Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rd.1 Ivanchuk-Grischuk, Candidates 2013.


     Ivanchuk at the start of the game in London!
This was according to me the best game of Round1 and hence i decided to annotate it.
You can have a chess board with you to play over the moves or you can answer the questions posed to you in later diagrams! All in all i hope you get inspired by the play of both white and black!
1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4
The starting position of Open Catalan.

{the open catalan is the most logical choice that black has in this position. If he
wanted to play the closed catalan with c6, then it would have been more useful
to insert a check with Bb4. But after giving Bb4+ Bd2 Be7, black cannot then
take dc4 as then Bd2 is a free tempo up in the open lines of catalan.}
 7. Qc2 a6 8. Qxc4 b5 9. Qc2 Bb7 10. Bg5!?
I call this the Konopka line! Very Positional!
{this is according to me underestimated weapon in whites hands. When white plays this line, he risks very little and
black has to play accurately to equalise.Good positional players like Ulf
Andersson and Michal Konopka have made a living out of this line.} (10. Bd2 {
is the main line which everyone is playing these days thanks to efforts of
Kramnik and books by Avrukh and Bologan.})
  10... Nbd7 {the entire battle revolves around, the fact whether black can get in c5 or not.}
 11. Bxf6 ! {to remove blacks control from the c5 square.} Nxf6 (11... Bxf6 12. Ng5!) 12.
Nbd2 Rc8 13. Nb3 (c5 is stopped. black needs to find other ways) Be4!?
How do the two move Qc3 and Qc1 differ from each other?
{there are mainly 2 moves in this position Qc3 and Qc1.
Ivanchuk has played before Qc3 against Kosintseva in 2010. But maybe here he
will choose the safer Qc1.} 14. Qc3 (ivanchuk choses the riskier move.)
 (14. Qd2 {is not particularly good as you have to keep control on the c5 square.} c5 =)
if you look through this variation carefully you will understand the dangers awaiting black in this opening.
(14. Qc1!?(instead of Qc3) c5 {black has executed c5 but somehow, white retains an initiative. Have a look at this typical variation.} 15. dxc5 Qc7 (15... a5 16. a4) 16. Rd1 Bxc5
17. Nxc5 Qxc5 18. Qxc5 Rxc5 19. Rac1
This equal looking position isnt so equal!

{Because of the weakness of the back rank, white seizes the c file.} Rxc1 20. Rxc1 Rd8 21. Ne5 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 h6 23. Nd3!
Thats the dream position for any white player in this variation.

{excellent position for the N. it blocks the d file and the N defends the
b2 pawn. at the same time, the rook is going to infiltrate on the c file on
weak squares like c7 and c6. the a6 b5 pawn structure is a weakness in this
position and the combined effort of the white N and the R will cause great

14... Nd5 15. Qd2

(15. Qa5 (instead of Qd2 as in the game) {This was the continuation in the game
Ivanchuk-Kosteniuk 2010.} Bb4 16. Qxa6 c6 {threat is Ra8-Rb8.} 17. Ne5 Bxg2 18.
Ivanchuk had grabbed a pawn against Kosteniuk but what is blacks best move?

Ne7! {i dont think white can expect more than a draw in this variation as his queen is trapped.}
(18... Qc7?! {Kosteniuk made this inaccurate move and ivanchuk later won. But Grischuk wouldnt have made such a mistake}) 19. e4 f6 (19... Ra8 20. Qb7 Rb8 21. Qd7 $16) 20. Nd3 Ra8 21. Nxb4 $6 {Bacrot was desperate to win against an unknown player called Stern.} (21. Qb7 Rb8 22. Qa7 {its best for
white to take a draw.}) 21... Rxa6 22. Nxa6 only black can be better. {Bacrot-Stern 2012.})

What should black play here?
15... c5! {Exactly!! the freeing move is executed in good circumstances and I think black has equalised in this line.} 16. dxc5 Bxc5 17. Nxc5 Rxc5 18. Rac1 Rxc1 19. Rxc1 
Black is very close to equalising but he must make one more accurate move. what is it?

