Grandmaster battle manual.
 9781906552527, 1906552525

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual By

Vassilios Kotronias

To my children, Antoria, Athanasia and Dimitrios

Quality Chess www.qualitychess.co. uk

First edition 20 1 1 by Quality Chess UK Ltd Copyright © 20 1 1 Vassilios Kotronias

The Grandmaster Battle Manual All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. Paperback ISBN 978- 1-906552-52-7 Hardcover ISBN 978- 1 -906552-79-4 All sales or enquiries should be directed to Quality Chess UK Ltd, 20 Balvie Road, Milngavie, Glasgow G62 7TA, United Kingdom Phone +44 1 4 1 227 677 1 e-mail: [email protected] website: www.qualitychess.co. uk Distributed in US and Canada by SCB Distributors, Gardena, California, US www.scbdistributors.com Distributed in Rest of the World by Quality Chess UK Ltd through Sunrise Handicrafts, Smyczkowa 4/98, 20-844 Lublin, Poland Typeset by Jacob Aagaard Proofreading by Colin McNab Edited by John Shaw Illustrations by Claus Qvist Jessen Cover design by Adamson Design Printed in Estonia by Tallinna Raamatutriikikoja LLC

Contents Key to Symbols used Preface Chapter 1

Chapter 2 Chapter 3

-

-

Chapter 4

-

Chapter 6

-

Chapter 5

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

-

-

-

-

Game Index

Annoy Them! Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots! Be a Harsh Critic of Your Own W ins

Geometry & Co: A Creative Outlet to Success Facing Lower-rated Opponents Beating the Wall-Y Structures Defence makes the Difference! The Challenge of the Last Round

4

5 7

41

85

115

153 219

279

325 347

Key to symbols used ± +

+-

-+

m

iii

� --+

t

?? !! !? ?! 0

#

White is slightly better Black is slightly better White is better Black is better White has a decisive advantage Black has a decisive advantage equality unclear with compensation with coumerplay with attack with initiative

a weak move a blunder a good move an excellent move a move worth considering a move of doubtful value only move mate

Preface The titles of some books are self-explanatory, but I suspect the reader would like to know what to expect from The Grandmaster Battle Manual. A hint is that at one point I considered using the title How to Win Open Tournaments. This book is indeed based on my extensive tournament experience and I hope it will help chess players to be more successful. However, I want to write about more than just winning. I want to encourage chess players to fight hard, enjoy the struggle, and then win! I should forewarn the reader that in places I go into great depth and show a lot of analysis. I wish a lazier approach were possible, but a modern chess player must work hard for success. Naturally, I cover many topics and I will not attempt to list them all here. Chapter titles such as Be a Harsh Critic of Your Own Wins, Facing Lower-rated Opponents, Defence makes the Difference! and The Challenge ofthe Last Round are easy to understand. However Beating the "Wall-Y Structures does, I confess, sound a little wacky. In fact, the topic of this chapter is how to deal with rock-solid openings such as the Petroff, Slav and Berlin Wall. If, like me, you have spent years bashing your head against these "walls", you might also have developed a taste for quirky titles. Throughout my career I have put a lot of work into my chess and I have extended that effort into this book. Over the years I have been rewarded with some competitive success, but of course not as much as I would like. I hope the reader benefits from my experiences and, who knows, perhaps my own play will also improve! Vassilios Kotronias Athens, Greece May 20 1 1

To Andy, with thanks for all the understanding

Annoy Them!

8

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

The theme of annoyance is in my op1mon an important aspect of the practical chess game, and in order to avoid the risk of being misunderstood I would like to make it clear immediately that by the term "annoyance" I mean only the kind of embarrassment that chess moves may cause to us or our opponents. Throughout the years I have been the victim of several such "embarrassments" and I can assure you that they can be much more frustrating than unfair off-the-board "moves" such as unjustified and continuous draw offers, facial grimaces, speaking during play, and so on. With so many contrasting styles among the ranks of chess players, it is in fact only natural that "annoyance" should emerge as a major factor that decides the outcome of the struggle on the board. The list of complaints muttered by the vast majority of chess players after a bad game is endless. As such, it does contain mild comments, like the classic and, to a certain extent, pathetic "I had a winning position today, but I blew it" or the slightly more exciting "Gosh, how could I lose this fantastic position?" to name but a couple. However, many other similar comments born out of temporary desperation are much less flattering for us, and, I can assure you, my publisher would not allow me to mention them here. Of course, all these comments are lacking in real self-criticism and fail to take into account our own deficiencies or the practical problems set by our opponents that changed the course of the games we (undeservedly?) lost or drew. So, in what way can a move or a plan be annoying or embarrassing? How can apparently lifeless entities force us to get carried away with disrespectful language? Is it the purely objective strength of such moves that forces us to classify them as undesirable, or is it the sentiment caused by their execution at the board?

I would like to answer these questions in a straightforward manner, because I am eager to proceed with the practical examples: every move has a special "flavour" and sometimes we can be allergic to it! Even the very best, widely acknowledged as universal-style players have their own weaknesses and may often skip the calculation of a line on account of dislike or fear. Some others may avoid entering an advantageous endgame in search of something more concrete or out of fear it might bore them to death! Thus, the main strength of an annoying chess move or plan is, above all, that it is directed against the opponent's style and that it tries to interfere with the smooth course of the game, even if the move itself is not objectively correct. In the vast majority of cases, this annoying little move is designed, and often succeeds, in changing the character of the game. Bypassing the question of its objective value, we may identify a move of that kind from such attributes as the stirring up of a crisis or attempting to wrest the initiative by some concession, for example, a material one. The following example could have been a similar case, but the player at a disadvantage failed to grasp the opportunity of "annoying" the opponent:

Viswanathan Anand - Judit Polgar World Championship Tournament, San Luis 2005

1 .e4 c5 2.lll f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.lll xd4 lll c6 5.lll c3 'We? 6.ie3 a6 7.'Wd2 ll\£6 8.0-0-0 ih4 9.f3 lll e7 10.lll de2 b5 1 1 .if4!? e5 12.igS ih7 13.c.!lbl I have refrained, contrary to my usual tendency, from commenting on the opening moves so far, as they are not relevant to our topic.

9

Chapter 1 - Annoy Them!

It is obvious that the opening has been

measures must be taken, as otherwise the

a success for White - he has the more

quality of Black's game will deteriorate quickly,

harmonious development, his king has already

and this is actually what happened in the game.

reached safety and he has pressure on the

On the other hand, such measures are barely

d-file. Additionally, he has a positional threat

detectable on the horizon.

(ruining the enemy's kingside pawn structure by �g5xf6) and a tactical threat ('llc3xb5).

I

will

analyse

several

moves

including

Overall, the situation is unpleasant for Black

13 . . .d5? , 1 3 . . .ElcS?! and 1 3 ...�c5 before getting

but certainly not hopeless: the fact that she

to what I believe is the best annoying move,

controls the critical d5-square with several

1 3 . . . 0-0-0!?.

pieces means that White must watch out for a potential . . . d7-d5 advance that could

1 3 ... d5?

free Black's play, although admittedly at the

This

moment this possibility looks remote.

commentators,

8

, �t,, ,·�·�,J�

:T-,�,-�, • r. �. "&i! � -�- � 5

4 3

2

� ,,,,,�� �m � :m '�K�i(�; !� ��� ?fa %§��� irl:..f o

o

o

l•�•�ml•� ... a

b

13 i.a5?!

c

d

e

f

g

h

Rather surprisingly, Judit Polgar fails to pose her illustrious opponent the most practical problems, a task at which she usually excels. To be honest, I do not know if the improvement I am going to suggest would have saved Black in the long run, but one thing is for sure: Vishy Anand is very powerful with queens on the board, a relatively safe king and some sort of initiative in an asymmetrical position. After the text move he gets a useful respite to acquire all the above mentioned elements and steer the game his way. So, how could Judit have played? It is obvious that in such a difficult situation radical

move

was

mentioned

including

by

several

Gershon

and

Nor in San Luis 2005 and De la Villa in Dismantling the Sicilian. There follows: 1 4 .'llx b5 '\Wc5 1 5 .'ll c?t '1Wxc7

No salvation is offered by 1 5 . . . c;t>fs 1 6 .c3! '1Wxc7 1 7.cxb4 dxe4 1 8.�xf6 gxf6 1 9 .'\Wh6t fs 20.'llh 5+1 8.'1Wa3 �b7

1 8 .�xf6

gxf6

1 9 . 'llg3

d4

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

10

1 8 ... ib5 1 9.:1'ld2± 1 9.:l'l:d2 dxe4 20.ixf6 gxf6 2 1 .fxe4 ixe4 22.ll'ic3 ic6D 22 ...ib? 23.ha6 ha6 24.'1.Wxa6+23.ixa6 :l'l:b8 24.:ll:fl f5 25.'1.Wc5 '1.Wb6 26.'1.Wxb6 :1'lxb6 27.ic4± White has a big advantage in the endgame. Thus, Black's attempt to break free with an immediate ... d7-d5 fails for tactical reasons.

� 1 ..t 6 5

��"',,. �%:: ��,J;;� , ,,

�1. • •�

·�· � , ,/,• · ,%� '"'�f , / ·� � �� ��·, , ef,/ '"W-� �·� � , � ef� , , ,% , � � � �

�,

� �

: ��•m i!���'C0, ef'"'""'"·�� �

2

8ef�8 Eill:J• 8ef� · a

�-j{· r··� b

c

d

e

f

g

2

h

14.ixf6 gxf6 1 5.g3! Black has lost the option of castling long and it is clear that her king will not find a safe refuge behind the damaged kingside pawn structure. 1 5 ... d5 1 5 ...ixc3 1 6.ll'ixc3 b4 17.li:la4 0-0 1 8.ih3± leaves White with a clear advantage and an easy game. 16.ih3! ixc3 1 6 ... d4 17.ixc8 '1.Wxc8 1 8 .ll'ixb5!+1 6... :ll:d8 17.ll'ixb5± 17.ll'ixc3 :ll:d8 Now either 1 8.'1.Wh6± or 1 8.exd5 ll'ixd5 1 9.ll'ie4± would have left Anand with a powerful position and playing on his own favoured territory, as an excellent attacker and tactician. Another possibility offered by Gershon and Nor is 1 3 ...ic5.

%

8ef�8�ll:J•8�

/

·

��a:ara� a

Instead, strategically unfortunate is: 1 3 ... :ll:c8?! 8

-· ��,),, ;,:.: � ��····� 1 �..t�•••r�• , 6 ·� , ,,%� ,,, ,.,,/,� , ��'/ ��·ef""�'/ �.� 5 � /, � ,,,,,Y,. ,, , % ef� , 4 � � � � � � 3 � m' ' �/, !� � � ·ef' " "" " �� � 8 1. -

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

This is certainly better than the above tries. However, I believe White still has an annoying edge after 14.ixf6 gxf6 1 5 . '1.Wh6 '1.Wb6 1 6.ll'ig3!, eying h5 and intending to meet 16 ... 0-0-0 with 17.ll'id5t. Black would be obliged to capture the knight, and then 1 8.exd5 gives the knight on g3 a pleasant variety of options for its next stop. Before sharing my findings on the position after 13.cj;>b l , I will first explain my approach towards it, because otherwise the whole chapter would have no meaning: 1 ) It is clear that conventional methods will not work in such a situation, especially when you are dealing with the world's top tactician, who has a sharp feeling for the m1t1at1ve and is one of the finest players in chess history. 2) Black must at all costs minimize the danger to her king, and if possible create a crisis with some liquidations taking place. The only safe place I could see for the black king was the queenside. 3) Another feature that drew my attention was that in anticipation ofWhite's planned ig5xf6, Black should be able to quickly respond with ...d7-d5, in order to eliminate the weakness on the cl-file and give life to the bishop pair.

Chapter 1 - Annoy Them! 4) As I implied above, if Black does not coordinate various,

possibly

extraordinary,

11

If we take a closer look at the diagram position we begin to realize that things have

components to achieve a substantial outcome,

started to go Black's way. Suddenly it would

then she would be as good as lost. But what

have been Judit who would have the better

gave me faith that a solution really existed was

and most harmonious development. Indeed,

the impression that Black's opening play was

the black king has been relieved from his

not so bad as to deserve a fatal verdict as early

worries as the queens are gone, and White is

as the 13th move.

experiencing severe difficulties in consolidating

All these thoughts led to the "non-Rybka"

in conjunction with Black's increasing activity.

solution that I present below:

All this amounts to good practical chances and

13 . . . 0-0-0! ?

such a development would have undoubtedly

the extra pawn in view of his weak back rank

;'



%'' "



'./,

, 8 ��Jlt,,/ , ��,; 7 � j_�·-·�· ,/, , ,,/,� /,,, . , � , ·� �� ���"''�/ ·� r� � � 0,� ;;a,8"a--, ,�� ,,, , ,� ;;� l�

passed the initiative over to the defender and forced Vishy to show excellent technique in order to make something out of his extra

6

pawn.

4

be argued that there are not only pros but also

s 3

2

!/,� 8'��- '� �•:i•f•: a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

However, as is usually the case with debatable decisions born out of difficult situations, it can cons in the above reasoning. For example, a discouraging factor for my suggested course of action could be that Anand is an excellent technical player as much as he is a tactician and he might slowly capitalize on his material

This untried possibility seems to be the most

superiority in this ending. Notwithstanding

critical response. Black is sacrificing a pawn

the element of truth such a statement contains,

for endgame compensation. After the rather

I would still prefer my suggestion over the

forced:

continuation chosen in the game.

14.i.xf6 gxf6 15.tllx b5 i.xd2 16.lllxc7 �xc7 17.l:"\xd2 d5! Black has lost a pawn and does not even possess the bishop pair, but this is a rather

An elaboration of the remarks I made earlier offers concrete answers as to why 13 ... 0-0-0!? is good:

superficial assessment: Firstly, the energy one has to burn in a longer game is much greater and so small inaccuracies can happen along the way. Secondly, the transition from a beautiful attacking position to a dull ending is disturbing, even for professionals of this class. Thirdly, Judit is an excellent defender of worse endgames when she has active pieces, as is the case here.

12

The Grandmaster B attle Manual

And last but not least, the position may not be objectively winning for White, as was the case with Judit's actual choice; Black has chances as the analysis presented below illustrates.

It is really difficult for White to untangle. For example: 22.li:'ic3 22.c4 li:'ib4 23.Elxd8 Elxd8 24.li:'ic3 can be answered by either 24 .. .f4� or 24 . . . h3!? .

Let's follow it: 18.exd5 li:'ixd5

22 . . . li:Jf4 23.Elxd8 Elxd8 24.g3 24.li:'ie2 is met with 24 . . . li:Jd5! , while 24 .�c4 transposes after 24 . . . Ei:g8 25 .g3 li:'ie6. 24 . . .Ei:g8! 24 . . . li:'ie6 25.f4!t 25 .�c4 li:'ie6 26.li:Jd5t 26.Ei:el f4! After the text move it seems that Black has excellent drawing chances after both 26 ... lt>d6 and: 26 . . .�xd5!? 27.�xd5 hxg3 28.hxg3 lt>d6 29.c4 lt>c5! 30.lt>d2 lt>d4� B) 19.Eld3! It seems to me that without this move Black's counterplay would develop faster. And actually, this move is not so easy to find, as most

A) 19.lt>cl Now Black can set her sights on the weakened dark square complex e3, f4, g3 by playing: 1 9 .. .f5 !? 20.Ei:gl 20.li:'ig3 li:'ie3 2 1.�d3 li:'ixg2 22.li:'ixf5 �xf3 23.Elgl e4 24.�xa6 Elxd2 25.lt>xd2 Eld8t 26.lt>c3 Eld5 27.li:'id4 li:'ie3 looks unclear enough, at least in practical play. 20 . . .h5! 2 1.Eld3 2 1.f4!?, as recommended by some engines, is certainly a double-edged decision. 21. . .h4

of us would consider it best to bring the king towards the centre, as in the previous line. We may already observe that a gain has been made: 8

7



��

��

B!-,,(, .T••� � ,, � %

r :; � ��� � �� Ir' ;,� � -���" ,;,��� 3�������� �r"�! �/l �" � 8�t!f b2 hS 61 .d6 '\Wf5

41 ... �gS 42.�gl '!Wh6 43.�ddl a4 44.h:c4 �xc4

4S.gS! A decisive breakthrough; Black continues fighting, but miracles rarely happen when your opponent is Anand.

4S ...fxgS 46.hxgS �xgS 47.'!We3 �f4 48.'!Wb6 �gxfS 49.'!WxbS �f8 SO.tll b4 e4

To her credit, Judit Polgar fought valiantly in a position that held no real chances of survival and by following the motto "Better late than never" she managed to "annoy" her opponent as much as she could in the later stages of the game. Alas, in this instance "Better early than never" would have been more appropriate. ***

Annoyance is not in itself pure counterplay, but it can be the prelude to obtaining it. Annoyance may often take flesh and bones in the form of distraction and, with a deceptive appearance, try to subtly achieve its objectives. I guess one is entitled to ask, how can this be? Let's say we have an inferior position with no counterplay. We know it, and our opponent knows it. He even sees the plan that would consolidate his advantage and leave us

22

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

struggling in passlVlty to achieve a draw. This is where the motif of annoyance comes in handy: we first spot a potential weakness in the opponent's position, one that is almost nonexistent at the moment, provided that he continues to execute his plan smoothly. To turn this into a real weakness we have to divert our opponent from the path he is following. This can only be done if he reaches a crossroads where we lure him with some form of temptation - small material gifts, the possibility of an attractive but double­ edged attack, or even a positional gain that is aesthetically impressive but otherwise not so important. These gains are essentially deceptive compared to the ones he would get by simply following the positional path, and he is even subconsciously annoyed that they came his way. But he is also annoyed at the prospect of missing a faster or more elegant win. He might even be annoyed at the possibility of his friends teasing him that he missed it. Or, in the final analysis, he could simply be a person who cannot resist temptation. I could compare him with a traveller who thinks: why not have a break and some food along the way? I have all the time in the world to catch the train. But if the food is tasty enough he may order more and more and eventually miss his train.

4... dxc4 5.i.g2 i.b4t 6.i.d2 aS 7.'lic3 0-0 8.a3 i.e7 8 ...ixc3 looks more admittedly it is risky.

principled,

9.�a4! c6 10.�xc4 bS 1 1.�b3 i.a6 12.i.gS! Cli bd7 13.i.xf6

8

i.� ��� ��--

m?

� ��-l'�,,,,% � 6 .i.m 1. m 1. � m 54,, i� .t. � � � ��� �� �%� ' /y,,,,/,� " � ��,� � 3 ef�V� - ltJr� 2 ,,,,, %n,,,,,,� t!:d�W!l ��pi{ 'B , [email protected]" , � � � � mM b d f g h 7

""

;'/,

'"

,�

a

c

e

13... gxf6?!

Could 1 3 ...ixf6 14.l2Je4 ie7 1 5.0-0 b4 1 6.'®c2 bxa3 l 7.bxa3 c5!? be a better try? In any case, the text move gets Black into difficulties.

14.�c2 b4 15.'lia4 1:k8 16.0-0 cS 17.dS exdS

The following game strikingly illustrates this type of annoyance, boasting no less a victim than the highest-ranked player in the world.

Magnus Carlsen - Vladimir Kramnik Wijk aan Zee 2010

1.d4 Cll f6 2.c4 e6 3.Cll f3 dS 4.g3 The Catalan is a fashionable opening nowadays, as the trend-setting top players seek to combine safety with controlled aggression.

but

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Chapter 1 - Annoy Them!

18..ih3?! Much stronger was 1 8.Ei:fd l !. The advantage of this move is that it softens up the e4-square without committing the bishop to h3 and after 1 8 ... d4 19.'Wf5! White reverses the roles of his queen and bishop on the b l -h7 diagonal with devastating effect. For example: 1 9 ... Ei:e8 20.'ll xd4! cxd4 2 1 .Ei:xd4 (threatening j,g2-e4) 'Wc7 22.Ei:xd7 'We5 23.'Wxe5 fXe5 24.'ll b6 Ei:c2 25.'ll d 5± According to Kasparov (who pointed out this line) it is already questionable whether Black can save himself

18 ...ih5 19.axh4 axb4 20.E:fdl d4 2I..if5

23

running through the two players' minds at this specific moment of the game, but one thing is for sure: postponing the "execution'' of a player ofKramnik's class can have fatal consequences, even for the very best. He is a very stubborn player with a fine feeling for defence and he knows how to defuse the pressure, even in dubious positions. In the present situation Kramnik correctly recognized that the only defensive chance was to neutralize White's cavalry and so he played a move that was extremely annoying for the attacker, and also objectively perfectly correct in this instance:

2I. .. tlJe5!! To the uninitiated, it may seem strange that a move offering White a choice of winning an exchange or regaining his pawn with check should be awarded two exclamation marks, but this is the case with modern chess: we should count not the material that remains on the board, but the quality of the pieces. And it seems to me that Kramnik counted well in this respect. a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

The opening has not gone well for Black; his kingside structure is wrecked and his slight material superiority does not offer much consolation because the cl-pawn has been enticed forward, creating a whole set of light­ squared weaknesses on the queenside. White has already acquired some light-square control on the kingside and ifhe were allowed to bring the exiled a4-knight back into play with b2b3 and 'll a4-b2 then the game would almost certainly have been decided in his favour. However, an important point to remember is that White has already missed a good opportunity to tip the scales decisively in his favour by playing 1 8.Ei:fdl! instead of 1 8.j,h3?!. It is hard for me to know what thoughts were

First of all, Black correctly judged that the strong f3-knight was worth exchanging for the passive d7-knight, before the white knight could exploit the weakness of the f5-square. Secondly, such an exchange fixes to a certain degree Black's pawn structure, as the doubled f6-pawn will be "promoted" to e5, fortifying Black's centre. The third issue, concerning the material losses this move entails, is very closely linked with the motif we are examining. Sure, White may now win the exchange or a pawn back, but these gains are not immediately fatal for Black. If White takes the rook on c8 then he loses his grip on the light squares and Black will enjoy the bishop pair and a pawn in return for the

24

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

exchange. If on the other hand he takes on h7, as he did in the game, he loses time and gives Black some remote counter-attacking chances via the h-file. But the greatest annoyance created by Kramnik's move is that it diverts White, by tempting him with material, from the positional path of reintroducing the a4-knight to the game. Of course, the world's top-rated player, Magnus Carlsen, must have spotted that 22.ll'lxe5! fXe5 23.b3! was a very principled continuation, as it continues the light-square campaign and keeps the black bishops at bay, but I guess he also felt obliged to look for a complete refutation of Kramnik's play by taking back some material along the way. Temptation won.

22.ixh?t? This is a clear mistake, not just because it throws away White's small advantage, but also because of the move order - White could have first taken on e5 and only then examined the capture on h7 or some other continuation. Is it possible that Carlsen had realized his miss on the 1 8th move and was therefore slightly demoralized? No matter what the explanation may be, 22.ll'lxe5! fXe5 23.b3!, as his trainer at that time, Garry Kasparov, has remarked, would have given Magnus an easy game and left the ball firmly in Black's court. Lately I have not been an avid follower of NIC Magazine or Chess Informant so I have not consulted these esteemed sources for this game, but trusting the views of Garry, as expressed in a ChessBase report by Frederic Friedel, should compensate for that. Just before analysing the resulting position, I would like to add that by playing in such a way Carlsen would have, in turn, annoyed Kramnik the most, as the imminent ll'l a4-b2-c4 would have improved two pieces with one shot (both

the a4-knight and the al-rook) and stopped counterplay based on ... c5-c4. Such a scenario is also possible but considerably less effective if White accepts the exchange sacrifice by 23 ..ixc8? because after 23 ... iWxc8 24.b3 iWe6 25.:E:ldcl l"1c8 26.ll'lb2 e4 27.l"1a5 :8b8 28.ll'lc400 these two pieces have improved, but at the cost of surrendering complete control of the centre to Black, who can justifiably expect favourable developments on the kingside. So, let's examine the position after 23.b3!:

�� .i� ��·� ,;;JPj������� � �����;;J�P ��· �,· _tit� it���

8

-

/,

V,



''?,•. , },. �� ?iwl � 3

5

4

2



/,

•zr• �/,.�cY, �! ,},�1/b� �� §' � '�fij·, -� �.i�···"w;;t· 0

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Delving more deeply into the nuances originally made me slightly pess1m1snc about Black's survival chances. White would obviously be taking a risk if he captured the h7-pawn while both black rooks are on the board, since that would lose some time and possibly allow a counterattack along the h-file. But there is nothing stopping White from improving his knight first and subsequently combining a rook invasion on the a-file with a queen infiltration via the light squares towards Black's weakened king. Seeing this coming, I tried to figure out how Kramnik could possibly have defended the ensuing position had it occurred on the board, and I came to the conclusion that Kasparov was right: White has an easier game while risking practically nothing, but on the other

Chapter 1

-

hand Black's cause is not hopeless if he finds the best defensive (and possibly counterattacking?) squares for his pieces. For the moment his rook is attacked, and it definitely must be saved now. My first thoughts were that the annoyance theme had disappeared for Black in this position and that a set-up involving moving the rook to b8 followed by ... h7-h5 (to save the pawn and cover g4) plus activating the queen represented his best chance to stay alive. Thus 23 ... l"1b8 became my main line and I have kept it like this, as it is a common sense measure. However, then I discovered a more annoying way of battling White's intentions as a second good option. But let's first examine some weaker alternatives, to understand the position better. So I will look at 23 ... c4?, 23 ... l"1c6?! and 23 ... l"1a8!? before finally analysing 23 . . . l"1b8. 23 ... c4?

s

7 6

5

4

3

•.1s ��·�

0� " ' "W'.l"•.t. ��!L1� � " �� � � � � � . � � "� i �.;r� tzji1�'Iii�;,� ,,,;,��0 :.

, ��,!;;; ��,J , ��



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Trying to annoy the opponent further in this way does not work now; annoyance is a motif that should be employed within reasonable boundaries and even if we make an unsound sacrifice the refutation has to be difficult to make the annoyance worth the effort. As things stand, this is not the case and White has two relatively easy ways of reaching a winning position. After the introductory: 24.'\We4!

Annoy Them!

25

It is not clear that 24.�xc8?! cxb3 25.1We4 '1Wxc8 26.'1Wxe5 �xa4 27.'1Wxe7 b2 28.'1Wg5t mh8 29.l"1xa4 '1Wc2! 30.'\We5t mg8 3 1 .'1Wxd4 '1Wxa4 32.l"1b l l"1b8 33.l"1xb2 1Wal t 34.mg2 b3 35.'\We5 '1Wa7 36.h4 '1Wb6 37.e4± is winning, but White certainly has good chances. 24 ...�f6



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Now I would prefer: 25.'\Wg4t! 25.�xc8!? '1Wxc8 26.'\Wf3! might also do the job (bad is 26.'ll b6? �c6! 27.'ll xc8 �xe4 28.'ll b6 [28 .'ll d6 �c2 29.'ll xc4 e4!] 28 ... cxb3! 29.'ll d7 �g5! and it is White who has to start thinking of how to survive). For example: 26 ...'\Wd8 27.bxc4 �xc4 28.'ll c5 �g7 29.l"1dcl �d5 30.'1Wd3 l"1e8 3 l .'1Wb5± 25 ... �g7 26.�c8 �a4 27.l"1xa4 '1Wxc8 28.'1Wxc8 l"1xc8 29.bxc4 l"1xc4 30.mfl ± White has got rid of the enemy light-squared bishop and can look forward to a smooth technical win. 23 ... l"1c6?!

