Apr 25, 2001

Round 8

Shirov - Van Wely [B81]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. g4

In the duel with Boris Gelfand in the sixth round Alexei Shirov refused to play his favourite variation in a game which was of fundamental importance for him, but the result was rather distressful. This time the grandmaster from Spain shows his willingness to begin a theoretical dispute in one of the keenest variations of the Sicilian Defence.

7... e5 8. Nf5 g6 9. g5 gxf5 10. exf5 d5 11. Qf3 d4 12. O-O-O Nbd7 13. Bd2 Qc7 14. gxf6

Until the last move the opponents repeated Shirov’s game from the first round (Shirov - Svidler, Polanica Zdroj, 2000) when after 14. Bd3 Nc5 15. gxf6 dxc3 16. Bxc3 Qc6 17. Qe3 e4 18. Bc4 Bxf5 19. Rd4 Ne6 20. Bd5 Qb6 Black managed to repel White’s main threats and kept his extra piece.

14... dxc3 15. Bxc3 Qc6

Continuing the manoeuvre which Black began with his thirteenth move. Another opportunity which was connected with the move 15... Nxf6 was less consistent and allowed White to create very strong pressure upon the pawn e5 which was the only obstacle on the way to the black king for White’s pieces.

16. Qg3!?

Now the long-expected reinforcement comes. White avoids an exchange of his valuable rook and turns his attention to the black pawn e5 first of all.

16... Bh6+

Black does not hurry to decide the future of White’s rook h1, delaying this until the next move. In case of an immediate 16... Qxh1 White caught the black queen with 17. Bg2, but after 17... Bh6+ 18. Bd2 Bxd2+ 19. Kxd2 Qxd1+ 20. Kxd1 he lost too many pieces, whereas Black’s sluggish army still had an opportunity to restore their lost co-operation. Most probably Black would not waste time for catching the black queen and would just play 17. Bxe5!?, meaning to organise an onslaught upon the black king, deprived of its pawn shelter. It’s not at all easy to defend Black’s position in this case. So, in case of 17... Qe4 (after 17... Qc6 Black also had to reckon with 18. Bc7 to be followed with 18... Qxf6 19. Re1 Be7 20. Bd6 or 18. Bg2!? Qc5 19. Bc7) 18. Bc7! (depriving the black knight of any opportunity to move) 18... Bb4 (with this move Black covers e1, taking into account a possible threat of f2-f3 and Rd1-e1) 19. Bc4! Rf8 (there was no 19... Qxc4? because of 20. Qe5+) 20. Bd5 Qe2 21. Qf4! despite Black’s huge material advantage there was no evident defence from two unpleasant threats Qf4xb4 and Bd5-f3.

17. Kb1 Bf4

So, Black did not venture on capturing the white rook. After 17... Qxh1 18. Bxe5 Qe4 19. Bc7! ha had a crafty 19... Bd2!? (otherwise 20. f3 and 21. Re1 were threatening), but even in this case White created serious threats to the black king with 20. Bd3! (after 20. Bg2 Qd4 21. Ba5 Black escaped with 21... Qe5, and if 20. a3, then there was 20... Nxf6) 20... Qc6 21. a3!. So, in case of the most natural continuation 21... Nc5 White won with 22. Rxd2 Nxc5 23. Re2+ Be6 24. cxd3 Qh1+ 25. Kc2 Qc6+ 26. Kd1 Qa4+ 27. Kd2.

18. Qd3 O-O?

Black made a decisive mistake in this difficult position. Of course there was no 18... Qxh1? because of 19. Qd6 with an inevitable mate, but 18... Rg8 or 18... Qxf6 were quite admissible, and the result was not at all clear. With the help of the castling Black wanted to hide his king in a safe place, but it will turn out that on the kingside it will be no better than in the centre of the board.

19. Rg1+ Kh8 20. Bb4 Rg8

This way only. After 20... Re8 21. Be7 Nxf6 22. Bg2 Qb6 White won with 23. Qb3! Qxb3 24. Bxf6+.

21. Rxg8+ Kxg8 22. Be7 h6

Black looks for a defence against 23. Qh3. If 22... Nxf6, then 23. Qd8+ Ne8 24. Bg2 Qb5 25. Rg1.

23. Be2 Nxf6

Other continuations would not have saved Black as well. So, after 23... Bg5 White won with 24. Rg1 Kh8 25. Qh3, and after 23... Bxh2 with 24. Rg1+ Kh8 25. Qh3 Bf4 26. Qh5 Qd5 (if 26... Nxf6, then 27. Qxf7 Bg5 28. Bf3 e4 29. Rxg5) 27. Bf3 (an immediate 27. Qg4 gave nothing because of 27... Bg5) 27... Qc4 28. Qg4, whereafter the bishop could not close the g-file as this move would lose the queen to Black.

