22 January 2013

Tata Steel Chess 2013, Round 9

Two King's Pawn Openings: Ponziani and Berlin

When my alarm went off at 5:30 am Pacific Standard Time, the players in Wijk aan Zee had been sitting at their boards for an hour. Rising from bed, I started the coffee and turned on some electronics. I must find a game to follow for the next two hours before I leave for work.

Karjakin -- Harikrishna immediately caught my eye because Sergey Karjakin is on the White side of one of his specialty openings: the Berlin Wall.

Wang -- Caruana is following an uncommon line in the Slav. Peter Leko is battling Viswanathan Anand's Najdorf. Hou Yifan's aggressive Ponziani against Magnus Carlsen also looks interesting. Sokolov -- Van Wely is a Rubinstein variation of the Nimzo-Indian. Levon Aronian is on the Black side of a Symmetrical English against Erwin L'Ami. Nakamura -- Giri are playing an offbeat Sicilian.

There are fourteen more games in the B and C Groups of the 75th Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee.

Today, my efforts will be directed towards keeping track of two games as they develop. My resources include the tournament website, the Playchess server, and, of course, ChessBase 11. It is likely the games will continue beyond the time when I must leave for work. At work, in a chess classroom, it will be possible to follow these games, but not possible to blog my observations.

Karjakin,Sergey (2780) - Harikrishna,Pentala (2698) [C67]
75th Tata Steel Chess Group A Wijk aan Zee (9), 22.01.2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8

White to move

The most common move here is 9.Nc3. Nonetheless, Karjakin has previously played 9.h3, the fourth most common move (131 in ChessBase Online database).


Reference games:

Karjakin,Sergey (2747) - Pashikian,Arman (2639) [C67]
Khanty Mansiysk ol (Men) 39th Khanty Mansiysk (9.4), 30.09.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Ne2 Be7 12.Bg5 Be6 13.Nf4 Bd5 14.Nxd5 cxd5 15.Rad1 c6 16.Rd3 h4 17.Re1 Rh5 18.Bf4 g6 19.a4 Rd8 20.Red1 Ng7 21.Be3 Ne6 22.a5 a6 23.c3 ½–½

Karjakin,Sergey (2775) - Aronian,Levon (2815) [C67]
Beijing Sportaccord blitz Beijing (13), 17.12.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Ke8 10.Nc3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Nh4 13.Nd4 Nf5 14.Nce2 g5 15.Bh2 Rh6 16.Rfe1 a6 17.Nxf5 Bxf5 18.Nd4 Be6 19.Nxe6 Rxe6 20.g4 hxg4 21.hxg4 c5 22.c3 c4 23.Kg2 b5 24.Kf3 Rb8 25.Bg3 Rh6 26.Ke4 b4 27.Rd4 bxc3 28.bxc3 Rb2 29.Rxc4 c5 30.Ra4 Kd7 31.Rd1+ Kc8 32.Ke3 Rc2 33.Kd3 Rb2 34.Rd2 Rxd2+ 35.Kxd2 Rb6 36.Kc2 Kd7 37.Re4 Ke6 38.Re1 Rb5 39.a4 Ra5 40.Re4 Kd5 41.f3 c4 42.Rd4+ Kc5 43.Bf2 Kc6 44.Rxc4+ Kd5 45.Re4 Ke6 46.Kb3 Rxe5 47.Bd4 Rxe4 48.fxe4 Kd6 49.c4 Kc6 50.e5 Bd8 51.Kc3 Kd7 52.Kb4 Kc6 53.Kc3 Kd7 54.Kd3 Ke6 55.Ke4 Bc7 56.c5 Bb8 57.c6 Bc7 58.Bc3 Bb6 59.Bd2 Bd8 60.Be3 Bc7 61.Bxg5 Bxe5 62.Bf4 Bc3 63.c7 Kd7 64.Kf5 Bd4 65.Be5 1–0


Harikrishna is not new to this opening. 9...Bd7 is part of his repertoire.