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

26

This does not fight for the a-file and puts the b5-bishop on the brink of an unfavourable exchange by cutting offits retreat. Now the lines to consider are A) 24.�xh7t and B)24.'ll b 2!.

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A) 24.�xh7t This is premature. 24 ... lt>g7

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"::g3 i'!h3t 38.lt>g2=. 30 ...�b6 3 1 .1"1e7 �xc5 32.i'!xe5 �xe4 33.°1Wxe4 �b6 34.i'!g5t lt>f8 a

b

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Now we need a further split: Al) 25.�e4 and A2) 25.�d3. Al) 25.�e4 i'!h6! 26.'ll xc5 °1Wc8! Black has a very strong attack, but White's resources are enough for a draw as the following crazy lines demonstrate: 27.1"1a5 �c6! 28.h4 i'!fh8 29.°1Wd3 29.�f5?

8 �iV� �. � ;;"·,J·" �;, , 7 �� ��n�nc �� . � � �i: 5 ��.��� �� �� ���··· � �� • ,Y,Y},i'0C lf�iV� � � � · , 3 . �iJ ),� �Wfi·· �"!�':,� 2 !�;,�x,,·· ;,� � n � ••• �n 1� � �M - Lli 6

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29 ... i'!xh4!! 30.gxh4 i'!xh4+ This is very strong as the queen is about to join the onslaught from h8!

b

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h

White can add new fuel to his counterattack by: 35.i'!xd4! �xd4 36.\Wxd4 But the position should peter out to a draw after: 36 ... lt>e8 36 ... \Wcl t 37.lt>g2 '1Wc7 38.°1Wg7t lt>e7 39.1"1e5t lt>d8 40.e4 \Wc6 4 1 .i'!d5t lt>c8 42.\Wxf7 i'!e800 is a mess. 36 ... lt>e7 37.1"1e5t i'!e6 38.\Wxb4t \t>f6 39.1"1c5 is also highly unclear as White has a lot of pawns. 37.1"1e5t \t>f8 38 .1"1g5=

Chapter 1 - Annoy Them!

A2) 25 ..id3 .ixd3 26.�xd3 26.exd3 l:l:h8 27.�e2 l:l:ch6! 28.�xe5t .if6 29.�f5 l:l:xh2 30.lll xc5 (30.�g4t .ig5-+) 30 ... :g2h5 is worse for White, as his knight is lost exactly at the moment it was re-entering play. 26 ... �d5

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27.e4! 'We6 28.lll b 2 l:l:h8 29.�f3 �h3 30.'Wg2 :gch6 3 1 .lll c4 'Wxg2t 32.xg2 l:l:xh2t 33.f3� White has some compensation for the pawn but no more. B) 24.lll b2! h5 25 ..ie4 :ga6 26.:gxa6 .ixa6 27.:gal �b6 (27 ....ic8 28.l:l:a7) 28.lll c4 .ixc4 29.�xc4�

27

queen of the cl-square. After 24. lll b2± it is not easy to see what Black does next. The following line is strategically important: 23 ... l:l:a8!?

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This is probably what Kramnik would have played. White can finally level the pawns as he is assured of a rook swap, but that does not guarantee a considerable advantage: 24..ixh7t! 24.lll xc5 :gxal 25.:gxal �c7= 24.lll b 2!? h500 is not the same as in the lines starting with 23 ... l:l:c6?! as here Black temporarily controls the a-file. Although he has to concede it after 25 ..ie4 :gxal 26.l:l:xal �c7 27.lll c4 g7 in return he acquires two small but, given the delicate situation, important gains: penetration to a7 has been averted and the b5-bishop has not been given up for the c4-knight. 24 ... g7 25 ..ie4

"'

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23 ... l:l:c7?! defends the 7th rank and the c5pawn, but it is passive and also deprives the

a

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e

f

g

28

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

25 ... l'h7! 25 .. .l'h6? 26.lll xc5 gxal 27.gxal Wd6 28.i.d3 i.c6 29.lll e4± leaves Black a pawn down without compensation. 26.lll b2 ga3 Otherwise Black is simply worse.

33.h3 i.d5! This is not easy to crack as the f5-bishop has to serve two masters, h3 and e4. For example: 34.ga? 34.lll xe5 Wg5! (intending ...i.e7-d6 or the startling ...gh8-h5!? among others) 35.ga? i.d6 36.lll g4 Wh5! 37.lll f2 (37.h4

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27.i.d3! Best, as White ensures the expulsion of the a3-rook by conquering c4. Instead, 27.lll c4 i.xc4 28.Wxc4 (28.bxc4? gc3) is not clear due to 28 .. .f5 29.i.d5 e4. 27 ...i.c6! 28.lll c4 Wd5 29.f3 gxal 30.gxal We6 Notwithstanding the reduced material Black has some counterbalancing pressure on the h-file: 3 1 .i.f5 Wh6 32.�g2 gh8

b

c

d

e

f

g

This allows the wonderful motif: 37 ...i.xg3! 38.�xg3 Wxh4t 39.�f4 gh5!=) 37 ...Wg5 38.i.g4 We5 with equality. 34 ...W'g5 35.i.g4 gh6 Black defends staunchly. An attempt to evict the queen from its all-purpose position on g5 by: 36.�f2 �f8 37.h4 Can be answered by: 37 ... gxh4! 38. gxh4 Wxh4t= B) 33.ghl !? Intending h2-h4. 33 ...i.d5! 34.h4 34.lll xe5 i.d6 35.lll c4 (35.lll g4 Wh3t 36.�f2 gh5! may even be better for Black) 35 ...i.xc4 36.Wxc4 (36.bxc4 Wg5!�) 36 ...W'g5 37.i.h3 ge8� The entrance of the rook to e3 ensures Black good compensation. 34 ... Wa6! 35. i.d3 We6 With about equal chances. Finally let's go back to examine the less active move which also happens to be the main line: 23 .. ,gb8

Chapter 1

-

Annoy Them!

29

27.i"ldal !"lxa7 28.i"lxa7 �d6 29.ctJd3 ,txd3 30.exd3 �f6

24.tt:lb2! Black has good counterplay after: 24.,txh7t Wg7 2s .,td3 (25 .tt:l b2 !"lhs 26.,tf5 !"lb6 27.i"la5 �e8! 28.ctJc4 !"lbh6 29.h3 ,tc6 30.ctJxe5 !"lxh3! illustrates the violence of Black's attack on the h-file if he has kept both rooks) 25 ...�c8 26.,txb5 !"lxb5 27.tt:l b2 �h3 28.�e4 !"lb6! 24 ... h5

a

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d

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h

25.�e4! 25.tt:lc4 �c7 was my optimal defensive formation when deciding to place the rook on b8; I do not see anything extraordinary for White there. 25 ... Wg7! 25 ...�c7 is no good on account of 26.�f3!±. 26.!"la7! 26.�xe5t j,f6 27.�xc5 ,txe200 26 ... i"la8! 26 ...�d6 27.�f3 !"lh8 28.,td3 ,tc6 29.,te4 ,tbs 30.,td5 �f6 3 1 .�e4 !"lbd8 32.tt:ld3t

a

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This is obviously a good moment to stop and evaluate the chances: White has certainly made some progress as all his pieces are in good positions and opposite-coloured bishops are known to favour the attacker. However, Black is defending staunchly and is still a pawn up. While most engines dismiss the position as completely level, I m�·self am not so sure; after all, in practical play only Black can lose. In contrast to the final position of the line starting with 23 ... ;';aS'.:, here Black has no counterplay and comparing these cwo positions gives an idea of why the motif of annoyance is important, if a\·ailable. Still, we should nor gi\·e eve�Lhing away unreasonably if, despite aU our efforts, we cannot find a dynamic or tricky defence. Sometimes, passive defence works too, especially when our position is compact and the pieces are supporting each other. Despite my personal dislike, this might indeed be che case here. Time to return to the game:

22. . @g7 23.lll xe5 .

Unfortunately for Carlsen, this nice knight has to be exchanged. Instead, Black has a crushing attack after: 23.tt:lh4? !"lh8 24.,te4 (also awful is 24.,td3 ,txd3 25.i"lxd3 !"lxh4

30

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

26.gxh4 llixd3 27.exd3 c4 28.�e2 after 28 ... c3+ or 28 .. .f5+) 24 ... :B:xh4! 25.gxh4 �d6

23 ...fxe5 24.J.f5 l:k6

on e5 and prevent him from doubling his rooks on the h-file. In any case, the material ratio on the kingside is in Black's favour, so Carlsen should have realized by now that attacking on that sector would have no real chances of success unless some reserves were brought up. Actually the tide has already turned and White is the one who has to be careful to avoid falling in a worse position. Unfortunately for Kasparov's "pupil", mounting time pressure played a decisive role in the final outcome of the game.

25 .. J�h8!

a

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"Let him take it!" Kramnik may have muttered; I'll win time to improve my pieces and the a4-knight is still a spectator.

h

No need for guerrilla tactics anymore! Now Black has a clear plan - doubling rooks on the h-file. Looking at the earlier diagram, and comparing it with the present position on the board, we can conclude chat Kramnik has achieved what he wanted - he has improved his pawn structure, king position and even acquired attacking chances, and all chis at the cost of returning his extra pawn. But most importantly, by annoying his opponent constantly with threats, he will not grant him a respite to bring the a4-knight into the game. The present situation is a perfect illustration of what many players already know: sometimes our own plan crystallizes before our eyes when we are primarily fighting against our opponent's plan with all our might. Sometimes we do not even need a plan to win; our task can be achieved simply by preventing the opponent's plan.

25.1.We4! With this strong centralization White is not so much trying to attack as to annoy Kramnik

26.1.WxeSt A consistent move, but now the e7-bishop comes dangerously to life. My engines give, besides the text move, the rather strange­ looking: 26.:8'.dc l !?

Chapter 1

e f g h This looks completely senseless for White but then the computers uncork the brilliant: 28. lLixc5 !! !'i:xc5 2 9 .!'i:xc5 .ixc5 30 .!'i:a8 t .ie8 3 1 ..id7 f8+) 39 ... Ei:d6l? 40.Ei:a6l? d3 (40 ...j,e7 4 1 .Ei:xd4 Ei:xd4 42.Ei:xc6) 41 .b3! (4 1 .tLl b7?! j,xb7 42.Ei:xd6 j,xb2+) 4 I ...j,d4 42.ctJb7 Ei:f6 43.Ei:xc6 j,xf2t 44.'it>fl Elxc6 45.bxc4= 37.'it>fl !? Slightly more intriguing than 37.Ela6 j,f3 38.'it>fl Ei:e5 and we have transposed back to 37.'it>fl !? j,f3!.

Chapter 1

-

� � �·�·d� f•�, j���� 65 -�m%%, ,- - " �%%, %%, ��1:'J�,�, i, �1�;'. �� '1�� % , , , , 3 � � %%, �1�!!1:,�, , %�1�,,, ��1!!1:'1;�� 2 i. , % , � �, , i·�- , , , h

Annoy Them!

37

B l ) 37 ... 2"1xb2?! This is interesting and principled but wrong! 38.2"1a6! Wd6

,,,;� ,1;

4

a

b

c

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e

f

g

The two main moves to consider are: B 1 ) 3 7... 2"1xb2?! and B2) 3 7...tf3!. My punctuation makes it obvious what the correct move is, but I centred my attention on it only after it became apparent, by consulting a couple of strong engines and examining several other failing ideas, that taking on b2 allows the white rooks and knight to launch a miraculous drawing counterattack against the somewhat exposed black king. A couple of minor lines to be rejected are: 37... 2"1e5? 38.2"1a7t We8 39.'Llb7 gives White enough counterplay, even after the best 39 ... 2"1d5:

8

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7

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37 ... d3? 38.2"1a7t Wf8 39.2"1a6 forces Black to take a perpetual by 39 . . .td4=.

b

c

d

e

f

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h

43.2"1el ! 2"1e2 43 ...d2 44.2"1xf7t Wb6 45.2"1e6t Wxa5 46.2"1a7t ta6 47.2"1exa6t Wb5 48.2"1d6 2"1bl (48 ... c2 49.2"1b7t!=) 49.2"1ad7 d l =W 50.2"1xdl 2"1xdl 5 l .2"1xdl b3 52.h4 c2 53.2"1cl Wb4 54.h5= 44.2"1xf7t Wd6 45.2"1bl d2 46.2"1xb4 White is saved by study-like motifs: 46 ... c2 46 ... d l =W 47.2"1xb5 We6 48.2"1bf5 c2 49.'Ll b3= 46 ... We6 47.2"1b7! d l =W 48.2"17xb5 c2 49.2"1b6t wf7 50.2"1f4t=

38

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

47.l"1xb5 c l =�

a

b

c

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h

And here the analysis ends; I believe this posi�ion is won, but it would still require cons1 erable effort in a practical game, despite Blacks razor sharp bishops.



B2) 37 ...ilf3! This is actually the only move to win! Now the trickiest try is: 38.l"1a6!? Preventing the black king from reaching the safety of the g7-square. Indeed, 38.l"1a7t? proves to be an easy win for Black after 38 ... �fS! 39.ctJd7t �g? 40.ctJxf6 d3!-+.

�eturning to the game, it was obviously not

difficult for the ex-World Champion to see his next move:

� 7 n n••lf �� •%� tn 6 :n . . �� s � o:?F//� � �w. � 4 · . nn� �. n· n

8

%

��%· �· m�. n•n.t.� � " �•w.tt· · ·�:b7 70.l"i:d6 Elc4 7 1 .El2d4 Elc2t (Or 7 1 .. .Elc3 72.Elf6! Elc2t 73.'it>f3 Ei:cl 74.l"i:f4 Elc3t 75.'it>f2 Elc5 76.Elb4t 'it>c7 77.l"i:a4! 'it>b7 78.Ela3!, intending Ela3-e3.) 72.'it>f3 Elc3t 73.'it>f4 Elc2 74.Eld2 l"i:c4t 75.El6d4 Black is helpless as the white king is set to penetrate.

57.B:a6t 'itie5 58.l:l:eSt 'itif4 59.l:l:a4t 'itig5 60.h4t 'itif6 61.B:a6t @f7 62.B:eaS+-

Black cannot avoid exchanging rooks or losing material.

54 ...ifS 55.l:l:a?t 'itif6 56.B:fSt 'itie6 After: 56 ... 'it>g5 White plays: 57.l"i:a4! 'it>h6 58.h4 l"i:c7 59.l"i:h8t 'it>g7 60.l"i:ha8 f2 iWb2t= does not look critical. While 24.tlixf6t? l"i:xf6 25.iWxg5t ci>f7+ is even better for Black as his king is escaping to d6. 24 ... ci>f7

g

So far both players had been moving remarkably fast for such a sharp position, meaning that everything up to now was home preparation. Black has an extra pawn and the healthier structure, but his king is a bit draughty and its defensive pawn cover is fragile. Indeed, sacrifices on f6 and g5 are already on the agenda and Black should place his pieces to convenient squares as quickly as possible to minimize the consequences of these imminent fireworks. One would have expected Vishy to continue moving fast, but instead he slowed down at this point, and started thinking. I went to make myself a coffee, as this promised to be an interesting fight, but when I returned to my computer I noticed an unusual commotion in the comments' window from various kibitzing onlookers. It did not take me long to realize why; Anand had played the dreadful howler:

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This position, albeit dangerous for Black, could have been the starting point of deep analysis ending in a draw. I have no reason to think otherwise, nor will I question the risky strategy of choosing the Griinfeld in the first game of a World Championship match. After all, battles are not won without risk. I will just restrict myself to remarking that had Anand asked himself which is the most harmonious move in the position he would have almost

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

76

surely chosen the developing move 23 ...J.d7! instead of 23 .. c;tif7??. Again, this is an obvious case of an individual unconsciously dimming his judgement due to an agonizing effort to remember the product of his analysis. So, can the position after 23 . . .J.d7! serve as a memory marker for someone who intends to play this line? I would answer, absolutely yes. It is the moment when one completes development and connects the rooks, so it is rather easy to remember. Also, it is a much more flexible move than 23 ... c;tif7?? because the bishop threatens to put the question to the h5-knight by ...J.d7-e8 . Harmonious development and flexibility are closely related; the better one's pieces are placed, the more reasonable possibilities are likely to crop up. After 23 ...J.d7! 24.2"1g3!?, I wouldn't be surprised if, for example, the extra possibility 24 ... 2"\acS!? is also possible, as a back-up line to 24 ... c;tif7: .

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Out of curiosity, I analysed some lines arising after this move, but I would suggest you do not rely on them without thorough checking first; I make this request as I am neither a Grunfeld expert, nor do I have the analytical ability of these players or the hardware they possess. Thus, with some reservations, it seems to me that after 24 ... 2"\acS!? White has nothing better than: 25.'2lxf6t! Wxf6

a) 26.e5? is just losing, due to the simple 26 ... 2"\xcl t 27.Wxcl Wxe5 28.Wxg5t cj;if7-+ and White has run out of ammunition. b) 26.2"1xg5t!? cj;if7 27.2"1xc8 2"1xc8 28.Wf4! After 28.2"1g6?!, the obvious 28 ... We5+, intending ... 2"1c8-h8, leads White nowhere.

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The text move is interesting but after the correct: 28 ...Wc6! 28 ... 2"1g8? 29.2"1xg8 c;tixg8 30.e5+28 ... 2"1e8? 29.2"1h5 2"1e7 30.2"1h6+29.Wg4 To avoid the exchange of queens. 29 ... Wcl t 30.c;tih2 2"\hst 3 1 .2"1h5 2"1xh5t 32.Wxh5t c;tifs 33.Whst cj;if7 34.Wh7t c;tifs Black is out of the woods and the game must end in a draw by perpetual from one side or the other.

Chapter 2 - Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots! c) 26.8'.el !

8 1

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This is the best move, when Black has to avoid several pitfalls to stay afloat. It is very logical, considering that the attacker has to avoid exchanging pieces and also has a lethal threat, to advance e4-e5. There are four candidate replies: cl) Bad is 26 ... tlic6? 27.�c4t cii h7 28.cii f2! �xf5 29.exf5 1.Wxf5t 30.cii g l tlie5 3 1 .�d5! tlig6 32.�e6 1.Wf4 33.1.Wxf4 gxf4 34.8'.h3t cii g7 35.�xcS 8'.xc8 36.8'.dl ±. c2) 26 ... 8'.feS? succumbs to: 27.8'.xg5t! (27.e5 is only equal after 27 ... 8'.xe5 28.1.Wxg5t 1.Wxg5 29 .8'.xg5t cii f7 30.8'.xe5 cii f6 3 l .8'.d5 cii xg5 32.8'.xd7 tlic6 33.8'.g7t cii f4 34.cii f2 tli b4=) 27 ... cii f7 28.8'.h5!± And it turns out that the e8-rook is overloaded as it cannot both contest the h-file and hold the e5square. After 28 ... 8'.e5 29.8'.h7t mes 30.8'.h6 White should win as his f-pawn is unblocked and the queen is ready to penetrate via f4 or g5. c3) After my initial analysis was complete, I learned that GM Erwin I..:Ami had suggested 26.8'.el ! in New in Chess. He implies Black is in trouble and offered the line: 26 ... 8'.c3? 27.8'.xg5t cii f7 28.e5 8'.xd3 29.1.Wf4!+c4) 26 ... 8'.ceS! is best.

77

s U U Z ?�• 1 I U .t. U 8 \t1ll:i,:':'�·'».�� � 6 :lilif&.fjr �/.�ii:;:; � · :�m� . . m'. � .. �/%. 0 • , � � %� 8 ·�� . . � 3 A ·�· A� � 2� 0� 0 �; · %, �Jk � (� � e h ;� for White I could not find anything decisive /.0C,

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in the diagram position; my main line runs: 27.e5!? The other possibility is: 27.8'.xg5t cii f7 28.�e2! (28.8'.h5? does not work now in view of 28 ... 8'.hS+) 28 ... 8'.gS 29.�h5t cii e7 30.8'.g6! 8'.xg6 3 1 .�xg6 This leads to an approximately balanced ending after 3 1 ...8'.hS! 32.e5 1.Wh4 33.8'.e4! 1.Wh6D 34.1.Wxd4 1.Wcl t 35.cii f2 1.Wc5. For example: 36.1.Wxc5t bxc5 37.g4 tlic6 38.f6t cii e6 39.�f5t cii d5 40.e6 �xe6 4 1 .8'.xe6 tlid4= 27 ...8'.xe5 28.1.Wxg5t 1.Wxg5 29.8'.xg5t cii f7 30.8'.xe5 cii f6 A funny way to recover a rook. 3 l .8'.d5 cii xg5 32.8'.xd7

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32 ... 8'.gS! 32 ... tlic6?! 33.!'!g7t cii f4 34.cii f2! tlib4 35.g3t cii e 5 36.8'.e7t cii d6 37.8'.e6t gives White real chances. 33.8'.c7!?

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

33.l:'i:xd4 tlic6= is unsurprisingly completely level, as the knight finds a wonderful square on e5. 33.'.i':\xa7 tlic6 34.l:'i:d7 tlie5 35.l:'i:xd4 tlixd3 36.l:'i:xd3 l:'i:a8 37.a3 iiixf5 38.iii h2 b5 39.iiig3 l:'i:a4 40.l:'i:b3 iii f6 4 1 .iii f3 iii g6 42.g3 iiif6 43.iii e3 iii f7 44.iii d2 iii e6= This is an easy draw, despite White's extra pawn. 33 ... a6! 34.l:'i:d7 34.iii f2 b5 35.iii f3 tlic4 36.i.xc4 bxc4 37.l:'i:xc4 '.i':\d8 38.iii e4 d3 39.l:'i:cl d2 40.'.i':\dl iii f6!? 4 1 .iii e3 '.i':\e8t 42.iiixd2 l:'i:g8= 34 ... b5 35.l:'i:xd4 tlic6 36.l:'i:d6 tlie5 37.i.e2 iiixf5 38.l:'i:xa6 b4 39.i.dl '.i':\c8± In view of the diminished material, Black should hold the draw. Assuming Vishy mixed up the move order, his 23rd move implies that instead of 24 ... '.i':\ac8, he intended to play 24 ... iii fl I have to confess this bold king move looks a bit suspicious, but I have not managed to prove anything concrete for White. After 25.i.c4t! I can only say that the position is weird: a) 25 ... iii e ?!?

27.'.i':\g7t 27.l:'i:xc4 fxg5 28.l:'i:xd4 l:'i:ad8 29.Wxg5t iii e 8 30.l:'i:d5 Wal t 3 1 .iiih2 looked very close to a solution to me, but the computer comes up with 3 1 ...Wh8D 32.iii g3 Wc3t 33.iii h2 Wh8=. 27 ... l:'i:fl 28.'.i':\xflt iiixf7 29.l:'i:xc4

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29 ... d3!! 30.Wxd3 30.Wh6 l:'i:f8D 3 1 .l:'i:c7!? Wd4tD 32.iii h2 d2 33.'.i':\xd7t Wxd7 34.Wxf6t iii e8 35.tlig7t Wxg7 36.Wxg7 d l =W 37.We5t iii d 8 38.Wb8t iii e7 39.We5t= is another draw. 30.a4 Wd6 3 1 .Wh6 d2 32.Wg7t iii e8 33.ctJxf6t Wxf6 34.Wxf6 d l =Wt 35.iiih2 Wh5t 36.iiig3 l:'i:c8 is less exciting, but drawish all the same. 30 ...i.b5 3 1 .l:'i:c7t Wxc7 32.Wd5t iii f8! 33.Wxa8t i.e8= Black succeeds in drawing miraculously as taking on f6 loses the knight. b) 25 ... tlixc4 26.l:'i:xc4 l:'i:ac8 27.'.i':\xd4 i.e8 28.l:'i:d5 Wc7

a b c d e f g h This appears more human than the alternatives, but still requires balancing on a tightrope: 26.l:'i:xg5! tlixc4! A nice variation is: 26 ... fxg5? 27.Wxg5t iii d6 28.Wh6t iii e7 29.f6t! iii d6 30.flt iii e7 3 1 .tlif4!+a

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Chapter 2 - Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots! This is one of the most awkward positions I have ever seen, but the engines insist it is a draw: 29.Wi'd4 g8D 30.ctJxf6t l"i:xf6 3 1 .Wi'xf6 Wi'xg3 32.Wi'e6t mfs 33.Wi'xc8 Wi'el t=

79

27 ... 'it>f6 loses to various moves including 28.i"lcc?.

28Jkc7 @d8 29.i.b5 �xe4 30.gxc8t

Returning to the game, after 23 ... 'it>f7?? Topalov was merciless:

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Black resigned as heavy material losses were unavoidable.

1-0

33.f6!+-

Well, if my loss to Kasimdzhanov meant a little less than nothing to the chess universe, I can assure you that this was not the case here; World Champions are always watched by many eyes and losing the first game of an important match in such a shocking way could have catastrophic consequences for one's self­ confidence. You could easily feel humiliated, angry and despondent, and all this not because you played badly, but rather because you did not play at all. What's worse, you have unveiled one of your match weapons and your opponent not only took a free point, you also lost the element of surprise. I must confess that at this point I had mixed feelings about the result of this game. I have been Veselin's assistant in the past and I appreciate his attitude to the game and his hard work; this guy deserves his high position in the world rankings. But on the other hand, Anand's blunder brought back bad memories from my own games. I sympathized with his misfortune,

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

but it seems that the person in the world who pitied Anand least was Anand himself. The next day, he played the following game:

Viswanathan Anand - Veselin Topalov

Veselin has played the opening well; he has an extra pawn and no weaknesses. White's strongly placed pieces compensate for the pawn, but that's about it; he has no advantage.

13 ..ia5 �e7 14.�b3 World Championship, Sofia (2) 2010

1.d4 tlif6 2.c4 e6 3.tlia d5 4.g3 As became clear later, the Catalan was Anand's prepared weapon for this match. In any case, it is a good choice for steadying one's nerves after a loss, as it yields a playable position with a minimum of risk.

4...dxc4 5 ..ig2 a6 6.tlie5 c5 True to his style, Topalov seeks a direct confrontation in the centre; this is the best continuation, while 6 ... .ib4 t and 6 ... :8a7 have also appeared from time to time.

7.tlia3 White is prepared to sacrifice a pawn for long-term compensation. 7 ..ie3 'll d5 8.dxc5 is another possibility, but apparently one that leads to more forcing play. As the course of the game reveals, White gives priority to achieving the sort of position where unforced errors, to borrow a tennis term, are likely to occur.

7...cxd4 8.tliaxc4 .ic5 9.0-0 0-0 IO ..id2 tlid5 l U'k l tlid7 12.tlid3 .ia7

14 ..ixd5?! exd5 1 5 ..ib4 'Wf6 1 6.'ll d6 'll e 5 1 7.'ll f4 .ie6+ is dubious for White. Giving up the fianchetto bishop in the Catalan must only be done for very concrete reasons, which do not exist here.

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This was a novelty, but not a prepared one; judging by strictly objective criteria, it's a dubious move. White doubles his pawns and weakens c3, while still a pawn down. However, removing the queens from the board is also a bit annoying for Black, as the invasion point on d6 will no longer be covered.

