Although the tournament website once again struggled on Thursday, the official YouTube channel featured another wonderfully atmospheric glimpse of the action (it was Round 5 in the European Club Cup):
Lost on move 3?
In our report on Round 4 of the European Club Cup we pointed out that Topalov had beaten Navara after a single slip by his opponent. Today it was the turn of Vallejo, who suffered from the opening on, perhaps due to a poor choice on move 3.
Translation: "3...Nc6?? would, I thought, be good for a one-game surprise - today I saw all his moves coming, and one more bagel."
employed a classical recipe of Anatoly Karpov’s in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted.
Paco, whose theoretical preparation wasn’t up to his usual level, failed to
find any counterplay and was almost limited to standing by and watching while
Vishy’s pieces gradually seized space. A poor choice of opening by the Spanish
no. 1, who now has three losses in a row.
"I thought 3...Nc6 would be an interesting idea for one game, but I think I was wrong. It's not clear whether anyone will go back to playing this variation after this game."
Anand followed a plan known since the 90s when Karpov won a model game against Milov. Anand remembered the idea of Be2 in order to play Nd2 and how Karpov went on to place his pieces on the queenside - a good example of how the memory of a chess player functions and the importance of knowing the games of the great players.
10. 0-0 ♗d6 11. ♗e2 0-0 12. ♘d2 ♗d7 13. ♖c1 ♕e7 14. a3 b5 15. ♘b3 ♘f4 16. ♗f3 ♔h8 17. ♘a2 g5 18. ♘c5 ♖g8 19. ♘b4 ♖g6 20. ♕c2 g4 21. ♗e2 ♖ag8 22. ♖fd1 ♘6h5 23. g3 ♗c8 24. ♘c6 ♕g5 25. ♗f1 ♖h6 26. ♕c3 ♘f6 27. ♘d3 ♕h5 28. h4 gxh3 29. ♘dxe5 ♖g7 30. ♗xf4 ♘xe4 31. ♕e3 ♕f5 32. ♗xh6 h2+ 33. ♔xh2 ♘xf2 34. ♗xg7+ ♔xg7 35. ♖d4 1-0 Karpov,A (2745)-Milov, V (2635) Biel 1997
11... ♗d7 would be similar to the Karpov game.
12. ♕xe2 0-0 13. 0-0 Both players considered this position favourable for White, and also easy to play. Paco confessed that none of Vishy's moves surprised him, but he could see no way to prevent White gradually improving his position.
"White's advantage is that the d-file has already been dominated and there's no way to prevent plans such as Rd6, Nf5, Qg4 and h4... If Black tries to exchange rooks it's only possible to exchange one of them and then it will have to fight against a passed pawn."
23. a3 ♖xe4 24. ♕f3 ♖e1+ 25. ♔g2 ♕e4 (25... e4? loses to 26. ♕h5 ♖xd1 27. axb4 ♖xd5 and the little trick 28. ♘xh6+ gxh6 29. ♕xd5 ) 26. ♖xe1 ♕xe1 Anand calculated up to here and couldn't see a finish, but he still had 27. ♖d1! ♕a5 28. ♕xb7 with an advantage.
The win pushed Vishy up to no. 3 on the live rating list. The Indian seems to have recovered his form of old, getting back the knack for winning games he'd lost in his last few years as World Champion, but also eliminating the losses that marred his preparation for the first match with Carlsen.
He commented on the upcoming match in the post-game press conference:
I’m happy both with my results and my game – I believe in my chances.
“Sometimes it’s good not to be prepared”
battle between Ruslan Ponomariov and Levon Aronian was also fascinating. The
Ukrainian started the game in a state of shock, since he’d expected another
opponent... The pairings system employed in Bilbao doesn’t, as you might expect, repeat
the first half pairings in the second, but with colours reversed. So
Ruslan’s opponent in Round 4 was Aronian and not his Round 1 opponent Anand.
Ruslan nevertheless managed to pose Aronian problems right from the off. After move 24 the following unusual position had been
has an extra pawn, but White’s compensation is more than obvious - the black
pieces can hardly move. However, Black’s position is so solid that it’s almost
impossible to break down, and after a few attempts Ruslan was unable to avoid
the Armenian totally shutting up shot. The outcome was a draw, but some free
advice – don’t try this at home!
Aronian regretted his attempted "improvement", and also noted that sometimes “it’s
good not to be prepared”!
In Round 5 Ponomariov will have the white pieces against Anand that he expected today, while Vallejo faces the ordeal of the black pieces against Aronian - perhaps not what the doctor ordered after three consecutive losses.
As always you can watch the action live here on chess24 with video commentary by GM Jan Gustafsson and IM Lawrence Trent! (Round 4 can be replayed here)
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