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Boris Gelfand vs Veselin Topalov
FIDE Grand Prix Beijing (2013), Beijing CHN, rd 1, Jul-04
Gruenfeld Defense: Russian. Prins Variation (D97)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-04-13  fisayo123: Nice too see Kasparov's Grunfeld Russian, Prins variation back in action. Great work from Topalov! Very difficult to outplay an in-form Gelfand with the black pieces.

Hopefully, he is fully rested and ready to have a great tournament.

Jul-04-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: I remember some good wins by Gelfand against the Exchange variation; I don't think he usually plays 5 Qb3. I doubt Topalov was expecting that line.
Jul-04-13  fgh: Seeing games like this one always makes me think I should make the Grunfeld my main weapon against 1. d4.
Jul-04-13  builttospill: The position after 23 moves is worth looking into. Black's heavy pieces are superior. Looks like Gelfand felt he had to trade that active light squared bishop for that passive knight to try and hang on to that d6 pawn, only to lose it anyway 10 moves later.

Not sure what the computers say, but maybe instead for white a good plan is 24 Bb6, so if Rxe2, then Bxd8.

Jul-04-13  GilesFarnaby: <plang: I remember some good wins by Gelfand against the Exchange variation; I don't think he usually plays 5 Qb3. I doubt Topalov was expecting that line.>

Dunno about that, but every GM that plays the Grünfeld is obviously prepared against the Russian variation

<builttospill: The position after 23 moves is worth looking into. Black's heavy pieces are superior. Looks like Gelfand felt he had to trade that active light squared bishop for that passive knight to try and hang on to that d6 pawn, only to lose it anyway 10 moves later.

Not sure what the computers say, but maybe instead for white a good plan is 24 Bb6, so if Rxe2, then Bxd8.>

Yes, white got nothing more than a barely playable position out of the opening; I ain't doing computer analysis either -and neither I am an expert in this variation- but seeing this very instructive game a few things pop up in my head:

a) 8.Be2, although 'common', seems very passive and I wonder why 8.Bf4 isn't tried more often (as in Piket vs Kasparov, 2000), which somehow restricts black development while keeping the tension in the center.

b) When Topa plays 14...g5 you know he wants trouble, so I guess Gandalf assessed things properly when he did not go into a passive or liquidating mode.

c) 21.Nxf5 is the wrong thing to do strategically speaking since Gandalf hadn't yet milked the benefits of the ICP; Nc7 or even f4 -adding extra powder when it's needed even if it opens the diagonal, 'cause there's no immediate danger- would have given the Israeli what he needed from the position.

d) And once all advantage is lost, 25.Bxa6 is the beginning of white's demise, changing a juicy piece that could have mischievously aimed at f7 (specially after f4 is played) for a drunken abandoned equine at the rim.

There could be a way for white to save the game after that, but I'm sure it involves BDSM-like suffering so I won't pursue it.

Jul-04-13  notyetagm: <fgh: Seeing games like this one always makes me think I should make the Grunfeld my main weapon against 1. d4.>

You better be prepared to learn tons of theory.

If you make a mistake in the Slav, you are worse. If you make a mistake in the Grunfeld, your position bursts into flames.

Jul-05-13  Hesam7:


click for larger view

Kasparov's take on this position while commenting on the game Karpov vs Kasparov, 1986

<<14...Qf6!>

'We considered this to be one of the main replies.' (Zaitsev). On once again encountering an opening novelty by my amazingly well-informed opponent, I chose a solid move. I was afraid to venture 14...Bxb2, which would have been throughly analysed by the Karpov team (White has a tempting choice between 15 Bd3 and 15 d6) or the weakening 14...g5!? 15 Be3 (which later also occurred) 15...Bxb2!?, especially after losing the two previous games.> -- Modern Chess, Volume 3, p. 190.

In the CG.com database 14...Qf6 (seven games); 14...Bd7 (Kramnik vs Ivanchuk, 2010) and 14...g5 (the current game) are the only moves that have been played. So

1. Is 14...Bb2 really playable?

2. How about 14...g5 15 Be3 Bb2 ?

3. What was Gelfand's preparation for 14...Qf6 & 14...Bd7 both of which seem to equalize according to theory?

Jul-05-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <1. Is 14...Bb2 really playable?>

14...Bb2 looks dubious after 15 d6 g5 16 Rd5! (exploiting the unguarded status of the bishop) 16...Qd7 17 Be5 Nd2 18 Rxd2 Bxe5 19 Nxe5 Rxe5 20 f4 Re4 21 Qd5 Nb4 22 Qxc5 1.34/24 White has regained the pawn, and has a strong passed pawn, and attacking chances against the Black King.

