Publisher: Chessbase, 2009, DVD
Four highlights and a new number one. That is the summary of the autumn of 2009 in chess. It ran from the Pearl Spring Tournament in Nanjing with the triumphal success of Magnus Carlsen via the European Club and National Championships to the major high point of the year, the Tal Memorial in Moscow, which Vladimir Kramnik was able to take with half a point of a lead. The new (unofficial) number one in the FIDE world ranking list is now Magnus Carlsen, whose second place in Moscow was sufficient for him to push Topalov from the top spot.
In his 16 minute introductory video, GM Karsten Müller outlines the main points of this DVD and presents in Carlsen’s first round victory over Leko from Nanjing and Bacrot’s strong innovation in the popular Anti-Meran against Aronian two star games from this issue. At the same time he summarises in the Caro-Kann with 3.f3 and a compact repertoire for Black against the French Tarrasch Variation, two of the total of 12 openings articles in this issue. Click here or on the image of the video on the left and let Karsten Müller get you in the mood for CBM 133!
GM Dorian Rogozenco reviews in chronological order and on two videos the four tournament highlights of the past autumn. From the super-tournament in Nanjing he explains Carlsen’s victories over Topalov and Jakovenko. In his remarks describes in exemplary fashion the qualities of the young Norwegian. And the European Cup in Ohrid also offered a plethora of theoretically significant games that are also worth seeing; Rogozenco introduces one game each from Motylev and Sargissian. To finish, Rogozenco describes the decisive moment in the European Championship in Novi Sad.
In Rogozenco’s evaluation the Tal memorial in Moscow represents the strongest tournament of the year and not just because it included in Anand and Kramnik a World Champion and an ex World Champion. As an example of the high level of the theoretical work prepared for the opening, he introduces the game Anand - Leko with a surprising innovation in a popular variation of the Anti-Meran. A further example is Kramnik’s innovation against Svidler’s Grünfeld Defence. Rogozenco’s analysis of the game Ivanchuk – Kramnik, which comes at the end of this second video, makes clear just how open the result of the Tal Memorial was until the very last minute. The Ukrainian had built up a brilliant attacking position and with the correct continuation could have wrested the tournament victory away from Kramnik.
Vladimir Kramnik: back to his old class
Tal Memorial in Moskau
This high point of the season in Moscow saw at the start, apart from Topalov, the complete and absolute world elite including Carlsen, Anand, Kramnik, Aronian, and Ivanchuk. Added to that were Gelfand, Leko, Svidler, Morozevich and Ponomariov. After Carlsen’s triumph in China there was great excitement: would the Norwegian be able to continue his triumphal procession in Moscow? But in the very first round Kramnik’s game against the Norwegian revealed that he was full of ideas and ambition. After his third round victory over Morozevich he reined in Svidler in round 4 in the latter’s special opening, the Grünfeld Defence. Two rounds later Kramnik managed another convincing win with White over Ponomariov and this almost decided the tournament victory. You will find all the games from the Tal Memorial as well as a tournament report here or via "Tal Memorial" in the left-hand column.
Carlsen,M - Ponomariov,R
Position after 19.Nfxe6
For a long time in Moscow, Magnus Carlsen was not able to tap into his outstanding form from Nanjing (see below), obviously this was also on account of a viral illness. All his games from rounds 1 to 7 ended in draws. In last two rounds the Norwegian got going once more and scored wins in his games against Ponomariov and Leko. In Carlsen - Ponomariov the Norwegian innovated in the English Attack against the Najdorf Variation with 11.Qe1 and then went on to start a successful attack on the black king. His belated victories raised Carlsen at the end of the Tal Memorial to a shared second place. What was even more significant was the circumstance that Carlsen had gone past Topalov to occupy the first place on the FIDE world ranking list.
Kramnik,V - Anand,V
Position before 18...Nxf3
Romanian GM Mihail Marin has surveyed and commented on the DVD on the most important theoretical developments and discussions in the opening during the super-tournament in Moscow. The main focus was on the 1.d4-openings, above all the Grünfeld Defence, against which Kramnik, amongst others, had to play twice and had mixed success. Anand was again successful against Svidler with the modern 5.Bd2 and was also able to achieve draws with three of his games as Black with the Grünfeld Defence, including a strong innovation in Kramnik - Anand (see diagram). Other major focal points in Marin’s theoretical survey are the Ragosin Defence in the Queen’s Gambit, the Catalan and the Semi-Slav.
