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World Chess Championship Candidates 2011 (Quarter Finals Day 4)

Kamsky through to semi-finals to play Gelfand

Topalov just failed to take things to a playoff against Kamsky.

Topalov just failed to take things to a playoff against Kamsky. |

Gata Kamsky and Boris Gelfand both maintained their leads by drawing their final games and progressing to the semi-finals of the World Chess Championship Candidates tournament in Kazan. Kamsky after an escape from a completely lost position. The matches Kramnik-Radjabov and Aronian-Grischuk will see playoffs on Monday.

Gata Kamsky

Gata Kamsky. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

For a long time it looked like Veselin Topalov would beat Gata Kamsky to force a playoff. Topalov's opening choice of 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Qc2! hit exactly the right note against Kamsky. Soon the American fell into deep thought and afterwards (before being stopped speaking English at the press conference) he said "I think I completely screwed up the opening".

Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Kamsky is a very difficult man to put away and he fought valiantly to keep his position afloat. It was a hard one to play and Topalov had many options to test him out. Topalov waited until 35.f5 for concrete action and after Kamsky played 37...g5 he was down to 14 seconds. He used 7 of them on the bad 38...N7c6 and he could be seen at move 40 looking at the scoresheet wondering where it all went wrong.

Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky

Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

However it became apparent soon after first time control that whilst Topalov was winning, the method did require some accuracy. The easiest wins of all had already gone by, 40.Bd4 and 41.Ne6 Ke8 retracing his steps to play 42.Bd4 were both best. Bd4 attacks one of black's knights and removes the bishop from being a target was clearly the cleanest kill.

Topalov did have plenty of time to find the win but his 44.Kg1 was an error and Kamsky played very accurately after that to hold the draw.

Veselin Topalov a disappointed man

Veselin Topalov a disappointed man. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Topalov was still shaking his head at his exit at the post-game press conference. Loek van Wely who was broadcasting on ICC opined that this was bad news for Viswanathan Anand. He believes that Levon Aronian who has a good score against him and Gata Kamsky were the two opponents Anand did not want to play. Kamsky and Anand have a major rivalry going back to Kamsky's "first" chess career. van Wely said that Kamsky makes Anand uncomfortable, because "Gata wants to kill him".

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Kamsky,Gata (2732) [A15]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.4), 08.05.2011

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qc2

Looks new.

[5.g3 1-0 Frois,A (2350)-Ingram,P/Faro POR 1998 (20)]

5...Bg7 6.e4

Here Kamsky thought for a very long time. He has been totally caught out and has to decide on a setup.


[6...Nb4 is critical but I don't think Kamsky would find working this out at the board in the face of Topalov's computer analysis all that much fun.]

7.d4 0-0 8.Be3 Bg4 9.Ne5 Bxe5 10.dxe5 Nc6 11.h3 Be6 12.Rd1 Qc8 13.f4 Rd8 14.b3 Nb4


15.Rxd8+ Qxd8 16.Qb1 f5

Gata Kamsky


Veselin Topalov

Position after 16...f5

Kamsky's problem is that Topalov's position is just so much more pleasant to play that his. The two bishops grant long term chances and white can probe for a long time. Also neither of Kamsky's knights have obviously good squares.

17.exf6 exf6 18.Be2 Qe7 19.0-0 Bf7 20.Bf2 Rd8 21.Rd1 Rxd1+ 22.Qxd1 c5 23.Bf1 Nc6 24.g3 Kg7 25.Bg2

Black looks to have made some progress towards co-ordination but the long term problems remain.

25...h5 26.Nb5 Nc8 27.Qd2 c4 28.bxc4 Bxc4 29.Nd4 Qb4 30.Qc1 N8e7 31.a3 Qa4 32.Qb2 b6 33.Kh2 Kf7 34.Qc3 Ba2

[34...Ba6 35.e5 Nxd4 36.Bxd4 f5]


Topalov has set Kamsky a lot of problems which has driven him into terrible time trouble. Now he starts complications.

35...Qc4 36.Qb2 Ne5 37.Qd2 g5

Gata Kamsky's time after playing 37...g5

Gata Kamsky's time after playing 37...g5. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Now after this move Kamsky only has 14 seconds left.

38.Ne6 N7c6?

Gata Kamsky


Veselin Topalov

Position after 38...N7c6?

By this stage Kamsky had only 14 seconds to make time control at move 40 and he used 7 of them for this move. Topalov had over 8 minutes.

[38...Bb3 is the only move.]


Best and white is winning.

39...Ke8 40.Nc7+?!

Here 40.Bd4 would have certainly led to a win for Topalov, and he had the time to find it. But surely he must be winning easily anyhow?

40...Kf7 41.Nd5?!

Here after the first time control Topalov had the chance to retrace his steps. 41.Ne6 forces 41...Ke8 and again 42.Bd4 after which Topalov would not have failed to win the game. Bd4 both attacks one of Kamsky's strong knights and stops the bishop being a target on f2 making the win straight forward. Now deeper calculation is required.

41... Qe2

Black's only possible counterplay. Now only some accuracy is required from Topalov.

42.Qxf6+ Ke8 43.Qe6+ Kf8

Gata Kamsky


Veselin Topalov

Position after 43...Kf8


already it may be that this throws away the win.

[44.Bg1 Nf3+ 45.Kh1 Qd1 46.Qh6+ Kg8 47.Nf6+ Kf7 48.Qxh5+ Kxf6 49.Bxf3]

44...Qd1+! 45.Bf1 Bxd5 46.exd5 Nd4 47.Qf6+ Kg8 48.Qxg5+

Now the position is just level.

