Chess24 Jan Gustafsson on Alpha Zero

4th Final Masters 2011 (7)

Ivanchuk maintains overwhelming lead even after defeat by Vallejo

Francsico Vallejo Pons defeats leader Vassily Ivanchuk. Photo ©

Francsico Vallejo Pons defeats leader Vassily Ivanchuk. Photo © |

The 7th Round of the 4th Final Masters saw the leader Vassily Ivanchuk defeated for the second time. Francisco Vallejo Pons played well to win a complex English Opening against Ivanchuk in a game that was settled in a time scramble. Ivanchuk's lead was only cut by a point as the other games were drawn. Levon Aronian's 9.h4 in the Queen's Gambit is a very old Botvinnik idea which led to a very difficult position for both players. Carlsen looked to get the upper hand after a nice combination but Aronian steered the game into a drawn ending. Hikaru Nakamura easily held World Champion with black in a dry theoretical battle in a Ruy Lopez Berlin. Round 7 Standings: Ivanchuk 13, Carlsen, Nakamura, Anand Aronian 8 Vallejo 7. Round 8 Pairings: Ivanchuk-Anand, Carlsen-Vallejo and Nakamura-Aronian.

Francisco Vallejo Pons 1-0 Vassily Ivanchuk

Francisco Vallejo Pons against Vassily Ivanchuk

Francisco Vallejo Pons against Vassily Ivanchuk. Photo © Bilbao Final Masters Website

Francisco Vallejo Pons played his best game of the event so far in beating runaway leader Vassily Ivanchuk. This English opening seemed to be a hybrid of systems including the Gruenfeld. Also the position has been played without Vallejo's 5.h4 and Ivanchuk's 6...h6. Both players seemed to be working things out themselves from early on and by move 22 they were both short of time. It may be the Ivanchuk lost because he felt he was better, it is hard to believe he would have lost if he had played 21...Qd8 but instead Ivanchuk had to be careful not to get mated and in avoiding that problem was forced into a lost Rook and Pawn ending that Vallejo made no mistake in converting.

Vallejo Pons,Francisco (2716) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2765) [A16]
4th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP (7.1), 07.10.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.h4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 h6 7.e4 Bg7 8.d4 c5 9.Bb5+!?

[9.Rb1 cxd4 10.cxd4 0-0 11.Be2 Qa5+ 12.Bd2 Qxa2 13.0-0 Nc6 14.d5 Na5 15.Bb4 Bd7 16.Qd2 Qxd2 17.Nxd2 b6 18.Bxe7 Rfe8 19.Bb4 Nb7 20.Rfc1 Be5 21.Ba6 Rab8 22.Nc4 Bf4 23.Re1 Nc5 24.Bxc5 bxc5 25.g3 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Rb8 27.Rd1 Bc7 28.d6 Bd8 29.Ne5 Ba4 30.Ra1 Bf6 31.Rxa4 Bxe5 32.d7 Bc7 33.Bc8 a5 34.Rc4 Rb5 35.Kg2 Bb6 36.Ba6 Rb2 37.e5 Rd2 38.Bb5 Kf8 39.Rf4 Ke7 40.Bc4 Kxd7 41.Rxf7+ Kd8 42.e6 Rd4 43.e7+ Ke8 44.Bb5+ 1-0 Halkias,S (2584)-Gauglitz,G (2397)/Muelheim GER 2009/The Week in Chess 751]

9...Nc6 10.d5 Qa5 11.Rb1 a6 12.Bxc6+

Vassily Ivanchuk


Francisco Vallejo Pons

Position after 12.Bxc6+

12.Ba4 maintaining the tension was also very possible.

12...bxc6 13.0-0

This is Vallejo's idea started with Bxc6 and it proves quite dangerous.

13...Bg4 14.d6 Rd8 15.Bf4 exd6 16.Bxd6 Bf8

Vassily Ivanchuk


Francisco Vallejo Pons

Position after 16.Bf8


Playing it safe.

17.Rb8 is the major alternative with unclear play was expected by Seirawan and Christiansen on ICC

17...Bxd6 18.exd6 0-0 19.Qd2 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Rd7 21.Rfd1

Vassily Ivanchuk


Francisco Vallejo Pons

Position after 21.Rfd1


This is where it seems to go wrong. Ivanchuk thinks he is better here but he probably isn't. 21...Qd8 22.Qxh6 Rxd6 23.Rxd6 Qxd6; 21...Kh7

22.Qxh6 Qxc3

Again the players entered an extended time scramble here.