Reference games:

Sutovsky,Emil (2687) - Harikrishna,Penteala (2685) [C67]
Istanbul ol (Men) 40th Istanbul (6.2), 03.09.2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Bd7 10.Rd1 Kc8 11.a4 a5 12.g4 Ne7 13.Ra3 Nd5 14.Rad3 Be7 15.c4 Nb6 16.b3 h5 17.Bg5 f6 18.e6 Bxe6 19.Re1 fxg5 20.Rxe6 Bf6 21.Nbd2 hxg4 22.hxg4 Nd7 23.Ne4 b6 24.Kg2 Rb8 25.Nd4 Kb7 26.Nxc6 Rbe8 27.Rxe8 Rxe8 28.Nxf6 Nxf6 29.Nd8+ Kc8 30.Nf7 Nxg4 31.Nxg5 Re5 32.Nh3 ½–½

Sutovsky,Emil (2700) - Harikrishna,Penteala (2669) [C67]
WchT 8th Ningbo (4), 20.07.2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.h3 Bd7 10.Rd1 Kc8 11.g4 Ne7 12.Ng5 Be8 13.f4 b6 14.Nc3 c5 15.Kf2 h6 16.Nf3 g6 17.Be3 Bc6 18.a4 Kb7 19.a5 Re8 20.Nd2 Nd5 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.Nf3 Be6 23.Rd3 Be7 24.Rad1 h5 25.Kg3 hxg4 26.hxg4 Rh7 27.R3d2 Kc6 28.axb6 cxb6 29.Rh2 Rxh2 30.Nxh2 a5 31.Rf1 Rg8 32.Ra1 Ra8 33.Rf1 Bc4 34.Re1 Rh8 35.Nf3 Be6 36.Rd1 a4 37.Ng5 Bxg5 38.fxg5 Ra8 39.Rd6+ Kb5 40.Bc1 Rh8 41.Rd1 Kc4 42.Be3 Ra8 43.Rd3 Re8 44.Rd6 Kb5 45.Rd1 Ra8 46.Bc1 a3 47.bxa3 Ra4 48.c3 Kc4 49.Rd6 Kxc3 50.Rxb6 Kc2 51.Be3 Rxa3 52.Kf2 c4 53.Rb4 Rb3 54.Ra4 c3 55.Ke2 Rb2 56.Rf4 Kb3+ 57.Kd3 Rb1 58.Rf3 c2 59.Kd4 Rd1+ 0–1

10.Nc3 b6 11.g4 Ne7 12.Ng5 Ke8 13.f4 f6 14.exf6 gxf6 15.Nge4 Kf7 16.f5 h5 17.g5 Nxf5 18.Nxf6 Be6

White to move


Karjakin will be showing us how to battle for the advantage against his pet defense.

Meanwhile, I cannot resist Magnus Carlsen's game. We know before it begins that he will be giving lessons to Hou Yifan today, and we want to gain from that lesson, too. She plays with courage.

Yifan,Hou (2603) - Carlsen,Magnus (2861) [C44]
75th Tata Steel Chess Group A Wijk aan Zee, 22.01.2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 Nd5

White to move

6.cxd4 is by far the most common move.

6...Nb6 7.Bb3 d5 8.cxd4 Bg4 9.Be3 f6N

9...Bb4+ 10.Nc3 f6 11.h3 Bh5 12.g4 Bg6 13.0–0 Qd7 14.Bf4 Bxc3 15.bxc3 0–0–0 16.exf6 gxf6 17.Nh4 Bf7 18.Bg3 h5 19.f3 Nc4 20.Qd3 Ne7 21.Rae1 Rdg8 22.Bc2 Nd6 23.Ba4 Qd8 24.Qe3 Nef5 25.Nxf5 Nxf5 26.Qf4 Nxg3 27.Qxg3 f5 28.Bc2 Bg6 29.Re6 f4 30.Qg2 Bxc2 31.Qxc2 hxg4 32.fxg4 Rxh3 33.Qf5 Rg3+ 34.Kf2 Kb8 35.Rfe1 R3xg4 36.Re8 Rg2+ 37.Kf3 Rxe8 38.Rxe8 Qxe8 39.Kxg2 Barrenechea Bahamonde,G (2261)-Maiorov,N (2574) 0-1 Paleochora 2012

10.0–0 Qd7 11.h3 Bh5 12.e6 Qd6 13.Nc3 0–0–0 14.a4 a5 15.Nb5 Qxe6 16.Bf4 Rd7 17.Re1 Qf7 18.Rc1 Bb4 19.Re3 g5 20.Bh2

Update 7:30 am PST; 16:30 CET

Returning to Karjakin -- Harikrishna

19...Bg7 20.Ne4 Rhf8 21.N4g3 Kg8 22.Nxh5 Bc4 23.Nxg7 Kxg7 24.Rf2 Rae8 25.Nf4 Re1+ 26.Kh2 Bd5 27.Nxd5 cxd5 28.b3 Kg6 29.Bb2 Rxa1 30.Bxa1 Kxg5 31.Be5 c6 32.Rg2+

Black to move


Some folks find the Berlin Wall boring. I disagree. It is part of a search for truth, arguing that White cannot be certain of gaining the advantage with 1.e4. Truth is never boring. While draws are indeed frequent in the Berlin Wall, today's game reveals, at the least, that there is room for new ideas and much play in this much despised opening.

