Novelty of the season! (17-23 September, №38)


Topalov,V - Kasimdzhanov,R


The World Champion’s second Rustam Kasimdzhanov is the main generator of new ideas in the Anti-Meran Variation, and for both colours. Last Sunday he conducted the black pieces…

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Author: Alexey Kuzmin

Novelty of the season!

Uzbekistan Grandmaster Rustam Kasimdzhanov’s novelty was a gem of opening research. It’s a pity it only leads to a draw, but what can you do: Black is Black.

Topalov,V (2752) - Kasimdzhanov,R (2684) [D46]

1st FIDE GP London, 23.09.2012

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a3 Bd6 10.0–0 0–0 11.Qc2 Rc8 12.b4

A topical line. It can arise with varying move orders: both after 9…Bb7, as in the given situation, and after 9…Bd6. But this position probably occurs most frequently via the “Anti Meran” with 6.Qc2.

Black’s last move - 11…Rc8 isn’t seen so often, as after 12.b4 the only logical counterplay seemed to be 12...а5, and switching the rook from a8 to c8 didn’t seem too useful.

12...c5! Spectacular! A brilliant example for a new edition of the book of the renowned trainer/second Igor Zaitsev, “Attacking a Strongpoint”!

13.bxc5 Bxf3 14.gxf3 In the line 14.cxd6 Nd5 15.Bd2 Qg5 16.g3 Qh5 only White can have problems.

14...Nxc5! 15.dxc5 Rxc5

16.f4 After 16.Bb2 Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Rh5+ 18.Kg2 Rg5+ Black gives perpetual check.

16...Nd5 17.Bb2 Mass simplifications now follow, and it all comes down to a drawn endgame.

17...Nxc3 18.Bxc3 Qc7 19.Rfc1 Rc8 20.Bxh7+ Kh8 21.Bd3 Rxc3 22.Qxc3 Qxc3 23.Rxc3 Rxc3 24.Bxb5 Bxa3 and a draw isn’t a million miles away ... 

Of course the main events of the week were the two Grand Prix tournaments in London and Ankara: the first stage of the men’s series, and the concluding stage of the women’s.

Attacks by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Adams,M (2722) - Mamedyarov,S (2729)

1st FIDE GP London, 22.09.2012

A calm variation of the Caro-Kann was played in this game. In the interests of equalising it would have made sense to exchange queens 20...Qxe2 21.Nxe2 Nd5 with good chances of neutralising White’s space advantage.


An unexpected and intuitive rook sacrifice! White can’t reject it without inflicting positional damage on his position.

21.c4 Qa6 22.Qxd3 Qxa2 23.c5

Another means of defence was 23.Rde1 Rd8 24.Qc3, but in that case as well after 24...a5! Black had a strong attack.


The attack required new sacrifices - 23...Na4! 24.bxa4 Bxc5 25.Rdf1 Rd8 and, despite being a rook and knight down, Black has full compensation!

In the game after 24.b4 Nc4! 25.Qb1 Qa3+ 26.Kc2 Qxg3 27.Qb3 Qxb3+ 28.Kxb3 Nxd2+ 29.Rxd2 Be3 30.Rd3 Mamedyarov returned the sacrificed material. But White’s rooks turned out to be so active that he really had to work hard to achieve a draw...1/2

While the rook sacrifice against Adams was double-edged, on the following day Shakhriyar’s attack was clearly irresistible!

Mamedyarov,S (2729) - Giri,A (2730)

1st FIDE GP London, 23.09.2012


The breakthrough in the centre is asking to be played, but it still looks spectacular!

13... exd5?

Relatively the best move was 13…Qb6, but Sunday 23rd September clearly wasn’t a good day for Giri!

14.e5 g5 15.Bg3 Ne4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Nd2 h5

Anish found an original defensive manoeuvre, but even that didn’t help.

18.Nxe4 Rh6 19.Rad1 Be7

It you take an unprejudiced look at the position it becomes obvious that Anish Giri had simply gone too far in this game!

20.Bxh5! Rxh5 21.e6! Clearing the path for a fatal check on g6. The capture 21…fxe6 would be followed by 22.Nd6+ so Black resigned.

Two knights’ attack

Kasimdzhanov,R (2684) - Nakamura,H (2783)

1st FIDE GP London, 22.09.2012

On his last move Black took the d6-pawn and, it would seem, a drawn isn’t far off.