23.Qf4 c4 24.h5 Qg7

It is black's king that proves to be in more danger than white's.

25.Rb6 Rc8

[25...gxh5+ 26.Kh1]

26.h6 Qc3 27.Rd4!

Vassily Ivanchuk


Francisco Vallejo Pons

Position after 27.Rd4

Emphasising who is in change.

27...Qe1+ 28.Kg2 Qe6 29.Rxa6 c3 30.Ra3 Rcd8 31.Rxc3 Rxd6 32.Rxd6 Qxd6 33.Qxd6 Rxd6 34.a4 Kh7 35.a5 Kxh6 36.a6 c5 37.Ra3 Rd8 38.f4 Kg7 39.Kf3 Kf6 40.a7 Ra8

There are many tricks white has to avoid now the time scramble is over but Vallejo's techique is solid and he converts this winning position.

41.Ke4 Ke6 42.Ra6+ Kd7 43.Kd5 Kc7 44.Kxc5 Kb7 45.Kb5 Rxa7 46.Rxa7+ Kxa7 47.Kc6 1-0

Levon Aronian draw Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen. Photo © Bilbao Final Masters Website

Levon Aronian went back to 1944 and played an extremely aggressive idea from Mikhail Botvinnik which doesn't seem to have been tried at any kind of high level since. 9.h4 introduced all sorts of vicious attacking ideas based on Ng5 or g4 but also weakens g4 and white's king's position in general. Carlsen's 9...c5 struck back at the centre at the cost of a pawn and I imagine both players were on their own resources pretty soon after that. Aronian's 13.Nxd5 was maybe not the only choice in that position, and his 16.Rc7 seems to have been an error which allowed Carlsen to take the initiative. Aronian however calculated precisely and by move 27 the game was drawish a fact Carlsen recognised by trading rooks on move 30. Maybe we'll see 9.h4 tried in a few games, it certainly looks interesting, but computers may suck the fun out of it pretty quickly.

Levon Aronian against Magnus Carlsen

Levon Aronian against Magnus Carlsen. Photo © Bilbao Final Masters Website

Aronian,Levon (2807) - Carlsen,Magnus (2823) [D55]
4th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP (7.2), 07.10.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.Rc1 c6 9.h4

An old idea of Botvinnik from 1944.


[9...Nd7 10.g4 g6 11.cxd5 exd5 12.h5 g5 13.Bd3 Bg7 14.Bf5 Re8 15.Kf1 Nb6 16.Nd2 Bxf5 17.gxf5 Nc8 18.Ne2 Bf8 19.Kg2 Bd6 20.Nf1 Qf6 21.Qd3 Bc7 22.f3 Nd6 23.Neg3 Rad8 24.b3 g4 25.f4 Kh8 26.Rc2 Re7 27.Kg1 Rde8 28.Rhh2 Bb6 29.Kh1 Bc7 30.Rhg2 Rg8 31.Kg1 Bb6 32.Kh1 Ne4 33.Kg1 Nd6 34.Kh1 a6 35.Rh2 Ba7 36.Rhg2 Ne4 37.a4 Bb6 38.Nxe4 dxe4 39.Qc3 Qxf5 40.d5+ Kh7 41.Qb4 Bd8 42.dxc6 Qxh5+ 43.Rh2 Qa5 44.Qxa5 Bxa5 45.Ng3 Re6 46.cxb7 Rb8 47.b4 Bb6 48.a5 Bxe3 49.Rc7 Rf6 50.Rhc2 Rxf4 51.b5 Rf6 52.Kg2 axb5 53.Nxe4 Re6 54.Nc5 Bxc5 55.R2xc5 b4 56.Rb5 Kg6 57.Rc8 1-0 Botvinnik,M-Ragozin,V/Moscow 1944/EXT 2001]

10.dxc5 Na6 11.cxd5 Nxc5 12.Bc4 exd5 13.Nxd5

[13.Bxd5!? was a serious alternative for white in this position.]

13...Bxb2 14.Rc2 b5 15.Be2 Na4

Magnus Carlsen


Levon Aronian

Position after 15...Na4

It looks like it is black that should be in danger here but this position is really complicated.


[16.Qd3!? was an interesting suggestion from Yasser Seirawan and Larry Christiansen on ICC with Ng5 attacking ideas in the air.; 16.Bxb5 Qa5+ 17.Qd2 Qxb5 18.Nc7 Qb7 19.Nxa8 Bc3! winning for black.]

