Wednesday 3 April 2013

Chess Reviews: 212

ChessBase Magazine 153

The latest issue of ChessBase magazine features impressive tournament reports on Zurich (Caruana, Anand, Kramnik, Gelfand), Wijk aan Zee (Carlsen, Aronian, Anand...), Baden-Baden (Anand, Caruana, Adams...) and Gibraltar (Short, Vitiugov, Vachier Lagrave, Sandipan...).

A puzzled-looking Garry Kasparov takes pride of place on the cover of the printed part of the magazine. He has not returned to over-the-board battles; he provided live commentary at the Zurich event.

One eternal puzzle for us all - how do super-Grandmasters actually lose games? I found it interesting to look at some example of high-level losses and to compare how the super-GMs toppled. One of the big strengths of ChessBase Magazine is that one has all of the top games altogether in one place, so such comparisons are made a lot easier. It also helps when the games have Grandmasterly annotations.

Example One: Bad Judgement

Anand - Caruana
Zurich 2013
Anand's exchange sacrifice certainly didn't turn out as planned. 29 Rxe5?! Nxe5 30 Qxe5 Be8 31 Na5 Qxe5 32 Nxe5 Ne7! (0-1, 45)

Example Two: A Simple Blunder

Anand - Kramnik
Zurich 2013
Even World Champions can blunder, just like the rest of us. I can't imagine Kramnik would have felt too good after playing: 21 ...Qb8?? overlooking 22 Rxa6 when 22 ...Rxa6 allowed 23 Qxd3, forking a6 and e2 (1-0, 27).

As annotator GM Gormally says: ''All of a sudden the game is over. It's easy with chess to become obsessed with strategy, positional play, opening preparation and so on. But horrible blunders decide the games more often than we think.''

Example Three: Fatigue

Caruana - Gelfand
Zurich 2013
Boris Gelfand came so close to winning the World Championship last year. Yet even a player as strong as he undoubtedly is can lose focus towards the end of a tough game. Some of his moves in this endgame make a bizarre impression. 50 hxg4 fxg4? (50 ...hxg4!) 51 Kg2 Nc5 52 Nb7 Nxb7 53 Rxb7 Ra4 54 Rb6 ''Now White has good winning chances, but it will take time and patience to break down the light-square blockade.'' 54 ...Re4 

55 Kf1 h4? 56 gxh4 g3 57 Bg1 Bh6 58 Kg2 1-0 The last pawn falls and further resistance is meaningless. (Notes by GM Stohl)

Example Four: Preparation

Aronian - Anand
Tata Steel
Anand showed some great preparation in this game, but as his honest annotations reveal, he didn't have a perfect recall of his homework.

''After this I actually could not remember, what we had prepared. This was a bit of a problem, because this is not the position where you could make a half move or a position that plays itself. You have to make an exact move, because there is a rook hanging on f8 and a lot of action. You have to do the right thing. And there are some possibilities. I was considering moves like 15...e5, 15...Nde5, 15...Qh4, etc. But none of them made a lot of sense. And then I got the key. Though I couldn't remember the variations, I remembered that in some lines my knight gets to d3. So I mainly remembered the position where my knight gets to d3 and from this I managed to reconstruct and find this move ...Bc5.''

So 15 ...Bc5! it was, and after Aronian's erroneous reply 16 Be2? Anand went on to chalk up an important victory (0-1, 23).

All very instructive stuff.

Elsewhere, all of the usual ChessBase features are present and correct, making this another feast of fine chess which should be a required purchase for all serious chess players.

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