GM Jan Gustafsson reviews in his introductory video two highlights from the WCh. He also goes into the decisive game from the penultimate round of the European Championship, which is annotated on the DVD by the subsequent winner Nepomniachtchi. Out of the 13 openings articles he introduces the contribution by Spyridon Skembris on the Nimzowitsch Variation in the Caro-Kann Defence (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6), in which sharp and dynamic play is often the order of the day.
In his retrospective on the chess highlights of the last two months GM Dorian Rogozenco starts with two highly entertaining games from the European Championship in Rijeka, in both of which White sacrificed his rook on a1 and was able to go on and win the game. Both players of the white pieces (Nisipeanu and Motylev) have annotated these games on the DVD. He also introduces in this first video a strategically impressive victory of both the second and third placed players in the ECh, Baadur Jobava and Artyom Timofeev.
When looking back over the WCh match in the second video Rogozenco casts some light on the critical moments from Sofia. Starting with the two White victories in the first two rounds, then Topalov’s levelling of the match in the third game with the Slav he goes right through to the dramatic final of the last game. Rogozenco takes a critical look at Topalov’s plan in this 12th game, which allowed Anand to decide the match in his favour with the help of the only victory with Black. This meant that there was no need to go into a tiebreak.
Vishwanathan Anand remains champion
World Championship Sofia 2010
You could see the relief on the World Champion's face when after the win in the 12th game his title defence had been successfully completed. It had been perhaps the hardest match of his career so far. In interviews after the WCh Anand showed himself, e.g., surprised by Topalov's match strategy. This was because, in contradiction to what one has been used to with him, the Bulgarian hardly varied his openings at all and entered into a theoretical duel with Anand with each colour. All the twelve games from Sofia with extensive commentary by Igor Stohl, Michal Krasenkow, Mihail Marin and Anish Giri and also a report on the WCh can be found here.
Topalov,V - Anand,V (1)
Position after 23...Kf7
It all started with a drum roll. Veselin Topalov defeated the world champion in the first game almost straight out of the opening book. It took only 30 moves of a Grünfeld Defence for Anand to go down because he had nothing to offer against the uncompromising attack on the king by Topalov. With 13.Bh6 the challenger had invested a pawn and had apparently prepared for this WCh match an improvement on his game against Kamsky in the 2009 candidates final. With the capture by the knight 24.Nxf6 (see diagram) the Bulgarian completely ripped open the black king position and in doing so decided the game in his favour. Grünfeld expert GM Krasenkow has annotated the game for the DVD and points to his own analysis in earlier issues of ChessBase Magazine.
Anand,V - Topalov,V (2)
Position after 21.f4
How would the world champion react with the white pieces after this explosive start? The reaction was prompt, but impressively quiet and majestic. Anand opened with 1.d4 and chose the Catalan Opening, with which he had had up till then relatively little experience. In his analysis of this second game Igor Stohl explains why Anand had nevertheless taken this psychologically absolutely correct decision. It was because the Bulgarian, who is always keen to be on the attack, is less at home in positions in which he is the one under pressure. With 7.Na3 Anand first sacrificed a pawn and then went on with the shocking innovation 15.Qa3?!, which is not the best move, but Topalov did not find the best reply. In his analysis, Stohl evaluates the position on the board after 21.f4 as approximately level. In return for the pawn White has the c-file and the centre under control. In the subsequent moves, however, the world champion proved that he had a considerably better understanding of the position and after seizing the black pawns on the queenside made the transition to a clearly won rook ending.
Anand - Topalov (4)
Video analysis by GM Lubomir Ftacnik
In his second game as Black Anand switched his choice of opening to the Slav and thus game 3 was a draw in which he was never in any danger. Topalov, on the other hand, had to face up once more to Anand’s Catalan Opening. This time, with 5...Bb4+, the challenger tried a fresh tack, but once more it was Anand who steered the game into new channels with the innovation 10.Na3. The Bulgarian weakened the position of his king with the perhaps superfluous move 20...h6 and incurred the extreme penalty as a result of Anand’s attack on the king by means of the sacrifice 23.Nxh6+. Lubomir Ftacnik has annotated this game in video format.
Topalov,V - Anand,V (8)
Position before 52...Bc6??
