"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Do You Fancy Scotch?

Match Kramnik-Aronian in Zürich has already started.
The match is possible to watch on-line on Zürich Chess Challenge, or you can also find some analysis on Chess Bomb server. If you have some command of Russian language then do not hesitate and visit server ChessPro.ru.

GM Konstatin Sakaev
Yesterday we witnessed quite fascinating tactical slugfest which definitely deserves to be publish. I took the liberty and translated the annotations of GM Konstantin Sakaev from ChessPro.ru. Do enjoy the game.


Scotch - Four Knights 
A surprise just in the first move. Vladimir Kramnik has favoured the closed openings in the recent years.
1... e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 This move order with Knight on c3 is considered as not dangerous for Black.
4... exd4 5.Nxd4 Bc5

According to the theory  after 5... Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 game is equal. Obviously, Kramnik has different view on this assessment, and Aronian agrees with him and deviates.
6.Be3 Bb6 7.Qd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 Re8 9.f3 d5

After  9... d5 the strongest move is 10.exd5

10.Nxc6 leads to bilaterally sharp game where Black’s chances are not worse  bxc6 11.g4

In the tournament practice was often played 11.Bxb6 axb6 12.Bc4 Hrvacic - Berebora, Split 1998
And here 12... b5! gave better prospect 13.Bb3 b4 14.Ne2 Qe7 – game looks sharp for both sides, however, Black’s prospect is better because of safer position of his King.
11... Be6 12.g5 Nd7
10... Nxd5 11.Bg5 Ne7 12.Nxc6 Qxd2 13.Bxd2 Nxc6 14.Nd5 White gets Bishops pair which gives him small advantage in the ending.
10.exd5 Nxd5

After 10... Nb4  11.Bg5! is strong move.

White was also bit better after 11.Bc4 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Bg5 f6 14.Bh4 c6 15.Re1 Bxd4 16.Qxd4 Be6
11... Nxd5 12.Bb5!

The sharpest move, however, even after simple 12.Bc4 White would have kept initiative.
12... Re5 13.Nc6 bxc6 14.Bxc6 Be6 15.Re1 Rxe1 16.Qxe1 Qf8 17.Nxd5 – White will be pawn up and Black will have absolutely no compensation for it.

Kramnik-Aronian, after 11.Bg5

11...Nxc3!? Taking not too long thought, Aronian chooses sharp move, impact of which is not easy to assess quickly even with the assistance of computer. Didn’t he (Aronian) use a rare theoretical line which he had well analyzed at home? Because if not, then the idea to bamboozle ex-world champion looks rather adventurous. The solution is then acceptable only when it was made responsibly.

Another good option was 11... f6! 12.Bc4 Nxd4 13.Nxd5 Be6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Nxb6 axb6 16.Qxd4 Qxd4 17.Bxe6 Rxe6 18.Rxd4 Rxa2 19.Kb1 Ra5 – rook ending is better for White, however, draw is the most probable result.
12.Bxd8 Nxd1

12... Nxd1 13.Bxc7

Position arising after 13.Bh4 Nxd4 14.Qxd1 Nf5 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2 Ne3 17.Bxe3 Bxe3 18.Kb1 Bf5 19.Bd3 Rd8  looks drawish. The basic idea is that Black wants to exchange on d3 and then put the pawns n a5, b6 and c7,  and transfer the Bishop on d6. There will be no problem with queen-side with such a pawn structure and for  the battle on the king-side Black can use Rook and King as well.
13... Bxc7 14.Nxc6 Ne3 15.Bb5! Bf5 16.Nd4 Bf4 17.Bxe8 Nxg2 18.Qxf4 Nxf4 19.Bxf7 Kxf7 20.Nxf5 – White is pawn up, however, because of better pawn structure and activity of pieces Black has good drawing chances.
13.Bxc7! Bravo! 13... Bxc7 14.Nxc6 Aronian is thinking... and there is no doubt that he is creating something over the board and he is not displaying his home-analysis.
14... Ne3 15.Bb5!

In case of 15.Nb4 Bf4 16.Nd3 Bh6 17.f4 Bf5 Blacks has initiative.

15.Bb5 From practical point of view Black certainly could have tried line  15... bxc6!? 16.Bxc6 Nc4

Worse was 16... Bf4 because of prophylactic 17.Kb1!
17.Qb4 Queen can go on other squares (g5 or d4) but it has very little impact on the game.
17... Be6 18.Bxe8 Rxe8 19.Re1 Rd8 -  here White gains advantage and possibly queen-side pawns can be rolled forward and queened. However, there is a chance  to slip and on the top of that  game can end up in all three possible results unlike the ending without pawn where we can expect just a dull battle for draw.
was possible 20.Qe7! Bb6 21.b3 Ne3 22.c4 – and lot of chess remains to play.

