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Fabiano Caruana vs Boris Gelfand
Zurich Chess Challenge (2013), Zuerich SUI, rd 6, Mar-01
Catalan Opening: General (E00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-01-13  Marmot PFL: The announcers say 50...hg4+ would have drawn, and the players seem to agree.
Mar-01-13  darshandatta: Did Caruana bribe Gelfand under the table?;-)
Mar-01-13  haydn20: <Marmot PFL: The youngest player was the only one not to blunder, which shows the mental deterioration that accompanies age.> Goddammit, at my age it pains me to have to agree with you.
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  hoodrobin: <the mental deterioration that accompanies age> Age? What age?
Mar-01-13  BadKnight: age is just a number - and i am probably one of the youngest in the house.
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  morfishine: <DcGentle> From what you have elaborated on over the past few months, do you think Gelfand was approaching zugzwang or partial zugzwang?
Mar-01-13  Marmot PFL: Gelfand would probably not have lost that ending 10 years ago.
Mar-01-13  Ulhumbrus: <AylerKupp: <Ulhumbrus> I have to admit that I never thought of your alternate definition of <endgame> meaning <final phase>, but I always assumed that Fischer meant the traditional <endgame> definition meaning a reduced number of pieces on the board.> The alternative definition used was not mine but Fischer's and the traditional definition was not used by Fischer but used by Kasparov, and by myself as well. Fischer disagreed with a remark by Kasparov saying that an ending or one type of final phase had not been reached, for a mistaken reason, namely, that the game had entered a second type of final phase ( ie not the type which Kasparov was referring to). You will find the relevant messages in earlier pages of the kibitzing on this game.
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  tamar: <Eyal: Gelfand is probably hiding his endgame preparation for the candidates.> The sly old fox.
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  offramp: Incredible to best the World Champion and his most recent challenger within just a few days of each other. I think someone once did that with Karpov and Kortschnoi...
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  morfishine: I never get far enough to play an endgame
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  Eyal: Btw: <DaringSpeculator: <AylerKupp: <tpstar> [...] I agree with you as far as trading knights, that's why I'm so surprised that White didn't do that on move 42 when he would have given Black an isolated e-pawn as a bonus.> Trading knights would be a mistake. If you take these facts into consideration

1) RPPPP vs RPPP usually a draw
2) BPPPP vs BPPP usually a draw
3) NPPPP vs NPPP likely a win

You would probably understand better why White did not trade the knights.>

Yeah, Gelfand said after the game that what basically makes it difficult for Black to hold is the presence of the knights.

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  Eyal: <The announcers say 50...hg4+ would have drawn, and the players seem to agree.> As I mentioned in a previous post, the point is that after 50...hxg4+ 51.Kg2 Nc5 White doesn't have a passer, and 52.Nxf5 is met by 52...Ra2 with the idea of Ne4 - e.g. 53.Nd6 Bf8 54.Nf7 Ne4 55.Ng5+ Nxg5 56.fxg5 Bc5 and White seems to be paralyzed. But anyway, it's not easy for White after fxg4+ either, until Gelfand's 55...h4?? - he said that he "hallucinated," though without explaining exactly about what.
Mar-01-13  Garech: Great game from Fabiano - in particular, the middlegame. This victory sees his re-entry to the top seven, now only 12 points behind the World Champion himself!


Mar-01-13  ajile: <Eyal: Gelfand is probably hiding his endgame preparation for the candidates.>

The alternate theory is that when he wins he is being unselfish in playing his secret best lines to please the audience.

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  AylerKupp: <Eyal>, <DaringSpeculator>, <tpstar> Regarding exchanging knights, it depends on whether Caruana was trying for a win or satisfied with a draw. Obviously, given the way that the game turned out, Caruana was justified in continuing to play and hoping for a mistake by his elder and possibly tired opponent. But let's not forget that, had Gelfand won, he would have won the tournament, so maybe there was some incentive for him to continue playing as well, equally hoping for a mistake from Caruana.

But I just didn't see an <objective> reason to continue playing after move 41 given that Caruana would win the tournament with a draw. By 42.Nxe6 Caruana would have a somewhat better position and, had he offered a draw at this point, it's hard to see Gelfand refusing it. Then again, I'm neither player so I don't know what was going on in their minds.

