Good afternoon, dear friends! This is Grandmaster Sergey Shipov of www.crestbook.com commentating on the 6th round of the super-tournament in Wijk-aan-Zee 2011. The time has now come for the Indian-Russian-Dutch Grandmaster Anish Giri to be presented to spectators. He's had a bold start and has so far got by without any losses. His solid and accurate play belies his age. Of course, it's early to draw conclusions as the tournament's not yet at the half-way mark, but it's already clear that Anish's prospects in the elite are very rosy. By the way, the elite is limited. Also rushing to enter is Anish's older colleague, Ian Nepomniachtchi. I really hope that they'll get into the line-ups of traditional super-tournaments together, but today each of them has to cope with their own tasks – one against the other. I'm not expected a bloodless draw. The task of the young is to put up a serious fight. They need to earn points and also the image of uncompromising fighters. The second is even more important than the first.
3. Nc3 d5 There it is. A civil war because they're fighting with their own kind. And not only in the sense that the fighters have Russia in common, but because both of them are excellent players of the Grunfeld Defence as Black (I hope no-one has yet forgotten that Giri beat Carlsen in it), so that they both know the ideas here inside out. Both Ian and Anish are at home in the opening.
4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 So, White develops the knight, unafraid of the Bc8-g4 pin.
7…c5 The move order here is extremely important. Black saves on castling and attacks White's centre with maximum rapidity.
8. Be3 Bg4 An interesting choice. This is the idea of Yury Razuvaev, who played it way back in 1979 in a game against the young Garry Kasparov. Anish has started to think… Nowadays it's much more popular to play 8...Qa5.
While 8...Nc6 is considered inaccurate because of
9.Rc1!, and if 9...Qa5 there's 10.d5!, as 10...Bxc3+? 11.Rxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Bd2 gives White two minor pieces for the rook.
9. Rc1 A standard reinforcement of the centre. The source game went:
9.Qa4+ Nc6 10.Ne5 cxd4 (30 years later Svidler played 10...Bxe5 here)11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.cxd4 O-O 13.Rc1 Bd7 14.Rc5 Qb8 15.Bd3 e5, and Black got perfectly good play, G. Kasparov - Y. Razuvaev, Minsk 1979.
9…Bxf3 Ian is making his moves quickly and surely – he'd clearly prepared the line and went through it again this morning. Such an early exchange on f3 has been met very rarely in practice… And here's how the given position is handled by the world's top authority on the Grunfeld Defence today:9...Qa5 10.Qd2 Nc6 11.d5 Bxf3 12.gxf3 Rd8 13.Bd3 O-O 14.O-O (14.dxc6 c4!) 14...Qc7 15.Rfd1 b6 16.Qe2 Ne5 17.Bb5 with complicated play, S. Karjakin - P. Svidler, Nice 2010.
10. gxf3 You have to spoil the structure a little. However, the defect is slight. In return White gets the advantage of the two bishops. The move 10. Qxf3 didn't lead to the loss of the d4-pawn at all. But the thing is that f3 isn't the right square for the queen. There might follow 10...cxd4 11. cxd4 o-o and the threats of taking on d4, and also Qd8-a5+ force... no less than the return of the white queen to d1, which, you'll agree, doesn't make a great impression.
10…cxd4 On 10...Nc6 there's the unpleasant 11. d5 Ne5 12. f4 Nd7 and here there's even 13. e5 i.e. the knight provokes a white pawn avalanche. And what's the point?
11. cxd4 0-0
Black is still choosing his moment to bring out the c6-knight. The check on a5 is also a constant threat. Let's say, if the queens are exchanged on d2, then Black will develop the rook to d8, and the d4-pawn will be in a bad way.
12. f4 A novelty! Clearly thought up at the board. Giri is intending to develop the bishop to g2 or… or attack the black king's fortress with pawns. We'll see. Played before was
12.Qd2 e6 13.Bg2 Nc6 14.d5 exd5 15.exd5 Ne7 16.f4 Nf5 17.O-O Re8 with luxurious play for Black, K. Sundararajan - G. Gopal (the early exchanges on f3 and d4 are his idea!), New Delhi 2010.
12…e6 A useful prophylactic move, fixing the weakness on d4. Now the d4-d5 prod of the c6-knight won't be terrifying, as in that case White's pawn mass will be scattered into tiny pieces – as in the game of the player who thought up the idea.
13. Bg2 Yes, development is safer and more solid than a clearly underprepared attack.
13…Nc6 And what can you do about the poor pawn?