15...Bd7 looks more solid, but crumbles even worse after deep analysis by Houdini 1.5x64 16 Qb3 Qf6 17 Be3 Be6 18 Qc2 Bd7 (18...Bf5 19 d7) 19 a3 Be5 20 Nxe5 Qxe5 21 Rfe1 Nf6 22 Qc1 Rad8 23 Bc4 Ng4 24 Bf4 Qf6 25 h3 5.40/24

Jul-05-13  csmath: This game will not play any role in theory. It is just one of those games when a player cannot properly evaluate two-edged game. It is not well played by either but obviously Topalov has done better job.
Jul-06-13  Hesam7: <csmath: This game will not play any role in theory. It is just one of those games when a player cannot properly evaluate two-edged game. It is not well played by either but obviously Topalov has done better job.>

If you had asked this whole line was done for, Black equalizes both with 14...Qf6 & 14...Bd7. The fact that 14...g5!? seems to be good as well, is just the icing on the cake.

But Gelfand, who must have looked at every line in Gruenfeld before the match with Anand, chose this line. So maybe he had something prepared for 14...Qf6 and/or 14...Bd7.

Jul-06-13  Hesam7: <tamar> thanks. I will look into this at depth a little later.
Jul-07-13  Hesam7: <tamar: 14...Bb2 looks dubious after 15 d6 g5 16 Rd5! (exploiting the unguarded status of the bishop) 16...Qd7 17 Be5 Nd2 18 Rxd2 Bxe5 19 Nxe5 Rxe5 20 f4 Re4 21 Qd5 Nb4 22 Qxc5 1.34/24 White has regained the pawn, and has a strong passed pawn, and attacking chances against the Black King.

15...Bd7 looks more solid, but crumbles even worse after deep analysis by Houdini 1.5x64 16 Qb3 Qf6 17 Be3 Be6 18 Qc2 Bd7 (18...Bf5 19 d7) 19 a3 Be5 20 Nxe5 Qxe5 21 Rfe1 Nf6 22 Qc1 Rad8 23 Bc4 Ng4 24 Bf4 Qf6 25 h3 5.40/24>

After 14...Bb2 15 d6 Bd7 16 Qb3 Qf6 17 Be3 Be6 18 Qc2 Bf5 19 d7 Red8


click for larger view

how does White obtain an advantage? <20 g4 ▢ Nb4!> gaining a tempo compared to 20...Bd7? <21 Qc4 ▢ Bd7 22 Qe4 Bc6 23 g5 ▢ Be4 24 gf6 Bf6 25 Bc5 Na2 26 Rd8 Rd8 27 Ba7 Rd5!>


click for larger view

It seems to me that Black has nearly adequate compensation b/c the f3-Knight can not move and White's other minor pieces lack coordination. <28 Bd4 ▢ Bd4 29 Nbd4 Nc3 30 Bc4 Rc5 31 Bb3 Bf3 32 Nf3 Ne2 33 Kh1 Rc3!> overruling the engine <34 Ba4 Rf3 35 Bd1>


click for larger view

And I think in both the RPP vs. RB and NPP vs. R endgames Black has excellent drawing chances.

Jul-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 20...Nb4 is a good resource and may even make the whole 14...Bb2 line playable.

However, Black is still a piece down, and White can choose to press from an assortment of slightly favorable positions, for example 25 Nd6, basically with no losing chances.

By the way, Gelfand today was willing to enter this variation as Black, but Morozevich played 10 Bg5 rather than 10 0-0, so we were prevented from seeing how Gelfand treated the same position as Black. Morozevich vs Gelfand, 2013 1-0

Jul-08-13  Hesam7: <tamar: 20...Nb4 is a good resource and may even make the whole 14...Bb2 line playable.>

I would not go that far, first as you point out only White has winning chances, second we have not looked at Kasparov's other suggestion: 14...Bb2 15 Bd3, and finally why bother when you have 14...Qf6 or 14...Bd7 at your disposal?

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