50...Nfh3 51.Ke2 Rc4! Despite his limited army, Hikaru continues to up the pressure.

52.Bb6 Rc2+ 53.Kd1 Rh2 54.Be2 Nxe4 55.Rd8+ Kg7 56.Re3 Nhg5 57.a4

The black knights are working in unison to threaten the white king position, but in the absence of pawns the potential for an attack still seems insufficient.

57...Rf6! The rook switches to the queenside with tempo. From there it’s capable of generating threats.

58.Rd7+ Kg6 59.a5? He should have retreated - 59.Ba5. In that case I think Nakamura would have included his final reserve in the attack – 59... Kf5!

59...Rc6! Rustam had gone wrong, and he suddenly faced serious problems. Now even the lesser evil - 60.Bf3 Nf2+ 61.Kd2 would by no means guarantee salvation after 61...Rc4! 62.Rb3 Nxf3+ 63.Rxf3 Ne4+ 64.Kd3 Rhc2!...

60.Bd3?? In time trouble Kasimdzhanov wasn’t able to withstand the constant threats. 60...Rd2+ and due to mate on the next move White resigned.

Last chance – stalemate

The next game from the Women’s Grand Prix is interesting both for the topical opening variation and the tragi-comic conclusion. We’ll come back to the opening, but let’s first start at the end…

Socko,M (2463) - Ju Wenjun (2528)

FIDE WGP Ankara, 18.09.2012

The Chinese player has played the last twenty moves with an extra bishop. There wasn’t much left to do: pick up the remaining white pawn with check and advance your own. But unfortunately Ju Wenjun noticed that her queen was controlling the b8-square, and she deciding to mate her opponent immediately.

70...Bd5?? 71.Qh8+!! Kf7 72.Qf6+ Kg8 73.Qh8+ Kf7 74.Qf6+ Kxf6

By going to d5 the bishop pinned the white pawn – stalemate!


Playing for stalemate was Tatiana Kosintseva’s last chance in her game against Koneru, but the Indian was on her guard.

Kosintseva,T (2524) - Koneru,H (2593)

FIDE WGP Ankara, 19.09.2012

A couple of new queens have just appeared on the board - 65... c1Q 66. a8Q. And if Koneru had rushed by playing the careless 66...Qxa8??, there would have followed 67.Qh4+! Kxh4 – stalemate! But Humpy gave an intermediate check - 66...Qc7+ and White resigned.

New in the opening

Besides Kasimdzhanov’s top novelty there were also a series of interesting opening battles this week.

Socko,M (2463) - Ju Wenjun (2528) [E97]

FIDE WGP Ankara TUR, 18.09.2012

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.Re1 f5 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Bf3 c6 13.dxc6 bxc6 14.exf5 gxf5 15.b5 e4 16.Be2 c5 17.a4

In “issue №36” I noted that one of the boldest opening ideas at the Olympiad was Wojtaszek’s plan in the “Bayonet Attack” that started with the move 13.dxc6. At the time I evaluated the position after 17. а4 as one “where White has the better chances”. It seems Ju Wenjun was unfamiliar with the game of the Polish grandmaster.


Against Wojtaszek Radjabov played 17...Ng6 18.Ra3 Kh8, which after 19.Nd5 h6 20.Nh3 Be6 21.Nhf4 Nxf4 22.Nxf4 Bf7 23.Bb2 led to a big edge for White.

18.Ra3 h6 19.Nh3 Be6 20.Nf4 Socko uses the same piece setup. The pawn structure ensures White an edge.

20...Bf7 21.Bb2 Kh7 22.Qd2 Nd7

Now it was possible to play the spectacular blow - 23.Nxe4! fxe4 24.Bxg7 Kxg7 25.Rg3+ Kh7 26.Bd3!! with a win.

But in the game there followed 23.Ncd5 Bxb2 24.Qxb2 Nxd5 25.cxd5 Ne5 and Black got counterplay which ultimately led to the game ending in stalemate

Grischuk,A (2754) - Dominguez Perez,L (2725) [D94]

1st FIDE GP London, 22.09.2012

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Nf6 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bb3 Bg7 10.0–0 0–0 11.d5 Na5 12.h3 Nxb3 13.axb3


Accepting the pawn sacrifice is the most principled approach.

