Saturday, March 15, 2014

Understanding Chess, Anand's way!

If the first round had 3 draws and only 1 decisive result, Round 2 was more bloody with 3 decisive results and 1 draw!


Though it was a dull game and I don't see any player really liking to analyze the dull draws, I think that Topalov vs Anand had a lot to offer to the careful eye. There are 3 points which I would like to bring to your notice. Those three moments show how top players like Anand understand the different concepts in chess very well.


After Black's last move Qe7, Topalov played Nd5 cd5 Bb5+ Kf8 Qd5 and Anand played the ultra calm move g6!

 What is Vishy Anand doing you may ask? First of all he has given up the right to castling. Secondly he is a pawn down and by the looks of it he is also behind in development! Topalov can also 0-0 on the next move. So don't you think Anand is in a  really bad position?
Well lets see what are his trumps. After the next natural move for black, Kg7 his king safety issue will be solved. His took will come to the d file and the c8 bishop has a natural developing square of f5 or e6. The other rook comes to c8. At the same time what is the Bb5 actually doing and the pressure on b2 prevents Bc1 from moving.

This diagram perfectly illustrates that appearances can be deceptive. Black is way ahead in development because his pieces have good squares to go to and are attacking important points in the opponents position.
Now thats what you call GMs understanding and a very high level opening preparation!


Black to play. What would you play?

Of course many moves would draw here but there is one move which is absolutely the best and I am sure that Anand made it without thinking. The move is h5! I can see many of you saying that this move is so obvious. But this is just the top layer of the pot. There are so many structures in which a top player like Anand knows by heart what is to be done. Its like second nature to him to make certain moves in certain positions. He just doesn't have to think.
I am sure that some of us would be confused whether to play Rc2 in this position or not. The point is that to Rc2 white will reply with the strong move g4! when it becomes very difficult for black to exchange pawns without weakening them. The move g2-g4 as daniel King puts it is a cramping move. It just cramps all 3 of blacks pawns. And h5 precisely stops that strong move. Now if white has to make progress he will have to prepare g4 and that will result in more pawns getting exchanged and black will be closer to a draw!


Should black exchange the rooks or not?

Of course many of you already know that 3 vs 2 pawns on the same side in a  rook endgame is an easy draw. So why to calculate the pawn endgame? This is a very valid approach. But I think it is a lazy one. My point is that, till the rooks are there on the board, there are some chances for white to trick his opponent even though they are minimal. However once you enter the pawn endgame if its a draw white cannot do anything.
Anand's approach of taking the rook on g2 and going into the pawn endgame is theoretically the most optimum approach. I mean just imagine Topalovs thought process. Till he had the rook he would be thinking. I will somehow try to create a passed pawn here or do that etc etc. But the moment rooks were exchanged he would lose interest in the game and say Drat its just a draw!
For that you must not be lazy and be brave as Anand was in this game.
Lets look at how this position is a draw.

Thus even though the game was a dull draw, I think Anand played extremely well and is in top form for the tournament!
Understanding of compensation, typical pawn structures and ideas and precise calculation were on show today by Anand!

Before taking your leave I think there is one position which you must see. It makes us feel good that even at the highest level these guys can make huge mistakes, not only in time pressure as they usually do but also in the opening!


White to play and trap blacks queen!

Nde4! de4 Ne4 Qh4 g3 (Rf4 also traps the queen but after Qf4 ef4 whites pawn structure is compromised a little.) Qh3 Nf2. The queen is trapped and the game is over!

Obviously Mamedyarov was dejected after the game.

But like every strong sportsman he knows that the best way to get over this incident is to smile your way out of it!

The game of Chess can even humble the best and hence I recommend you to always be a sincere student of this game!! :)

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