15 ...�xa3 16.bxa3 tli7f6?! Natural, but not challenging enough. Several commentators have pointed out the move Black should have played: 1 6 ... 'll c5! This is indeed the best move. It is dynamic, because it eyes c3 (the knight can land there

Chapter 2 - Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots! via a4) and strategic, because it challenges the fine blockading knight on d3. After 1 6 . . . Cll c 5! White would have to start thinking about equality, and I think the best way to inch closer to it is:

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l 7.'ll f4!? 17.2"1fel 'll a4 1 8 .2"1c2 �d7+ looks better for Black. 1 7 ... 'll xf4 1 8.gxf4 d3! 1 8 ... b6 1 9.�b4 a5 20.Cll xa5 bxa5 2 1 .�xc5 �xc5 22.2"1xc5 �a6 23.�f3 2"1b2 24.2"1dl �xe2 25.he2 2"1xe2 26.2"1xd4= is only symbolically better for Black.

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25 ... 2"1d8!! 26.2"1xd3 2"1cl t 27.�fl 2"1xfl t 28.iiixfl �b5! 29.axb5 2"1xd3 30.a4 axb5 3 1 .axb5 2"1b3 32.'ll c4 2"1xb5 33.'ll d2 f6 34.�d4 iii f7+ The h-pawn is chronically weak. Even after the better 1 9 .exd3, Black is to be preferred slightly after: l 9 ... 'll xd3 20.l"1c2 'll xf4! 20 ... b6 2 1 .�b4 'll xb4 22.axb4 �b7 23.'ll e 5 �xg2 24.iiixg2 2"1b7 25.2"1d l� 21 .�c7 e5!! 22.�xe5 22.�xb8 �xb8+ 22 ...�f5 23.�xb8 �xb8 24.2"1d2 �d3 25.2"1xd3 'll xd3 26.�xb7 Cll c 5+

17.tlJce5

1 9.exd3! 1 9 .e3 would be torture for White if Black discovers the beautiful possibility of 19 ...�d7! (l 9 ... b6 20.�b4 �d7 2 1 .�xc5 bxc5 22.2"1fd l �b5 23.2"1xd3 2"1fd8 24.2"1xd8t 2"1xd8 25.�fl = is okay for White) 20.�b6! d2D 2 1 .�xa7 dxc l =� 22.2"1xcl 2"1bc8 23.'ll b6 'll d3 24.2"1d l l"1c7! 25.a4!

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Veselin's choice has led to a static position which is not easy to handle. It is easier for Black to commit inaccuracies in this type of

82

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

game as his pieces lack scope, so we can say that Anand's psychological gamble has paid off.

17 :ges 18,:gc2 b6 19.i.d2 i.h7 20.:gfcl .•.

From now on Vishy makes all the right practical decisions, demonstrating why he has reached the top of the chess pyramid. His play clearly shows that he has stoically accepted his loss in the previous game, and is just ready to fight, no matter if that may be from a little worse or a little better position. Topalov himself has pulled off many great recoveries in tournaments, but here he is on the receiving end:

20 ... :gbdS 21.f4 i.h8 2 1 ...b5!? may have been better.

22.a4 a5 23.ctJc6 .L:c6 24,:gxc6 h5 25.:g lc4!

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27 ... li:ld? 28.ixh5 e5 29.fXe5 ixe5± would have given Black better drawing chances, although his position is already difficult at this stage.

28,gxb6 i.a7 29,gb3 gd4 30.gc7! i.h8 3 U:k5 i.d6 32.:gxaS gc8 33. 'it>g2 :gc2 Black did get some activity, but the passed a-pawns look very strong.

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25 ... ctJe3?

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This leads to a passive position as the remaining black pieces will have little scope compared to their white counterparts. I would have preferred 25 ... h4!?, with a more complicated struggle. 25 ... li:lg4 is also mentioned by some analysts, wanting 26.2':\xd4? ia7!. After 26.if3 e5! we have roughly equal chances (Giri).

26.i.xe3 dxe3 27.i.f3;t

Chapter 2

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Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots!

35.ixd5?! 35.Wh3!± is better, but this is not easy to find for a human. 35 ... Elxe2t 36.Wf3 Elxh2 37.Wxe3 Elxd5 38.E\xd5 exd5

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83

finds such chances, but this was apparently not one of his best days.

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This leads to a position where there is no clear victory in sight for White. For example: 39.Wd4 39.a5 E\a2 40.a6 (40.li:Jb4? ic5H) 40 ...ixa3 4 1 .a7 if8! 42.Elb7 Ela4! is worse for Black, but not easy to break down. 39 ... Elh3 40.Wxd5 After 40.a5!? Elxg3! 4 1 .f5 (41 .a6? ixf4) 4 1 ...Elg5! 42.a6 ih2 43.Elbl igl t! Black equalizes, as White dare nor play 44.Elxgl?? in view of 44. . . Elxgl 45.a7 E\g4t-+.

The rest is trivial.

35 . .Lb4 36.axb4 Cl\d5 37.b5 gaxa4 38.gxa4 �4 39.i.xdS exd5 40.b6 gas 4Lh7 gbs 42.'it>a d4 43.i>e4 1-0 .

The development of events in this second game is an indication of a person who refuses to cave in to "accidents" like the one in the first game. I am sure that Anand did not bother to analyse the deeper causes of his blunder, but just tried to get a good night's sleep and come fresh and focused to the second game. This enabled him to alertly exploit his opponent's inaccuracies and level the score. In the continuation of the match he displayed more of his practical attitude by switching as Black from the risky Griinfeld to the more solid Slav Defence. Topalov can also be flexible and practical after failures, as he has shown on numerous occasions, and this has made him, along with hard work, che player he is today.

Summary Getting nipped in the bud does not mean we will never flourish again. Going back to our chess roots can help - treat playing chess as a fun challenge rather than a stressful obligation where plenry of memorizing and a false sense of invincibiliry are playing the major roles. I should clarify that I am not averse to working hard on chess or memorizing long lines, but this has to be done before tournaments in a systematic manner. And as for invincibiliry, no one is perfect, so why not enjoy chess a little bit?

Be a Harsh Critic ofYour Own Wins

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

Over the last 1 0- 1 5 years, my chess career has been marred by extremely uneven performances, a fact that severely hampered my prospects of improving beyond the 2600 level. While trying to discover the underlying reasons for this failure, I understood that there were two important issues that I had difficulty in controlling and this was due to both matters of principle and "natural causes".

My troublesome issues The first problem was the large drawing margin of this game; indeed, chess is one of the most drawish of sports, and trying to complicate matters, especially with Black, can easily lead to disaster against opponents who are willing to set up a solid position and just wait. I have literally chosen to lose games rather than acquiesce to a draw against such players, because I could not bring myself to accept that my superior knowledge and understanding were insufficient to yield enough winning chances when facing them. Therefore, I would often consciously take excessive risks and lose. Being uncompromising is, in general, a disadvantage in chess, as having the "serve" (to borrow a tennis term again) of the white pieces is too hard to overcome. Had I realized this fact at the beginning, I would have probably played chess only as an amateur, and chosen a different sport to make a professional career. I am not the type of person who plays only to win, disregarding the beauty and quality of the game. I only regret the fact that today drawing with White does not require much accuracy or effort from the weaker player, as he can bash out 25 moves of mainline theory in a minute, without even understanding them, and then find a few commonsense moves to maintain equality with a large amount of time at his disposal. If I choose a risky deviation to mix things up before move 25, he might simply know or even accidentally find the refutation

and then I simply lose. If I try to be creative after move 25, there is not much material left for achieving anything constructive and dubious choices are not likely to perplex the opponent. The risky move will probably be spotted and cruelly refuted, as there will just be a few pieces on the board. The other, perhaps less controllable, issue is my weak visual memory. In this respect, I can compare chess to mathematics: there, one may use axioms as a basis for creating complicated formulas and equations; here one may use the raw material (the moving pieces) to generate, during home preparation, logical move sequences dictated by action and reaction. Since the emergence of computers as a major factor in chess preparation, players with a strong visual memory have made a huge leap forward, as they can accurately memorize the generated lines that lead to promising positions. What is more, this is often at the expense of people who discovered many ofthese lines before the computer era. This advantage quickly shifted to the technical phase as well, as the "memory-gifted" players could use the time saved from opening preparation to focus on issues of technique and also obtain more time on the clock to exploit the acquired assets in a real encounter. These two issues may in themselves be disappointing for a professional of my category, but there is little to be done about them. In the latter case, the only thing that helps is to keep refreshing one's opening lines and being in the best physical shape, but even that does not compensate fully for a weak visual memory. In the former case, the player has either to curb his style and accept the dry face of reality, which might indeed elevate him to higher levels, or, in strict accordance to his chess philosophy, take considerable risks to make every game a real game, probably at the expense of objectivity, energy and results.

Chapter 3

-

Be a Harsh Critic of Your Own Wins

The problems I can fix However, these difficult-to-control issues were only one side of the coin. In fact, neglecting self-criticism when it was easily within my reach was my main undoing. While reviewing the games I played in the above-mentioned period, I discovered recurring mistakes in my play, and these mistakes had to do with pure chess-playing qualities more than anything else. I have often failed to seriously assess a situation, misplaced my pieces as a result of not trusting my intuition or lack of knowledge, played irresponsibly fast in a winning position, or, on the contrary, played too slowly because of a lack of self-confidence. Or in some cases, to put it bluntly, I did not know what to do and did not care to find out afterwards. The most intriguing fact is that often these mistakes had gone unnoticed orwere suppressed to oblivion, simply because I won these games. Had I been a harsh critic of myself I would have spotted not only their cause, but also the cure. Judging by the quality and quantity of analytical tools available to the modern player, it would have required only a small investment in time to remove these "bugs" from my play and thus avoid painful experiences in the future; however vanity can be blinding. Thus, the flaws survived to the present day, when I finally decided, mostly out of curiosity; to look with a more critical eye at some of the games I won. Nowadays, I feel that analysing a won game may even be more important than the game itself. I now recall with appreciation the lengthy analysis of Dr Hubner in Chess Informant, realizing why, boring as they looked in the complete absence of any exclamation marks, they were constantly reproaching mistakes rather than praising his good moves or those of his opponent. If you want to reach a high level

87

you cannot be superficial, you must scrutinize. On the other hand, even if we disregard the competitive approach, it is always nice to search for the absolute truth and a chessboard is one of the few places in life where you can be sure of finding it.

Vassilios Kotronias -Viktor Korchnoi European Team Championship, Gothenburg 2 005

1.e4 Before this game I had faced Viktor the Terrible only once. It was back in 1 989 in Haifa, at another European Team Championship. That encounter had been rather uneventful since I had managed to neutralize his favourite Catalan and steer the game towards a drawish ending. This time I would be White, but I actually expected the game to be quite a tough challenge in ,;ev,· of his classical repertoire against l .e4; indeed, both the super-solid French Defence and his Open Spanish are very hard co break down and offer dangerous coumer-attacking potential. However, Korchnoi decided co spring a surprise by going for the Sicilian.

l...c5 2.�0 e6 3.d4 c:xd4 4.�xd4 �c6 5.�c3 d6 6..ie.3 �£6 7.f4 i.e7 8.Wi'O e5 9.�xc6 bxc6 10.13

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

88

I must express my opinion that this position is difficult for Black. White's idea is simple and straightforward; he only needs to put his bishop on c4 followed by 0-0-0 and g2-g4, and the attack will play itself. Korchnoi's next couple of moves initiates some central aggression to disrupt White's plan.

10. . . dS?! 1 1.exd5 .tb4!?

A novelty, according to Korchnoi, although he had played the text move with success earlier the same year. In his ChessBase notes, which I will paraphrase slightly, he comments that "Black is ready to sacrifice one or two pawns to be first to create threats against the enemy's king." Normally the whole operation is questionable for Black, but it does have value in a practical game, all the more so as the alternative is uninspiring: 1 1 ...cxd5 1 2.0-0-0 J.b7 1 2 ... 0-0 13.ctJxd5 ctJxd5 14.�xd5 �c7 1 5 .�c4!t 1 3.J.c4 e4

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In this ending Black has few chances of survival.

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I remember that I played this cautious move rather quickly, intimidated by the speed my opponent had executed his central operation. The only thing on my mind was to enter the middlegame without suffering losses; I just wanted to obtain a playable position. However, I must stress that in a situation like the present one, this "practical" attitude is wrong. Strong grandmasters should strive to get the most they can out of a sharp opening, especially when their side has the better development. At this point I had to think more deeply, and stay true to the spirit of this motto, which incidentally is part of my chess philosophy. By playing 1 1 .J.d2?! I was violating my chess

Chapter 3 - Be a Harsh Critic of Your Own Wins

89

principles out of fear, and already throwing away any advantage the position can offer. Korchnoi's comment on my move: "Played in the most timid, non-pretentious way - this is not how novelties are to be refuted." And he was absolutely right; if I had calmed down I would have realized that I was in a position of strength and in such situations one should play the best moves regardless of personal likes or dislikes. Instead, Korchnoi suggested a superior move: 12.dxc6! He gave the following line as best for Black: 12 ...i.xc3t 13.bxc3 WaS Not 1 3 ... 0-0?! 14.i.e2 Wc7 1 S.0-0 e4 1 6.Wg3 Wxc6 1 7.c4! i.a6 1 8.B:adl B:fd8 1 9.i.h6 West 20.'it>hl Wf8 2 1 .h3 B:ac8 22.B:xd8 B:xd8 23.i.gS We7 24.B:dl B:xdl t 2S.i.xdl+- which looks winning for White. While Korchnoi's line is indeed best, I cannot see Black getting even close to equality after the human reply: 1 4.i.gS! i.xfS 1 S.i.xf6 gxf6 1 6.i.e2!

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For example: 1 6 ...i.g6 1 6 ...i.xc2 17.B:cl i.g6 1 8.h4! hS 1 9.Wxf6 0-0 20.g4 Wd8 2 1 .0-0± leads to a much better ending for White. 1 7.h4 hS 1 8.B:b l ! 0-0 1 9.B:bS Wxa2 20.0-0 Wxc2 2 1 .i.c4 We4 22.Wxe4 i.xe4 23.B:xf6±

White's pieces dominate the board; by playing in this way I would have refuted Korchnoi's novelty and reduced him to passive defence, whereas in the game a completely unclear position arises. On the other hand, weak is 12.i.c4? as had been played by Kargin against Korchnoi, earlier the same year. That game had continued 1 2 ...i.xc3t 1 3.bxc3 WaS 14.i.gS lll xdS 1 S.f6 g6 1 6.i.xdS cxdS 1 7.Wg3 and now Black could have simply castled short and gained the better position, instead of the eccentric 1 7... 'it>d7?! 1 8.0-0 h6 19.i.e3 i.a6 20.B:fd l B:he8 when the game was double-edged but probably better for White in Kargin - Korchnoi, Copenhagen 200S.

12...0-0 13.0-0-0 cxd5 14.tlixd5

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14...e4! The point of Black's play. Due to my routine treatment of the opening phase Korchnoi had achieved his aim of obtaining a double-edged asymmetrical position with open lines against my king. Luckily for me, ... e5-e4 weakens the dark squares and also reduces the scope of the c8-bishop, as otherwise I could have ended up with a very bad position on only move 14.

15.t!Jxf6t Wfxf6 I6.Wfe3D Clearly, the only move; 1 6.Wxe4?? would have lost to the tactical shot I 6 ...ia3!. For example: l 7.c3 l"lbS l 8.bxa3 ixf5-+

16 ....L.:d2t I 7.gxd2 gbs 1s.gd4 Wfb6 19.b3 .Lf5 20.ic4 gbd8 21 .ghdl

White has somehow managed to consolidate his blockade on e3, so he should not be pessimistic; however, the pin on the a7-g I diagonal was annoying me and I wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. As we shall see, my impatience was unjustified as Black cannot really exploit this circumstance and unpinning myself in the wrong way was the cause of all the problems I experienced in the game.

21 ...ig6?! This is less incisive than what I had expected,

but before we get to that there is another dubious line to consider: 2 1 ...l"lxd4?! 22.Wxd4! Wh6t 23. 'ii b2 Wxh2 24.Wxa7

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Korchnoi's suggestion was: 24 ...h5!? 24 ... ig6 25.a4! Wxg2 26.We3± gives White a large advantage as his a-pawn is very fast. This also looks better for White after: 25.ixf7t! l"lxf7 26.l"ldSt l"lfS 27.l"lxfSt d5 24.Wc4t 'it>d6 25.Wd3t with a draw) For example: 22 ... .ie3t 23.Wxe3 Wxb5 24.Wd4t 'it>f5

Chapter 4 - Geometry & Co: A Creative Outlet to Success

143

22.Ei:e3 Ei:f2 23.Wxe6t 'tti h 8 24.We5t ig7 2 5.Wbst Ei:f8 25 ...i.f8 26.We5t= 26.Ei:e8 Wb4!? 27.Ei:xf8t Wxf8 28.Wxa7 i.xb2t! 29.'ttixb2 Wb4t 30.'tti a l Wel t= In my humble opinion, White is the one who must try to make a draw. To be honest, at the time I was in a state of shock about overlooking 1 8 ...ic5!?, but now I would be merely be kicking myself for missing the more "human" geometrical motif: 1 8 . . .Wd8!

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33.Elf7t!! Ei:xf7 34.Wxd8+- This is one of the most beautiful variations I have come across in my chess career. b) 1 9 . . .Ei:xf6 20.Wxc8t i.f8 2 1 .fXg5

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2 1 .. .lll xhl 2 1 ...Ei:f7? 22.Ei:b3! lll xhl 23.Wxe6 'ttih 8 24.Ei:c3!+-

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Now if 19.Wxc8?! Wxd5!+ and Black re­ centralizes his queen, beats b ack the attack and ensures he recovers the exchange, with much the better game. Of course White is not obliged to go for 19.Wxc8?!, but even after the better: 1 9.lll xe?t Wxe7 20.Ei:c3! i.b7 2 1 .Wxa7 lll xh l The onus would have been on him:

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

Black simply wants to play ... g5xf4 in order to be able to extricate his knight with .. .f4-f3, and direct attempts to win the piece back lead to a worse position for White. Cheparinov would have had to find the very refined: 22.a4! After 22 ..ic6 Wd6! 23 ..ixb7 Wxf4t 24.l:\e3

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a b c d e f g h The geometry does not favour White because of the fragile defence of the e3rook: 24 ... l:\dS! 25 .b4!! (The only move to both stave off mate and prevent a lethal intervention on d4, which would occur after 25.b3? l:\d4!-+.) 25 ... 'll f2 ! 26.g3 Wxb4 27.l:\b3 Wel t 28.lilb2 'll dl t 29.lila3

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Chapter 4 - Geometry & Co: A Creative Outlet to Success

145

Peter Svicller - Loek van Wely

26,:ga4?! Missing the superior 26.:§:el!±.

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42 ...'\Wxg4! 43.'\We3 Wg6 44.'\Wxb3 'We2t 45.ltigl Wel t 46.ltig2 '\Wd2t 47.Wf3 Wxd4-+ was more forceful.

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White is tied hand and foot, with g4 a particularly ugly weakness. The remainder was agony:

39.'ii>h3 Yffh7t 40.'ii> g2 Vffe4t 41.'ii> h3 b3! 42.'ii> h2 White could also try: 42.'Wd2!? Wf6! 43.'\Wf2t We6 44.'\We2!? 44.'\Wd2 Wh1 t 45.Wh2 Wxh2t 46.hS! 48.b4 'ii>g4 49.bS 'ii> f3 0-1 •••

Transition to an ending is often the best way for the stronger player to tip the scales in his favour, even from completely equal positions, especially if it involves trading the right pieces. The weaker side typically tends to underestimate the relative strength of the pieces that remain on the board and merely sees the transition stage as an opportunity to bail out to plain equality, which is often not as plain as it looks. We will now witness such an example by switching to the practice of Konstantin Landa.

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

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Konstantin Landa - Ilja Schneider Germany 2008

1.d4 lll f6 2.lll f'3 e6 3.c4 d5 4.g3 dxc4 5.i.g2 i.b4t 6.i.d2 a5 7.Vf1c2 b6 s.V!!xc4 i.b7 9.i.xb4 axb4 10.0-0 lll a6 11.a3 i.d5 12.Vf1d3 0-0 13.lll bd2 bxa3 14.bxa3 i.b7 15.V!Jbl c5 16.lll c4 E:bs 17.E:dl Vf1c7 18.Vf1b5 lll d5 19.E:acl i.c6 20.V!!b l ll:lf6 21.Vf1b2 E:fd8 22.dxc5 E:xdl t 23.E:xdl lll xc5

centralized white queen is annoying for Black, as it merely takes away the e5-square from the white knights.

25.lll fxe5 i.xg2 Slightly better was: 25 ...i.bS!? 26.!'i:b 1 (26.Clid6 i.xe2 27.!'i:b l i.d3 28.!'i:b2 i.e4 29.Clidxf7 i.xg2 30.Wxg2 Clid5t is close to equal. 26.Clic6 i.xc6 27.i.xc6 Wf8 28.!'i:b l Clifd?t is similar to 26.!'i:b l .) 26 ...i.xc4 27.ctJxc4 ctJfd7t White is a little better as the bishop is less agile than a knight in this particular situation; indeed, it controls only one type of square whilst the action takes place on both.

[email protected]

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A quiet opening has led to this approximately balanced position, with both sides controlling key squares in the centre: d4 and e5 for White, d5 and e4 for Black. With his next move Landa invites further simplifications with the aim of acquiring control over the important c6- and d5-squares:

24.Vf1e5!? Vf1xe5? Black swallows the bait, demonstrating that it is psychologically difficult for the lower-rated player to refuse exchanges which might bring the game closer to a draw, even if it involves making a slight concession. Much better was 24 ... Wfa7!= keeping an eye on the weak a-pawn and avoiding opening the gates towards c6; at the same time, it is not clear that the influence exerted by the

The results of the exchanging operation are visibly favourable for White, who has clear targets on b6 and f7, and better placed pieces; in addition, Black's first rank is temporarily weak and this adds momentum to White's initiative.

26... lll d5 26 ... h6!? might have been a better chance.

27.lll c6! E:a8 28.lll b4! Completing an aesthetic manoeuvre designed to annihilate the weak b6-pawn.

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents

28 ...lll xb4 29.lll xb6! B:e8 30.axb4 lll a6 31.B:d4 B:b8

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43.'ll xe6+White's extra pawn should be sufficient for a win.

32...B:xb4 33.B:d6 lll c7 34.lll e5

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Now Black exploits the weakening of e l to dramatically bring his inactive bishop into play.

33.E:f6? This was probably played in acute time pressure, as it loses immediately. 33.1Wh3D Wxh3 34.gxh3 i.xd2 35.l"i:xd2 'it>g7+ was forced, with a very difficult, possibly lost, ending for White. For example, 36.a3 l"i:e3 37.b4 l"i:xa3 38.bxc5 d3 39.c6 l"i:c3 40.c7 l"i:xc4 4 l .l"i:xd3 l"i:xc7 42.l"i:a3 l"i:c6 and Black is placed harmoniously enough to count on success.

33 ... E:f5t! White overlooked or underestimated this check, but the engines immediately show an assessment of -6.30.

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An echo of geometry, unleashing the power of the centralized black queen both vertically and diagonally; facing an inevitable mate, White resigned.

0-1 In principle, steering the game towards semi­ blocked structures with a slight space advantage should be an ideal choice when fighting against lower-rated opposition. There are many logical arguments in favour of such a strategy but here I will restrict myself to mentioning the most important ones: 1) The scarcity of pawn breaks to liquidate the central structure ensures the stronger side that no massive simplifications will take place, which obviously should increase the chances for complicated attacks or positional schemes. 2) A semi-blocked central structure facilitates the creation and exploitation of weaknesses in the enemy camp because it grants the respites needed to plan and carry out the relevant operations and simultaneously provides a reasonable radius of activity for the targeting pieces. In such an environment the stronger player is likely to prevail because of his ability

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

to weigh which weaknesses are most important and coordinate his pieces harmoniously in attacking them. 3) Possession of a slight space advantage grants the higher-rated player freedom of manoeuvring while at the same time ensuring that the opponent's pieces will be constricted to some extent. The lower his playing strength, the more remote his chances of configuring his pieces harmoniously or exploiting minute "holes" caused by extension. The situation is often comparable to that of a tennis match, where a weaker player is forced back to his baseline and is unlikely to deliver accurate passing shots down the sidelines, because he simply lacks the technique required for such an achievement. The following two examples demonstrate some of the points made above; the first one comes from the practice of the Ukrainian GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko:

Evgeny Miroshnichenko - Richard Rapport Ohrid 2009

1.c4 c6 2.tlif3 lll f6 3.d4 d5 4.e3 ig4 s.Wb3 Wb6 6.tlic3 e6 7.tlih4 ihS 8.h3

This position (with Black to move) arose for the first time in the game Topalov - Aronian, Grand Slam final 2008, and since then it has become very popular. Although White is a whole tempo down compared to the line 4...if5 5.ctJc3 e6 6.4.Jh4 ig4 7.Wb3 Wb6 8.h3 ih5 9.g4, many players have deemed it worthwhile to follow Topalov's example as the resulting positions are more pleasant for the first player, who often gains the bishop pair and a slight space advantage. These considerations undoubtedly played a major role in Miroshnichenko's choice of opening in the present game as he needed to restrain his young and ambitious opponent and later exploit his own deeper understanding of pawn structures.

8...ie7 The Hungarian player chooses a simple developing move. Other moves that have occurred in practice are 8 ... 4.J bd?, 8 ...ig6 and 8 ... ctJa6, as well as the double-edged 8 ... g5!?, seeking to keep the light-squared bishop at the cost of weakening the kingside. I have confessed elsewhere in this chapter that I am hardly a connoisseur of the Slav Defence, so I hope I will be excused for addressing issues that are trivial for its practitioners. Such an issue concerns an immediate exchange of queens as well as the fact that humans have been reluctant to test the engines' obvious recommendation of: 8 ...Wxb3 9.axb3 ctJa6

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Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents The machines evaluate the resulting ending as completely equal. After some further elaboration I understood, however, that appearances could be deceptive here. Play might continue: 10.Jid3!? 1 0.g4 'll b4 1 1 [email protected] Jig6 1 2.'ll xg6 hxg6 1 3.gS 'll d7 14.Jid2 Jie7 1 5 .�ga is a more typical way ofplaying, where White can hope for a slight plus by exchanging the b4-knight (with 'll c3-a2) and then trying to prise the position open by utilizing an advance of his e- and h-pawns. 1 0 ...'ll b4 1 1 .Jib l Jie7 12.Jid2 a5 1 3 .g4 Jig6 l 4.'ll xg6 hxg6 1 5.f3 b6 [email protected]£2 0-0-0 l 7.Cll a4 @ b7 1 8.cS bxc5 19.Cll xcSt JixcS 20.dxcS �a8 2 1 .Jic3;t When, despite the apparently awkward placement of the b l-bishop, the white bishops are applying annoying pressure on the enemy kingside, restricting Black to passivity. Although these lines are not entirely forced they serve to illustrate the type of game White is aiming for and why the present variation became popular.

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Although several moves have been tried in the diagram position I consider 1 1 ...gS! to be

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the strongest choice. It has various points: it prepares to develop the queen's knight to d7 by first stabilizing the position of its colleague on f6; it acquires dark-square control on the kingside whilst at the same time fixing h3 as a potential weakness. Richard Rapport is a promising junior and after looking at several ofhis games I concluded he is a hardworking young man who chooses his opening lines carefully. Indeed, 1 1 ...gS! was first used by the strong Russian GM Ernesto Inarkiev and bears the stamp of approval of the great Levon Aronian; two facts that speak volumes about the objective strength of the move. The next step for Richard should be to delve deeper in the intricacies of pawn structures and I am sure that his experience in the present game served him well in that direction.