24. Qd8+ Kh7

There is no 24... Qe8 because of 25. Bxf6, and in case of 24... Ne8 25. Bf3 Qb5 the line 26. b3! Kh7 27. a4 Qxb3+ 28. cxb3 Bxf5+ 29. Ka2 Rxd8 30. Rxd8 let White get a winning endgame.

25. Qf8!

Accuracy until the very end. In case of the suggesting 25. Bxf6 Black escaped all the problems with 25... Bxf5 26. Qxa8 Bxc2+ 27. Ka1 Bxd1 28. Bd3+ (after 28. Qh8+? Kg6 29. Bd3+ Kh5 he even won the game) 28... e4 29. Bxe4+ Qxe4 30. Qh8+ Kg6 31. Qg7+ Kh5 32. Qxf7+ Kg4 33. Qd7+ Kf3 34. Qxd1+ Kxf2.

25... Be6

After 25... Qe8 26. Qxe8 Nxe8 Black kept an extra piece for some time, but with the help of 27. Rd8 White put most difficult problems before him. At the most Black could have agreed to an endgame without a pawn after 27... b5 (both 27... Ng7 because of 28. f6 e4 29. fxg7 Kxg7 30. Bg4 and 27... Nc7 because of 28. Bd3! were no better) 28. Rxe8 Bb7 29. Rxa8 Bxa8 30. h4. Another opportunity, connected with a sacrifice of the exchange after 25... Qxc2+ 26. Kxc2 Bxf5+ 27. Bd3 Bxd3+ 28. Rxd3 Rxf8 29. Bxf8 also left little chances for Black, because after 29... Bxh2 there was 30. Bxh6!.

26. Qxa8 Bxf5 27. Ka1 Nd5 28. Qf8 Qe6 29. Bc5 Bxc2 30. Rg1

White got a material advantage and managed to keep the initiative.

30... Bg6 31. h4 Bh2 32. Rd1 Nf4?

This mistake allows White to end the game in one move, though Black’s position was so bad already that he would not have escaped after any other move. So, in case of 32... h5 White won with 33. Bc4 Qg4 34. Bb3, and after 32... b5 the simplest way was 33. Be3!? Nxe3 34. fxe3 f6 (in case of 34... f5, White won Black’s queen with 35. Bc4 bxc4 36. Rd8 Bf7 37. Rd6) 35. Bf3 with the decisive threat Bf3-d5.

33. Rd8 1-0 Black resigned.

Almasi - Ivanchuk [B44]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 e6 5. Nb5 d6 6. Bf4

White does not want to play a hedgehog position which would appear after 6. c4, he decides to weaken Black’s pawn chain at the cost of a tempo.

6... e5 7. Be3 Nf6 8. Bg5 a6

The strongest move. After 8... Be7 9. N1c3 a6 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Na3 f5 12. exf5 White gained a lasting initiative in the game Leko - Ivanchuk (Linares, 1999).

9. N5c3 Be7 10. Nd2

10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Nd2 O-O 12. Nc4 promised little to White because of 12... b5 13. Qxd6 bxc4 14. Qxc6 Be6 15. Be2 Rb8 16. O-O Qd2 as it was proved on the highest level in the game Kasparov - Anand (Frankfurt (active), 1998).

10... Bg4!

An excellent move which was introduced into the practice not long ago. The usual continuations in this position are 10... Be6 and 10... O-O. The Hungarian grandmaster encountered both of them already and managed to get a slight but lasting advantage both times: 10... Be6 11. Nc4 Nd4 12. Bd3 Rc8 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Ne3 Bg5 15. Ncd5 Bxe3 16. Nxe3 O-O 17. O-O Qb6 (better was 17... g6) 18. c3 Nc6 19. Qe2 (Almasi - P. Cramling, Pamplona, 1996) and 10... O-O 11. Nc4 Be6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Nd5 b5 14. Nce3 Bg5 15. Be2 Bxe3 16. Nxe3 (Almasi - Emms, Batumi, 1999).

11. Be2

The continuation with 11. f3 Be6 was not very convenient for White as he probably would be forced to part with his dark-squared bishop similarly to the above mentioned games.

11... Bxe2 12. Nxe2

The technical nuance of Black’s idea is that after 12. Qxe2? he had 12... Nxe4! 13. Bxe7 Nxc3 with a considerable advantage.

12... d5 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. O-O

In the game Fontaine - Nataf (France, 2000) where the continuation Bc8-g4 occurred for the first time, the events developed as follows: 14. Nc3 dxe4 15. Ndxe4 Be7 16. O-O O-O 17. Nd5 f5 18. Nec3 Bc5 19. Kh1 Bd4 with a good position by Black. The only difference was that the opponents spent one move less to achieve the initial position of the line: on the fourth move Black advanced his e-pawn immediately to the fifth horizontal, and, respectively, White managed without Bc1-f4.

