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Magnus Carlsen vs Vugar Gashimov
Tata Steel (2012)  ·  English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Hedgehog Defense (A30)  ·  1-0
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Given 13 times; par: 98 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <i think his major beef is with exactly e5 in several lines, leaving a hole on d5 and a backwards pawn on d6. which is supposed to be fine, for some odd reason.>

"Positionally it's bad, but the tactics and the two bishops keep Black afloat." --Seirawan, on the Boleslavsky Hole (Sveshnikov?) if I recall correctly.

Jan-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Shams: <keypusher> But it's a totally different opening.>

Not to be rude, but so what? The main structural difference seems to be that White has pawns on e4 and c2 in Anand-Kasparov (or Unzicker-Fischer, or a few thousand other games) instead of c4 and e2 in this game. But that shouldn't matter based on the criteria I see here. ...e5 in the Najdorf certainly weakens the d5 square. Picking up on Graham Clayton's comment, it makes the d6-pawn backward and a target on an open file. Also, pace Seirawan, Black does not get the bishop pair in the Sicilian Najdorf as a matter of course as he does in the Sveshnikov. And yet the Najdorf was Fischer and Kasparov's favorite variation! It certainly scores well, and has an excellent reputation as far as I know.

<hence, your example doesn't count because the sicilian doesn't count - it's "broken" by design.>

Maybe that's the answer. :-)

Jan-23-12  SimonWebbsTiger: 9...e5 makes no sense in this line because the white e-pawn is still at e2, thus white isn't soft on his central dark squares, something which could offset black's weakness on the white squares after ...e5. Besides the pieces and pawns are placed differently compared to a structure like that which appears in the Kalashnikov Sicilian.

Furthermore, it is the whole point of the Hedgehog to place the pawns at a6/b6/d6/e6 and develop the pieces thus: Bb7, Qc7, Be7, Nd7, Nf6 and Rs on c8 and e8. Black builds a solid position which white bashes his head on which has the potential for further piece deployments and pawn breaks like ...b5 and ...d5. ...e6-e5 does figure in black's plans too, should white play moves like f4 and g4 in some lines (a W N on d4 and pawn on f4 are forked and captures result in a weakening of the black squares, the white e-pawn on an open file and give black the e5 square).

Jan-23-12  frogbert: < on the Boleslavsky Hole (Sveshnikov?) if I recall correctly. >

it's a major theme in the najdorf, too, shams.

Jan-23-12  frogbert: oh, you already pointed that out, keypusher. sorry for not noticing.

well, i guess we're back to my friend's explanation: several sicilian main lines can't be understood in terms of general principles; they work out for black even though they "shouldn't".

hm. i wonder if watson says anything about this in secrets of modern chess strategy ...

Jan-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <it's a major theme in the najdorf, too, shams.> Yes, and other Sicilians too. But as <keypusher> pointed out Black is not handed the bishops in those lines.

<keypusher> You surprise me, the kingside fianchetto alone would seem to put this in a whole different phylum from the Najdorf game. Which doesn't say I'm right about ...e5, of course.

Jan-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <several sicilian main lines can't be understood in terms of general principles; they work out for black even though they "shouldn't".>

This is only true if you don't count dynamics as a "general principle", but of course you very much should count it. "Keeping afloat via the tactics" is a general principle.

Jan-24-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <<keypusher> You surprise me, the kingside fianchetto alone would seem to put this in a whole different phylum from the Najdorf game. Which doesn't say I'm right about ...e5, of course.>

<shams>
I'm just being obnoxious and contrarian, of course. I think ...e5 would be a bad move here (on move 9; not sure it was bad when Gashimov actually played it) and obviously it's a perfectly good move in the Najdorf. But I also think that the example of the Najdorf shows that to say that move X weakens Y square, or even that it leaves Z pawn backward on an open file, is not an adequate basis, without more, to say that move X is bad.

Jan-24-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <hm. i wonder if watson says anything about this in secrets of modern chess strategy ...>

He does, as I recall. But I thought Michael Stean did a good job in Simple Chess.

Jan-24-12  frogbert: i guess "dynamics" features more prominently in 'modern chess strategy' than in the older, more dogmatic understanding of "sound play". and hence that my statement possibly should be modified and/or restricted to be referring to the principles of what's "positionally & structurally sound".

btw, i agree with you on it being quite a leap from this game to the sicilian positions where black plays d6 and e5.