12.�d.2!? At this point I want to unveil a little piece of knowledge I acquired by analysing several games in this line: having thrown in ... g6-g5 Black has improved his chances in the ending and consequently need not (and in fact, should not) tolerate eternally the vis-a-vis of queens on the b-file. White's chances, on the other hand, are to be found in a middlegame with queens on, but in order to sidestep their exchange he first needs to develop further, which the text move initiates. Having said that, I must admit that a natural move is: 1 2.cS

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

1 88

The way Aronian defuses this move in the following game is certainly worth studying: 12 ... �xb3 13.axb3 lli a6! 14.j,d2 'li e? 1 5.f4 gxf4 1 6.exf4

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1 6... g6! 17.j,e3 a6 l 8.e2 Ei:h7 1 9.j,f2 0-0-0 20.Ei:afl Ei:dh8 2 1 .d3 j,d8 (2 1 ...a5!? may even have granted Black an edge) 22.j,el d7 (22 ... a5!?) 23.b4 c8 24.j,d2 d7 25.j,el c8 26.j,d2 d7 And seeing no way out of the deadlock, the players agreed a draw in Wang Yue - Aronian, Linares 2009.

12 . . . Cll bd7

This is not a clear mistake, but it allows White more opportunities by keeping the queens on the board. I think that, in the spirit of the comments in the previous paragraph, already feasible was: 12 ...�xb3!? Then after: 1 3.axb3 'll bd7

I have been unable to detect even the slightest advantage for White. I will analyse the following moves: 14.e2, 14.e4, 14.f4, 14.f3 and 1 4.0-0-0. 14.e2 a6 1 5 . b4!? A rather incomprehensible line is: 1 5 .Ei:hfl Ei:d8 16.f3 ( 1 6.f4 gxf4 17.Ei:xf4 'll f8=) 16 ... llif8 17.'ll a4 llig6 1 8.Ei:fdl llih4 19,f2 'll xg2 20.xg2= This is provided by a strong engine after overnight analysis. The text move is convincingly dealt with by: 1 5 ... Ei:b8! 1 6.b5 axb5 17.cxb5 c5 1 8.Ei:hcl f8 19.'ll a4 c4 20.'ll c3 'll b 6= Black has a very solid position for Black. If 2 l .f3 then 2 L..j,d6! neutralizing 22.e4?! in view of 22 ... j,f4+. 14.e4 This direct move is initially greeted enthusiastically by the engines but after: 14 ... 'll xe4 1 5 .Cll xe4 dxe4 16.j,xe4 a6!

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I realized that White's bishop pair is outweighed by his weaknesses on d4, f4 and h3. For example: 1 7,fl !? With the idea of keeping the king on its native flank to protect the weaknesses there. 17.0-0-0 0-0-0 l 8.c2 j,f6 1 9.j,e3 ( 1 9.j,a5 b6 20.j,c3 c5 2 l .dxc5 Cll xc5 22.j,g2 j,xc3 23.bxc3 Ei:xdl 24.Ei:xdl Ei:h6! is already a trifle better for Black) This is dealt with

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents by a splendid knight manoeuvre: 1 9 ... ltJfS! 20.b4 (20.d5 cxd5 2 1 .cxd5 exd5 22.j,xd5 ctJe6= is also equal) 20 ... ltJg6! Black is ready to deploy his knight to the fine squares of e7 or f4, according to circumstance. 2 l .j,xg6 (2 1 .d5 cxd5 22.cxd5 lLif4=; 2 1 .dib3 ctJe7=) 2 1 ...fxg6



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This is another position where White's weaknesses on the dark squares prevent him from obtaining an advantage. 1 6.l:l:fl (1 6.f5 exf5 l 7.cxd5 c5!=; 1 6.dif2 g600) 1 6 ...g6! 1 7.0-0-0 0-0-0 l S .l:l:del lLib6! 1 9.c5 ctJ aS!= Followed by placing the knight on c7; Black is fully equal. 14.f3 This is countered by dark-square play. A sample line is: 14 ... a6

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This produces a picturesque position where Black's tripled g-pawns and e6-isolani are no weaker than the white pawns on b4, d4, f2 and h3; consequently the status quo is maintained. 1 7 ... 0-0-0 l S.j,a5 l s.dig2? lLic5 l S ... l:l:deS 1 9.dig2 j,d6 20.l:l:ae l !? 20.j,c3 ctJf6 2 I .j,f3 e5= 20.l:l:hel ltJf6 2 I .j,f3 l:l:h4! 22.b4 l:l:ehS 23.l:l:h l dibs 24.b5 axb5 25.cxb5 lLid5= 20 ... ltJf6 21 .j,f3 j,f4 22.j,c3 dibs 23.b4 l:l:ds Intending either ... ltJf6-eS-c7 or ...j,f4c7-b6. Black has enough counterplay to maintain the balance.

1 5.dif2!? 1 5 .e4?! dxe4 16.fxe4 e5+ 1 5.0-0-0 ctJfS!? 16.e4 dxc4 1 7.bxc4 ltJ6d7! l S.ctJe2 ctJg6 1 9.l:l:hfl ltJh4 20.j,hl lLig6= 1 5 .die2 lLifs! 1 6.ltJa2 lLig6 1 7.ltJcI o-o-o l S.ltJd3 j,d6= 1 5 ... 0-0-0 With the king on £2, 1 5 ... ctJfS 16.e4!?± looks slightly better for White. 1 6.ctJe2 16.l:l:hdl dibS00 16 ... dibs 17.l:l:hdl l:l:deS! Black has good chances for a complicated struggle with ... e6-e5 on the agenda. 1 4.0-0-0 I consider this a logical reply, preparing to commence activity in the centre and on the kingside. 1 4... 0-0-0 1 5.l:l:hfl

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

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Black has the splendid move: 17 ... li:J 8h7! Staunchly supporting the dark squares. White should play: 1 8.Ei:hl ! But even in that case he gains no advantage after the accurate: 1 8 ... 2"1d7 1 9.c5 �d8! 20.b4 a6 2 1 .!"i:ffl �c7 22.c2 �g3 23.e4 dxe4 24.g5 li:'ih5 25.�xe4 25.li:'ixe4 f5! 25 .. .f5 26.�f3 li:Jf8! 27.li:'ie2 �c7 With a sharp positional struggle where Black's chances are by no means worse.

13.0-0-0 Evgeny Tomashevsky has instead played: 13.Wa4!?

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I think this move better suits White's needs in the position, exactly because it avoids the exchange of queens. For example the computers suggest: 1 3 ... a5!? 14.cxd5 li:'ixd5 This is best answered with: 1 5 .Wc2! 1 5 .Ei:cl lets Black illustrate his idea: 1 5 ...Wa6! 16.a3 li:'i7b6! 1 7.Wc2 li:'ixc3 1 8.Wxc3 li:Jd5 1 9.Wc4 Wxc4 20.!"i:xc4 'it>d7= 1 5 ... li:Jb4 Weak is 1 5 ... li:'ixc3? 1 6.bxc3±. 15 ...Wa6 1 6.a3! (16.li:Jxd5!? exd5 17.e400) 1 6 ... li:'ixc3 1 7.�xc3 a4 ( 1 7 ... li:'if6 1 8 .e4::!::) 1 8.0-0-0 Wb5 1 9.e4::!:: White is slightly better because of his two bishops and control of the centre. 1 6.Wb l Wa6 1 7.�fl Wb6 1 8.a3 li:Jd5 19.Wc2 f8 20.�g2!? 20.li:Ja400 20 ...Wa6 2 1 .li:'ie2!? 'it>g8 22.e4 li:J 5 b6 23.!"i:d l ! a4 24.�cl::!:: /= Instead Tomashevsky's game continued: 1 3 ...Wc7 14.cxd5 exd5 1 5.Wc2 li:'i b6 1 6.b3 a5 1 7.!"i:cl Wd7 1 8 .li:Je2 �d6?! 1 8 ...�b4!? 1 9.a4 We6

Chapter 5

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Facing Lower-rated Opponents

of the game illustrates that it is very difficult for the latter to hold his own, even in a game like the present one where the superior player's conduct of the initiative is not flawless.

14... 'it>bS?

A positional error that leads to a very difficult

situation for Black. 14 . . . dxc4! 15.W'xc4 Wb8

16. © b I ltJ d5t reduces the damage by avoiding

falling into a queenside bind. Even in that case White would have enjoyed the better chances

due to his mobile centre and bishop pair, but at least Black's pieces would have acquired some activity, whereas in the game he should have been completely busted.

13... 0-0-0?! Black did not realize that, having castled, White was now ready to move his queen. Had

15.c5! W'c7

he sensed that, he would have played 13 . . . W'xb3

14.axb3 0-0-0=, transposing to 12 . . . W'xb3. k

things stand now, White gets a substantially improved version

of a middlegame with

queens on, because the black monarch is likely to suffer on the queenside.

14.W'a4!

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Miroshnichenko

clearly felt he had to make the most out of the wedge on c5 by attacking as quickly as possible, but here he fails to exploit to the maximum the weakness of the a5-square. a

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In my opinion, White has now attained the type of position a better player should strive for against a lower-rated opponent: slightly more space and a dear plan, arising from a typical central pawn structure. The remainder

16.© b l !± This preparatory move would have rendered Black's situation critical, as White intends to bring his king to a l and only then start attacking with b2-b4. In the meantime Black seems unable to generate any counterplay.

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1 9.cxb6 axb600 is not at all clear.

For example:

19 ... tlig6 20.a4 a6 21.f7 3 1 .l'l:b l +- is a simple but geometrically impressive way of acquiring a decisive plus. The further moves 3 1 ... l'l:d7 32.�f5 llifs 33.l'l:h6 \t>g7 34.l'l:xh5 l'l:e7 35.�f2 l'l:c4 36.�f3 l'l:c3t 37.�g4 merely serve to demonstrate Black's inability to undertake anything of substance.

29.gxd6 gc4 30.ifl gxr4 3I.ixa6 gf6

h

Leading to a lost ending; Black had to accept a slightly constricted position by 2 1 . . .hxg4 22.fXg4 �d7 23.tlig300, in which, however, there is still everything to play for.

22.i.xgS WfxgS 23.f4 WIe7 24.gxf5 Wfxe2 25.Wfxe2 gxe2 26.fxg6 fxg6

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1he result has been settled; the rest is trivial.

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32...ga7 33,gdst gm 34.gxf"St cbxf"S 35.a6 lll f6 36.gfl cbe7 37.gel t cbf"S 38.gfl cbe7 39.gel t cbf7 40.d6 c4 41.ge?t cbf"S 42.cbfl g5 43.idS gxa6 44.gf7t hs? .••

27 ... b4!± was better, when Black can still fight. The tactical justification lies in 28.cxb4? (after 28.°1Wc4! bxc3 29.b4 tlid7 30.°1Wxc3 id4 3 1 .tlixd4 exd4 32.°1Wxd4 tlie5 33.ia4± White should gradually win) 28 ... tli b3 29.ga3 tlid4± Black can breathe again.

28.ga3 Realizing his om1ss1on, White rushes to cover b3; now the game is over.

28...ggs 29.gfal gm 30.gaS tlia4 31.gxbS '11Nxb8 32.'11Nxb5 1--0

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White's pieces are cruising on the light squares.

23 ... @gs 24.tlif5 gg6 25.d5 tlie4 26.'11Ne2 tlic5

Summing up the action that took place between moves 1 2 and 17, we can note that although White's novelty was not that great, Black practically collapsed after it. Certainly, this does not happen every time, but I can think of an important psychological reason why it happens quite often - lower-rated players often become frustrated when they cannot get their homework on the board, exactly because they rely on it very much. This fact can dim their concentration and lead them to play below their usual strength. In the introduction to this chapter I outlined some important factors that could ease the task of dealing with lower-rated opponents: space, key squares, asymmetry, safer king, control of the centre, etc. However, playing Black automatically means it is not easy to impose the character we want on the game, so the first rule is that we should be patient.

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A little careless; I am sure that Carlsen, Anand or Topalov would have buried the

I have noticed that players such as Adams, Short and Beliavsky typically dispose smoothly oflower-rated opponents simply by exploiting their knowledge of Black structures arising

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from the Queen's Gambit, Nimzo/Queen's Indian, or various lines in the Spanish. The majority of the above structures are rich in classical positional content, and even those which are not classical can acquire a classical "flavour" at any moment due to their flexibility. What do I mean by classical positional content? Well, basically the rules and nuances of a fight that revolves around the issues of centre and space and is dependent almost equally on the role of pawns and pieces. Unsurprisingly, lack of classical culture is quite often the Achilles heel of weaker players, who tend to spend their time analysing forced lines and sharp openings. But even those who do have a classical culture may often find it hard to resist a superior player in such a type of fight. The reason is, in my humble opinion, that such a battleground exposes the real talent in chess. Of course, the benefits of the classical approach can be useful in many structures and many openings. The next two examples, both from the practice of Vladimir Epishin, demonstrate the importance of playing in "the classical way". For a change, I have refrained from using much commentary here; I will let Epishin's moves speak for themselves:

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1 1.cxdS White cannot stand the central tension and strives to close the d-file, but in doing so he waves goodbye to any chance of an advantage. 1 l .a3 c5 1 2.dxcS 'll xc5 13.'ll c3 was more principled.

1 1. .. cxdS 1 1 ...'ll x dS!? was also interesting.

12.liJc3

Ventzislav lnkiov - Vladimir Epishin Conegliano 2008

I .d4 ltJf6 2.c4 e6 3.ltJf3 d5 4.g3 i.b4t s.i.d2 i.e7 6.i.g2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.°1Wc2 b6 9.i.f4 i.b7 10.ltJeS ltJa6!? Black decides to go his own way at this point, and it is a perfectly feasible one. On a6, the knight still reinforces ... c6-c5, while eyeing b4; at the same time the d-file is left open. On the other hand, 1 0 ... 'll bd7= is the perfectly solid theoretical choice.

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13.a3 �cs 14.°1Wb3?!

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents

205

Violating a classical rule - the side with more space should avoid exchanges. 14.tlif3 would have been better.

Black has already obtained the better chances; White's central demonstration has merely weakened his position.

14... c!LlxeS 15.ixeS

19.Wfe2?! 1 9.exdS .ixd5 20 ..ixdS exd5 2 1 .2"1el tlic4 22 ..if4+ would have been the lesser evil, despite the weakening of the light squares. Now Black advantageously unbalances the structure.

19 ... c!Llc4 20.:gacl c!Llxe5 21.dxeS d4! 22.c!Lla2 :gcS!+

16.:gfdl?! 16 ..ixb8 !"1xb8 1 7.2"1fc l = would have been safer.

16 ... c!Llc6 17.e4 c!Ll aS 18.Wfc2 Wfd7i 23.c!Ll b4? :gxcl! 24.:gxcl hb4 25.axb4 d3 26.Wfe3 :gds 27J�d1 L&-+

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

A triumph of forceful play, based on harmony, centralization and exploitation of space; in the remainder Epishin successfully copes with the technical task and wins the game in glorious style.

28.i.fl h6 29.gd2 V9b5 30.f4 V9xb4 31.fl V9c4 32.h4 V9cI 33.V9el V9c5t 34.V9e3

The next game follows, more or less, the same pattern:

Keim Rojas -Vladimir Epishin Staufer Open 20 10

l.e4 c5 2.tl:if3 e6 3.d.3 d6 4.g3 i.e7 5.i.g2 b6 6.0-0 i.h7 7.tl:ibd2 tl:id7 8.a4 tl:igf6 9.gel 0-0 10.a5 gbs l l.axb6 axb6 12.tl:ic4 gas 13.gxas V9xa8 I 4.i.f4 d5 Having placed all his pieces conveniently, the time has come for Black to gain more space in the centre and break the symmetry.

1 8 .'1We2! White would have realistic possibilities to prepare d3-d4 and bail out to equality. For example: 1 8 ...j,c6 1 8 ... 'IWbS 1 9.'LlbS= 19.c4!? h6 20.2"1dl 2"1d8 2 1 .d4! '\Wb8 2 1 ...cxd4 22.2"1xd4 'Llc5 23.h3= 22.'LlbS 22.dS! ? 22 ... ctJf8=

15 ...i.xd5i Black has an edge in view of his pressure

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents down the long diagonal and the possibility of advancing his queenside pawns in order to gain further space and inflict weaknesses.

16.'lie3 16.lt'ia3 j,c6 1 7.c4!?+ was committal, but would have prevented Black's main idea.

16...�c6 8

� � �� - � � � �� ��-%"'"�%!'%

1 - m�� .t. w� .t. , _, � �� �r-r -r, � � .,,,,/ ,- /, � y,,,,,, �

6

207

In such a structure, only Black can be better; the light squares around the white king are weak and the f4-bishop is rather unstable. In addition, Black has a dear plan of carrying out ... b6-b5 and ... c5-c4, which White should be on constant guard to prevent.

18 ...�eS 19.'lic4 'lids Having centralized two more of his pieces in the last couple of moves, Black is ready to carry out his main plan.

20.�d2 b5

. ,. ,l�-

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4

B�:W'�� o/%ffiJwtr � �-i,,J:w,0 � % � ��- � �- �""'� ,,,,J�!Jl!s 1 B Bil�� m

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Strategically unacceptable; White should have tolerated the pressure on the diagonal and opted for something like 1 7 .c4+. However, it must be stressed that his position was getting uncomfortable at this point.

17 ...i.xgl 18.'lihxg2

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2 1 . ctJ a3 Wic6 22.c4 offered better chances to hold.

2 1. ..'lixe3 22.�xe3 �f6 23.�c3 hc3 24.bxc3 'lif6

20

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

The ugly threat of ... ltJf6-d5 makes its appearance.

25.tll f4!? eS? A slip that is rather uncharacteristic of Epishin in such situations; the prophylactic alternatives 25 ... g6+ or 25 ... h6+ would have preserved Black's advantage.

26.tll hs tll xhs 27.�xhs �alt 2s.h8 22.tll d4 Wi'f6 23.a5!? f3 24.�el ii.xd4 25.Wi'xd4 ii.xe6 26.Wi'xf6 �xf6 27.dxe6 �xe6 28.c4± White reaches an ending that should be slightly better for him. 1 8 ...ii.f5!? looks like a better move because

is: 1 9 ...ii.g5! Guarding e3 and clearing the e-file. Others are merely cheapos: 1 9 ...Wi'd?? 20.�e l +1 9 ... tll f4 20.�el ! (20.gxf4?? ii.h3 2 1 .�el Wi'c8-+) 20 ... tll h 3t 2 1 .hI !xg4 29.fxg4 'll xg4) 28 ...!xg4!

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This is met with the stunning: 29.'ll e 2!! !f5 (29 ... fxe3 30.'ll xd4 exd2 3 1 .�xd2) 30.'ll xd4 !xb 1 3 1 .�xb 1 fxe3 32.�xg6t hxg6 33.2"i:xe3 2"i:xe3 34.!xe3 'll xd5 35.!h6 2"i:e8 (35 ... 2"1c8 36.'ll c2) 36.!fl 2"1c8 37.ctJc200 With a very unclear ending. 28.!xf4 2"i:xf4

After the blunder played in the game there was not much fight left:

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents

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26...'!WgS!-+ 27.'ii>fl

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27.�h2 succumbs to 27 ...'Wh4!. For example, 28.1"\gl f3! 29.ifl (29.exf3 1"1xf3-+) 29 ...fxe2 30.f4 �h8!-+ or 28.lll d l ie5 29.ic3 B t 30.ixe5 1"1xe5 3 1 .1"\gl fxe2-+

27...'!Wh4

28 ... hb3 29.f3 hg2t 30.'ii>xg2 '!Wg3t 31.'ii>fl i.d4 32.e3 '\Wxf3t 33.'ii>g l '!Wg3t 0-1

217

Beating the Wall-Y Structures

J, 1 1l i l I

�� iJ rlhli ,. �

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

Contrary to what the cinephile title of this chapter suggests, these structures are not solid blocks of garbage, assembled in endless rows on a deserted planet Earth by a successor of Wall-E, the legendary movie robot. They are, instead, the focus of modern opening warfare with many warriors, deserters, spies and double agents struggling on both sides of high walls, raised to protect a conservative chess culture. The high priests of these conservative domains are the top players of today who have switched to the pragmatic attitude "Press with White, draw with Black''. This has led to openings such as the Petroff, the Berlin Wall and the Slav becoming prominent, as their compact formations are tough to break down even for the most talented and theoretically well-equipped chess players.

1) Shying away from mainstream theory on a regular basis will lead to being targeted on the openings featuring these structures, since the refusal to challenge them head­ on will be regarded (and quite rightly so) as a sign of weakness. I have mentioned elsewhere that the main lines did not acquire their status by chance and indeed, in the majority of cases, they constitute the best way of playing. 2) If we are successful against these structures it will help the rest of our repertoire flourish, as the opposition will be tempted to switch to riskier asymmetrical openings. 3) Our chess knowledge will be expanded and our style broadened; consequently, our play will become more positional-refined, patient and tenacious.

For most of my chess career I have laid siege to these opening structures rather than defending them, however I do respect the attitude of these top GMs: they are following the established philosophy that Black should strive for symmetrical openings in order to minimize the consequences of moving second. On the other hand, it is clear to me that asymmetry in general favours the better player, as demonstrated by the examples of legendary players such as Robert Fischer and Garry Kasparov. So if a player feels he has the potential to become really strong he can follow them by playing openings such as the Sicilian or the King's Indian.

Not all the games featured in this chapter are perfect, but the attitude of the players involved was principled and this is the main reason they found their way into this book.

In any case, no matter what one's opening philosophy may be, onethingisforsure: asWhite we often have to face these "wally'' structures and try to conquer them. I recommend that this is done directly, by entering the main lines of these topical openings and focusing on the theoretical aspect of the struggle, even if that does not entirely suit one's style. This should be preferred for the following three reasons:

Vassilios Kotronias - Levon Aronian Germany 2007

1.e4 eS 2.c!Df3 c!Dc6 3.�bS c!Df6 4.0-0 c!Dxe4 5.d4 c!Dd6 6.�xc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 c!Df5 8.WfxdSt @xd8 9.c!Dd

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221

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures I have chosen the main line of the Spanish Berlin as the central topic of this chapter, and this was not at all by chance; I think this opening best illustrates what I mean by the jokey term "wally structure" as Black's robust construction, mostly appreciated after Kramnik's success with it in his world championship match versus Kasparov, has led many White players to the verge of despair in their attempts to prove even the slightest advantage against it. Yours truly has on several occasions been on the receiving end ofthe poisonous blows Black's long-term counterplay makes possible when White over-presses, but I find the diagram position quite challenging and fascinating, and the only real chance to obtain an advantage after 4 ... Cll xe4.

9... tll e7 Black has basically two plans to counter White's intended activation of his 4-3 pawn majority on the kingside: either keep his king in front of the e-pawn in the hope it will prove a major strength in containing White's pawns or seek a shelter for the king on the queenside and use the rest of his army for defence and counterplay. In this game Levon chose a version of the first plan.

10.h3 h6 I I ..if4 tll g6 12.gadl t fs

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222

Here my intention was to play: 21 .li:JfS!? With some initiative. Instead, the computer points out 2 I .li:Jf3, but after: 2 1 ...aS! (2 1 ...ElgS?! 22.i.eS Elg6 23.i.d4±) 22.Elal (22.c4 ixc4 23.li:JeS b5 24.Eld4 h5; 22.li:JeS b5) 22 ...ic4 23.i.f2 b5 24.li:JeS �g8 25.llixc4 bxc4 26.Ele4 �h7 27.Elxc4 E\a6 28.Ele4 llixc3 29.1"1e7 Elf8 30.icS llid5 3 l .Eld7 llixf6 32.Elxc7 Ele8 33.Elxf7t �g6= The complications peter out to an equal position. However, even after 2 1 .li:JfS!? Black is able to escape unscathed. The best move is: 2 1 ...aS!

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After analysing the position in some depth, I have come to the conclusion that Black holds in all lines: 22.ieS This is strongly met by: 22 ...ElgS! 23.Ele4 23.li:Jxh6 Elg5 24.llig4 a4 is fine for Black. 23 ... ElgS! 23 ... EleS? 24.E\de 1 ± 24.g4 b5! 24 ... hS 25.c4± 25.h4 Elg6 26.hS Elxf6! 27.ixf6 llixf6+± 22.Eld4 This is also answered by: 22 ... ElgS!

7 6 5 4 a

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23.Elh4 Black holds his own after 23.c4 Elg5!=. For example: 24.EleS (24.cxd5 Elxf5 25 .dxc6 bxc6=; 24.Elfl li:Jc3!) 24 ... llixf6 25.if4 a4! 26.ixg5 hxg5 27.llie3 a3 28.Eldl b5 29.cxbS cxb5 30.ElxbS i.e6 3 1 .Elal a2 32.c4 llie4 33.Elb2 llic3= The text move is defused by the full mobilization of Black's rooks following: 23 ... EleS! 24.Elal 24.ieS llixf6 25.Elxh6 E\ g6 26.ElhSt Elg8 27.Elh6 Elg6= 24 ... ElgS! 25.Elxh6 �g8 26.Elxa2 Elxf5 There is nothing more to worry about. 27.ElxaS Elxf6 28.Elxf6 li:Jxf6 29.Ela7 Ele2 30.Elxb7 Elxc2 3 1 .Elxc7 lli e4 32.ieS llixc3±1= White's plus is infinitesimal.

223

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures The ensuing position looks scary for Black but the engines say it's only a draw: 3 1 . ctJh4 i=i:h7 32.'ll g6t ©f7 33.'ll f4 f6 However, I am not sure this position is a draw (after all, White is two pawns up and this might prove more important than the activity of the black pieces). Secondly, it would have been very hard for Black to rely on such a plan of action as it involves uncompromising defence by removing the king from in front of the enemy h-pawn.

39.. J'�h3= Now it is an easy draw.

40.Eif6t 'it>h7 41.E:f4 .id3 42.E:d4 E:b2t 43.'tt> h3 i.c4 44.tlie4 E:xb4 45.Eid?t 'it>h8 46.tlig5 E:b3t 47.'tt> g4 E:d3 48.E:h?t 'it>g8 49.Eib? Eid6 50.EibSt 'it>g7 51.Eib?t 1/z-1/2

It is hard to generalize, but I think my game with Dmitry Jakovenko gives a concrete answer to the above questions, all the more so as it bears a close resemblance to other games I have lost in this opening. In most of them there were recurring errors such as playing on the wrong side of the board, exchanging the wrong pieces (or even simply allowing exchanges that should never have taken place) and underestimating the strength of the enemy king in an ending. I would say the deeper causes of these losses were mostly a result of not having a profound understanding of the pawn structure or the dynamics of the pieces. After years of chess experience I have come to the conclusion that someone who does not understand certain structures can lose any position, even the most drawish ones! If we add to these factors my tendency to underestimate danger, I think the scene is set for what the reader is about to witness. But let's allow the moves to speak for themselves, as they have a lot to say.

Vassilios Kotronias - Dmitri Jakovenko 7th World Team Championship, Bursa 2010

1.e4 e5 2.tlif3 tlic6 3.i.b5 tlif6 4.0-0 tlixe4 5.d4 tlid6 6.i.xc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 tlif5 8.°Wxd8t 'tt>xd8 9.tlic3 'tt> e8 10.h3 h5

After the game my team-mates rushed to congratulate me for drawing with a really great player like Aronian, but had they known how badly we both played I doubt they would have done so. The next example has been designed to answer the following questions: How can White possibly lose when facing an ultra-solid opening like the Berlin? In adopting a merely restraining strategy doesn't Black reduce his own winning chances? a

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229

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures Black selects a clear-cut method of restraining White's majority, as the first player's lust to expand with g2-g4 has now been contained. On the other hand, playing in such a way has the drawback of giving up control of g5, which, unfortunately, I failed to exploit in the subsequent play.

