Friday, September 27, 2013

Learn From Anand-Carlsen Games- Part 2.

Anand beat Carlsen first time in a classical game in Morelia Linares in Feb 2007. At that time Anand had a rating of 2779 while Carlsen was yet to break into 2700, with a rating of 2690. In the game Anand showed some amazing endgame technique. But let us join the game in a position in which the game could still have gone either way.

 Carlsen (2690)- Anand (2779)
You are in Carlsen's shoes. With which rook would you recapture and why? 
Beware: Carlsen got it wrong!

We will need to see a few moves ahead in order to understand why taking with the 'f' rook is better than the 'a' rook. You see the two open files 'c' and the 'd' files and you say to yourself ,yes thats where the rooks need to be. But then why did Carlsen take with the 'a' rook? Lets first see what happened in the game.
Carlsen played the 1.Rad1 because he thought that he was anyway winning the battle of the kingside. He didnt need to think much about which rook to take with. He saw that h7 pawn is difficult to defend and after the most natural move 1...h6 2.Bf6 gf6 3.Nh7 white is just better as he is winning the f6 pawn. So the question to you now is: What should black play?

Its time to save Anands position. What should he play here with his kingside in grave danger?

Anand came up with the stunning move which must have totally shocked Carlsen i.e 1...Kh8!!
The point of this move is so deep that I am confused whether I should salute Anand or the game of chess!!
Can you guess what is the point of this move?
It is to clear the g file for the rook!!
Are you serious? Have a look!
After the most obvious 2.Bf6 gf6 3.Nh7? (relatively best was Ne4) black not only saves the day with 3...Rg8! but after 4.g3 Kg7 the poor knight on h7 is trapped!
What a deep idea!!
Carlsen could find nothing better than 2.g3 but after 2...h6 3.Bf6 hg5! 4.Bb2 (4.Bg5 f6 5.Bf4 e5 traps the bishop) 4...Rac8 Anand snatched the initiative as Carlsen had to undo his mistake of placing the 'a' rook to d1 by playing 5.Rc1 and after 5...Rfd8 black was in the drivers seat!

Coming back to the Initial position!
What Carlsen missed was Anand's brilliant idea with Kh8!! If he was more careful, he would have taken back the queen correctly with 1.Rfd1!

White retains an edge if he takes back with the right Rook.

Now Anand would have continued with his (ab)normal idea 1...Kh8 but white could make use of his 'a' rook to play 2.a4! and when Anand plays 2...b4  (if 2...Rac8 then Bd3) then white has everything in order with 3.Rac1+=.

Of course Carlsen saw that taking with the 'f' rook is more natural than with the 'a' rook because of the central open files but he gave more importance to the kingside initiative and didnt take into account opponents best defensive move i.e Kh8!! After Anand made that move, Carlsen must have regretted taking with the 'a' rook but such is life! Once a mistake is made you often cannot correct it! So better be safe than sorry!! Something which is quite difficult for chess players to follow but i like to think that its not impossible!! :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Learn from Anand-Carlsen games - Part 1.

Carlsen(2625)-Anand(2792) Glitnir Blitz 2006.
Vishy Anand as Black continued here with the very logical and tempting move c4. What do you think about it?

This was a blitz game and Anand had employed the Benko Defense. An opening which he rarely plays. But here he not only played it but also got a very promising position as black. He had recovered his pawn when he won a pawn on h3 and now can slowly build up the pressure. However he noticed the typical Benko undermining move of 1...c4. Usually when black is able to play c4 in benko he gets a lot of play. But here Anand forgot about his king! The g7 bishop is missing and hence the game continued
1....c4? 2.bc4! Nc4 its a fork but white replies now with 3.Qh6!! Just like in life when we put our resources in our area we often neglect the other and this is exactly what happened. In his bid for queenside counterplay, Anand missed this little trick!

With Ng5 coming up, Anand fell into an elementary mating pattern. Of course its a blitz but we can learn how the combination of Qh6+Ng5 can be so fatal.
Thus Anand defended his King with 3...f6 and Carlsen won a piece with 4.Rb4!
This was the first game in which Carlsen convincingly beat Anand. However still the difference in their level was quite apparent as the next game Carlsen won against Anand was after almost 2 years in march 2008!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wrong Pawn can be a strong Pawn!

