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Anish Giri vs Levon Aronian
"Don't Trust Ne1" (game of the day Feb-26-2012)
Tata Steel Group A (2012), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 10, Jan-25
Queen's Gambit Declined: Harrwitz Attack. Two Knights Defense (D37)  ·  0-1



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Given 21 times; par: 58 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-26-12  Xeroxx: Smells like Keene spirit
Feb-26-12  naruto00122: 11.Ng5 Interesting play!
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A shacking move,that Ne1! like a shot of curare to white's system!
Feb-29-12  njchess: Without overdoing it, both GMs play the open for maximum flexibility. White even going so far as to sacrifice a pawn for better piece play on move 7. Black elects to protect the pawn with 8. ... Nb6 and that sets the tone early on. Both players are still in opening preparation through move 12.

Black's 13. ... Rxf3 is a deep move and a bit of a gamble. At this point, Black has little if any piece play and Aronian just exchanged away his most active piece. He is gambling that his minor piece play activity can trump White's rook play in this position. In more concrete terms, he believes that 15. ... Bc6 together with the half open f-file is worth losing a rook.

Rather than countering Black's strategy with center strengthening moves, White pursues tactics which only help Black's position. 15. Qe4? is a poor move, maybe even a blunder from a strategic point of view. In general, when your opponent is leading or blockading with pawns, counter with pawns unless you are prepared to sacrifice material for positional gain. Here, White's queen is unceremoniously pushed out of the center, and really out of the game.

The sequence of move 16 through 19 is also instructive and is really the turning point in the game. White creates threats with his queen and knight to which Black responds with pawn moves that solidify his position culminating in 19. ... d5. The fact that the bishop is cutoff is minor at this point since White cannot penetrate Black's position on the queen-side at all nor can he generate sustained threats king-side without sacrificing more material.

After move 19, the center is effectively locked for the time being and both players now turn their attention fully to the king-side. However, Black now has the initiative since White must first play Nc3. Now, like his queen, White's knight has few good squares to occupy.

After the expected 20. ... Rf8 from Black, White embarks on, in my opinion, a questionable, king-side attack starting with 21. Ne2. The problem I have with Ne2 is that since f4 and h4 are the logical culminations of this sequence, it threatens to open up the center which is disastrous for White. His king cannot stay on g2 if he plays f4. Moreover, the Ne2, Kg2, Rh1, h4 is way too slow. Aronian easily handles this clumsy attack, picking up a pawn in the process.

In all fairness to GM Giri, I'm not sure what to suggest in terms of moves. Clearly, Black has the better position. The focus of his attack is, for now, f3. The strategy for White should be to shore up his position and look for improvements, not unlike Aronian's strategy. Unfortunately, he is saddled with a nearly useless queen, a knight with few possibilities and rooks with no way to get in the game. Nimzowitsch would be proud!

After 25. ... Nxh4+, it is pretty academic. Black starts with probing attacks on the queen-side, playing on White's unconnected rooks. After some cat-and-mouse, as the position opens up, Black infiltrates White's position first with his bishop and then this knight. Throughout, Black's keeps his pieces well coordinated with his knight and bishop leading the attack buttressed by his rook and queen.

By move 34, White is really just marking time. His only threat down the h-file is simply ignored by Black. With White's pieces in disarray, Black decides to open the center on move 37. What follows is an ingenious, crushing sequence by Aronian capped off by the brilliant 41. ... Ne1!!. First, shades of Nimzowtisch, now Capablanca. Great game from Aronian!

Mar-02-12  Ulhumbrus: What makes the exchange sacrifice even more impressive is that when preparing it the computer had assessed it as better for White and Aronian disagreed with the computer's evaluation!
Mar-02-12  Shams: <Ulhumbrus> No, not Aronian but his second (whose name escapes me) found the move. Aronian properly credited him, so we should too.

Brilliant idea, to look for novelties that the engine *dislikes* as a way to surprise the opponent. If I were 800 points higher this would totally be my m.o.

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <Shams: No, not Aronian but his second found the move.>

Position after 12...Bd7

click for larger view

This position was analysed by Aronian's second, the Armenian Grandmaster Arman Pashikian (2618). We should credit him.

Pashikian shared the first two places in the Armenian Chess Championship in 2003 and in 2009 won the title. He also played for Armenia in the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2o1o.

