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Tal Memorial 03: Anand and Li Chao split the point in a Nimzo

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 30/09/2016

A topical Nimzo-Indian led to a position in which Anand was certainly not worse at any point. He had an extra pawn, but Li Chao got a bit of an initiative. Anand decided to diffuse it by giving it back and reaching a very equal endgame in which White was more or less forced to repeat moves. We have an in-depth game analysis by none other than the five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand himself! You just cannot miss it. Of course, our very own IM Sagar Shah has also commented on the game for you. Enjoy this treat of an analytical report.

Tal Memorial 03: Anand and Li Chao split the point in a Nimzo

Round Three

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili

Round 3 - Sept. 29 - 14h CET
Nepomniachtchi Ian
Kramnik Vladimir
Aronian Levon
Svidler Peter
Giri Anish
Tomashevsky Evgeny
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Gelfand Boris
Li Chao B
Anand Viswanathan

Vishy Anand settled for a draw with China's Li Chao while playing on the black side of a Nimzo Indian. It began rather funnily when Anand played some transpositional tricks to reach a position where Li Chao, with white, had the bishop pair and possibilities to expand in the center. But in return, White had a doubled pawn set-up. Anand eventually ended up playing his trumps better and had a slight edge in the middle game. He had an extra pawn, but Li Chao got a bit of an initiative. Anand decided to diffuse itt after he missed a few ideas.

It was not at all a walk in the park

GM Li Chao (2746)

After the game, Anand commented, "It wouldn't surprise me if white is not worse because he did not make any serious mistakes. Just that he may not be better after the 15th move. But it could have been worse; it was very close for White because all the tactics sometimes worked by just one move."

Li Chao-Vishy Anand (Analysis by Viswanathan Anand)