14... O-O 15. c4

At this moment White still could have returned to the line from the game Fontaine - Nataf with 15. Nc3.

15... dxe4

Of course to close the play with 15... d4 makes no sense for White because after the manoeuvre Ne2-c1-d3 White will be slightly better.

16. Nxe4 Be7 17. c5

An important decision, and quite consistent. White puts the pawn on a vulnerable square, but instead he restricts the opportunities of Black’s dark-squared bishop.

17... Qc7 18. Qb3 Rad8 19. Rfd1 g6 20. Qc4 Na5 21. Qb4 Kg7

22. N2c3?

White makes a blunder which will cost him a pawn. 22. Nd6!? should have been played, and after 22... Nc6 23. Qa3 (there was no 23. Qxb7?? because of 23.... Bxd6) 23... b6 (in case of 23... f5 Black had to reckon with 24. Nc3, making the square d5 still more vulnerable) 24. Qxa6 (the move 24. cxb6? lost a piece to White after 24... Qd7) 24... bxc5 25. Nc4 Nd4 Black’s chances were no higher than White’s.

22... Nc6!

A necessary move. After 22... f5 23. Nd6 Nc6 White had an intermediate 24. Nd5!.

23. Qc4 f5 24. Nd6

In case of 24. Ng3 Na5 25. Nd5 Qxc5 26. Qxc5 Bxc5 27. b4 Black had 27... Bd4!.

24... Bxd6 25. cxd6 Rxd6 26. Rxd6 Qxd6 27. Rd1 Nd4 28. f4 b5 29. Qd3 Rd8 30. Kh1

After 30. fxe5 Qxe5 31. Kh1 b4 White also would not gain much.

30... b4!

Black transfers the play to a knight endgame which is easy to win. Of course there was no 30... exf4?? because after 31. Ne2 Black lost a piece.

31. Ne2 Nb5 32. Qxd6 Rxd6 33. Rxd6 Nxd6 34. fxe5 Nc4 35. b3 Nxe5 36. Nf4 a5 37. h4 Kf6 38. Kg1 Ng4 39. Nd3 Ke6 40. Nc5+ Kd6 41. Nb7+ Kc7 0-1 White resigned. The pawn endgame to appear after 42. Nxa5 (in case of 42. Nc5 Ne5 43. Kf2 Kc6 44. Ne6 Kd5 45. Nd8 Nc6 46. Nb7 Kd4 Black also won easily, bringing his king to White’s pawns on the queenside) 42... Ne5 43. Kf2 Kb6 44. Nc4+ Nxc4 45. bxc4 Kc5 was absolutely hopeless for White.

Markowski - Gelfand [A20]

1. g3 e5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. d4 exd4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. Nf3 Be6 7. cxd5 cxd5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Qa4 Bc5 10. Ne5

Until the last move the opponents repeated the game Markowski - Krasenkow from the sixth round where White encountered difficulties after 10. Nbd2 O-O 11. Nb3 Bb6 12. Nbd4 Qd7 13. Nxe6 fxe6.

10... O-O?!

This move is the reason of Black’s future problems. Previously 10... Qb6 11. Nd3 O-O was seen in this position. A mere 10...Rc8 looks also not bad, and White’s underdeveloped queenside would tell on his position in the future.

11. Nxc6 Qd7

In case of 11... bxc6 12. Qxc6 Rc8 13. Qa6 (13. Qa4? was bad because of 13... Bxf2+!) Black had no particular compensation for the pawn.

12. Bg5 Qxc6

After Black agreed to weaken the pawn structure around his king he is willing to exchange the queens.

13. Qxc6 bxc6 14. Bxf6 gxf6

This endgame is obviously favourable for White, but the pair of bishops allows Boris Gelfand to hope for a successful defence.

15. Nc3 Rab8 16. Rac1 Be7 17. b3 Rfc8 18. Rfd1 Ba3 19. Rc2 Bf5 20. e4 Bg4

After 20... Bg6 21. Kf1 Black’s light-squared bishop could have been eliminated from the play, and in case of 20... dxe4 21. Bxe4 the bishop became dangerously active.

21. Rdd2 Bb4

Black agrees to part with the pawn in order to get a position with bishops of different colours.

22. h3 Be6 23. exd5 cxd5 24. Nxd5 Bxd5 25. Rxc8+ Rxc8 26. Rxd5 Rc2 27. a4 Bc5 28. Rf5 Rc3 29. g4 Kg7

30. Bf1!?

White returns the extra pawn, hoping to eliminate the black rook from the play. There was also an alternative: 30. Be4 Bb4 31. Rh5 h6 (also 31... Rxb3 32. Rxh7+ Kg8 33. Rh5 was possible) 32. Bd5 Rc2 33. Bc4.

