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Hikaru Nakamura vs Boris Gelfand
FIDE Grand Prix London (2012), London ENG, rd 1, Sep-21
Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Pelikan. Sveshnikov Variation (B33)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: It was clear from Naka's play that he doesn't believe the endgame without rooks can be saved, but now Gelfand forced it anyway with 56...Rh2+ (57.Kxh2 is met, of course, by 57...Kf3+ & Kxe2).
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: So Black strikes again in their encounter. Check <Eyal>'s very first post on page 1 for the stats.
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Gelfand's play here has made a real impression on me. How many players as Black, looking at the position after 43.Bxh5, would have spent the next 15 moves without advancing the connected passed pawns?
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: A very fine endgame play by B.Gelfand. Congrats!
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: < Nakamura somehow messed up his position in the last 2-3 moves before the time control.>

after 38...h5 white could have played 39 Be6 or 39 Bd7 to stop Rf5, or else white could have traded rooks on move 39 (39...Rf6 was probably weaker than Rf5, but black was in time trouble and played Rf5 on move 40).

Sep-21-12  galdur: A very nice job by Mr. Gelfand against this resourceful and dangerous opponent.
Sep-21-12  asiduodiego: I was following the game at work, and after: 56 Kg2? I almost stand up shouted: "Rook to h3 check!". It was obvious that after the rook exchange, the endgame was a trivial exercise. Excellent game by Gelfand: a beautiful lesson in endgame technique.
Sep-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I suspect you were really almost shouting, "Rook to h2 check!"
Sep-21-12  asiduodiego: Indeed, a small mistake :P
Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: What is it with Naka and his juvie tweets?
Sep-22-12  Hesam7: Such a strange game, specially if one recalls the huge time advantage Nakamura had in the first time control. Here is a list of turning points:

<30 Be5?> before this move the game is about equal now we have: .

<31...fg4?> Black loses all of his advantage, instead 31...f4! would maintain his advantage.

<37 h3?> a subtle mistake, now Black is on top since the opposite colored bishop endings favor him: .

<44 Rh1?> the losing mistake .

<44...Kg5?!> with 44...Rg8! 45 Kf1 Bc5 46 Bd1 Rg3 Gelfand could have ended the game much faster.

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Here's the tweet: <Losing is fun when you decide to fall asleep and blunder right before time control!>

This doesn't seem to jive with <Hesam7>'s post, unless he means 37.h3.

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <Hesam7> Do you know what the relative times were prior to the 40 move time control?
Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: <twinlark> I can recall Gelfand's clock being down to about 11 minutes at move 23 while Nakamura still had plenty of time. Considering Nakamura's talent for blitz play, it was quite remarkable to watch Gelfand outplay him over the next 17 moves in spite of the time differential. By move 40, Nakamura's time advantage was essentially gone, as were his chances to salvage the game.
Sep-22-12  Hesam7: <twinlark: <Hesam7> Do you know what the relative times were prior to the 40 move time control?>

See the post by <OBIT>, what I remember is that after 20...b6 the clocks stood 60 mins for Nakamura vs 15 minutes for Gelfand.

Sep-22-12  Hesam7: <Check It Out: Here's the tweet: <Losing is fun when you decide to fall asleep and blunder right before time control!>

This doesn't seem to jive with <Hesam7>'s post, unless he means 37.h3.>

I started to follow the game after 20...b6 and to me it Nakamura simply could not come up with a coherent plan. For evidence note that after 21...Bb5 he spent quite some time deciding how to recapture.

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Hesam7: Such a strange game, specially if one recalls the huge time advantage Nakamura had in the first time control. Here is a list of turning points:

<30 Be5?> before this move the game is about equal now we have: .

<31...fg4?> Black loses all of his advantage, instead 31...f4! would maintain his advantage.

<37 h3?> a subtle mistake, now Black is on top since the opposite colored bishop endings favor him: .

<44 Rh1?> the losing mistake .

<44...Kg5?!> with 44...Rg8! 45 Kf1 Bc5 46 Bd1 Rg3 Gelfand could have ended the game much faster.>

To me it seems that 18.c4, especially when combined with 22.axb5 (both other recaptures on b5 might have been considered), was already dubious - in retrospect it looks like a strategic dead-end for White. The c4 square is denied from the white pieces, the LSB becomes very passive, and Black's 18th-20th moves fix the pawn structure and prevent any possibility of a c5 pawn break. White probably still didn’t have to lose after that, but it’s already very difficult to come up with any productive plan.

Nakamura may very well be right about the decisive mistake(s) being made just before the time control – first allowing 37…e4, and then 40…Rf5 (a move played by Gelfand with only 7 seconds left on his clock, according to Robert Fontaine’s round report [http://london2012.fide.com/en/compo... ]). Once Black can double on the f-file and force White to exchange on f5, getting the connected pair of passers in the center, it looks like White is strategically lost.

So I don’t think that 44.Rh1 or 44…Kg5 made any significant difference, even if the comp evaluation jumps up for Black after the former, or down after the latter. Gelfand apparently passed over several opportunities to decide the game quicker (for example, another one was 52...Ke3 53.Rxf5 Kd2 54.Bxe4 [54.Bb1 e3] Rxe4), but once the rook exchange takes place on f5 Black’s basic advantage appears to be very stable.