[Event "10th Tal Memorial 2016"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2016.09.29"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Li, Chao b"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E21"]
[WhiteElo "2746"]
[BlackElo "2776"]
[Annotator "Vishy Anand"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "RUS"]
[SourceTitle ""]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"]
1. d4 {0} Nf6 {0} 2. c4 {0} e6 {0} 3. Nc3 {2} Bb4 {0} 4. Nf3 {9} b6 {7} 5. e3 {
38} Ne4 {76} 6. Qc2 {45} Bb7 {36} 7. Bd3 {14} Bxc3+ {11} 8. bxc3 {7} f5 {6} 9.
O-O {73} O-O {35} 10. Nd2 {18} Nxd2 {303} 11. Bxd2 {117} Qh4 {12} 12. f3 {88}
d6 {85} 13. a4 {I think it is an interesting move as it forces my knight to c6.
} Nc6 {622} 14. g3 {This looks suspicious to me. I was really surprised.} (14.
e4 f4 {Li Chao was afraid of ...f4. But I am not so sure. With the knight on
d7 in such a structure, I may play this, but here White has c5.} (14... fxe4
15. Bxe4 Na5 {White gets the e4 square. But I can play this.}) 15. c5 $1 dxc5
16. dxc5 Ne5 17. Be2 {with the idea to play c4, and Bc3. Li Chao: I don't like
the knight on e5. Anand: Yes, it is hard to say.}) 14... Qh5 {135} 15. e4 Na5 {
712} ({Here, I was hesitating, because I can play} 15... fxe4 16. Bxe4 (16.
fxe4 {can win a tempo for white, but Black has} e5 17. c5 exd4 18. cxd4 {
with the idea Qc4+.}) 16... Na5 {I was not at all worried about my position.})
16. Rae1 {I suspected I was better here.} (16. Bf4 {was suggested by Li Chao,
but I don't need ...Ba6 here, and can play ...e5,...f4.} e5 17. Bd2 f4 $15)
16... fxe4 {169} ({Maybe I can try} 16... Ba6 17. exf5 exf5 18. Re7 c5 (18...
Bxc4 19. Rxc7 d5 20. Bf4 Rf7 (20... Bxd3 21. Qxd3 Rf7 22. Qb5 Rxc7 23. Qxd5+
$18)) 19. Bf4 {with Qe2, is not as good as I had thought earlier.}) 17. fxe4 {
945} Ba6 {54 I was beginning to think that I may be better. But he found the
only move that does not make him worse.} 18. Bf4 {768} Bxc4 {662} ({I could go
} 18... e5 {but then} 19. Bc1 {And I didn't like that fact that he has Rf5. Li
Chao suggested:} c5 20. Rf5 Qe8 21. Ref1 Qe6 {I thought here he could take the
file with} 22. Qf2 {It is close to being better. But even if I take the pawn
on c4, he has moves like Qa2. It is hard to keep the structure perfect and do
everything. I would be annoyed if there is a simpler way to be better.}) 19.
Bxc4 {142} Nxc4 {100} 20. Qb3 {27} d5 {43} 21. Qb5 {21 These moves are not
incredibly difficult to find.} Rac8 {685} (21... Qe8 22. exd5 Qxb5 23. axb5
exd5 24. Re7 Rf7 25. Rxf7 Kxf7 26. Bxc7+ Ke6 27. Ra1 $1 {And I did not see how
to make progress here. Because I need ...Na3, and I actually saw here} g5 {
trying to trap his bishop, but he goes} 28. g4 {and I couldn't see how to make
progress. The rook is really passive. It is too much wishful thinking to bring
the king to b7 to free the rook, but it is other-worldly. It won't work here
because he just has Re1 in time. One idea would be to play} Na5 29. Re1+ Kd7
30. Bg3 Nc4 {but he has so many open files that he can go Rf1, etc. It was
hard for me to control what was happening.}) 22. Qc6 {So this is okay, but it
is my fault that I kept missing one tactic or the other...} Rfe8 {263} (22...
Qe8 {will face the same problem as in the previous variation.} 23. exd5 Qxc6
24. dxc6 Rf6 {and now importantly} 25. Re4 (25. g4 Na5 26. g5 Rf5 27. Rxe6 Rcf8
28. Re4 Nxc6 29. Rf2 $11) 25... Na5 26. Rfe1 Kf7 27. g4 {looks very suspicious.
It was difficult to find the correct set up.}) 23. Rf2 {It is at this point
that I realized that I had missed something.} Na5 {523} 24. Qd7 {36} Qf7 {
29 I just decided to make a draw here, because...} ({My original idea was to
play} 24... dxe4 {because it is principled. But here,} 25. Bxc7 $16 {And I am
paralysed. I can't move a muscle! Mainly because the bishop cuts my rooks off
from each other. I am stuck here.} (25. Be5 Qg6 {is excellent for me.}) 25... Qd5
26. Qf7+ Kh8 27. Be5 $16) 25. Qxf7+ {138} Kxf7 {17} 26. Bxc7+ {103} Kg8 {52}
27. Bf4 {No side can make progress here.} Nc4 {9} 28. Rfe2 {67} Kf7 {7} 29. Rf2
{106} Kg8 {7} 30. Rfe2 {6} Kf7 {11} 31. Rf2 {4} 1/2-1/2


The analysis was transcribed from Anand's post game chat, courtesy Chess Cast.

The five-time world champion has reached 2.0/3 and is sitting pretty at the second spot.

You can also have a look at IM Sagar Shah's take on Anand's game today, here:

