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Aronian and Anand split point in a theoretical battle

by ChessBase India - 13/03/2016

After a resounding victory in the first round, Vishy Anand faced Levon Aronian in round two. It was a highly theoretical and modern variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, in which both the players were armed to the teeth with excellent home-preparation. Until move twenty they played moves that were already known by them and with some careful manoeuvring Anand was able to easily hold the draw with the black pieces. A fairly successful result for the Indian champion. We have in-depth game analysis from Moscow by IM Sagar Shah.

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[Event "FIDE Candidates 2016"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2016.03.12"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2786"]
[BlackElo "2762"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2016.03.10"]
{Levon Aronian has always been a tough opponent for Vishy Anand. The Armenian
has had a good score against the Indian but quite often Anand has been able to
create certain brilliancies against Levon. Take for example their game at the
Wijk Aan Zee 2013.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 {Anand starts off with the flexible
moves Nf6 and e6. This gives him a lot of options. To play the Nimzo, QGD,
Ragozin and also the Benoni if the need arises.} 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Nbd7 $5 {
This idea of developing the knight on d7 before the bishop on f8 is
interesting. The point of this move is that the bishop can develop on e7 or b4.
This keeps the options open. And as Vishy mentioned after the game that ...
Nbd7 is transpositional in nature and gives Black many more opportunities.} 5.
Bf4 {After suffering for the entire game yesterday from the black side of the
QGD 5.Bf4, Aronian thinks that this is a good idea to try as White!} dxc4 $5 (
5... Be7 6. e3 O-O $1 {Takes us to the main line of the 5.Bf4 QGD.}) 6. e3 {
This is quite an important position and the main moves here have been ...Nb6
and ...Nd5. Even a6 has been popular here. But Anand opts for the move 6...
b5!? which has only been played 19 times before.} b5 {So what is the idea of
this move you may ask. Well first of all you are simply saving the pawn on c4.
Hence, the logical move is to take on b5. But after} 7. Nxb5 {Black gets to
develop with a tempo with the move Bb4+.} Bb4+ 8. Nd2 $5 {This move has only
been played once before in this particular position and only a week ago by
Boris Gelfand in his game against Boris Grachev from the Aeroflot Open 2016.
The height of co-incidence is that when this move was made, Gelfand was
sitting right besides me. He told me that this was played by him against
Grachev in the Aeroflot Open 2016. When asked whether he thinks Aronian
followed his idea, Gelfand said, " Aeroflot is a great tournament, and I am
one of the top players. So it wouldn't come as a surprise if Aronian had not
missed this game!"} (8. Nc3 {is the only move that has been played before by
top players like Wojtaszek, Karjakin, Roiz, Gustaffson and Bu. Play might
continue something like} Nd5 9. Rc1 N7b6 {with a complex position.}) 8... Nd5 {
Vishy Anand paused for a while before making this move. Most probably
recalling his analysis.} 9. Bg3 N7b6 10. Qc2 O-O 11. Be2 (11. Bxc4 Nxc4 12.
Qxc4 Ba6 $19 {wouldn't be very good for White.}) 11... Ba6 12. Nc3 c5 $1 {
Black is ahead in development and hence makes the right decision to open up
the position.} 13. dxc5 {Until now we have been following the game between
Gelfand-Grachev and through transposition we also have the game of Lenic vs
Stern. But now Anand deviates and instead of directly taking on c5, he first
takes on c3 and then picks up the c5 pawn.} Nxc3 14. bxc3 Bxc5 15. O-O {
Both sides have castled and the opening phase is now over. Let us try to
understand what's going on. The pawn on c4 gives Black space but it also
limits Black's possibilities as two of his pieces are tied down. It looks
White is slightly better but Black is holding the balance.} Rc8 16. Rfd1 Qg5 (
16... Qf6 {is also possible as} 17. Ne4 {is met with} Qf5 18. Rac1 Be7 {
with an interesting position.}) 17. Nf3 Qg6 18. Qd2 Bb5 $1 {This is the key
move of the entire game. It is a common idea in this structure. Black reroutes
his bishop to a4 where it will be much more useful than on a6.} 19. Qe1 {
Aronian made this move quite quickly which felt that he was still in his
home-preparation. But as he mentioned after the game, he seemed to have a deja
vu feeling that he had seen this before at home, when actually it was quite
possible that he hadn't. In any case this is pretty good move with the idea of
meeting Ba4 with Rd2.} Ba4 20. Ne5 (20. Rd2 $6 f6 $1 {Was the important point.
And hence it is neccessary to insert Ne5 before playing Rd2.}) 20... Qg5 21.
Rd2 (21. Nf3 {trying to repeat the position would be incorrect as after} Qe7
22. Rd2 f6 {with the idea of e5, Black is clearly better.}) 21... Rfd8 22.
Rxd8+ Qxd8 (22... Rxd8 {was also possible.} 23. Nxc4 Nxc4 24. Bxc4 $14 {
Black has compensation but he will not be regaining his pawn any time soon.})
23. Nxc4 Nxc4 24. Bxc4 Bxe3 $1 {The most clear cut way to equalize.} (24... Ba3
{is also possible but after} 25. Bb3 Bxb3 26. axb3 Bb2 27. Rxa7 $14 {White has
a small edge.}) 25. Qxe3 (25. Ba6 Bd2 26. Qe4 Bc6 $1 {An important move to
foresee.} 27. Qe5 Ra8 28. Rd1 Qb6 $11) 25... Rxc4 26. Rb1 Rc8 27. h3 (27. Qxa7
Bc2 28. Rc1 Rxc3 $11) 27... a6 28. c4 Rxc4 29. Rb8 Rc8 30. Qb6 Rxb8 31. Qxb8 {
And rather than trying to play this pawn up endgame which would anyway end in
a draw after 30 odd more moves, due to the opposite coloured bishops, Anand
agreed to a draw. A wise decision considering that there is such a long event
left ahead.} 1/2-1/2

 

Round two report on the popular online news portal: Firstpost

Click on the image below to go to the Firstpost website to read the entire article: