Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rd.2 Aronian-Gelfand Candidates 2013.

Lets have a look at a brilliant positional cum tactical squeeze by Aronian against Gelfand in round 2.

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3
Its just move no.4 and already a critical moment according to me, what should black play?

 Nf6! (Bg7? as after d4 cd4 ed4 there is no way to stop white from playing d5.) 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 Nxc3 (8... e6 9. Bb5)
How to recapture the Knight? with the pawn or with the queen?

 You are really smart if you dodged my question with  9. Bc4!
 the game now continued Nd5!? but lets look at a classic before that.
 (9... e6 {earlier people used to make
this move and this gave white a good solid advantage.} 10. bxc3 Na5 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Qa4 Nc6)
Black is all set to push white with a6. How did Botvinnik play energetically? 
 13. d5! opening up the position before black has developed ed5 14.0-0 Be7 15.Bh6! and white had a raging initiative for the pawn!

10. Bxd5 e6 11. Bxc6+ bxc6 12. O-O 
How do you assess this position? Who do you think is better?

{i think this is one of the hotly debated position in recent years. earlier it was assumed that white has an advantage here because of blacks pawn structure weakness and lead in developement for white. but things arent so static anymore. now people value the double bishop advantage in this position. Hence this position has been defended from black side by likes of Short,Bologan,Ni hua! Its a modern day tabiya in the words of Garry Kasparov!}
 Be7 ?! 

(12... Qd5 { is the main move in this position. While Gelfands move Be7 has been played only in 2 games.} 13. Be3 {was what Giri tried against Axel Smith in 2013 and i dont like what Axel played now} (13. Qc3 {is given in old sources as the move that gives white an advantage.})
What do you think should black play?

13... Qxb3 ?! {the queen on d5 is good, why to take on b3? instead f6 stopping Ne5 is a better option.} 14. axb3 {this is like the grunfeld or nimzo samisch variation b6 pawn sacrifice where the two rooks attack blacks weaknesses on a and c file.} Bb7
15. Rfc1 Bd6 16. Ne5 Ke7 (16... Bxe5 17. dxe5 {This is quite a depressing position with all the dark square weaknesses. The white B will be a monster on d6.}) 17. Nxc6+ Bxc6 18. Rxc6 {I seriously have no idea why a black player would aim to have such a position in which he is a pawn down and faces a long
and hard defense! Giri was able to convert his advantage later})
13. Be3 (13. Bf4 Qd5 was the continuation between Jakovenko-Gelfand Eilat 2012 which ended in a draw. Aronian surely must have come prepared!)  (13. Bh6 f6) 
13... Qd5 14. Rfc1
I dont know what you will play here but after looking at Giri-Axel there is one move that you will definitely not make! What is it?

 Qxb3 ?! {this is the move that one shouldnt make.How can a strong player like
Gelfand make a move like this? in an instant he opens the a1 rook which bears
down on the a7 pawn.Now we get a very similar pawn structure as Giri-Axel.} (
14... f6 {preventing Ne5. What is the problem with this move?i think there is none} 15. Nd2 O-O =)
15. axb3
Its your chance to be in Gelfand's Shoes. I dont think he played the best move here. Can you?

 Bb7?!  (15... f6 preventing Ne5 is important i think in this variation.16. Rxc6 Kd7! {prevents Rc7.} (16... Bb7 17. Rc7) 17. Rc4 (17. Rac1 Bd6 18. Nd2 Bb7 19. R6c3 Rhc8 {white because of being a pawn up holds some edge. But look, black is so well co-ordinated that a draw should not be out of his reach.})
17... Bb7 18. Rca4! {forcing a6 and weakening the b6 square which
the N will exploit.} a6 19. Nd2 +=)
16. Ne5 O-O
Finally its your turn to be Aronian! Do you think the c6 pawn should be snapped?

 17. Ra4! keeping the pressure (17. Nxc6 Bxc6 18.Rxc6 Rfb8 19. Rc3 a5 = {aronian must have realised that here its absolutely not possible to win. and why is it so? i think because white took a pawn which
was a traitor because it hemmed in the b7 B.})
17... Rfd8 {continuiting active play.}
All of whites pieces are developed. What to do next?

