In his introductory video Hamburg grandmaster Karsten Müller introduces in his accustomed trenchant manner the contents of this issue and casts a first glance over selected highlights such as Magnus Carlsen’s victory with Black over Vishy Anand or the way the new European Champion Vladimir Potkin defeated Ter Sahakyan. On this occasion, Müller has selected from the openings articles two repertoire suggestions for Black, on one hand a weapon against the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation and on the other a solid setup against the Evans Gambit. What Karsten Müller does not mention is his own endgame column and his detailed endgame analyses in video format, in which games from the Amber Tournament are also put under the microscope. These too are articles which you should on no account miss!
|In his video retrospectiveDorian Rogozenco also brings together for you the tournament highlights of the past months. For example, he demonstrates for you some tactical subtleties from the game Jobava-Potkin, which was important in deciding who would win the European championship. From the Amber Tournament the Romanian grandmaster presents some moments from the blindfold game Kramnik-Ivanchuk. Follow Rogozenco’s analysis and be prepared to be surprised at how accurately these strong players are able to handle such complicated positions even in blindfold chess!|
Board design "Blindall"
Aronian against Carlsen
Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament
20 years ago the twice world correspondence chess champion and chess patron Joop van Oosterom made a present to the world of chess of a unique world class tournament in which the players measure their powers in a very special way. The participants met each other in mini-matches, consisting of one game of blindfold chess and one of rapid chess in each case. Luxury accommodation in top class hotels and the circumstance that they could not lose any Elo points contributed to the creation of a special and tense atmosphere. After twenty years it is all over, because for health reasons the sponsor is stopping his support. For the third time it was Levon Aronian who wrote his name into the list of victors. He set this up with his excellent performance in the blindfold section of the tournament: 8.5 out of 11. Magnus Carlsen was well ahead of his competitors in the rapid chess section with 9.5 out of 11, but that was not enough to compensate for his average performance in blindfold chess.
Gashimov,V - Kramnik,V
Position after 9.g4
|"It's great pity that it was the last Amber tournament". These few simple words by Vugar Gashimov at the start of the analysis of his game against Kramnik express the feelings of the participants in this farewell tournament. On his second appearance the Azerbaijani achieved a very decent result in the middle of the field. In the aforesaid game against the ex world champion Gashimov side-stepped the endgame of a Berlin Defence with 4.Qe2 and his 7.Ba4 was almost an innovation (there is only one previous game, Adams-Kramnik, Blitz-WCh 2007). With 9.g4 (see diagram) Gashimov laid his cards on the table, and after Kramnik’s 9...Nh7 he continued his attack with the exchange on d5, the deployment of his knight to e4 and finally the thrust g5. In his analysis Gashimov explains the details of his strategy and shows the point at which the ex world champion made the decisive mistake. Click on the link under the diagram and carry out White’s attack aided by the comments of the winner.|
Anand,V - Carlsen,M
Position after 28.Rh1
|The mini-match between Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand constitutes a good example of the Norwegian’s play during this tournament. In the blindfold game his Grand-Prix Attack really backfired. After a mere 10 moves he had isolated tripled pawns on the c-file and no realistic claim on any compensation for them. Carlsen did go on to hold his own in the rook ending but finally missed out on the chance to draw. In the rapid game on the other hand he seized an initiative right from the opening – Anand too avoided the Berlin Defence with 4.Qe2 – and exploited a mistake in the world champion’s defensive play to achieve a breakthrough on the kingside, a decisive penetration of his pieces down the g-file. Click onAnand,V - Carlsen,M and enjoy the comments by the exceptional Norwegian player. |
Carlsen,M - Aronian,L
Position before 18.Nxf7
