Round three, Dortmund

by admin on July 17, 2010

As I announced in yesterday’s blog post, I will be translating grandmaster Sergey Shipov’s commentaries on the Dortmund tournament for rounds 3, 4, 7, 8, and 10. The translations of the other rounds (1, 2, 5, 6, and 9) can be found at, Colin McGourty’s website.

Today’s game features two of the less-known (in the West) participants in the Dortmund tournament: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Le Quang Liem.

The 25-year-old Mamedyarov certainly should be well-known; according to Wikipedia he is the only two-time world junior champion, and he is currently number six on the FIDE rating list, ahead of many better-known players, including four of the other six players in this tournament (#14 Ruslan Ponomariov, #16 Peter Leko, #51 Arkadij Naiditsch, and #55 Le Quang Liem). Mamedyarov comes from Azerbaijan, the same former Soviet Republic on the far eastern edge of Europe where Garry Kasparov grew up. (Kasparov was born in the capital, Baku, while Mamedyarov was born in Sumgait.)

At 19 years of age, Liem is the youngest participant in this year’s tournament, and this is considered his first ever “super-GM” tournament. He is one of the many rising stars of chess in Asia, along with people like Wang Hao and Wang Yue from China and Wesley So from the Philippines. Liem is currently the highest-rated player in Vietnam.

Now that the necessary introductions have been made, let’s get started with GM Shipov’s commentary! — DM

Good morning, fellow chess lovers and connoisseurs. Grandmaster Sergey Shipov is commenting for you on selected games from the tournament in Dortmund. Of course, the game that will attract the biggest cult following (if you wish, the cash cow) for this round is the game between Kramnik and Leko. However, I thought about it as follows. It isn’t my job to spend the whole tournament commenting only on Kramnik’s games. [Shipov commented on Kramnik-Liem and Ponomariov-Kramnik in the first two rounds. — DM] We need some sort of rotation of the heroes of the online commentary. Kramnik and Leko have been featured in my onlines dozens if not hundreds of times. And, finally, both Vladimir and Peter experienced disappointments yesterday (the former lost, and the latter did not win a winning position). Therefore today, with a background of negative emotions, they might subconsciously play more solidly.

For these reasons I am instead offering you the battle between Mamedyarov and Le. This is a new matchup, with no previous history, no personal scores to settle. In the big picture, Shakhriyar and Le will get to know each other today. So let’s see what kind of introduction they have. And which one will remain alive at the end …

Mamedyarov, S. — Le Quang Liem

Dortmund 2010 (round 3), 7/17/2010

1. d4

Continuing the trend of a mass emigration from grandmasters away from open openings to closed ones.

1. … d5 2. c4 c6

The Slav Defense.

3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2 …

A popular way of defending the pawn on c4 without blocking the path of the Bishop on c1.

4. … dc 

The abandonment of the center is a disadvantage of this move. The advantage is that White’s queen is too exposed.

5. Qxc4 Bf5

One bishop escapes to freedom …

6. g3 e6

… and the second is not offended. All of Black’s minor pieces are developing comfortably.

7. Bg2 Nbd7 8. O-O Be7 9. Nc3 …

White’s challenge is to carry out the move e2-e4. His advantage in the center would then become palpable. Moreover, his queen would gain a good square on e2. She is not at all comfortable on c4 — from every direction the dogs are snapping.

9. … O-O

For the time being, the square e4 is under Black’s control. But the battle for it is only beginning.

10. Re1 …

The goal is near. But Black has an objection …

The tempting sortie, 10. Nh4, is mistaken because of 10. … Nb6! 11. Qb3 Qxd4. It is always risky to remove the knight from the center. In this case the consequences are obvious.

10. … Ne4!

Exactly! Black blockades the most important square.

11. Qb3 …

The queen avoids any threats and attacks the pawn on b7.

11. … Qb6

A trade of heavy pieces on b6 would be favorable for Black, because he would take with the a-pawn and significantly increase his pressure on the queenside.

12. Nh4 …

The beginning of rapid complications. The goal is still the same — to seize the square e4 and place a pawn on that square.

12. … Bxh4 13. gh …

In order to gain the advantage of the two bishops he does not mind slightly spoiling his pawn structure.

13. … Ndf6

The move 13. … Qxd4? would lead to the loss of a piece after 14. Nxe4 Bxe4 15. Rd1 Qe5 16. Rxd7.

