Hikaru Nakamura - Viswanathan Anand

Round 9
Tata Steel 2011


After the rest day at Tata Steel Chess tournament, not one, but three games will be covered on simultaneously! Live commentary of Anand - Nakamura, Vachier Lagarve - Carlsen, and Li Chao - Wesley So will start at 13:30 CET.

Live commentary will be provided by GM Christian Bauer, author of the book Play the Scandinavian, the U18 top player of Spain IM Alexander Ipatov (interview with him here), and the international coach and winner of many tournaments IM Miodrag Perunovic (more info here).

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1.d4 Last year Anand and Nakamura met at the same event, but Anand had white. The World Champion opened with 1.d4 and the game went on 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.b4 Nc6 7.a3 d5 8.Bb2 Ne4 9.Nbd2. It was a 33 moves draw, at the time Anand was obviously saving strength and opening theory for the match with Topalov. Given the standings now, it is likely that both go for a strong battle today.

1... Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 b6 Nimzo Indian by the players today. 4.Nf3 is known as the Kasparov Variation, since Garry Kasparov used it to great effect against Anatoly Karpov in their 1985 World Championship match. 4...b6 5.Bg5 Bb7 transposes to the Nimzo/Queen's Indian defence. 5. Bg5 will be the main line

5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.Bg3 Ne4 The battle here is for the central squares on the board, which are key in the opening. Especially important is to get e4 and d5 under control. This system was most popular in the 80'. Lately it is seeing a slight increase on top grandmaster level as well.

8.Qc2 Bb7 9.e3 d6 10.Bd3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 f5 As mentioned, the e4 square is key in the position, so the f5 move is totally natural. After 12. d5 Nd7 13. Bxe4 fxe4 14. Qxe4 Qf6 15. Qxe6+ Qxe6 16. dxe6 Nc5 it will be under control for black. That is why white can ruin that plan, stay with control of d4 and at the same time deprive black of castle with 12. a4 Nd7 13. a5 Ndf6 14. d5 exd5 15. cxd5 Bxd5 16. Nd4 c5 17. Qa4+ Kf8

12.d5 Time to see how deep is Anand's preparation. The position is repeating a game of Bacrot from 2003 where white won. Nakamura spent quite some time on the d5 move, analysing possibilities, and even though the position is not new on the board it seems he is out of preparation.

12... Na6 The main idea behind the 12. d5 is 13. Bxe4 fxe4 14. Qxe4 and Anand is to follow with Qf6.

13.h4 Interesting! With the knight being away from the kingside on a6 Nakamura tries to get Anand out of his preparation. However, the original plan with Qf6 still works. How about Nxg3?!? Complications arise for both sides 14. fxg3 gxh4 15. dxe6 Nc5 16. Bxf5 Bxf3 17. O-O Qe7 18. Rxf3 O-O-O 19. gxh4 Rdf8 20. a4 a5 21. Rf4 h5 22. Raf1 c6 23. Qe2 Kc7 where white stands better, but black's king is safe and counterplay is always available to Anand. But in the same line we see the point of Nakamura, black's knight is with reduced mobility, leaving all initiative to white's bishop in further development.

13... Qf6 14.Bxe4 fxe4 15.Qxe4 Note: The Gibraltar Chess Festival with Ivanchuk, Caruana, Adams, Vallejo, Bologan, Sasikiran, Nisipeanu, Georgiev, Harikrishna, Short, Fridman, Roiz, Edouard, Fier, Kosintseva, Stefanova, Korchnoi, Rapport, Harika, and many other top grandmasters is starting. Follow the games here with analysis

Back to the game, ...Qxc3+ is the principled move, though ...Nc5 16.Qd4 e5 may be a decent alternative. In that case White can't take twice on e5 because of ...Nd3

15... Qxc3+ 16.Ke2 Nc5 Anand has entered the complications! I'm not sure if Qg6+ is a clever idea since after ...Ke7 Black's Queen control the long diagonal while creating its own threats.

17.Qg6 Ke7 Black has got the better pawn structure and Nakamura shall therefore strive for activity. White must parry ...Qb2 and ...Qxc4 so that placing a Rook at c1 is mandatory. Then Black will retreat with ...Qf6, and in case of a Queens' swap Black will enjoy a riskfree edge.

18.Rac1 Qf6 19.Qxf6+ Entering worse ending for white.

19... Kxf6 20.Rhd1 As all the game, Nakamura wants to hold to the d pawn. dxe6 was the other possibility.

20... exd5 Anand, however, does not want complications with that pawn and clears it out.

21.cxd5 Ba6+ 22.Ke1 Rae8 Aiming to control the center via rook advance. Rh7 was possible with the idea to protect the c7 pawn and to free the knight.

23.Rc3 Now the rook is eyeing both c7 and a Ra3 attacking a7. Anand has to pary this with Re4.

23... Re4 24.Rd4 Anand wants his rook in the center, so Rhe8 here

24... Rhe8 25.Ra3 The mentioned threat. But now what to follow? 25... Kf5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Kd1 Bf1 28. Nd2 Rxd4 29. exd4 Be2+ 30. Kc2 Nd3 31. Rxd3 Bxd3+ 32. Kxd3 is not going to bring Vishy advantage. Better is 25... Kf5 26. Rd2 Rc4 27. Nd4+ Kg6 28. Rd1 Kf6 29. f3 Bb7 30. e4 a5 31. Kf2 Rb4 . Time for the World Champion to show a plan. It is hard to find activity for black.

25... Bc8 The thoughts of Anand go in the same direction, he is looking for activity. 26. hxg5+ hxg5 27. Rxa7 R8e7 28. Kf1 Rxd4 29. Nxd4 however enters the game in an equal position.

26.hxg5+ hxg5 27.Rxa7 R8e7 28.Kf1 28. Kf1 Bg4 29. Nd2 would be redundant, this is not the idea with which the bishop went to c8.

28... Bg4 29.Nd2 Nakamura likes his knight and retreats it. In a complicated engame it can be of use.

29... Rxd4 30.exd4 Nd3 31.f3 Bf5 32.a3 Now this looks a little dangerous for white. Not being able to defend with the rook on a3 brings 32. ... Nf4 33. Ne4+ Bxe4 34. fxe4 Rxe4 35. Rxc7 Rxd4 36. Rc6 Rxd5 and initiative for black. Still, white can hold R + 2p vs R + 2p on the board after exchanges. This is of course given that both players are precise in the following moves, which come in slight time trouble, with 15 minutes for 7 moves for both of them.

32... Nf4 33.Bxf4 gxf4 34.Ne4 Bxe4 forced, wins the pawn back for black and gives slight advantage to Anand, but is it enough for the win? Despite the better placed king, this ending is a draw with precise play.

34... Bxe4 35.fxe4 Rxe4 36.Rxc7 Rxd4 37.Rc6 Ke5 38.Rxb6 Rd1+ 39.Ke2 Ra1 40.Rb3 Kxd5 41.g3 Ke5 With the time control reached and a drawn position on the board, Nakamura and Anand shake hands for a draw. This guarantees minimum shared first for both at the current standings. Thank you for following Tata Steel 2011 with us and see you again for more live games commentary on! 1/2-1/2