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Levon Aronian vs Peter Svidler
"Lev is a Many Splendored Thing" (game of the day Jan-22-2015)
World Chess Championship Candidates (2014), Khanty-Mansiysk RUS, rd 4, Mar-17
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Modern Exchange Variation (D85)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  luzhin: After the game Svidler explained that 21...Qa3 was his prepared new move and that he had the position after 27.Bc3 "in my notes". He was fully aware that 27...Nxd4 was a drawing variation, but --after over 40 minutes thought--played 27...Nd8 with the idea of retaining some chances to win. That was a mistake,but only because Aronian played so superbly thereafter.
Mar-17-14  csmath: Yes. I think priority here was to play 27. ...Nxd4 and go for a sure draw testing the ending (like Carslen would do).

Having king so exposed and forced to be extremely precise while not seeing any advantage is not a good strategy in Grunfeld or anywhere else. Of course, it is always easy to see a strategical error in hindsight.

However for theoretical reasons this 27. ...Nxd4 will be important move for all those that play Grunfeld in this variation.

Mar-17-14  csmath: I think Peter just did not have luck in the last two games. Instead of 1.5 he got 0.5. First allowing Kramnik to survive with the skin of his teeth and then while knowing position and safe alternatives but going for broke anyway is just simply unfortunate.

In either case, he is playing some beautiful conceptual chess which is what I expected from him and we cannot be disappointed whatever the result he achieves.

Mar-17-14  Ulhumbrus: At the press conference one of the Russian analysts indicated 37 Bf6! eg 37...Rc2-c5 38 Bh4! Aronian said that this was <beautiful> and indicated that he had not seen it: he had been glad to regain the piece.

Svidler indicated at the press conference that after 49...Bd5 he had overlooked something. I don't remember what. Perhaps 50 Re7 Rf8-f7 51 Rc8+ or something to do with that.

Aronian said that an important detail was that on 49...Bd5 50 Re7 Rf8-d8 was not possible because of 51 Re5!

Mar-17-14  Chess for life: I'm somewhat stumped on the final position...I know Black looks paralyzed but the winning continuation is pretty tough to see...It's surprising that Svidler resigned; it feels like he should have played on; don't you want the half point? GMs Nielsen and Cmilyte on the one hand were saying "Yeah the position is definitely lost", but they were having an awfully hard time figuring out why...
Mar-17-14  Kaspablanca: That`s the problem when you play a defense too often.
Mar-17-14  chesssalamander: Great game by Levon! So dangerous! He gained a bunch of time chasing that queen!
Mar-17-14  RookFile: White's pawns come up to g4 and f5. Maybe black pushes the a pawn, he has nothing else to do. Once the pawns get to g4 and f5, try to find a way for black to survive a mating attack with Rg6+.
Mar-17-14  Ulhumbrus: <vChess for life: I'm somewhat stumped on the final position...I know Black looks paralyzed but the winning continuation is pretty tough to see...It's surprising that Svidler resigned; it feels like he should have played on; don't you want the half point? GMs Nielsen and Cmilyte on the one hand were saying "Yeah the position is definitely lost", but they were having an awfully hard time figuring out why...> One threat is 58 Re6-g6+ Kf8 59 Rh8 mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Chess for life> I'm somewhat stumped on the final position...I know Black looks paralyzed but the winning continuation is pretty tough to see>

Not only is White a pawn up but 58.Reg6+ Kf8 59.Rh8# is threatened so Black has to take care of that threat immediately. Stockfish DD suggests 57...Rf8 as Black’s best try but after 58.g4 Black has to worry about a pawn storm in addition to everything else. And after 58...Rg8 59.Rhf6 Bd5 60.Re7+ Rxe7 61.dxe7 Bfe7 (62.Rf8 was threatened so that after 62...Rxf8 63.Bh6+ the pawn queens) 62.Rxb6 White is 2 pawns up and Black is as tied up as ever, and the d-pawn threatens to queen at any time.

Mar-17-14  anandrulez: <DrGridlock: Interesting "positional" sacrifice by Aronian with 22 Bxf7. Komodo scores this as "correct" but not immediately winning> .... You are right its these moves that distinguish a master from an amateur IMO . Perhaps not as difficult as Nakamura's sacrifice - Qxf7!! but still a move that only a good player can find . Qxf7 is more like brilliancy , this is more like a normal move for a GM :-) And for a GM the bigger challenge was seeing this - i.e Once you get the Q on a3 you do this tactics .... because queen is out of play .
Mar-17-14  DrGridlock: <csmath: Theoretically important Grunfeld game>

I question the "theoretical importance" of this game. It's a very tactical game where the players are often playing the 2nd or 3rd best computer move, since the "correct" continuations are so hard to find over the board.