1 8 ... d2?! Black gets good counterplay after either

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35_c;t>d2 35.Elxa3 Elxc2t-+

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Chapter 6

- Beating the Wall-Y Structures

35 ... 2"1xc3 36.ruxc3 h4! Fixing the g2-pawn as an appealing target. 37.ctJf3 .ic6 38.ctJxh4 .ie4 The pawn ending is getting closer... 39.g4 g5 40.fXg5 rue6 41 .llif5 .ixf5 42.gxf5t ruxf5 43.h4 rug6

23 1

for this type of position as the further moves 1 5 ... llig7 1 6.2"1d2 ctJe6 17.ctJfXe6 .ixe6 1 8.2"1adl ± demonstrate.

8

�n�, ,n���,JI/, � .t. w� � .t. w�

,, ,,%n .rn:rn, ,,, %� 5 n n � '!Al� 1. n "• ,,,,,%.,,,,,"� 3 � �� �� �� t!:i 2 !nEn� !� , % ' �, 1 - · · ,,, % � h 1

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4

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White resigned as he will soon run out of pawn moves; when his king moves, the a-pawn races home. 0-1 Returning to my game with Jakovenko, it becomes apparent that after: 1 2 ..ig5!

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After the text move I consider 1 3.2"1d2!?t as the clearest way to get a slight edge. However, waiting moves are also perfectly acceptable: 1 3.b3 A logical continuation is: 13 ... h4 White is also better after: l 3 ... .ixg5 l 4.llixg5 rue7 1 5.ctJ e2 h4 ( 1 5 ... 2"1hd8 1 6.g3i) 1 6.lli f4 2"1hd8 17.rufl a5 18.c3! a4 ( 1 8 ... 2"1xdl t 19.2"1xdl a4 20.llifXe6 fXe6 [20 ... axb3 2 1 .ctJxg7!] 2 1 .b4i) 1 9.2"1xd8 2"1xd8 20.ctJfXe6 fXe6 2 i .rue2 2"1d5 22.llif3t 14.2"1d3 2"1d8 1 5.2"1adl 2"1xd3 16.2"1xd3 .ixg5 17.ctJxg5 ctJe7 1 8.ctJxe6 fXe6i

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I prefer the more concrete approach of 1 3.2"1d2!? over this.

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

1 3.g3 has been played by top Russian GMs Grischuk and Svidler in an attempt to preserve the flexibility of White's kingside pawn skeleton. However, I am not sure preventing ... hS-h4 in this position is really necessary. 1 3 ... E!d8 1 4.E!xd8t ii.xd8 l S .E!dl ii.e7

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1 4.E!xd8t! It is important not to end up with a rook on d2. 1 4.E!adl ?! proved inaccurate after 1 4 ... E!xd2 1 S.E!xd2 h4! 16.ii.xe7 �xe7 17.li:'ie2?! (17.li:'igS!) 17 ....idS+ in Anand - Karjakin, Moscow 2009, but this was just a blitz game. 1 4 ...ii.xd8 1 S.E!dl ii.e7 16.b3!

h

1 6.ii.f4 ( 16.b3 f6! 1 7.exf6 gxf6 1 8.ii.f4 li:Jd6 1 9.�g2 �f7 20.li:'ie2 aS 2 1 .c4= was agreed drawn in Grischuk - Hracek, Turin [ol] 2006) 1 6 ...ii.b4 17.li:'ie2 .ids 1 8.li:Jfd4 li:'ixd4 19.li:'ixd4 The chances were approximately balanced in Svidler - Leko, Astrakhan 201 0. Let's now turn to: 13.E!d2!? This move, with the obvious intention of doubling rooks on the d-file, is sufficient for a slight but stable plus. For example: 1 3 ... E!d8D

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1 6 ... f6 Bad is 1 6 ....ixgS?! 17.li:'ixgS �e7 1 8 .li:'ie2±. While after 16 ...h4!? White should in fact preserve the bishops to keep the h8-rook constricted: 17 ..icl ! (Intending li:'ic3-e2, c2c4; this is where having the rook on d 1 instead of d2 comes in handy.) 17 ... b6 1 8.li:'ie2 ii.dS 1 9.li:'iel !± White keeps an edge. 17 .ii.f4 ii.dB

1 8.li:'ie4± Or 1 8.li:'ie2±.

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures

233

Thus, a deeper understanding of the structures

Looking in my database after the game, I was

with the pawn on h5 would have allowed me

consoled by the fact that even players like

to fight for the advantage, whereas in the game

Vishy Anand and Peter Svidler had failed to

Black immediately gained free and absolutely

secure any edge from the diagram position.

equal play. 14.ie3 ie7 1 5 .!"i:d2 h4 1 6 .!"i:adl 1"\h5

12 ... CLJh4! 13.CLJxh4 ixh4

17.f4

b

a

d

c

14.if4

e

f

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17.if4 ie6 1 8 .lLld4, as in Svidler - Van den Doel, Bled 2002, would have been best met by 1 8 . . .ixa2! 19.b3 ib4 20.1"1d3 !"i:d8

Not one of the best novelties I have produced

when I cannot see something for White,

in my chess career, yet it has to be admitted

and nor does the computer. 2 1 .e6 (2 1 .!"i:al

that after the exchange of knights the position

c5 22.!"i:xa2 !"i:xd4 23.!"i:xd4 cxd4 24.!"i:xa7 !"i:f5! 25 .!"i:xb7 ie l 26.�fl ixf2 27.�xf2

has become rather sterile.

!"i:xf4t 28.�e2 c5=) 2 1...ic5 22.exf7t �xf7 White's last chance ofgetting his pawn to g4 was

23.ixc7 !"i:xd4 24.!"i:xd4 ixd4 25 .!"i:xd4 !"i:c5=

to play l 4.f3 while the bishop was still on h4.

The position is just level.

However, that hardly accomplishes anything after the logical continuation: l 4 . . . ie7 l 5.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 f5 !

%' "

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1 7.exf6 ixf6 18.�g2 �f7

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17 . . . ie6 18.lLld4 ic5 1 9.if2 Draw agreed in Anand - Krasenkow, Wijk aan Zee 2003, in view of 1 9 ... ixd4 20.!"i:xd4 c5 2 l .1"14d2 b6= with complete equality. I 4... ie7

15.�d3 if5!

A strong move; it was tempting for Black

to play 1 5 ... g5 1 6.ie3 g4 17.hxg4 hxg4 but this is in fact what I wanted. After 1 8.!"i:adl �f8 19.!"i:c3 ( 1 9.id4?! i5+; 1 9.1"13d2 �g700) 19 ... �g7 20.ic5 !"i:d8! 2 1.!"i:el ixc5 22.!"i:xc500

the position is very unclear, with chances for both sides.

16.�b3 ic5!

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

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18 .. ,gg8! This move is typical of wally structure devotees! They will play it in a flash, avoiding "unnecessary'' calculations and gaining time on the clock. After more forcing replies the position would have opened up and Black was presumably afraid this might have had an impact on his king's safety, but as the following lines demonstrate it is merely dynamically balanced: 1 8 ... h4!? 19.B:xg7 iif8 20.Ei:gS

h

At this point I felt my rook manoeuvres along the third rank were not heading for the happy conclusion I had hoped for; however I was left with little choice, so I continued oscillating.

17.a4!? White ends up worse after: 17.B:xb7?! ib6 1 8.e6 iid8 1 9.B:xb6 axb6 20.B:dl t iic8 2 1 .B:d7 B:a7 22.B:xf7 ixe6 23.B:xg7 B:g8 24.B:xg8t ixg8 2S .a3 ih7 26.c3 B:aS+ But admittedly still within the drawing zone. The same can be said of: 17.a3 h4 1 8 .B:el ib6 1 9.c4 ie6 20.B:cl B:hS 2 1 .B:d3 cS 22.b3 c6 23.li:lc3 ifs 24.B:d2 ic7 2S.ie3 b6 26.f4 B:d8 27.B:xd8t ixd8 28.iif2 gS! 29.iif3 gxf4 30.ixf4 iie7!+

17...b6 18.gg3

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c

d

e

f

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20 ...ixc2 (20 ...ie6?! 2 1 .B:dl ie7 22.li:ld4 ixgS 23.ixgS idS 24.c4! ixc4 2S.li:lxc6 B:hS 26.if6 iie8 27.B:d4±) 2 1 .ie3 ixe3 22.fxe3 cS 23.li:lf4! (23.li:lc3 B:d8 24.aS iie7 2S.e4 B:hg8 26.li:ldSt iie6 27.li:lxc7t iid7 28.B:xg8 B:xg8 29.li:ldS iie6+) 23 ... B:d8 24.aS iie7 2S.axb6 axb6 26.B:a7 B:dl t 27.iih2 B'.c8 28.B:hS ie4= 1 8 ...ixc2 1 9.B:xg7 ig6 20.e6 iif8 2 1 .ieS

a

b

c

d

e

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Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures 21 ...id6! (2 1 . ..2:'1h7 22.2:'1xh7 ixh7 23.ixc?t) 22.2:'1xg6 (22.ic3 2:'1h7 23.2:'1xh7 ixh7 24.exf7 c5+) 22 ... ixe5 23.exf7 c5 24.li:lc3 mxf7 25.2:'1c6 me7 26.2:'1el md7 27.2:'1g6 2:'1ae8 28.mfl id4 29.2:'1xe8 2:'1xe8 30.2:'1h6 ixc3 3 1 .bxc3 2:'1e4 32.2:'1xh5 2:'1xa4=

235

with the active: 24 ... me6 (24 ... g5!?) 25.mfl 2:'1gd8 26.2:'1xa7 2:'1dl t 27.2:'1xdl 2:'1xa7 28.id2 f6! 29.exf6 ixf6 30.b3 2:'1a2±

19.ie3 ie7

22.e6! 22.h4 g4 23.2:'1c3 ixh4 24.li:lxc6 ig5 22 . . .fxe6 23.ixc7 if6 24.2:'1d3! 24.c3? c5 25.li:lb5 ixb5 26.axb5 md7 24 ... c5 25.li:lb5 ixb2 26.2:'1el�

A critical moment in the game.

20.aS? Violating the rule that one should not play on the side where the opponent is stronger. Furthermore, this move is pointless here, especially as the white knight stands on e2 and not c3. I should have centred my efforts on fighting for the important e6-square, as this constitutes the only reasonable plan in the position, deriving from the characteristics of the pawn structure. To this end best was: 20.li:ld4 id7 2 1 .if4!? Black is fine after: 2 1 .2:'1f3 c5 (2 1 ...g6 22.2:'1el00) 22.li:Jf5 ixf5 23.2:'1xf5 g6 24.2:'1f3 2:'1g7! 25.a5 md7= 2 1 ...g5! 21 ... c5!? 22.li:lb5ixb5 23 .axb5 md7 24.2:'1ga3 is worse for Black, but he can probably draw

a

b

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d

e

f

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With a very double-edged position where White has sufficient compensation for the pawn.

20... �cS?! 20 ... c5!+ would have given Black a clear advantage simply because with his knight on e2 White cannot generate counterplay by penetrating to b5 or d5. It is very strange that both players completely missed this opportunity which severely restricts the radius of the white pieces.

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

21.axb6 axb6 22.�g5?! Trying to render meaningful the silly­ looking rook on g3; instead of this over­ ambitious move I should have started thinking of a draw by playing: 22.lll d4! �d7 23.�d2 c5 24.lll e2 �f5 25.c4 Ei:d8 26.�el h4 27.Ei:e3 �e6 (27... Ei:d3 28.lll f4 Ei:xe3 29.fxe3=) 28.Ei:e4 d5 32.�f3? I could have prolonged the game by 32.d7 26.fxe7 ii.xe7= With a level position. Returning to the best move: 1 5 .Ei:fe l !

.iBJ. •8��ef�I· �0 �kW � � � 1 8 .t r� • • r� %8 ·%- , . �8 , %� 5 i� 8%, �% 'il8 l;,8 S 8" '1t; s

6

4

8 3 8�8·0 8� 8tt:J8 ?;1'0 � lf � 8 � � 8 tt:J/,' · "= ·· 1 �;�ef ""�� �r �m k �

2

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b

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d

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f

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Sargissian reacted with: 1 5 ... ile6! 1 5 ... ii.b4 16.Ei:edl produces a worse version for Black of the 1 5.Ei:fd1 ?! variation above, as the b4-bishop might prove a liability. 1 6.ltJf4 ii.d5 1 7.lLlxd5 cxd5 Black has little to fear in the ensuing positions, but with accurate play White might be able to boast a slight plus. The game continued: 1 8.Ei:adl Ei:d8 1 8 ... c6!? looks more logical. 1 9.Ei:d3 Ei:h6 20.Ei:edl c6

245

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures At this point White could have tried: 2 1 .i.c3!? Instead 2 l .li:Jd4 tlixd4 22.i.xd4 l"1h5= was completely equal in Stellwagen - Sargissian, Wijk aan Zee 2008. After the exchange of knights White misses the only unit that could potentially dispute control of the sensitive e6-square. 2 1 ...l"1a8 2 1 ...b6 22.i.d4 l"1b8 23.i.b2 l"1e6 24.xb5?? Now the white king is badly cut off and the win should be gone. 86.'ktid4! li:lxb4 87.l"lf5± would probably have won, sooner or later.

86...E:xb4t 87.'it>aS E:b3!=

• ' = ·=· = · 1 � m m m

3

2

a

73 ... 'it>e5 ??

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Incredible; 73 ... iiid 5 74.l'!f6 li:le5 75.l"lf5 (75.l"ld6t 'ktic4 76.l"ld4t iiic3=) 75 ... l"la2t 76.iiie3 l"la3t 77.iii f2 'ktie6 78.'ktig2 l"ld3 79.'ktig3 li:lf7= This was not so difficult to find.

74.E:xc6 'it>d5 75.E:f6 �e5 76.E:f5 'it>e6 77.i.d4 E:a2t 78.'it>e3 �c4t 79.'it>d3 E:a3t 80.i.c3 �b2t 81.'it>d4 �di 82.i.d2 �fl 83.i.xgS E:b3 84.E:f6t 'it>d7 85. 'it>c5? Even great players can blunder after such a long game; a trivial win would have resulted from: 85.'ktid5! l'!xb4 (if 85 ... li:ld3 86.l"\d6t 'ktic8 87.i,f6 then White wins after either 87 ... li:lxb4t 88.'ktie4+- or 87... 'ktic7 88.i,d8t iii b 7 89.g5+-) 86.l"\d6t 'ktic7 87.i,d8t 'ktic8 88.g5+-

85 ... �d3t

A picturesque position; White is two pawns up but with his king far from the kingside, he should not have been able to win under normal conditions. However, both players were in dire time pressure and this explains Black's final mistake.

88.i.f4 More intriguing is: 88.l"lf5!? But the result should still be a draw after: 88 ... li:lel !

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures 88 ... c5 92.Elf5t [92.d5 94 ..ib4 'it>e4=) And now Black can secure the draw with: 92 ... tlid5! 93.g6 Elb5t 94.'it>a4 ctJc3t 95.'it>a3 tli b l t 96.'it>a4 tlic3t=

25 1

89 ... 'Lle6 90.i.b4! 'Lld4? 9U�d6t 1-0 The next example demonstrates the importance of being tenacious when facing a solid opening like the Berlin Wall. lvanchuk knows very well how to fight inch by inch to achieve his strategic aims, and this ability often makes completely equal positions look like a forced win for him, at least to the eyes of the uninitiated.

Vassily lvanchuk Jon Ludvig Hammer -

Greek League, Athens 20 10

l.e4 e5 2.'Llf3 'Llc6 3.i.bS 'Llf6 4.0-0 ctJxe4 5.d4 'Lld6 6.i.xc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 'Llf5 8.Wfxd8t 'it?xd8 9.'Llc3 i.d7 10.h3 'it?c8

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

In this game the black king seeks a better fate by travelling to the queenside. But normally this trip is prefaced by 1 0 ... h6, guarding against the annoying ctJf3-g5 invasion.

90 ... Elf3!! 9 1 .g5 'it>c6! 92.Elf6t 'it>c5 93.'it>a6 tlib4t 94.'it>b7 tlid5 95 .Elc6t 'it>b5 96.g6 Elxf4 97 ..ig3 Elg4=

88...'LlcS? Going down ingloriously; IM Konstantinos Moutousis, who was attentively following the time scramble, remarked to me that 88 ... tli e l ! might b e a draw, an opinion my computer later verified. Indeed, after 89.g5 Ela3t! 90.b4 Elxf3=) 90 ... Elb3t! 9 1 .'it>c5 (9 1 .'it>a6 Ela3t=) 9 1 ...Elxf3= Black draws very easily.

89.i.d6!+With just a few seconds left on his dock, lvanchuk found this crusher, freeing his king from its entanglement. Since the players had an increment of 30 seconds per move, the game was effectively decided, and Csaba's subsequent blunder only shortened the trivial technical phase.

l l.b3 To be honest, I do not like this move. Ivanchuk's compatriot Andrey Volokitin has favoured the more aggressive: 1 1 .g4!? tlie7 1 2.tlig5 .ie8 1 3.f4 After looking up the Mega 20 1 0 database I was surprised to see that White has a 7-0

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

score in this line! I do not know why Vassily rejected this continuation, but Volokitin's dynamic approach looks quite healthy to me. White has mobilized his kingside pawns, and not much counterplay is in sight for Black.

1 9.e6! hxg4 20.hxg4 fxe6 21 .:lixg7 :ggs 22.:lie5 :lig6 23.m2 xe3 f4t 24.c;t>d4 c;t>e7 25.l/Je4 ixe4 26.c;t>xe4 g5 27.h4::!; 23.l/Je4! !'l:xcl 24.l/Jd6t c;t>d7 25 .ixcl c;t>c6

8

7

6



4

3 % 1

� , 1.

a b c d e f g h This leads to an interesting position; White has better development and chances to apply queenside pressure; Black has a pair of bishops and is rather solidly placed. 1 8.a5 The text movewasTopalov's choice, but in fact 1 8.!'l:acl!? looks better to me. For example: 1 8 ... !'l:c6 1 9.l/Ja2! !'l:xcl 20.l/Jxcl ie7 2 1 .ib6 e5 22.l/Jd3 if7?! (22 ... c;t>f7::!;) 23.!'l:cl id8 24.a5± White had a clear advantage in Maletin - Amonatov, Novokuznetsk 2008. 1 8 ...ie7?! 1 8 ... ib4! seems to yield complete equality after: 1 9.!'l:a4 ( 1 9.l/Ja4 c;t>e7 20.!'l:acl ie8!=; 1 9.!'l:acl ixa5 20.l/Ja4 !'l:xcl 2 1 .!'l:xcl c;t>e7 22.ic5t cj;if7 23.ib6 ixb6 24.l/Jxb6 !'l:e8=) 19 ...ie7 20.ib6 cj;if8! 2 1 .!'l:ad4 ie8= 1 9.ib6 !'l:f8 20.!'l:acl f5 2 1 .e5 ig5 22.ie3

26.id2?! Malcolm Pein's 26.!'l:d4! would have given White a clear advantage. For example: 26 ... c;t>c5 27.!'l:c4t c;t>d5 28.id2 !'l:d8 (28 ... c;t>xe5 29.l/Jxb7 ie7 30.!'l:c7 !'l:e8 3 1 .b4±) 29.ic3 ie7 30.!'l:d4t c;t>c6 3 1 .!'l:xf4 ixd6 32.exd6± 26 ...ie7 27.!'l:cl t c;t>d7 28.ic3 ixd6 29.!'l:dl if5 30.h4 g6 3 l .!'l:xd6t c;t>c8 32.id2 !'l:d8 33.ixf4 !'l:xd6

a

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d

e

f

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h

34.exd6::!; White had a slight plus in Topalov - Anand, Sofia (8) 20 1 0, but without Black's colossal blunder on the 54th move he would never have won: 34 ... c;t>d7 35.c;t>e3 ic2 36.c;t>d4 c;t>e8 37.c;t>e5 cj;if7 38.ie3 ia4 39.c;t>f4 ib5 40.ic5 c;t>f6 a

b

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f

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h

265

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures

encounter reveals that Kramnik eventually ruled against it, as it would demand he castle (to protect g7) instead of placing the king on its ideal square of e7.

U .i U•m ��

8

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a

16 ... :BgS!?

b

c

d

e

f

� g

h

Preparing to bring the f8-bishop out without compromising on his intended plan of putting the king on e7. A previous game between the same players had continued as follows: 1 6 ... �c5

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Anand resigned as he is helpless against the plan of �e5-g7 and g4-g5-g6, ensuring the white king penetrates to e7.

14.h4 :Bes 15.�a2 h6 16.:Bcl The first impression is that White has nothing special in the diagram position, but a closer look helps us realize that it is not easy for Black to free the g6-bishop from its entanglement. Black has to decide whether or not to go for an immediate exchange of dark-squared bishops and, contrary to appearances, this is not a trivial dilemma to answer. The present

1 7.ctJe2! Forcing Black to castle. With the king on e7 the position would be completely equal, according to Rogozenko. For example: 1 7.�xc5 !"i:xc5 1 8.We2 We7= There is nothing for the second player to worry about.

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

266

17 ... 0-0 After 17 ... �g8 Rogozenko shows how White can benefit from the pin on the c-file: 1 8.CtJf4! j,h7 1 9.CtJd3 b6 20.We2 We7 2 1 .CtJxc5 bxc5 (2 1...Cll xc5 22.a5+-) 22.j,c3± 1 8.0-0 Rogozenko pointed out that 1 8.Wf2 is inferior in view of 1 8 ...j,xd4t 1 9.CtJxd4 CtJc5 with strong counterplay for Black.

23.�bxb4± with a solid advantage for White as b6 is chronically weak. 2 1 .b4! 2 1 .�fcl �cd8 22.j,b 1 a5= 2 1 ...Cll xa4

a b c d e f g h 22.Cll xe6! �xc4 23.CtJxf8 �c2 24.Clixg6 �xa2 25.Cll e7t Wf8 26.llid5 �c2 27.�al b5 a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Now there are two moves to consider, 1 8 ...j,xd4t and 1 8 ...j,d6!?. 18 ... j,xd4t 1 9.CtJxd4 CtJc5 1 9 ... �xc l ? 20.�xcl �d8 2 1 .CtJe2±

a B •

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28.h5! CtJc3 29.�xa6 CtJxd5 30.exd5 �b2 3 1 .d6 We8 32.�a8t Wd7 33.�fg Wxd6 34.�xf7 �xb4 35.�xg7 �b l t 36.Wf2 b4 37.We3 b3 38.Wd2 b2 39.Wc2 �h l 40.Wxb2 �xh5 4 1 .Wc3;!;

a

b

c

d

e

f

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h

20.�c4! Now there is no trivial equality for Black. 20.a5!? CtJd3 2 1 .�xc8 �xc8 22.Cll xe600 is merely a mess. 20 ... b6! 20 ...a5 allows 2 1 .�b l ! (2 1 .�fcl b6 22.b4 axb4 23.a5 �b8=) 2 1 ...b6 22.b4 axb4 a

b

c

d

e

f

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h

267

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures White has some practical chances to win this rook ending. 1 8 ...td6!? 1 9.�cd l ! I believe the text move is stronger than: 19.te3 llie5 20.llif4 �xcl 2 1 .�xcl th7 22.wfl �bs 23.We2 wfs 24.g4 We7 25.llig2 f6 26.h5 tg8 27.ta7 �a8 28.tb6 tf7= A draw was agreed in Aronian - Kramnik, Wijk aan Zee 2007. l 9 ... llie5 19 ... te5 20.�d2 �c6 2 1 .�fdl �fc8 22.Wf2 (22.g4±) 22 ... �c2 23.te3 llif6 24.�xc2 �xc2 25.tc l ± This is also slightly better for White 20.llif4 �fe8

19.ctJbl! Preparation or not, this is vintage Aronian; he immediately points out the shortcomings of investing a tempo on ... �h8-g8. Now Black has no choice but to let the c-file fall into White's hands.

19 [email protected]? 20.E:xc5 ctJxc5 21.h5 i.h7 22.E:cl llid7 23.llid2

a

23 ...g6?!

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c

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e

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h

Black cannot resist the temptation to seek freedom for the g8-rook by utilizing his fourth rank, but this original concept has the disadvantage of permanently weakening the pawn structure. Preferable seems to be: 23 ... �b8 24.llib3 ctJe5! (24 ... tgs 25.llia5 wds 26.b4 llib6 27.tb3 f6 28.f4±) 25.f4 llic6 26.We3 tg8! (26 ... llib4? 27.�c7t±) 27.llic5 llib4 28.tb3 b6 29.ctJd3 llixd3 30.Wxd3 Wd8 3 1 .tc4 a5± White's advantage has remained within manageable bounds.

24.hxg6 E:xg6?! Continuing with the plan, but probably better is 24 ...txg6 25.b4±.

[email protected] E:g5 26.E:c7± b5!? 27.a5! The pawn on a6 should be fixed as a long­ term weakness; after 27.axb5 �xb5 28.llic4 f5

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

29.f4 Wd8 30.l"i:a7 fx:e4 3 1 .l"i:xa6 �f5;!; Black will gradually overcome his problems and equalize.

27 .l:k5 •.

30 .. .f5 (30 ... l"i:b4 3 l .l"i:xa6 l"i:a4 32.l"i:a7 l"i:a3t 33.We2 wds [33 ... wd6 34.e5t+-J 34.�d3! b4 35.�b5+- This is another sample line illustrating Black's difficulties.) White simply ignores his opponent with: 3 l .l"i:xa6 fx:e4 32.fxe4 �g6 33.l"i:a7! Wd6 34.l"i:b7 Wc6 35.a6 �e8 36.e5!+-

28 CLJxc5 [email protected] @d6 30.b4 CLJd7 31.CLJb3 .•.

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White will recover the temporarily sacrificed pawn with the better position. Both the b2-rook and the h7-bishop have mobility problems while White's outside passer on the a-file will be much more dangerous than his opponent's passed pawn on the b-file. In fact, Black dare not advance . . . b5-b4 as that would endanger the position of his rook, while after:

In the absence of rooks, White does not have more than a slight advantage, as he has to watch out for his b-pawn in some variations. However, to highlight the weakness of b4, Black must open up the position, which his next move fails to accomplish:

31...e5?

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures A decisive error, weakening d5. Instead Black had to opt for 3 l ... f5!.

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33.ctJd4 (33.g4?! Jlg6= is at least equal for Black. For example, 34.tLld4 e5 35.ctJe2?! tLlb8!t and the tables are turned.) 33 ... h5! 34.e3 \Welt 53.'lt>f4! the g-pawn would shield the white king: 53 ...°IWcl t (53 ...\Wh4 t 54.g4! °\Wf6t 55.'lt>g3+-) 54.'lt>g3 °1Wc7t 55 .'lt>h4 °\Wf4t 56.g4+52.'lt>g3+-

41.'?Ne3 '?Nbl 42.d6 ghl t [email protected] gel 44.Wf£4 gfl 45.�f3 Black resigned as he was facing far too many threats.

