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Viswanathan Anand vs Yifan Hou
Isle of Man Open (2017), Douglas IMN, rd 9, Oct-01
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Ulhumbrus: 7...Be7 is more conservative than the following of White's suit of 7...Bd6. In the event that both players play to gain the d file it obstructs Black's rooks on the e file and may have to move again.

13...h6 disturbs the king side pawns wuthout necessity. An alternative way to defend the h7 pawn is by 13...Nf8

14...Nh4 places a N on the edge of the board. That does not mean that it has to be bad but it does make this concession and if a player is going to make any concession at all he will be advised well to want to know why.

15...Bg5 offers a bishop for a knight. Instead of this 15...Nh5-f6 attaends to the piece placed worst, the N on the rim

20...Qc7 loses a tempo because after Bxd7 the queen will have to move again. An alternative is 20..Nf8

After 22 Ne5 Black is in trouble. ON e6 the queen is a target for White's rooks but if the Black queen leaves the h3-c8 diagonal by say 22...Qc7, 23 Qf5 forks the N on f4 and the pawn on f7. It turns out that Black's N on f4 has become a target instead of a weapon.

25 Nxf7 makes a combination, offering the knight on the f7 square in the f file, a square in front of which the N on f4 can be skewered to the black king on f7

With 28 Rxf4 Anand has won a pawn and goes on to win the game

The trouble that Black gets into after 22 Ne5 helps to suggest that at some earlier point Yifan Hou has underestimated in some way the difficulties of her side of the position.

Oct-01-17  dehanne: White to play and win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Marmot PFL: Petroff is not part of Hou's repertoire normally and Anand is a Petroff killer. Even with good opening prep it's easy to go wrong in unfamiliar middle games.>

It's a completely symmetrical pawn formation with an open e-file. How can that be unfamiliar to anyone?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It definitely shouldn't be unfamiliar to Hou, since she plays the French a fair amount...Anand, perhaps because he wasn't expecting a Petroff, played 5.d3 (for the first time in his life according to the database) and headed to an exchange French.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: why did black put her queen on the e file? that allowed Anand to gain a tempo, doubling his Rooks on the e file, creating a winning position.
Oct-01-17  Arconax: <HeMateMe: why did black put her queen on the e file? that allowed Anand to gain a tempo, doubling his Rooks on the e file, creating a winning position.>

Yes, but it seems there were no better options than 22...Qe6. Her queen was under attack, so she had to move it while maintaining protection of the f7-square. And 22...Qc7 (or 22...Qe7) runs into 23.Qf5! and black is in a world of hurt.

Oct-02-17  The Kings Domain: Hou got her wish with playing a top male GM and got the expected result. :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: Replaying the game with Stockfish, it seem as if Hou was always making the machine move, but just got steadily worse. The "blunder" appears to be in the selection of the opening. I remember studying the Petroff as a solid defense agains e4. I lost every tournament game I played with it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beenthere240,

" I remember studying the Petroff as a solid defense against e4. I lost every tournament game I played with it."

It's players like you that give the Petrov a bad name. :)

However thanks to Anand playing the 'Lesser Known Tarrasch Trap.' Tarrasch vs Alapin, 1889 and wasting a tempo the game transposed in an Exchange French.

Yifan was probably aware of this and maybe relaxed, add in no pressure because the Ladies prize was already won and you have a recipe for a good player drifting.


click for larger view

Anand played 18.Bh7+ to weaken the f-pawn. Then it was instructive text book stuff to chop wood to a Knight to e5 and hit said weak f-pawn. Then a pseudo sac to win said weak f-pawn.

After that someone else will have to take over because I don't do endings.

click for larger view

(it's players like me that give the saying : All Rook endings are drawn" a bad name because I could quite happily lose both sides of that.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: Yeah, Sally, but I"m a killer with the Caro-Kann. Your favorite, as I recall!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Yes, the Caro-Kann is as much a favourite with <Geoff> as the Petroff was for me.
Oct-04-17  Bluegrey: Could black hold the rook endgame after 23...Ng6 24.Ng6 Qg6 25.Qg6 fg6 26.Rae1 Re3 27.Re3 Kg8 28.Re7....looks like black king gets cutoff by the white rook on the 7th and the black rook probably has to go passive behind the b pawn but is it so clear that black is lost?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Acquiescing to such a dismal ending is always tough, but it just might hold. For example, it is hard for White to win this if Black gives up a pawn to activate her King.