14. f3 Nxc3

Here again the pawn on d4 is poisoned — 14. … Qxd4+? 15. e3! Also, 14. … Nd6 15. e4! is no good for Black.

15. bc Qc7

Without waiting for the trade on d6, Black retracts his offer. Circumstances have changed — the White king is no longer securely protected. Therefore it is desirable for Black to keep the queens on the board.

16. e4 …

The short-term problem has been solved.

16. … Bg6

The White center is as pretty as a picture. The advantage of the two bishops and the advantage in space are all wonderful. However, on the other hand, Black has no weaknesses. And there is a basis for active counterplay … This position is well known and has appeared many times in practice. Black’s results have been in no way inferior to White’s.

17. c4 …

A move suggested by Vladimir Georgiev. White takes all the space that has been offered to him. Meanwhile, the bishop on c1 is still making up its mind on where to relocate. 17. Be3 is also often played here, after which Black in one way or another will transfer is knight to f4 via h5.

17. … Rfd8

A solid but modest move.

A good illustration of Black’s active possibilities is the game S. Slugin – S. Vokarev from Sochi 2008: 17. … Nh5 18. a4 19. Ba3 Rfe8 20. Qe3 Rd7 21. Red1 Qd8 22. Qf2 Nf4 23. Bf1 Bh5 24. Bb4 f5! (a standard undermining) 25. e5 Ng6 (the pawn at h4 falls) 26. Bd6 Nxh4 27. Rd3 f4 28. Rb3 Nf5 29. c5 Ne3 30. Bd3 Bg6 31. Be4 Rf7 32. Kh1 Be4 33. f3 Qg5. Black has won a pawn and developed an initiative. White’s bishop on d6 is a useless decoration.

18. Be3 …

Normally the bishop does not go to b2, in order to keep Black from taking complete control over the square f4.

18. … h6

A novelty. Again the same modesty and restraint.

19. Qb2 …

On the one hand, the queen is hinting at the threat of a break in the center (the “virtual” ideas of d4-d5 and Be3xh6 come to mind, although for the time being they cannot be carried out). On the other hand, she is getting ready to transfer over to the kingside.

19. … Rd7

Black does not have a lot of active possibilities. The pawn jabs in the center, … e6-e5 and … c6-c5, can be met by White in the same way, moving his pawn to d5. In that sense the move c3-c4 was very useful. I think that Black needs to rearrange his minor pieces. For the time being they are standing around with nothing to do, banging against the stone wall of the pawn on e4. You can’t get the pot boiling that way …

20. Kh1 …

Mamedyarov shows his aggressive intentions. He intends to transfer his rook to g1 with pressure on the g-file. The move … h7-h6 in many ways helps White’s attack. The time on the clocks reads 1:26-1:18.

20. … Kh7

Another generally strengthening move. Le is trying to prove that his move with the pawn on the edge of the board was not only advantageous for White.

21. Bh3 …

Everything is going according to plan. At the same time, Shakhriyar is trying to take action as rapidly as possible. After the rook appears on g1, there will be various motifs for a combination — captures on g6, e6, etc. But there is one worry — how pleasant will it be for White’s bishop on h3 if the Black knight is able to penetrate to f4?

A transposition of moves would lead to a completely different result: 21. Rg1 Bxe4! 22. fe Ng4 … actually, let’s go a little farther — 23. Bh3! Nxe3 24. Qc3 Qf4 25. Rae1 … (Black gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar) 25. … Qxe4+ 26. Bg2 Qxh4 27. Rxe3 Qxd4. Black gets too many pawns for his piece after all. Four of them! No, this is a dead end for White.

21. … Nh5

The question is so obvious that even Le, in spite of his nonstandard play, is forced to ask it. The brilliant stroke 22. d5? would not affect Black’s intentions. He answers 22. … Nf4! and achieves an advantage in the complications. Mamedyarov has settled down for a think. His rosy dreams are going up in smoke. The time is 1:01-1:11.

22. Qd2 …

A reasonable parry in the battle for the square f4. He simply doesn’t allow the knight there! For the time being, Black cannot take advantage of the placement of the queen on the same file as the rook. On either 22. … e5 or 22. … c5 White, as before, is ready to play 23. d5. And I don’t even need to say anything about such details as the X-ray of the bishop on h3, aimed at Black’s rook on d7.

