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Viswanathan Anand vs Alexey Shirov
Corus Group A (2004), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 6, Jan-17
Russian Game: Classical Attack. Marshall Variation (C42)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-24-04  pilot: Great endgame play by Anand.
Feb-14-04  nasmichael: It is nice to see the game move to this stage of play. The fight should be a ground war. Makes the player think, makes the audience think.
Feb-14-04  nasmichael: Although of course,they are not to pander to the crowd. Play to win, not to look pretty.
Feb-14-04  Reisswolf: Isn't this the game in which the endgame is supposedly a theoretical draw? I vaguely remember reading something about this when it was first published on Chessbase or Corus.

Apparently there's a new tool called Tablebases or something, that proves that the endgame is a theoretical draw. However, it would have been no easy task for Shirov to find the draw, which is why Anand went for the endgame in the first place.

Feb-17-04  nasmichael: Do you know the moves that secure the draw? It seems to be a difficult challenge for Shirov to find at the time.

Have you ever seen a tourney that used these hard to find draws as puzzle positions in between rounds? That would be an interesting addition to a tourney.

Especially if the commentaries had not come out to the public. Research beforehand to ensure it had not been studied by the masses, and get good players to do it onsite. "Find the draw and win a prize" or something of that nature.

Feb-17-04  JGD: The position after (40. a4) seems to me to be a draw. Shirov, typically quite a good endgame player, blunders with (40. ...Rb4?)and gives Anand a clearly won position.
Feb-21-04  bumpmobile: I guess I need to study my chernev endings book, but I don't see the win. Could someone help me out?
Feb-21-04  Reisswolf: <bumpmobile>, I doubt your Chernev book will be of much help. The draw is supposedly quite difficult. I quote from

<Those of us who have the spiffy new ChessBase Endgame Turbo DVDs could play the cruel game of seeing if the super-GMs could find the computer-perfect moves.

Shirov slipped from the narrow path here when the gigantic six-man tablebases in Endgame Turbo say that Black has six moves to draw. Shirov's 40...Rb4 was not one of them. (Rook to g5, g7, or g8 or king to e7, f7, or g5 if you're interested. Keeping the white king trapped on the h-file is the common denominator.) Of course finding one drawing move doesn't mean you'll find the next 20 or 30.

After that Anand was relentless. He didn't play perfectly but he never let the win slip away. A pity Shirov had to make such a critical decision on move 40. Still, these endgames are terribly hard to defend under the best circumstances.

How important are tablebases to the endgame play of chess engines? Using Fritz 8 on my laptop – which unlike my desktop doesn't have the space for a few dozen gigabytes of tablebases unless I delete all my Caetano Veloso Vorbis files and run DOS 1.2 – it evaluates the drawing moves and most of the losing moves with the same +2.44 score. That's with most of the five-man tablebases but not the critical six-man R+2 pawns vs R database that weighs in at 4.35 GB. I guess I could always run it off the DVD directly...>

The entire report can be read here:

Like I mentioned earlier, the draw is not easy to find. The commentators said that it came down to a theoretical possibility versus practical chances, and Anand's practical chances won easily.

Jun-25-04  arifattar: Was this a rapid game? Looks like it.
Oct-15-04  aw1988: <arifattar> No, Wijk Aan Zee is not rapid. 90 30 if I remember correctly.
Nov-29-04  Marco65: Few people know that at it is possible to query online a 5-piece tablebase. Looking at that, Anand is really a god. He played 50.Ra8 when 50...Kxf5 loses. After 52...Kg7 this seems like the Vancura position reported as a draw in many books, unfortunately the black rook is on h4. Were it on f4, or even b4, the endgame would be a draw. Btw, 53.Ra7+ is the only winning move, again courtesy of For people wondering how White wins, this is the main line:

56.a7 Kg6 57.Rb7 Kf6 58.Kb3 Ra1 59.Kc4 Ke5 60.Kc5 Ra6 61.Kb5 Ra1 62.Kc6 Rc1+ 63.Kb6 Rb1+ 64.Kc7 Rc1+ 65.Kb8

Oct-20-06  suenteus po 147: Sometimes you have to see a grandmaster against the correct opponent to see that player's brilliance. After seeing this game, I must say this Anand fellow is most impressive. One of the very best, in fact :)
Oct-21-06  Open Defence: I don't know if it is because my chess is improving but nowadays when I play over Anand's games I think they are simply amazing!...
Oct-21-06  notyetagm: <Open Defence: I don't know if it is because my chess is improving but nowadays when I play over Anand's games I think they are simply amazing!...>

No, Anand is really a chess genius.