Li Chao-Anand (Notes by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "10th Tal Memorial 2016"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2016.09.29"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Li, Chao b"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2746"]
[BlackElo "2776"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. d4 {0} Nf6 {0} 2. c4 {0} e6 {0} 3. Nc3 {2 Finally we see something more
aggressive than the normal 3.Nf3 lines. Li Chao is fine with the Nimzo Indian!}
Bb4 {0} 4. Nf3 {9} b6 {7 The b6 line in general is considred to be quite fine
against the 4.Nf3 variation.} 5. e3 {38} Ne4 {76} 6. Qc2 {45} Bb7 {36} 7. Bd3 {
14} Bxc3+ {11 I haven't really been able to figure out the exact reason for
taking this knight on this particular move, i.e before playing f5. Black
anyway has to take on c3 after White castles, hence Anand goes ahead straight
away.} (7... f5 {is the main move, but will transpose.}) 8. bxc3 {7} f5 {6} 9.
O-O {73} O-O {35} 10. Nd2 {18} (10. c5 {was played by Caruana against Wesley
So in Shamkir 2015.} Rf6 (10... bxc5 11. Rb1 Qc8 (11... Bc6 12. Ne5 $16) 12.
Ba3 $44) 11. Ne1 bxc5 12. Rb1 Qc8 13. f3 $14 {White already had the more
pleasant position.1-0 (51) Caruana,F (2802)-So,W (2788) Shamkir 2015}) 10...
Nxd2 {303} 11. Bxd2 {117 White has the bishop pair and the possibility of
expanding in the centre with f3 and e4. If you look deeply, you will realize
that this exact position can be reached with colours reversed when White plays
1.b3. So, what is the objective evaluation of the position? I would say that
White is better here, even if it is slight. But Black is within the range of
equalizing.} Qh4 {12} 12. f3 {88} d6 {85} 13. a4 {826} (13. e4 fxe4 14. fxe4
Nd7 $11) 13... Nc6 {622} (13... a5 {is possible but Anand would not like to
weaken his structure.}) 14. g3 {400} Qh5 {135} 15. e4 {60} Na5 {712} (15...
fxe4 16. fxe4 Na5 {was also possible.}) 16. Rae1 {784} fxe4 {169} 17. fxe4 {945
} Ba6 $15 {54 Overall Black has been able to use his trumps better and with
the attack on the c4 pawn he already has the upper hand.} 18. Bf4 {768} Bxc4 {
662 Black has won a pawn. Does White have compensation for it?} 19. Bxc4 {142}
Nxc4 {100} 20. Qb3 {27} d5 {43} 21. Qb5 {21 Li Chao has certain compensation
for the pawn. Firstly he has an attack on c7 and there is pressure on the d5 pawn.
Yet with accurate play Anand could have seized the advantage. However, he
plays quite passively and gives up his edge.} (21. Bxc7 $2 Rxf1+ 22. Rxf1 Nd2
23. Qd1 Qxd1 24. Rxd1 Nxe4 $19) 21... Rac8 {685} (21... Rf6 $5 {I think this
was much more in the spirit of the position.} 22. Bxc7 $2 Raf8 $1) 22. Qc6 {94}
Rfe8 {263} 23. Rf2 {461} Na5 $6 {523} (23... h6 $1 {Simply a waiting move
asking White what he wants to do? If the e1 rook moves, than Re7 followed by
Rf88 is very strong. Otherwise White exactly can White do?} 24. Ref1 (24. Rfe2
$6 Na5 $1 25. Qd7 Qf7 $17) 24... Re7 $1 {Threatening Qe8.}) (23... Re7 {
doesn't work right now because of} 24. exd5 $16) 24. Qd7 {36 Be5 is quite a
huge threat.} Qf7 {29} 25. Qxf7+ {138} Kxf7 {17} 26. Bxc7+ {103 White recovers
the pawn and his position is quite fine now.} Kg8 {52} 27. Bf4 {75} Nc4 {9} (
27... Rxc3 $2 28. exd5 $16) 28. Rfe2 {67} Kf7 {7} 29. Rf2 {106} Kg8 {7} 30.
Rfe2 {6} Kf7 {11} 31. Rf2 {4 Li Chao would be quite happy with the result.
Anand not so much - he equalized out of the opening with ease and followed it
up with some powerful moves. Black held the edge but couldn't convert it into
something tangible.} 1/2-1/2


IM Sagar Shah shows you in this video how you can master two openings by learning what Li Chao played in the above game.

It's hard to see, but White is in serious trouble.

Anyway, unbelievable scenes were witnessed in the tourney as Anish Giri won his second straight game. Spectators reportedly were trying to figure out the time when it last happened. Enjoy Alejandro Ramirez's report on the entertaining round on our international newspage here.

Round 03 games in PGN

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