1-0

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Defence makes the Difference!

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Defence is, in my opinion, the most vital quality for a player who aspires to reach the top. World class players like Anand, Topalov, Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian, Adams, Ponomariov, Jakovenko, Bacrot, Wang Yue and Dominguez, to name but a few, are all very stubborn defenders and owe part of their good name to their ability to save or even win positions that lesser mortals would not hold. However, having to defend a position does not automatically imply that the defender has the worse position; players of this calibre employ defence mostly as a means of consolidating equal or advantageous positions, using such personal qualities as endurance, calculation, feeling for counterplay, and so on. The process of proper defence comprises three aspects: evaluation, establishment of a general plan and, last but not least, implementation of the defensive ideas found. Paying respect to all three aspects is essential for a player who wants to fight at a professional level and minimize his number of losses.

Evaluation An accurate evaluation is vital as it forces

us to realize what we are playing for and act accordingly. It depends on such elements as our king's safety, the relative strength of the pieces (and pawns), material balance, weak and strong points. Weighing up these positional components should enable us not only to make an assessment but also help us to establish a concrete plan of action; then comes implementation.

Implementation I consider the following resources as the prerequisites for the successful implementation of defensive ideas:

1) Physical freshness/adequate time 2) Tactical "eyesight" /sufficient motifs stored in memory 3) Calmness/systematic analysis of alternatives

Defensive Devices A list of the defensive devices a chess player may use would be almost endless. I presume you have already heard of tips such as the following ones: 1) When material up, consider giving some back to deflect or slow down the opponent's attack 2) When no forced loss is apparent, grab material 3) Watch out for checks and captures, especially in acute time pressure 4) Consolidating or time-gaining manoeuvres can breathe new life into your position 5) In clearly bad positions give the opponent more choices by making all points equally weak 6) In reply to a flank attack, attack the centre 7) Try to eliminate the opponent's most powerful piece, even if this requires a sacrifice 8) Repel intruders 9) Pay attention to mysterious king moves or manoeuvres 1 0) Coordinate your pieces by distributing specific tasks to them 1 1) In time pressure, keep pieces that you can coordinate more easily These tips, and many others, may have some practical value, but they cannot serve as rules. What I want to stress is that in defence, above anything else, one should try to feel the relative strength of the fighting units; this should be the main key to success as it can direct our calculations on the right path. Of course, weaknesses should also attract our attention, as they are often instrumental in helping us

Chapter 7

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Defence makes the Difference!

understand the opponent's plan and how to defuse it. I hope the examples I present below will prove helpful for the readers and increase their faith in defence even in the most difficult situations. To defend successfully we must believe in the richness of the game and in our own abilities. Any other attitude is condemned to failure. The first game of this chapter is from the 2010 Aeroflot Open. Both contestants are seasoned Sicilian connoisseurs, accustomed to both attack and defence in the structure that arises, which adds to the practical value of the example:

Sergei Grigoriants - Ilya Smirin Moscow 2010

1.e4 c5 2.tll f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.tll xd4 a6 5 ..ie2 tll f6 6.tll c3 Vf!c7 7.0-0 tll c6 8 ..ie3 .ie7 9.f4 d6 10.a4 0-0 1 1.lt>hl �e8 12..if3 .if'B 13.Vffd2 .id? 14.tll b3 b6 15.Vf/fl �ab8 16.�adl tll e7 17.Vf!e2 .ic8 18.Vf!d2 tll c6 19.Vfffl tll d7 20..ih5 g6 21..ie2 .ig7 22.f5 tll ce5 23.tll d4 .ib7 24.Vf!h4

28 1

the kingside, while Black has an unassailable knight on e5. The rest of the black pieces are also not badly placed in their typical hedgehog configuration, perhaps with the exception of the b8-rook, and so in principle Black's position should be strong enough to resist White's attack in the upcoming struggle. Having said that, Black should have an answer to the practical problems posed by White's last move; the white queen has landed on a very threatening position on h4, ready to assist in exchanging the dark-squared bishops via h6 or enable the double-edged advance f5-f6. In addition, the queen may now go to h3, from where it might prove useful in generating pressure against e6. The more Black looks at the diagram position, the less comfortable he is bound to feel: Black is already walking a tightrope because he does not have enough pressure against e4 to counterbalance White's straightforward plan of exchanging bishops. And if he refuses the exchange of bishops after ie3-h6 by retreating to h8, then White can create dangerous pressure with '1Wh4-g3 followed by h2-h4-h5, hitting g6. So what should Black do? The answer is not easy to find, even for a player of Smirin's calibre, as the game continuation demonstrated. But the guiding light in finding a solution should, in my opinion, have been clear: the pride of Black's position, the strongly placed e5-knight, must remain in place at all costs. Moving this piece would essentially destroy the harmony in Black's camp.

24...tll c4??

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A typical sight in the Sicilian Kan; White enjoys more space and attacking prospects on

To be honest, I would not even have considered such a move; in fact Ilya very rarely makes such a bad blunder, both in the tactical and strategic sense. The tactical refutation that follows was a just punishment for the Israeli super-GM.

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I initially examined the obvious: 24 ... exf5?! To get rid of a potential weakness on e6. 25.exf5

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need to have the f5-square covered. I rushed to the computer to check the improvement I had found and it seems to work: 24 ... Ei'.bc8! White can choose between:





2

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e f g h Unleashing the force of the b7-bishop. 25 ...Ei'.bc8 Improving Black's least active piece. Playing in Smirin's style with 25 ... tlic4 is no longer a blunder after the e-pawns have been exchanged, but all the same, after 26.icl !t I prefer White, as placing the knight on c4 seems strategically unsound: it removes a defender from the kingside, gives rise to Ei'.d l -d3-h3 ideas and endangers the knight itself. A further point is that 26 ... llie3? does not work in view of 27.ixe3 Ei'.xe3 28.Wf2! Ei'.e7 29.ixa6!± and White has won a pawn for nothing as 29 ... ixa6? 30.llid5 Wd8 3 1 .llixe?t Wxe7 32.lli c6 We8 33.llixb8 ixfl 34.llixd7+- is simply hopeless for Black. Nevertheless, after 25 ... Ei'.bc8, White's attack would develop too quickly: 26.ih6! ih8 26 ...Wd8!? 27.ig5 Wc7 may be the only chance. 27.Wg3t llic5 28.fxg6 hxg6 29.llif5! White exploits the weakness of the f5-, d6and h6-squares to create unpleasant threats. a

c

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However, checking the above variation in my head soon suggested a logical improvement as I realized that the "cons" of having the pawn on e6 could be less than the "pros", because I

Also unclear is: 25.ig5 exf5 26.exf5 d5!

25.ih6 This looks the most principled. Now Black preserves his bishop by: 25 ...ih8 26.Wg3 (26.fxe6 fxe6 27.Wh3 llic5) 26 ... tlic5 27.h4 llic6! 28.llixc6 ixc600

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

283

25 ... axb5 26.tlixb5 '!Wes 27.bc4 '1Wxc4 28.tlixd6 '1Wxa4 29.fxg6! fxg6 30JU7!+-

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With coumerplay, for example 29.h5 .ie5!. In all three lines Black seems to hold, and at the same time obtain decent counterplay. Thus, my original feeling that the e5-knight should stay in place seems justified, yet the delicate sequence Black should choose is not that obvious. Returning to the game, it was another case of crime and punishment:

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The two exclamation marks are attached mostly for the aesthetic value of the move, which is not so difficult to find for a player of Grigoriants' standard. Black is completely helpless against the invasion of a white knight on d6, preparing the lethal penetration of a rook to fl.

30...'1Wxc2(?) A mistake in a lost position should not actually be considered a mistake. Still, 30 ....ic6 would have demanded a few more accurate moves from White: 3 1 .b3 Wa2 (3 1 ...'®a5 32 ..ih6 .ih8 33.E1dfl +-) 32 ..ih6 .ie5 33.Wf2 Wb2 34.E1xd7 .ixd7 35.'®flt h8 36.ctJxe8 E1xe8 37.Wxd7+-

31.�xg?t @xg7 32.tlixeSt 1-0 In the next game Black's defence also revolves around a strongly placed knight on e5 but, as the analysis proves, he had to master many nuances to emerge from the complications with a positive result.

Veselin Topalov -Alexander Grischuk Linares 20 10

I.e4 c5 2.tliO d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.tlixd4 tlif6 5.tlic3 a6 6.ie3 tlig4 7.icl tlif6 8.h3 tlic6 9.g4 '1Wb6 IO.tlide2 e6 1 1.ig2 ie7 12.b3 h6 13.'1Wd2 g5 14.ia3 tlie5 15.0-0-0 '1Wxf2 16.ixd6 bd6 17.'1Wxd6 tlifd7 18.tlid4 '1Wf6

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19.Wfa3 Wfe7 20.Wfb2 0-0 21.tliem exf5 22.Cl'idS Wfc5 23.exf5

bring his inactive a8-rook into play via a6, from where it can help defend its king. The rook activates nicely from the side without disturbing Black's central configuration, which is another good sign that this move must be the most harmonious. There were several other possible continuations, but analysis proves that none of them is better than the text move. Two alternatives are linked with the idea ... f7f6, bolstering the position of the knight in the centre. 23 .. .f6

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White has sacrificed a piece for what should have been sufficient compensation, at least by human standards. The combination of a strong knight on d5 and possibilities of opening the h-file by h3-h4 yields good chances of an attack against Black's weakened kingside. However, Black's resources should not be underestimated; after all, White has only one pawn for the piece and the strongly supported knight on e5 does a good job of shielding both the e-file and the long dark diagonal, where the white queen has been ambitiously placed.

23... aS!?

In the introduction to this chapter I mentioned the importance of systematically examining the alternative options at one's disposal for the correct implementation of defensive ideas. Still, there are cases like the present one, where a move feels so natural and strong that it can be played without further ado. In such exceptional cases it is possible to violate the rules, but we should be careful not to allow this attitude to become a habit in every position. 23 ... a5!? allows Black to stabilize the position of his queen on c5 and at the same time

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This introduces the idea in its purest form: the e5-knight is defended and Black can start contemplating moving the d7-knight to b6 or placing his king on the better square of g7. However, the insecurely placed queen on c5 allows White strong play. For example: 24.b4! �c4! 24 ...�fl, intending to embarrass White with 25.l"id2?? �xd2t!-+, is answered by the intermediate move 25.�b3!, after which there can follow l"idl -d2, expelling the intruder. 25.l"id4! 25.l2'ixf6t!? allows Black to breathe more easily by releasing the tension with: 25 ... l2ixf6 26.�xe5 �xb4 27.l"id6 @g7 28.h4 �f4t 29.�xf4 gxf4 30.l"ifl a5 3 1 .l"ixf4 l"ia6 32.l"ixa6 bxa6 33.l"ic4 .id7 34.l"id4

Chapter 7

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2"1f7 3S .i;t>d2 tLl e8 36.�dS 2"1e7 37.�e4 The

The third possibility is:

ending is about equal.

23 . . .2"1e8!?

2S . . . We2

26.Wb3!

tLlf7!

28S

Defence makes the Difference!

27.Wg3

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Guarding the e7-square and overprotecting the eS-knight; this is an acceptable move order to enter set-ups with . . . a6-aS. For example:

Having the above variation in mind, one may

24. i;t>b I

24.b4 Wf2; 24.h4 tLlxg4! 2S.hxgS tLldeS

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try to improve it by throwing in 23 . . .Wf2 first.

24 . . . aS! 2S .h4 tLlxg4! 26.hxgS tLldeS 27.�e4

However, after: 24.�e4 (another interesting

2"1a6 28.f6

possibility

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24.2"1d2!?

Wg3

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26.Wcl !�, intending 2"1h l-e l -e3, confronting Black with a difficult defence in view of his exposed queen) 24 . . . f6 8

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30 .Wd4

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3 1 .Wxc4 2"1xf6!! Black's kingside is suddenly overflowing with defenders, which makes his chances at tt:J f7

least equal. The main point is that 32.tLlxcS?!

28.tt:Jxf6t tt:Jxf6 29.Wxf6� White has a t least

does not work in view of 32 ... tLl e3, so

a draw and the scary sight of the white forces

White should instead choose something

would discourage almost any player from choosing this line with Black, had he been able to calculate up to this point.

like: 32.2"1dS tLle3

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and not the position, and this could have rebounded on him badly, as we will see below. In any case, the importance of the situation has forced me to insert yet another diagram, which turns out to be the starting point of a long string of errors by both players.

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33.Wc5 ctJxd5 34.Clixd5t �g7 35.Elgl j,g4 36.Wd4 h5 37,j,f3 We5 38.Wxe5 2"lxe5 39.ctJxf6 �xf6 4Q.j,xg4 hxg4 4 1 .2"lxg4= Black gets the better side of a drawish ending.

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24...gxh4?!

24.h4 You don't have to be Topalov to play this move, and my guess is that he played it instantly; this is a tactic the former World Champion often employs to put his opponents under pressure, especially when he has the initiative. His strategy certainly pays dividends on most occasions: as far as I know Grischuk suffered from a shortage of time for most of this game, so this explains to some degree his erratic play from now on. On the other hand, Topalov's extra time did not prevent him from making mistakes either; he fell into the trap of playing the opponent

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An inaccurate choice that could have landed Black in difficulties. Unlike the previous game, where Smirin's knight should have stood firm on e5, here Black had to move it just for the sake of capturing a little soldier on g4. Apparently this violates all the classical rules of chess? No, actually it doesn't. In defence we have to sense the life concealed in the pieces and act in a way that will make them flourish. If we look at the position coolly and without any prejudice, we will observe that the construction g4-f5 prevents both the d7-knight and the c8-bishop from springing to life, so why not destroy it?

In the same vein, the move 24 ... gxh4? fails to take into account that the white queen, which was thus far inactive on b2, now finds a gateway to freedom via �cl-b l , Wb2-cl , with all the unpleasant consequences this may cause to Black. 24 ... Clixg4! 25.hxg5 Clide5

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! This would have been the right way for Black, when White's best reply is: 26.�e4! Trying to react thematically by preventing ...�c8xf5.

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287

27 ...hxg5 28.:8h5 lt'if2 29.c4!! f6D 30.lt'ixf6t 'tti f7 3 l .'Wd2! lt'ied3t!! 32.�xd3 lt'ixd3t 33.Wxd3 �xf5 34.Wd5t Wxd5 35.lt'ixd5 'tti g6 36.:8dh l �e4= 28.gxh6 f6 29.Wd4 :8c6 30.Wgl! Wxgl 3 1 .:8xgl 'tti h s

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26 ... :8e8!? Also possible is: 26 ... :8a6 27.'tti b l (27.:8h4 hxg5! 28.:8h5 f6 29.:8dhl 'tti f7! 30.:8h7t 'tti e8 3 1 .lt'ic7t 'tti ds+) Now 27 ... :8e8 transposes to 23 ... :8e8 - see the note to Black's 23rd move. After the text move interesting play would have arisen, but Black would have been by no means worse. For example: 27.:8h4?! 27.'ttib l !? is best, again transposing to 23 ... :8e8.

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White cannot equalize despite the help of the ever resourceful engines: 32.:8gxg4!? 32.h7 b5 33.:8g3 :8d6 34.lt'if4 �d7 35.:8gxg4 lt'ixg4 36.lt'ig6t 'ttig7 37.h8='Wt :8xh8 38.:8xh8 lt'if2 39.�f3 �xf5 40.:8h2 lt'id3t 4 1 .cxd3 �xg6+ 32 ... lt'ixg4 33.:8xg4 :8d6 34.c4 :8e5 35.a4 �xf5 36.�xf5 :8xf5 37.:8g7! Intending lt'id5-e7. 37 ... :8fl t! 38.'tti d2 38.'tti c2 f5+ 38 ... f5! 38 ... b6 39.:8b7 :8hl 40.:8xb6 :8xb6 4 l .lt'ixb6 :8xh6 42.c5 :8h5 43.c6 :8c5 44.lt'ic4 'ttig7 45.lt'ixa5!! :8xa5 46.b4 :8a8 47.b5 :8d8t= This is equal, as the reader can confirm by doing some checking. 39.:8xb7 :8xh6+ Obviously Black has all the chances here.

25.�xh4? 27 ... :8a6! The most thematic move. Nevertheless, also possible is the wild line:

With this automatic recapture White throws away the fruits of his labour and even falls into a worse position. White would have had his opponent on the ropes after the strong move:

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25.�b l !! Paving the way for '1Wb2-cl .

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AB far as I can see, the position is difficult for Black, but it may not be hopeless if he finds a series of only moves. The moves to consider are A) 25 ... Ela6?! and B) 25 ... a4!:

A) 25 ... Ela6?! 26.'IWcI '1Wf2 27.�fl ! Elc6 28.�b5±

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36.:1'\xh6t! �xh6 36 ... �g8 37.Elgh l ! li:Jd2t 38.'1Wxd2!! '1Wxd2 39.g5!+37.li:Je6t li:J d2t 38.'1Wxd2t!! '1Wxd2 39.Elhl t '1Wh2 40.Elxh2# a2) 28 ... f6 29.�xc6 bxc6 30.Eldfl ! '1Wc5 Also losing is: 30 . . . '1Wa7!? 3 1 .li:'ie7t �f7 (3 1 ...�g7 32.Elxh4 li:Jf7 33.Elfh l Elh8 34.li:'ixc8 Elxc8 35.Elxh6+-) 32.li:Jg6! li:'ixg6 33.fxg6t �g8 34.'1Wxh6 li:'ie5 35.g5+3 l .li:'ic7! '1We7 32.'1Wxh6 Elf7 33.Elxh4 Elh7 34.'1Wxh7t '1Wxh7 35.Elxh7 �xh7 36.Elg l +­ White should gradually win this ending. Now let's see the critical move: B) 25 ... a4!

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This leads to a position where White is attacking fiercely and Black lacks counterplay. For example, I will consider al) 28 ... �h7 and a2) 28 ... f6. al) 28 ... �h7 29.Eldfl '1Wg3 29 ... '1Wc5 30.�xc6 '1Wxc6 (30 ... bxc6 3 1 .Elxh4 '1Wd6 32.f6+-) 3 1 .:1'\xh4+30.Elhgl '1Wh2 3 1 .�xc6 bxc6 32.li:Jf4 �a6 33.Elhl '1Wg3 34.Elfgl '1Wc3 35.:1'\xh4 li:Jf3 This leads to a brilliant finish for White after:

.i • .t•

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6

".'• • ••

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This should be played, to force a weakening of the c4-square. 26.b4! '\Wf2 27.'IWcl ! Ela6 28.Eld2 '1Wg3 29.�fl !

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! Intending :ghl-h3 or :gd2-h2. 29 ... b5! To deflect the fl-bishop from controlling g2 and h3. 30.�xb5 iii h7! 3 1 .:gdh2 ll'if3 32.:gh3 Wd6 33.�xa6 '®xd5

289

Now Black is fine; the problem with White's move order is that by prematurely capturing on h4 he has created the very annoying possibility of ...Wc5-f2, harassing the white pieces.

[email protected]? Topalov must have realized (somewhat belatedly) that he needed the queen on cl to have some sort of attack, but going for it with a tempo less is already too late. Instead he had to play: 26.:gh3 But it must have been impossible for a human to visualize that after: 26 ...'®f2! 27.ll'ie7t iii g7 28.:gxd7!

34.�d3 A fantastic variation is: 34.�e2?! ll'i d2t! (34 ... ll'ide5? 35.'\Wf4+-) 35.iii a l :ge8!! (35 ... '\We5t 36.c3 '®xe2 37.:gxh4 '®e3 38.:gxhGt iii g7 39.:g6h3±) 36.:gxh4! :gxe2 37.:gxh6t iii g7 38.'®b2t! iii f8! (38 ...We5 39.g5!±; 38 ... :ge5 39.g5±) 39.f6 iii e8 40.:ghst ll'if8 41 .:gxfSt iii d7 The black monarch escapes and the second player comes out on top. 34 ... iii g7! 34 ... ll'ide5? 35.:gxh4! ll'ixh4 36.:gxh4 '\Wd6 37.f6t iii g8 38.�h7t!! iii h 8 39.a3+1his brilliant variation demonstrates how venomous White's attack can be if Black does not defend accurately. 35.:gxf3! Weaker is 35.:gdl ?! ll'ig5 36.:gxh4 f6'"'; thanks to the strong-points for his knights at e5 and g5, Black should be able to defend and counterattack. 35 ... Wxf3 36.:gxh4 White has a strong attack but the result is by no means decided.

25 ... �a6

a b c d e f g h 28 ... f6! 29.:gd2 '®gl t 30.:gdl Wxg2 3 1 .'®c3 ll'if7 32.a4!!

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

290

32 ... ge8 33.ge3! �f2 33 ... gd6!? 34.gxd6 tll xd6 35.�c7! �gl t 36. Wb2 �xe3 37.tll d St ge? 38.tll xe7 �e5t 39.c3 tll f7 40.�xeS tll xe5 4 1 .tll xc8 lll xg4 42.iii c2 h5 43.Wd3! (43.Wd2 iii h6) 43 ... iii h6 44.lll d6 digs 45.We4 h4 46.lll f7t Wh5 47.Wf4 This should be a draw. 34.gdd3! tll e5 35.gd2 �fl t 36.Wb2 gxe7 37.�xc8 gc6 38.�d8 gf7 39.�e8 The threat of invading on the 8th rank forces Black to take a draw by: 39 ... gf8 40.�e7t gf7 40 . . . Wg8 41 .gd8 (41 .gS!?) 4 1 ...gxd8 42.�xd8t Wg7 43.gxeS fx:e5 44.�e7t= 41 .�e8 gf8=

26...�fl! 27.tlie7t White has nothing better than to start looking for tricks; now the second critical juncture for Black in this game had arrived.

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Notwithstanding Grischuk's time pressure, this move is really incomprehensible; why pin yourself on the long diagonal in such a way?

(29.ghhl �xg2 30.gdgl �e4 3 1 .gS tll g4 32.gel �f4 33.tll g6 �xf5 34.lll xf8t lll xf8-+ Black is tons of material ahead.) 29 . . . tll xg4-+ White loses yet another piece without the slightest compensation.

28.�h2 f6? A bad choice, giving the e7-knight a respite. Black ignores the rule that invaders should be repelled when possible; this task could easily have been accomplished with: 28 ... ge8 29.lll xc8 29.lll d S lll f6! 30.tll c7 ge? 3 1 .tllxa6 bxa6+ leaves White in a complete mess. 29 ... gxc8 30.gS 30.ixb7 �xh2 3 1 .ixc8 ga7 32.�cl �f2+ hardly gives White compensation either. 30 ... hxgS 3 1 .�cl gb6! 32.ixb7 32.�xgSt? gg6! 32 ...�xh2 33.ixc8 lll f6 34.�xgSt Wf8 35.�e3 gc6 36.gd2 lll eg4!+ Black coordinates his forces and should win the game sooner or later.

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I wonder what Kasparov would have said about all this. Despite having enough time on the clock, Veselin misses 29.�cl lll xg4 30.tll xc8 lll de5 3 I .ixb7 lll xh2 32.ixa6 tll hg4 33.�a3± with an extra pawn and the better

291

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! position, although Black has some chances due to his passed h-pawn.

34 ... ttJxf6 35.a4 Wf4

29 ...fxgS 30.ctJxc8 �af6

36..idS �d7 37.�el! Wxf5 38..ic4

The position has stabilized, and despite temporary material equilibrium Black is completely winning. However, at this point Grischuk had about one minute to make it to the first time control, so the play up to move forty cannot stand up to serious criticism.

31.ctJe7 3 1 .Wc3 Wc5-+ was not an option.

35 ... :§e?+

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Black throws away whatever advantage was left in his position; he had to prevent White's intended queen centralization by 38 ...WcS! when he would have retained a few chances for an eventual victory. For example: 39.Wa2 :gd4! 40.Wc3! (40.:ge?t Wxe7 4 1 .Wxd4 g4 42.�d3 We? 43.We3 b6+ looks hopeless) 40 ...g4 4 1 .Wg3! (4 1 .:ge6 h5 42.Wel :gxc4!+) 4 1 . . .hS 42.�d3 Wd6! 43.:geS! :gd5 44.:ggSt! Wf8 45.We3 :gxg5 46.WxgS g3+ !+

39.WeS! Now White takes over the initiative.

32.ctJdS ctJf3? And here, 32 ... tll g4 33.:ghhl Wxg2 34.Wd4 tt:lde5 35.ltJxf6 :gxf6 36.:ghgl Wf2 37.:gxg4 tt:lxg4 38.Wxg4 Wxf5 39.:gd?t Wg6 40.Wd4 h5+ would have given Black excellent winning chances.

33.Lf.3 Wxh2 34.tlJxf6?! A rash exchange; Veselin would have done better by 34.Wd4! We5 35.ltJxf6 Wxf6 36.Wa4 ltJc5 37.Wxa500•

39...Wd4 40.Wf5 Wg4 41.WxaS �dlt 42.�xdl Wxdl t 43.iib2 The time scramble ended at this point and both players had enough time to assess the situation. It is quite obvious that White's far stronger minor piece guarantees that Black no longer has any winning chances, but on the other hand Black's passed pawns should offer him enough play to hold the draw. Rather uncharacteristically, the Russian GM failed to cope with the endgame problems and lost.

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

43...�d6

This cannot be called a mistake but slightly more accurate was:

for Black to have the enemy king on the edge of the board. Play might go on: 44 ...g4 45.Wc7t Wd7 46.\Wf4 46.We5 Wes 47.Wf4 h5=

43 ...Wd4t!= With the intention of driving the king to the inferior square of a2.

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Now there are three moves to consider: 44.c3?!, 44.1Wc3 and 44.'it>a2. White is in fact worse after 44.c3?! \Wd2t 45.'it>a3 h5+. 44.\Wc3 Wxc3t 45.'it>xc3 This can be calculated to the end by players of this level: 45 ... h5! 46.a5 h4 47.�e6 g4 48.'it>d4 h3 49.�c8 'it>h6 50.'it>e3 50.�xb7?? g3 5 1 .'it>e3 tt:lg4t!-+ 50 ... 'it>g5 5 1 .�xb7 g3 52.'it>e2! 52.'it>B? 'it>h4+ 52 ... tt:lg4 53.'it>fl \t>f4 54.a6 54.'it>gl lll e5 55.�hl lll f3t 56.'it>fl tll h 2t= 54 ... lll h2t 55.'it>e2 55. 'it>gl ?? lll f3t 56.�xf3 'it>xf3 57.a7 h2t-+ 55 ...g2 56.�xg2 hxg2 57.'it>fL tt:lg4t 58.'it>xg2 lll e 3t 59.'it>f2 lll d 5= The game should end with sharing the point. 44.'it>a2 This is the only winning try. There is nothing like a forced draw, but it is certainly helpful

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46 ... We7! 47.�d3 47.a5 Wc5 48.b4 Wxb4 49.Wc?t 'it>h8 50.Wdst 'it>g7 5 1 .1Wc7t= 47 ... b6 48.b4 We6t 49.'it>a3 lll d 5 50.Wd4t lll f6 5 1 .a5 bxa5 52.bxa5 g3 53.a6 g2 54.a7 Wc6= With a drawish position.

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From now on Topalov started to play with vigour and originality while his opponent, probably affected by missing so many wins earlier, drifted into a bad position and was gradually outplayed.

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Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

44 ...'WeSt 45.'itia2 'We4 Viable was 45 ...'Wc?!? 46.a5 'Ll e4 47.'Wd4t 'Llf6 48.b4 g4.

