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Anand and MVL set up the final clash at Corsica Masters

by Sagar Shah - 30/10/2016

The top two seeds at the Corsica Masters: MVL and Anand are through to the finals. Vishy beat Gharamian 1.5-0.5 in the quarters and Radjabov with the same margin in the semi finals. MVL downed Onischuk and Korobov. We have the game analysis of Anand's victories and also the video footage. The live game player between Vishy and MVL is also set up and the finals will take place on 30th October 2016 at 5.30 p.m. IST. 

Corsica is witnessing a high class tournament on their island as big names like Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vishy Anand, Teimour Radjabov and Hou Yifan are fighting it out to take the title of the Corsican Masters.

The Corsican Masters is a 16 player knock-out event. Each match consists of two games of 15 minutes + 3 seconds rapid. If they end in a draw, there would be a blitz playoff. One of the very interesting rules of the events is that you cannot offer a draw to your opponent.

This is how the Quarter finals line up looked like
The quarter finals in progress. (left to right) Hou Yifan vs Anton Korobov, Moiseenko vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Gharamian-Anand, Moiseenko-Radjabov

Anand - Gharamian

Anand took on Tigran Gharamanian in the quarter finals

Tigran Gharamian is not an opponent to be messed with. He has been the second of Levon Aronian on numerous occasions and in general is a very serious chess player. Their first game was a perfect example of what separates 2750+ GMs from the 2650+ GMs.

It's Black (Gharamian) to play. What should he do?
Gharamian played 18...Rc8 here. This was a clear error. White's weaknesses lie on the kingside and that is where he should play. The right move would have been 18...Qe8! after which the knight moves to h5 and the pawn goes to f5. This would give Black excellent counterplay.
In the game it was extremely surprising to see the speed with which the game ended. The play shifted to the queenside and Gharamian went down very quickly.
[Event "Corsican Circuit Final"]
[Site "Bastia FRA"]
[Date "2016.10.28"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Gharamian, Tigran"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2626"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "51"]
[EventDate "2016.10.27"]
[SourceDate "2012.09.08"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. c3 a6 7. Bf1 Bg4 8. d4
cxd4 9. cxd4 e5 (9... g6 10. Nc3 Bg7 11. Be3) 10. d5 Nd4 11. Be3 Nxf3+ 12. gxf3
Bd7 {This particuar line of the Sicilian Rossolimo has been seen on numerous
occasions. White has a broken kingside pawn structure in return for his extra
space. It is obvious that Black must make use of this features to launch some
sort of an attack on the white king. But as things turn out, he doesn't come
close and all the play in witnessed on the other wing.} 13. Nd2 b5 14. a4 Be7
15. axb5 axb5 16. Rxa8 Qxa8 17. Nb3 O-O 18. Qd2 Rc8 $2 (18... Qe8 $1 {[%cal
Gf6h5,Gf7f5,Gh5f4,Ge8h5] That's the right plan. The idea is to play Nh5 and
break with f5. Black gets excellent counterplay and should not be worse.} 19.
Na5 Nh5 20. Nc6 f5 $1 $132) (18... Kh8 {[%cal Gf8g8,Gg7g5,Gg5g4]}) 19. Ra1 Qb8
20. Ra6 {Suddenly from an equal position it has changed to a completely better
one for White. The knight is jumping on a5 to c6, and the b5 pawn is weak and
the situation is becoming quite difficult.} Qb7 21. Rb6 Qc7 22. Na5 $1 Qc2 23.
Nc6 Qxd2 24. Bxd2 Bxc6 (24... Bf8 25. Bxb5 $18) 25. dxc6 d5 26. Bh3 $1 $18 {
The final blow comes from the diagonal that the doubled pawns have opened up.}
1-0

The audience at the playing hall
In game two Vishy made a comfortable draw with the black pieces and advanced to the semi finals
Radjabov beat Alexander Moiseenko to setup a semi final clash with Anand

Anton Korobov beat Hou Yifan in the quarters and was now going to play against....

...Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who beat Vladimir Onischuk

