USCF Home Chess Life Online 2007 September Leko Wins in Round 8
|Leko Wins in Round 8|
|By GM Ian Rogers|
|September 22, 2007|
The eighth round of the World Championship tournament in Mexico City - and first round of the second cycle - was another eventful day, apart from the aborted battle between the two leaders.
From the start, with the clock of the Svidler-Kramnik game being started by GM Susan Polgar, to the continuing problems with the lights above the boards, this was not a normal day - a feeling emphasized when it became clear that the apparently invincible defending World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was in trouble.
Viswanathan Anand preserved his half point lead with a 20-move draw against his main rival Boris Gelfand. Anand, playing Black, surprised Gelfand in the opening and equalized easily, but even so the draw offer from Gelfand came as a surprise.
"I wanted to surprise Boris with this move 10...Bd6," said Anand. "In the Catalan once in a while you have strange moves. I don't see what we can do in the final position I will put a knight on c4 and rooks on c8 and e8 and I am fine."
Gelfand deflected questions about why he offered a draw when sitting half a point behind Anand and apparently needing a win. "We have had enough questions about quick draws. Vishy played a very rare move 10...Bd6. If Black manages to play ...c5 Black has a good game. I didn't find a good way to prevent ...c5 and after this neither side can fight for an advantage.
"I play game after game," Gelfand added, the same phrase he has used after the previous four games.
Kramnik was in trouble for the first time in the tournament and, had Svidler trusted his instinct and played 27.Qg2 hxg4 28.Ne4!, the tournament tailender might finally have had something to cheer.
"By my standards in this tournament, today was a good day," said Svidler. "I have tried to be solid here and I am not enjoying it all that much so I thought I should change something. But Vladimir defended well, as he always does."
Kramnik admitted that "Today was the first time in the tournament that I had some problems."
After the draw, Kramnik was not writing off his chances of catching Anand; "I think I can still fight for first place. I don't have complaints with my play but unfortunately my opponents have also played pretty well."
Opening: Petroff's Defence
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3
The top players seem to have enormous faith in this system - or perhaps have no faith in White's chances in the main lines after 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 Nc6.
5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bf4 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nc5 10.Be3 Re8 11.Bc4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Nxe6 13.h4 Qd7 14.Qd5 Qc6 15.Qf5 Qc4 16.Kb1
Teenage Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin had tried 16.Ng5 against Kramnik earlier in the year, without any success after 16...Bxg5 17.hxg5 Nf8.
16...g6 17.Qh3 h5 18.Nd2
A novelty which I checked with my seconds this morning," said Svidler.
"Far stronger than the immediate 18...Qg4," Svidler explained. "With a rook on e1 I will always have to worry about exchanges [along the e file]."
19.Rde1 Qg4 20.Qh2
"I was as satisfied with my position after 20 moves against the Petroff as I have been in years," Svidler admitted, although his advantage on the clock of almost an hour must have helped his good humor. "White's position looks quite ugly for a while but then f3, g4 happens and it's quite dangerous," Svidler explained.
20...d5 21.f3 Qa4 22.g4 Bd6
Kramnik, the great defender, proved he was human by describing White's attack as "quite scary". 22...hxg4 23.h5 g5 24.h6 would be foolhardy for Black.
23.Qf2 Ng7! 24.c4!
"If I don't play this Black will slowly consolidate," explained Svidler.
24...dxc4 25.Bd4 Qc6 26.Bc3!
Svidler believed that after 26.Bxg7!? Kxg7 27.gxh5 Qb6 he would have to agree to mass exchanges and a draw, but 28.Qg2 at least keeps the game alive, e.g. 28...c3 29.Nb3 a5 30.hxg6 a4 with a complete mess.
"I thought that the threat of 27.Qd4 was very strong," said Svidler, " but in fact after 26...Rad8! the position is quite unclear. Luckily for me Vlad saw that he could force a draw and with less time he [went for it]."
Reluctantly agreeing to a repetition of moves. Svidler thought long and hard over continuing the game with 27.Qg2! but dismissed the idea because of 27...hxg4 28.Qxg4 Rxe1+ 29.Rxe1 Re8 30.Ne4 f5 31.Nf6+ Kf7 32.Qxc4+ Re6 when he correctly judged that White has nothing.
Svidler also looked at 28.Ne4!, thinking that 28...gxf3 29.Qxf3 Nh5 "and I couldn't see any continuation of my attack.". However then the surprising 30.Ref1! gives Black serious problems, e.g. 30...Re7 31.Nxc5 Qxc5 32.Rhg1! with a massive attack.
27...Bd6 28.Qf2 Bc5 29.Qg3?! Bd6 ½-½
After an eventful middlegame Morozevich managed to hold a rook endgame against Aronian after a single careless move by White.
"I wasn't expecting Alexander to play this [opening] line," said Aronian. "During the game I felt that I got a good position and until I played 19.c5 everything was under control. Black should equalize after 20.Nd2 but then I got an easily winning position. Then I dropped 500 Elo points [in playing strength] - those things happen to me quite frequently. If I don't play 36.h4? - a child's move - it is winning."
Morozevich concurred - "There was only one interesting position in the game - after 18...Be7. I was afraid of 19.Qc3 after which I didn't see the way to proceed for Black. 19...Bf8 is hardly a move and the principled 19...c5 20.Bxg7 Ne4 [is met by] 21.Qe5. In this very strange position, with the bishop almost trapped on g7, I didn't see [anything], e.g. 21...Qg6 22.Qc7! Bc6 23.Ne5 Qxg7 23.Nxc6 Bd6 24.Qb7 dxc6 25.Qxc6 and I think White is winning. I was very much surprised that he didn't play 19.Qc3.
"After 19.c5 Ne4 20.Nd2 any capture on c5 leads to approximate equality."
The rook endgame, which was similar to the Anand-Kramnik game in round 3, was winning for White until 36.h4?, although the reason is very subtle.
In the game Morozevich could afford to give up the e pawn, because after 36.h4 there is no way for White to create a passed f pawn, something which is needed if White is to dislodge the Black king from its shuttle between h7 and g7. (See Jeremy Silman's Endgame Course for full details.)
If the White pawn had stayed on h2 then, when the black pawn reaches a7 and the White king reaches d5 and the Black king is on ...h7, Black will have to defend the pawn with ...Ra4 - something Morozevich did not have to do in the game.
Then White plays Kc6! Ra1 Rd8! Rxa7 Rd7+ with a winning pawn endgame - the sort of idea that Kramnik tried without success to organize against Anand.
The final game of the day to finish saw Peter Leko score his first win of the tournament by grinding down Alexander Grischuk in 60 moves.
Grischuk - "I didn't expect that Peter would repeat this variation," said Grischuk. "I played the opening awfully - I felt like I was playing like some guy from the street who had no idea what to do. I think after Peter played 14.d4 he had a significant advantage. I fought reasonably but the position was too bad. Peter didn't give me any real chances for survival."
Leko looked extremely sprightly despite the six-hour struggle. " I think this was quite a good game from my side; it is very hard to say where my opponent went wrong. I wanted to try this line yesterday [but Vishy avoided it]. It will definitely be a much more pleasant rest day than the one before!"