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Anand beats Aronian with virtuoso endgame technique!

by ChessBase India - 22/03/2016

Vishy Anand played a fine game to get the better of Armenian number one Levon Aronian. The Berlin had been posing certain problems to Anand in this tournament, so he switched to the Guico Piano with the aim of getting a fresh non theoretical position. As it turned out White got a small edge out of the opening which increased due to a few careless moves by Aronian. Vishy's endgame play was a piece of art, mixing objectively strong moves with subtle psychology. The result was a near to flawless Capablanca/Smyslov like endgame victory. Detailed analysis by IM Sagar Shah.

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[Event "Candidates 2016"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.03.21"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2762"]
[BlackElo "2784"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "131"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 $5 {Enough of Anti-Berlins. I think Anand must have
given his seconds a full day to find something in the Berlin lines for White
and if they could not he would decide to go for the Guico Piano. And this
looks like an excellent decision especially because Anand needs to win this
one.} Bc5 4. O-O d6 5. d3 Nf6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 Ba7 8. Na3 {You can bank on Anand
to have a new idea up his sleeve in whatever opening he played.} Ne7 9. Nc2 Ng6
10. Be3 O-O 11. Bxa7 Rxa7 12. Ne3 Ng4 $6 {The main reason why this move is not
so great is because it takes away the pressure from the e4 pawn and helps
White to go d4.} 13. Qd2 a5 (13... Nxe3 14. Qxe3 Ra8 15. a5 {might be what
Levon was afraid of and is the reason why he played a6-a5.}) 14. d4 $1 Ra8 15.
dxe5 N4xe5 (15... dxe5 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. Rad1 $1 $16) 16. Nxe5 Nxe5 (16... dxe5
17. Qxd8 Rxd8 18. Rfd1 $14) 17. Bb3 {The e4 pawn against the d6 one gives
white a small advantage.} Nd7 18. Bc2 Re8 19. f3 {A restrained move for the
time being. White would like to co-ordinate his pieces better and later he can
decide whether he would like to expand on the kingside with f4 or on the
queenside with b4.} b6 20. Rfd1 Nc5 21. b4 Nd7 22. Bb3 Nf6 23. Qd4 Qe7 $6 {
This was pointed out by Anand and Aronian as a careless move. Now Nd5 gives
White a nice edge.} (23... Be6 {Could be an improvement although this too
looks better for White.}) 24. Nd5 {A very practical and pragmatic move. White
leads the position into one sided play.} Nxd5 25. Bxd5 {Only White can be
better here. He has the better minor piece and also more space.} Ra7 26. b5 $1
{Anand is doing all the thing right here. But still his advantage is at best
pleasant, not decisive. He needs Aronian to make errors in order for him to
win. With accurate play this looks like a draw.} Bb7 (26... Be6 {was also
possible.}) 27. c4 Qe5 (27... Bxd5 {This was Aronian's original intention.} 28.
cxd5 Raa8 29. Rac1 Rad8 30. Rc6 Rd7 31. Rdc1 Qd8 32. R1c4 Ree7 33. Qc3 {
And here Black doesn't maange to hold because Rxb6 is a threat and after} Qb8
34. e5 $1 {is really strong.} Rxe5 (34... dxe5 35. d6 $1 $18) 35. Rxc7 $16) 28.
Rac1 (28. Qxe5 Rxe5 29. Kf2 $14 {is similar to the game.}) 28... Qxd4+ 29. Rxd4
Kf8 30. Kf2 Ke7 31. f4 {Anand opens the third rank for his rook to go to h3 or
g3 via c3.} f6 32. Rc3 Kd7 33. Rh3 h6 34. Rg3 Re7 35. Rg6 (35. f5 Bxd5 36. cxd5
{Also looks like a plan. Of course e4 is a weakness but White can take care of
it with Kf3 and slowly can develop the final kingside breakthrough with
h4-g4-g5. However, the problem in this scenario is that the area of battle is
