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Chess Notes

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In going over games, players commonly skip the draws and play over the wins. Here, however, is a draw much more thrilling than the ordinary victory, one that should not be missed. It is Peter Svidler of Russia against Boris Gelfand of Israel. In this game Svidler plays an unheard of line against the Gruenfeld and proceeds singlemindedly to do nothing else but attack. Gelfand takes the heat; Svidler gets his queen trapped, and miraculously gets it back. A wild struggle.

2013 FIDE Candidates, London England

Peter Svidler (2747) vs. Boris Gelfand (2740)

 

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1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 This brought a few smiles as Svidler is a major proponent of the Gruenfeld as black. 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bd2 One of the many lines where White plays quietly, hoping to take advantage of Black's aggressiveness. When I played the Gruenfeld, I was always annoyed when White refused to go 5. e4. and enter the sharp lines.  5. ... Nb6 6. e3 Bg7 7. f4!? A new move in this position and not the type of move one usually sees at the very top levels of chess. Some would call this a "Coffee House" move, that is, a move that is probably not sound but looks very dangerous. Svidler stated that he played this as to prod Gelfand into playing for a win. 7. …  O-O 8. Nf3 Bg4? Both players agreed in the post-game press conference that this was very bad move. By exchanging off the bishop for the knight, Black makes it that easier for White to gain access to the h-file, h3 particularly. 9. h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 c6? Too passive. Svidler expected 10. … N(8)d7, sacrificing the b-pawn with the idea of opening the position with c5. Now, White will have his way on the king-side. 11. h4! (Diagram) White’s intentions are now quite clear – check, check, and mate!. 11. … N(8)d7 12. h5 e6 If 12. … Nf6, then 13. hxg hxg (fxg weakens too many squares and pawns) 14. f5 and both players agreed that White has a big advantage here. 13. hxg6 hxg614. e4! Now, if 14. … Bxd4 15. Qh3 and Black's bishop is in the wrong place as 15. … Nf6 allows mate in one. 14. …  f5 15. g4 Better was the simple 15. e5, keeping the black knight out of the game and preparing  g4, after castling queenside. Now, Black becomes very active.  15. … Nf6 16. gxf5 exf5 17. e5 Ng4 18.d5? White wants to take d5 away from the Black knight but that’s not necessary. Simpler was either 18. Be3 or 18. Qd3 maintaining the advantage.  18. …cxd5 19. O-O-O d4! 20. Nb5 Qd5 21. Qh3 Rfc8+ If 21. … Qxa2 then 22. Nd6 wins.  22. Kb1 Rc6 23. e6? Qxe6 24.Bg2 Svidler thought that 24. Re1 won but missed that after 24. … Ne3 25. Nxd4 Qe4+ Black, not White, was winning. 24. …Nf2 25. Qh7+ Kf7 The tables have turned with the computer evaluating the position as better for Black – 26. … Rh8 is a real threat, as is Nx (either) rook. 26. Rde1 Qf6 27. Bxc6 bxB 28. Nc7 Rh8 29. Qxh8 Bxh8 30.Ne8! Luckily for Svidler, this move is viable and lets White keep playing. 30. … Nxh1 If 30. ... Qd8, White might draw with 31 RxB, Nd5 32. Rh7+ Kf8 33. Rb7 and it is hard for Black to untangle himself. 31. Nxf6 Ng3; In this slightly better position, Black offered a draw which White accepted; 1/2-1/2.

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