Game of the Month – May/June

Hey guys,

As we’re halfway through the month, and considering I really doubt I’ll manage a GOTM from June what with getting married and all, I decided to combine the two. In the past month we’ve had two big matches. First there was the Kramnik-Aronian friendly match. As they weren’t playing for a title they both played enterprising chess and tried out some different openings from their usual repertoire. An interesting feature was that, should the game finish in less than three hours, the players would then play a rapid game. The match ended 3-3 with one win each and I’ve annotated Kramnik’s win below.

The other big match is of course the World Championships in Moscow between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand. After five games we’ve had five draws and people are starting to get restless. I’ve commentated on two games, round four where Gelfand never really got anywhere against Anand in a Chebanenko Slav, while today he drew easily with Black in a Sveshnikov Sicilian. It seems Boris is very well prepared and we’ll have to see something special from Vishy to draw blood.



[Event “Zurich Chess Challenge”]
[Site “Zuerich SUI”]
[Date “2012.04.24”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Kramnik, V.”]
[Black “Aronian, L.”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C47”]
[WhiteElo “2801”]
[BlackElo “2820”]
[Annotator “GJ”]
[PlyCount “83”]
[EventDate “2012.04.21”]
[EventType “match”]
[EventRounds “6”]
[EventCountry “SUI”]
[Source “Mark Crowther”]
[SourceDate “2012.04.30”]

