Round four, Dortmund

by admin on July 18, 2010

We move on now to round four of the Dortmund super-GM tournament, and once again I will translate GM Sergey Shipov’s commentaries for you. In yesterday’s blog post I forgot to give the obligatory link to Crestbook, where his original commentaries (in Russian) are posted. So let me do that right away. Here is the link for today’s game.

Although I don’t have a Java screen where you can play through the moves of the game, if you want to do so you can do it easily enough by going to the Crestbook link in one window while you read through my translations in another window. That’s exactly how I am doing this translation — with two windows open at once. Of course, it helps if you have a nice big computer screen. (Mine is 21 inches — thank you, Apple.)

Also, let me mention two minor mistakes that I have corrected in yesterday’s post. First, I originally misinterpreted Sergey’s comment at the end — I wrote “Le is disappointed,” whereas he meant “I am disappointed in Le.” I have corrected that. Second, in the comment to move 32, I originally wrote that the rook retreated from the “firing line.” This was a mis-translation of kalashnyi riad, which resulted from the fact that I could not find kalashnyi in Google Translate and I was not familiar with this term. I did know, of course, that riad meant “rank,” and so Sergey was making some sort of pun on that word.

My Russian colleagues at Crestbook explained the mystery to me. Kalashnyi riad refers to the row in a traditional farmer’s market where the pastries and baked goods are sold. Perhaps we could call it “baker’s row.” There is an old Russian saying to the effect of “you shouldn’t bring pig snouts to the kalashnyi riad,” meaning that you shouldn’t try to sell lower-quality stuff in the higher-quality part of the market.

Now you can see all the wonderful layers of Sergey’s pun. First, the rook was on the seventh rank — where in Russian as in English, it is sometimes called a “blind pig.” So here was Mamedyarov’s rook, the “pig,” on the seventh rank where there were all these fine delicacies for it to eat. Then Mamedyarov moved it back, and Sergey was questioning why he was moving his pig away from baker’s row.

What a delightful little stroll through Russian history and culture! I am indebted to my colleagues Valery Adzhiev and Misha Semionenkov for this explanation. I changed my translation to “Why should the rook step back from hog heaven?” The English idiom “hog heaven,” I think, captures most of the spirit of Sergey’s pun and does not need any explanation for the native English reader.

Ah, the joys of translating!

Okay, let’s move on to today’s game now, between Mamedyarov and a player who needs no introduction, Vladimir Kramnik.  — DM

Hello, dear friends! Welcome to the 4th round of the Dortmund tournament. You will be able to watch the match between Mamedyarov and Kramnik together with me, grandmaster Sergey Shipov. Now would be an ideal moment for Shakhriyar to overcome this titan of chess. His play is flowing, while for Vladimir it’s just the opposite. It has been a very long time since I saw Kramnik play so unconvincingly in his favorite city and his favorite tournament. In the first round he failed to score any goals against the Vietnamese novice [Translator’s note: As I’ve pointed out before, Liem is playing in his first super-GM tournament. — DM], in the second round he lost to Ponomariov, and yesterday he played an incorrect combination with a piece sacrifice against Leko. He saved himself by a miracle, but undoubtedly this left a very unpleasant taste in his mouth. Thus Mamedyarov, most likely, will be in a mood for a decisive game today. For a long time he was considered a promising talent, and then he moved onto the list of brilliant but inconsistent players. Now, I hope, Shakhriyar will enter into his period of maturity. Now is the time for him to demonstrate his full talent, to achieve his greatest results. To win such a prestigious, famous tournament as Dortmund would not be a bad start…

Mamedyarov, S. – Kramnik, V.

Dortmund 2010 (round 4), 7/18/2010

1. d4 …

The moves have begun to appear on the official site earlier than 15 minutes after the beginning of the round. Apparently the organizers are gradually relaxing their anti-cheating policies, having become convinced that all of the participants are playing honestly. Of that, personally, I had no doubts.

1. … d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7

A popular move order in the Queen’s Gambit Declined. Black temporarily prevents the development of the White bishop to g5. In the years of my youth (that is, roughly a thousand years ago) the unforgettable Efim Geller — the bellwether of many opening trends — started to play this move order regularly. Many others followed him.

4. Nf3 …

The line 4. cd ed 5. Bf4 would lead to the Carlsbad structure,and Black would play 5. … c6 6. e3 Bd6!

4. … Nf6

Now White has a choice of cardinal importance to make: where to develop the c1 bishop, to f4 or g5? Both variations are very substantive. The theory has been worked out to great depth …

5. Bf4 …

After 5. Bg5 the Lasker system is now popular: 5. … h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Ne4! 8. Bxe7 Qxe7. On this subject, I recommend looking at the last game of the Anand-Topalov match, in which the champion scored a convincing victory.

