19 January 2013

Karjakin -- Aronian, Tata Steel 2013

Theory in the Anti-Marshall

Karjakin,Sergey (2780) - Aronian,Levon (2802) [C88]
Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee, 19.01.2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.a4 b4 9.d3 d6 10.Nbd2 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.c3 Rb8

White to move

Sergey Karjakin had this position last year and played 13.d4.

13.d4 Qc7 14.dxe5 dxe5 15.Nc4 b3 16.Nxa5 bxa2 17.Nc4 Be6 18.Qe2 Nd7 19.Rxa2 Nb6 20.Nfd2 Rfd8 21.Ra1 Nxc4 22.Nxc4 Bxc4 23.Qxc4 Qd6 24.Ra2 a5 25.Be3 h6 26.h3 Qb6 27.Kh2 Qd6 28.Rb1 Qd3 29.Qxd3 Rxd3 30.Kg1 c4 31.Re1 Bg5 32.Bc5 Rd2 33.Ba3 Bd8 34.Raa1 Bb6 35.Rf1 Rbd8 36.g4 Re2 37.Kg2 Rxe4 38.Rae1 Rxe1 39.Rxe1 f6 40.Re4 Rc8 41.f4 exf4 42.Rxf4 Kf7 1-0 Karjakin,S (2775)-Grischuk,A (2764) Moscow 2012


13.Nc4 was first played in 1968, but was not repeated until 1988. After two games in the 1990s, it became slightly more common, although the totla number of games in the ChessBase Online database remains under three dozen. 13.d4 is slightly more common.

Reference game:

13...Bg4 14.Ne3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 b3 16.Bb1 h6 17.Qd1 Rb7 18.f4 exf4 19.Ng4 d5 20.exd5 Nxd5 21.d4 Nxc3 22.bxc3 b2 23.Bxb2 Rxb2 24.Ra2 Rb6 25.Rae2 Bh4 26.Rf1 cxd4 27.cxd4 Rd6 28.Rxf4 Bg5 29.Rf3 Rxd4 30.Rd3 Rxd3 31.Bxd3 Qb6+ 32.Nf2 Rd8 33.Qb1 Be3 34.Qxb6 Bxb6 35.Bc2 Nc4 0–1 Arseniev,V-Shianovsky,V Riga 1968

13...Nc6 14.h3 h6 15.d4 cxd4 16.cxd4 exd4N

Predecessor: 16...Nxd4 17.Nxd4 exd4 18.Bf4 Be6 19.Rc1 Nd7 20.Bb1 Bg5 21.Bxg5 Qxg5 22.Bd3 Ne5 23.Bf1 Bxc4 24.Bxc4 Rfc8 25.Bxa6 Rxc1 26.Qxc1 Nf3+ 27.Kf1 Nxe1 28.Qxg5 hxg5 29.Kxe1 b3 30.Kd2 Rb4 31.Bb5 Kf8 32.Kd3 Ke7 33.Bc6 Kd8 34.a5 Kc7 35.Bd5 f6 36.Bc4 Ra4 37.Bxb3 Rxa5 38.Kxd4 Ra1 39.Bd5 Kb6 40.Be6 Rd1+ 41.Ke3 Kc5 42.g3 Re1+ 43.Kd3 Rb1 44.b3 Rb2 45.Ke3 Rc2 46.Kf3 0-1 Morozevich,A (2721)-Leko,P (2740) Monte Carlo 2006

White to move

17.Bf4 b3 18.Bxb3 Be6 19.Ba2 d3 20.Qxd3 Nb4 21.Qe2 Nxa2 22.Rxa2 Rc8 23.b3 Nxe4

White to move

I am following the game as it develops thanks to the excellent Tata Steel Chess website. As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the annual tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the website has new features. Of particular interest is the extensive history of prior events now online.


It is hard to say who is better in this position. Black has equalized and there are imbalances. Aronian has a pair of bishops, while Karjakin has a queenside pawn majority. Black has a passed pawn, but it is isolated and a potential weakness. We learned yesterday that Aronian is able to extract a win from a seemingly equal endgame.

Update 6:40 am PST; 15:40 in the Netherlands

Karjakin is spending a long time studying the position. The knight only appears en prise. It is defended by a fork that threatens White's queenside pawn majority.

Meanwhile, with two machines running, I am trying to keep up on Anand -- van Wely as well. Loek van Wely played the Scandinavian Opening (aka Center Counter). It is an unusual opening at this level, although I seem to encounter it nearly every day in online blitz.

