Excerpted here. (HT: Thomas Richter.) It's in German, but Google Translate does a passable enough job. His prediction (prepare to be shocked...): Magnus Carlsen! Despite the conventional answer, it's worth reading nonetheless.
Entries in Anish Giri (8)
So far, so good for the 2012 edition of Biel: the games have been full of excitement and youthful energy. That's not surprising in a tournament where 24-year-old Hikaru Nakamura is in the graybeard half of the table.
Speaking of Nakamura, he drew again today. He was pressing throughout against Anish Giri in a Catalan-turned-Bogo-Indian, but the youngster (youngerster?!) held and maintained a share of the lead.
The battle between Etienne Bacrot and Alexander Morozevich was a bit mysterious at one moment, at least to me as an online spectator. Bacrot was White in a Marshall Gambit Slav, and in a well-known theoretical position after 9...Qxg2 he thought for about 45 minutes - at least if the relay on ICC was correct. (There weren't any delays with the transmission of the other games, so that shouldn't be the explanation.) His response after that deep think (or brief nap) was the conventional one. Ironically, Morozevich's reply to 10.Qd2 was the very unusual 10...e5; 10...Nf6 is standard. (In Ruslan Scherbakov's book The Triangle System, he spends 12 and a half pages on 10...Nf6, and says only this about Morozevich's move: "10...e5!? followed by ...Bf5 might be playable though.")
Bacrot's natural reply 11.Bxe5 was already a new move, and the position grew incredible sharp. Seriously analysis of this game would take some time, but what is clear is that 21...Ba6 was a fatal error; Black needed to bravely play 21...bxc6 and hope that White had nothing better than 22.Qxa7 Rxd6 23.Qa8+ Kc7 24.Qa7+ Kc8 25.Qa8+ etc. He doesn't seem to. After 21...Ba6? Bacrot landed some nice blows: 22.Ng5! Nxg5(?) 23.Bd7+! Kxd7 24.Qe7+ Kc6 25.Qc7+ and Black preferred resignation over allowing 25...Kb5 26.Qc5+ Ka4 27.Qb4#.
Magnus Carlsen vs. Wang Hao was a 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian with a quick e4. They were in new territory pretty quickly - 8.d5 was a new move in what was already a rare position - and it was soon clear that the battle would be between Black's structural advantages and White's initiative and attacking chances. After 16...h6 the spectators were looking with bloodlust at ideas like 17.Bxh6, but that appears to be inconclusive: 17...gxh6 18.Rhg1+ (18.Qd2 will transpose) Kh8 19.Qd2 Nh7 20.Qxh6 Rf7 leaves White with sufficient compensation after 21.Qxd6 or 21.Re6, but not more than that.
So Carlsen kept squeezing, but maybe he could have played Bxh6 on move 21. Again, he preferred to keep up the pressure, and on move 22 he induced an error. Wang Hao should have played 22...Nh5, aiming to further activate one or both of his knights and maybe swapping off a White attacker or two. Instead, his 22...Nxd5? gave Carlsen what looks like a good opportunity, even if he chose not to play it: 23.Bxc5 bxc5 (23...Rxf5? 24.Bd6 or 24.Bd4 is crushing) 24.Be6 Nf4 25.Bxf7 Nd3+ 26.Kb1 Rb8+ 27.Ka1 Qxf7 28.Rxg7 Qxg7 29.Rxg7 Kxg7 30.Qa4 is not an ending Black should draw.
But Carlsen chose 23.Bd4, which while probably not as good certainly maintained a pleasant advantage. (23.Bxh6 was also possible.) A few moves later he gave up his rooks for Black's queen and g-pawn, and with his very strong bishops Black's position was hard to play; indeed, he was soon in something pretty close to zugzwang. His last chance to keep the ship sailing, at least for a little while, was with 31...Rh7. After 31...Rfe7? the loss was guaranteed and speedy, and Black resigned after a forcing sequence culminating with 35.f4 because after 35...Rf5 36.Bxf6 Rxf6 Black's king and rook are parted by 37.f5+ Ke5 38.f4+.
So Carlsen joins Giri in the lead, and pushes his unofficial rating to the verge of 2840. Here are tomorrow's pairings, with player scores given in parentheses. Note that the totals are based on 3-1-0 scoring:
- Wang Hao (3) - Nakamura (2)
- Morozevich (0) - Carlsen (4)
- Giri (4) - Bacrot (3)
The first showdown between the top two players in this year's big event in Biel was drawn, and if someone zipped through the game they might suspect that the Magnus Carlsen-Hikaru Nakamura contest was a non-event. Not so, though I confess to thinking that after 24.Rcc1 White's advantage was merely symbolic. Houdini 2 agrees (though I didn't look at any of the games with an engine while they were ongoing), but about three half-moves later "Faust" (Ian Nepomniachtchi) kibitzed on ICC that White had a very serious advantage.
