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Alexey Shirov vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Tata Steel Group A (2011), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 4, Jan-18
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Classical Variation (D86)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-18-11  abstract: Shirov seems too much losing in this tournament..
Jan-18-11  Maatalkko: 25. h3 sets up Rf4, Kh2, Rh4 threatening to sac the rook. It's not that easy to defend against. Ne5 and d3 were very important to control the center. Christiansen and Seirawan did some great analysis on ICC showing that 25...Qc5+ wins in all variations. MVL found another way it seems. MVL is a very precise middlegame calculator, so I had no doubt he'd handle the gambit. This is the second time MVL has crushed Shirov with the Grunfeld. He makes the opening look so easy I want to play it!
Jan-18-11  Ulhumbrus: If an immediate attack by 18 f5 and 19 f6+ will fail, an alternative to 18 f5 is the developing move 18 Ng3 keeping the option of e5.
Jan-18-11  twinlark: The functionality of 23...Ne5 is lovely to behold. It protects f7 from the attacking Bc4 while attacking it in turn, clears the diagonal for the LSB and prepares the advance of the d-pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <This is the second time MVL has crushed Shirov with the Grunfeld. He makes the opening look so easy I want to play it!>

Shirov vs M Vachier-Lagrave, 2010

The gambit line played in this game looks very dangerous for Black - at some moments it might appear as if he's going to be mated very shortly - but apparently, as computers show, Black is ok <if> he plays very accurately (if not, he might go down in flames with any mistake, as Topalov vs Anand, 2010 illustrated very well...) - I suppose the use of computers has/had an important part in establishing such a line as viable for Black.

At any rate, "brute force" alone doesn't seem to suffice for White. Here's another sample line, with White going directly for doubling on the h-file: 22.Rf3 Ne5 (again) 23.Rh3 Qb4! (threatening mate on e1) 24.Qh4 h5 (possible now, that White doesn't have Qh6+) and Black seems to have the advantage.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Heres something more challenging for Black, suggested by Shipov: 22.Rf5 (preventing the important Ne5) 22Nb4? 23.e5! Qc5 (23Qc6/d5 24.Rf3!) 24.Qh6 Rg8 25.Qxh7+! Kxh7 26.Rh5#. But Black seems to be holding with 22Qa3!
Jan-18-11  RichieRotterdam: Did you all and Shirov miss:

32.Nd6 now with a mate threat on f7

I don`t see a good move for black without giving the momentum back to white. What then should ..32. be?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Did you all and Shirov miss:

32.Nd6 now with a mate threat on f7

I don`t see a good move for black without giving the momentum back to white. What then should ..32. be?>

32...Qxd6! 33.exd6 d1Q.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Btw, in addition to 21...Qd6 and 23...Ne5, 22...Rg8! should be noted as a very important (though perhaps obvious) defensive move - keeping an eye on g7 and preventing an immediate 23.Nf5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Another nice move by Black is 27...Qc5! with the threat of ...Nf3+, winning the white queen; 28.h4 defends against this threat, but then there's no more Rh4 for Black to worry about. Another option for White was 28.Qh6 - with the threat 29.Qxh7+! Kxh7 30.Rh4# - which could be answered by 28...Qe3!
Jan-19-11  Ulhumbrus: In the game Topalov vs Anand, 2010 Anand played, in effect, 15...Qd6 instead of preparing to bring a Rook to the open c file as quickly as possible by 15...Bb7 and on f5 Anand disturbed his King side pawns by ...f6. However the cause of his loss seems to have come later when he played his moves in the wrong order.
Premium Chessgames Member
  JointheArmy: Can anyone check out 20. e5!? Nxe5 21. f6+ Kh8 22. Qh6 Rg8 23. Rf4. The point being now 23. g5?? is met by Qxh7#
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Can anyone check out 20. e5!? Nxe5 21. f6+ Kh8 22. Qh6 Rg8 23. Rf4. The point being now 23. g5?? is met by Qxh7#> Black should be ok after 23...Qf8, though. (That's the standard defensive idea in this setup against such doubling on the h-file; e.g., if White tries the same rook lift instead of 22.Ng3 in the game, Black plays 22...Re8! to keep e5 under control and - again - clear f8 for the queen.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: < abstract > I agree. What happened to his last year's performance ?
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