Update 6:55 am PST

While I was making my coffee and some breakfast, the players traded knights. Karjakin now has an extra pawn, but it is isolated and weak.

25.Qxe4 d5 26.Qe2 dxc4 27.bxc4 Qa5

White to move

28.Be5 Bxe5

It appears that Black's bishop pair is coming off the board.

29.Qxe5 Qxa4 30.Nd4

It is 7:03 am PST

The website's game clocks show 20 minutes for White and 55 for Black. They must get to move 40 to add 50 minutes. There is an additional 30 seconds per move.


I did not see that coming! I think that Aronian is playing for the win.

White to move

Update 7:20 am PST

Loek van Wely conceded the game to Viswanathan Anand. If Peter Leko draws Magnus Carlsen, Anand will join him in the lead. A Leko victory puts Anand on top. Meanwhile, Aronian is playing the Black pieces well against Karjakin, who began this round tied for second and half a point ahead of Aronian. Aronian could get his third consecutive win after his brilliant loss to Anand's prepared novelty on Tuesday.

31.Qf4 Bd7 32.Re7

Can Aronian play 32...Bb5?

Leko -- Carlsen is in the endgame with light-squared bishops and six pawns each. Houdini 2.0 has Leko at nearly half a pawn ahead, but computers often fail to understand pawn structures. This game could go either way.

Aronian opted for

32...Rce8 33.Rxe8 Rxe8

White to move

Aronian's position would be more pleasant to play.


Update 7:50 am PST; 16:50 in the Netherlands

34...Re1+ 35.Kh2 Rd1

White to move

I like the geometry of the d-file and the triangle with Aronian's queen.

It seems doubtful that Karjakin appreciates the aesthetics of the position.

Update 7:58 am PST

36.Rc3 Qa1

Karjakin seems unable to find the best defense. His position is quite difficult. Sometimes in the Spanish Opening, the torturer becomes the tortured. It may be called the Spanish Torture because of White's long-term advantage, but Black has abundant resources in the middle game and endgame.

37.Qb8+ Kh7 38.Ne2 Bg4

I suspect that Karjakin will make the time control, assess his position, and give up.


Perhaps Aronian's position, although winning, is not so easy to play. The engines, in any case, regard 38...Bg4 an inaccuracy.

Black to move

Update 8:12 am PST; 17:12 in Wijk aan Zee

39...Rh1+ 40.Kg3 h5

Time is now less of a factor in the game.

41.f3?? would be embarrassing, but 41.Rc1 may be worth considering.

Hou Yifan has a nice position against Fabiano Caruana. Both players have quite a few moves to hammer out in a couple of minutes.

Update 8:32 am PST


Sergey spent about twenty minutes on this move. Evidently, the position is not yet clearly won for Black.

Hou -- Caruana met the time control. Each player has two rooks and four pawns.


Update 8:55 am PST

Hou -- Caruana drew. Leko -- Carlsen play on.

42.Nd4 Qd8 43.Nf3 f6

White to move

I am getting the feeling that Aronian has let a win slip away. This feeling depresses me. Aronian has been displacing Kramnik as my favorite top player.

44.Qe4+ Kh6

My chess engine preferred 44...Kh8.

White gets some checkmate threats, but Black has a resource to stop the threat and remove the queens. White gets his rook behind his passed pawn, but the bishop guards the promotion square.


Leko -- Carlsen has completed 82 moves. Carlsen appears to be two hours ahead on the clock.


With engine assistance, I had been looking at 45...Qb8+ 46.f4 Qb1 (guarding against the checkmate threat) 47.Rd3 Qe1+ and the queens come off.

46.f4 Rxh4 47.Kxh4 Qc5

White to move

Leko -- Carlsen drawn in 83 moves. One game left in each section.

48.Kg3 Bf5

Update 9:30 am PST

49.Qe8 Qxc4 50.Qh8+ Bh7 51.Qb8

Evaluation graph from website
Aronian missed a win today. Tuesday's brilliant win by Anand was assisted by Aronian's tactical errors. His play has been mixed lately.

51...a5 52.Kh2

I took some time to play a bingo in Scrabble, and then back to the website where the players finished.

52...Bf5 53.Qh8+ Bh7 54.Qb8 Bf5 55.Qh8+ Bh7 1/2-1/2

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