16...Be6 17.Ne7+ Kh8 18.Qc2 Bc3+! 19.Rxc3 Qa5!

A nice two move combination from Carlsen.


Magnus Carlsen


Levon Aronian

Position after 20.Ng5!

The only move that prevents white being in serious trouble.

20...Qxc3+ 21.Qxc3 Nxc3 22.Nxe6 fxe6 23.Ng6+ Kg8 24.Nxf8 Rxf8

Black is better but at least white has reached an ending with good drawing chances.

25.Bg4 e5 26.0-0 b4 27.a3!

Magnus Carlsen


Levon Aronian

Position after 27.a3

Trading away the queenside.

27...Rb8 28.axb4 Rxb4 29.Rc1 Rb1

But for the Sofia Rules the draw no doubt would have been agreed here.

[29...Rxg4 30.Rxc3 Ra4 31.Kf1 doesn't look better than the game.]

30.Rxb1 Nxb1 31.Kf1 Nc3 32.Ke1 Kf7 33.Bf5 Nb5 34.Kd2 Nd6 35.Bc2 Ke6 36.Bb3+ Kf5 37.f3 Kf6 38.g4 g5 39.hxg5+ hxg5 40.Kc3 a5 41.Bc2 Ke6 42.Bb3+ Ke7 43.Bc2 Kd7 44.Bd1 Kc6 45.f4 Kc5 46.fxg5 Ne4+ 47.Kb3 Nxg5 48.Ka4 Kc4 49.Bc2 Kc3 50.Bf5 e4 1/2-1/2

Anand draw Nakamura

We can only hope that deep preparation doesn't make all elite chess like this, because then there won't be any. Nakamura thanked Kramnik afterwards on Twitter for his deep preparation work in making this an off the shelf drawing weapon. 21.Kf2 was the start of the game according to Nakamura and his suggestion of 31.f4 for Anand didn't change the assessment of equal. They drew after 36 moves.

Thanks to Kramnik I was able to just play something silly like the Berlin and draw against the World Champion relatively effortlessly.!/GMHikaru

Anand,Viswanathan (2817) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2753) [C67]
4th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao BRA/ESP (7.3), 07.10.2011

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Bf4 Be7 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Ng5 Rh6 14.g3 Bxg5 15.Bxg5 Rg6 16.h4 f6 17.exf6 gxf6 18.Bf4 Nxh4 19.f3 Rd8 20.Rxd8+

[20.Kf2 Rxd1 21.Nxd1 Nf5 22.Rh1 Bxa2 23.Rxh5 1/2-1/2 Motylev,A (2677)-Malakhov,V (2714)/Olginka RUS 2011/The Week in Chess 858]

20...Kxd8 21.Kf2

The start of the game according to Nakamura.

21...Nf5 22.Rh1 Ng7 23.Bd2 Bf5 24.Nd1 Bxc2 25.Ne3 Bd3 26.Ng2 Ne6 27.Rxh5 Rg7 28.Bc3 Ke7 29.Rh6 Rf7 30.g4 Bb1 31.a3

[31.f4 was Nakamura's post-game suggestion but it doesn't change the assessment of equal.]

31...f5 32.g5 Nxg5 33.Nf4 Ke8 34.Rg6 Nh7 35.Rg8+ Rf8 36.Rg7 Rf7 1/2-1/2

Hikaru Nakamura


Viswanathan Anand

Position after 36...Rf7

Note there are three points for a win and one for a draw.

4th Final Masters Sao Paulo/Bilbao (BRA/ESP), 26 ix-11 x 2011 cat. XXII (2780)
1 2 3 4 5 6
1. Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2765 * * 0 . ½ 1 1 . 1 . 1 0 13 2871
2. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2823 1 . * * ½ . ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 . 8 2783
3. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2753 ½ 0 ½ . * * ½ ½ ½ . 1 . 8 2787
4. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2817 0 . ½ ½ ½ ½ * * ½ . 1 . 8 2777
5. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2807 0 . ½ ½ ½ . ½ . * * 1 ½ 8 2773
6. Vallejo Pons, Francisco g ESP 2716 0 1 1 . 0 . 0 . 0 ½ * * 7 2689
Round 7 (October 7, 2011)
Anand, Viswanathan - Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ 36 C67 Ruy Lopez Berlin
Aronian, Levon - Carlsen, Magnus ½-½ 50 D55 Queens Gambit Old Lasker Variation
Vallejo Pons, Francisco - Ivanchuk, Vassily 1-0 47 A15 English counter King's Fianchetto

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