It's true that White's advantage had increased in the meantime, but even so, his point that Black's bishop was especially awful was an important one. It may seem that White's bishop's prospects weren't much better, but that's only in the short-term. There are ways for that to change, and for White to lever open Black's kingside, and in the meantime Black must sit and wait. Nakamura did this, and did it well, and held. One important line to note is that 35.Qh6+ Kg8 36.h5 Qxb2+ 37.Kh3 would be absolutely crushing for White, were it not for 37...Qa1!
Wang Hao followed Vladimir Kramnik's recipe in the Bayonet Attack against the King's Indian with 10.g3 (Kramnik used this successfully against both Anish Giri and Alexander Grischuk, though in the former game Kramnik goofed and forgot his own preparation), and for that matter he followed his own game earlier in the year against Ding Liren. In the latter game, Black played 12...Rb8 and won a wild game, but Etienne Bacrot followed Kramnik's opponents and played 12...c6. Interestingly, Wang Hao followed Kramnik's "oops" game and played 13.Ba3 (rather than 13.Bg2, as in Kramnik-Grischuk). Bacrot's 15...h6 deviated from Giri's 15...Ne8, and then with 17...f4 he made the first new move of the game, varying from a game Grinev (2404) - Chircu (2190) from this past April.
All was well for him at that point, but 20...Qxc4 looks like the wrong pawn. Instead, 20...Qxe6 21.Bxf3 Qxc4 gives Black an extra pawn and White the bishop pair. The chances would be roughly equal, though I'd expect White's position would be a little easier to handle. In the game, White won his pawn back quickly, while keeping an "extra" bishop and the monster pawn on e6. Black was doomed.
Finally, there was the odd game between Alexander Morozevich and Giri. Through 32.Rxa5 the position had been more or less even throughout, but now the adventures began. If Giri had interpolated 32...Rb1+ and only after 33.Kh2 played Qd6, he would have been fine. Instead, 32...Qd6?? was a simple blunder: 33.Qh6+ won a pawn (33...Kxh6 34.Nxf7+ and 35.Nxd6; 33...Kg8 34.Qh8+ insists; 33...Kf6? 34.Qf4+ is even worse for Black). But Morozevich missed it (but let's not be too hard on him - Alekhine and Euwe both missed this same trick in one of their world championship matches!), and the game went on.
A little later, 35.Qxe5+ would have been the safest way to continue: 35...Qxe5 36.fxe5 c4 37.Rc5 Re1 38.Rxc4 Rxe5 is drawn. Instead, 35.fxe5 kept some life in the position, but that favored Black. Yes, White would win the c-pawn, but his king was rather exposed, and chronically so. White was living on the precipice, and after 44.Kg4?! (better to take the pawn - one fewer attacking unit!) 44...Kh6 45.Ra4? (45.Ra8 was the last hope) 45...Rxe5, Giri was winning. Luckily for Morozevich, Giri's 46...f6? was an error - 46...f5+ kept the winning advantage. Still, the basic problem remained: White's king was terribly overexposed, and anything but perfect play would lead to disaster. That disaster happened after 49.Re4?; 49.Rg4 was absolutely forced, and White gave up after 50...Qg3+. (Not after 51.Kd4 - that's the incompetent arbiter doing his thing on the incompetently designed DGT board, episode 12584. Sigh.)
Nakamura (.5) - Giri (1)
Bacrot (0) - Morozevich (0)
Carlsen (.5) - Wang Hao (1)
The European Championship is a long event (11 rounds) with lots of players (348!), so early round upsets aren't the end of the world for the top seeds. It's a good thing for them, too, as the the first two rounds have seen even 2700s get upset. The biggest upset so far is Anish Giri's loss at the even younger hands of lllya Nyzhnyk, which you can replay here.
It's nice to see him the world champion in action again, as he has been keeping a low profile for a while now in anticipation of his title match with Boris Gelfand scheduled for May 10-31 of this year. This weekend he played two games in the famed Bundesliga; both draws. The first was a crazy battle against Pavel Eljanov in which Anand had good winning chances; the second a short draw with the black pieces against Anish Giri.