46.i.d.3 'Wc6 47.aS!t llJdS 48.'Wd4t llJf6 49.'WeS 'itif'8

Evading checks from b8 would have yielded a draw, but the underlying idea was extremely hard to see, unless one has encountered it before. 5 Lj,f5 h5 52.Wbs

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50.c4!? Veselin is a very interesting endgame player, who can see original ideas quickly and implement them accordingly. Here it was probably better to play 50.lii b 2t, retaining some initiative thanks to the idea of pushing the b-pawn, but the text move set his opponent severe problems that proved insurmountable over the board.

50 g4?! •..

More flexible was: 50 ... lii fl !

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Black has the stunning consolidating manoeuvre: 52 ... 'Llg8!! Intending to cover the sensitive c8-square by ... 'Llg8-e7. Instead, 52 ... g4? 53.Wc8!± transposes in the note to Black's 52nd move. After the text move it turns out that White has nothing better than: 53.j,c8 Wc5! 54.Wa8!? 54.Wxb?t 'Lle7 55.Wb5 Wxc8 56.Wxg5 Wg4= is an easy draw. 54 ... h4! 55.j,xb? 'Llf6! 56.j,c6 h3 57.Wb?t f8 59.'!WcSt 'tt>g7 (59 ... 'Lie8 60.ixg4 '!Wh2t 6 1 .'tt>a3 '!Wd6t 62.'tt> a4 'tt> e7 63.'!Wb7t±) 60.'!Wc7t 'tti h6 6 1 .'!Wf4t 'tt> h 5

51.i.£5! iif7?! Black would have maintained better drawing chances in the line: 5 l .. .h5 52.ie6! (52.'!Wb8t 'tt> e7=) 52 ... 'Lid7 53.'!Wf5t 'tt> e7 54.id5 '!Wc5 5 5.'!Wg5t 'tt>d6 56.'!Wf4t 'tt>e 7 57.'!Wd2t Although White certainly keeps an initiative.

52.�b8

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Capitulation; better was 52 ... h5 though this can be met by the brilliant motif: 53.'!Wc8!! (Nothing is achieved by 53.ic8 due to 53 . . .'!Wc5! 54.'!Wxb?t 'tti g6 55.a6 '!Wa5t=.) The text move exchanges queens when White's much stronger minor piece should prevail in the long run. The following lines demonstrate this dearly: 53 ...'!Wxc8 54.ixc8 h4 55.ixb7 h3 56.ic8!+53 ... 'Lie8 54.'!Wxc6 bxc6 55.a6 'Lic7 56.a7 'tt> f6 57.ic8 c5 (57 ... g3 58.ih3+-; 57... 'tt> e 5 58.b4 'tt>d4 59.'tt> b3+-) 58.'tt> a3 'tt> e 5 59.'tt> a4+-

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62.ixg4t!! 'Lixg4 63.'!Wf5t 'tt> h6 64.'!Wxg4±

53.�f4+Now the g-pawn falls, making further resistance hopeless. The rest does not require much commentary.

53 ...�c5 53 ...'!Wg2t 54.'tt> a3 'Lif6 55.'!Wc7t+- leads to the loss of the knight on f6.

54.i.xg4t tlJf6 55.'!WfS 1Wd4 56.if3 �flt 57.iia3 iig7 58. iia4 b6 59.axb6 �xb6 60.c5 �a7t 6I .iib5 �b8t 62.iic4 �g8t 63.iic3 �e8 64.b4 �el t 65.iic4 �flt 66.iib3 �b5 67.idl �c6 68.ic2 iif7 69.id3 1-0 A very instructive game from a defender's point of view, highlighting the importance of relying on the dynamism of the pieces and the need to think uncompromisingly when things start looking bleak. Two very important weapons in a great defender's arsenal are endurance and the ability to coordinate the pieces; the latter is mostly done by distributing to them roles that suit their natural powers while at the same time trying

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! to improve their radius at every opportunity. I think that this defensive theme is perfectly illustrated by the following game, where no less a player than Magnus Carlsen is asked to cope with unpleasant positional pressure and he succeeds after an inch by inch fight.

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doing so he allows his opponent to grab the c-file. Superior was: 26 ... �e8!= Intending a combination of ... h6h5, ... a6-a5 and ... ic8-f5, with a fair share of the chances.

Zong Yuan Zhao - Magnus Carlsen Khanty-Mansiysk 2007

1.d4 tll f6 2.tll f3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.tll c3 i.b7 5.i.g5 i.e7 6.e3 h6 7.i.h4 0-0 S.i.d3 c5 9.0-0 cxd4 10.exd4 d5 1 1 .LfG i.xf6 12.cxdS exd5 13.:!'!el tll c6 14.i.c2 '!Wd6 15.'1Wd3 g6 16.i.b3 tll a5 17.tll eS i.g7 1S.:!'!e2 tll xb3 19.axh3 a6 20.:!'!ael :!'!adS 21.h3 b5 22.'!Wd2 i.cS 23.tll a2 :!'!deS 24.'!Wb4 :!'!e6 25.'!Wxd6 :!'!xd6 26.tll b4 27.�c2 does not work out too well, unlike the game, because of: 27 ... aS 28.ctJbc6 (28.ctJbd3 ifS+) 28 ...ifS 29.�ccl (29.�cS?! f6 30.ctJf3 �xel t 3 1 .ctJxel �e6 32.\tifl if8 33.�cl hS 34.ctJxaS �a6 35.ctJb7 �a2+ is clearly better for Black) 29 ... a4 Black has good counterplay. 27.ctJbd3 if5 28.ctJcS f6 29.ctJg4 �xe2 30.�xe2 hS 3 1 .ctJe3 ie4!

This is the first instructive moment in the game; White has strong-points on cS and eS for his knights and Black must try to defuse the pressure.

26...gS?! Adhering to the rule that the knights should be gradually pushed back, Magnus deemed it right to start preparing ... f7-f6 (by making sure his g-pawn would not he hanging) while at the same time gaining some space. However, in

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

32 ...j,b 1 ! 33.:ge 1 ?! (better is 33.:gd2 f5 34.g3 g5 35.g7 By judicious equalized.

manoeuvring

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37.h3?! I fail to understand the point of this move. 37.tll c4 was better, but the position is drawish anyway after 37 ...�e7=.

37...a5 38.lll c4 ie7 39.'tt> d3 �al! Clearing a path for the a-pawn and thus forcing White to undertake some immediate action.

40.lll e3 a

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

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Here comes Harassment! Now if White wants to continue the fight then his king is forced to retreat, but then Black will be at no risk from the enemy pawns.

[email protected] ga2t [email protected] gal t [email protected] ga2t [email protected] ge2 45.tll xfS t @f6

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Black's defensive strategy has been a complete triumph; both enemy passed pawns are safely blockaded and will fall in due course.

46.tll xe? @xe7 47.£5 @f6 48.gc5 a4 [email protected] a3 50.h4 h5 51.gb5 a2 52.ga5 g12 53.ge5 �e7 54.f6t gxf6 55.gxh5 @xe6 56. �xa2 •/2-1/2

The top Chinese playerWang Yue is a real master of defence and has justly earned a reputation as being very hard to beat. I have chosen one of his games to demonstrate how an annoying intrusion of enemy forces can be systematically repelled and what the prerequisites are for such an operation to be successful.

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Veselin Topalov Wang Yue Nanjing 2009

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.tll c3 tll f6 4.e3 a6 5.tll f'3 h5 6.b3 ig4 7.ie2 e6 8.h3 ih5 9.g4 ig6 10.tll e5 lll fd7 I I.lll xg6 hxg6 12.�c2 ie7 13.ih2 tll f6 14.0-0-0 tll bd7 15.c5 �c7 16.h4 a5 17.g5 tll h5 18.ig4 �f'8 19.gdgl 0-0-0 20.tll e2 f5 21.gxf6 gxf6 22.ixh5 gxh5

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Topalov has played the opening exceptionally well (as usual) and in the diagram position he holds an undisputed positional advantage. He is in possession of the only open file and his pieces enjoy more mobility than his opponent's; a striking example is the agile knight on e2 in contrast to its passive counterpart on f8. A further problem for Black is his looseness on the light squares and in particular the weakness of the h5-pawn.

Chapter 7

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Defence makes the Difference!

Still, there are a few things left to be desired from White's point of view, such as the presence of more open lines and the emergence of an active role for the b2-bishop. I think that Veselin's priority should have been to acquire these small benefits by moves such as f2-f3 and i.b2-c3-el -g3, since the g-file was in his hands anyway and Black could hardly contest it. His choice in the game was less flexible and did not leave Black guessing about his intentions:

303

rank, it also prepares to drop the bishop back to d8 from where it supports both a5 and f6 without interfering with the rest of the black forces.

24J�hgl i.dS! Starting to harass the intruders without delay.

25J�g8

23.gg7?! Too straightforward; White's plan is to double rooks on the g-file, put the knight on f4 and the queen on e2, and then Black will collapse. However, it was obvious that Black would not sit with his arms crossed and await the death sentence. At this point Wang Yue probably realized that if he managed to repel the invaders without suffering material losses he would gain a draw, as White is playing statically (with pieces) rather than dynamically (with pawns). The fact that the action takes place on a narrow part of the board allowed him to carry out the task systematically and in style:

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25 ... gdh?!

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A very strong move, keeping all the entry points covered and over-protecting the h5pawn. It also opens the way for the queen to come to f7 and force back the invading forces.

26.tlJf4 �f7 27J�8g2 i.c7 Calmly and consistently, Black repels the enemy pieces one by one. It is not clear that the bishop is threatening to take immediately on f4, but there seems to be no point for White to keep his knight on that square in any case.

28.tiJd3 tiJd7 Finally, the knight comes back into play; White's advantage has by now been rendered merely symbolic.

29.a3 @b? 30.i.c3 ga8 31.£4 f'5 32.tlJeS

304

The Grandmaster Battle Manual before accepting it. After all, the material could be worthless compared to the initiative your opponent would get; sometimes declining the material makes your defensive task easier. If you are offered a large amount of material and you do not see a forced win for your opponent, just grab it! At worst you will have something to give back later, when things become tough for you. a

32...Wfe7!

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Black does not wish to grant his opponent the use ofthe f4-square after 32 ... Cll xe5 33.fxe5. Now White is practically forced to exchange knights to prevent ... Cll d7-f6-g4.

33.Cll xd7 Wfxd7 34.a4 b4 35.iel :gf8 36.:gg6 ids 37.Wfg2 if6 Sealing all the entry points; the players could have shaken hands here, but I guess the Sofia rules prevented them from doing so.

38.if'2 Wfe7 39.Wff3 :gf1'7 40.�d2 :gfg7 41.:gxg7 hg7 42.Wfg3 if6 43.Wfgs :ghs 44.Wfg6 :gh7 45.Wfgs :ghs 46.Wfg6 :gh7 1/z-1/z

Two questions a defender often has to answer over the board are:

On the other hand, if you are ahead in material but in a messy position, then seriously consider returning the material, if this means you gain the initiative. The following two examples from my tournament practice illustrate situations where the defender had to weigh up material and the initiative. Since I was the defender, I must confess that I failed to rise to the occasion in both cases.

Vassilios Kotronias Mikhail Gurevich -

Kusadasi 2006

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Cll d2 'Llf6 4.e5 'Llfd7 5.c3 c5 6.id3 Cll c6 7.Cll e2 cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Cll xf6 10.Cll f3 Wfc7 1 1.0-0 id6 12.ig5 0-0 13.ih4 Cll h5 14.Wfc2 h6 15.ig6

I ) If and when he should grab material. 2) Vice versa, if and when he should return it. These questions are two of the most difficult to answer in practical play and the replies depend on the feelings of the player and his experience, plus of course his calculating abilities. But the practical advice I would offer the readers is: If you are offered a small amount of material (for example, a pawn) always think twice

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Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! In Chapter 4 we saw one of my earlier games where I chose 1 5.�h7t (page 149).

15 ...:gxf3! The world is not a friendly place for devoted practitioners of 3.tll d2 against the French; exchange sacrifices on f3 frequently baffle us and they will continue to baffle our successors.

16.gxB .ixh2t 17.cii h l tll f4 18.tll g3 e5!?

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White is then a rook up and Black has to prove he has compensation. I guess Mikhail's idea was 1 9 ...Wd6!, attacking the g6-bishop and unpinning the c6-knight, ready for lethal action. The alternatives are poor: Clearlyout ofthe question is: 19 ...Wd7? 20.�f5 We8 (20 ... tt:lxd4 2 1 .�xd7 ctJxc2 22.�xc8 :§:xc8 23.:§:acl g5 24.tt:lf5+-) 2 1 .:§:ad l ± 1 9 ...Wb6 can b e met b y both 20.:§:ad l ± and 20.ctJe2!?.

A very dangerous situation for White; when this game was played I had no idea that a move like l 8 ... e5!? could even be possible in chess, but it is. Black is already an exchange down and now he offers a piece to add momentum to his kingside attack - a bold but apparently correct approach.

19.:gadl? I was surprised by my opponent's move, so I decided to play a "good solid move" on general grounds. But, damn it, what sort of "general grounds" could possibly exist in such a sharp situation? If I had been in a normal state of mind, I would have understood that in a position with so many weaknesses around my king I could not afford the luxury of being "only'' an exchange up. Imperative was 1 9.Wxh2!.

Returning to the best move: 1 9 ...Wd6!

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual Thus, taking as much material as possible would have been the right way to play in this particular instance, since it would have allowed me to bail out to an equal ending later on by returning it. I am inclined to say that cases like the present one are the rule rather than the exception, but in sharp situations please remember to calculate before grabbing the material!

19 �d6? ...

Fortunately for me, Mikhail decided to unpin the c6-knight as quickly as possible, overlooking a nice motif of interference that was available to him. 1 9 ... e4!

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24.�hl ! .ih3! 25.l"i:gl l"i:c8 26.iWd2 hxg3 27.fxg3 (27.iWxf4?? lll d 3!!-+ is a brilliant trap) 27 ... tlifd3! 28 ..ixd3 lll xf3 29.iWf2 lll x gl 30.l"i:xgl� White has enough compensation to draw. 22 ... hxg5 23.l"i:hl lll xd4!? 23 ... iWh6t 24.�gl lll h 3t 25.�g2 lll f4t 26.�gl= 24.l"i:xd4 exd4 25.�gl iWe5 26..ig6t .ih3 26 ... �gS 27.tlih5 27 ..if5 iWel t 28.�h2 .ixf5 29.lll xf5 iWe5 30.�g3t �g8 3 1 .lll h6t �g7 32.lll g4 d3 33.iWc5 lll e6t 34.lll xe5 lll xc5 35.l"i:d l = White recovers his pawn, after which h e is only symbolically worse.

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This would have been lethal, as I discovered upon returning to my room and turning on the computer to check the game - an established ritual in the new chess-playing era. It looks a bit anti-positional to deny the c6-knight access to the kingside, but material is material and Black had to take it. The following lines demonstrate White's helplessness: 20.lll xe4? loses to: 20 ... lll xg6 2 1 .lll f6t �f7! 22.lll xd5 iWd7-+ The black queen is set to penetrate to h3 with decisive effect. 20 ..ie8 is depressing after: 20 ....ih3 (20 ....id7!?) 2 1 ..ixc6 bxc6 22. �xh2 .ixfl 23.fxe4 .ig2+

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! 20.j,xe4 After this the light squares become terribly weak, but this was also the case in the above alternatives. 20 ... dxe4 2 1 .fxe4

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White has some central control, but Black can infiltrate with the accurate 2 1 ...j,h3!, as we shall see below. The alternatives to 2 1 ...j,h3! are actually not harmful for White: 2 1 ...'ll e 6?! 22.f4± 2 1 ...g5 22.�xh2 (22.d5!?) 22 ... gxh4 23.d5 j,g4 24.dxc6 j,xdl 25.Wc4t �h7 26.Ei:xdl hxg3t 27.fxg3 bxc6 28.Ei:fl Ei:f8 29.gxf4 l"i:xf4 30.l"i:xf4 Wxf4t= 2 1 ...'ll g6 22.f4 j,g4 23.�xh2 'll xh4 24.Ei:d3 Wf7 25.Wc300 Now we can study the correct move: 2 1 ...j,h3!

307

Creating some nasty mating threats. I did not manage to find anything resembling equality for White. My analysis ran: 22.Wb3t 22.�xh2? 'll xd4!!-+ 22.f3? j,xg3 23.j,xg3 j,xfl 24.l"i:xfl Wf7-+ 22 ... �h8 23.�xh2 g5 23 ...j,xfl 24.'ll xfl Wd7+ is also strong. 24.j,xg5 The game Groetz - E. Berg, Tromso 2009, continued: 24.l"i:gl ?! gxh4 25.e5 j,e6 26.Wf3 hxg3t 27.fxg3 'll d 5 28.Ei:gfl Wg7 29.l"i:d2 �g5 30.Ei:df2 l"i:g8 3 1 .Wd3 'll e3 And 0-1 , which merely confirmed my evaluation that White should lose. 24... hxg5+ Obviously White will lose this posmon sooner or later, as Black's attack on the light squares is overwhelming. After Mikhail's choice of 19 ...Wd6? it was a game again, and I somehow managed to defend myself successfully:

20.i.h?t @hs 21.dxeS tbxe5 22.i.e4! Exploiting the pin along the d-file to cover f3 and slow down Black's attack.

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Much weaker would have been: 22 . . .Wc6?! 23.iWd2! g5 24.t.xd5 Wxd5 25.Wxd5 lll xd5 26.Ei:xd5± The move I had expected was: 22 ... g5!? I was contemplating returning material by: 23.t.xd5!

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The idea is to push back the f4-knight and counterattack on the open central files. In reply I will consider A) 23 ... gxh4?! and B) 23 ... lll xd5!: A) After 23 ... gxh4?! 24.t.e4 the tables are turned and White becomes the attacker.

(27 ...Wxf4?? 29.Wxh2t

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24 ... hxg3 25.fx:g3! Wf6 26.Wxh2! lll e6 27.Ei:d5!t With the idea of answering 27 ... lll g5 by: 28.Ei:xe5! Wxe5 29.WxhGt mgs 30.Ei:el !+24 ...We7! This is the best I have been able to find. After it White should continue: 25.mxh2 hxg3t (25 ...t.e6 26.ctJe2±; 25 ...t.h3!?) 26.fx:g3t With a strong initiative as the black king is weak. B) 23 ... lll x d5! This is the best move for Black. In reply I intended to fully centralize my forces by 24.We4 t.e6 25.Ei:fe l !00 and I was optimistic about my chances. In reality, the chances are about equal, as the reader can verify by consulting any decent engine or analysing the position himself

[email protected] We6!

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Here I felt as if I was besieged by snakes. Black's firepower on the light squares creates a variety of mating motifs and White's extra rook looks completely irrelevant. After some deep thought I managed to find the one and only idea in the position, which involves returning material:

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

24.lbhS!! Deflecting one of the key attacking pieces, the nasty knight on f4. After 24.txd5?? Wxd5! 25.l"i:xd5 'Llxf3t 26.'kt>hl tg2# I would surely have become part of a combinations anthology.

309

Slightly more unpleasant for me would have been: 26 ...Wg4!? 27.tg3 txfl 28.Wxe4! th3 29.'Llg6t 'kt>h7 30.'Llf4t 'kt>gs 3 1 .Wxb7 Ei:fs 32.Wd5t 'kt>h7 33.We4t Ei:f5 Although the position remains drawish.

27.i.g3 i.xf1 28.gxfl

29.�c3t 'it>h7 30.�c7t 'it>h8 31.�c3t There was obviously no point in venturing 3 1 .'Llg2 as at the very least Black has 3 1 ...Ei:cS 32.Wd6 Wh3t 33.th2 l"i:c2.

31. ..'it>h7 32.�c7t 1/2-1/z

Despite its imperfections (or, should I say, because of them) an instructive game for the theme of defence.

25.lbxf4 But now White has destroyed the main source of his troubles.

25 ... lbxBt 26.'it>hl �f5

The next example demonstrates that giving up material in order to extinguish an attack should not be done in an impulsive manner. Quite often, a sober examination of the situation unveils ways of breaking the attack that do not involve material investments.

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

310

loannis Nikolaidis -Vassilios Kotronias Khalkidhiki 2009

1.e4 c5 2.tll f3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.tll xd4 a6 s.�d3 �c5 6.c3 d6 7.0-0 tll e7 8.�e3 tll d7 9.tll d2 0-0 10.Wfe2 tll e5 1 1.�c2 �d7 12.f4 tll 5c6 13.tll 2b3 tll xd4 14.cxd4 �b6 15.fS exf5 16.exfS f6 17.l3f3 �h5 18.Wffl l3c8 19.l3h3 tll d5 20.Wfh4? �xc2 21.Wfxh?t hI?

Better was the active 29. h2! when White would have serious winning chances. For example: 29 ... :gal

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26..icl? loannis was entering time pressure at this point and he started to err. He could have maintained equality with: 26.h5! .ic6 27.h6 li:'ixe3 28.:gxe3 :gxg2t 29.\tifl :gg5 30.hxg7 :gxf5t 3 1 .lt>e2 lt>xg7 32.:gh4 :gg5 33.li:Jd2=

26...E:bl?? Still not seeing the ... li:Jd5-e7 idea: 26 ... :gxa2! 27.h5 .ic6 28.h6 (28.g4 a4-+) 28 ... li:Je?! 29.h7 li:Jxf5! 30.:gffit lt>g6! 3 1 .h8=li:Jt \tih7-+ This would have sealed White's fate.

27.hS! After this move White has the better of it and could aspire to victory, but now time pressure played its fateful role.

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Not only attacking the rook, but also staving off li:'if3-h4-g6. The stage had been set for a tragic finale:

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The final error, under huge time pressure. Instead 3 l .h6! gxh6 32.:gf8t!! xf8 33 ..ixhGt \tif7 34.:gxal .ic600 would have yielded an unclear position.

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

31. .. tll e3-+ After this move it's all over, as White must suffer catastrophic material losses.

32.h6 gxh6 33.gxd6 gxcl t 34.ci>h2 i.g3t 0-1 When defending, it is important to remember that it might be possible to transfer the king away from the danger zone, especially in blocked or semi-blocked positions. Of course, one should always be tactically alert when resorting to such a course of action, in order to avoid unpleasantness along the way. The following case shows a "professional" evacuation, decided upon after a careful weighing of its pros and cons, and carried out impeccably.

Dmitry Jakovenko - Ernesto lnarkiev Jermuk 2 009

1.e4 eS 2.tiJf3 tll c6 3.i.bS a6 4.i.a4 tiJf6 5.0-0 i.e7 6.gel bS 7.i.b3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 ges 10.d4 i.b7 1 1 .tll bd2 i.f"B 12.i.c2 g6 13.dS tll bs 14.b3 c6 15.c4 tll bd7 16.tll fl tll b6 17.gbl Wfc7 18.tll e3 cS 19.g4 hS 20.©hl i.g7 21.ggl hxg4 22.hxg4

313

and give him the option of many interesting set-ups in his attempt to break down Black's defences. One set-up could be 'Wdl -fl-h3, followed by the typical sacrificial idea of tt:'le3f5. In this perilous situation GM Inarkiev correctly realized that he would not be able to withstand the coming onslaught if his king remained on the kingside. He therefore started the evacuation process immediately:

22... ©f"B! 23.gg3?! Jakovenko's reply struck me as artificial when I first saw this game and I haven't changed my mind since then. Despite the undoubted correctness of Black's plan, White's control of space would still be enough for a slight advantage after a more natural piece deployment starting with 23.tt:'lh4!. For example: 23 ...i.c8 24.'Wf3 me? 25.mg2 ghs 26J"1.h l i.d7 27.i.d3 (27.a4!?) 27 ... 2"1ag8 28.gS tt:'lh5 29.tt:'lfl 'Wc8 30.i.e2!;!; White intends tt:'lfl-g3; he still has some pressure.

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A correct decision, which leads to a tactical mess; however, Black's position looks sound enough to resist White's initiative.

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24 ... cxb4 25.:Bxb4 hxc4 26.'lixeS! This was Jakovenko's idea, but Black had prepared a cool reply:

bishop in order to keep His Majesty under pressure. AB a direct consequence of all this, White's d5-pawn has become irremediably weak and from now on Black has the easier play as he has a concrete target to pile up on.

29 :Bd4!? ..•

Black's boldness in commendable; however, also possible was: 29 ... 1"l:e8 30.1'%xb6 (30.tt:lf4 a5 3 1 .1"l:b5 ia6 32.1"l:xa5 c3 33.1"l:a3 1"l:a7 34.�g2 J.e5�) 30 ...Wxb6 3 1 .Wxf7 Wc7 32.Wf4 Wc5 33.1"l:f3 1"l:xe3 34.Wg5t �c7 35.1"l:f7t �b8 36.J.xe3 Wxd5t 37.f3 Wxg5 (37...Wxf7 38.Wd8t J.c8 39.Wb6t Wb7 40.Wxd6t Wc7 4 1 .Wb4t Wb7=) 38.ii.xg500 With an unclear position.

30.:Bxb6! fxg6D 31.:Bhl c3 32.:Bh3 '!We7

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The tactical skirmish continues unabated and has led to a very interesting position. We can observe that although the black king did not reach a safe haven, White had to give up his wonderful pawn centre and light-squared

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After this move it becomes obvious that Black's evaluation of the complications arising after 26 ... Cll xe4! was deeper and more accurate than White's. His monarch is one step away from reaching safety on c7, and if he achieved that then his passed pawn and two bishops would become the dominant factors in the position. AB is often the case with such situations, Dmitry failed to find a narrow escape and lost:

33.ia3

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! This does not spoil anything yet, but it gives Black more options. More circumspect was: 33.l"i:h7 c7! (33 ... c2? allows the brilliant 34.l"i:xb7! Wxb7 35.li:'ixc2 l"i:xd5 36.li:Jd4!!±, turning the tables) And only now 34 ..ia3 followed by: 34 ... l"i:h8 35.l"i:xh8 .ixh8 36.l"i:b3! l"i:a4 37.gl ! .ie5 38 ..ib4 Wf6

37.l"i:h7 l"i:h8 38.l"i:xh8

33 @c?! ...

Less strong but highly interesting was: 33 ... c2!? 34.l"i:xb7 Wxb7

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This leads to fantastic complications which should result in a draw: 35.l"i:h8t! e7 35 ....ixh8 36.Wf8t= 36.li:Jf5t! d7! 36 ... gxf5? 37.'1We3t l"i:e4 38.Wg5t d7 39.'1Wxg7t l"i:e7 40.Wxe7t! xe7 41 .l"i:h7t+-

Let's return to the game:

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

34.ltJg2? This is the kind of move we know is bad, but our hand reaches out to play it anyway; I guess Dmitry was in time pressure. 34.§h7! §h8 35.§xhS i.xh8 36.§b3 §a4 37.mgl !00 would have transposed to 33.§h7, with a probable draw as explained above.

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h If we saw only the final position, it would be hard to guess that Black castled short in this game, but such is the art of defence! The next example presents a typical case of an "all-in" attack by White that should have failed against correct defence. However, it was White who eventually prevailed, for the following reasons: a

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They say it's the journey that counts, but it's nice to reach the destination, isn't it?

37..icl? A final error; also losing simply was 37.'1Wg3?? §xa3 38.§xa3 cl-+, but 37.'1We3!? would have offered stiffer resistance. The most convincing win for Black is: 37 ...'\Wf7! 38.i.xd6t mas 39.§xc3 §xc3 40.'\Wxc3 '\Wxd5 4 1 .'1Wg3 '1Wxa2 42.f3 '\Wb2!-+ Black's pieces combine very nicely in the geometrical sense, and the plan of ... §a4-a2 followed by advancing the a-pawn is impossible to parry.