Here we have an endgame of knight vs. bishop with an asymmetrical pawn structure and one rook each. It is not easy to find a plan for either player that leads to an advantage, but nor is the game a dead draw.

Update 7:40 am PST

Returning to Hou -- Carlsen

No one would call this game boring, but is Hou's play sound?

20...Nc4 21.Bxc4 dxc4 22.Qc2 Bxf3 23.Rxf3 Nxd4 24.Nxd4 Rxd4 25.Be5 Rd2

White to move

26.Qf5+ Qd7 27.Qxf6 Re8 28.Bg3 Rd4 29.Rf1

Does Hou Yifan have compensation for the pawn that she sacrificed?

29...g4 30.hxg4 Rxg4 31.Rf4 h5 32.Rxg4 hxg4 33.Rc1 c3 34.bxc3 Bc5 35.Qg5 b6

White to move

Update 11:30 am PST; 20:30 CET

I brought my notebook computer to work this morning. One consequence of this decision is that I will be lugging it around from classroom to classroom in an elementary school this afternoon. I also have my chess bag (files, iPad, pieces for the demo board), a demo board, and a bag containing thirteen chess sets plus extra pieces. The notebook is a hassle to add to this mix, but leaving it in the car when it is eleven below (12 degrees Fahrenheit to my fellow Americans) is not an option.

The other consequence, and the reason I brought it, is that I am able to use my lunch break to update this post.

By the time I got to work, turned on the classroom computer, logged in and opened the Tata Steel Chess website, Karjakin and Harikrishna agreed to a draw.

33.Re2 Kg6 34.c3 Re8 35.Kg1 Re7 36.Kf2 Rf7 37.Ke1 Rh7 38.Bb8

Black to move

38...Kf6 39.Kd2 Rxh3 40.Bxa7 ½–½

A split point might be a frequent result in the Berlin Wall variation of the Spanish, but this game should reveal that both players face opportunities to go wrong.

Returning to Hou -- Carlsen

Hou Yifan's fighting spirit deserves our admiration. Slugging it out with the highest rated (best?) player in history, she does not flinch, but exchanges blow for blow. As I told my chess class this morning, this young woman could take on the top fifty players in my city all at once and win every game without any sweat.

36...Re4 37.Qg6 Re2 38.Kf1 Qd2 39.Qxg4+ Kb8 40.Qxe2 Qxc1+ 41.Qe1 Qxc4+ 42.Qe2 Qxa4 43.Be5 Bd4 44.Bxd4 Qxd4 45.g4 Qd5 46.Qe8+ Kb7 47.Qa4 b5 48.Qxa5 Qd1+ 49.Qe1

Black to move


Of course Magnus must snatch the pawn, as other moves draw.

50.Qe5 Qc4+ 51.Kg2
51.Ke1 looked better to my eyes, but remember that I would lose to Hou in a simul if I were offered such a magnificent opportunity. Of course, I would try not to lose, and maybe seek winning chances. But, it is important to be realistic: to a 2603 player, A Class players are hors d'oeuvres.

51...Qc6+ 52.Kf1 b4 53.f4 b3 54.f5 Ka6 55.Qa1+ Kb6 56.Qh8 Qc1+ 57.Kg2 Qc2+ 58.Kh1 b2

White to move

Computers know that this position is a clear win for Black, and likely Magnus Carlsen does as well. Even so, one cannot fault Hou Yifan for playing on. The Black king must find refuge from the checks. If that refuge is on b1, the White f-pawn gets another step towards promotion.

59.Qb8+ Ka5 60.Qa7+ Kb4 61.Qb7+ Ka3 62.Qf3+ Qb3 63.Qa8+ Qa4 64.Qf3+ Ka2 65.Qd5+ Ka1 66.Qe5 c5 0–1

Magnus Carlsen now has a full point lead ahead of Viswanathan Anand, and 1.5 ahead of Aronian and Nakamura, who have yet to play each other. Both also still face Harikrishna, who is 1/2 point behind them.

After these games finished, my second chess class of the morning was pulled into an engame in the C Group.

GM Robin Swinkels defeated IM Mark Van Der Werf, but was the position objectively won? My quick glance without detailed calculation suggested that White could hang on if his king did not get out maneuvered.

White to move

Does Black have a decisive advantage?

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