Today I was solving a puzzle from Dvoretsky's endgame Manual. A book which is considered to be one of the finest books written on Endgame. I think the book is excellent but only if we work on the material given in it. And by working I mean solving it. Because just reading the analysis would never help you remember the stuff. So as always I invite you to solve this position which I solved today.

White to play.

How should we go about solving this one. Let us start with logical analysis. Black threatens Kg1, so we have to move the bishop. But where must we move it. Our Primary aim in this position is to prevent the black king from reaching h8. So the farther we move the bishop, the better it is so that the black king will not gain a tempo on the way when going back to h8.
So we play 1.Bc8 Ke3! (an important endgame principle of Shouldering. white king is not allowed to join the battle. 1...Kf3? would be a mistake as after 2.Kd4! Kf4 3.h4! black finds himself in zugzwang.)
2.h4 Ke4! 3.h5 Ke5 4.h6 Kf6 and black made an easy draw. Once we have made this preliminary analysis what is to be done? I suggest we search for patterns in our mind regarding what we know of such endgame. When i started to solve this position, I knew only 1 pattern in which white wins such an endgame. Lets have a look at it. 

Analysis diagram
White to play, wins this!
At all costs white must stop the black king from reaching the g8 square and hence we play 1.Bh7! Kf6 black threatens Kg5 to pick up the pawn White prevents it with 2.Kg4!

All the entry squares g5, g6,g7 and g8 are covered and White wins! 
White king will slowly push the black king away and queen his h pawn.
Now lets use this pattern in our initial position. Lets play the first move 1.Bf5 Ke3 2.h4 Kf4 wins a crucuial tempo and we dont even need to analyse further. its a draw.
We can be trickier with 1.Be6 Ke3 2.h4 Ke4 3.h5 Ke5 4.h6 of course the bishop cannot be taken now so black plays 4...Kf6 5.Bf5!? (stopping Kg6.) 5....Kf7 (black threatens Kg8) 6.Bh7 Kf6! (threatening Kg5) 7.Bc2 Kf7.
We have the same pattern as before with the only problem that the white king needs to be on g4 but instead is on c3!! Without the king's help its just a draw.

Initial calculations have been done and previously remembered patterns were recollected. From all this we couldnt find the answer, but what we could conclude was one very important thing:
As the black king is shouldering the white king, the job of keeping the black king away from the g7-h8 squares falls on the shoulders of the pawn and the bishop.

Thus we try to imagine setups by which we keep the black king away with just the bishop and pawn. Now this requires some imagination and also some belief that such a setup does exist! When you try your hardest I am sure you can find the following setup:
What a position! The bishop and the pawn alone cover all the important squares and keep the black king at bay!
White king is not even required for queening the pawn. Black is in zugzwang and the h pawn promotes.
Once you have envisaged this position, the answer becomes very easy.
1.Bd7!! Ke3 2.h4 Ke4 3.h5 Ke5 4.h6 Kf6 5.Be8! +-


Thus I would recommend all the players, Whenever you solve a combination or a study, take a minute to remember the pattern after you have finished solving it. Once you start doing that you will enlarge your arsenal with so many patterns and ideas that you will be able to solve problems at scintillating speeds!

As for now, I would recommend you to start this journey of pattern memorization with the above diagram, so that whenever you have a bishop and a wrong colour pawn, you know what to aim for and not just settle for a draw!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Carlsen's Challenge Solved!

This was the pic that Carlsen posted on facebook asking us to solve his challenge. 

Here is a better board version of the problem:

To tell you the truth I spent quite a lot of effort on solving this one! Here you can see me trying it on the board. But my main efforts were made when I was jogging or travelling. The fact that there were just 8 pieces on the board meant that it was possible to try to go into complications blindfolded but the problem was not the number of pieces but the nice interweaving of ideas!
I would ask all those who have not solved this puzzle, dont look at the answer before giving it a shot. After all the depth of the problem can only be understood if you have tried solving it. Otherwise everything seems just so easy! :)

So the position was white to play and win.
White to play and Win


Of course the first move that comes to the mind of everyone is 1.Re3 now 1...Kb4 is forced and I guess 2.Rb3 looks the most natural 2...Ka4 3.Rb1 a2 4.Ra1 Ka3 5.Kd2 Kb2 6.c4! Ka1 7.Kc1

Stalemating the black king in the corner and now only pawn moves remain. But black turns out to be a tricky person to deal with as he stops the c pawn right in its tracks with 7...d6! After this white just cannot win. 8.Kc2 a4 9.Kc1 a3 10.Kc2 d5 11.c5 (cd5 is stalemate) 11...d4 12.c6 d3+ and the best that white can get now is a draw.
Its like developing an App. You develop an Application. Then you see the problems and fix the bugs. Then again develop the app further, fix the bugs. Its a continuous process till perfection is achieved.

