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Viswanathan Anand vs Ruslan Ponomariov
Linares (2003), Linares ESP, rd 1, Feb-22
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. l'Hermet Variation Berlin Wall Defense (C67)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-22-03  Chess Champ: Ok, who is the FIDE CHAMP AGAIN?
Feb-22-03  Chess Champ: Very good strong pawns, passed.
And Berlin walls falls again.
I remember a nice win with Anand as black Berlin in 1998 against a computer I think it was Rebel. Any games here?
Feb-23-03  Giuoco Piano Man: Why did Blck allow for the exchange of Queens? I don't see why it was necessary to get in such an awkward position.
Feb-23-03  mdorothy: If he doesn't move his knight out of the way of the queen exchange, he loses it for a pawn.
Feb-24-03  Ashley: It is very wrong that Anand is excluded from a four man world championship when this Ponomariov person who struggles to finish with an even score in super tournaments is included.
Feb-24-03  Giuoco Piano Man: mdorthy- I see that- I'm questioning 5 Nd6. That sets up the whole queen exchange because of the pawn on d4.
Feb-24-03  Spitecheck: He can avoid the exchange of queens by playing bxc6 instead of dxc6. However there doesn't seem much wrong with the opening for Black, seems to me that he spent to much time trying to fracture/immobilise W's kingside majority while his queenside majority pretty much sat quietly for the entire endgame.
Feb-25-03  ughaibu: I think Ponomariov's mistake was exchanging the second pair of rooks, after that Anand's pieces became very active.
Mar-08-03  Marnoff Mirlony: 4...Nxe4 is interesting. It's certainly uncommon in top level competitions. 4...a6 seems better.
Mar-08-03  refutor: actually, the whole line is theory and very common in top level competitions...the starting point for this line is the position after 8. ... Kxd8 i refer you to the Braingames championship a few years ago featuring krammy and kaspy, this line played a very prominent role in kramnik's victory
Mar-13-03  JGD: A great line at forcing draws. There is so much theory available that my computer is unable to defeat me as black in this line (after 20 moves or so of analysis). But if you are looking to win the "Berlin Wall" is not the sort of opening for you(good for Kramnik who is a good endgame player and wanted to simply neutralize Kasparov in their 2000 encounter). Personally, I think the best defence common in top level chess today is the Sicilian Pelikan. It gives great fighting chances to black, and is very sound if you understand the theory. It is my latest weapon against e4
Sep-26-06  positionalgenius: I don't think Ponomariov's Berlin defense experiment worked out...
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: There are some incredible moments in this game...

click for larger view

Here Ponomariov played 23...c4. This finally gets rid of that traditional defect in the Berlin, the doubled c-pawn. But it is a mistake! It weakens black's control of d4. A fewmoves later white has a choice of captures:

click for larger view

Anand played 25.cxb3. If black now makes a passed pawnon the queenside it'll be on the c-file and not the more distant a-file. Great stuff!

Jul-28-09  returnoftheking: I always wondered why there are so many Berlin games where white does not exchange his black squared bishop. It looks very logical and strong, here it works out very well too
Jul-28-09  vigipirate: Sorry to ask this...
I do not see a clear way for white to avoid F5 black pawn to become a queen now if black plays F4 at the 64. Can someone enlight me?
Jul-28-09  Vorph: 64... f4 65. Nh5 f3 66. Kb5 f2 67. Ng3 Kf4 68. Nf1 Kf3 69. a4 .. and now if Kg2 70. Nd2 and if Ke2 70. Nh2 and the black king has no way to stop the knight from taking the pawn. f1 and f3 are blocked and there's a fork waiting to happen if the king moves to g3/e3 (i.e. 69... Kg2 70. Nd2 Kg3 71. Ne4+ forking pawn and king).
Jul-28-09  vigipirate: Thank you for your help, it is clear!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Verily, once again I say unto you that this is one of the great games of all time. Defeating The Dreaded Berlin against a very strong opponent is like climbing a very high mountain. Anand needs all his perseverance and imagination to win this game. His play is better than Tarrasch or Capablanca in this game.

Since this game was played the black side has even been strengthened! Who will be the next player to annihilate the Berlin?

Jul-13-12  voyager39: I can't remember the exact url but Anand in a very recent interview mentioned that he had some ideas against the Berlin.

No wonder Gelfand didn't bother to venture that way against Anand. If the Berlin was so solid - he would have played it.

Aug-15-12  LoveThatJoker: GM Igor Stohl's analysis of the endgame of this encounter is featured in the book "Excelling at Technical Chess" by GM Aagaard - Aagaard being an IM when it was released in 2004.

Here is a quote of interest from this book regarding the position after 48. e7+!

click for larger view

"If 48...Kxe7 49. f6+ Kf8 50. fxg7+ Kxg7 51. Ne4 and White wins, since Black will have to give up his Bishop for the a-pawn. It is not necessary for White to retain this pawn since he can mate Black with two Knights against a pawn, as we know from the Russian composer Troitsky and the endgame tablebases. For a player like Anand this should not be too difficult. All the same, it might be easier to play 51...Be6 52. a3 and try to promote the a-pawn later by shielding it with the Knights."

The position in the line give above, 48...Kxe7 49. f6+ Kf8 50. fxg7+ Kxg7 51. Ne4 Be6 52. Nxc3 Bxa2 53. Nxa2, can be checked out on this website:


Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: In the draw Gelfand-Ponomariov Wijk aan Zee 2003 White had played 14 Nge4; 14 Nf3 was new. 23..c4?! got rid of Black's doubled pawn but gave White control of d4 making it easier to activate his kingside majority. Stohl thought that the rook exchange initiated by 29..Rd8?! worked in White's favor due to Black's g5 weakness; either 29..Rh1 or 29..c4 were suggested as alternatives. 32..c4 33 bxc..Bxc4 34 Nd6 would have cost Black one of his queenside pawns. 36..b5?! was an attempt at counterplay but created new weaknesses. After 47 e6! Black was lost. 47..fxe 48 f6..Nc4 49 Nxc4..e5 50 Nb6..Nd6 51 Nxc8..Nxc8 52 Kg6..Nd6 53 Nd7+..Ke8 54 Nxe5..a4 55 a3!..Kf8 56 Nd7+..Ke8 57 Nb6 would also have been winning for White. 51..Bxa2 52 Nf5 would not have helped Black.

I don't normally associate Anand with great endgame play but this was an outstanding effort on his part.

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