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Levon Aronian vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Alekhine Memorial (2013), Paris/St Petersburg FRA/RUS, rd 9, May-01
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Modern Exchange Variation (D85)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-01-13  Marmot PFL: Here putting the rook behind the passed pawns was not the best chance - 34...Re4 35 d7 Rxe7 36 d8(Q) Rxa7.

BTW the whole line is theory up to move 18 or 20. One of the problems with playing the Grunfeld.

May-01-13  Eyal: MVL was in serious time trouble toward the end. 33...Kg7 seems designed to be followed by Bf6, so 34.Ra7 prevents that (34...Bf6 35.Ra8! and if 35...Rd4 then 36.Bf8+ mates) and may have thrown him off.
May-01-13  kilurah: Why Aronian 28. Ra6 not 28.Rxc5? Balck gave the pawn freely.
May-01-13  Eyal: <Why Aronian 28. Ra6 not 28.Rxc5?> 28.Rxc5 Ba4 29.Rb4 Bd6.
May-01-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Marmot: ....the whole line is theory up to move 18 or 20. One of the problems with playing the Grunfeld.>

Even at the end of my playing career, such was the case in this variation, and things seem only to have spun out still more.

May-01-13  Eyal: <theory up to move 18 or 20> That's relatively short compared with A Giri vs Caruana, 2013 from the Grand Prix, in the 9...cxd4 & 10...Qa5+ line, where the first time one of the players started to think was on move 28...
May-02-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Eyal>: The subvariation with 12....Bg4 was something I avoided in favour of 12....Nd7, due to what I believed was the former's strong drawing tendency, on both occasions I had the line from Giri-Caruana on the board (both in 2000).
May-02-13  Eyal: Position after 36...c4:


click for larger view

This last move by Black makes White's win a bit tricky: 37.d8Q?? would be a terrible mistake, of course, because of 37...Rxd8 followed by 38...Bd4+, winning the white rook. It also threatens to capture the white king in perptual check, by allowing Rd3+ in case of Ke3; e.g. 37.a4? Rd2+ 38.Kg3 Rd3+ and now 39.Kh4 Bf6+ forcing the exchange of bishops, or 39.Kg4 f5+/39.Kf4 Rd4+ and the king can't escape. <37.g3!> wins by preparing h3 for the king as an escape square from the checks.

May-02-13  TimothyLucasJaeger: <Eyal: <Why Aronian 28. Ra6 not 28.Rxc5?> 28.Rxc5 Ba4 29.Rb4 Bd6.>

I'm not sure this is the reason. 29. Rb4 is not forced in this line. The white rook also has b7 at its disposal.

I think the reason Aronian does not take on c5 on move 28 is that it doesn't win a pawn, since black can win the c3 pawn by taking control of the c-file.

28 Rxc5 Rfc8 29 Rxc8 Rxc8 and now
30 Rb4 a5 would force the rook away from the bishop's defense so white must instead move the bishop on move 30 and black wins back the pawn.

May-02-13  Eyal: <TimothyLucasJaeger: <Eyal: <Why Aronian 28. Ra6 not 28.Rxc5?> 28.Rxc5 Ba4 29.Rb4 Bd6.>

I'm not sure this is the reason. 29. Rb4 is not forced in this line. The white rook also has b7 at its disposal.>

29.Rb7 allows 29...Bxc3, or even better 29...Rac8 30.Rxc8 Rxc8 followed by 31...Rxc3 after the bishop moves (or 31.Rb4 Bd7 32.Be1 a5), when the a7 pawn is indirectly protected by the Bd4+ threat.

<I think the reason Aronian does not take on c5 on move 28 is that it doesn't win a pawn, since black can win the c3 pawn by taking control of the c-file. 28 Rxc5 Rfc8 29 Rxc8 Rxc8 and now 30 Rb4 a5 would force the rook away from the bishop's defense so white must instead move the bishop on move 30 and black wins back the pawn.>

Note, however, that 30.Ba6 Rxc3 31.Rxc3 Bxc3 32.Bf2 & 33.Bxa7 wins the pawn again for White; it's possible, though, that a quick march of the black king to the center via g7-f6-e5 would be enough to secure the draw here anyhow.

May-03-13  TimothyLucasJaeger: <Eyal> Thanks, your analysis appears correct.
May-03-13  Ulhumbrus: If after 9...Nc6 White is able to play 10 d5, this suggests the exchange 9...cd 10 cd Nc6 after which, according to Fine, this pawn formation is always favourable for Black.