The next three games were all draws, but in round 7 Topalov - in his fourth game against the Catalan – posted a warning with a sharp innovation involving an exchange sacrifice. The challenger obtained as compensation two strong pawns in the centre and the initiative. Anand defended carefully and shook off all the dangers in an unclear and complicated position. Finally in the endgame a black passed pawn made up for the extra white piece and so the game ended in a draw. Anyone who thought that after two unpromising attempts against Anand’s Slav Topalov would switch to 1.e4 was in for a disappointment. To the world champion’s surprise too, the Bulgarian remained true to his choice of opening. With 13...Rc8 Anand deviated from games 3 and 5, but was never quite able to neutralise White’s pressure all the way through to the endgame with bishops of opposite colours. In the position on the board, the world champion made a fatal mistake with the only losing move. Equality, 4:4!
Anand,V - Topalov,V (9)
Position after 38...Ke8
Now the whole business was once more wide open and not just as far as the score was concerned. Anand now saw himself required to make a different start to the games with White and decided on the Nimzo-Indian. After Anand’s innovation 18.Nh3 and Topalov’s breakthrough 18...e5 there arose a very complex position in which the challenger chose to give up his two rooks for the white queen with 20...exd4. For Anish Giri, who has annotated the last four games of the WCh on the DVD, this was an unnecessary concession. Because in the subsequent complications the world champion had several possible routes to a win, e.g. in the position on our board 39.Nxe6 Nxf3 40.Rd1 Nd2 41.Rxa7 Qe5 42.Rxh7 Qe6 43.Ra1 Qc6 44.Ra8+ would have led to a win. So, like the next two games, the ninth one also ended in a draw and before the final game to be played with normal thinking tine the match stood on a knife-edge 5.5:5.5.
Topalov,V - Anand,V (12)
Position before 31.exf5?
Playing with the white pieces, Topalov now had a very realistic chance to decide the match in his favour. But things turned out very differently. Once more it was Anand who had the effect of surprise on his side with his choice of opening – for the first time we had a Queen’s Gambit Declined. At the same time he had no difficulty in solving the opening problems for Black. Logically, he gave his opponent the option of a repetition of moves with 24...Bd3 and 25...Ba6, thus indirectly offering a draw. But after Topalov had turned down the offer, the world champion then struck out with the advance 29...e5, 30...f5. There was actually no reason to panic, since White could easily have held the position level with 31.Nd2. But Topalov, who unlike the champion had so far gone through the match without any serious mistakes, chose completely the wrong move in 31.exf5 and after 31...e4! was exposed to a murderous attack on his king. "Crazy!" is Giri’s opinion, and some people even spoke of "suicide". Although Anand did not always choose the optimal continuation in his attack, it was enough for the world champion to score a victory and complete a successful defence of his title.
is European Champion
European Championship in Rijeka
Compared to other sports, the title of European Champion is in chess much less important. There are various reasons for this. On one hand, for years the ECh has been played in the form of an open tournament in which even pure amateurs can take part. So it is rare for a top ten player to stray into a ECh. A further peculiarity of the chess world is that the ECh also functions as a qualifying tournament, namely for the FIDE World Cup. So the motivation for most of the grandmasters lies in getting one of the 23 qualifying places rather than the title itself. The young Russian GM Jan Nepomniachtchi showed in his games, that he also had designs on the title itself. In rounds 9 and 11 he scored the two decisive wins which he need to win the ECh.
Nepomniachtchi,I - Jobava,B
Position after 9.Bd2
In his game against the then leader Baadur Jobava, Nepomniachtchi managed to come up with an innovation as early as move 4. This was, however, partly because in the still exotic Caro-Kann Fantasy Variation (3.f3) Jobava came out with the very rare 3...Qb6. The new European champion annotates in detail on the DVD this exciting game from the no-man’s-land of opening theory. With the help of the innovation 4.a4 followed by the further advance of the a-pawn Nepomniachtchi managed – paradoxical as it may seem – to completely dominate the centre. By patiently and logically transferring all his forces to the kingside, Nepomniachtchi step by step increased the pressure on the opposing position until the latter seemed to collapse of its own volition. Click on the link under the diagram to have the new European Champion explain the game to you.
Motylev,A - Godena,M
Position after 11...c5
Amongst the top rated players in Rijeka there was also with his ELO rating of 2705 Alexander Motylev, but the young Russian left empty-handed, as did the German participants. However Motylev won an instructive miniature against the experienced GM Michele Godena and he has annotated it for this DVD. In a Spanish opening, the Italian chose a rare setup with 3...g6 and threw in a dubious intermediate check in the form of 7...Qb4+. After 8.c3 Qxb2 Motylev however missed the immediate win 9.Bd5. But his opponent did not choose the best continuation either and let slip the opportunity to bring his queen back into the game. In the position in the diagram the knight sacrifice 14.Nxd4 decided the game in Motylev’s favour.
