Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 WCC Anand v Gelfand round 8

I slept in and missed the game! I look forward to the replay of the coverage. It was over quickly and Anand won to even the match score. It looks like Gelfand miscalculated in the opening and got his queen trapped after move 16.

I looked at the game via The Week in Chess. I added a few comments after watching the replay.

1.d4 Nf2 2.c4 g6 Anand prepared for another Gruenfeld with 3.f3 and Gelfand surprises with a Benoni 3...c5. I think this may be a good idea regardless of the result, as it is rare for white to have a pawn on f3 in the Benoni. 4.d5

Here Gelfand played the natural 4...d6, but perhaps it would have been better to go all out with a Benko-ish 4...b4. The pawn on f3 is definitely out of place there.

5.e4 Bg7 6.Ne2 O-O They are transposing into a Samish Kings Indian. 7.Nec3 Nh5 

The normal plan is a Benoni like ...e6 ...exd5 and pressure on the e-file with queenside expansion. Also, there are tactics with ...Nh5 and ...Qh4+. Gelfand is up to something different, a quick f5 I think, but I do not understand this move, because ...e6 and ...exd5 have not been played.

8.Bg5 puts a stop to a lot of the tactics for a moment. 8...Bf6 looks very strange. Black's dark square bishop is needed for the queenside expansion, and supports the kingside tactics. The pin of the e-pawn is very annoying, but at least kick the bishop once with ...h6, or go ahead with ...f5. This opens the e-file, but at the cost of losing the long diagonal bishop and leaving white with a pawn on c4, which impedes queenside play. 9.Bxf6 exf6 10.Qd2 f5 11.exf5 Bxf5

Anand has an exposed King, and his pieces are a bit in each other's way, but Gelfand's pieces are scattered, and he has lost the important dark-square bishop. 12.g4 This fork does not win a piece as Gelfand's bishop has a desperado move, but first a zwischenzug (I love that word) 12.Re8+ 13.Kd1 It is safer to move the king away from the open file, off the dark squares, and not self pin a blocking piece on e2. 13...Bxb1 14.Rxb1 Qf6? Uh-oh, Gelfand sees a way to win the exchange, but when one sticks one's pieces into the enemy position, you should make sure that there is a path out (Especially, the queen) The commentators also miss what Gelfand missed. They spend a great deal of time discussing other moves for Anand. 15.gxh5 Qxf3+ 16.Kc2 Qxh1 

Anand quickly plays 17.Qf2! 1-0 Gelfand resigns in the face of the threat of 18.Bd3

Houdini finds a way out with the very difficult to see 17...Nc6 which forces 18.dxc6 Qxc6, as any other  move allows 18...Nd4+ and black will emerge with a material advantage. Unfortunately, even if Gelfand saw this, he would have been in a difficult place. Black will have difficulty bringing the heavy pieces against white's exposed king. White has very good places for his pieces. Actually black's king is more exposed as the dark square holes at f6, g7, and h6 provide entries for white's knight and queen. In this position white has the initiative and a choice of quite a few good moves, but black can play on.

This is why "Absorb Surprises" is part of my move method. After such a blow as 17.Qf2, I want to take time to clear my mind, calm the emotions, and only then take a fresh look at the position. There are no queen or rook moves that save the queen, so one must also look at moves of the Nb8. I think a player of Gelfand's ability would have found 17...Nc6 if he took the time. He may have decided that there just was not enough play for black.

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