Thursday, November 20, 2014

Game Eight Anand Carlsen

Game eight
This was the smoothest and most boring professional draw we've seen so far (until #9 trumped it of course). Well, #8 was at the least played out till a dead-drawn minor piece endgame arose. But neither player tried very hard. The #7 marathon would have definitely had some bearing on the flat play.

Carlsen looked exhausted when he came to the board and he admitted in the press conference that he wasn't in the best of shape. He did have an innovation on offer, and it seemed to suck the life out of the position. Anand on his part played stolid "good moves". He might have found some sharper lines but he wasn't inclined to test the novelty by taking risks.

That leaves the match situation in favour of Carlsen. But his play has also shown some signs of frailty. Apart from the tragic-comic errors of #6, there was the #3 steamroller. Also, Carlsen did not manage to covert good positions in #7 and #4.  Anand has white in #10 and #12, and the difference is one point. This could turn into a question of who holds onto their  nerves better if the last game is played in a "must-win" situation.

The classical Queens Gambit Declined with e6 is one of the soundest systems in existence.  It is almost impossible to get a meaningful edge in the mainlines where white plays Bg5. At some stage, black will play dxc4, and then start exchanging minor pieces with Nd5. Finally, black will usually get a pawn break with c5 or e5.  These equalising ideas have all been around for close to 100 years with Capablanca and Rubinstein being the reference points.

White has tried several different methods of keeping tension over the decades. 
One is an early exchange of pawns with cx5 exd5. That leads to the Exchange  Variation where white has three plans.  He can either keep a small edge by castling kingside and pushing his queenside pawns to create small weaknesses. This is the  so-called Minority Attack, championed by capablanca. Or he can castle kingside and  organise an e4 push with Rae1 (usually with Nge2-g3  and f3 to support e4 rather than Nf3). Botvinnik used to play this line. Or white  can castle queenside and play baldly for mate. The second and third plans are unclear and double-edged. Black has big counter-chances in both setups.

Another white method of trying to create QGD tension is the line Anand played in #3 and #8. That is Bf4 instead of Bg5.  It can lead to a complex of positions, which can also arise from NimzoIndians.
One idea is to avoid minor piece exchanges with Bg5 opposed by Be7. This Bf4 idea can also lead to white opting to go queenside castle followed by pawn storms against both kings.

Black's classical counter against Bf4 is to  hit back with an early c5 as Carlsen did in this game. One key difference from the Bg5 lines is that white's cxd5 can often be met by Nxd5 without any contortions from black.

In the Bf4 lines, we often see dynamic pawn centres with white's c4,d4 being opposed by c5,d5. That sort of situation requires good concrete analysis. Quite often, it dissolves into easy equality with massive exchanges in a wide-open centre. Sometimes, white gets an edge because he is developing faster. Once in a while, black gets too much play and wins, especially when white goes 0-0-0 and loses control. 

The alert reader will note that I have not given any move numbers in this explanations of QGD nuances. This is not accidental. Exact move orders are important, of course. But there are also multiple ways to reach the same sort of positions.

Some interesting moments

Diagram after 10 Bg5 . Both sides are "breaking rules". Development is incomplete and they're moving pieces twice without trying to complete development.
Black's last move 9.--Re8 threatens e5, or cd5 ed5, opening the e-file  for counterplay.  White plays Bf4-g5 to retard e5 (Nxd5 will be a serious threat). Now Carlsen played his novelty 10.-- Be7. One earlier game has gone 10. --d4 11. O-O-O e5 12. Nd5  

Diagram after 16.--Bb7. This is optically good for white. He might have some sort of build-up with Bxf6 and Rd7 or Bxf6 and Ne4, maybe with Ng3-h5 or Bb1 (as played) hoping to penetrate along the long diagonal and deliver mate. One defensive key factor is that the Bf6 holds g7 and the black king can run to e7 even if white gets in Qh8+. Anand did a fair amount of calculation here but he couldn't find anything. The engines rate it as flat-equal or thereabout. 

Diagram after 21. Qxc5. White must have been hoping he could get some sort of activity down the c-file. Black just kills all the chances with 21.--b4! Looking at this with hindsight, there's nothing much anyway. Even if white has the move in this position, he has no serious threats.

Diagram after 29. --Nb6. The pawn structure is absolutely symmetrical. White would like to peg down the a6 pawn and some other pawn on the other side of the board and thus, attack two weaknesses. But he has no hope of doing so.

Final position  after 41. e5+
Play can continue 41.--fxe5+ 42. fxe5+ Kc6 and white is running out of options to maintain pressure after 43. Bc4 a5. There is no chance of penetrating with the king on the queenside and attempts to go to the kingside would be suicidal if black responded with Kc5.

White : Anand, Viswanathan  Vs Black : Carlsen ,Magnus [D37]
Game 8, WCM, Sochi 2014, 18.11.2014

 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.a3 Nc6 9.Qc2 Re8 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Rd1 Qa5 12.Bd3 h6 13.Bh4 dxc4 14.Bxc4 a6 15.0–0 b5 16.Ba2 Bb7 17.Bb1 Rad8 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Ne4 Be7 20.Nc5 Bxc5 21.Qxc5 b4 22.Rc1 bxa3 23.bxa3 Qxc5 24.Rxc5 Ne7 25.Rfc1 Rc8 26.Bd3 Red8 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Rxc8+ Nxc8 29.Nd2 Nb6 30.Nb3 Nd7 31.Na5 Bc8 32.Kf1 Kf8 33.Ke1 Ke7 34.Kd2 Kd6 35.Kc3 Ne5 36.Be2 Kc5 37.f4 Nc6 38.Nxc6 Kxc6 39.Kd4 f6 40.e4 Kd6 41.e5+ (½–½).



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