22. … Qd8

A reminder of the weakness of the pawn on h4. I would have preferred first to bring the queen rook closer to the battlefield, for example with the move 22. … Re8.

23. Qf2 …

Everything is under control. And the knight as before cannot get to f4.

23. … f5

Very bravely and optimistically played! The Vietnamese player plays the thematic pawn break for this system. However, there is an obvious incompatibility with the position of the rooks. Don’t you agree that it would be much better if the rook now stood on f8, rather than a8? In other words, at a minimum it would have been better to replace 17. … Rfd8 with 17. … Rad8.

The move 23. … Qc7 was begging to be played, renewing the threat of invading on f4. It’s true that in this case, the move 24. d5 is a real possibility. The game might continue 24. … Nf4 25. Bxf4 Qxf4 26. Qg3! (26. de Rd3! is only dangerous for White) 26. … Qxg3 27. hg cd 28. cd Rd6, and Black holds.

Also interesting was the sortie 23. … Qf6. Then after 24. d5 the pawn on e6 is already defended. He can simply move his rook away with 24. … Rdd8, with a complicated and roughly even game.

24. d5 …

The sharpest continuation. Shakhriyar is going for the battering ram! The destruction of the pawn chains is inevitable. The game is going to be R-rated for violence. [Translator’s note: I’m having a little fun here. Literally, Shipov wrote that there will be “grown-up complications.” — DM]

I considered the preparatory move 24. Rad1 to be a little bit more promising — it defends against the threat of f5-f4 followed by the loss of the pawn on d4. Time will tell how White should continue the attack in the center.

Also, the variation 24. Rg1 is interesting, with the idea of 24. … f4 (24. … Qf6 is still in reserve) 25. Qg2! after which Black has to go for a sacrifice: 25. … Ng3+ 26. hg fe 27. d5 cd 28. cd ed 29. Bxd7 Qxd7 30. ed Qxd5. How much is White’s exchange advantage worth? Probably Black’s compensation is completely adequate.

24. … cd

Trying to clarify the position. The move 24. … fe 25. d3 Rd3 26. f4! leads to advantage for White. In case of 24. … ed 25. ef Bf7 26. f6 Nxf6 27. Bxd7 Qxd7 28. c5! White again has achieved a certain advantage. However, from the practical point of view, Black has chances here. White is the only one with weaknesses. Such positions are a little bit easier for Black to play.

25. cd fe

Here there was definitely no reason to play 25. … ed, because after 26. ef Bf7 27. f6 White immediately controls the blockading square d4.

26. de …

Of course not 26. Bxe6 Rxd5! In such a situation even a child will sacrifice the exchange.

26. … Rd3

A small surprise. I had assumed that Le exchanged the c-pawns specifically so that he could play 26. … Rd5 with the idea of meeting the move 27. f4 with the worthy answer 27. … Bf5!, where Black’s prospects would be better.

27. fe …

A reasonable and in its own way logical choice. It would seem that White would want to close the position, in order to hide his weakened monarch. However, in that case (I’m speaking of the move 27. f4) the bishops become passive and Black gets good play. For example, a direct kingside attack runs out of breath very quickly: 27. f4 Nf6 28. Rg1 Bh5 29. Rg3 Bf3+ 30. Rxf3 Rd1+! 31. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 32. Kg2 ef+ 33. Qxf3 Qd5! and Black’s chances in the endgame are better.

27. … Bxe4+ 28. Kg1 …

The king is vulnerable, of course. But his discomfort is compensated by the strength of the pawn on e6. The position is approximately equal, but the abundance of combinative possibilities, and consequently, of chances to make a mistake,  make a draw unlikely. That will happen only if both sides play precisely, which is very difficult to do. The clock shows 0:27 – 0:32.

28. … Qe8

Le, like the Terminator, clearly sees the target and will not be distracted from his course. The queen is going to g6. It would seem essential to stop it — otherwise the king’s position will become a living hell. The banal centralization with 28. … Qd5 was not so promising because of 29. Rac1, and the White rook will penetrate to the seventh rank. And the attempt to bring the queen rook to f8 by means of 28. … Qe7 would simply lose because of 29. Bf5+. Here I would again like to point out that 26. … Rd5! would have been stronger than the move in the game. With the rook on d5 (and not on d3, as it is now), the continuation 28. … Qe7 would have been possible and would have given Black superior chances.