|On the DVD you will find all the games from the Amber Tournament, many of them with detailed analysis. So, for example, GM Mikhail Krasenkow annotates the top duel Carlsen-Aronian from round three. In a Grünfeld Defence with the rare 7.Qa4 Aronian innovated with the natural looking 7...a6, but missed, as Krasenkow points out, various chances of reaching direct equality. Instead of that Carlsen won the black d-pawn and in the position on the board on the left could have got a clearly advantageous ending after 18.Qc6 Bxd5 19.Qxd5 Nxe5 20.Qxd8 Rfxd8 21.dxe5. But he decided on the undoubtedly more spectacular 18.Nxf7, the result of which was a far more complex ending with an uneven distribution of material. This time fortune did not favour the brave. A few moves later Carlsen overlooked or underestimated the discovered attack 26...Ne8 and finally even had to struggle for a draw.|
Title beat cakes
|European Championship in Aix-les-Bains|
"There are things which are more of a reason to celebrate than a birthday", was how the new European champion Vladimir Potkin summed things up when looking back over the so far greatest success of his chess career. There is no doubt that 28 year old Russian deserved his victory. From the very start he set about matters courageously (5 out of 5) and led the field on his own until round 8. The decisive step to victory in the race for the title was taken in a spectacular victory with Black in the second last round against Jobava. On the DVD Potkin analyses this game and also his victory from round 4 (see below). The fact that even among top players taking a rest from chess can have a positive effect on motivation and creativity can be seen from the performance of Judit Polgar. Still the leading woman on the world ranking list, she demonstrated courageous and sometimes speculative chess and finished in third place on the same number of points as Potkin and the silver medal winner Wojtaszek. On the DVD she annotates in detail two of her best wins.
Ter Sahakyan,S - Potkin,V
Position before 27...Bxg5
|Amongst the victims of Vladimir Potkin’s sequence of victories at the start was the 18 year old Armenian Ter Sahakyan. When they met in the 2008 ECh in Plovdiv things had been peaceful on both sides. In Aix-les-Bains, on the other hand, it was all very combative and in the Sicilian Paulsen Variation both players rapidly set out on an attack on the opposing king. In his analysis Vladimir Potkin explains the knight sacrifice on e5 which had been thought up in a training session with Konstantin Landa and which brought him the initiative in this game. His young opponent underestimated the potential of the subsequent black attack and moved his knights too far away from his own king. In the position on the board, after 27.c3 Potkin got in the decisive blow with 27...Bxg5 28.Qxg5 Rxc3+ and went on to win a few moves later. Click on the link under the diagram and the European champion will explain the game to you.|
Jobava,B - Potkin,V
Position after 16...0-0
|After four draws in a row, Potkin was still in the top group before the last round but one, but to make the most of his chance he had to have a win with Black against Baadur Jobava, who also was entitled to hope for a place on the final pedestal. Here too, the players castled on different sides, but Potkin’s castling on move 16 (see diagram) turned out to be a very subtle move and in some sense decisive for the whole game. But on playing this move he not only ignored White’s “threat” of 17.Nd5, but at the same time prepared the queen sacrifice 17...cxd5 18.Nxb6 axb6. After that Black is clearly better, though this may be far beyond the horizon of the average club player. This is because, thanks to his active piece play, Black is able to generate unexpected threats against the white king. Potkin analyses in very great detail the tactical subtleties of this game, which ended after only 26 moves. After victory in this game the Russian only required a short draw with White against Polgar to win the title.|
"hunger to play"
|"I had my hunger to play and challenge myself". These are the words of Judit Polgar in retrospect as she evaluates her attitude to chess during the European championship. There could be no better attitude for an attacking player of her stamp. And so in Aix-les-Bains, despite an unfortunate start, she wrote herself into chess history: she became the first woman ever to win a medal in the European championship. After a defeat in the sixth round at the hands of the surprisingly strong Austrian player Marcus Ragger, she appeared to be already out of the running with only 4.5 points. But then Judit Polgar followed up like a whirlwind with four spectacular victories to catch up with the leaders.|