5. … O-O 6. e3 Nbd7

A very modest continuation. Black declines a direct confrontation in the center. (The main body of theory lurks under the move 6. … c5.)

7. a3 …

A clever waiting move. The bishop remains on f1, in order to take on c4 in one tempo. One more idea is to obtain a bind on the queenside by playing b2-b4.

The tempting attack (for beginners) 7. Nb5 is clearly premature. Besides the check on b4, Black can also lure his opponent in with the move 7. … c6 8. Nc7 (8. Bc7 Bb4+!) 8. … e5 9. de Qxc7 10. ef Qa5+ followed by capturing on f6, with an initiative for Black.

Here his how the classics handled this position: 7. c5 c6 8. Bd3 Nh5 9. Be5 f6 10. Bg3 f5 11. Ng5! Ndf6 (11. … Ng3 12. Nxe6!) 12. Be5 g6 13. h3 b6 14. g4 Ng7 15. Na4, and White had an advantage, W. Steinitz – M. Chigorin Nuremberg 1896.

7. … c5

This leads to total exchanges in the center. With the knight on d7 (not on c6) Black will not be able to develop a serious initiative. However, in the broader picture Black does not really pretend to take over the initiative in this variation. His goal is to equalize without risk.

8. cd Nxd5 9. Nxd5 ed 10. dc Nxc5

White’s main hope for a win lies in Black’s isolated pawn. If one could only finish developing, blockade the target and then gradually build up pressure on it … But who will ever allow you do do that? Black must play energetically and precisely, using his temporary advantage in mobility.

11. Be5 …

It’s important to be the first to claim the long black diagonal. Black intended the move … Be7-f6!

11. … Bg4

In the game V. Anand – V. Kramnik, Bonn 2008, the play went 11. … Bf5 12. Be2 Bf6 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Nd4 Ne6 15. Nxf5 Qxf5 16. O-O Rfd8 17. Bg4 Qe5, and Black soon carried out the threat of … d5-d4 and equalized. Apparently some unpleasant nuances for Black must have turned up in his analysis …

12. Be2 Bxf3

A conceptual exchange, motivated by the desire not to allow a firm blockade on the d4 square. As is well known, the White knight is ideal for this purpose. He was, but now he is dead. If instead 12. … Bf6 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 White can battle for the advantage with 14. Qd4!

13. Bxf3 Bf6

White is exactly one tempo shy of getting a comfortable advantage. If he had only castled already … but miracles never happen.

14. Bxf6 …

After 14. Bd4 Bxd4 White can’t take back with the queen because of a knight fork on b3.

14. … Qxf6

Offering a trade of the b2 and d5 pawns.

15. O-O …

Played after serious meditation. A sensible and solid move. The clock reads 1:16 – 1:32.

I can’t be sure what Mamedyarov was looking at, but the move 15. Qc2 is worthy of consideration. Here are some example variations. After 15. … Qxb2 16. Qxb2 Nd3+ 17. Ke2 Nxb2 18. Rhb1 White has a superior endgame. If 15. Qc2 Rac8 16. Bxd5 (cold-blooded!) 16. … Qa6 it is important not to play 17. Bc4?, allowing 17. … Ne6! 18. Bxa6 Rxc2 19. Bxb7 Nc5! Much stronger is 17. Rd1!, which hangs on to the extra pawn and does not allow Black a brilliant attack.

15. … Rfd8

Unexpected! A novelty. I admit that I was studying the superficially dubious move 15. Qc2 (which, after all, keeps the king in the center!) precisely because I thought that the exchange of pawns was favorable for Black. But Kramnik has up and declined the trade. Now Mamedyarov’s choice [to castle] is more than justified.

The principled variation 15. … Qxb2 16. Qxd5 was tested in the game V. Erdos – P. H. Nielsen, Bundesliga 2009. The battle did not last long: after 16. … Rac8 17. Rfd1 Qf6 18. Qd4 Qe7 19. Qb4 Rfd8 20. h3 b6 21. a4 Rxd1+ 22. Rxd1 Rd8 23. Rd4 the players agreed to a draw. Judging from everything, both Shakhriyar and Vladimir found some sort of difficulties for Black in this direction. Personally, I can imagine a picture something like this: the White bishop reigns on d5, puts pressure on the f7 pawn, and then White moves the pawns forward on the kingside. Anything is possible! Future practice will tell the story.

