29 November 2015

Commentary: GRENKE 2015, Round 4 (Anand - Carlsen)

I selected this game to look at next, from several saved in my analysis queue in 2015, because of the common Stonewall theme with Annotated Game #147.  In this game, Anand as White uses a standard fianchetto approach against the Stonewall, but emphasizes play in the center early on with 8. Ne5.  Carlsen pursues a non-traditional but effective method of play as Black in the Stonewall Dutch, using the a-pawn advance to create chances for him on the queenside; Viktor Moskalenko has long followed and advocated this approach, as most recently seen in the The Diamond Dutch.  Carlsen then selectively and effectively opens the game while combating White's threats on the kingside.  Anand makes an unforced error to lose the game, so it's not a strategic win by force for Black, but Carlsen's play is certainly worthy of study and emulation by those interested in the Black side of the Stonewall.  Carlsen's long history of including it in his repertoire no doubt has given him an excellent feel for the positions, much better than that of his opponents, which gives him additional practical chances when using it in tournament play.

Original ChessBase article and analysis of the game can be found here.

[Event "3rd GRENKE Chess Classic"] [Site "Baden Baden GER"] [Date "2015.02.06"] [Round "4.3"] [White "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A90"] [WhiteElo "2797"] [BlackElo "2865"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2015.02.02"] 1. d4 f5 {The Dutch Defense is an opening that often uses alternative move-orders, especially to reach a Stonewall formation, as seen in Annotated Game #147 (a Slav Stonewall). Here Carlsen plays very straightforwardly with the text move. This may have had a psychological element as well, since the Leningrad Dutch - something Carlsen had played recently and lost with - is a more common choice and essentially requires Black to start with ...f5.} 2. g3 { Anand goes for the standard professional-level approach of a kingside fianchetto against the Dutch.} Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 c6 {a useful illustration of move-order importance, as White could exchange on d5 with a slight advantage if ...d5 were played immediately.} 5. Nf3 d5 6. O-O Bd6 {the defining position of the main line of the Modern Stonewall.} 7. b3 Qe7 8. Ne5 { Bb2 and a4 (preparing Ba3) are much more popular choices. The text move is the third most often played and scores well (60 percent) - even better than the other two moves - but this may reflect the quality of opposition as well. The drawback of White's choice here is that it does not immediately help his development.} O-O {Carlsen drew the one previous game he had played in this line, with the alternate choice of ...b6 (the modern approach to Stonewall development). While the text move is relatively noncommittal, if Black wants to play ...b6 and continue his development by getting the light-square bishop out, the earlier the better.} (8... b6 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nc4 Nc6 11. Nxd6+ Qxd6 12. a4 Qd7 13. Ba3 Kf7 14. Nc3 Ba6 15. f3 Rhe8 16. Qd2 Kg8 17. Rfc1 Rac8 18. Ra2 h6 19. Rac2 Na5 20. Rb1 Rc7 21. Na2 Rxc2 22. Qxc2 Nc6 23. Qd2 e5 24. dxe5 Rxe5 25. Re1 Qe6 26. f4 Rxe2 27. Rxe2 Bxe2 28. Nc3 Bh5 29. Bxd5 Nxd5 30. Qxd5 Qxd5 31. Nxd5 Bf7 32. Ne7+ Nxe7 33. Bxe7 Bxb3 34. a5 bxa5 35. Kf2 a4 36. Ke3 Kf7 37. Ba3 g5 38. h4 Kg6 39. hxg5 hxg5 40. Kd2 Kh5 41. fxg5 Kxg5 {1/2-1/2 (41) Van Wely,L (2692)-Carlsen,M (2835) Wijk aan Zee 2012}) 9. Nd2 {this may look a bit unnatural, but if White's bishop goes to b2, it will need an unimpeded diagonal to be of any use, so the "natural" square on c3 is not as good. The knight will also be able to transfer to f3 and support e5 that way.