11 November 2013

Commentary - World Championship 2013, round 2

Although some have criticized the recently-started World Championship for its drawishness, we are still in the feeling-out period between the two contenders.  I found the second round game to be well worth studying, as it shows off the Classical Caro-Kann, and the unusual sideline selected by Carlsen, to good effect.  Anand's aggressive setup, including 11. f4, is handled well by the challenger, who never lets White get moving on the kingside and instead initiates some key exchanges in the center.  Black's opening is designed to neutralize White's initiative and then counterattack if White becomes too lazy or loose.  The opening selection worked well for Carlsen, who threatened a minority attack on the queenside and pressured Anand into repeating moves on the kingside to secure the draw.

[Event "FWCM 2013"] [Site "Chennai"] [Date "2013.11.10"] [Round "2"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B19"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2870"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Houdini"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "2013.??.??"] [EventCountry "IND"] [TimeControl "40/7200:20/3600:900+30"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 {these days the Advance Variation with e5 is the most played (and also the most theoretical).} dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 { Spassky introduced this move into top-level play and made it the standard. It is an aggressive pawn thrust, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the bishop's location and White's natural orientation to kingside play in this variation.} h6 7. Nf3 e6 {a rare move, although Anand himself has played this, along with the main line ...Nd7 and the alternative ...Nf6. The main line prevents Ne5 by allowing Black to immediately exchange off the knight, so the game continuation is the natural reaction.} 8. Ne5 Bh7 {no other square is safe for the bishop.} 9. Bd3 {exchanging off the bishop is the most popular, also logical from the standpoint of gaining time, as Black's bishop has made more moves than White's equivalent and White will be left with more pieces developed afterwards. Other commentators have also pointed out that Black's attempt to snatch a pawn with ...Qxd4 fails to 10. Nxf7!} Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nd7 { this knight needs to be developed sooner or later and challenging Black's Ne5 sooner is certainly a good idea.} 11. f4 {this is by far the most popular move, although by no means forced. If White is going to play aggressively with 8. Ne5, then this continuation makes sense to keep the space advantage on the kingside. With this move, however, White is essentially committing himself to castle queenside, as the kingside pawn shield is now almost nonexistent. (See move 14 notes, however, for a game featuring Anand castling kingside)} Bb4+ { a typical idea in the Caro-Kann, provoking the c-pawn advance and weakening the future home of the White king.} 12. c3 Be7 13. Bd2 Ngf6 14. O-O-O {this is an interesting choice. In the database Anand had previously played Qe2 and won (as shown below). Every other database game saw the text move played, however. Anand's previous play was somewhat risky and he probably expected that Carlsen had prepared an improvement.} (14. Qe2 c5 15. dxc5 Qc7 16. b4 O-O 17. O-O a5 18. a3 Nxe5 19. fxe5 Nd7 20. Ne4 axb4 21. cxb4 Qxe5 22. Bc3 Qc7 23. Rad1 Rad8 24. Qg4 g6 25. Nd6 e5 26. Qc4 Nb6 27. Qe4 Nd7 28. h5 gxh5 29. Qf5 Bf6 30. Qxh5 Qc6 31. Rxf6 Nxf6 32. Qxe5 {1-0 (32) Anand,V (2783)-Ding Liren (2707) Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS 2013}) 14... O-O 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 Nxe5 {Carlsen plays a new move, according to the database, trading off the well-placed knight and then centralizing his queen.} (16... Nf6 {is another logical continuation and a standard idea in these types of positions.} 17. Qe2 Qd5 18. g4 h5 19. gxh5 Qe4 20. Qf2 Qf5 21. Rdg1 Nxh5 22. Qf3 Rfd8 23. Rg5 Bxg5 24. hxg5 g6 25. Ng4 Qd5 26. Qh3 Kg7 27. b3 b5 28. Re1 Rh8 29. Nh6 Rad8 30. Re5 Qd6 31. Qe3 Rxh6 32. gxh6+ Kh7 33. Rc5 Qc7 34. Qd3 Rd5 35. Qxb5 Nxf4 36. Rxc6 {1/2-1/2 (36) Fercec, N (2477)-Zelcic,R (2531) Zadar 2004}) 17. fxe5 (17. dxe5 Qd5 {forces the queen trade, as otherwise the g2 and a2 pawns are forked.}) 17... Qd5 18. Qxd5 (18. Qg4 {is what bloodthirsty fans wanted to see. Black again cannot snatch a pawn, this time with ...Qxa2, because of 19. Bxh6!} f5 {is Houdini's continuation, which it evaluates as completely equal, although it certainly makes for some interesting play.} (18... Kh7 {is also a good defense and simpler.}) 19. Qg6 Qxa2 20. Bxh6 Rf7 21. g4 f4) 18... cxd5 19. h5 {this frees up the Rh1 from its protective duties.} b5 {putting a minority attack in motion.} 20. Rh3 a5 21. Rf1 Rac8 (21... b4 $5) 22. Rg3 Kh7 (22... b4 {now no longer works.} 23. Bxh6 bxc3 24. Bxg7 cxb2+ 25. Kxb2 Rb8+ 26. Ka1 {and Black no longer has threats against the White king, leaving White with a winning advantage. One possible continuation is} Rfc8 {which avoids major material loss but leaves Black in a hopeless position.} 27. Bf6+ Kf8 28. h6) 23. Rgf3 Kg8 24. Rg3 Kh7 25. Rgf3 Kg8 1/2-1/2

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