25 April 2014

Commentary: Candidates 2014 - Round 10

In round 6 of the 2014 Candidates Tournament, Peter Svidler surprised everyone by playing the Dutch.  Although he achieved an advantage out of the opening, a Leningrad Dutch with 7...Qe8, he eventually lost the game.  It's not clear whether surprise was a factor in round 10, when Svidler essayed the Dutch again against Kramnik, but the latter must have expected some level of preparation in the opening and had a very unusual early (move 4!) novelty in mind.

Despite the strange-looking and original early play, by move 14 Black transitions into a Stonewall structure, which serves to equalize.  Some interesting jousting with the minor pieces ensues, which is useful to examine to understand the logic behind piece exchanges.  The action really gets going after the 25. c4 break, which White justifies tactically, and Black's small error on move 26 which hands the initiative and some pressure to White.

Kramnik follows up well, but this game becomes another lesson in the importance of CCT, as evidently he focuses too much on the action in the center and as a result misses a forced deflection tactic on the kingside.  This leaves Black an exchange up with no compensation to White, so Kramnik decides to try for a swindle rather than suffer through a long, losing endgame.  Svidler then brings home the point in true Dutch Defense style, with the closing move ...f4.

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