29. Qf7 …

All correct. A relocation of the passed pawn to f7 would be very much to the point for White. From there to f8 would be scarcely a stone’s throw…

29. … Nf6

Maybe you’re getting tired of my boot-licking, but what the heck, I will boot-lick once again. I am completely in agreement with the move played here — the knight on h5 did not serve any useful purpose. And everybody knows about the undesirability of putting the knight on the rim.

30. Rac1 …

Note that for the second time in this game the opponents cannot come to an agreement on the issue of a queen trade. Mamedyarov is aiming to put the rook on c7, after which, I think you’ll agree, Black can no longer ignore the White queen.

30. … Qb5?

This time, however, I must be strict. This is a mistake! You must not help your opponent carry out his own ideas.

The precise move 30. … Rc8! would preserve a rough parity. All of the exchanges are harmless for Black. Moreover, in the variation 31. Qxe8 Rxe8 32. Rc7? (if the penetration to c7 is an idee fixe, then one must consider this move) 32. … Nd5! 33. Rc4 Bg6 and White has serious problems with his bishops. Of course, White can play more carefully …

31. Rc7 …

Of course! Left on her own, the queen is ready to deal with the Black king. The threat against the knight on f6 is secondary, although in the worst-case scenario a horse is still edible food.

31. … Ne8

But for now the knight is the last hope for the Black king. But I think you’ll agree that on e8 it is posted miserably.

In searching for an answer to the question, “What did Le miss, when he moved his queen to b5?” I propose the following version of events: perhaps he initially intended the move 31. … Rg8?, not noticing the reply 32. Qxf6. Of course, that would be a childish oversight, but as you know, even grandmasters do things like this when they are tired out after serious complications.

32. Rc5 …

In my opinion, White does Black a favor in return. Why should the rook step back from hog heaven, the seventh rank with so many goodies on it? What is it doing on the absolutely empty fifth rank?

The move 32. Rd7! looked very strong, with a large and perhaps decisive advantage for White.

32. … Qb4 

It is useful to attack both White rooks at once.

33. Bf5+ …

I don’t see anything better. On 33. Re2 Black has the blow 33. … Rxe3! And 33. Qf2 is too passive.

33. … Bxf5+ 34. Qxf5+ Kh8?!

With time pressure threatening, the play of the adversaries becomes inaccurate. Stronger was 34. … g6!, although after 35. Qf7+ Ng7 36. Bf2 not many of us in Le’s position would have been able to find the sensational resource 36. … Rd1! 37. Rxd1 Qg4+ with equality.

35. Qf8+ Kh7 36. Qf5+ Kh8

As we already know, 36. … g6 is stronger, but in time pressure Le is no longer in a condition to change his chosen path.

37. Bf2 …

White has defended everything and once again taken over the initiative. The pawn on e6 is strong. The bishop clearly has better prospects than the knight.

37. … Rd4

Cleverly played, but this move does not make any threats. The time is 0:11 – 0:14.

38. Qf8+ …

We continue to seesaw back and forth. Simpler and more reliable was 38. e7, after which all of Black’s attempts are doomed to failure: 38. … Rg4+ 39. Kh1 Rf4 40. Qc2 etc.

38. … Kh7 39. Qf5+ Kh8 40. a3 …

For his last, 40th move, a respectable decision. Apparently Shakriyar is still not certain whether he should put the pawn on e7. It makes sense to decide this question after he has received an extra hour on his clock.

40. … Rg4+ 

The time control is passed. White undoubtedly has a positional advantage. It’s time for a drink of coffee!

41. Kh1 Qa4 

Now it’s time for White to think seriously.

42. Qf8+ …

But Mamedyarov, for reasons known only to himself, keeps on checking. Apparently he enjoys it… I also enjoyed putting my opponents in check when I was a kid. With passing years, I have lost some of my taste for this way of passing the time.

42. … Kh7 43. Qf5+ …

The queen’s exercises are starting to put me to sleep. I was hoping for the move 43. Qf3, which at least makes sense — having lured the enemy king to h7, White attacks the b7 pawn.

43. … Kh8 44. Bg3 …

The bishop flexes its biceps, and at the same time restricts the movement of Black’s rook.

Could Black save himself after 44. Qf8+ Kh7 45. Qf3 …? I admit that I have not been able to find, in my haste, a comfortable variation for him. For example, 45. … Rf4 46. Qd3+ (this is why it was necessary to have the king on h7) 46. … Kh8 47. Bg3 Rd4 48. Qf3! and Black’s defensive resources are rapidly dwindling to zero.