18. Nc4! {the N comes into a5. white is probing all the soft spots of black. one slip and he will fall. thats what happens.} Bf6? This according to me, not the computer was the fatal mistake. (18... Kg7 {i think it is important for the B to keep control of the b4 square. because Rb4 will really cause black discomfort.})
 19. Na5 Rd7 

Tighten the screws now!!

20. Rb4! the pressure keeps increasing! Ba6 21. Nxc6 {Now just look, earlier, when white would take on c6, black would exchange his B for N and then put a rook on b file and attack the b3-b2 pawns. But here white has a rook on b4. Hence we can say that white's play has been a total success.} Rb7
You need to put on your world class thinking cap and find Aronian's next move!

22. h3! {levon realises this is the right time to get rid of the back rank
weakness.But how do these players find time to make a little move like this when all of the battle is going on, on the other wing. To answer that question i think you will have to wait a few years till i reach that level!! } Kg7 (22... Rc8? 23. Ra4 +- {white just wins the game.}  23. Rxb7 Bxb7 24.
the rook wants to enter on c7 now, how to prevent it?

 Bd8 was Gelfand's choice.
 (24... Bxe5 25.dxe5 a5 26. Rc5 Bd5 27. Bd2 Bxb3 28. Bxa5+/- {though opposite coloured Bs i
think white has excellent winning chances.})
(24... Rc8! {i like this move.the rook exchange will retain excellent drawing chance.This according to me is the best move.} 25. Rxc8 Bxc8 26. b4 Bxe5 27. dxe5 a6 {and then put the B on b5! how the hell will white win.}) 25. b4 Rc8
Formulate a plan for Aronian now to win this endgame.

26.Bh6!! {Did you fall for my tricky question? its a tactical error by Gelfand and a player of Aronians class wont miss such a chance. But how does a challenger to world crown, make such a gross oversight even when he wasnt in acute time trouble? I think the thought of defending continuously got to Gelfand and he lost some of his optimisim thus overlooking this excellent tactic!} (25... f6 26. Nc6 Bb6 27. b5 {white retains good pressure.}) (25... Bd5 {might have been a better defense.})
 Kg8 {The black king is now so cramped for space!} (26... Kf6 27. Bg5+ ! Kxg5 28.Nxf7+ Kf6 29. Rxc8 Bxc8 30. Nxd8 Bd7 31. f3 e5 32. d5 Ke7 33. Nc6+ Bxc6 34.dxc6 Kd6 35. b5+- ) (26... Kxh6 27. Nxf7+ Kg7 28. Rxc8 Bxc8 29. Nxd8 +-) 27.Rxc8 Bxc8 28. Nc6 Bf6 (28... Bb6 29. Ne7+) 29. b5  29... Bd7 
Another one of those boring endgames! Is it really so?? White to play?

 30. g4!! {what a powerful stroke!! I was thinking that Aronian will show his great technical and positional skills to win this endgame but he finishes of things in a great tactical manner.} g5 (30... a6 $5 31. g5 axb5 32. Nb8 Bxd4 33.Nxd7 Bxb2 white should win this position. But now after g5, to make it easier for you to guess Aronian's next move i want to show off my own skills for a bit!

Black has an overwhelming advantage but here i found an accurate of getting things to the finish line.
How should Black play in Aronian Style?!

g5! Bg3 h5! gh5 g4 Be2 Bh6!

The small tactical continuation, gives black so much activity that the rest is just walk in the park. As i played this game 6 months ago, do you think Aronian borrowed this idea from my game!!! High hopes!

31. h4 gxh4 32. g5 Bxc6 (32... Bg7 33. Bxg7 Kxg7 34. Nxa7) (32... Bh8 33. Ne7#) 33. bxc6 Bd8
Its your last chance to play like Aronian, Dont miss it!

34. Kg2! Simplicity is the best. (34. g6 if we are too nervous then we make moves like this which complicate the win.opponent is devoid of counterplay, why to hurry? fxg6
35. Bf4 {but why to complicate})
34... Bc7 35. Kh3 the saddest part is that the black king cannot come out without losing a pawn.white will gobble h4 then walk his king over to the other side and just win!
I am tempted to say some superb play by Aronian but more than that i think Gelfand really had an
off day, missing a lot of defensive possibilities! 1-0

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