15... bxc6 As I expected, Aronian prefers rather dubious position with counter-play than more defensible position without that.
16.Bxc6 Nc4 17.Qd4 Be6 18.Bxa8 Bb6

After 18... Bb6 is best to retreat 19.Qd3! , and after 19... Rxa8

 19... Rd8 simplifies the game and makes easier for White to turn the advantage into victory 20.Qxd8! Computer likes more showy  20.Bd5, but I think that the idea to give up Queen is preferable – and objectively it is stronger and to play ending is easier from practical point of view than with Queen against three pieces.

20.Qe2 leaves e3-square under Black’s control and consequently, there are some tactical tricks emerging which are not necessary for White.
20... Bxd8 21.b3 Ne3 22.g3 – shortly White pawns on queen-side will start rolling.
20.Re1 , protecting e3-square  from invasion Black’s minor pieces.

In case of  18... Rxa8 19.Re1 Bb6 White has an option to put Queen in the more active position: 20.Qf4!  and direct threat b2-b3 chasing the Knight away into passivity is inevitable

Kramnik-Aronian, after 19.Qd3!

Rxa8 20.Re1 Rd8 21.Qe4 Vladimir Kramnik stabilized his position by series of very fine moves. Now it is important to continue in the same spirit without a loss of concentration. Black has  following ideas: calmly to push forward  b- and c-pawn , nevertheless it is necessary to consider the movement of pawn pair “g” and  “f”  to chase away the Bishop from fortified e6-square.
Aronian's hopes are connected with dynamics which still remains in the position. If we removed from chessboard say perhaps pair of Rooks then Black should resign. Identically, we can say the same about the position with White pawns on b4 and c5, or g4 and f5.
21... g5 This is too provocative and I did not expect something like that. On the other hand this is a chance to knock the opponent of his mental balance.  Naturally looked the continuations like  21...g6, 21...h6 or 21...h5.
22.c3! Slowly, slowly catch the monkey, White pieces have now more air to breathe. White King has more freedom and d4-square is protected.
22... Bc5
23.Re2 Little slip.

There was an option to launch the attack on King - 23.h4! h6

After  23... Bf2 besides the pure computer way to win 24.b3, there is also human solution of the problem 24.Re2 Bxh4 25.b3 – with the Bishop on h4 Black cannot survive.
24.hxg5 hxg5 25.f4, and Black should be reminded that pawns cannot move backwards, and the move 25...g5-g6 would be handy.
23... h6 24.g3! This is preparation of f-pawn push forward.
24... a5 Black is obviously late, however, what to do?

The most solid answer after  25... a4 looks 26.f5! Bd5 27.Qd3 – Bishop on d5 is unstable and Black King is still in danger.
26.f5 Bd5 27.Qd3 Bb6

After  27... Bb6 unreservedly wins 28.b3!

It was possible to “make more fun”  28.h4 , undermining even more pawn structure which has already felt apart.
28... axb3 29.axb3 Na5 30.Qb5! Nxb3 31.Kc2 Bc5 32.Re5
28.b3! axb3 29.axb3 Na5 30.Re8 

Kramnik-Aronian, after 30.Re8

Inaccuracy giving Black just very little hope. In the game enters a time trouble
(RR: Correct was 30.Qb5!)
30... Rxe8 31.Qxd5 Rd8

31... Rc8 could be well met by calm 32.Kb2
32.Qb5 Rd6 33.Kc2 Black has poor coordination of pieces.

Immediately would win  33.Qe5 Bc7

or  33... Nxb3 34.Kc2
33... Kg7? Natural move is rather not quite apparent mistake.

More resilient was  33... Bd8! 34.Qe8 Kg7 35.b4 Nb7 and White does not have move 36.c4? , because of 36... Rd4!
34.b4  Now the passed pawns will go freely forward and for each of them Black will be forced to give up a piece. 34... Nb7 35.c4 Rf6 36.g4! Now the rook is bricked up on f6 and Black lost the only chance which was based on the sacrifices of minor pieces for pawns on queen-side and taking at f5 and creating a fortress on the king-side.
36... Nd8
37.c5 Bc7 38.Qd7 Nc6 39.b5 Na7 40.Qxc7 Nxb5 41.Qe5

It was possible to recapture the Knight after 41.Qd7, but text is not bad whatsoever.
41... Na7 42.Kd3  Queen goes on a1-square taking away a1-square for Knight and King will go on b5. There is no chance for salvation. Black resigned.

Brilliant Kramnik's victory. The opening moves were full of surprises and riddles, the game quickly went off beaten track. Aronian's Queen sac undertaken in move 11 fell short, however, to prove it was unsound sacrifice needed very precise game from Kramnik  which he displayed. Adventurous move 21...g5?! make Kramnik's task easier just a bit; however, Aronian  considered this move as the best chance.
The match is now even and we can just looking forward to continuation.

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