44. … b6

Understanding that the pawn on b7 is an obvious weakness, Le places it on firmer ground.

45. Qf8+ Kh7 46. Qf5+ …

Now Shakhriyar is already thinking about the next time control, which is not that far away — it arrives on move 60.

46. … Kh8

The time situation is completely comfortable — 0:36 – 0:51.

47. Qf8+ …

I liked 47. Rc3! better, with the idea of transferring the rook to the seventh rank via d3. Also, in some variations, it could go to f3 instead. The range of possibilities is broad. At the same time, the pawn at a3 receives a little extra support.

47. … Kh7 48. Rcc1 …

White’s pieces are running away from the center. This worries me a little bit… Here, too, 48. Rc3 was stronger.

48. … Rg6?

An extremely weak move. The rook walks into a fatal pin. Correct was 48. … Rc4 with very good chances of survival.

49. Qf3! …

A precise response. Black’s rook on a8 hardly has any squares. On 49. Qf5 Black had the defense 49. … Qg4!

49. … Rd8 50. Qf5 …

This way is also possible. White threatens to win the rook by h4-h5. Another way to win is 50. e7 Rd4 51. Qf5, when Black would be forced to give away the exchange on h4. But even this would not prolong the battle for very long: 51. … Rxh4 52. Bxh4 Qxh4 53. Rg1 Qf6 54. Qxg6+ Qxg6 55. Rxg6 Kxg6 56. Rf1! and Black can resign.

50 … Qg4

One of many roads leading to the underworld. Black could have bought White off with a knight — 50. … Nf6 51. h5 Nxh5 52. Qxh5, but the pawn position that arises does not have any significance. White’s extra bishop and powerful passer guarantee him a victory.

Also bad is 50. … Qa5 51. Qxa5 ba 52. e7 Ra8 53. Red1 with the indefensible threat of Rd1-d8.

51. Qxg4 Rxg4 52. e7 Ra8 53. Red1 Black resigns

The same variation, from the side view. There is no defense to the invasion of the rook on d8.

Le disappointed me a little bit … He did not play the opening badly, in other words he showed good preparation, but then he gradually lost his grip on the position. The Vietnamese played weaker than his opponent, and made regular oversights. Mamedyarov deservedly won and now leads the tournament. Bravo!

This has been grandmaster Sergey Shipov at your service. Goodbye until next time, i.e., tomorrow!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan Benson July 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Dana – many thanks for the fine job of translating this game ‘Mamedyarov-Le’ from GM Sergey Shipov’s original comments & analysis on Crestbook. 🙂

The game was quite entertaining with the ‘Shark’ really working hard and exercising some powerful strategy and moves to take the full point! 😉

I’ve known many translators in my life and thus understand the enrichment it provides when reading and comprehending what one cannot decipher by oneself. Especially back in the days when I played in Master Class ICCF Chess tournaments 1971-1976 (via snail-mail, pre-comps & pre-databases). It made this experience so much the richer! 😉 Not only could I understand what they were writing to me but I could respond in kind back in their language of choice. 🙂

I’ve been following GM Shipov’s superb commentary for many years now… It wasn’t until the FIDE World Championship Matches held in Mexico City, Sept-Oct 2007 when he offered for the first time (that I was aware of anyway) his comments translated into English (and Russian on his famous website – Crestbook) on the FIDE website of this event. I was completely hooked! ~lol~ 😛

Keep up the ‘good work’ and we all look forward to tomorrow’s game from Dortmund. 😉

Best Regards,
Alan Benson
(aka: malthrope)
Berkeley, CA

PS: Thanks also for the additional info given re: yourself and mishanp (your counterpart) on your blog. You both deserve Gold stars! 😀


Roberto Alvarez July 18, 2010 at 11:35 am

Thank you Dana! Keep up this fantastic and well done work!

Cheers from Argentina,


kevin July 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm

thanks for the superb translation, and please pass on a big thanks to GM Sergey Shipov.
I thought Le met Mamadyarov once in 2009 where Le won the game.



Manolis Tazartes August 12, 2010 at 10:30 am

Many, many thanks Mrs. Mc Kenzie for your excellent translation! It’s the first time I visited it and I can promise that I ‘ll be a regular fan of your blog from now on.


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