Saturday, March 12, 2016

Candidates 2016: Round 1 Review

Candidates 2016: Round 1  Review

Four games. Three draws. Anand wins. Topalov loses.
Lots of controversy centred on a ridiculous embargo, which was broken by multiple websites and zillions of people on social media.
That is the short of it.

Read on for the long-form version.

I have many thoughts about the embargo.  Some of those are unprintable. I can probably get paid for writing the printable thoughts out in a coherent way. So I'll link to that when I have written something or the other.

The games were all fairly hard-fought. Scores can be downloaded from all over the place such as  (

Karjakin -Svidler never deviated from approximately equal. In the end position, white's centralised King and his ability to plant a Kt on d5 compensated for black's potentially better structure (white's e4 pawn is isolated) and black's long-range bishop.

Nakamura- Caruana was interesting. It was a Benoni sort of structure.

White is better. He has the bishop pair. pressure against d6, h6, more space, etc. But it's not easy to convert. Black's quite active. He has well-placed Kts and there's play on the big black diagonal.  Nonetheless White should convert the pressure into something concrete 

White missed something. The engines say 24. Nb5 is close to winning. The plan is Kg2, Nb5, d6, Bc6, Re1, Rd1  etc.  The black pawn majority can be blockaded on the b5-c6  white square complex. In addition, e8 is controlled, giving white chances to infiltrate on that file. If he can get in d7, supported by Rd1 and Bc6, black will be totally smothered. While black would not sit still for this to be done to him,  it's hard to see what he can do in concrete terms. The "notoriously drawish" opposite bishops actually help white - he can lockdown the counter-chances on the queenside and threaten entry via e8/c8.  

But Naka played 24. Nc4 ? and Caruana immediately fought back hard. The end-position is just an easy draw. Attempts to shift the balance by 31. Rb3 Rd1+ 32. Kg2 Nd5 are useless.

Giri-Aronian saw steady pressure from the Dutch GM.  

The c5-pawn is dangerous and Giri has a lot of reasonably good tries like 30.g4, 30. c6 in this position.  

He played 30. Nc3? bxc5 31. dxc5 and Aronian refused to take 31.-- Nxc5 !? 32. Nb5 Nfd7 33. Nxc7 Nd3 34. Ra1 Nxf4. This position is probably drawn but the rook could torture black for a while. As it stood, Giri kept an objective advantage and continued to torture black.  But there was no clear win apparent and eventually Aronian swapped down to a well-calculated pawn endgame.  White has an extra pawn but he has no entry. He can't get his king to f7, or f8.

Anand -Topalov was a wild ride.

The first critical moment.  White has gone pawn-hunting . This is seriously risky because he's underdeveloped.  The only good moves are 19. Ra3 Qh4 20. Rae3 and 19. Ra4 Bc5 (or 19.--Nc5 20. Qb4) 20. Qb3. White gives the exchange and it stays approximately equal.

Instead White played 19. Nc4 ?! Nc5 20. Qc6 leading to the next diagram

Here black has the rather tasty 20.-- Bxf2+ 21. Kxf2 Qh4+ 22. g3 Nxe4+ 23. Rxe4   Qxe4 - There's a massive attack with threats of Qf3+/ Qe1+ and rough material equality as well. The engines say  white might hold on after 24. g4 Qe1+ 25. Kg2 Bg6 but it's doubtful that a human being, even one as tactically alert as Anand, could defend this.

Anyhow Topalov missed this and the pawn grabbing paid off.

Here white found the excellent 25. Ne3! and he's probably winning. The point is Rxc7 with continuations like Rc8+ and Rb7.  The balance shifted  in favour of white and after 28.--hxg6? (opening the f0file is much better), white's winning for sure.

But Anand was already in some time trouble. He avoided 30. Qxc7! Bxe3 31. Rxe3 Rxe3 32. fxe3 Qxe3+ 33. Kh2 Re8 when white can just stabilise with 34. Rg2 and point meaningfully at the a-pawn. Incidentally this line would be highly dubious against 28--fxg6 because 33.-Rf8 would generate serious counter-chances.

There were further time trouble errors by white. Notably 35.bxa4? because 35. Qc2 Qxa6 36. Nf5! gxf5 37. Re8+ or 36. Nf5 Rb4 37. Ne7+ Kf8 38. Nxg6+ are forced wins for white.

This is move 40. White's best move objectively is probably 40. Re4 which threatens Rh4# and forces 40. - Bf6 41. Rf8. This retains the a5 pawn and picks up f7, c7 (probably) Black will get d5 but he's tied down and probably lost.

Instead Anand played 40. Nd2?! and now Topalov's only  good move is 40.--f5 though it's no bed of roses for black. For example  after 41.h4 Bf6. 42. Rd7 Rxa5 43. Nf3 Rxd5 44. Ng5+ Bxg5 45. hxg5 which is a horrible way to lose.