About the Eljanov game, you can find short interviews with both Anand and Eljanov on this page, and if anything's clear it's that both players knew that Anand was better until he played 34.Bd1, and other than almost everything was unclear! Here is the bare game score:
Anand,Viswanathan (2817) - Eljanov,Pavel (2683) [D31]
Schachbundesliga 2011-12 Bremen GER (12.1), 17.03.2012
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 e6 6.e4 Bb4 7.e5 Nd5 8.Bd2 b5 9.axb5 Bxc3 10.bxc3 cxb5 11.Ng5 h6 12.Qh5 g6 13.Qh3 f5 14.exf6 e5 15.f7+ Kf8 16.Ne6+ Ke7 17.Nxd8 Bxh3 18.gxh3 Rxd8 19.dxe5 Kxf7 20.Bg2 Nc6 21.0-0 Nxe5 22.f4 Nd3 23.f5 gxf5 24.Rxf5+ Ke6 25.Rh5 a5 26.Rxh6+ Ke5 27.Be1 N5f4 28.Bg3 Kf5 29.Rf1 Kg5 30.Rb6 Rab8 31.Ra6 Rf8 32.h4+ Kg4 33.Bf3+ Kh3 34.Bd1 Rg8 35.Rf3 Rbd8 36.Kf1 Ne5 37.Rxf4 Rxd1+ 38.Ke2 Rgd8 39.Rxa5 R1d2+ 40.Ke3 Ng4+ 41.Ke4 Re8+ 42.Kf5 Ne3+ 43.Kg6 Nd5 44.Rxb5 Nxf4+ 45.Bxf4 Rd3 46.h5 Rxc3 47.h6 Rb3 ½-½
Here in the U.S. we let Fabiano Caruana get away, to Italy's joy, and in Russia their big loss (to the Netherlands) was Anish Giri. Maybe because of the family's work they would have left anyway, but as you can read here the Russian Chess Federation didn't do themselves any favors.
[Lots more blogging to come the next several days!]
The world's #1 and #2 players increased their rating edge over their closest competitors by starting the tournament with wins. Magnus Carlsen used Ulf Andersson's old anti-Hedgehog line to obtain a slight but persistent edge, and when Vugar Gashimov got mistakenly excited about his own tactical possibilities Carlsen won material and converted the winning opposite-colored bishop ending.
Levon Aronian defeated Sergey Karjakin with Black in a non-mainline Closed Ruy. The position became surprisingly complex in a hurry, and Aronian negotiated the complications better than his opponent.
Finally, Anish Giri won with the black pieces against Boris Gelfand in some kind of oddball Slav. Gelfand's pawn sac in the opening looked pretty interesting to me, and in return his bishop pair seemed to offer some chances. As things went, though, Giri was able to absorb the pressure a bit at a time, and finally went on to win a long double rook ending. The champion of Reggio Emilia has continued his winning ways!
The other four games were drawn, so Carlsen, Aronian and Giri lead the A group after the first round. In the B group, Harikrishna, l'Ami, Nyzhnyk and Lahno were the first-round winners, while I'll note that Timman drew with second seed and current European champion Potkin. Finally, top seeds Turov and Sadler led the pack in the C group, with Adhiban, Tikkanen and Goudriaan also winning.
Here are the round 2 pairings for the A group:
- Topalov - van Wely
- Gashimov - Kamsky
- Ivanchuk - Carlsen
- Aronian - Nakamura
- Caruana - Karjakin
- Giri - Radjabov
- Navara - Gelfand
Life is good for Anish Giri, just 17 and a half years old and winning elite tournaments! Reggio Emilia 2011/12 is his first major success, but it's not going to be his last. After a bumpy -2 start, Giri scored four wins and a draw in rounds 5-9 to enter the last round tied for first with Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Morozevich.
With White against Fabiano Caruana in the last round, he played very safely and the game was draw in just 28 moves. That seemed like a potentially dangerous strategy, with Nakamura and Morozevich playing the ice-cold Vassily Ivanchuk and Nikita Vitiugov, respectively, but it worked out perfectly. Ivanchuk ground Nakamura down on the white side of a Berlin, and it was only fitting that as Nakamura had ruined Ivanchuk's tournament at the end of the first cycle, Ivanchuk repaid the favor at the end.
Anything was possible in the Vitiugov-Morozevich battle, and in a long tactical sequence it was Morozevich who had the objectively better position. In mutual time trouble he first missed a likely win, and after further inaccuracies wound up in a lost endgame an exchange down. He had his chance, but couldn't cash it in.
Thus Giri took clear first with 16 points (on the 3-1-0 scoring system used in this event), one more than Caruana, Morozevich and Nakamura. Ivanchuk finished with 12 and at least a nice finish, while Vitiugov concluded his first super-event with 8 points and a last-round win.
Games, with comments, here.