Zurich: Two draws in round two

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/25/2013 – In a tournament where there are only two boards, the spectators run the risk that in both games the white pieces will be neutralized with some precise opening preparation and the games will simply wither into a stale draw. Luckily that was the case in only one of the games. Round two report with video commentary and postgame analysis.

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In one of the strongest tournaments of the year the World Champion Viswanathan Anand (India) is facing the former title-holder Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), last year’s World Championship challenger Boris Gelfand (Israel) and the rising star Fabiano Caruana (Italy). At the Savoy Hotel, Paradeplatz, Zurich, the four masters are playing a double round-robin tournament from 23 February to 1 March 2013.

Round two report

By GM Alejandro Ramirez

2nd round: 34 February 2013 at 15:00
Vladimir Kramnik 2810
Viswanathan Anand 2780
Boris Gelfand 2740
Fabiano Caruana 2757

Kramnik, Vladimir – Anand, Vishy ½ - ½
A strange opening move order led into a very standard Catalan setup. The variation improved by Kramnik has practical value, and I'm sure he would win the resulting endgames against 90% of grandmasters, but Vishy just happens to be in the other 10%. The Indian swiftly simplified the position and forced an easily drawn rook endgame.

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge"] [Site "Zuerich SUI"] [Date "2013.02.24"] [Round "2"] [White "Kramnik, V."] [Black "Anand, V."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2810"] [BlackElo "2780"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2013.02.23"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c5 4. O-O Nc6 5. d4 e6 6. c4 dxc4 7. dxc5 {despite the high scoring natuer of this move, at the hands of a player like Vishy Black's position should be comfortably held.} Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5 9. Nbd2 c3 10. bxc3 O-O 11. Nb3 Be7 12. c4 Bd7 13. Bb2 Rfd8 14. Nfd4 Rac8 15. c5 $146 {this move doesn't seem dangerous at all.} (15. Nb5 {has been played twice before but not with any success.}) 15... Nxd4 16. Bxd4 Bc6 17. Rab1 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 h6 19. e3 Nd7 20. Na5 Nxc5 21. Nxb7 Nxb7 22. Rxb7 Bf6 23. Rdb1 Bxd4 24. exd4 a5 25. Ra7 Rd5 26. Rbb7 Rf5 27. Rc7 Rd8 28. Rc5 Rxd4 29. Rxf5 exf5 30. Rxa5 {the game has been excessively simplified and having a passed pawn on the queenside is of little value. This position is an easy draw.} f4 31. a4 g5 32. Ra8+ Kg7 33. a5 fxg3 34. hxg3 Ra4 35. a6 h5 36. Kf3 Ra3+ 37. Kg2 h4 38. gxh4 gxh4 39. a7 Kf6 40. Rh8 h3+ 41. Rxh3 1/2-1/2

Gelfand, Boris – Caruana, Fabiano ½ - ½
Caruana went into the round well prepared as he uncorked a great improvement over his game against Aronian in Moscow last year. Gelfand did not react in the best manner, and soon found himself in trouble. Despite having an open h-file against Caruana's king and a pawn phalanx in the center that was keeping the dark squared bishop at bay, his position had no active prospects and Black's pieces dominated the board. The Italian played a wonderful game until move 35, where he missed the winning blow 35... Bg4! A difficult move to see for sure, but the paralyzed nature of White's position would've caused it to collapse in only a few more moves. The mistake allowed Gelfand to get back in the game and within one move get complete equality.

