World Chess Championship 2012

The 2012 World Chess Championship will pit the defending champion Viswanathan Anand against challenger Boris Gelfand of Israel. Anand is considered a heavy favorite in May’s Match as he is well on his way to numbering among the all-time greats. The game below is one of all my favorites from the champion. Next time we’ll look at Gelfand’s artistry in the Petroff to see why it is so difficult to win against him with e4.

(1999) Viswanathan Anand – Peter Svidler

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Qb3: This is the Russian System in the Grunfeld Defense. It’s a port in the storm for those of who prefer a solid, stable system.  The riskier exchange variation (5.dxe Nxd5 6 e4 Nxc3 7 bxc3) followed soon after by black’s c5 thrust makes for a more complex struggle. White gains a lead in development and forces black to abandon a central pawn. Black will eventually get a chance to kick white’s queen around as compensation. After 5…c6 6 cxd white would, depending on the method of black’s recapture, either get an improved Slav Exchange with black’s bishop misplaced, or an Exchange Grunfeld with c5 essentially taking two moves.

The Russian System

5…dxc4 6. Qxc4 O-O 7. e4 a6 8. e5 b5: Black can either come after the queen with pawns or pieces.

After 8...b5

9. Qb3 Nfd7 10. h4 c5 11. e6 c4 12. Qd1 Nb6 13. exf7+ Rxf7 14. h5 Nc6 15. hxg6 hxg6 16. Be3 Bf5 17. Ng5 Rf6 18. g4 Be6: Black has been expanding on the queen side and white is attacking on the opposite wing. The first player has secured used of the h-file while black’s pieces are slightly better.

After 18. Be6

19. Nce4 Bd5 20. Qd2 Rd6 21. f3 Bxe4 22. fxe4 Nd7 23. Qh2 Nf8: This is the wrong plan. Black’s position is beyond the help of simple defensive moves. He must counterattack or lose.

After 23...Nf8

24. e5 Rd7 25. Ne6 Qa5+ 26. Bd2 Nxe5 27. Be2 c3 28. Bxc3 b4 29. Nxg7 bxc3?? 30. Qh8!+ Kf7

31. O-O+ 1-0: What a flourish! The game ends by castling. Perhaps Svidler, sensing he was lost, played bxc3 allowing his opponent this interesting and rare mating opportunity.

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