Magnus is the greatest: Pearl Spring Turnier in Nanjing
Sometimes numbers simply say more than words. With 8 out of 10, an Elo performance of 3002, 5 out of 5 with the white pieces, not a single defeat and a lead of 2.5 points, Magnus Carlsen celebrated his first tournament victory of the year. A triumphal procession in the former Chinese imperial city of Nanjing for the young Norwegian dressed in red brocade. On the DVD Carlsen annotates his first round victory against Peter Leko, against whom he employed one of the weapons of his new trainer, Garry Kasparov: the Scotch.
Carlsen,M - Leko,P
Position after 15.d5
For Leko, Carlsen’s choice of opening obviously came as a real surprise. And also with the positional pawn sacrifice 10.f4 and 13.g3 Carlsen chose a rather out-of-fashion variation and in doing so followed Morozevich’s game against Kramnik from 2001. Two moves later and the Norwegian had on the board the position he had wanted to have in this game and which he had analysed beforehand (see diagram). For the pawn he has sacrificed, White has an advantage in space and the bishop pair and it is not clear how Black can plan the coordination of his pieces. In any case the black queenside looks rather susceptible already on account of White’s threatened piece play. Click here or on the link under the diagram and let Magnus Carlsen explain the key moments in this game to you.
Radjabov,T - Topalov,V
Position after 21...Qxd6
There was another high class Scotch game in the encounter Radjabov - Topalov, in which both sides first followed their game from the Grand Slam Finale in Bilbao 2008. This time, however, Radjabov managed to set his opponent serious problems in the opening. Just when Topalov was setting about freeing his position, Radjabov missed a clear way to a win and, beginning with 22.Bf5+, went on to exchange off the queens. Can you see how, in the position on the board, White could have decided the game in his favour? In the game Radjabov obtained the superior endgame with rook + distant passed pawn against bishop + knight, but in the long run deviated from the path to a win. In his analysis Radjabov turns the microscope on the game from A to Z and demonstrates the possible ways to a win, both in the middlegame and in the endgame.
Their first ECh victory: Azerbaijan European Team Championship in Novi Sad
Geographically Azerbaijan is on the western shores of the Caspian Sea and thus on the extreme edge of Europe. From the point of view of chess, the country has come right into the middle of Europe with its victory in the ECh in Novi Sad. Whereas on board 1 Radjabov was going through a slight crisis in his form, Gashimov, Mamedyarov and Mamedov were according to ELO performance amongst the six best players in the ECh. Vugar Gashimov has annotated two of his games for this CBM, including the decisive victory over Stellwagen in the final round.
Gashimov,V - Roiz,M
Position after 25.c5
In Gashimov - Roiz the error 24...b4? was followed by the decisive attack on the black king, starting with the subtle 25.c5 (see diagram). Instead of embarking on damage limitation with 25...Nc6 the Israeli grandmaster captured on c5, which led to a clear deterioration in the structure of his position. You really should not miss how Gashimov went about the win, including his exchange sacrifice.
Gashimov,V - Stellwagen,D
Position after 36.g4
The spectators experienced a dramatic showdown in the final round. Russia only required a victory over Spain, but with Alekseev’s defeat at the hands of Salgado and Morozevich’s victory over Vallejo they only managed to achieve 2:2. So the team from Azerbaijan got the chance to get through to first place with a victory over the Netherlands. With the score at 1.5:1.5 the decision would come in the game Gashimov - Stellwagen. The Dutch player came out of the opening with a slightly passive position, but, e.g., had a very stable position thanks to his excellent knight outpost on d5. Gashimov, in all his efforts all the way to a rook ending, could not manage to achieve a bankable advantage and he mentions in his commentary that just before Stellwagen’s blunder on move 70 he felt he was heading for a draw. Click on one of the links and play through the decisive game of Novi Sad with the comments of the match winner himself.
Eljanov: flying high after his wedding
The Ukraine had to do without their top board Ivanchuk in Novi Sad. However, with a bit of luck, they even managed to finish up with the bronze medal. This was in no small measure due to Pavel Eljanov. Since his marriage with WIM Olena Dvoretska in May of this year, there seems to be nothing to stop him. Still under ELO 2700 in April, he has now reached 11th place in the world ranking list. As in earlier issues of ChessBase Magazine, Eljanov has once more sent in analysis of his games, this time a total of three: his game against Navara from Novi Sad and two games from Ohrid (see below), where he led his team to victory in the Europa Cup.