48...Kf7 49.Qd8 Qc2!

Gata Kamsky thought for a long time before playing 49...Qc2!

Gata Kamsky thought for a long time before playing 49...Qc2! Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Gata Kamsky


Veselin Topalov

Position after 49...Qc2

The final difficult move, this forces the draw, h4 is also possible but this is the really accurate move. Kamsky took a long time to play this.

50.Bg2 Qc1+ 51.Kh2 Qc2 52.Bg1 Ndf3+ 53.Kh1 Ne1 54.Bf2

Forced and now the game will finish in a draw by perpetual check.

54...Qxf2 55.Qc7+ Kf6 56.Qd6+ Kf7 57.Qc7+ Kf6 58.Qd6+ Kf7 1/2-1/2

Boris Gelfand Press Conference

Boris Gelfand Press Conference Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Boris Gelfand qualified for the semi-finals with a 24 move draw against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. It seems that Gelfand's win with black in the previous round had more or less finished his opponent. He tried a little with a Benoni to which Gelfand responded with restraint. Gelfand was close to winning after swapping off Mamedyarov's light squared bishop but then started to try and play completely without risk.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

With 23...h4 Mamedyarov would have been more or less equal and could have played on for a long time, even in the final position most players would have played on to the bitter end hoping for a miracle, instead he agreed a draw and to his own elimination, many would have gone down in flames rather than do that.

Gelfand Spinning Queen

Gelfand's Spinning Queen. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2772) [A43]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.4), 08.05.2011

1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e4 d6 5.Bb5+ Nbd7 6.a4 Bg7 7.Nf3

[7.f4 1-0 Likavsky,T (2459)-Sikora Lerch,J (2319)/Ostrava CZE 2005/The Week in Chess 550 (33)]

7...a6 8.Bc4 h6 9.0-0 g5 10.Be2 Qc7 11.a5 Nf8 12.Nd2 Ng6 13.Nc4 Bd7 14.Nb6 Rd8 15.Be3 e5?! 16.Nxd7

Removing black's light squared bishop takes away most of his chances.

16...Qxd7 17.f3 Ke7 18.Na4 h5 19.Nb6 Qc7 20.Bxg5 Bh6 21.Bxf6+ Kxf6 22.g3

[22.f4 Nxf4 (22...exf4 23.Bxh5 Qe7 24.Qd3) ]

22...Rdg8 23.Kh1 Ke7

[23...h4 24.g4 h3 25.Nc4]




White Time: 0h:38min Black Time: 0h:22min


Shakhriyar Mamedyarov


Boris Gelfand

Final position after 24...Rg7

Teimour Radjabov

Teimour Radjabov. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Vladimir Kramnik changed to the Queen's Gambit Declined with Bf4 to test out Teimour Radjabov's preparation but achieved nothing as the players liquidated to a completely drawn ending in 28 moves.

Whilst Kramnik has massive experience in rapid chess, his last outing at the Amber chess tournament was a disaster for him. Radjabov won't be favourite but I think his chances are better in the rapid than they were at the start of the match.

Kramnik-Radjabov End

Kramnik-Radjabov End. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) - Radjabov,Teimour (2744) [D37]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.4), 08.05.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.a3 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.dxc5 Nxc5 11.Be5 Bf6 12.Be2 Bxe5 13.Nxe5 Be6 14.Nf3 Qb6 15.Qd4 Rfc8 16.0-0

[16.Rd1 Rc6 17.0-0 Nb3 18.Qh4 h6 19.Bd3 Rac8 20.h3 a5 21.Rfe1 Rc1 22.Qa4 R1c6 23.Qh4 Rc1 24.Qa4 R1c6 25.Qh4 1/2-1/2 Georgiev,K (2672)-Meier,G (2653)/Pamplona ESP 2009/The Week in Chess 790]

16...Nb3 17.Qxb6 axb6 18.Rab1 Bf5 19.Rbd1 Rc2 20.Rxd5 Rxb2 21.Re1 Be6 22.Rb5 Rxa3 23.Rxb6 Raa2 24.Rxb7 g5 25.Bf1 h6 26.Nd4 Nxd4 27.Rxb2 Rxb2 28.exd4

White Time: 0h:24min Black Time: 0h:41min


Teimour Radjabov


Vladimir Kramnik

Final position after 28.exd4

Kramnik-Radjabov Board

Kramnik-Radjabov sign for the draw. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Levon Aronian is the favourite for the whole candidates event, mostly because he seems finally to be a rapidly improving player heading towards the peak of his play, he pressed somewhat in both his games with white.

Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk. Photo © Russian Chess Federation

Grischuk hasn't done the same with white against him, today he offered a draw in 17 moves, psychologically this looks weak apart from anything else. Aronian dominated the Amber tournament and although Grischuk played some great games there also I would expect him to go through now.

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Aronian,Levon (2808) [D31]
WCh Candidates Kazan RUS (1.4), 08.05.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.Be2 Nb6 10.Rc1 Nf6 11.h4 h6

[11...h5 12.Bg5 Kf8 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Bxh5 Bxh5 15.Nxh5 Bxh4 16.Nf4 g6 17.g3 Bf6 18.Rxh8+ Bxh8 19.Kf1 Nc4 20.b3 Nd6 1/2-1/2 Wang Yue (2644)-Barsov,A (2537)/Doha QAT 2006/The Week in Chess 633]

12.h5 Bh7 13.Bd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 0-0 15.Nf5 Re8 16.f3 Bf8 17.Kf2

White Time: 1h:14min Black Time: 1h:40min


Levon Aronian


Alexander Grischuk

Final position after 17.Kf2

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