Play went 40. -- Rc2 41. Ne4 and now white is well and truly winning. 

The pieces on a6, c2 are useless defenders and the black king is imprisoned by his own pawns.
Typically white delivers mate or win tonnes of material.  At best, black might bail into lost endings  like 41.-- g5 42. Rxf7 Rxa5 43. Rf5 c6 44. Re6 Be3 45. Nxg5+ Bxg5 46. Rxg5 Rxd5 47. Rxd5 cxd5 48. Rxd6. The 3-1 pawn majority will turn into two united passed pawns.

This was a flawed masterpiece in that a beautiful study like set of wins arose from messy middlegame play. Also Topalov had a pretty good practical chance.  Still a win is a win and Anand had to play pretty well to nail this one down/

(The game with a few random variations)
( White: Anand,Viswanathan (2762)  Black: Topalov,Veselin (2780) [C65]
FIDE Candidates 2016 Moscow RUS (1.4), 11.03.2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 0–0 7.Nbd2 Ne7 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 Bb6 10.Re1 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.a4 a6 13.Bf1 Re8 14.a5 Ba7 15.Qb3 Nc6 16.d5 Nd4 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.Qxb7 Nd7 19.Nc4?

[19.Ra4 Bc5
a) 19...Bxf2+ 20.Kxf2 Qh4+ 21.g3;

b) 19...Nc5 20.Qb4 Bxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ (21...Nxa4 22.Qxa4) 22.g3;

20.Qb3 Qh4 21.Re3; 19.Ra3 Qh4 20.Rae3 Nc5 (20...Ne5) 21.Qc6 Bxe3 (21...Nxe4 22.Nxe4 Bxe3 23.Bxe3 Qxe4 24.Bd2) 22.Rxe3]

19...Nc5 20.Qc6 Nb3?
[20...Bxf2+! 21.Kxf2 Qh4+ 22.g3 Nxe4+ 23.Rxe4 Qxe4 24.g4 Qe1+ 25.Kg2 Bg6]

21.Rb1 Nxc1 22.Rbxc1 Rb8 23.Qxa6 Qh4 24.Rc2 Rxe4 25.Ne3 Qd8 26.Qc4 Bg6 27.Bd3 Rf4 28.Bxg6 hxg6? 29.g3 Re4 30.a6 Qe8 31.Rce2
[31.Qxc7 Bxe3 32.Rxe3 Rxe3 33.fxe3 Qxe3+ 34.Kh2 Re8]

31...Bb6 32.Qd3 Ra8 33.Kg2 Qa4 34.b3 Rd4 35.bxa4? [35.Qc2 Qxa6 36.Nf5 gxf5 (36...Rb4 37.Ne7+) 37.Re8+ Rxe8 38.Rxe8+ Kh7 39.Qxf5+]

35...Rxd3 36.Nc4 Rxa6 37.a5 Bd4 38.Re8+ Kh7 39.R1e7 Rc3 40.Nd2?! [40.Re4 Bf6 41.Rf8 Rd3 (41...g5 42.Rxf7 Rd3 43.Re6 Kg6 44.Rd7 (44.Rxc7 Rxd5) ) 42.h4 g5 43.h5]

40...Rc2 [40...f5 41.h4 Bf6 42.Rd7 Rxa5 43.Nf3 Rxd5 44.Ng5+ Bxg5 45.hxg5 Re5 46.Rf8]

41.Ne4 f6 [41...g5 42.Rxf7 Rxa5 (42...Kg6 43.Rff8 Rxa5 44.Re6+ Bf6 45.Nxf6 gxf6 46.Rexf6+ Kg7 47.R6f7+ Kg6 48.Rf5 Rcc5) 43.Rf5 c6 44.Re6 Be3 45.Nxg5+ Bxg5 46.Rxg5 Rxd5 47.Rxd5 cxd5 48.Rxd6 Rd2 - This ending may typically go 49.h4 d4 50.h5 d3 51.Kf3 Rd1 52.Ke3 Re1+ 53.Kf4 Re2 54.Kf3 Rd2 55.g4 Rd1 56.g5 d2 57.Kg2 Kg8 58.f4 Kf8 59.Rd3 Kf7 60.f5 Ke7 61.f6+ gxf6 62.h6 Kf7 63.h7 Kg7 64.Rd7+ Kh8 65.g6 f5 66.Rd8+]

42.h4 Rxa5 43.Rf7 g5 [43...Rxd5 44.Rff8 g5 45.h5]

44.h5 Rxf2+ [44...f5 45.Rxf5 Bf6 46.Nxf6+ gxf6 47.Rxf6 Kg7 48.Ref8 Rxd5 49.h6+]

45.Nxf2 Ra2 46.Rff8 Rxf2+ 47.Kh3 g4+ 48.Kxg4 f5+ 49.Rxf5



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