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Levon Aronian vs Hrvoje Stevic
European Team Championship (2011), Porto Carras GRE, rd 4, Nov-06
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General (A30)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-06-11  Andrew Chapman: What happens after 34..fxe5? Thanks.
Nov-06-11  adair10: According to <Marmot PFL> the exact line was 34.gxf6 Kxf6 35.Rd6+ and black in dire straits
Nov-06-11  muratski: This is interesting. According to my Fritz Aronion blunders here. He simply should have taken the pawn on 34th move. 34. gxf6 Kxf6 35. Rd6+ Ke7 36.Rd4 Ne6 37.Rxh4 Bd5 38. Bb5 Bxa2 39.Ng6+ Kd6 and he would be winning. After saccing the night he seems to give his advantage away. Fritz evaluates the position +1 for Black. It was either good bluff on Aronian's part or his opponent ran out of time.
Nov-06-11  muratski: <adair10> That I find more plausible.
Nov-08-11  Ulhumbrus: <Andrew Chapman: What happens after 34..fxe5? Thanks.> On 34...fxe5 35 Rxe5 threatens 36 Re7+ and Black may have no satisfactory answer to the threat eg 35...Rxd7 36 Rxd7+ Nxd7 37 Re7+ Kf8 38 Rxd7
Nov-11-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: The opening is interesting: it actually transposes into a well-known variation of the Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack [B14] (which happens to be today's Opening of the Day, so anyone can explore it through the Opening Explorer):

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Qb3 Nxc3 8.Bc4 is one line, arriving at a position similar to the one here, though with Black's Knight on b8 rather than c6. By playing e3 and d4, White actually gives Black a free development tempo compared to the Caro-Kann.

This example caught my eye: Karpov vs B McCarthy, 1998. No relation, of course.

The exact position reached here *could* also be reached via the Caro-Kann route, though the tempo difference makes it less likely. To complicate things further, the key position can also be reached in the Sicilian Alapin.

Incidentally, if you want to classify it as a Symmetrical English - covered by ECO codes A30 to A39 - then A35 is a reasonable choice. A30 is very general (just 1.c4 c5) while A35 develops some Knights.

Then again, with the combination of ...g6 and ...d5 you could also file it under Anglo-Gruenfeld lines.

In any case, the 'lost' tempo doesn't seem to worry Aronian unduly. He has often played lines with Qb3 and is very familiar with these positions.

Nov-11-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: I was wrong to say that the precise position after 9.Bc4 was unlikely to occur in the Caro-Kann. The *Accelerated* Panov will do the trick, as in Nunn vs Dzindzichashvili, 1977.

BTW, of the 40 or so games in the CG database to reach this position, *seven* different move orders (and ECO codes) are used: A04, A30, A34, A35, B10, B13, B14. And that's not counting the Alapin Sicilian. Or A46, the miscellaneous Queen's Pawn Game, which can also get there.

Nov-11-11  Edeltalent: <<Domdaniel> 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Qb3 Nxc3 8.Bc4 is one line, arriving at a position similar to the one here, though with Black's Knight on b8 rather than c6. By playing e3 and d4, White actually gives Black a free development tempo compared to the Caro-Kann.>

Count again ;-)
White hasn't lost a tempo, as his Knight is already on f3.

Nov-11-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Oops. I somehow had the N on f3 in both lines. But, in the absence of a move that actually *puts* it there, um, yes, well, I see.

Er ... anyhow, at the other end of the game, I think 34.gxf6+ Kxf6 35.Rd6+ 1-0 is a lot more plausible than 34.Rd6+ ... which requires us to accept that Aronian made a dubious (at best) move, which caused his opponent to resign or lose on time. Doesn't seem likely.

Of course, I'm unable to count, so my concept of plausibility should be taken with a grain of something granular.

Nov-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Leonard Barden published this game in his Guardian column, with the concluding moves 34.exf6 Kxf6 35.Rd6+, 1-0.

A possible continuation might be 35...Ke7 36.Rd4!

(36.Rxg6 is also good, but it allows Black to exchange a pair of Rooks -- White has no need to take Black's g- or h-pawns, as the target is now the King)

36...Kf6 37.Rf4+ Kg7 38.Rf7+ Kg8 39.Bc4 ... with mate or serious material loss coming up.

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