While round 6 didn’t set any records for fighting chess, Grandmaster Shipov does a good job of explaining the opening subtleties that pass the average chess fan by. Highlights include an unfortunate “butterfly effect”, and Gelfand choosing a line that’s “not going to trouble giants”.
Mamedyarov – Eljanov
Due to the butterfly effect some unsuccessful creativity in the opening led to a collapse in the endgame. When the same position arose as in the round 4 Mamedyarov – Aronian game, Eljanov decided that whatever happened he had to leave the beaten path in order not to run into home preparation. So instead of Levon’s logical and flexible move 12…Re8 Pavel carried out the strange manoeuvre 12…Bg6?! In general it’s not at all clear that the bishop’s best position is here, and not on e6. After the exchange on e5 the crippled bishop (Translator’s note: or perhaps “lame elephant”, given the Russian name for the chess piece!) is threatened with capture, so Black gets a poor version of the queen exchange, ending up with a worse structure.
I think that Shakhriyar should have obtained a serious edge more quickly than he did in the game. The transition to a minor-piece ending gave Black a chance to survive, but in the run-up to the time control he began to go wrong. Clearly poor were 34…a5? (more accurate is 34…Bc3, for example 35. g4 Ne8 and not 36. Ne6? in view of 36…Bd7), and also 35…Kd7? (35…Ne8! was much more stubborn). That’s how in only two moves an almost equal position turned into a hopeless one. With the bold, but essentially elementary blow 39. Nxg7! Mamedyarov broke through his opponent’s defences and deservedly won. He’s now the new leader, along with Aronian.
Gelfand – Kramnik
Gelfand played very dryly – carefully and with lots of solidity to spare. Acting in such a manner you’re not going to trouble giants, which was proved for the umpteenth time. Gaining the advantage of the two bishops, which in a closed position almost wasn’t felt, Boris, it seems to me, miscalculated a little. The queen should have been switched as soon as possible from c6 to d3 – via 18. Qb5! While after 18. Qa4 Nb8! it became clear that the a7-pawn didn’t need to be defended. Prepared for 19. Qxa7 was 19…Nc6 20. Qa4 b5! 21. Qxb5 Nxd4 22. Qd3 Nc2, and Black wins the exchange.
Later Black became thoroughly entrenched on the queenside and there were no resources left to continue the fight.
Shirov – Aronian
Alexei, not for the first time, came up against the brick wall of the Marshall Attack. With the 23. Bc2 novelty he deviated from the perilous path followed in the game Shirov – Aronian, Bilbao 2009. The players started a tricky dance of pieces on the kingside. Black pressurises with threats, while White seeks paths to simplify the position.
The crucial moment arose on the 31st move. White could continue the dance with an intricate queen pirouette 31.Qf3!? Qd7 32.Qe4 Bf5 33.Qe2! Re8 34.Qf3 Be4 35.Qg4 Bf5 36.Qh4! Be7 37.Qh5 g6 38.Qf3, getting a certain advantage. There aren’t many who could find something like that at the board, and neither could Alexei. So he agreed to the repetition of moves that had arisen.
Karjakin – Grischuk
The players made almost no moves of their own in this game. Or none at all – they were competing in home analysis, and at the board they exchanged information. They tested each other out. Indicative of that is the very fact that the novelty only appeared on the 30th move, after a series of extremely sharp moves that were by no means obvious to the average spectator. Then three moves later Black forced a perpetual check with an exchange sacrifice. The game turned out absolutely ideal from a computer’s point of view – and absolutely uninteresting for those who realised what was going on.
Nakamura – Wang Hao
An extremely interesting theoretical duel in the French Defence. Up to a point Wang Hao followed his game with Motylev from the recent China – Russia match, but on the 12th move he technically deviated, not allowing Nakamura to demonstrate a homemade surprise. Black very competently kept his king in the centre, so as not to come under a mating attack – and in the meantime created serious counterplay on the queenside. On a couple of occasions Hikaru could have taken the worthless pawn on h7, but in that case Black would have had a dangerous initiative. The draw by perpetual check was a logically justified outcome of the struggle.
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