The variation with 12.h3 came on the radar after the recent game Potkin - Alekseev/Tyumen RUS 2012. There followed 13...e6 14.d6 Bd7 15.Bg5 f6 16.Be3 and White had a certain edge. Vladimir Potkin was one of the Russian team coaches at the Olympiad in Istanbul. That can’t be ruled out as an explanation of Alexander Grischuk’s choice in the given game.

14.bxc3 Qxd5


In Grishchenko - Bojarinov/Voronezh 2006 there followed 15.Be3 Qxd1 16.Rfxd1 Bf5 17.Nd4 There’s no question that after the exchange of queens White has sufficient compensation. But it’s still hard to believe that after simplifying the position so much he can realistically hope to succeed.

15...Qe6 After exchanging the pawn on e7 - 15...Qxb3 16.Qxe7 the dark squares around the king are laid bare.

16.Qb2 f6 17.c4 Qf7 18.Be3 Bd7 19.Ra5 Nc8 White’s initiative fully compensates for the material shortfall, but it’s extremely difficult to “break down” Black’s position …1/2

Kasimdzhanov,R (2684) - Nakamura,H (2783) [E99]

1st FIDE GP London, 22.09.2012

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.Rc1 Ng6 14.Nb5 b6 15.b4 a6 16.Nc3 Rf7 17.Nd3 h5 18.c5


Hikaru Nakamura is the only top grandmaster in the world who doesn’t hesitate to go for positions that Houdini evaluates as +1 in favour of his opponent, as long as it promises him complex play and chances of an attack. The variation in the game against Kasimdzhanov is an illustration of his approach. The position after 18.с5 had only been encountered once in practice - Giri - Nakamura/Reggio Emilia ITA 2011. There followed 18...Bf8 19.cxb6 cxb6 20.b5 a5 21.Na4 Nc5 22.Ndxc5 dxc5 and Nakamura came out on top after a complex struggle...

19.bxc5 Bf8 20.cxd6 Bxd6 21.Na4 Nf6 22.Ndc5 Rg7 23.Ne6 Bxe6 24.dxe6 Qe7 with double-edged play, which Houdini still evaluates in White’s favour … 0:1

And finally, two rook endings…

London endgames

Gelfand,B (2738) - Wang Hao (2742)

1st FIDE GP London, 24.09.2012

49...f5+? Wang Hao should have stuck to his waiting strategy - 49...Rh5 50.Rc5 Rh4. Now the white king penetrates and Black’s position becomes hopeless.

50.Ke5 Rxe3+ 51.Kf6 Kg8 52.Rg7+ This extra check spoils nothing, but there was the immediately decisive 52.Rc8+! Kh7 53.Kf7!

52...Kf8 53.Rh7 Kg8


Boris lets the win slip - 54.Rg7+ Kf8 55.Rc7 Kg8 56.Rc8+ Kh7 57.Kf7!

54...Re4 55.Rd1

Now there was an easy draw after 55...Rxf4 56.Kxe6 Kf8, but the black king traps itself.

55...Kh7?? 56.Kf7 Mate is inevitable ... 1–0

In the encounter between Nakamura and Leko the majority of the struggle took place in the final stages of the game.

Nakamura,H (2783) - Leko,P (2737)

1st FIDE GP London , 23.09.2012

The endgame clash started from this position. Basic summary: White has a space advantage and control over the only open file. But is it possible to convert such advantages?

31.g4 a6 32.Kf3 Kg7 33.Ke4... First White centralises his king. He later managed to outplay his opponent, win a pawn and as a result of complex twists and turns twenty moves later they reached the following miserable position for Black.


There was a quick win after 55.a5 Ra3 56.a6! The king manoeuvre leaves more chances.

55...Ra3 56.Ra7 Rh3 57.Rh7 Ra3 58.Ra7 Rh3 59.a5 Rxh4 60.Kxc5 Rh1


There are only five pieces on the board, but it’s not so easy to handle them! It was essential to immediately play 61.a6! Rc1+ 62.Kd5 Ra1 63.Kc6 Rc1+ 64.Kd7 Rd1+ 65.Kc8 Ra1 66.Ra8 and White wins.

61...Ke6! Now the black king manages to return in time.

62.Rg7 It also didn’t work to play 62.Rc7 Rc1+ 63.Kb6 Rb1+ 64.Ka7 Kd6!

62...Rc1+ 63.Kb6 Kd6 Black successfully holds the defence – a draw was agreed ten moves later.

And that, it seems, is all...