} a5 { the text move is not a new idea, but it is still far from the main line ideas. It appears to have been played to good effect recently by other players, however, so perhaps that also attracted Carlsen to it.} 10. Bb2 (10. a4 Na6 11. Ndf3 Nb4 12. Ba3 Ne4 13. c5 Bc7 14. Bxb4 axb4 15. Nd3 Ba5 16. Nfe5 Nc3 17. Qd2 Bd7 18. f3 Be8 19. h4 Bc7 20. Qe3 b6 21. Rfe1 Rd8 22. Rac1 bxc5 23. Nxc5 Bd6 24. Ncd3 Rc8 25. Nc5 Kh8 26. Qf2 Bxe5 27. dxe5 Ra8 28. Qd4 Bf7 29. Nd3 Rfb8 30. e3 Ra5 31. Rxc3 bxc3 32. Qxc3 Ra6 33. Nc5 Ra7 34. f4 Kg8 35. b4 g6 36. a5 h6 37. Bf1 g5 38. hxg5 hxg5 39. Bd3 Rc8 40. Rc1 Be8 41. Qd4 Rca8 42. Rc2 Bh5 43. Rh2 Bf3 44. Kf2 g4 45. Rh5 Qe8 46. Rh4 Rh7 47. Qa1 Rxh4 48. gxh4 Qe7 49. Kg3 Kf7 50. Qa2 Kg6 51. Qc2 Kh5 52. Qh2 Rxa5 53. bxa5 Qxc5 54. a6 Qxe3 55. Qf2 Qxd3 {0-1 (55) Reshetnikov,R (2106)-Tugarin,A (2230) Voronezh 2015}) 10... Nbd7 { it is more common to have reached this position by first playing the text move, then a5. The database shows several games by Moskalenko is this line, for example.} 11. Qc2 a4 $5 {Moskalenko's idea, to disrupt White's queenside. This goes against traditional ideas of the Stonewall, which feature play exclusively in the center and kingside. However, Black can effectively distract White by using this approach and perhaps (as in this game) later on generate some chances himself on the queenside. Black need not fear White simply taking the a-pawn, as the pawn is not defensible and the capture may cause more problems by weakening the queenside structure.} 12. Ndf3 (12. bxa4 Ne4 13. Ndf3 Qd8 14. Nd3 Qa5 15. Nf4 Bxf4 16. gxf4 Qxa4 17. Qxa4 Rxa4 18. cxd5 exd5 19. e3 Nb6 20. Ne5 Be6 21. Nd3 Nd7 22. Rfd1 Rfa8 23. a3 Nd6 24. Ra2 Nc4 25. Rda1 Kf7 26. Bf3 g6 27. Bd1 R4a7 28. Bc1 Ke7 29. Bb3 b5 30. Kf1 Kd6 31. Ke2 h6 32. a4 g5 33. fxg5 hxg5 34. axb5 Rxa2+ 35. Rxa2 Rxa2+ 36. Bxa2 cxb5 37. Nb4 Ndb6 38. Bd2 Nd7 39. Bc3 Nb8 40. Bb3 Nc6 41. Nd3 Ke7 42. f3 Kd7 43. Be1 Ke7 44. Bg3 N6a5 45. Bc2 Nc6 46. Nc5 f4 47. Bf2 fxe3 48. Bxe3 Nxe3 49. Kxe3 Kf6 { 1/2-1/2 (49) Kiriakov,P (2555)-Moskalenko,V (2540) playchess.com INT 2006}) 12... Ne4 {this is a standard, strong Stonewall move. White will have to either awkwardly attack the knight with f2-f3, or exchange it off, in which case Black gets a freer game from the exchange of minor pieces.} 13. e3 { this seems like a waiting move on Anand's part, as it doesn't accomplish much for White.} a3 {the pawn advance now becomes even more annoying for White.} 14. Bc3 Nxe5 (14... g5 $5 {is an interesting option more in line with standard Stonewall plans for kingside attacks.}) 15. Nxe5 Bd7 16. Nxd7 {I'm not sure why Anand chose to exchange pieces here, since it would seem to favor Black slightly. The centralized Ne5 could then be exchanged by Black, it is true, but White would then have a strong central e5 pawn.} (16. f3 $5) 16... Qxd7 17. c5 Bc7 18. b4 {White with his last two moves has gained queenside space, which can't be bad, but it's hard to see any concrete threats as a result of it.} h5 {the engine agrees this is a strong move, but it's certainly not one a Class player would think of. Its usefulness becomes more apparent later. Among other things, it eventually may threaten ...h4 and it also frees up another escape square for the king.