16. Rc1 Ne6

Black is insisting on the break d5-d4, which he thinks must lead to complete simplification of the game and equality. But as long as the f3 bishop is putting pressure on the b7 pawn and the a8 rook this idea does not work. A great deal depends on the next couple of moves. White needs to succeed in creating pressure on the queenside.

17. Qb3 …

Mamedyarov carries out the indicated idea. It looks as if the break 17. … d4 will lead to a position where White has an extra pawn. If anyone but Kramnik were playing, I would think that Black had prepared the opening poorly. But the authority of the ex-champion, as one of the world’s top opening experts, is great enough that … We’ll wait and see. We will not leap to any conclusions!

After 17. Bxd5 Black can either take on b2 or play for simplification: 17. … Qg5 18. e4 Nf4 19. Qf3 Nxd5 20. Rc5 Qf6 21. Rxd5 Qxb2, and equality is evidently inevitable.

17. … d4

Otherwise Black’s play would make no sense. (On 17. … Rab8 18. Bxd5 is already good.) Judging from the speed of his play, Vladimir is still reciting his home analysis. He must have worked it out to a drawn engame. Shakhriyar, as we can clearly tell from his use of time, is already playing on his own. But on the other hand, what risk is there for him? He has no weaknesses, and his king is in no danger. In my opinion he should take the pawn, and let the chips fall where they may.

18. Qxb7 …

Exactly. It’s true that at the last moment I noticed the curious alternative 18. Bd5 — here White is not winning material, but he has a chance to create serious pressure on the white squares.

18. … Rab8 19. Qxa7 …

For one short moment, White has two extra pawns. Protected passers. As the poet said: “Oh moment, stay!” Goethe, if I remember correctly. [Translator’s note: Goethe’s Faust — “If I should ever to the moment say, ‘Oh stay! Thou art so fair!'” I’m sure Sergey knows this, he is just tweaking us. -DM  😎 ]

19. … Rxb2

It looks hard to believe. White has an extra pawn, and not only that, an outside passed pawn. It’s his turn to move, and Black has no obvious threats. How could White not have an advantage? It’s impossible! Most likely the truth lies elsewhere — White’s advantage is not sufficient to win. Such laborious ways for Black to make a draw turn up all over the place in contemporary opening theory. Mamedyarov is thinking a long time, looking for a possibility to make his opponent’s hard labor twice as difficult. The time is 0:48 – 1:21.

20. Qa6 …

I think that this move will be a surprise, and will take Kramnik out of his home preparation. Indeed, it must be so — he is meditating deeply. What is the idea of this maneuver of the White queen? She is preventing the knight from going to g5. If Black plays … d4-d3, then the queen can participate in restraining the passed pawn.

A sensible idea was 20. Rb1 with the idea of trading as many rooks as possible. For example, thus: 20. … Rxb1 21. Rxb1 Ng5 22. Rb8 Nxf3+ 23. gf de 24. Rxd8+ Qxd8 25. Qxe3 and in the queen endgame White has … mild winning chances. The main disadvantage of 20. Rb1 lies in the fact that Vladimir undoubtedly analyzed it at home. And, perhaps, prepared the subtle answer 20. … Ra2!?

20. … g6

The product of a 25-minute deliberation. Creating a “window” will not hurt Black.

In the obvious variation 20. … de 21. fe Qe5 22. Rc8 Qxe3+ 23. Kh1 Black restores material equality, but there is no guarantee that he can deal with the racer at a3.

There would be hardly any sense in playing 20. … d3. After 21. Rc8 d2 22. Rd1 g6 23. a4 White’s trumps are higher.

21. a4 …

The tortoise crawls forward slowly, but surely. Notice that White is not in a hurry to trade pawns on d4, and he keeps his rook on f1. Apparently Shakhriyar has some hope of creating pressure on f7 after a pawn trade on e3.

By analogy I will venture the suggestion 21. Rc8, although Black would not be in any hurry to trade rooks (which would allow the bishop to d5). Stronger is 21. … Kg7!

21. … Kg7

Amazing cold-bloodedness.

22. a5 …

A consequential move. However, this move causes White some grief — he has wasted a whole tempo moving his queen from a7 to a6, where she interferes with his own passed pawn. It is hard to call his play ideal and smooth. But who ever said that the route to the goal has to be as smooth as a highway? It is an appealing thesis, but I have started to be overcome by serious doubts. Does White have time? Suppose that Black trades pawns on e3, puts his queen on g5 and penetrates with the second rook to the second rank — won’t White’s king be checkmated? It seems as if Mamedyarov had to trade a pair of rooks by Rc1-c8 after all.