Navara,D - Eljanov,P
Position after 19...Nb8
Eljanov was successful as Black against the number one of the Czech Republic in a Catalan. Navara had – of course not an unusual thing – sacrificed a pawn on c4, although he had already moved his dark-squared bishop to d2. Eljanov takes a critical look in his analysis at his opponent’s opening choice and comes to the conclusion that after only 10 moves Black has an advantage. In fact, in the middlegame he managed to hold on to the extra pawn. In the position in the diagram opposite, the Ukrainian found in 19...Nb8 a strong continuation, because the knight can not only defend the pawn on c6, but afterwards go via a6 to the active square b4.
Europas neue Nr. 1: Economist Saratov
European Club Cup in Ohrid
Seven rounds, seven victories – this majestic result won for the team of Economist Saratov the European Club Cup in Ohrid. The Russian team with Alekseev, Eljanov, Ni Hua, Bu Xiangzhi, Moiseenko etc. displayed good nerves right up until the end and secured the gold medal in the last round with a 3.5:2.5 victory over Ashdod Illit from Israel. Top scorers for the victorious team were Alexander Moiseenko and - once more - Pavel Eljanov.
Eljanov,P - Giri,A
Position after 11...f5
IIn the second round the Ukrainian had White against the just 15 year old Dutch GM Anish Giri. In a Queen’s Gambit Accepted, both sides got to work energetically, In the variation with 6.Nh4 Giri chose the unusual 6...Bd7 and poured more oil on the fire with the innovation 11...f5 (see diagram). In his analysis Eljanov praises his opponent’s new idea, because any other, passive continuation would leave White with a powerful initiative. In the game there followed 12.Ng5 Qxd4 13.Qh5+ Kd8 with a very madcap position and two shaky kings on a full board. In this phase Eljanov kept his eye on everything and remained calm, first winning back the sacrificed pawn and then another pawn, and then liquidating to a favourable endgame via an exchange of queens. At this critical moment Giri reacted too passively and allowed his opponent to decide the game in his favour thanks to a tactical trick.
Eljanov,P - Akopian,V
Position after 18.Ra2
The game Eljanov - Akopian from round 6 is an absolute model for attacking chess. In a modern Catalan with 4.Nc3 Eljanov early on offered his opponent a second pawn sacrifice. But although Akopian turned down this offer, he once more found himself very much under pressure after the opening, and with e4, f4, g4 and g5 White drummed up a pawn storm against the opposing king. With 18.Ra2 (diagram) White is preparing more than the doubling of rooks on the f-file. From there the rook is aiming for f3, because from that post it will be making dangerous threats to swing over to the g-file or even the h-file. Click here or on the link under the diagram and Eljanov will explain to you the subtleties of his winning plan.
Timofeev,A - Volokitin,A
Position after 14.Ne5
Measured by ELO performance it was Andrei Volokitin in Ohrid who had the best result after Peter Svidler. For this issue of ChessBase Magazine he has analysed three of his games from the Europa Cup and tells us, e.g., about his first experiences with the Dutch. In the game Timofeev - Volokitin it was the popular Leningrad Variation that was up for discussion – according to Volokitin the best reply to 1.d4 at the moment, if one wants to win. In the game, just as he successfully completed the development of his pieces, he was surprised by Timofeev’s attack with the knight 14.Ne5 (see diagram). Black must now either give up the pawn on c6 or separate himself from his bishop d7. Volokitin decided on the pawn sacrifice and showed in the game, that the advance on the kingside offers Black sufficient compensation. Volokitin has annotated this game in depth from start to finish – it comes highly recommended, and not only for friends of the Leningrad Variation!
Andrei Volokitin: the Dutch is ok!
In Sakaev - Volokitin too, the young Russian opted for the Dutch Defence. This time his opponent decided on an unorthodox Anti-Dutch and tried to break up the black pawn chain in the centre with the typical thrust g4. But the young Russian kept a cool head and after his king had wandered to the queenside he obtained the better game thanks to his bishop pair and the c-file. He finally decided the game in his favour in a rook ending. Volokitin - Kuzubov is also interesting form the point of view of opening theory. In a rare variation of the Caro-Kann with 3.Nc3 Kuzubov chose in 10...Bxf4 more than a dubious continuation. He was, presumably unknowingly, following the game Volokitin - Predojevic from 2007 (1-0). After a few inaccuracies on both sides, Volokitin dominated the game and forced the decision by means of the central thrust d5.