} (18... b5 $5 {is something I might be tempted to go with here. For example} 19. cxb6 Bxb6 20. Rfc1 Rfc8 $11 {White will find it difficult to make any progress and Black can think about redeploying the bishop via d8 to e7 or f6, as well as moving the knight to d6 and then onward.} ) 19. Be1 {the piece is doing absolutely no good where it is, so a better place must be found.} e5 $5 {Carlsen immediately takes advantage of the relaxing of pressure on e5 and opens the diagonal for his bishop. Note how effective the a3 pawn becomes as a result of this.} 20. dxe5 {this is not forced, but otherwise Black can get some useful pawn play on the e file (occupying e4 after the knight vacates it) or support a thematic push of the f-pawn.} Bxe5 21. Rd1 Qe6 {moving the queen off the d-file and the pin, while giving it a better diagonal and potential mobility along the 6th rank.} 22. f3 {White finally kicks Black's central knight from its post.} Nf6 23. Bh3 g6 { in this position, it's now evident that having Black's pawn on h5 helps restrain any ideas of a White break on g4.} 24. e4 {the logical next step for White in terms of increasing his activity, especially in terms of pressuring f5. However, the game now becomes more complicated and Black's open lines are just as good as White's.} dxe4 25. fxe4 Bb2 $1 {this is a great idea, using an interference tactic to attack the a2 pawn. White, somewhat surprisingly, has no other way of defending it. The strength of the Black bishop and the a-pawn is evident. White still has counterchances, however.} 26. exf5 Qxa2 27. Bf2 { shutting down the discovered check threat.} (27. fxg6 $4 {fails to a discovered check tactic, with the Qc2 hanging.} Bd4+) 27... g5 {an excellent example of cold-blooded defense. Exchanging on f5 would just give White more lines into Black's king position. The h and g pawns both look weak, but White cannot exploit them.} 28. Rfe1 Qf7 {time to redeploy the queen back to an effective square, among other things defending the 7th rank.} 29. Re6 Ng4 { an aggressive choice.} (29... Rfe8) (29... Rae8) (29... Nd5 {is also an interesting possibility:} 30. Rg6+ Kh7 {and now} 31. f6 {doesn't quite work, due to} Qxg6 32. Bf5 Rxf6 33. Bxg6+ Rxg6 $17 {looks good for Black, for example. It's interesting to compare the tactics in this line with the main game, since in both cases Black's a-pawn ends up being the deciding factor.}) 30. Bxg4 hxg4 31. Rg6+ Kh7 32. Rd7 $4 {a fancy move which does not work.} (32. Re6 $11) 32... Qxd7 33. f6 {this looks devastating - or that it at least could get White a perpetual check - but Black can now return the material with his own deflection tactic.} Qd1+ $1 {The cleanest.} (33... Bxf6 {may have been what Anand expected, which gives White a drawing line:} 34. Rxf6+ Kh8 35. Rh6+ Kg8 36. Rg6+ Kh8) (33... Rxf6 $1 {however also wins:} 34. Rxf6+ Kg8 35. Rg6+ Kf8 {now there is no longer the Rf8 to block the king and White has no more checks due to the Bb2 controlling f6.}) 34. Qxd1 Kxg6 35. Qd3+ Kh6 {with White out of checks and unable to further penetrate Black's position, the passed a-pawn now decides the game.} 36. h4 gxh3 {now White can postpone the inevitable for a while, but it's only a matter of time before he has to give up material to prevent the a-pawn from queening.} 0-1

22 November 2015

Annotated Game #147: Simul vs. GM Shankland