Just don't bet on him when all the chips are on the table.

Oct-21-06  Open Defence: <notyetagm> I tend to look at a player's best games rather than best results... e.g. Keres for me ranks with the very best as he produced games of exceptional quality... so did Sultan Khan.. however I earlier felt that Anand's games lacked a certain creative element.. but I was wrong.. when I look at his games now I see a very strong creative element.. one which I was probably too weak a player to see earlier..
Oct-21-06  Lt. Col. Majid: I agree. Anand is a genius.
Oct-21-06  notyetagm: <Lt. Col. Majid: I agree. Anand is a genius.>

Wow, we actually agree on something, you good-for-nothing Kramnik-lover. :-)

Oct-21-06  Open Defence: <notyetagm> lol.. Leko rules then!!!
Oct-21-06  Lt. Col. Majid: <notyetagm: <Lt. Col. Majid: I agree. Anand is a genius.> Wow, we actually agree on something, you good-for-nothing Kramnik-lover. :-) >

More on the side of fairness than being a Kramnik lover:)

His unwarranted 24/7 mindless bashing turned many ordinary chess fans into the Kramnik camp out of sympathy and in disgust.

Then Topalov's "unethical" masterstroke behaviour in Elista turned many more fans of his like myself off him completely.

Oct-21-06  notyetagm: <Lt. Col. Majid> Can't argue with that.

I am just a huge fan of Topalov's Fighting Chess. Much like I am a fan of Fischer's and Alekhine's chess without endorsing their crazy anti-Semitic views.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Position after 38.Rxa7+ is a tablebase draw.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  g15713: Position after white's 34 move, the white king took black's knight on h2

click for larger view

According to FinalGen, a chess endgame tablebase generator for Windows, one now knows this is a win for White. Those with Lomonosov Endgame Tablebases for 7 pieces can verify this.

I give a sample line, White wins in 36

1... Ke6 2. Ra5 Rh8+ 3. Kg3 Rg8+ 4. Kf4 Rf8+ 5. Ke3 Rf7 6. f3 Rb7 7. Kf4 Rf7+ 8. Ke4 Rb7 9. Ra6+ Kf7 10. Kf5 Ke8 11. f4 Kf7 12. Kg4 Ke8 13. f5 Kf8 14. Kf4 Kg7 15. Kg5 Kf8 16. Rf6+ Kg7 17. Rc6 Kf8 18. Rc8+ Kg7 19. Ra8 Kf7 20. a4 a5 21. Rxa5 Re7 22. Ra8 Re1 23. Ra7+ Kg8 24. Rd7 Kf8 25. a5 Ke8 26. Rg7 Rg1+ 27. Kf6 Ra1 28. Rg8+ Kd7 29. Kg7 Rg1+ 30. Kf8 Rb1 31. Rg7+ Kc8 32. Rg6 Kd7 33. f6 Kd8 34. Kg8 Rb8 35. Rg7 Kc8 36. f7 Kd7+ 37. f8Q+

1... Ke6 2. Ra5 Kd6 3. f4 Rg8 4. Re5! is the only move to win

Premium Chessgames Member
  g15713: Follow-up on the above analysis after
34…Ke6 35 Ra5 Kd6, White to move

click for larger view

Karsten Muller and Yakov Konoval in their eminent 2016 chess book, Understanding Rook Endgames, verified that White was winning - see page 161 diagram 4.7.22

36 f4 (Muller says 36 f3!? was <”the safer approach to keep the attacking forces closer together.">)

36...Rg8 37 f5?

<”This move is the real error. White can win using the nice and typical idea 37 ♖e5!! ♖g4 38 ♖e4! ♔d5 39 ♔h3!!; for example, 39…♖g8 40 ♖e7 a6 41 ♖e5+ ♔d6 42 ♔h4 ♖g2 43 a4 ♖g1 44 ♖g5 +-.”>

37…Ke7 38 Rxa7+ Kf6 39 Ra5

<"Now the position is drawn, but Anand later won.”>

Premium Chessgames Member
  g15713: Correct diagram for above:

click for larger view

My apologies...

Jun-18-18  Omnipotent00001: Even after 34...a6 white wins in 51 moves with a4.
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