The Opening Trap: 11...Qc7 was a mistake, why?
From the opening trap to the endgame study
Training in ChessBase Magazine starts with the very first moves and takes in all the phases of a game of chess. The 12 up-to-date openings articles with their numerous ideas and suggestions for your repertoire can be found here or above among the links. On this occasion Rainer Knaak has selected his opening traps - exclusively from the European Cup. For Dragon fans, the main interest will be the two contributions in video format: Leonid Kritz has investigated a sub-variation of the main line with 9.Bc4 and Dorian Rogozenco concentrates on the move order 9.0-0-0 d5. You will find these and other videos in the column Fritztrainer. In his Strategy column Peter Wells casts some light on the theme of “The safety of the king in simplified positions”. In Daniel King’s long running Move by Move there is an instructive game from the Europa Cup there for training. And in the Tactics and Endgame columns Oliver Reeh and Karsten Müller have once more assembled for you all that is best in recent tournament praxis.
Marin: Alekhine Defence B04
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 Bg7
This time the alternatives to 7.Ng5 are examined: above all 7.Qe2 and 7.a4. However, Black has various ideas – e.g. pressure against e5 and exchanging the Bb3 by Nc6-a5 – and White cannot prevent all of them.
Erenburg: Caro-Kann B12
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bf4
The name Fantasy Variation for the move 3.f3 is a little deceptive, because it is the start of a respectable opening system, in which Black has to play some accurate moves and to work hard for equality.
Kuzmin: Sicilian B80
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 h5
Directed against g2-g4, the move 7...h5 has many advantages, the disadvantage – the weakening of the kingside, however, does not become apparent for quite a long time. Kuzmin demonstrates amongst others the most dangerous variation (9.Bc4) and how Black can meet it.
Berg: Sicilian B97
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd3
8.Qd3 in the Poisoned Pawn Variation offers a few advantages compared to 8.Qd2. These are clearly brought out in Berg’s contribution. But it is unclear, whether there are also disadvantages and so the best way for Black to treat the move is still veiled in mystery.
Moskalenko: French C05
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7
Our author presents a compact repertoire against the Tarrasch Variation, basing it on 3...Nf6. He demonstrates the most important variations and ideas in only 5 games.
Kritz: French C18
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4
The variation with 7.Qg4 is far more ambitious than that with 7.Nb5 which was treated in CBM 132. As the author proves, Black is in great difficulties and there are also no promising alternatives in sight.
Skembris: Petroff Defence C42
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nd6!? 7.0-0 Be7
The move 6...Nd6!? allows you to avoid the voluminous variations of theory, which means that the Petroff becomes interesting for club players too. But Black still has to find a few precise moves before reaching complete equality.
Stohl: Scotch C4
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 Qg6 9.0-0 d6 10.f4
Magnus Carlsen used the pawn sacrifice 10.f4 against Leko and gained an impressive victory, sufficient reason for Igor Stohl to take a close look at this variation. His conclusion: Black can equalise with best play.
Marin: Ruy Lopez C66
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 Bd7 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Nc3
With 6...Be7 Black allows 7.Bxc6, but the immediate 6...exd4 also has its disadvantages. Mihail Marin thoroughly investigates both variations and weighs up advantages and disadvantages. He considers both very playable.
Karolyi: Queen's Gambit Accepted D20
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4
After looking at 4.d5 in CBM 132 Tibor Karolyi now investigates 4.Nf3; White hopes that his lead in development will bring him an advantage after 4...cxd4 5.Qxd4 Qxd4 6.Nxd4 Bd7 7.Bxc4. But the analyses demonstrate that Black equalises without too much effort.
Langrock: Queen's Indian Defence E12
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Bb7 5.Nc3 g6
In the concluding part, Hannes Langrock subjects the critical continuations 6.Qc2 and 6.Bg5 to thorough analysis. His examination of them proves that Black need fear neither of these moves.
Krasenkow: King's Indian E90
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5
In Part 2 (of a total of 3) Michal Krasenkow investigates all the continuations after 7.d5, except for 7...a5. It appears that White can obtain an advantage after both 7...Nh5 and 7...Na6.