I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to participate in a simultaneous exhibition given by GM Sam Shankland, one of the USA's top players.  In the following game, I venture into Stonewall Dutch territory, which was an excellent decision.  GM Shankland was unable to make any progress against it through the opening and middlegame phases.  I could have spiced up the game by offering a pawn sacrifice on move 9 and breaking the symmetry in the center, but chose instead to maintain the symmetry and keep things level.  GM Shankland made the excellent practical choice of heading for a level endgame, since Class players like myself often make poor choices and a GM can rely on their endgame knowledge without having to calculate too much.  This was the absolutely correct strategy, since under only mild pressure on the board I incorrectly chose to simplify the queenside pawn structure with an exchange, leading inevitably to losing a pawn and the game.  Well worth the experience, nonetheless.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Shankland, Sam"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A84"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 8"] [PlyCount "77"] {A84: Dutch Defence: 2 c4 Miscellaneous} 1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 {I was expecting a more committal follow-up such as e4.} d5 {there seems no reason to delay this inevitable move} 3. d4 {now I could enter a mainline Slav with ...Nf6, but I choose to go for a Stonewall setup.} e6 4. Qc2 f5 5. e3 Nf6 6. Bd3 Bd6 { we now have the Modern Stonewall on the board, via a Slav move-order. I was happy with the opening and my prospects versus White's chosen setup. Among other things White's B+Q battery on the b1-h7 diagonal is blunted by the f5 pawn and Black's strong grip on e4.} 7. O-O O-O {again, I saw no reason to delay an essentially inevitable move. This is also a way to see what White will do before developing the queenside.} 8. b3 {White needs to develop the dark-squared bishop somehow, either to b2 or a3.} Qe7 {the standard response to b3. By controlling a3 it ensures White will have to spend another tempo with a4 if he wants to try and exchange the Bd6. Also, e7 is in general an excellent square for the queen.} 9. cxd5 {this was a surprise, as I had expected White to follow up with developing the bishop immediately, or playing a4 to prepare Ba3.} cxd5 {there are only a couple of games in the database and Black wins them with either recapture. I decided to keep the pawn structure symmetrical and not offer to sacrifice the f-pawn, which however would give Black good compensation on the kingside.} (9... exd5 10. Bb2 (10. Bxf5 Bxf5 11. Qxf5 Ne4 $11) 10... Ne4 11. Ne5 Nd7 12. f3 Nec5 13. f4 Nxd3 14. Qxd3 Nb8 15. Nd2 b6 16. Rf2 Ba6 17. Qc2 Bb7 18. Ndf3 c5 19. Ba3 a5 20. h3 Na6 21. g4 Rac8 22. Qd2 Nc7 23. Rc1 Nb5 24. Bb2 Bb8 25. dxc5 bxc5 26. Qxa5 Nd6 27. Rxc5 Nc4 28. Rxc4 dxc4 29. Nxc4 Rxc4 30. bxc4 Qxe3 31. Qc3 Qxc3 32. Bxc3 fxg4 33. Ng5 { 0-1 (33) Zamfirescu,B (2108)-Posedaru,B (2318) Olanesti 2012}) 10. Ne5 { now out of the database. This was again somewhat surprising to me, as White seems to neglect development on the queenside.} (10. Nc3 Nc6 11. a3 Bd7 12. b4 Rac8 13. Qb3 Be8 14. Na4 Bh5 15. Be2 Ne4 16. Qd1 Rf6 17. g3 Bg4 18. Kg2 Rh6 19. Ng1 Rxh2+ 20. Kxh2 Qh4+ 21. Kg2 Nxg3 22. f4 Nxe2 23. Qe1 Qh5 24. Ra2 Ncxd4 25. exd4 Rxc1 26. Rxe2 Rxe1 27. Rexe1 Qg6 28. Kh2 Qh6+ 29. Kg3 g5 30. Nc5 Bxf4+ 31. Rxf4 gxf4+ 32. Kg2 Qh4 33. Kf1 f3 {0-1 (33) Lazic,M (2220)-Shumiakina,T (2375) Ulcinj 1997}) 10... Nbd7 {my instinct was to immediately challenge the Ne5, but this might not have been the best way to do it.} (10... Bd7 {Black would be perfectly happy if White exchanged his excellent knight for the "bad" light-square bishop.