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  messachess: Pretty remarkable play by the old master. Took Naka to school I think.
Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Btw, I now see that in a video interview held after the game (http://london2012.fide.com/en/main-...) both players agree that 38.Bg4 was a blunder and that Re1 instead should probably draw; Gelfand points out that he could (and should) have played Rf5 already on move 39. If allowing Rf5 to Black is indeed the crucial turning point, then perhaps 39.Be6 instead of Be2 could still hold (though it amounts to an admission that 38.Bg4 was pointless).
Sep-22-12  Hesam7: <<Eyal:> To me it seems that 18.c4, especially when combined with 22.axb5 (both other recaptures on b5 might have been considered), was already dubious - in retrospect it looks like a strategic dead-end for White. The c4 square is denied from the white pieces, the LSB becomes very passive, and Black's 18th-20th moves fix the pawn structure and prevent any possibility of a c5 pawn break. White probably still didn’t have to lose after that, but it’s already very difficult to come up with any productive plan.>

Couple of points in response:

<1> I think with 18 c4 Nakamura was trying to prevent ...b5, after all Black's last two moves were 16...Bd7 & 17...Rb8. In this context 18...a5! looks ugly and out of place which would also explain why Nakamura missed it. It is not surprising that White's best move is 18 a5! after which Black's position becomes uneasy: 18...Be8 19 Rad1 Bf6 20 Bd3 Bg6 21 Nc4 Nc4 22 Bc4 b5 23 Bb3 Be7 (forced) 24 Rde1


click for larger view

White has a sizeable advantage.

<2> I still don't understand 21 Nb5, instead, 21 Nc2 makes a lot more sense. Here is a 'normal' continuation: 21...Bg5 22 Bg1 Ne5 23 Nd4 Qe8 24 Qc3 Qf7 25 b3 Bf6 26 Rad1


click for larger view

Now White should try to exchange minor pieces while keeping Black's counterplay in check. But we should remember after 22 ab5 that the game is still equal.

<Nakamura may very well be right about the decisive mistake(s) being made just before the time control – first allowing 37…e4, and then 40…Rf5 (a move played by Gelfand with only 7 seconds left on his clock, according to Robert Fontaine’s round report [http://london2012.fide.com/en/compo... ]). Once Black can double on the f-file and force White to exchange on f5, getting the connected pair of passers in the center, it looks like White is strategically lost.>

The major point is that after 37...e4! all the bishop endings are lost for White, even without the connected pair of passers, so for example 40 Rxf6 won't save White.

<So I don’t think that 44.Rh1 or 44…Kg5 made any significant difference, even if the comp evaluation jumps up for Black after the former, or down after the latter. Gelfand apparently passed over several opportunities to decide the game quicker (for example, another one was 52...Ke3 53.Rxf5 Kd2 54.Bxe4 [54.Bb1 e3] Rxe4), but once the rook exchange takes place on f5 Black’s basic advantage appears to be very stable.>

I agree about 44...Kg5?!, it does not change the evaluation it just makes the game longer. But I am not so sure about 44 Rh1, if you are right and it does not really change the evaluation then it means that 37 h3? was the losing move which would make it quite extraordinary!

Sep-22-12  Hesam7: <Eyal: Btw, I now see that in a video interview held after the game (http://london2012.fide.com/en/main-...) both players agree that 38.Bg4 was a blunder and that Re1 instead should probably draw; Gelfand points out that he could (and should) have played Rf5 already on move 39. If allowing Rf5 to Black is indeed the crucial turning point, then perhaps 39.Be6 instead of Be2 could still hold (though it amounts to an admission that 38.Bg4 was pointless).>

I disagree with that, 38 Rde1 Rf1 39 Rf1 Rf8 40 Rf8 Bf8 41 Kf2 Kf6


click for larger view

and I think this ending is lost because in addition to Black's e-pawn and the K-side majority White should also worry about Black's a-pawn! Here is a line that illustrates the point: 42 Ke3 Ke5 43 Ke2 Bc5 44 Bg8 Kd4! 45 Bh7? Kc3


click for larger view

The toughest defense is 46 d6 Bd6 47 c5 bc5 48 Bg8 c4! 49 Bc4 a4! 50 Be6 a3! (50...ab3 51 Bd5=) 51 b4 Bf4!


click for larger view

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <The major point is that after 37...e4! all the bishop endings are lost for White, even without the connected pair of passers, so for example 40 Rxf6 won't save White […] I disagree with that, 38 Rde1 Rf1 39 Rf1 Rf8 40 Rf8 Bf8 41 Kf2 Kf6 and I think this ending is lost because in addition to Black's e-pawn and the K-side majority White should also worry about Black's a-pawn! Here is a line that illustrates the point: 42 Ke3 Ke5 43 Ke2 Bc5 44 Bg8 Kd4! 45 Bh7? Kc3>

This ending is tough for White to defend, but I’m not so sure it’s lost - for example, after 43.Bg8 (instead of Ke2) h6 44.Bf7 g5 45.Bg6 Bc5+ 46.Kd2 Kd4 (46...Kf4 47.Bh5 Kg3 48.Bg4 Kf2 49.Bh5 Bb4+ 50.Kc2 e3 51.Kd3) 47.Bh5 a4 48.bxa4 Kxc4 49.Bf7 Kb4 50.d6 Bxd6 51.Ke3 Kxa4 52.Be8 followed by 53.Kxe4.

Sep-22-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Re 44.Rh1, I really don't see what great alternatives White has. (Houdini begins by evaluating moves like Rg1 or Bd1 as considerably better, but given some greater ply-depth, or moving forward with the moves, it goes into the -2.5/-3 zone for them as well.)
Sep-23-12  QueentakesKing: I don't recommend this game. Bad calculations. Lousy play.
Sep-24-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: It's a pleasure to see Gelfand's qualities unfold so beautifully as in this endgame. It seems to me that Nakamura made some severe mistakes during the game, but around the mid 30's in moves it was hard to believe that white could loose this game. So well done, Boris, and congratulations.
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