Qa8! Making way for the rook to c8. {this variation was played in Mumbai in the game
Miroshnichenko-Humpy 2009.} 20. Bf1!? {white wants to move his N. this is a novelty but hardly a dangerous one} (20. Qd4 {was the main move.} Nf6 21. Rc7 (21. Qc5 !?) 21... Rc8! {after this move i think black equalises.}
 20... Bxf3 {most principled.} (20... Rc8 21. Ne5! {was the reason why the B on g2 was
removed.}) 21. exf3 Rc8
Do you think white should exchange the rooks? What do you think should be his move?

{i think if the rooks are exchanged, black wont have any problems. here white should play Rd1. But ivanchuk was not concerned with the rook exchange.} 22. h4!? This is a move which i cannot explain. Its just that it feels right to push this pawn up the board and make some more breathing space for the king.
(22. Rd1 Qc6 23. f4 Qc2 24. h4)
 22... h5 23. Bd3 Rxc1+ 24. Qxc1 Qd8 25. a3 g6 26. Be4 Qf6 {it seems to me that white has a microscopic edge but somehow, black seems to hold the balance easily.}
Can a master like Ivanchuk squeeze a win out of such a position? Against me, Yes but not against Grischuk!!

 27. Qd2 Kg7 
Its technique time folks! What do you think should white play?

28. f4?!
(28. Kg2! {i and one of my friend sohan were of the opinion that this move removing the king
from g1 is more important than f4. maybe it is. the result wont have changed
but then good technique is all about fining even the minisculy better move as
you never know when they can add upto a big advantage.}) 28... Nb6

If Steinitz was white he would have made his move without thinking! Can you do the same?!!

29. b3!(Knights must be denied of advanced posts!)
Nd5 (29... Qa1+ 30. Kg2 Qxa3 $2 31. Qd4+ and the knight falls. a small tactical point to be noted.)       30. Kg2 Qa1

(30... Qc3 {this endgame seems a little dangerous for black so i like the way Grischuk played.} 31. Qxc3+ Nxc3 32. Bb7 a5 33. Ba6 Kf6 34. Kf3 Ke7 35. Ke3 b4 36. axb4 axb4 37. Kd4 Kd6 38. Kc4 Nd1 39. f3 Ne3+ 40. Kxb4 Nf5 41. Bd3 Nxg3 42. Kc4 {white seems to have a small edge})

What should white do now?

31. Bxd5 {I think this was very necessary. As Capablanca had said a century ago, the N and Queen for a deadly combo! Before that happens Ivanchuk gets rid of the pesky beast!} exd5 32. Qxd5 Qxa3 33. Qe5+ (33. f5 gxf5 34. Qxf5 Qxb3 35. Qxh5 a5 36. Qg5+ Kh7 37. Qf5+ =) 33... Kg8 34. Qe8+ Qf8 {
i like the fighting spirit of both the players. Both wanted to fight till the end.}  35. Qc6 Qb4
Imagine yourself in Ivanchuk's shoes. You have around 30 seconds in your clock to make the last 5 moves. there is a perpetual available with Qe8. What would you do??

36. f5 ! {Its moves like this that make me respect a player like Ivanchuk. He is down but not out! He doesnt submit to the draw. Instead fights on with whatever little time he has got!! He is playing chess not the candidates tournament! the exclamation mark is given only for his courage! the
position is still drawn.} Qxb3 37. fxg6 Qe6 38. gxf7+ Kxf7 39. Qb7+ Kg6 40. Kf3

Its always fun when top players reaching a pawn ending? Is black winning after Qf7? Assess.

 Qf7+ 41. Qxf7+ Kxf7 {it always interesting to see pawn endgames in such top
level battles. but here there aint any blood left in the body!} 42. Ke4 a5 43.
f3 a4 44. Kd3
None of them could win but they didnt leave a single chance to fight on! Hats off to the true Chess masters!

{white will have 2 passers on the kingside, black has 2 on the queenside! So signing a truce is very logical. I loved the fact that even in the first round, both players were read to play such a hard fought battle.}


  1. Great job done Sagar !! This game indicates that the seeding favorites will have a tough time in London.