So lets go back to the starting position. We learn a few things.
1. cutting off the Black King can be a great idea.
2. We will have to give up the rook but sacrificing it in such a way that black king will be stalemated is the key idea.
3. And we need our pawn on c5 so that in the position of stalemate, our pawn will be one step closer to queening.
 Its from all these deductions that we come up with the idea of 1.Re4!!

This move cuts off the black king from the 4th rank and also threatens Ra4. So the only move for black now is 1...Kb5. Now we push the pawn ahead with 2.c4+ and black will do well to advance further with 2...Kb4 (2...Kc5 is worse as now black king is behind in the race. 3.Re3 Kb4 4.Kd2 a2 5.Re1 Kb3 6.c5! the key move. 6...Kb2 7.Ra1! and we will come to almost the game continuation.)

So now that the rook and king are in the same line, we can push the pawn one square ahead with 3.c5! Kb3 (3...Kc5 4.Ra4 Kb5 5.Ra3 Kb4 Ra1 +-) 4.Re3 Kb2 and we reach the critical position of the study

This is the most important position now. What do you do as white?

White has to come up with two consecutive strong moves now. the first one being 5.Kd3! the main idea of this move is to keep the second rank free for the rook to check. 5...a2 and now its time for 6.Re2!! 
This was really one of the toughest moves to think in this study. The idea of the rook check becomes clear once you see it. The rook would like to come to the first rank, but it wants to come without losing time. Usually we see such time gaining vertical checks in rook vs pawn. Here is a case of horizontal check! After this white gets two favourable things. he is able to set up a stalemate of black king and he has already got his pawn on 5th rank i.e c5.
6...Kb1 (6...Kb3 is similar) 7.Re1 Kb2

Maybe for a trained eye the next move is not so difficult. But nonetheless it is beautiful!

White played the nice move 8.Ra1! Black can now push his a pawn, but it will not change anything and hence the rook is taken with 8...Ka1. and white stalemates the king with 9.Kc2

Black has 2 ways to play now to push his pawn to a4 a3 or to first push his d pawn. Try to work out upto mate in both the variations.

Lets start with the d5 variation first.  9...d5 is met with 10.cd6! a4 11.d7 a3 12 Kb3! setting up a nice mate 12...Kb1 13 d8=Q a1=Q 14.Qd1 #
A nice mate!

So back to black's 9th move.
 9...a4 10.Kc1 a3 11.Kc2 d5 now taking the pawn will lead to stale mate and hence white must play 12.c6 d4 13.c7 d3+ 14.Kd3! Kb2 15.c8=Q a1=Q 16.Qc2#.

A beautiful mate. A small detail to notice is that if the pawn were not on a3, it would not have been a mate! Quite a coincidence eh!!

I am sure those who tried to solve this study found it not so easy. It was tough. But tougher the battle, sweeter is the victory. I was extremely happy after I solved this study. 
I hope you too enjoyed trying to solve this problem and looking through the answer. We must all thank Magnus Carlsen for sharing with us such a rich position with some excellent nuances and deep ideas!
As he is solving so many studies, I think we could expect some excellent ideas in the november match against our very own Vishy Anand!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Carlsen's Challenge.

I saw a picture of Carlsen on facebook where he himself was sitting with a study and beneath it he had written. I solved it! Can you!
I paid no particular attention to it thinking it was just a gimmick. A few days later when I was chatting with India's talented GM Vidit Gujarathi, he asked me if I had solved the Carlsen's challenge which was exrremely interesting! I ll not like to reveal how difficult the puzzle is. Because its all relative. I always remember 1 story: a study that took Garry Kasparov 6 months and yet couldnt come with an answer was solved by a 2450 friend of mine in 1 night!!
So give it a try. You might just beat Carlsen before Vishy actually does it in November! :)

White to play and win
Answer will be uploaded as soon as i find it! :)