Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fireworks and more Fireworks!! Aronian - Svidler Candidates 2014

Round #4 of the candidates tournament witnessed a long and intense game between Levon Aronian and Peter Svidler. Aronian Started round 4, with 1.5/3.0 points 5th in the leaderboard and Svidler at 2.0/3.0 points. A win for Svidler meant that he would have been in shared lead of the tournament along side Anand, and win for Aronian meant that he could get back to 2nd place in the leaderboard and ready to fight for the tournament after his loss in round 1 against Anand.

I have discussed a few key positions in the game, and its variations (in smaller diagrams) larger diagrams refer to actual position in the game, also at the end of the page there is the simulator, where the entire game is annotated with help of engine and my views during the game.

Talk about intense fireworks !!

Here is the glimpse of the game and my views on it as I watched it live. They started of with the Grunfeld exchange variation, exactly as played by Anand - Gelfand WCM 2012 Round 1, deviated on move no.8
Position at move 7... c5

In WCM 2012, Anand-Gelfand Round 1, Anand followed up with 8. Bb5+ Nc6 9. e5 Qa5
Note that after 9. e5 black can take on c3, 9... Bxc3+ looks tempting to take with check and forking the rook on a1 but after 10. Bd2 Bxa1 11. Qxa1 this is the position


Going back to the game, 8. Rb1 O-O 9. Be2 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qa5+ 11. Bd2 Qxa2 12. O-O b6 13. Qc1 we get this position



Coming to a key position in the game, move number 22, where Aronian had to make huge calculations about a tempting piece Sacrifice !! In a tournament as strong as the candidates doing something so crazy needs to be checked and rechecked, because every move here counts, and every point does matter. Its is crucial to identify here whether the queen can be trapped or should he go to make the black king's safety a liability. In the position below,


Aronian spent about 17 minutes to calculate this variation and lines from here, and finally decided to go with  Bxf7+ !! Bold move! followed by 22... Kxf7 23. Qc4+ e6 24. Ng5+ Ke8 25. Nxe6 thus reaching a playable position for white having only a pawn for the Bishop as material compensation, and as to position on the board white had those central connected passed pawns!! Monsters !


At move 27 after Aronian's 27. Bc3 Here Svidler has about 105 minutes on his clock and Aronian 58 minutes, and 27. Bc3 forces black to actually think about whether to go for the fight or stick to a mundane draw. Svidler takes roughly 42 minutes on this decision. And as Svidler mentioned in the post game press conference that such tournaments are not won by draws and in such an exciting position if you go for the draw you can't win the tournament, so considering the importance of the tournament he decides to go for the fight 27... Nd8

Up to a point it all went according to Svidler’s plan, with his opponent’s spectacular bishop sac on f7 also in his notes, but then a slight deviation from the foreseen line left him with a tough choice: "I thought for 40 minutes and decided I still had an extra piece and I wasn’t losing by force. The choice came down to whether I wanted to make a draw or win a game. You don‘t really win a tournament like this by making draws in interesting positions, although of course I had cause to regret that on more than one occasion later on"
Aronian assessed his position at that point, "I have a pawn for a piece, which normally isn’t exactly good news, but I felt Peter had spent a long time and that although he knew the position he perhaps wasn’t feeling as comfortable as he was before. So I was looking to play the right moves and I wouldn’t mind a draw, obviously. It’s always tricky against a player of Peter’s calibre on unfamiliar ground."


Another moment where Aronian finds the right time to get the queens off the boards and gets into a kind of rook pawn end game but with a couple of minor pieces on board, but the advantage here is that wihte has those connected central passed pawns both of which are supported by rooks!!


After 41. Be5 white has varied options to keep the pressure increasing and black is holding on to the position trying to defend in all possible ways
here is a look after 41. Be5


The squares marked in yellow are the covered by the white pieces and thus black's king is restricted in movement to those squares. Consider the options available for white to keep the pressure on, the entire endgame focuses in and around the 6th and 7th ranks


At move 51, We can see how the e7 square is the key square to attack and I believe the strongest move is the most logical one too, Re7+, it is believed Aronian missed this during the game and went on with 51. h5 to break the pawn chain on the king side, to expose the black king further


The continuation would have been so as 51. Re7+ Kg8 52. Rc1
Rxd6 53. Rc7 Rf7 54. R7xc6


And white can just get the change to be a piece up!!
But never the less, we do see Re7+ on move 52. confining the king to g8/h8 after the second rook also enters the battle arena.


Here black is almost helpless, and out of defence, g6 pawn will soon fall, and 2 rooks and a bishop will mate the black king in the corner soon enough. After 57. Ree7 Svidler resigns with the mate in 2 threat
Final position


Post game press conference, where the players shared ideas and lines about the game


Here is a replay of the game with more details, can browse through




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Image courtesy: http://candidates2014.fide.com/  the official website of candidates tournament 2014

Twitter: @TanayHH

PS: All the views above are my own otherwise mentioned and this blog is to share my views about chess and in no where it is intended to use them for profit