if White takes on c5 the pawn would be regained with interest very easily.} (9. dxc5 Be6 10. Qb5 Rc8 $1 $36) 9... e6 10. O-O exd5 11. exd5 Re8 12. Rd1 (12. Bg5 {was Anand's choice against Carlsen in their World Championship match back in November.}) 12... Bf5 13. d6 h6 14. Be3 {Not as common as 14.Bf4.} Ng4 15. Bf4 {White's passed pawn on the d-file creates some real threats, but Black is pretty active: specificallyt here are some tactics involving the bishops and the active rook on e8.} Bxc3 16. bxc3 (16. Qxc3 Rxe2 {is certainly impossible.}) 16... Re4 17. Qb5 Rxf4 { Black wins a piece, but it is not over} 18. Qxb7 {The knight on a6 feels mighty uncomfortable.} Ra4 $1 19. d7 {Anand clearly had this prepared before hand. It is easy to get lost in the complications. White has tremendous pressure thanks to his passed d-pawn and Black's discoordinated pieces.} (19. Bxa6 Rb8 20. Qc6 (20. Qxa7 Ra8 $19) 20... Bd7 {and the queen cannot defend the bishop on a6 any more.}) 19... Be4 (19... Nc7 $1 20. h3 $1 Nf6 21. Ne5 $13 { The position will need more practical tests.}) 20. Qb3 Bc6 $2 {This is already a serious mistake. Levon took 20 minutes for each Be4 and Bc6,so it is a little mystery on what he missed.} (20... Ra5 21. Nd2 $1 Bf5 $5 22. Nc4 Nxf2 $1 23. Nxa5 (23. Kxf2 Rb8 {and White cannot move his queen without allowing Qh4+}) 23... Nxd1 $13) 21. Rd6 $1 {Simple and obvious. Black is already lost; he is facing the threat of Rxg6+ and Rc6.} Bxd7 (21... Rb8 22. Qd1 Bxf3 (22... Rb6 23. Rxc6 Rxc6 24. Qxa4 $18) 23. Bxf3 $18 {the fork against g4 and a4 is deadly. }) 22. Rad1 Qb8 23. Rxd7 Qxb3 24. axb3 Ra2 25. Bc4 {Black is not down material, yet, but it is clear that he is completely lost. f7 is hanging, a7 is weak, his pieces are everywhere, the knight on a6 is basically trapped...} Rf8 26. R7d6 {now Black loses a piece. Rxg6+ and Rxa6 are the threats.} Kg7 27. Rxa6 Rxf2 28. Re1 1-0

Karjakin, Sergey ½-½ Caruana, Fabiano
The anti-Berlin positions are certainly going to see a surge of popularity now that the Berlin Wall is an opening that White simply keeps crashing into without success. Even if the chance for an opening advantage in these anti-Berlins seems minimal, it at least keeps enough pieces on the board to try to create some interesting games. And interesting was exactly what this fight was!

Caruana decided not to castle, and instead pushed all of his pawns forward on the kingside, creating some weaknesses for his opponent but leaving his own king in a rather awkward position.

However, when everything seemed posed for a perfect fight, somehow the position tactically resolved into many, many trades. The resulting endgame probably favored Black a little since his king felt slightly safer, but it was nothing special. The players agreed to peace in what would have been a draw in the long run regardless.

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili

Replay Round Two Games

Classical Standings

Note: Games played in the Classical will count for double

Blitz Final Standings

Note: Blitz points do not count for the final tally


With the blitz finished the pairings are as follows in the classical portion of the tournament, which starts tomorrow:

Round 01 - February 14, 2015, 15:00
Anand, Viswanathan 2797
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Aronian, Levon 2777
Karjakin, Sergey 2760
Caruana, Fabiano 2811
Nakamura, Hikaru 2776
Round 02 - February 15, 2015, 15:00
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Nakamura, Hikaru 2776
Karjakin, Sergey 2760
Caruana, Fabiano 2811
Anand, Viswanathan 2797
Aronian, Levon 2777
Round 03 - February 16, 2015, 15:00
Aronian, Levon 2777 - Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Caruana, Fabiano 2811 - Anand, Viswanathan 2797
Nakamura, Hikaru 2776 - Karjakin, Sergey 2760
Round 04 - February 17, 2015, 15:00
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783 - Karjakin, Sergey 2760
Anand, Viswanathan 2797 - Nakamura, Hikaru 2776
Aronian, Levon 2777 - Caruana, Fabiano 2811
Round 05 - February 18, 2015, 15:00
Caruana, Fabiano 2811 - Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Nakamura, Hikaru 2776 - Aronian, Levon 2777
Karjakin, Sergey 2760 - Anand, Viswanathan 2797

The Rapid portion will be on February 19th.

Schedule of Commentary on www.playchess.com

Date   English
13.02.2015 Blitz Daniel King
14.02.2015 Round 1 Oliver Reeh + Dorian Rogozenco
15.02.2015 Round 2 Mihail Marin
16.02.2015 Round 3 Daniel King
17.02.2015 Round 4 Daniel King
18.02.2015 Round 5 Mihail Marin
19.02.2015 Round 6 Daniel King


The games will be 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.

Topics: Zurich, Zurich 2015

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.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register