} 11. Bb2 Rc8 12. Qd1 Nc6 $11) (10... Nc6 {is another pawn sacrifice with good compensation and the knight doesn't block d7.} 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Qxc6 Bb7 13. Qc2 Rac8 14. Qd1 Ne4 $11 {Black has a significant lead in piece development and the open c-file in exchange for the pawn.}) 11. f4 { bringing more symmetry to the pawn structure and reinforcing the Ne5, so it can't be exchanged off.} Ne4 {I saw no reason to delay this knight jump, which is standard in the Stonewall and clears f6, potentially for the other knight. Also, Black can now exchange on e5, since the pawn recapture will no longer fork pieces on f6 and d6.} 12. a4 {this is a slight error which I can use to improve my position in the center.} (12. Nd2 a6 $11) 12... Nxe5 13. fxe5 Bb4 { of course this would not have been possible without White's move a4 having left the b4 square weak.} 14. Ba3 {no doubt the original intent behind a4.} Bxa3 {The piece exchange effectively gives a tempo back to White. Instead, it would have been better to use it for development.} (14... Bd7 $5 15. Bxb4 Qxb4) 15. Nxa3 a6 {I preferred this as a more permanent way of denying White the b5 square, although developing with ...Bd7 might be preferable.} 16. Bxe4 { White's light-square bishop has relatively little prospect and my Ne4 is well-placed, so the exchange makes sense.} fxe4 (16... dxe4 $6 17. Nc4 $16) 17. Rxf8+ Kxf8 {this felt a little dangerous - one always hates to put their king on an open file - but it keeps the position equal. Withdrawing the queen would be the wrong choice, allowing White to penetrate to the 7th rank.} (17... Qxf8 18. Qc7 $14) 18. Qc5 Bd7 {finally developing the bishop. Just as importantly the rook is now freed on the back rank.} 19. Qxe7+ {I thought this was a little premature, so welcomed it. The exchange is a good practical choice by the grandmaster, however, as he knew his endgame technique would be far superior to mine and give him winning chances, even in a balanced position.} Kxe7 20. Rc1 Rc8 {this is fine, although given the problems I later get myself into on the queenside, perhaps simplifying things with a pawn exchange would be best at this point.} (20... b5 $5 21. axb5 axb5 22. Ra1 Rc8 23. b4 $11 { this sequence is essentially forced and leaves White with no threats.}) 21. Rxc8 Bxc8 22. a5 {although the position is still dead even, White's more advanced pawns are a potential threat.} Bd7 23. Kf2 Kf7 24. Ke1 Ke7 25. Kd2 Kd8 26. Kc3 Kc7 27. Kb4 b6 28. Nb1 Bb5 {up to this point I have been successfully nullifying all of White's ideas. While the text move doesn't lose in itself, it does present a rather obvious target for White's knight. I would be better off playing a waiting move, since White cannot force a breakthrough.} (28... g5 ) (28... Be8) 29. Nc3 {with the (limited) pressure now on, I go astray and commit to resolving the queenside pawn tension. This is a typical Class player mistake, prematurely exchanging in order to eliminate tension.} bxa5+ $4 { not seeing the rather obvious way that White will be able to win a pawn in the near future, after transferring his knight to c5.} (29... Be8 $11 {this (or another bishop retreat) is the best way to continue.}) 30. Kxa5 $18 {and just like that, White has a won game.} Bf1 31. g3 g5 (31... Kd7 {does not improve anything} 32. Na4 Ke7 33. Nc5 $18) 32. Na4 Kd8 33. Nc5 Ke7 34. Nxa6 h5 35. Nc5 h4 36. b4 hxg3 37. hxg3 Kf7 38. b5 Bxb5 39. Kxb5 (39. Kxb5 Kg6 40. g4 Kf7 41. Kc6 Ke7 42. Kc7 Ke8 43. Kd6 Kf8 44. Nxe6+ Ke8 45. Nc7+ Kf7 46. e6+ Kf6 47. e7 Kg7 48. e8=Q Kh6 49. Ne6 Kh7 50. Qd7+ Kh6 51. Qg7#) 1-0