Mar 5, 2001

Final. Game 2

The most keen variation of the Ruy Lopez, chosen by Shirov, suggests a profound home preparation. Still it seems that Anand was not particularly surprised by the development of events. Well, Shirov created a position with a tree of variations as big as a baobab. Computerís recommendations are just indispensable for the analysis of such positions Ė the modern civilisation influences the modern chess greatly. I donít believe that the grandmasters found everything themselves. Just look at the text:

Anand - Shirov

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Bc5 6. c3 b5 7. Bc2 d5 8. a4

Black has a wide choice of opportunities but his tactical resources are restricted till his king stays in the centre.

8... dxe4 9. axb5 Bg4

The pieces are attacked but players neither capture nor remove them. Anand does not fear to walk along the edge. Still, not infrequently such tense positions do come to a prosy end when played by tacticians of the Olympus. Letís go on.

10. Bxe4 Nxe4 11. bxc6 O-O 12. d4 exd4 13. cxd4 Bb6 14. Nc3 Re8 15. Be3 Qd6 16. d5

It looks as if Anand extinguished all flames of Blackís attack and managed to keep the extra pawn. Hardly Black likes such turn. With every next exchange Shirovís position becomes worse.

16... Bxe3 17. fxe3 Rad8 18. Rxa6 Nxc3 19. bxc3 Qxd5

This is an attempt to resign. There was nothing good anyway, and the jolly opening stayed in the past. Anand has a mighty knight against Blackís bishop, deprived of objects to be attacked.

20. Qxd5 Rxd5 21. Nd4 g6 22. Rf4 Bf5 23. Ra7 Rxe3 24. c4 Rc5 25. Rxc7 Re4

Perhaps Black does not understand what he is doing. Every exchange decreases his chances to hold.

26. Rxe4 Bxe4 27. Re7 Bf5 28. c7 Kf8 29. Nxf5 gxf5 30. Rd7 Kg7 31. Rd4 Rxc7 32. Kf2 Kf6 33. Ke3 Ke6 34. g3 f6 35. Kd3 Ra7 36. Kc3 Ke5 37. Rh4

White has no material advantage, but the passed pawn on c4 is a sword of Damocles, hanged above Shirovís head. Now Shirov will step by step, with great efforts bring the endgame to a surprising position.

37... Rb7 38. Rf4 Rb1 39. Rf2 Rc1+ 40. Kb4 Ke6 41. Kb5 Kd6 42. Rxf5 Rb1+ 43. Ka4 Rb2 44. Rxf6+ Kc5 45. Rh6 Kxc4 46. Rh4+ Kd5 47. Rxh7

There is the promised position. Does White promote the pawns with the help of the rook or not? The theory sais that Black has some chances.

47... Ke5 48. Ka3 Rb8 49. Rh5+ Kf6 50. Rh4 Kg5 51. Rb4 Rh8 52. h4+ Kh5 53. Rb5+ Kh6 54. g4 Re8 55. Rb4 Kg6 56. Rb6+ Kf7 57. Rb7+ Ke6 58. Rh7 Rb8 59. g5 Kf5 60. Rh6 Ke5 61. h5 Kf5 62. g6 Kf6 63. Rh7 Rg8 64. Kb3

Well, Anand did promote his pawns.


It seems that Shirov had heard that such position can be held but just did not know how this should be performed. We donít know, either. At least for a human itís simpler to lose here, and our computer is off.

"And his six pawns were scattered like the ships of the Armada that should have conquered England; the Lord blew, and they were all isolated."

-Hans Kmoch, Groningen 1946 tournament book

"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it."

Anand Vishwanathan

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