Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Melody Amber, Round 8

Happy Easter, everyone!

Nothing of significance happened in the battle for the top spot, as Anand maintained his 2.5 point lead over the field - surprisingly, by winning on the Black side of the Petroff against Leko! Had Leko won, the tournament might have become much more interesting, but a 2.5 point lead with three rounds (six games) to go - one against cellar-dweller van Wely - ought to mean the trophy is as good as awarded. We shall see.

For today's amusement, then, a contrast for your consideration. We'll take a look at a pair of Pirc games - one from this event, the other not. The Pirc Defense (which generally arises via the move order 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6) is a sharp opening. Black baits White to take the center and attack, hoping that White will over-extend, the center will explode and Black will get to rule the wreckage. Sometimes the plan works and sometimes it doesn't, and we'll see what things look like in each case.

First we'll look at a game from the ongoing Foxwoods Open in Connecticut, in which current US champ Hikaru Nakamura pole-axes Israeli GM and one-time 2700 (that's 2700 FIDE; the ratings below are USCF) Ilya Smirin:

Nakamura,Hikaru (2752) - Smirin,Ilya (2812) [B09]
Foxwoods Open Monte Carlo MNC (5), 25.03.2005

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e5 Nfd7 7.h4 c5 8.h5 cxd4 9.hxg6 dxc3 10.gxf7+ Rxf7 11.Bc4

11...Nf8 [11...e6 is another common move here, but one the computer prefers to Smirin's choice. 12.Ng5 cxb2 13.Bxb2 Qa5+ 14.Ke2 d5] 12.Ng5 e6 13.Nxf7 cxb2N [13...Kxf7 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Bd3 occurred in 4 previous games, all won by Black, though objectively that doesn't seem to reflect the correct evaluation of this position.] 14.Bxb2 Qa5+ 15.Kf1 Kxf7 16.Qh5+ Kg8 17.Bd3

Materially speaking, Black is fine, but unfortunately, most of his collection is in cryogenic storage on the queenside. It's not clear that Black will be able to defend against, inter alia, White's very simple threat of 18.Rh3, 19.Bxh7+ Nxh7 20.Qxh7+ Kf7 21.Rg3. Black tries to bring his queen to the threatened sector, but Nakamura does a nice job of pressing his attack while nullifying Black's attempted counterplay: 17...Qb4 18.Rb1 Bd7 [18...Qxf4+ 19.Ke2 h6 20.Rbf1 Qg5 21.Qf7+ Kh8 22.Bc1 wins, as Black doesn't have perpetual check.] 19.c4 Blocking one path from the Black queen towards the White kingside, and also closing the a6-f1 diagonal to Black's queen's bishop. 19...Qd2 20.Bxh7+ Nxh7 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Rh4 There is no defense to 23.Rg4, winning everything, and thus we see the sort of nightmare that can befall Black in the Pirc! 1-0

Having seen the darkness, Pirc fans, let's look to the light:

Kramnik,Vladimir (2754) - Morozevich,Alexander (2741) [B09]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (8), 27.03.2005

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be3 c6 7.Bd3 Na6 8.a3 [8.e5 Ng4 9.Bg1 dxe5 10.fxe5 Nb4 1/2-1/2 Grischuk,A-Tseshkovsky,V/Krasnoyarsk 2003/CBM 98 no vc (61) turned out fine for Black in the game Grischuk-Tseshkovsky, Krasnoyarsk 2003 (1/2-1/2, 61)] 8...c5N 9.d5 Rb8 10.Qe2 Nc7 11.a4 a6