1. e4 {Already a surprise. As the match was ‘friendly’ without any title on
the line both players were happy to experiment with openings they don’t
usually try.} e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 {And it’s unusual to see this at the top
level. The Four Knights has a rather drawish reputation.} Nf6 4. d4 {The
Scotch Four Knights.} ({Strong players who have started with 3.Nc3 normally
keep more tension in the position with} 4. Bb5) 4… exd4 5. Nxd4 Bc5 $5 {But
Aronian decides to play a rather fresher position.} (5… Bb4 {is the mian
move when it would have been interesting to see what Kramnik’s new idea was.
The principal lines runs} 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5 9. O-O O-O 10.
Bg5 c6 11. Qf3 h6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Qxf6 gxf6 14. Ne2 Bd6 15. Nd4 c5 16. Nf5
Bxf5 {and Black drew easily Svidler,P (2750)-Karjakin,S (2725) Dagomys 2010.})
6. Be3 {Now the position looks a bit like a mainline Scotch but for the
knights on c3 and f6. On the one hand this deprives Black of his typical …
Qf6 idea in these structures but then White doesn’t have any Qg4 ideas either.}
Bb6 7. Qd2 O-O 8. O-O-O Re8 {The position looks a bit like a Yugoslav Attack
against the Dragon but with a few important chances. The pawn being on c7
rather than e7 means that, although Black can get play down the e file, his
structure is worse (one fewer central pawn) and can’t generate counterplay
down the c file. The bishop looks odd on b6 but has similar pressure on d4
while, because he hasn’t had to play g6 he hasn’t created any kingside
weaknesses.} ({Turov, a high rated GM and a top 100 player, tried to exploit
the fact that White hadn’t yet got round to f3 with} 8… Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10.
Nxc6 bxc6 11. Bh4 Qe8 12. h3 Ne5 13. f4 Nf7 14. Bd3 Ba5 15. Rhe1 {and White
was a bit better. Debray,C (2396)-Turov,M (2658) Lille 2012}) 9. f3 d5 {
Continuing to play as Black would in the Dragon.} ({Instead English GM Mark
Hebden tried} 9… d6 {but was soon in trouble after} 10. g4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be6
12. Rg1 Bxd4 13. Qxd4 c5 14. Qd2 Qa5 15. a3 a6 16. g5 Nd7 17. f4 b5 18. f5 Bc4
19. g6 {although he somehow drew. Reefat,B (2430)-Hebden,M (2550) Dhaka 1995.})
10. exd5 Nxd5 11. Bg5 Nxc3 $5 {This is enterprising and the move I wanted to
play while watching but perhaps it’s too optimistic.} (11… Nde7 {looks a
little passive but} 12. Nxc6 Qxd2+ 13. Bxd2 Nxc6 14. Nd5 {is only a touch
better for White thanks to his bishop pair.}) 12. Bxd8 Nxd1 {So White is a
queeen for rook and knight up but with so much material en-prise we can’t make
any conclusions yet.} 13. Bxc7 {Brave! Kramnik grabs another pawn and trusts
in his calculating ability.} ({Of course White had alternatives and perhaps}
13. Bh4 {was the most accurate. That might continue} Nxd4 14. Qxd1 Nf5 15. Bg5
h6 16. Bf4 Ne3 17. Bxe3 Bxe3+ 18. Kb1 Bf5 {when White is of course better with
queen for rook and bishop but Black has good drawing chances.}) ({but} 13. Bg5
$6 {isn’t as good for the subtle reason that} Nf2 $1 {is now possible, when}
14. Qxf2 Nxd4 {grants Black great play for the material deficit.}) ({But} 13.
Nxc6 $2 {would be a mistake as} Be3 $1 {regains the queen with the advantage.})
13… Bxc7 14. Nxc6 Ne3 15. Bb5 {Kramnik is happy not to resolve the tactics
immediately.} ({Instead dropping the knight back with} 15. Nb4 {seems to grant
Black enough counterplay, e.g.} Bf4 $1 16. Nd3 Bh6 17. f4 Bf5 18. g4 Bxg4 19.
Bg2 Nxc2 $1 20. Bxb7 (20. Qxc2 Rac8) (20. Kxc2 Re2) 20… Rab8 {and Black’s
certainly not worse.}) 15… bxc6 {But this was asking too much of Black’s
position.} ({Instead I think his best chance was} 15… Bf5 16. Nd4 Bf4 $1 17.
Bxe8 (17. Nxf5 Nxg2) 17… Nxg2 18. Qxf4 Nxf4 19. Bxf7+ Kxf7 20. Nxf5 {would
leave White a pawn up in the rook and knight ending but Black would have
decent drawing chances due to his greater activity and White’s slight
structural weakness on the kingside.}) 16. Bxc6 Nc4 17. Qd4 Be6 18. Bxa8 Bb6
19. Qd3 Rxa8 20. Re1 {So the tactics have finally ended and we can take stock.
Normally I love having a bunch of pieces for the queen but here the queen and
two pawns outweight the two bishops and knight. Black would really like
another pair of rooks on the board to create some threats but here White’s
king is fairly safe.} Rd8 21. Qe4 g5 $2 {But I don’t like this move at all and
Kramnik exploits it as one would expect.} ({I think Black should try something
like} 21… Rd4 {he’s not really got a plan but just wants to disturb White
and prevent him from easily advancing his pawns. The line could continue:} 22.
Qb7 Rd8 23. b3 Ne3 24. Qe4 Bf5 25. Qe7 Be6 26. c4 Nf5 27. Qb7 h6 28. Qe4 Rd4
29. Qc6 Rd6 30. Qe8+ Kh7 {and White is making progress but at least Black is
still well coordinated while he doesn’t have any weaknesses himself.}) ({While
after} 21… g6 {Kramnik could have continued with something like} 22. c3 a5
23. b3 Bc5 24. g4 Nb6 25. c4 {when Black’s pieces are rather loose.}) 22. c3
Bc5 23. Re2 h6 24. g3 a5 25. f4 a4 26. f5 Bd5 27. Qd3 Bb6 28. b3 axb3 29. axb3
Na5 30. Re8+ $1 {I like this move. Kramnik gives up his material plus – indeed
now it’s rook, bishop and knight (11) versus queen and two pawns (11) but
White’s king is now completely safe while the knight is completely cut off on
a5.} Rxe8 31. Qxd5 Rd8 32. Qb5 Rd6 {Both sides got into time trouble and so
the next moves aren’t accurate but Krramnik keeps enough control to convert
the win.} 33. Kc2 Kg7 34. b4 Nb7 35. c4 Rf6 36. g4 Nd8 37. c5 Bc7 38. Qd7 Nc6
39. b5 Na7 40. Qxc7 Nxb5 41. Qe5 Na7 42. Kd3 1-0




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