23...Ng6 24. Nxg6+ Qxg6 25. Qxg6 fxg6 26. Rae1 Rxe3 27. Rxe3 Kg8 28. Re7 Rb8 29. h4 g5 30. hxg5 hxg5 31. f3 g4 32. fxg4 Kh7 33. Kf2 Kg6 34. Kg3 Kf6 35.Rd7 g5 36. Rh7 Kg6

click for larger view

Oct-04-17  Bluegrey: <tamar> white could go f4 on move 29 instead of h4. White gets a tempo if black pushes g5 and then later g4 because the pawn is already on h3. The only way I see for black is to push on the queenside and somehow get a passed pawn there
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <JAM>
The Petrov is not a Berlin. Look at the move order. The Berlin begins 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6. The Petrov begins 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6. Do you see the difference? As Sally pointed out, Anand foxed her by transitioning into an exchange French. I think the game is very instructive because it shows how to create a win out of something that was very draws. I predict Hou will learn from this and will still be playing great chess long after you are eating apple sauce in the old age home. JK of course.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: Black ain't gonna get a passed pawn with that q side formation unless she's playing a 4 year old. Or a troll.
Oct-04-17  Bluegrey: Black can go a5 and if white plays a4 as in the actual game, Black could probably give up the c pawn and get something going on the queenside
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Bluegrey> I hadn't noticed that tempo gain with 29 f4. But the draw after 23...Ng6 24. Nxg6+ Qxg6 25. Qxg6 fxg6 26. Rae1 Rxe3 27. Rxe3 Kg8 28. Re7 Rb8 29 f4 a5 30 a4 looks even more assured because the rook can break out with 30...b5.

The differing drawing method against 29 h4 and 29 f4 illustrates why rook endings are so hard.

Oct-04-17  Bluegrey: I checked that line with an engine. It goes Rc7 when black goes a5 to stop b5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Bluegrey> Rc7 stops the idea of ...b5, or at least makes it more difficult, but Black can still play it or abandon the defense of the b pawn and go for White's second rank.

Reminds me of Age of Empires 2 games where you abandon your villagers and go after the enemy's base.

+1.37 (41 ply) 30...Kh7 31.Kf2 g5 32.fxg5 hxg5 33.Kg3 Kg6 34.Kg4 Kf6 35.Rd7 Kg6 36.a3 Kf6 37.Rc7 a4 38.Rd7 Kg6 39.Kg3 Kf6 40.Rc7 Re8 41.Rxb7 Re3+ 42.Kg4 Re2 43.g3 Rg2 44.Rb6 Ke7 45.c4 Rd2 46.c5 Rxd4+ 47.Kxg5 Rd2 48.h4 Ke6 49.Rxc6+ Ke5 50.g4 Rxb2 51.Rc7 Rb3 52.Rxg7 Rxa3

+1.39 (41 ply) 30...b5 31.Rxc6 b4 32.Rxg6 a4 33.Ra6 a3 34.bxa3 bxc3 35.Rc6 Rb1+ 36.Kf2 Rb2+ 37.Kf3 Rd2 38.Rxc3 Rxd4 39.Rc8+ Kf7 40.Ra8 h5 41.Ra7+ Kf6 42.Ra6+ Kf7 43.f5 Rd2 44.a4 h4 45.a3 Ra2 46.a5 Rxa3+ 47.Kg4 Ra2 48.Kxh4 Rxg2 49.Rd6 Ra2 50.Rxd5 Kf6 51.Rc5 Ra4+ 52.Kg3 Ra3+ 53.Kg4 Ra4+ 54.Kf3 Rh4 55.Kg3 Ra4 56.Rd5 Ra3+ 57.Kg4 Ra4+ 58.Kf3 Rh4 Stockfish on 25 minutes

Oct-05-17  Bluegrey: <tamar> Thanks for posting the engine eval!
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: After the 25. Nxf7 trick it's really difficult to defend and pretty simple to attack. This may be one of Hou's weaknesses. I still remember Carlsen swindling her in what looked like a dead draw pawn endgame.
Oct-05-17  JPi: It remembers me Capablanca at his best. Simple moves but always deep ones. Easy to critic 15...Bg5 when you saw how Anand is maturing his edge until 25.Nxf7! But you have to find the move on the board. In other hand I understand Hou's motivation trying to make Be7 as equal to the terrific Be5 even at the price of an exchange B for N. The problem is the square e5 is even good for a N than a B. Anand is still a very dangerous opponent and still one of the top in the world. No shame to have lost such game.
Nov-23-17  Dhiky: 22.Ne5!!Move was decisive..
Nov-23-17  Dhiky: Black failed to appreciate 15.Bh7+..
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