30... Bb4 31. Bc4 Rxh3 32. Kg2 Rh4 33. Be2 Bd6 34. Rd5 Be5 35. a5 Rh2+ 36. Kg1 Rh3 37. f3 Bf4 38. Rf5 Bd6 39. Bf1 Rh4 40. Kf2 h5!

A counter-sacrifice allows Black to return his rook to an active play. After 40... Rh2+ 41. Bg2 his position looked dangerous.

41. gxh5 Be5 42. Ke3 Bd4+ 43. Kd2 Be5 44. Bc4 Kf8 45. Ke3 Bd4+ 46. Ke2 Be5 47. Ke3 Bd4+ 48. Ke2 Be5 49. Bd3

It’s important that the bishop endgame after 49. f4 Rxf4 50. Rxf4 Bxf4 was a draw despite White’s passed pawns on different flanks, because Black would exchange his bishop for the pawns a and b and get his king to h8. Neither White’s bishop nor the h-pawn were able to disturb it there.

49... Kg7 50. Be4 Kh6 51. Kd3 Rxh5 52. Rxh5+ Kxh5 53. Kc4 Kg5 54. b4 f5 55. Bd5 Kf6 56. b5 Ke7 57. b6 axb6 58. a6 Bb8 59. Kb5 Ba7 60. Kc6 b5 61. Kb7 Be3 62. f4

After 62. a7 Bxa7 63. Kxa7 an extra piece was not enough for White to win the game because of 63... Kd6 64. Bxf7 Ke5 65. Kb6 Kf4 66. Bd5 b4.

62... Kf6 1/2-1/2 Draw.

Krasenkow - A. Fedorov [E90]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 e5 7. d5 Na6 8. Bg5 Qe8

Black does not want to drive the white bishop away with 8... h6 as then White would have an opportunity to perform a traditional break-through f7-f5. Also the weakness of the square g6 might tell.

9. g4 Nc5 10. Nd2 a5 11. Qf3 Nfd7 12. O-O-O c6

Previously 12... f5 13. gxf5 gxf5 14. exf5 Nf6 and 12... Kh8 occurred in this position, but Black might encounter a sudden trick in both these lines. So, in the first case there was 15. Rg1 or even 15. Nb5, and in the second Black had to reckon with 13. h4.

13. h4 h6 14. Be3 a4 15. h5 g5 16. Be2 Qd8 17. Kb1 Qa5 18. Rc1 Qb4 19. Kc2

Now that the square b4 is occupied with the black queen and the knight cannot get there this unusual decision becomes possible.

19... a3 20. b3 Nf6?

Though most part of the board is closed, White has an advantage, as a transfer of the knight to f5 may be very unpleasant for Black. However, the move in the game allows White to demonstrate a showy trick which decides the game in his favour at once.

21. Bxg5!

As a matter of fact, Black’s game is already lost.


If 21... Bxg4, then 22. Qg2.

22. h6 Bh8

In case of 22... Bxg4 the simplest way was 23. Qe3, and if 22... Bxh6, then 23. Qxf6.

23. h7+ Kg7 24. Qh3 Nxg4 25. Bxg4 Kf6 26. Nf1!

White finishes accurately. After 26. Qh6+ Ke7 27. Bxc8 Rfxc8 28. Qxg5+ Bf6 there was still some likeness to a struggle.

26... Ke7 27. Ne3 f5

Black cannot stand a thought about the white knight on f5 after an exchange of the light-squared bishops and hurries to make a hara-kiri himself.

28. Bxf5 Bxf5 29. Nxf5+ Rxf5 30. Qxf5 Rf8 31. Qxg5+ Kd7 32. f3 Na6 33. Qe3 1-0 Black resigned.

Svidler - Movsesian [B47]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Qc7 5. Nc3 e6 6. g3 a6 7. Bg2 d6 8. O-O Bd7 9. Re1 Be7 10. Nxc6 Bxc6 11. Qg4 h5 12. Qe2 h4 13. a4 hxg3 14. hxg3 Nf6 15. a5

The blitz game Svidler – Kasimdzhanov (Wijk aan Zee, 1999) developed in a slightly other way: 15. Be3 Kf8 16. a5 Nd7 17. Na4 Bb5 18. Qd2.

15... Rc8 16. Be3 Kf8 17. Red1 e5 18. Rd2 1/2-1/2 Draw. The opponents probably did not want to torture each other and agreed to a draw.

"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it;and thence it is never played for money."

Benjamin Franklin, "Chess made easy", 1802

"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has toplay the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."

John Watson, "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", 1998

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