[Event "Zurich Chess Challenge"] [Site "Zuerich SUI"] [Date "2013.02.24"] [Round "2"] [White "Gelfand, B."] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D70"] [WhiteElo "2740"] [BlackElo "2757"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2013.02.23"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Qd6 10. Nb5 Qd7 11. Kb1 Rd8 12. d5 a6 13. Nc3 Qe8 14. Qe1 Na7 $5 $146 {Strong preparation - the knight is headed towards b5, and White does not want to take there because of the opening of the a-file.} ({In a previous game Caruana had played} 14... Ne5 15. Be2 e6 16. Bxb6 cxb6 17. f4 Nd7 18. dxe6 Qxe6 19. Nf3 Qe8 20. Qh4 Bf6 21. Ng5 Nf8 22. Bc4 Kg7 23. Qg3 Bxg5 24. fxg5 Be6 25. Nd5 Bxd5 26. Bxd5 Rd7 27. h4 Rc8 28. a3 Qd8 29. Qf2 Ne6 30. Ka2 Qe7 31. Rhf1 b5 32. Rd3 Rcc7 33. Kb1 a5 34. g4 a4 35. Rf3 Qd6 36. Rf6 Qc5 37. Qg3 b4 38. axb4 Qc2+ 39. Ka1 a3 40. bxa3 Rxd5 41. exd5 Nd4 42. Rxf7+ Rxf7 (42... Kh8) 43. Qe5+ Kf8 44. Qb8+ {Aronian,L (2825)-Caruana,F (2770) Moscow 2012 1-0}) 15. h4 (15. Bf4 $5 {Might be critical.}) 15... Nb5 16. Nge2 Nc4 17. Bd4 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 Nb6 19. h5 e6 $1 {Black has secured the pair of bishops advantage and now he proceeds to open up the position.} 20. hxg6 hxg6 21. f4 Qe7 22. Nf3 exd5 23. e5 d4 24. Nxd4 c5 25. Nf3 Bf5+ 26. Ka1 Rxd1+ 27. Qxd1 Rd8 28. Qe1 ({In the post mortem press conference the two players discuss this very interesting line:} 28. Qb3 Qc7 29. Be2 Bf8 30. Ng5 c4 31. Nce4 {and now if} Bxe4 $2 {then White has a forced win:} 32. Rh8+ Kxh8 33. Qh3+ Bh6 (33... Kg8 34. Qh7#) 34. Qxh6+ Kg8 35. Nxe4 f5 36. Nf6+ Kf7 37. Qh7+ Kf8 38. Qxc7) ({The computer suggests} 28. Qc1 {but Gelfand said he was not comfortable with} c4 29. Be2 Bd3) 28... Qd7 29. Be2 Nd5 30. Nxd5 Qxd5 31. Qc1 Be6 32. b3 Qc6 33. Rd1 Rxd1 34. Qxd1 Qe4 35. g3 Bf5 $6 ({Black missed an excellent chance:} 35... Bg4 $1 {White is in near zugzwang.} 36. Nd4 (36. Ng1 Bf5 $1 $19 (36... Bxe5+ {also wins} 37. fxe5 Qxe5+ 38. Kb1 Bf5+ 39. Bd3 Qd4 40. Kc2 Bxd3+ 41. Qxd3 Qxg1 {and the endgame must be winning.})) 36... cxd4 37. Bxg4 d3 {and White is in deep trouble, as the bishop will reroute to the darksquares via f8.}) 36. Bc4 Bh6 37. Bd5 Qe3 38. Qd2 Qxd2 39. Nxd2 g5 40. Bxb7 gxf4 1/2-1/2

Current standings

Live streams of the game

In the following videos GM Yannick Pelletier and IM Werner Hug comment on the
games as they progress, and also interview the players after they are over.

Impressions on round two by Vijay Kumar

Schedule and results

1st round: 23 February 2013 at 15:00
Fabiano Caruana 2757
Viswanathan Anand 2780
Vladimir Kramnik 2810
Boris Gelfand 2740
2nd round: 24 February 2013 at 15:00
Vladimir Kramnik 2810
Viswanathan Anand 2780
Boris Gelfand 2740
Fabiano Caruana 2757
3rd round: 25 February 2013 at 15:00
Viswanathan Anand 2780   Boris Gelfand 2740
Fabiano Caruana 2757   Vladimir Kramnik 2810
4th round: 27 February 2013 at 15:00
Viswanathan Anand 2780   Fabiano Caruana 2757
Boris Gelfand 2740   Vladimir Kramnik 2810
5th round: 28 February 2013 at 15:00
Boris Gelfand 2740   Viswanathan Anand 2780
Vladimir Kramnik 2810   Fabiano Caruana 2757
6th round: 1 March 2013 at 13:00
Viswanathan Anand 2780   Vladimir Kramnik 2810
Fabiano Caruana 2757   Boris Gelfand 2740


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 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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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