And with 52.Nb7 Caruana forced the exchange of knights anyway, although this was a different position and he may have felt that he had winning chances at this point, given that he had 2 connected passed pawns. FWIW Houdini 3's eval at the official site after 41...Ne6 was [+0.78] and after 51...Nc5 it was [+0.64] so as far as Houdini was concerned White's advantage was essentially the same after 52.Nb7, [+0.62], than after 42.Ne4, [+0.67] so there doesn't seem to me to be any more incentive for Caruana to continue playing after 51...Nc5 than after 41...Ne6 but obviously Caruana saw things differently. And his judgment was vindicated when Gelfand, probably under time pressure, played 55...h4 although his position was already questionable by then.

Mar-01-13  FadeThePublic: Wow the current second best player in the world smashed yet again :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <AylerKupp> According to what the players said after the game (you can watch the video at it's quite clear that they both felt this endgame was difficult for Black to hold, and that Caruana was playing for a win. And as long as we're talking not about specific, forcing tactical lines but rather a general evaluation of the position, I tend to trust Gelfand (who said that without knights it's a draw), with all his knowledge and experience, much more than fluctuations of engine evaluations between ca. 0.60 and 0.80. (Of course, it's possible that even with the knights it's drawn anyway with precise play by Black, but apparently it's much less clear from a human viewpoint <how> to draw.)

When Caruana did initiate the knight exchange the nature of the position, as you mentioned yourself, was indeed very much changed by the pawn exchange on move 50 - Black has made a concession by giving White the passer, and Caruana apparently wanted to kill the counterplay Gelfand was trying to get with his knight, e.g. by Ra2 & Nd3.

Mar-01-13  csmath: I trust that position was difficult to hold but Gelfand should try to explain what was the point in his 50. ... fxg4 move?

I think most of the people facing this defence would re-take with h-pawn. Offering two connected passers to Caruana and to try to block them with rook knowing full well it is not possible could only mean that Gelfand planned h4 move earlier. It is not a blunder of the momemnt, it is just a bad plan that immediately backfired.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: As I mentioned, Gelfand said that he "hallucinated," though he didn't go into details about how exactly. 50...hxg4+ is indeed the more natural move, but if Black wants to continue with Nc5, in order to try and get some active counterplay (otherwise it seems quite hopeless anyway), the obvious problem is that the pawn on f5 is left en prise. So after 50...hxg4+ 51.Kg2 Nc5 52.Nxf5 you have to see and evaluate correctly the consequences of the probably-drawing line starting with 52...Ra2 that I mentioned in a previous post.
Mar-01-13  csmath: hxg4 might not be enough, who knows, but it is certainly more resilient than the failed plan Gelfand produced.

I don't think it is halucination, I think it is psychology to try to find the quick way out of difficult position when there is none. In other words it is hard to play, for an older guy, the last round so hard in hope to find the draw at best. So he rushed and failed, I can understand that.

Mar-02-13  WiseWizard: Maybe opening the center with 21...e5 wasn't wise since Black's queenside pawns were over extended.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <WiseWizard: Maybe opening the center with 21...e5 wasn't wise since Black's queenside pawns were over extended.>

Obviously not: it led directly, though not inevitably, to the loss of the game.

It seemed to me that Gelfand made a very brave attempt to get the game into a unpredictable condition. Caruana was playing like a turtle until then. Remember that had Gelfald won, he would have been outright winner of the tournament. Worth a gamble.

Mar-02-13  Absentee: The position was pretty much even after 22.Bh3. It was a slight inaccuracy on Caruana's part, after 22.dxe5 Nxe5 23.Qf5 White is better, his queen attacks d5 and indirectly a5 and Black has an isolated backward pawn.

50...fxg4 is definitely the stinker of the tournament, but another odd error was Gelfand's 14...Be6 in Anand vs Gelfand, 2013. 14...Bxh3 gains a pawn and looks like the kind of tactical shot a much weaker player should spot immediately.

Mar-07-13  Ulhumbrus: 11 Ne5 threatens to gain the bishop pair by cxd5 followed by Nc6, and 11..Nh5 does not answer the threat. After having gained some advantage due to the bishop pair White goes on to win. Two alternatives to 11..Nf6 are 11...Rac8 covering the c6 pawn a second time and 11..Nxe5 exchanging the knight on e5.
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