Semi finals: Vishy Anand vs Teimour Radjabov

 
Teimour Radjabov played the Schliemann variation in the Ruy Lopez and equalized out of the opening
The game was heading towards a draw but Anand once again proved that he was one of the best players when it came to the handling of the knights. The endgame position was close to a draw but Radjabov couldn't play accurately and in the end he had to bite the dust.
[Event "Corsican Circuit Final"]
[Site "Bastia FRA"]
[Date "2016.10.28"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Radjabov, Teimour"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C63"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2710"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "139"]
[EventDate "2016.10.27"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 $5 {Radjabov plays the Schliemann Gambit. It is
considered to be quite dangerous, but against a well-prepared opponent like
Anand, is it a good idea?} 4. d3 fxe4 5. dxe4 Nf6 6. O-O Bc5 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8.
Nxe5 {So Anand has won a pawn out of the opening. But we are still in theory
and Black has some activity to compensate for the material deficit.} O-O 9. Nd3
$5 {Anand already has had this position twice against Carlsen and Radjabov in
2008. In those games he played Nc3 and Bg5 respectively.} Nxe4 10. Nxc5 Nxc5
$11 {The position is just equal. It's true that White's pawn structure is
better, but Black's central pawns will take away crucial squares from the
white pieces and it won't be easy for Anand's pieces to find useful squares.}
11. Be3 Ne6 12. Nd2 (12. c4 {With the idea of Nc3 is not a good idea because of
} d5 $1 {and with d4 coming up, Black is already slightly better.}) 12... d6 (
12... d5 13. Nb3 {was Anand's idea, trying to clamp down the dark squares.})
13. b4 {Stopping the c5.} Qf6 14. a4 Nf4 15. c4 {Not seeing any concrete
threats on the kingside, Vishy just expands on the other wing.} Qg6 (15... Nxg2
16. Kxg2 Qg6+ 17. Kh1 {the sacrifice on g2 is not ripe yet.}) (15... Bh3 $2 16.
Bxf4 $1 $18) 16. Bxf4 Rxf4 17. Ra3 $1 {The rook will be useful in defending on
the third rank.} Bg4 18. f3 Bh3 19. Rf2 Re8 20. Re2 {Anand has managed to keep
Black's initiative to the minimum. If he can exchange the queens the endgame
will be better for him, but it is not so easy to achieve that.} Rff8 21. Nf1 a6
(21... Rxe2 22. Qxe2 Re8 23. Qd2 Be6 {might have been better.}) 22. b5 axb5 23.
axb5 cxb5 24. cxb5 Re5 25. Ng3 $1 {An excellent move giving up the b5 pawn.
There are few tactical nuances which help white keep an edge.} Rxb5 {Radjabov
had seen that he can now threaten Rb1 winning the queen.} 26. Rc3 (26. Rb3 $1
Rfb8 27. Rxb5 Rxb5 28. Qa4 $1 {Now both bishop on h3 and rook on b5 are
hanging.} Rb1+ 29. Kf2 Be6 30. Qa8+ Kf7 31. Qc6 {White's king is much safer
and he has the initiative going his way as the c7 pawn will be lost. But this
line is not so easy to see in a rapid game.}) 26... Bf5 27. Rxc7 Rb1 28. Rc1
Rxc1 29. Qxc1 Qf6 30. Qc4+ Kh8 31. Rd2 {White has a small edge here because of
the weak d6 pawn, but it shouldn't be anything huge.} Bg6 32. Qd4 Qxd4+ 33.
Rxd4 Rd8 {It is very surprising that Radjabov couldn't hold this endgame.} 34.
Ne2 Kg8 35. g4 Bf7 36. Kf2 Kf8 37. Ra4 Rc8 38. Nd4 g6 39. Ke3 Re8+ 40. Kf4 Re7
41. Ra6 d5 42. h4 h6 43. Nc6 Re6 44. Ra8+ Kg7 45. Ne5 Re7 46. Rd8 {The
pressure keeps mounting as all the white pieces have now assumed excellent
squares. But still Black is not lost.} Ra7 47. Rd6 Ra4+ 48. Kg3 Ra7 49. g5 hxg5
50. hxg5 Re7 51. Kf4 Ra7 52. Ke3 Ra3+ 53. Kd4 Ra4+ 54. Kc5 Ra7 55. Rf6 Be8 (
55... d4 $5 56. Nxf7 Rxf7 57. Rxf7+ Kxf7 58. Kxd4 Ke6 59. Ke4 Kd6 $11 {is just
a draw.}) 56. Kxd5 Ra5+ 57. Ke4 Ra4+ 58. Ke3 Ra3+ 59. Kd4 Ra4+ 60. Kc3 Ra7 61.
f4 Rb7 62. Kc4 Ra7 63. Kc5 Rb7 64. Re6 Bf7 65. Rb6 Ra7 66. Nc6 Rd7 67. Ne5 Rd5+
$2 (67... Ra7 {and it was not so easy for White to breakthrough.}) 68. Kc6 Rd4
69. Rb7 $1 Rxf4 70. Rxf7+ {Anand knows his pawn endings! Once again Vishy
proved that when it comes to handling of the knights he is the best in the
world!} 1-0

The "stare" didn't quite work out for Teimour!
In the second game Anand played the super solid Berlin. Radjabov replied with the Anti-Berlin variation, but was never really in with a chance for an advantage. Vishy drew easily, and with a score of 1.5-0.5 advanced to the finals. Anand once again proved that when it comes to shorter time controls he is still the best in the world.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat Anton Korobov. The top two seeds are, thus, through to the finals
Leo Battesti (right centre), organizer of the event, invites Hou Yifan, Vishy Anand and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for a dinner. Also on the table are Wang Qian, mother of Hou Yifan and Jean Claude Morison.
The best caption to this picture will win a prize of three months of Premium ChessBase Account. Submit your answers in the comments section below.

The video of quarters and semi finals

Anand vs MVL final will begin at 5.30 p.m. IST on 30th Oct

Official tournament website