In women’s chess even more than in men’s, it seems that over the years the dominance of young players has increased. But as in the men’s game, there are also from time to time happy exceptions to the rule. Pia Cramling managed for the second time in her career to gain the title of European Champion. She scored the decisive point in the final round against Viktorija Cmilyte who had been leading up until then. And there was a little luck about this victory, as Pia Cramling admits in her analysis on the DVD. Right up until the endgame it was her opponent who should have felt that she held the advantage and it was only in the ending that the Swedish player saw herself close to the title as the weaknesses in the black position became apparent. Click here and play through the game with the comments of the European champion to guide you.
Some gleanings from the Bundesliga
Only OSG Baden-Baden can become champions of Germany. They have done so for the fifth time in a row. Ever present: Alexei Shirov. In most matches he occupied top board for the team from Baden and in his 7 out of 10 he posted his usual good score. On this DVD he annotates two of his games in video format. The 2009/2010 season was in any case an exciting one, because the team from Werder Bremen managed to beat the champions in round 10, thereby remaining in the race for the title right up until the end. Shirov’s first annotated game comes from this match against Bremen. In the game Eljanov - Shirov the Ukrainian super-GM surprised him with the Semi-Slav Opening. Shirov decided to avoid long theoretical lines by choosing the as yet hardly ever played move 11...Qb8. Another idea behind this move is the pawn sacrifice 12...c5 (e.g. after the move 11.a3), which would have led to quite a dynamic position. In his analysis Shirov examines this line thoroughly as well as the rest of the game, in which Eljanov immediately forced a simplification of the position with 12.e4.
Najer - Shirov
Position after 20.Q2
In the encounter with Wattenscheid Shirov took advantage of the fact that his opponent Evgeny Najer mixed up the move order from his preparation. Najer had planned to put pressure on Shirov’s Ruy Lopez with 11.h3, as e.g. Anand had done in Wijk an Zee 2010, but instead he played 11.Be3 which puts less pressure on Black. In his video analysis Shirov shows how on several occasions he could have steered the game in the direction of a draw. But of course that is not his way. In the position in the diagram Shirov maintained the tension with 20...c4, since the variation 20...d4 21.cxd4 cxd4 22.Rac1 d3 23.Bxd3 Qxc1 24.Rxc1 Nxd3 25.Qf1 did not promise him any real advantage. His video analysis goes in detail into the numerous sharp variations in this game which was played so energetically on both sides and he finishes up with a short explanation of the subsequent rook ending.
Victors at work
Russian Team Championship in Sochi
As in previous years the Russian Team Championship was played in the Hotel Dagomys in Sochi on the Black Sea coast. The premier league consisted of ten teams, and with Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Svidler, Wang Yue. Jakovenko, Gelfand, Karjakin, Eljanov, Caruana, Movsesian etc. there were once more some absolutely world class players in the starting blocks. At the end it was the team ShSM-64 which won by a nose with 16 points. The only team points which Gelfand, Karjakin & Co conceded were one each against the team from Ural and the St Petersburger SPb Chess Fed. The latter team occupied second place two points behind the victors.
Potkin,V - Caruana,F
Position after 30.Re1??
You will find on the DVD all the games from the Russian Premier League as well as an extensive tournament report. One of the victorious team, Fabiano Caruana, has annotated one of his wins from Sochi. In the game against Vladimir Potkin, Caruana chose, contrary to his usual habit, to play 4...Bg4 in the Queen’s Gambit. After 9.cxd5 the Italian went, after the recapture with the e-pawn, into a sharp position in which White logically played for an attack on the king with g2-g4-g5 h2-h4. After White castled long, the classic counterattack on the queenside got under way. Caruana explains various attacking motifs in his analysis and admits that under normal circumstances the game should probably have ended in a draw – had there not been Potkin’s blunder in extreme time pressure (see diagram).