Pantsulaia,L - Polgar,J
Position before 11...b5
|The first victim in this series of wins was the young Georgian Levan Pantsulaia in round 7. Obviously in an attempt to get his opponent out of her preparation at an early stage, Pantsulaia came up with the unusual 4.Qc2. In her annotations, Judit Polgar pulls this move to pieces and in the game she immediately exposed its disadvantages. In the position on the board she first sacrificed the exchange with 11...b5 and then followed that up after 12.Bxa8 Qxa8 13.Nf3 with a piece sacrifice by means of 13...Nd3 – not so much because that would have been the best move objectively speaking, but "because the move looked so good and tempting" that she couldn’t help trying it out. Of course things went well. At first Pantsulaia did find the correct plan to unscramble his pieces and also correctly returned an exchange. In the long run the psychological pressure was too great and he made the decisive mistake with the move 26.Qf3. Play through this fascinating game and let Judit Polgar show you many fantastic variations.|
Polgar,J - Iordachescu,V
Position after 15...c4
|In the penultimate round, for the first time in a tournament game Judit Polgar chose the Advance Variation against the Caro-Kann and in doing so unquestionably surprised her opponent Viorel Iordachescu. After 3...Bf5 she continued with the at first sight modest 4.Nd2 and after 4...e6 with 5.Nb3. The idea behind this knight manoeuvre is to prevent an early ...c6-c5 or at least to make it more difficult. The first critical moment arrived after 10 moves, and Iordachescu carried out what is the normally thematic c5-advance. Too soon, as Polgar remarks in her analysis. Because after the exchange on c5 and the intermediate check on b5 there followed 15.c4! (see diagram). And after 15...a6 16.cxd5 axb5 17.Rc1 Qb8 18.dxe6 fxe6 19.Qb3 Black already has his back to the wall. In this difficult position the Moldavan could not find the correct defensive strategy and finally had to allow a liquidation to a completely lost rook ending.|
Wojtaszek,R - Hracek,Z
Position after 16...e5
|Thanks to a better tie-break score, the Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek managed to push ahead of Polgar into second place. The previous youth world champion remained, like the tournament victor of Aix-les-Bains, undefeated. On the DVD he annotates his attacking victory against the Czech GM Zbynek Hracek. In the game Wojtaszek chose the setup with 4.Nf3 and 5.g3 against the Nimzo-Indian, although up till then he had not had good results with it. With the rare 7.Qc2 he prepared a positional pawn sacrifice (9.0-0), which he had studied in depth in his preparation. The plan worked, also because at the board Hracek did not always manage to find the correct solution. In position in the diagram after 16...e5 Wojtaszek obtained a decisive advantage with the exchange sacrifice 17.Rxc5 Qxc5 18.Rd5 Qb4 19.Bxe5 Re8 20.Be4! and forced his opponent to resign a few moves later. Click on the link under the diagram and be inspired by Wojtaszek’s brilliancy and his annotations.|
|The numerousness of high level games at the ECh 2011 have served GM Mihail Marin for his review of the latest opening trends and ideas which he has once more put together for you. Marin concentrates on the various Sicilian Systems, the Grünfeld Defence, the Nimzo-Indian and some popular plans against the Caro-Kann (the Advance Variation both in its classical form and in the new version with 4.Nd2 and 5.Nb3 and also the Fantasy Variation).|
Victory for Shshm64
Every board point counts
|Russian Team Championship|
This year’s Russian Team Championship ended in a neck and neck race between two teams: the team with Ponomariov, Motylev, Areshchenko, Inarkiev, Bologan, full of top Russian players, Tomsk-400 led until half-way and was caught up in the eighth round by the foreign legion in the form of “Schachmagazin 64”. Surprisingly on top board for Shsm-64 was Boris Gelfand, although he had to bear in mind a considerably more important date at the candidates tournament in Kasan not long afterwards. Things were extremely close at the end. After eleven rounds the victorious team of Gelfand, Wang Hao, Caruana, Giri, Riazantsev, Grachev, Potkin, Najer was only half a board point ahead of their pursuers. New Russian team champion Fabiano Caruana and runner-up Ruslan Ponomariov have both annotated remarkable games.