22. … Qe5

Kramnik decided to leave the square g5 for his knight. And he has placed the a5 pawn in his sights. Also a good thought! White’s aria with his queen on a6 is starting to sound a little bit dissonant. I repeat — he was too slow to exchange rooks, and as a result the domination of the Black pieces is quite palpable.

I analyzed the variation 22. … de 23. fe Qg5 and considered Black’s initiative to be quite dangerous. For example, 24. Kh1 Rdd2 25. Qa8 (25. Rg1 is dubious because of 25. … Nc5! and the knight is literally flying toward f2) 25. … Nc5 26. a6 Nd3 27. Qc6 Qxe3! (holding up the White passed pawn for a second) 28. Ra1 Rf2, and White is already defenseless. The finish begs to be played: 29. Rfd1 Rxg2! 30. Bxg2 Nf2+ 31. Kg1 Nh3+ 32. Kh1 Qg1+ 33. Rxg1 Nxf2 mate. Don’t you agree that this would have been a pretty good game?

23. Qa7 …

A sad but necessary decision. Good job, Shakhriyar! Not too many people would have been able to admit their mistake. Yes, the maneuver Qa7-a6-a7 looks ugly, and it will hardly go into any chess textbooks. But in a serious game the main thing is to achieve a positive result — not to look pretty or to demonstrate logical, deliberate play.

23. … d3

Vladimir, as a born hunter, senses the smell of blood and gives chase. (23. … Ng5 would not be dangerous because of 24. Bc6! The move 23. … Ra2 24. a6 Rd6 would have guaranteed equality, but this evidently did not tempt the ex-World Champion.)

24. Rb1 …

Time trouble is breathing down his neck. The time is 0:22 – 0:36. (The move 24. a6 was worth a try, and choosing a square for the rook later.)

24. … Rxb1

Apparently fatigue is making itself known. The move 24. … Ra2! looked very strong. The point is that the penetration of the White rook to b7 is a myth. After 25. Rb7 Ng5 White is in danger of losing, and indeed fairly quickly: 26. a6 (26. Bc6? Ra1!) 26. … Nf3+ 27. gf Qg5+ 28. Kh1 Qf6 29. Kg2 d2 30. Rd1 Ra1! 31. Rxa1 Qxa1 32. Rxf7+ Kg8 33. Rxh7 Qf6! and they can sign off on the result 0-1.

25. Rxb1 Ng5

In this position the knight’s leap is not so dangerous.

26. Qb6 …

Correct. The king will not die from a pair of checks, and White meanwhile will generate enough counterplay to save himself. Bad was 26. Bc6? Qc3! 27. Qb6 d2 28. Rd1 Qc2. Also, 26. Bd1 Ne4! is not exactly a sight for sore eyes.

26. … Nxf3+ 27. gf …

Drawn variations can be found all over the place, and there is enough time left for an adequate defense: 0:20 – 0:20.

27. … Qd5

A concession to the opponent. Much stronger was the move 27. … Rd5!, which gives Black significant practical chances to win. The strength of his position is his powerful centralization. And what is the big deal about the center? It’s a redoubt from which one can fire shots at every part of the board. Beside the pawn race, there is one more important factor — the weakness of the White king. Not only that, but the Black enemies are much closer to him than the White defenders …

Let me cite just one critically important variation with play for an advantage: 28. a6 d2 29. Rd1 Qc3 30. a7? (30. Qb1! Ra5 puts up better resistance) 30. … Qc2!, and White is one tempo shy of salvation. But if that’s the case, he has to switch over to a difficult defense. I will omit the details.

No, I’ve changed my mind. Let me show you a beautiful way of saving the position: 27. … Rd5 28. e4! Rxa5 29. f4! Qc3 30. Qb2, but not every player can come up with such moves.

28. Qd4+ …

A primitive but reliable way to draw.

28. … Qxd4 29. ed Rxd4 30. Rd1 Ra4 31. Rxa3 Rxa5 ½-½

A very interesting game, in my professional opinion. Kramnik demonstrated deep home preparation. The superficial impression of the position after the opening was deceptive. So deceptive that Mamedyarov somewhat overestimated his chances. After he “forgot” to trade a pair of rooks, Black suddenly whipped up such a storm of activity that White had to look for a way to save the game. Vladimir clearly did not take advantage of all of his chances — probably he did not have enough fighting spirit today. As a result, Shakhriyar was able to simplify the game and achieve total liquidation. But he remains atop the leader board …

With that I will wrap up my commentary. This has been Sergey Shipov looking at the game with you, dear friends. Best wishes!

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