In particular, for 27 ... Nxd4 to be a theoretical "find," White has to agree in future games to continue with the less precise 27 Bc3 (as in this game) rather than the better 27 Qe6+:

click for larger view

1. ˛ (0.44): 27.Qe6+ Qe7 28.Qg8+ Kd7 29.Qb3 Nxd4 30.Qd3 Qd6 31.Red1 Ke8 32.Be3 Nf3+ 33.gxf3 Qxd3 34.Rxd3 Rc4 35.Ra3 Bc6 36.Rba1 a5 37.Bxb6 a4 38.Be3 Rb8 39.R3a2 Rb3 40.Kg2 Bd7 41.e5 Rh4 42.Rd1 a3

2. = (-0.19): 27.d5 Ne5 28.Qb3 Kf8 29.Rbc1 Rxc1 30.Bxc1 Re8 31.Bb2 Qf7 32.f4 Nd7 33.Qc3 a5 34.h3 Rc8 35.Qh8+ Qg8 36.Qd4 Ke8 37.Ba3 Rc2 38.f5 Ba6 39.f6 Rc4 40.Qf2 Qf7 41.Bb2

3. = (-0.20): 27.Bc3 Nxd4 28.Qa4+ Qd7 29.Qxd4 Qxd4 30.Bxd4 Rc4 31.Be3 Rxe4 32.f3 Re7 33.Bg5 Rxe1+ 34.Rxe1+ Kd7 35.Re7+ Kc6 36.Rxh7 b5 37.Rg7 b4 38.Rxg6+ Kb5 39.Be3 b3 40.Rg5+ Kb4 41.Rg4+ Kc3 42.Bd4+ Kd3

Mar-17-14  SirRuthless: Good game from Lev. Once he had Peter in near zugzwang he never really let up. This is what he is capable of with the white pieces when he is in the mood.
Mar-17-14  RookFile: The Candidates tournament is a good time to get in the mood.
Mar-17-14  Cooleyhigh: I believe Levon Aronian may be the real deal if he continues to play this way instead of having a Vishy Anand rematch with Magnus Carlsen.
Mar-17-14  James Bowman: <One chess skill is to know when the f7 sacrifice works, and when it doesn't. It "works" here, but I'm still not sure exactly why. How many would play e5 instead of Bxf7 in this position?>

To my unskilled eyes two factors make it a strong move, first it was to gain two pawns via tactics, second it gave Aronian two connected central passed pawns. Usually it is for a kingside attack but here the theme is advancing passers.

Mar-17-14  James Bowman: Vishy or Aronian matters not so much as if who ever wins goes to win and plays at a very high level like they both are here.

Anand had been playing an inferior strategy as well as far below his best chess for a good while. Credit Carlsen for bringing good OTB play back to chess as a winning concept.

Mar-17-14  jphamlore: If Svidler really chose to go for the win as Black, he went against what won him the most recent Russian Superfinal, winning only with White and drawing all games as Black against the likes of Kramnik and Karjakin.

This whole line of the Gruenfeld seems very dubious to me for Black. A cursory Internet search shows after a relatively small number of moves after 11. .. Qxa2, Black has scored very few wins percentage-wise.

Ironically in the Russian Superfinal 2013, Svidler also reached a position as Black in the Gruenfeld versus Kramnik but chose to play safely for a draw. But in that line Svidler was able to exchange Queens early and simplify.

I think it was Kasparov who once remarked that results in openings was all that mattered regardless of what one thought of the theory. This is yet another Gruenfeld debacle that probably sinks one of Svidler's last best chances to win the Candidates and get a shot at the World Championship.

If one plays the Gruenfeld as one's primary defense versus 1. d4, in the modern game with the level of White preparation, one WILL have a debacle at the worst possible time, guaranteed, whether it's Kasparov's first loss versus Kramnik, Gelfand's loss to Anand in their World Championship Match when all Gelfand needed to do was draw out to win the title, Caruana losing to Nakamura to kill off Caruana's chances at making this Candidates tournament, and now Svidler losing to Aronian.

It is somewhat ironic that the one player who hasn't lost in normal time for YEARS in the Gruenfeld is none other than Magnus Carlsen. But Carlsen understands the limits of this defense and does not try to be too active, taking the draw when the position calls for a draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: Quite the torture session. I doubt I would have gotten this to move 57.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Daniel ♔ video-annotated this game

GM Niclas Huschenbeth, too (in German)

Mar-18-14  Ulhumbrus: Svidler indicated that at move 27 he had chosen a wrong moment to avoid a draw
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Maybe they could have tried "Lev is a Many Svidlered Thing".
Jan-22-15  Castleinthesky: <Phony Benoni> Lev It or Leave It?
Jan-22-15  Fanques Fair: Interesting how in the early middle game , if White tries to win Black´s queen , he ends up with an extra piece. After 21-Ra1, Qc2 , 22- Ra2 , Nxd4 23- Rxc2 , Nxe2+ , 24-Rxe2 .

But Black will have the very good compensation of an extra pawn and two passed connected pawns in the queenside.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: "Lev's a crash
A parade-ground bash
An auto-immune disorder
From which issues
A pair of bodies
Destroying their own tissues".

"But only Lev can break your heart."

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