just too small and Black can be ready for this breakthrough. Hence, Anand
doesn't go for the committal pawn move with f5.}) 35... Bxd5 36. cxd5 Ra8 37.
Kf3 {This is not a pleasant position to be in as black. That is for sure.} Rae8
38. Kg4 $1 {Maybe an exclamation here is generous. But the point that I am
trying to make here is that good players know when to change the character of
the position. Vishy knows that if he goes for a kingside pawn storm nothing
much will come out of it. On the other hand in this position with the king
coming to f5 and the opponent in severe time pressure (two moves to reach the
time control) things can go completely wrong. This was a very smart move by
Anand.} Rxe4 {Anand was surprised that Aronian took this pawn without much
thought.} (38... Kd8 39. Kf5 {Only improves White's chances. One cannot be
sure whether it is winning or not but it definitely is no fun for Black.}) 39.
Rxg7+ Kc8 $6 (39... Kd8 {was more accurate as then the c7 pawn doesn't fall
with a check.} 40. Rd2 Rxa4 41. Rc2 Re5 $1 42. Rcxc7 Rg5+ $1 {I wonder if
Levon would have found this nice defensive idea. It surely doesn't look easy
to find over the board.} 43. Kf3 Rxg7 44. Rxg7 Rd4 $11) 40. Rd2 $1 {Keeping
the rooks makes it difficult for Black to play freely as there is always
counterplay associated with the c7 pawn.} Kb8 $6 {Stupid 40th move was Levon's
statement after the game. I should have played Kb7 is what he said. But is
there such a huge difference between Kb8 and Kb7?} (40... Rxa4 41. Rc2 $36) (
40... Kb7 41. Rc2 Rc8 42. Ra2 Rd4 43. Kf5 Rxd5+ 44. Kxf6 {And we reach a
position that is similar to the game. I don't understand the difference
between Kb7 and Kb8.}) 41. Rc2 Rc8 42. Ra2 $1 {After making the black rook
passive for a while White returns to defend the a4 pawn.} Rd4 43. Kf5 {The
main advantage for White in this position is his king activity. Look at the
guy on b8 and look at the king on f5. White is just better.} Rxd5+ 44. Kxf6
Rf8+ 45. Rf7 $1 {A very nice deicision, transposing the game into a winning
single rook endgame.} Rxf7+ 46. Kxf7 Rf5+ 47. Kg6 Rxf4 48. g3 $1 {The final
accurate move to get double passed pawns on the kingside.} Rc4 49. Kxh6 d5 50.
Kh5 {Not the best move in the position and Vishy said that he was sort of
embarassed because he didn't go Kg5. It's true that Kg5 wins easier but this
is also winning.} (50. Kg5 {was of course the easier way to win the game.} d4
51. h4 d3 52. Rd2 Rxa4 53. h5 Rb4 54. h6 Rxb5+ 55. Kg6 $18 {And white just
wins.}) 50... d4 51. g4 $6 (51. h4 d3 52. Rd2 Rd4 53. Kg5 {and even with the
lost tempo, White wins.}) 51... d3 52. h4 Rd4 (52... Rc2 53. Ra1 d2 54. Rd1 $18
) 53. Rd2 Kc8 {White's task has become much harder because the black king is
coming to stop the white pawns where as the d3 pawn makes the rook passive.}
54. g5 $1 Kd7 55. Kg6 $1 {A brave decision by Anand to give up the h4 pawn but
he sees that he can win the game.} Rxh4 (55... Ke8 {was another move and now
White's road to victory is not so wide.} 56. h5 Kf8 (56... Rd6+ 57. Kg7) 57. h6
Rd6+ 58. Kf5 $1 {The only winning move.} (58. Kh7 Rd7+ 59. Kh8 $2 (59. Kg6 {
would still win.}) 59... Kf7 $1 $11) 58... Rd5+ 59. Ke6 $1 Rxg5 60. Rxd3 Rg6+
61. Kd7 Rxh6 62. Kxc7 $18) 56. Rxd3+ Ke8 57. Ra3 Rc4 (57... Kf8 {Might have
been a little bit more staunch.} 58. Rf3+ Ke7 59. Rc3 $1 {This is the crucial
move, not so easy to make.} Rxa4 60. Rxc7+ Kd6 61. Rc6+ $18) 58. Kg7 {Now it's
just winning.} Kd7 59. g6 c6 60. Kf6 cxb5 61. g7 Rg4 62. axb5 Rg1 63. Rd3+ Ke8
64. Re3+ Kd7 65. Re5 $1 Rxg7 66. Rd5+ {Kg7 is also winning but this is just
better technique!} 1-0



Round nine article in the popular online news website : Firstpost 

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