Nepomniachtchi,I - Eljanov,P
Position after 43...Kf8
Pavel Eljanov and his team Economist-SGSEU were still shadowing the leaders after five rounds, but after the defeat at the hands of the future champions all they could manage was the bronze medal. On the DVD the Ukrainian super-GM has annotated his two victories as Black from Sochi. He aimed for a Berlin Defence against the recently crowned European Champion, but Nepomniachtchi decided to play 6.dxe5 and go for the more anodyne Rio-de-Janeiro Variation. White did manage to throw some oil on the fire in the middlegame with the advance f4-f5, but he didn't succeed in achieving anything concrete with it. In a level position Nepomniachtchi turned down the offer of a draw and promptly began to overplay his hand. But, as Eljanov points out in his analysis, the young Russian still had drawing chances even in the bishop ending. In the position in the diagram, however, he chose the wrong continuation.
Position after 26...Qxd5
How White can justify his pawn sacrifice?
From the opening trap to the endgame study
Training in ChessBase Magazine begins with the very first moves and covers all the phases of a game of chess. The 13 up-to-date openings articles with their many ideas and suggestions for your repertoire can be found here or above among the links. The subtle opening trap starts on move 9. Click here, to reach Rainer Knaak’s column (including its Fritztrainer video). You will also find in video format contributions on the opening by Valeri Lilov (Keres Attack, Leningrad Dutch und Ilyin-Zhenevsky Dutch). These videos and other recordings in Chess Media Format can be accessed under the heading Fritztrainer. The topic of Peter Wells' Strategy column is: 'Exploring a complex structure: the isolated doubled c-pawns'. In Daniel King's ever popular Move by Move there is a game in the Nimzo Indian. And in the columns Tactics (see diagram) and Endgame Oliver Reeh and Karsten Müller have once more brought together for you the best from recent tournament prctice.
Marin: Alekhine Defence B03
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7
There is not much theory on this variation and Marin is breaking new ground. With the help of several innovations, he succeeds in making the variations playable for Black.
Skembris: Caro-Kann B16
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6
Skembris provides a complete repertoire from Black’s point of view. It is also very possible to play for a win with this ambitious variation.
Grivas: Sicilian B33
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6 5.Nb3 Nf6 6.Nc3 e6 7.g3
The Fianchetto Variation is not one of the strongest ways of opposing the Grivas Sicilian, but as Black you do need to have a certain amount of basic knowledge.
Erenburg: Sicilian B80
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 b5 8.Qd2 b4 9.Nce2
The knight retreat is not the most popular, but Erenburg describes a very convincing plan, with which White should achieve an advantage.
Kuzmin: Sicilian B84
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 (Be3) 6...Nbd7
Since 6.Bg5 Nbd7 looked quite good (CBM 135), it appeared to be an idea to try out the knight move against other white continuations on move 6.
Langrock: French Defence C11
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Qf2
In recent years 11.Qf2 has turned into the main variation against the black setup. Langrock shows that here too Black has good chances of equalising.
Stohl: Ruy Lopez C77
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a6
In the European Championship Ian Nepomniachtichi demonstrated that the move 5.d3 is not so harmless; with it he scored 3.5 out of 4. In a two part article Stohl examines the most important variations.
Ftacnik: Slav Defence D12
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4
Black’s bishop move reveals itself as surprisingly annoying, because White can hardly avoid playing 7.f3. After 7...Bg6 8.Qb3 the move 8...Qc7 is another subtle one, with which Black has been looking very good of late.
Karolyi: Queen's Gambit Accepted D20
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 e5 4.Bxc4 exd4 5.exd4 Bd6
Karolyi finishes his investigations into the Queen’s Gambit Accepted with this important variation and thus rounds off a complete system of play for Black in this classic opening.
Hazai/Lukacs: Queen's Gambit D35
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bf5
The refined move order with 3...Be7 leads to the white bishop going to f4 rather than g5. Thus in the diagram d5 is reliably protected. 7.Qb3 is nevertheless a critical move but is strongly met with 7...Nc6.
Postny: Queen's Gambit D39
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6
Until now White has not developed a clear plan against 6...h6 and thus the move of the rook’s pawn has the potential to replace 6...c5 in the Vienna Variation.
Schipkov: Bogo-Indian Defence E11
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 0-0 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5
In this setup which Shipkov recommends for Black, the bishop pair is retained and the struggle against the white centre gets going at once.
Krasenkow: Queen's Indian Defence E12
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Bb7 5.Nc3
In the second part of his article from White’s point of view Krasenkow examines above all the continuation 5...d5 6.cxd5 exd5, which promises White a safe advantage.