Jan-24-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <...not an adequate basis, without more, to say that move X is bad.>

I agree. Maybe I should have given a more complete response. I do know you hate it when general tenets are offered, unadorned, as analysis. Here the general principle just struck me as totally vindicated.

Still: Committing twitter-length evals to publication here should be a privilege reserved for Masters. I'll show more work.

Jan-24-12  frogbert: my previous post was directed at shams, obviously. :o)

< I also think that the example of the Najdorf shows that to say that move X weakens Y square, or even that it leaves Z pawn backward on an open file, is not an adequate basis, without more, to say that move X is bad.>

it's tempting to agree with this too, keypusher - but the implicit context of most such statements is the specific position, and since most chess commentary doesn't go into enormous amounts of detail, we're mostly supposed to trust the annotator on his judgement/description being true for the concrete position at hand.

so, we need to trust annotator shams on this, unless he explicitly shows us that he has dug deeper. :o)

Jan-24-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <SimonWebbsTiger> Can't leave the thread without noting that fine contribution of yours.

<Simple Chess> Superb book.

Jan-24-12  SimonWebbsTiger: or Pachman.

One of the major points is ...e7-e5 in the Sicilian restricts white's attacking chances by grabbing control of d4 and f4 and preventing any e4-e5 thrusts from white.

Having settled the centre, black is placed to mount his minority attack with b7-b5 and pressure down the c-file.

Jan-24-12  SimonWebbsTiger: apropos Watson and the backward pawn in the Sicilian; he discusses the following concepts:

The piece arrangement with a W N on c3 and N on d5 -- the N on c3 is Dvoretsky's superfluous piece; it's not doing anything. The N on d5 looks pretty but if it isn't helping white's play, it is merely standing in the way of pressure against the d6 pawn. Black can play around the strong point and N on d5.

As Watson also notes, it took a long time with lots of analysis and GM praxis before such conceptual changes took place.

Jan-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: One of the first chess books that landed on my hands was a recount of the XXVII USSR Championship. I remember my surprise at seeing Petrosian (I think it was him, not sure) playing e7-e5 in the Sicilian. I went "What! Why is that fool weakening the Pawn structure?" Admittedly, I still had a lot to learn.
Jan-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  haydn20: Didn't some chess writer once write "A weakness is only a weakness if it can be exploited."? For instance, the hanging pawns, or White's isolated d-Pawn in some openings. It's possible (maybe not here) that while a player is piling on a d Pawn, he is getting slaughtered on the Kside.
Jan-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  haydn20: So I checked 9...e5 in Opening Ex & it's not there, so I tried one line 10. Qd2 Nbd7 11. Rfd1 h6 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. Nb5. The hole at d5 may be bad, but the potential one at f5 (after a forced g6) may be worse, and the White B may xray Black's position from h3. And yes the d6 P looks like a money-pit.
Jan-03-13  Everett: ajile: Black has a pretty dismal position with less space and almost zero counterplay. And what separates GMs from regular masters many times is simply patience. The ability to tack back and forth and wait for a slight misstep by the opponent. Plus with the space advantage White will usually have more ways to improve his position and mobility.>

Karpov-style. Carlsen has translated Karpov's style into 21st Century chess language.

Jan-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Yes <haydn20>, Black's position has been compromised.

But isn't that the difference between good players and great players? Knowing when established rules do not apply?

Mar-21-13  cormier: 8...Nb8 should move, it would be more precise .... eighter to c6 or a6
Jan-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Sad to see that in less than two years after this game was played, that Gashimov would pass away. :(
Jan-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <maxi....isn't that the difference between good players and great players? Knowing when established rules do not apply?>

Part of improvement in chess-at a humbler level as well-is achieving this sort of understanding.

By memorising certain precepts, one can come to be an average player, but greater gains come with the experience and knowledge that come as one learns the numerous exceptions to the rules.

Jan-11-14  Everett: <16..Rxc4 17.Nxe6 Rxe4 18.Nxd8> favors White, as does <16..Rxc4 17.Nxe6 Qc8 18.Rd4>

Pretty slick.

Jan-11-14  Dave1: Rd2 and after Rxc4 Nxe6 Rxe4 Nxd8 there is no Rxe2 and R is bad placed as white can play Nb7 with the threat Nxd6
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