For those of you unfamiliar with the Pirc, you might think White has a huge advantage. Perhaps if White could tidy up a bit - castle, play Bc4 and h3, ready to shove the pawn to e5 - then that would be the case. Here, Black is well-prepared to play moves like ...b5 and ...e6, generating tons of counterplay in the queenside and center before White can roll through the center or generate his own kingside attack. There really isn't anything to be done about the ...e6 pawn break, but White does have a fundamental decision to make about Black's intended ...b5. He could allow it and allow the b5/c5 pawn duo to exist unmolested, which is cedes Black a strong queenside initiative. Second, he could allow it and then capture on d5, giving up the e4 pawn in the process. That lets his center get ruined and brings the Bg7 to life. Or third, he can play as he does in the game, giving Black counterplay along the b-file but maintaining his center intact. 12.a5 (plan 3) [12.0-0 b5 13.axb5 axb5 14.Qe1 (plan 1) (14.Nxb5 (plan 2) 14...Nxb5 15.Bxb5 Nxe4 16.Bd3 Nf6 17.c4 Ng4 18.Bc1 Nh6=/+) 14...Bb7 15.Ra7 c4 16.Be2 b4 17.Na2 Nxe4 18.Bxc4 is unclear] 12...b5 13.axb6 Rxb6 14.Na4 Rb4 15.Bd2 Rb8 16.0-0 and now it's time for the second classical undermining move: 16...e6 [A preliminary 16...Bg4 might be worth considering first though, as this bishop is traditionally a problem piece in Modern Benoni-ish structures like this one.] 17.dxe6 Nxe6 18.f5

Rightly striving for the initiative. The move can be dangerous if/when Black has control of the central dark squares and the e-file (especially the e5 square), but that doesn't really apply here. (N.B. 16...Bg4 would have helped Black significantly in that regard and in making ...Nd4 a possibility here.) 18...gxf5 Risky-looking but correct, opening the d-file and giving Black use of the d5 square for piece and pawn alike. 19.exf5 Nc7 20.Qf2 Ncd5 21.Qh4 [21.Qg3+/= Kh8 22.Ng5+/-] 21...Nb4= 22.Bg5 Nxd3=/+ 23.cxd3 Rb4

Now Black's king is much safer - essentially, Black's sole remaining problem is the pinned Nf6. Everything else is fine: the active rook, two bishops, a central majority (remember White's giant pawn center? Just a distant memory now), pawn targets and so on. White's not in trouble yet, but the trend is in Black's favor. 24.d4 cxd4 25.Bd2 Rc4 26.Bg5 Bb7 27.Rf2 Re8-/+ 28.b3 Rb4-+

Black is active everywhere, has an extra pawn, space, central control and better coordination. As long as he doesn't hang something or allow a kingside disaster, he should convert the full point in due course. 29.Nd2 [29.Nxd4?? Re4 is not an option.] 29...a5 30.Nb2 d3 31.Qh3 h6 32.Bh4 [32.Bxh6 Bxh6 33.Qxh6 Ng4 is crushing.] 32...Qb6 33.Nxd3?? A blunder, but White's position was hopeless anyway after [33.Nbc4 Qd4 34.Raf1 Ng4 35.f6 Nxf2 36.Bxf2 Qxf6-+] 33...Re3 34.Nf3 Rxd3 35.Bxf6 Bxf6 36.Re1 Re4 37.Rxe4 Bxe4 38.Qg4+ Kf8 39.Qxe4 Has Black blundered back? 39...Rd1+ Nope! 40.Ne1 Bc3 41.Qa8+ Ke7 [41...Ke7 42.f6+ Kd7 and White loses not only the knight but the rook as well - 43...Rxe1 is a mate threat, so 43.g3 is forced, but now 43...Bxe1 44.Qf3 Bxf2+ and so on. A very nice, thematic game by Morozevich!] 0-1

Round 8 summary:


Anand-Leko 1/2-1/2
Vallejo-van Wely 1-0
Kramnik-Morozevich 1/2-1/2
Ivanchuk-Svidler 1/2-1/2
Shirov-Gelfand 1/2-1/2
Topalov-Bareev 1/2-1/2


Leko-Anand 0-1
van Wely-Vallejo 1-0
Morozevich-Kramnik 0-1
Svidler-Ivanchuk 0-1
Gelfand-Shirov 0-1
Bareev-Topalov 0-1



Anand 6
Kramnik, Morozevich, Svidler, Vallejo(!) 4.5
Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Leko 4
Shirov, Topalov 3.5
van Wely 3
Bareev 2


Anand 6
Ivanchuk 5.5
Leko, Morozevich, Shirov 4.5
Kramnik, Svidler 4
Bareev, Gelfand 3.5
Topalov 3
Vallejo, van Wely 2.5


Anand 12
Ivanchuk 9.5
Morozevich 9
Kramnik, Leko, Svidler 8.5
Shirov 8
Gelfand 7.5
Vallejo 7
Topalov 6.5
Bareev, van Wely 5.5


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