Gelfand victorious in Kazan!

In my last write up I left the Candidates Matches with two Classical games to go and my forecast was rather bleak for entertainment value. Out of the 28 games played at a normal time control there had been 26 draws and just 2 wins (both with Black!). Recently Silvio Danailov, the current ECU President and Veselin Topalov’s manager (before you ask, yes holding both those positions can put him in situations with a conflict of interest, politics in the chess world is never clear) has written an open letter to FIDE asking why they didn’t make use of his ‘invention’ Sofia Rules, whereby players cannot agree to a draw and must play out the game. Personally I think the answer is not to change the number of moves but change the format entirely. The players with White will continue to play risk-free chess aiming for the smallest nibble and avoiding any losing chances with such small micro-matches.

Round 5 was probably Grischuk’s most interesting White game of the whole competition. The game started off as a quiet Queen’s Gambit Declined where Grischuk chose to play with 5.Bf4 rather than the more common 5.Bg5. Gelfand didn’t solve his opening problems and after 20 moves was left in a passive position where he was forced to sit and wait while the Russian could continue manoeuvring. However he missed a trick and allowed the Israeli to liberate his position exchanging into a drawn ending.

###pgn###[Event “WCh Candidates”] [Site “Kazan RUS”] [Date “2011.05.24”] [Round “3.5”] [White “Grischuk, Alexander”] [Black “Gelfand, Boris”] [Result “1/2-1/2”] [ECO “D37”] [WhiteElo “2747”] [BlackElo “2733”] [Annotator “,Microsoft”] [SetUp “1”] [FEN “1q2rnk1/ppbbr1pp/2p1pp2/2Pp4/1P1P1P2/2QBRNP1/PN3P1P/4R1K1 b – – 0 20”] [PlyCount “38”] [EventDate “2011.05.05”] [SourceDate “2008.01.22”] 20… Rd8 21. Bf5 {The start of the wrong plan.} Rf7 22. Bg4 $2 (22. Bc2 { followed by Nd3 and then pressing either on the queenside with a4 or even on the kingside with h4-h5 ideas would condemn Black to a difficult defence.}) 22… e5 $1 {Accurately calculated} 23. Bxd7 exf4 24. Be8 fxe3 25. Qxe3 (25. Bxf7+ Kxf7 26. Rxe3 Re8 {is not really any different.}) 25… Ng6 (25… Rxe8 26. Qxe8 Qxe8 27. Rxe8 {looks awkward with White’s rook on the eighth rank but I think his advantage would be purely symbolic.}) 26. Bxf7+ Kxf7 27. Qe6+ Kf8 28. Qh3 Qc8 $1 {Another accurate move, completely neutralising White’s attack.} 29. Qxc8 (29. Qxh7 $2 Kf7 30. Qh5 Rh8 {and the queen is trapped and thus Black picks up material.}) 29… Rxc8 30. Kf1 Re8 {Now it’s just totally equal.} 31. Rb1 Ke7 32. Nd3 a6 33. a4 Kd7 34. b5 axb5 35. axb5 cxb5 36. Rxb5 Rb8 37. Nb4 Ne7 38. Ne1 Nc6 39. Nxc6 1/2-1/2%%%pgn%%%

Round 6 however burst into life. Gelfand had failed to gain anything substantial with the English and so switched to 1.d4. Grischuk surprised us all deviating from the Queen’s Gambit Declined which had done its job so well, to the double-edged Grunfeld. Gelfand chose the Fianchetto Variation and Black went for 4…d5, keeping the game in Grunfeld waters rather than the more solid 4…c6. The game followed a very topical variation until Black’s unusual 11…Bg4!?

Grischuk’s position was rather passive with White having more space so he tried a very interesting rook swing but Gelfand played very well (in particular 19.f4!) defusing any attacking intentions Black might have held and proceeded to take over in the centre.

###pgn###[Event “WCh Candidates”] [Site “Kazan RUS”] [Date “2011.05.25”] [Round “3.6”] [White “Gelfand, Boris”] [Black “Grischuk, Alexander”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “E60”] [WhiteElo “2733”] [BlackElo “2747”] [PlyCount “69”] [EventDate “2011.05.05”] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. e3 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Re1 a5 11. Qe2 Bg4 12. h3 Be6 13. b3 a4 14. Rb1 axb3 15. axb3 Qc8 16. Kh2 Ra5 17. Rd1 Rh5 18. Nh4 Bf6 19. f4 Rd8 20. Qf2 Bxh4 21. gxh4 Nd5 22. Nxd5 Rhxd5 23. Bb2 Rb5 24. Qe2 Rh5 25. e4 Bxb3 26. Rdc1 Na5 27. d5 b6 28. Be5 c5 29. dxc6 f6 30. Ba1 Rc5 31. Rxc5 bxc5 32. Qb5 Qc7 33. Rxb3 Nxc6 34. e5 Nd4 35. Qc4+ 1-0%%%pgn%%%

A well played game by Gelfand and a deserved challenger to Anand; even if I don’t think the Indian will have any serious difficulties. There would have been something wrong had Grischuk managed to triumph without winning a single standard game! I’m looking forward to the Gelfand-Anand match but we cannot be completely sure it will even take place, let alone a date or venue after negotiations with Malcolm Pein broke down (as I wrote earlier – the FIDE officials got greedy and wanted more money which the sponsor, without Magnus’ presence, was unwilling to pay).




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