Mar-02-12  Atking: Thanks for information <cro777>. I'm a fan of Anish Giri but on this beautiful game I applaud Aronian and his team. Great preparation but also great execution from the winner of TATA.
Mar-03-12  Ulhumbrus: <Shams> <cro777> I stand corrected. As you indicate, it is right that Aronian's second, GM Pashikian, should receive acknowledgment for his discovery.

I don't remember exactly what Aronian said, perhaps that Pashikian, had found the sacrifice and disagreed with the computer's evaluation.

After listening to Pashikian and looking at the sacrifice himself, Aronian would have had to reach his own conclusion and decide whether to agree with Pashikian. To what extent Aronian had to do his own work I do not know.

Mar-21-12  Naniwazu: In Aronian's annotations for this game (New in Chess 2012 #2) he writes: "Before this game I had played Anish only once. In the European Team Championship in 2011 I managed to win a good game against him". While this is true the database also contains a game from Tata Steel 2011 and two from Amber.
Oct-01-12  LIFE Master AJ:

My web page ... on this game. (I just finished doing the diagrams today.)

Oct-02-12  LIFE Master AJ: is my "You-Tube" video for this game.
Oct-12-12  LIFE Master AJ: By popular demand (several e-mails), I added a final diagram to my web page.
Jun-11-13  notyetagm:

click for larger view

Dec-04-13  Mudphudder: LOL Ne1!!! Can't believe Giri took the bait.
Feb-15-14  Chessman1504: With 41. Ne1!! and 42. Qf4, Aronian caps off a brilliant performance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Pure coffeehouse chess!


Apr-06-15  apj: How about 44. Qxe8+ followed by capturing the c3 pawn. 2 rooks vs queen is a tough one to play for black in the resulting position.
Apr-06-15  shivasuri4: <apj>, but that won't be the case. After 44.Qxe8+ Bxe8, White loses after 45.Nxc3 Qd3+ 46.Rd2 Bh5+, when he can't play 47.Ne2 due to 47...Qb1#.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: NM Stewart anotates:
Feb-02-18  cormier:
Feb-14-18  cormier:

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4

23.Kh1 Qf7 24.f4 gxf4 25.Nxf4 Nc5 26.f3 e5 27.Ng6 exd4 28.Ne5 Qf6 29.exd4 Nd3 30.Nxd3 cxd3 31.Qf2 Rf4 32.Rae1 Bd7 33.Re3 Rxd4 34.Rd1 Bb5 35.Rde1 a6 36.Re6 Qf4 37.Rg1 d2 38.Qg2 Qg5 39.Rd1 Kf7 40.Rb6 = / + (-0.50) Depth: 27

23.Kh1 Qf7
∓ (-0.75 --) Depth: 28

Feb-14-18  cormier:

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4

21...Be8 22.f4
= (-0.10 --) Depth: 13

21...Na4 22.Rab1
= (-0.04 --) Depth: 17

21...Qb4 22.b3
= (-0.02 --) Depth: 19

21...Nd7 22.f4 Rf5 23.Qh3 gxf4 24.Nxf4 Qf7 25.Ne2 Rh5 26.Qg2 Rg5 27.Ng3 e5 28.f4 exf4 29.exf4 Rg4 30.Qf3 Nf6 31.Rae1 Qd7 32.Re5 Ne4 33.f5 h5 = (-0.06) Depth: 19

21...Bb5 22.a4 Nxa4 23.Nc3 Nxc3 24.bxc3 a6 25.Rfb1 Kh7 26.Kg2 Bc6 27.h3 Qf7 28.Rb2 Qf5 29.Rba2 Qd3 30.Rc1 Rf5 31.Qg4 Rf6 32.Qh5 Rf5 33.Qg4 Rf6 = / + (-0.32) Depth: 30

Feb-14-18  NBZ: Kept waiting for the white knight to reach e1!
Feb-14-18  cormier:

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4

13.Bg4 Bd6 14.Qe4 Qc8 15.Bh3 Rf7 16.Qg4 Bxe5 17.dxe5 h6 18.Rad1 Qf8 19.Qe4 Re8 20.Qxb7 Qb4 21.Rd2 Qc5 22.Rfd1 Bc6 23.Ne4 Qb5 24.Nc3 Qc5 25.Ne4 = (0.00) Depth: 27

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