14. e5 Anish defends his weakness and activates the g2-bishop. But the cost is great – the mobility of the pawns is reduced, the d5-point becomes the object of Black's desires. Of course, if White manages to castle and play d4-d5 then he'll have an edge. But who'll let him? The line with 14.d5 might lead to a logical result: 14...exd5 15.exd5 Qa5+ (also not bad is the standard 15...Ne7 with the idea of Ne7-f5) 16.Qd2 Qxd2+ 17.Bxd2 Nd4 18.Rc7 (18.O-O? Ne2+) 18...Rac8!? 19.Rxb7 Rc2 20.Be3 (20.Rxa7? Rb8! -+) 20...Rxa2 with a quick draw.
14…Qa5+ Ian is attacking while the white king hasn't run home. It's all a matter of tempos!
15. Qd2 Qa6 “You shall not pass!” said Gandalf. The Balrog on e1 stopped and sunk into thought.
16. Qe2 After 16.Bf1 it looked good to play 16...Qa3 17.Rc3 Qb4, for example, 18.Bg2 Rfd8 19.Bxc6 bxc6 20.O-O c5! with, at worst, equality.
16…Qa5+ The exchange on e2, of course, was no good – that would help White's development.
17. Qd2 If 17. Kf1 then the banal 17...Rac8 with the idea of 18. Be4 Nxd4! is good.
17…Qa6 Testing out his opponent's mood. A draw as Black in a super-tournament is a normal result. But letting your opponent off without a fight as White is undesirable… Let's glance at the clocks: 1:11 – 1:38. Anish is thinking for a very long time. It's a problem from the series: “The cat would eat fish, but would not wet her feet” [Translator's note: perhaps not the ideal translation of that idiom, but I found that version and couldn't resist!]. It's a little early to agree to a draw, but there's no promising continuation visible… Here I'm looking at the bold break 18. d5. It seems you can play it – but it demands very precise calculation.
18. Bf1 Well done, lad! He's decided to continue the struggle. After 18.d5 exd5 19.Qxd5 White would aim to close the Gandalf diagonal with Qd5-c4. But here there were also drawing dead-ends looming:
19...Rac8 20.Qc4 Qa5+ 21.Bd2 Qd8 22.Be3 Qa5+ 23.Bd2 Qd8 and so on.
18…Qa4 Cunningly played. Ian is provoking an attack by White's rook from c4. You'll laugh, but in that case the black queen is within its rights to stand on b5. Discovered “gardes!” don't terrify it.
19. Rc4 Qb5
Yes! However, it can't be ruled out that what's taking place is just home analysis. My metal friend recommended the Qa6-a4-b5 zigzag. I didn't believe it – but Ian, at home, it seems, checked it out – and was convinced. The queen keeps an eye on the white rook, so the bishop can't return to g2, and White no longer controls the d5-point. Black also has the manoeuvre Rf8-d8, after which the d4-point will be under pressure. The difference in the players' opening preparation can be seen on the clocks: 0:42 – 1:34! Almost an hour.
20. Rc5 Yes, you need to clarify the situation.
20…Qb1+ The intrusive queen, it seems, will jump to e4.
21. Ke2! A precise solution to the problem. The king is ready to let the h1-rook enter the fray. Bf1-g2 will follow. For 21…Qe4 the reply 22. f3 has been prepared, after which the white king switches its base to f2.
In the line 21.Rc1 Qe4 22.Rg1 Rfd8 23.Bg2 Qf5 White would have nothing to be proud of. Capturing the pawn on c6 wouldn't enter into the head of any sensible person. But I'll show it:
24.Bxc6 bxc6 25.Rxc6 Rac8 26.Rc3 Rxc3 27.Qxc3 Qb1+ 28.Qc1 Qxa2, and Black continues the attack with material equality.
21…Qe4 Carrying out the idea he'd prepared – although he had great doubts. Not a bad alternative was 21...Rfd8 22. Bg2 Qf5 - the pawn on c6, as usual, doesn't count.
22. f3 Of course. Clearly worse was 22. Rg1?! Rfd8, and you can't play 23. Bg2 because of Nxd4+!
22…Qf5 The queen has almost been caught. But “almost” doesn't count. It'll still have a real say in things – on the kingside White has all kinds of weaknesses.
By the way, it looked very reasonable to play the paradoxical return 22...Qb1 - the thing is that the appearance of the white pawn on f3 makes it no good to put the bishop on g2. That's why White would play 23. Kf2! with the idea of 23...Rfd8 24. Rb5!
23. h3 The net around the queen is tightening. Now Ian should under no circumstances play 23…h5.