37 .. ,gxa2 38.ltJf4 gal 39.g2 Also hopeless is 39.li:ld3 §f8-+.

39..,gxcl 40.ltJe6 c2 41.gxg? Wi'xg7 42.ltJxg? gbl 0-1

1 ) Black did not use his calculating powers to the maximum. 2) Black did not grab more material when he could, nor did he act incisively to exploit his assets. 3) Last but not least, he handled his king in an uncertain manner. Let's see the game:

loannis Papaioannou - Sergey Tiviakov Budva 2 009

I.d4 ltJf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4..ig2 .ih4t 5.ltJd2 ltJc6 6.ltJgf3 dxc4 7.0-0 c3 8.ltJc4 cxb2 9 ..ixh2 0-0 IO.gel .ie7 l l .Wfd3 .id? 12.a3 a6 13,gfdl ltJa7 14.ltJfe5 ghs 15.ltJa5 .ih5 16.Wfc2 c6 17.ltJac4 ltJc8 18.a4 .ixc4 19.Wfxc4 ltJb6 20.Wfa2 ltJbd5 2 1.a5 gcs 22.Wfal ges 23.h4 ltJc7 24.gd3 ltJb5 25.gcdl Wfc? 26.e4 gcd8

317

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

Now the knight has managed to avoid being exchanged and stands proudly on g4; but even this fact is not enough to give White serious attacking chances, as Tiviakov's powerful next move demonstrates:

29 eS! .••

Contesting the dark squares and turning his c-pawn into a passed pawn.

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So far so good. White has sacrificed a pawn for decent compensation and he could have kept on pressing with moves like 27.lt:Jc4 or 27.i::l c l . But the Greek GM Ioannis Papaioannou, apparently tired of manoeuvring, tried to take

White keeps his precious knigh t and gets a passed pawn himself Instead 30.dxeS ?! ctJc5 would have been better for Black, and 30.ctJxeS?! ctJxeS 3 1 . dxeS i::lxd3 32.i::lxd3 c5t is equally unappetizing for White, as the c-pawn's lust to advance cannot be contained.

the black fortress by storm:

30 cS 3 U�g3?!

27.g4?

there is no serious attack after this. The

This gets White nowhere; an incisive reply

..•

An inaccuracy, but it was difficult to realize

computer's

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focusing on controlling the sensitive c4-square,

in serious trouble.

would have granted White equal chances. If

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After the thematic 27 . . .i.d6! the e5-knight cannot avoid the exchange, as g4 is hanging. The best available line is 28.'IWcl i.xe5 29.dxeS i::l xd3 30.i::l xd3 , but with thesensible30 . . . lt:Jd7!+ Black would gain a serious advantage.

Black tries to advance by 3 1 . . .c4?! (3 I . . . lt:Jd600

ctJxc7 34.i.fl ctJc5 35.\Wb l gives White the advantage.

31...c4 32.'IWcl?! �b4 33.�fl �k8 34.'1We3

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

During the last few moves White has been busy transferring his queen to the kingside, in a desperate attempt to gather his forces for an attack. But Black has not been idle either and his plan looks far more threatening: the c-pawn has been forged into a formidable weapon and the a5-pawn is about to fall, leaving Black with a two-pawn preponderance. It is clear to me that the correct assessment of this position is -+, but Black has to act incisively and exploit his assets. The remainder of the game is very instructive:

34...Wfd6

This move is not a real mistake, but it is not very drastic, in a position where drastic measures were affordable! More forcing was 34 ... c3!? leaving the opponent no respite.

but this can be answered with the prophylactic 36 ... mhs!, averting all kinds of knight sacrifices and threatening ... lll d7-c5. This common­ sense measure is enough to clinch the issue as demonstrated by the further moves: 37.:gb3 (37.h5 lll c5 38.h6 :gg8-+) 37 ... W'xa5 38.�xb5 axb5!-+ White has nothing to show for his two-pawn deficit. 35.�xb5 is the best of a bad lot. Following 35 ... axb5 36.�cl it is not too difficult for Black to calculate the consequences of grab­ bing a second pawn: 36 ...�xa5!

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Black's passers are going to carry the day as White has no real attacking chances. For example: 37.d6 (37.liJf6t gxf6 38.gxf6t mhs 39.W'h6 :ggs 40.:gg7 llixf6-+; 37.h5 W'd6!-+) 37 ...W'dS! 38.h5 :ge6 The rook is highly effective on e6 for defensive purposes. 39.W'f3 W'fS!+ By now Black is ready to push.

35.Wff3 White continues to bet everything on his desperate attack. Unsurprisingly, the computer realizes at this point that White's attack is going to fail, and suggests instead: 35.:gcl!? This would have required Black to find the following precise line to maintain his advantage: 35 ... c3! 36.�al W'c5! 37.�xb5 (37.W'f3 liJd4-+) 37 ...W'xe3 38.:gxe3 axb5 39.�xc3 f5! 40.gxf6 h5!+ The ending will be much better for Black.

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference!

35...c3 36.i.xh5! axb5 37.i.cl

a

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d

e

f

319

can win in a variety of ways. A sample line is: 39 ... g6 4o.llig4 1'%fs 41 .Wg2 b3 42.llif6t Clixf6 43.gxf6 b2 (43 ...�d8!?) 44.Wf5 bxc l =W 45.1'%xcl Wh8 46.hxg6 fxg6 47.1'%xg6 1'%c7 48.1'%hl 1'%g8 49.1'%xg8t Wxg8 50.Wg5t fS?! I do not know whether this was the prelude to an evacuating manoeuvre or just a way to avoid knight checks on f6 or h6, but in any case playing in such a manner fails to meet the challenges of the position. Black should have continued with the natural: 37 ...�xa5! White is not really threatening any knight sacrifices yet. 38.h5 b4

39.Wf5!? The only idea, threatening a check on h6. After a slow move such as 39.ctJe3?! Black

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

The race is on, but it is clear to the naked eye that White is fighting for a lost cause, as the queenside passed pawns are practically unstoppable whereas the black king has enough defenders to shelter him. Calculating up to this point should have been easy for a player ofTiviakov's class, and evaluating the position after 39 ... Wh8! should not have been too difficult either, as White's attacking forces have to operate quickly and skilfully in a very narrow space to achieve something. The following lines demonstrate that this is an impossible task: 40.g6D

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

320

Now there are two moves to consider, A) 40 ... fxg6 and B) 40 ... c2!.

in view of the calm 48.i.xb2 cxb2 49.l"lb3 l"lcl SO.Elf! !+ and White may hold. B) 40 ... c2! 41 .l"ld2 41 .l"ldd3 fxg6 42.hxg6 l"lf8! 43.V!ie6 Vlixe6 44.dxe6 'ii cS-+ 41 .l"lfl fxg6 42.hxg6 l"lf8 43.Vfie6 l"lc6!-+ 4 1 ... b3 42.l"ldd3 fxg6 43.hxg6

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a b c d e f g h Black's task is suddenly complicated and the best he has is: 42 ... l"lf6!? 42.. .'%Vxe6? 43.dxe6 'ii cS leads to a stunning draw after: 44.l"lh3! h6 4S.e7 l"lfe8 46.i.xh6 gxh6 47.l"lxh6t Wg7 48.l"ld6 l"lhs

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32 ...b4!

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The beginning breakthrough.

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33.axb4 33.dxc5? is worthless because of 33 ... bxa3 34.bxa3 l"i:xa3t 35.c3 tt'lxe3 36.c6t 'tt>xc6 37.l"i:xe3 l"i:a2-+.

33... c4t Black takes more space, suffocating the white pieces.

34.iic3D 34.'tt> d 2?! l"i:a2 35.'tt> c l would have led to a quick collapse after 35 ... l"i:al t 36.'tt> d2 l"i:bl 37.'tt> c3 tt'l d6-+.

34 ... tiJd6 35.:gel :ga4!

a

b

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The black rook is locked on b4 and it is not easy to extricate it without allowing drawing ideas. Black's best line is: 38 ... g5! 38 ... ctJ a3?! 39.'tt> c3 is an immediate draw. 39.if2 f5 40.ie3 40.'tt> c l cxb3 41 .l"i:xb3 l"i:xb3 42.cxb3 f4 43.'tt> c2 'tt> c6 44.'tt> d3 tt'l d6 45.iel 'tt> b 5 46.ic3 tt'lf5 will lead to the same position, because 47.'tt> e 2? ctJe3 48.'tt>f2 ?? loses to 48 ... ctJdl t.

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

40 .. .f4 4 I .i.f2

48 ... Cll e3! 49.i.xe3 fxe3 50.Wxe3 Wb4 5 l .f4 gxf4t 52.Wxf4 Wxb3 53.g4 hxg3 54.Wxg3 b5 55.h4 b4 56.h5 g2 g6 43.'!Wa5 '!Wg7 44.'!Wc5 '\Wf7 45.h4 h5 46.'!Wc6 '!We7 47.i.d3 '\Wf7 4S.'!Wd6 i>g7 49.e4 @gs 50.i.c4 i>g7 51.'!We5t @gs 52.'!Wd6 i>g7 53.i.h5 i>gS 54.i.c6 '!Wa7 55.'!Wb4 '!Wc7 56.'!Wb7 '!WdS 57.e5+-

And White won.

57 ...'!Wa5 5S.i.eS '!Wc5 59.'!Wf7t i>hs 60.i.a4 '!Wd5t 61.i>h2 '!Wc5 62.i.h3 '!Wes 63.i.dl '!Wc5 64.i>g2 1-0 I remember as if it were yesterday the controversy surrounding the double blunder on move 33. I was in Athens, amidst a few chess aficionados, and we were following the game with great interest. One spectator, who sees conspiracies in everyrhing, suggested the 1 2- 1 2 result was imposed on the two players by the Soviet state and that the blunders were just designed to make the game interesting! At that moment I thought: "Wow, what scenarios the human imagination can forge,

339

to justify a mere couple of blunders!" I guess this "expert" didn't have the slightest idea about the intolerable pressure our ruthless sport creates, all the more so when it's the decisive game for the world crown between two eternal rivals who know each other inside out. The simple truth is that both players blundered because of the enormous nervous strain, with Karpov obviously having the lion's share of it due to his acute time pressure. This example provides a strong hint about the right way to treat such crucial encounters: avoid a heavy theoretical fight and sharp skirmishes in the opening, and save your best for the moment your opponent starts to tire. If you are fresher at that point, you are likely to emerge victorious. The following game between Levon Aronian and Peter Leko was played in the last round of the Nalchik super-tournament and decided the winner of the event. Both players were tied for first going into the round, but Peter's unbeaten record was ended because Levon employed a similar strategy to the Kasparov - Karpov tussle witnessed above: he chose a variation with a slight space advantage and few forcing lines, while making sure there were long-term characteristics that would enable him to carry on fighting for many moves. I think this combination of elements is especially effective in last-round games and the fact that even a top player like Leko could not find a proper antidote speaks volumes about its merits.

Levon Aronian Peter Leko -

FIDE

Grand Prix, Nalchik 2009

1.d4 tll f6 2.c4 e6 3.ctJc3 i.h4 4.e3 0-0 5.i.d3 d5 6.tll f3 c5 7.0-0 dxc4 S.hc4 tll bd7 9.'!We2 b6 lOJ�dl cxd4 1 1.exd4 hc3 12.hxc3 i.h7

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

340

8 .i m � �� · -

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An interesting concept. 1 3 .�d3 looks more natural, but after 1 3 ... ctJd5!, as pointed out by Aronian in ChessBase, Black gains a satisfactory position. The point is that 14.�d2?! allows 14 ...lMfc7! threatening both 1 5 ...ctJxc3 and 1 5 ... ltJf4, so White would have to play instead 14.ctJg5!?, initiating complications before being fully developed. This was clearly not Levon's intention in such an important encounter, hence his choice of the text move.

13 ...1Mi'c7 14.c4 �fe8 15 ..ib2

is that Black does not get the chance to play an effective ... b6-b5 or ... e6-e5 thrust with his queen stationed on c7, and from this point of view White is obviously doing fine for the time being.

15 ...1Mi'f4 The most logical move, closing in on White's relatively bare kingside; but at the same time, this is double-edged as the queen may find itself in difficulties in the future. Instead 1 5 ... ttJg4?! proves to be a shot into empty space after 1 6.h3 �xf3 17.1Mi'xf3 1Mi'h2t 1 8.mfl ctJgf6 1 9.g4!± when White's bishop pair will clearly be more influential than the black knights.

16.1Mi'e3?! A slight slip; according to the Armenian GM, superior was: 1 6.2"1d3!? Intending to follow up with 2"1al -el and ctJf3-d2 with a better position. As far as I can see, his evaluation has a solid basis. For example: 1 6 ... 2"1ac8!?

17.ctJe5!? 2"1ed8!

34 1

Chapter 8 - The Challenge of the Last Round

Returning the favour; Black was naturally 17 ...'We4 1 8.'Wxe4 .ixe4 19.l"i:d2t is a better ending for White who can continue with f2- reluctant to strengthen the white pawn centre f3 and l"i:al-dl , putting strong pressure on by 16 ... 'Wxe3! l 7.fxe3 but the computers immediately indicate this was the right course. Black. 17 ... li:'le4 18.l"i:acl (1 8.a4?! a5! 19 ..ia3 l"i:ac8+) 1 8.f3!? 'Wg5! l 8 ... l"i:ac8= There is obviously a lot of fight 1 8 ... li:'lxe5?! 19.dxe5 l"i:xd3 20.'Wxd3± 19.l"i:e3 li:'lh5 20.li:Jd3 .ia6! 2 1 .l"i:cl li:Jf4 left in the position, but due to his excellently placed pieces Black has nothing to fear. 22.li:'lxf4 'Wxf4 23.'Wf2 17.lll e l!?

A provocative move, according to Aconian, which in fact allows both the breaks White was supposed to restrain. So has White's strategy been a failure? Surely Levon knows what he's doing? Well, to be honest, I not an expert on these Nimzo-Indian positions, but Aronian's play helped me understand that White is always a b d f g h slightly better in this type ofstructure, provided 23 ... h6! he does not exchange any of his minor pieces! 23 ... b5?! 24.l"i:e4 'Wb8 25.c5t li:Jf6? 26.d5!! is Even if Black gets the c5- or d5-square for his a variation Black is well advised to sidestep. pieces, he still has a space disadvantage and the 24.l"i:e4 'Wd6 25.l"i:e2 li:'lf6 26.'We3t queen on f5 remains a liability exactly because White has only a tiny edge. White's minor pieces can harass it. am

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16...'WfS?!

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17...b5

b

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d

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f

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l 7 ... e5 l 8.d5 l"i:ac8 was the other possibility, but it would also have defects. After l 9.h3 li:'lc5 20.li:Jd3! li:'lxd3 2 l .l"i:xd3 li:'le4 22.l"i:elt there is certainly a lot of play in the position, but the

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

engines think White is better and in this case they are probably right.

gain some queenside space with ... a7-a5 and ...b5-b4.

18.c5 lDd5 Don't worry folks, it's only one square!

a

b

c

e

d

f

g

h

22 ... �d5?! 23.�c2 �g5 [email protected] �c4?! 24 ... a5! was now imperative.

25.g3 lDg6 26.lDg2!±

s ,i m m .i m •m

19.�d3!? �xd3 20.CDxd3 a5 21 .a3 would have been about equal, in spite of the optimistic assessment of the engines who consider that White is better. However, Aronian's suggestion of 19.�d2! would have been best, preparing f2-f3 followed by i.b3-c2 with some pressure. In the ensuing positions White would dream of invading on d6 with his knight, although Black would certainly not just sit and watch.

19 ... lDf4 20.gd2 lDf6 2Lf3 lD6h5 22.�f2 A typical illustration ofAronian's style. Many people would think the hole on d5 means that Black is at least equal, but in fact the absence of further liquidations coupled with a space advantage makes it better for White, even if only slightly. In the next few moves Black is slowly pushed back, because he moves around aimlessly with his pieces rather than trying to

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Now the shortcomings of Black's excessive manoeuvring are apparent, as White has improved the coordination of his pieces in the meantime and is ready to make progress on the kingside.

26 ...�d5 27.lDe3 ltJf6 2s.h4 �h5 29.lDxd5 CDxd5 30.gel ged8 31.gde2 gab8 32.�cl! h6 [email protected]

Chapter 8 - The Challenge of the Last Round

343

The white pawns are marching up the board unhindered. The remaining moves were:

4o ... �bc8 4I.Wxb5 Wg6 42.h5 Wxh5 43.i.f4 a6 44.Wxa6 ctJh7 45.c7 ctJg5 46.�xe8t Wxe8 47.d5 �a8 48.Wc4 'itih7 49.d6 Wei 50.Wfl Wes 5I.Wd3 Wd7 52.Wc4 Wes 53.i.xg5 hxg5 54.Wgst 1-0

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

A marvellous sight of cooperation, with all ofWhite's forces focusing on the black king. At this point Peter collapsed, giving White some extra tempos to build up a lethal attack, when instead Black should be trying to generate some counterplay on the other flank.

33 ... ctJc3? This was Black's last chance to throw in 33 ... a5. Now White gets the opportunity to play an ideal exchange sac.

34.�e5! ctJxe5 35.�xe5 f5 36.i.b3 36.l"lxe6! l"le8 37.Wel +- was more incisive.

36 ... ctJd5 37.�xe6 'itih8 38.Wel ctJf6 39.We5 �e8 40.c6

Depending on one's mood and level of preparation, a more open fight can instead be sought in a must-win situation, but in such a case the whole thing must be carefully worked out at home, as otherwise the game might peter out to a quick draw. In general, I would not recommend such a strategy.

"Meaningless" final round games I would like to end this book with a piece of advice that I hope will not seem too authoritative: If the tournament has not gone well and you think you have nothing to play for in the last round, then remember that we do not play just for ratings or money. We can play for beauty and to derive pleasure from the game; be a player and a spectator at the same time. I would not remember the following game if I had agreed a draw on move 6:

Vassilios Kotronias - Sergey Grigoriants Budva 2009

l.e4 c5 2.ctJf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.ctJxd4 a6 5.ctJc3 d6 6.i.e3 b5 The last round of the European Individual Championship is highly meaningful for those vying to qualify for the World Cup, but a boring affair for the rest of us. At Budva I entered the last round with zero chances of qualifying (as

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

did my opponent) but I promised myself I would at least try to create something worth remembering from this competition.

12.f4!? The engines do not like this move, but as we shall see, it is not so bad.

12 ...\Was Best, according to the silicon entities. Black could also try: 1 2 ... dxe4 My idea was to answer with: 1 3.f5! When the complications are at least not unfavourable to White.

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7

7.g4!? Not the best move, but this is the way I play chess.

7...i.b7 s.i.g2 tlid7 9.g5 tlie7 10.0-0 b4 1 1.tlia4 d5

s



',

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

1 3 ... exf5! l 3 ... e5 l 4.li:Je6! fxe6 l 5.fxe6 li:Jd5! ( 1 5 ... li:JbS 1 6.Wg4±) 1 6.exd7t Wxd7 1 7.ixe4 li:Jxe3 1 8.Wxd7t \t>xd7 1 9.Ei:f7t ie7 20.ixb7± White is marginally better. 14.li:Jxf5 li:Jxf5 1 5.Ei:xf5 ie7 1 6.Wd4 0-0 1 7.ixe4 ixe4 1 8.Wxe4 id6! 1 9.l"i:afl00 The position would have been approximately balanced, with chances for either side to outplay the other.

13.c3 dxe4 14.cxb4 Wi'xb4 15.f5! Once you start, there is no way back!

15 ... tlid5 16.fxe6! A crucial moment; White has gone to extreme lengths in my desire to win the game, but in a Sicilian almost anything is allowed.

Chapter 8 - The Challenge of the Last Round

345

1 8 .Wh5t! g6 1 9 .Wh3 Cll xe3 20.Wxe3 We5 2 1 ."1Wf200 With strong pressure in an unclear position.

17.exd7t �d8 18J'hf7 i.dS

Now White has hanging pieces everywhere, but as if touched by the magic wand of fate, I knew what to do:

19.a3!!

A move designed to ease the pressure on the

d4-knight. It also exploits the fact that the black queen is overworked, as we will see. a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

I intended to continue with: 1 7.a3!! Wd6 ( 1 7 . . . Cll xe3

1 8 .axb4

Cli xd l

20.ih3 is better for White)

1 9.l'l:axd l

id5

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The Grandmaster Battle Manual

23.ii.h3!+19 ... Cll x dl also loses simply due to: 20.axb4 ii.xf7 (20 ... Cll e3 2 1 .ii.xe4!+-) 2 1 .Eixd l ii.d6 22.ii.xe4 :8b8 23.Cll c6t +I hope I will be excused for adding another diagram here:

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20.Wb3!

b

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One of the most enjoyable moves I have ever played, exploiting the overloaded d5-bishop and the existence of several geometrical motifs. Black is dead lost.

20...i.d6 The alternatives would also lose quickly: 20 ...ii.xb3 2 1 .Cll cGt �c7 22.d8=°1Wt �xc6 23.°IWd?# 20 ...ii.xf7 21 .°1Wxf7+20 ... Cll xg2 2 1 .Cll e Gt! ii.xe6 22.°1Wxe6 ii.c5t 23.Cll xc5 '1Wxc5t 24.�xg2+-

21.Wxe3 2 1 .Elcl ! would have been even stronger, but I am not a computer!

21. ..Wxa4 22.llie6t he6 23.Wb6t i.c7 24.Wxe6 Wd4t [email protected] We5 26.Wh3!

27.�afl i.d6 28.g6 Black resigned as he faces an abundance of unanswerable threats.

1-0 ***

We have reached the end. I hope you have enjoyed the journey and feel inspired to fight hard in your next game of chess.

Gaine Index Main games in bold Chapter I - Understanding Mating Attacks Viswanathan Anand - Judit Polgar Akopian - Nisipeanu

Magnus Carlsen - Vladimir Kramnik

8 17 22

Chapter 2 - Nipped in the Bud? Back to the Roots! Rustam Kasimdzhanov - Vassilios Kotronias Chuiko - Zangiev, St Petersburg 200 1

Vassilios Kotronias - Boris Avrukh Kotronias - Naiditsch

Veselin Topalov -Viswanathan Anand Viswanathan Anand -Veselin Topalov

58 59 65 71 75 80

Chapter 3 - Be a Harsh Critic ofYour Own Wins Vassilios Kotronias - Viktor Korchnoi Kargin - Korchnoi

Penteala Harikrishna - Vassilios Kotronias Vassilios Kotronias - Francisco Vallejo Pons Kotronias - Nakamura Kotronias - A. Braun

87 89 99 1 04 1 04 1 06

Chapter 4 - Geometry & Co: A Creative Outlet to Success Alexander Grischuk - Ilia Smirin Suat Atalik - Alin Berescu Veselin Topalov - Michael Adams Vugar Gashimov - David Navara Teimour Radjabov - Magnus Carlsen Loek van Wely - Emil Sutovsky Sergey Tiviakov - Ivan Sokolov Spyridon Skembris -Vassilios Kotronias Vassilios Kotronias - Nikola Sedlak Kotronias - King

Ivan Cheparinov -Vassilios Kotronias Peter Svidler - Loek van Wely Levon Aronian - Sergey Karjakin Vassilios Kotronias - Nicholas Thomas

1 16 1 18 1 20 124 127 129 131 134 137 139 140 145 147 149

The Grandmaster Battle Manual

348

Chapter 5 - Facing Lower-rated Opponents Evgeny Miroshnichenko - Rainer Polzin Van der Sterren - Gelfand V. Mikhalevski - Har Zvi Lukacs - Popovic

Vladimir Epishin - Merijn van Delft Landa - Gasanov Portisch - Larsen lvanchuk - Stefansson Chaplinsky - Kan

Roland Salvador -Vladimir Epishin Viesturs Meijers - Vladimir Epishin Konstantin Landa - Ilja Schneider Sabino Brunello - Konstantin Landa Evgeny Miroshnichenko - Richard Rapport Wang Yue - Aronian Tomashevsky - Sjugirov

Konstantin Landa - Martin Kraemer Evgeny Miroshnichenko - Alexander Zubarev Konstantin Landa - Tania Sachdev Padmini - Sachdev Kulkarni - Sachdev

Ventzislav Inkiov -Vladimir Epishin Keim Rojas -Vladimir Epishin A.R. Saleh Salem - Evgeny Miroshnichenko Grigor Grigorov - Evgeny Miroshnichenko

155 1 57 1 58 1 59 1 64 1 65 1 65 1 66 1 68 175 179 1 82 1 84 1 86 188 1 90 1 94 198 200 200 200 204 206 208 213

Chapter 6 - Beating the Wall-Y Structures Vassilios Kotronias - Levon Aronian Vassilios Kotronias - Dmitri Jakovenko Nijboer - Kritz Svidler - Leko Anand - Karjakin Anand - Krasenkow

Vassilios Kotronias - Dimitrios Mastrovasilis Deviatkin - Vl. Belov

Vassily Ivanchuk - Csaba Balogh Stellwagen - Sargissian

Vassily lvanchuk - Jon Ludvig Hammer Volokitin - P.H. Nielsen Volokitin - Luch

Alexey Shirov - Francisco Vallejo Pons Levon Aronian - Vladimir Kramnik

220 228 229 232 232 233 237 238 243 244 251 252 252 259 263

Game Index Maletin - Amonatov, Topalov - Anand Aronian - Kramnik

Viswanathan Anand - Vladimir Kramnik

349 264 264 267 271

Chapter 7 - Defence makes the Difference! Sergei Grigoriants - Ilya Smirin Veselin Topalov - Alexander Grischuk Zong Yuan Zhao - Magnus Carlsen Peter Svidler - Surya Ganguly Veselin Topalov - Wang Yue Vassilios Kotronias - Mikhail Gurevich loannis Nikolaidis - Vassilios Kotronias Dmitry Jakovenko - Ernesto Inarkiev loannis Papaioannou - Sergey Tiviakov Pavel Eljanov - Vladimir Akopian

281 283 295 300 302 304 310 313 316 322

Chapter 8 - The Challenge of the Last Round Veljko Jeremie - Vassilios Kotronias Mikhail Gurevich - Nigel Short Marshall - Capablanca

Garry Kasparov - Anatoly Karpov Levon Aronian - Peter Leko Vassilios Kotronias - Sergey Grigoriants

326 331 331 338 339 343

GAMES/CHESS

"l'H 1: (j IUU� IH�U\S'l'l:H ;\·rr .1: � i\ UJi\I The Grandmaster Battle Manual

explains how to be a more co m petitive chess p layer. G ra ndmaster Vassilios Kotronias has been a professiona l player for over two decades a n d now he exp l a i ns the secrets of his many successes. Modern chess is com plex a n d demandi ng, a n d Kotronias does not hide this fact; rather he leads the reader into the la byrinth and out the other side. I m prove yo u r chess with a g ra nd m a ster g u ide!

Vassilios Kotronias is a g ra n d m a ster and n ine-time

G reek Cha m pion. He is a key m e m ber of the G reek

tea m as both a p layer and coach. On the internatio n a l tou rna ment circuit he is a fea red com petitor who i s particu la rly noted for his profound open ing preparation.

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ISBN - 978-1 -906552-52-7

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9 781 906 552527

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