Thursday, 10 April 2014

Chess Reviews: 234

ChessBase Magazine 159
The latest issue of ChessBase Magazine offers the usual blend of top tournament coverage, instructional material and opening surveys.

The tournaments at Zurich and Wijk aan Zee featured numerous top players. Indeed, the World Champion himself - Magnus Carlsen - made a rare post-title winning appearance at Zurich. He won the tournament (a double round-robin, half classical limit and half blitz) but should definitely have lost to Nakamura in the first cycle. Danny King presents excellent video coverage of the 'game of the round' for the two aforementioned tournaments and his analysis of the key games is typically insightful.

Nakamura vs. Carlsen
Nakamura, in time-trouble, played 37 d6? here but lost after 37 ...Nxd6 38 Nxd6 Rd8 39 Nc4? (39 Nc8! is better) and after 39 ...Qxe4 White's king is in too much trouble (0-1, 62). Danny analyses the far superior alternative 37 Qf1! attacking the stray knight and leading to some beautiful lines after 37 ...b5 38 Rxh7!! when it is relatively simple to see what happens after either 38 ...Kxh7 or 38 ...Qxh7.

It's good to spend time playing through expert analysis of top games. 'Live' commentary on the Internet is all very well, but a considered approach reveals far more secrets and creates a more lasting impression.

Incidentally, Aronian was on great form at Zurich (sharing second with Caruana) and Wijk aan Zee (clear first, by a remarkable 1.5 point margin) and consequently went into the subsequent Candidates tournament as the favourite in the eyes of many chess fans. Yet somehow his form deserted him. No doubt we will get the full story on CBM 160.

The eye-catching performance in the second tier at Wijk aan Zee was that of the popular veteran and former title challenger Jan Timman. He eventually shared second place in the tournament after many adventures. Indeed, he could have added to his impressive score if he had taken all of his chances.

Timman vs. Jobava
Stohl's excellent annotations to this key game show how Timman could have clinched a well-earned victory here. White played 74 g5? ''White was winning for more than 20 moves, with many different options to clinch his victory. However, the text move is a serious error, which will cost him half a point.'' He gives  74 Rh6 Bf4 75 Rhg6 a5 76 g5 and 74 Kf3 a5 75 Rh6 a4 76 g5 a3 77 Ra7 a2 78 Rxa2 Rxh7 79 Ra6 as both winning for White. In the game, Jobava played 74 ...Nd5 and drew after 80 moves.

Of the opening surveys, the two I enjoyed most were Moskalenko's on the Budapest Gambit (he even shows a key improvement on Spassky vs. Illescas (Linares, 1990) that seems to turn the evaluation on its head) and Marin on an underrated variation of the French Winawer (4 e5 b6). Black may have to put up with some funny looks after both 5 a3 Bf8 and 5 Qg4 Bf8, but Marin weighs up the pros and cons - highlighting the deficiencies of the two White tries - before providing a strong case for the Black side of the board. Games by Korchnoi and Petrosian are used as model examples of Winawer power.

For further details regarding CBM 159, please head for the relevant ChessBase product page.

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