The prey is struggling in the snare.
24. Bf2?! Understandable caution and… the loss of a tempo. On 24.Bh3 there would follow 24...Qxh3, and the dramatic blow 25.Bxe6? is only blundering a rook - 25...Qxh1!
But it was good to play 24. d5! exd5 25. Rxd5 - here, it seems, White would get a certain edge.
24…Rfd8 Now it'll be significantly more difficult for White to break through in the centre, which means the d4-pawn remains weak.
25. Bh3 Anish no longer has time to calculate sharp variations. For example, like this:
25.d5 exd5 26.Rxd5? (stronger is 26.Bh3!) 26...Bh6! 27.Be3 Rxd5 28.Qxd5 and here a sac follows that I wouldn't even see at point-blank range - 28...Bxf4! 29.Bxf4 Rd8 30.Qe4 (30.Qc5 Nd4+!) 30...Rd4 31.Qe3 Qf5 and the terrible threat of check on c2 forces White to give up the f4-bishop - with a bad position.
25…Bf8 The Black pieces are attacking in unison. And the queen, laughable at first sight, is playing a significant role in the attack.
26. Bg4 Qh6 It seems it'll soon replace the bishop on the key g7-square!
White's centre is creaking and shaking, but holding. The d4-d5 break is no longer an option, but there's the idea of blocking two of Black's most precious pieces via h3-h5. A struggle with mutual chances – that's the current evaluation of the position.
27…Rd5 Ian is hoping to put more pressure on the d4-pawn. At the same time he's putting obstacles in the path of his opponent's active ideas. The clocks show: 0:25 – 1:05. It's not over yet.
In his place a cautious veteran would have played 27...Ne7 - to have solid control over the d5 and f5 squares. Us veterans have various worries...
28. h5 As you can easily see, Anish is also far from a grey-haired pessimism – his hair is black and curly. He also prefers attacking and generally strengthening moves. More reliable was 28. Be3! Rad8 29. Qb2, in order to only then, having defended the f4-pawn, play h3-h5.
28…Rad8 The tension in the centre is growing. I think it'll soon collapse – in a flash of lightning.
29. Rh3?! A direct frontal attack on the h-file, to which Black should respond with an attack on another file – 29…Bc5! The pressure of approaching time trouble didn't allow Giri to look into the position in depth and find the subtle tactical nuances:
29.Qc3! Qxf4 30.Be3 Qg3 31.Kf1! (with the threat of Rh1-h3!) 31...Nxd4 32.Rxd4 Qxe5 33.f4! Qf6 34.Rc4 and White maintains the extra piece - the g4-bishop controls the d1-square. If after
29.Qc3 Black plays cautiously -
29...Be7 30.Be3 Qf8, then you get the break
31.hxg6 hxg6 32.f5!! exf5 33.Bxf5 gxf5 34.Rg1+ Kh8 - White, at worst, has perpetual check. It's not easy to find anything more...
29…Bc5 When Nepomniachtchi sees a target you can't stop him!
30. hxg6 Qxg6
The black king's been opened up, but who's going to attack him? White's forced to give up the bastion on d4. He's clearly much worse. In terms of time, too: 0:12 – 1:04
31. f5 From a practical point of view this is a perfectly understandable step. If normal methods are useless, you need to try and confuse things. It didn't make much of an impression to play 31. Qc2 Nxd4+ 32. Bxd4 Bxd4 with a healthy extra pawn for Black.
31…exf5 32. Bh5 Nxd4+! The only, but sufficient, move to preserve the advantage. The black queen is intending to retreat with check, from g2 or a6.
33. Kf1 That's the only way of continuing the struggle. You wouldn't envy Giri now. But he's fighting.
33…Nxf3! The knight has continued its blood-strewn path. The board is becoming blacker and blacker! And White's time is coming to an end: 0:05 – 1:03.
34. Qxd5 When both queens are under attack it's important to extract as high a price for your own as possible.
White's problem is that a knight fork on d2 is also threatened. He's losing material.
35. Bxf3 Desperation. After 35.Bxg6 Nd2+ 36.Kg2 Nxc4 37.Bxh7+ Kg7 38.Bxc5 Rxc5 39.Bxf5 Nxe5 you get a hopeless ending for White, two pawns down.
35…Bxf2 36. Bxd5 Qg1+ It's all simple now.
37. Ke2 Qe1+ 38. Kf3 Or 38. Kd3 Qf1+ with the fall of the h3-rook.
An ambush! The capture of the rook is threatened, as well as mate in two moves – in a number of different ways. White resigned.