Fine says that every exchange of pieces takes the game closer to an endgame which favours Black's queen side pawn majority.

Recent games have indicated however a problem with this.

In the ending Black has indeed a queen side pawn majority. but White has more space.

White's advantage in space may result in White's king gaining a considerable lead in development over Black's king. In fact White may end up playing with an extra king.

What the eventual judgment of history is remains to be seen.

May-03-13  Nerwal: Modern practice has already ruled Fine's assessment methods as being a fine piece of dogmatism a while ago.
May-03-13  haydn20: 28...Rfb8?! seems to give White what he wants. I looked at 28...Rfe8 with the line 29. h3 Bc8 30. Ra5 Bc7 31. Ra4 Be7. 32. Bb5 Bxb5 33. Rxb5 a6 with maybe a slight plus for White. OC I'm probably missing something, as usual.
May-03-13  Eyal: <haydn20: 28...Rfb8?! seems to give White what he wants. I looked at 28...Rfe8 with the line 29. h3 Bc8 30. Ra5 Bc7 31. Ra4 Be7. 32. Bb5 Bxb5 33. Rxb5 a6 with maybe a slight plus for White. OC I'm probably missing something, as usual.>

This would seem to be 31.Rxc5! Bb6 32.Rxb6 axb6 33.Rc7, which is very dangerous for Black... The way Aronian reacted to 28...Rfb8 should probably have allowed MVL to draw had he come up with more accurate play than he did during his time trouble - 33...f6! (to be followed by Kf7), or 34...Re4 (mentioned by <Marmot> in the first post) might still save the game. Objectively best for White was probably 29.d6.

Sep-08-13  csmath: There is some discussion here between 16. d6 and 16. f5 [as played by Aronian].

Honestly Aronian's choice looks more dangerous for black to me as black dark squares bishop looks awfully misplaced. The usual opinion about Aronian being unprepared seems rather faulty cliche given the well prepared opening he played here.

17. Qf6

[here alternative is 17. Qd6 which violates positional priciple but seems a more peaceful choice for black: 18. Bc4 Rfb8, 19. Rb3 Re8, 20. Qh6 Qe5 and black will be defending his position for some time to come]

18. Rf3

[this move has been on books since 1992]

18.... Qe5

[18. ...Qd6!? is again more peaceful alternative]

19. ... Bc8?!

[my analysis shows that 19. ...Qe4 leads to a draw by perpetual or equal ending but it optically looks as if white is going to have strong advantage in the endgame. This is what MVL probably feared.]

20. ...Bc7?!

[all of this is played in 2000 in the game Flumbort-Amrein won by Flumbort. This game is not in this database.]

21. Qh6!

[This is Aronian's improvement and now black is in serious trouble as there is no escaping from difficult ending. Flumbort played 21. Qf4 and won the game as well.]

26. ...Be5

[here Aronian conceived nice combination 26....Be7, 27. Rxg6+! hxg6, 28. Bxe7 Re8, 29. Bxc5 with serious advantage for white.]

28. ...Rfb8?

[MVL loses the thread of the game in difficult defence and makes a decisive error.]

29. Rxb8?

[this throws away the winning game. After 29. d6! with threat Bd5 black loses a-pawn anyway in a hopeless position, for example: 29. d6! Rxb3, 30. axb3 Kf8, 31. Bd5 Rc6, 32. Rxa7 Ke8, 33. Bb7 Rb8, 34. Bc6! Bxc6, 35. Re7 Kf8 36. Rxe5 Rxb3, 37. Re7 and black is lost.]

33. Be7?!
[there is hardly anything better but this is not a move that can be considered good.]

33. ...Kg7?!

[what an awful waste of tempo in a position where every tempo counts. 33. ...f6! equalizes instantly as king approaches passer through f7 without any fear.]

34. ...Rd4??

[this is clearly a blunder as there is no stopping pawn now without a loss of material. 34. ...Re4! and the pawn is stopped since 35. d7 Rxe7, 36. d8Q Rxa7 and white cannot do absolutely anything.]

36. ...c4

[last attempt on tactical tricks]

37. g3!

[precise execution. Promotion would be a grave blunder: 37. d8Q?? Rxd8, 38. Bxd8 Bd4+ and draw.]

37. ...Rd2+

[of course 37. ...Bd4 loses to 38. Ke2]

=================

This game goes to show how little is played nowadays. 20 moves is just the theory and the rest of the game is with quite a few errors in 14 moves when the game is decided. Another 8 moves in hopeless position and the game is over.

Nevertheless this game is theoretically important, not as much as what is played but what could have been played.

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