Caruana,F - Areshchenko,A
Position after 14...f5
|In the duel between the top teams, Fabiano Caruana met Alexander Areshchenko. Against the latter’s Grünfeld Defence the Italian chose for a change the setup with 7.Nf3 thus following, e.g., the game Giri-Nepomniachtchi from Wijk 2011. On move 12 he improved on the Dutch player’s efforts with the innovation 12.d5 (after the game Giri acknowledged how good Caruana’s innovation was). After 14.f4 White’s plan was obvious: the mighty pawn centre rolled forward, and so Areshchenko’s counter 14...f5 was logical and correct. In this position (diagram) Caruana decided to sacrifice the exchange. How? After the principled 15.e5 there followed g5 16.Rg1 gxf4 and then the blow 17.Rxg7. The crux of the matter: unlike what might appear as our first impression – according to Caruana – it is White who has to struggle for equality here because it is hard to activate his forces and also his king is exposed. But just a little later the young Russian made a serious mistake and with 21...b6 even gave away a possible victory.|
|A further pairing in the duel between the top teams was that of Gelfand,B - Ponomariov,R. Gelfand only had to appear in 4 of the 11 rounds, but this match in round 10 was one of them. And, as in his previous games, he also scored a draw. On the other hand, on the top board for Tomsk-400 Ruslan Ponomariov was a heavy point scorer and with 7.5 out of 10 he was amongst the top scorers in the championship. Against Gelfand in a Catalan he tried out after 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 the sharp and still relatively new 7...b5 (recently employed successfully by Vallejo Pons and Gustafsson). But Gelfand showed himself to be up to it and with the help of natural moves he emerged from the opening with a slight advantage. After a bad mistake by Ponomariov (21...Qe7) he could really have played for a win. But 25.Kh2? turned out to be a simple waste of time and so the Russian thankfully accepted the offer to go for a draw.|
Ivanchuk,V - Ponomariov,R
Position before 22...Bxf3
|The game Ivanchuk-Ponomariov saw a rare variation of the Ruy Lopez (3...Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.0.-0 d6 6.c3 0-0 7.Nbd2 a6 8.Bxc6), in which the previous FIDE world champion managed to manoeuvre his pieces better. In the middlegame the Ukrainian choose a wrong and over-ambitious plan with 20.e5. It was countered immediately. Two moves later Ponomariov began his attack on the white king with the bishop breaking in on f3 (see diagram). And after 23.gxf3 Qh4 24.Re4 dxe5 25.Rd7 came the point: 25...Rg6+ 26.Kf1 and after 26...Rg2 Ivanchuk resigned, shaking his head. Click on the link under the diagram and play through the game with the analysis of the Russian super-GM.|
| Column Move by Move|
Erdogdu - Pelletier
Position after 21.Nh4
Which move is the best? King has awarded points (or in some cases minus points) to six different replies.
|From the opening trap to the endgame study|
Training in ChessBase Magazine starts with the very first moves and covers all the different phases of the game of chess. The 14 openings articles containing up-to-date analysis along with many ideas and suggestions for your repertoire can be found here or above among the links. This time Rainer Knaak’s opening Trap (including a Fritztrainer video) contains a trap from the Sicilian with 2...g6 3.d4 Bg7 (B27), and at the same time offers a whole repertoire for White against Black’s setup. You will also find in video format openings articles by Leonid Kritz (French Winawer Variation), Sam Collins (Sicilian Sveshnikov), Valeri Lilov (Sicilian Rossolimo) and Adrian Mikhalchishin (Queen’s Gambit Accepted). You will find these videos and another clip by Nigel Davies in the Fritztrainer column. In his strategy column Peter Wells deals with: "Doubled f-pawns in front of the castled king: part II – the safety of the king in its wider positional context". In Daniel King’s long running Move by Move it is a Catalan game which is up for discussion, see diagram on the left. And in their columns on tactics (subject: mini materialists) and the endgame (subject: domination) both Oliver Reeh and Karsten Müller have once more brought together all that is best in recent tournament practice for you.