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Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Ding Liren
Biel (2013), Biel SUI, rd 10, Aug-01
English Opening: Great Snake Variation (A10)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-01-13  csmath: Strange hybrid of English and Pirc.

Anti-positional (actually just plain bad) play by Ding Liren with

10. ...Be5?!

Now after further freezing queenside with

12. ...Nb6?!

Ding plays another dubious move

15. ... Bd7?!

it is hard to give a good advice here since his queenside is cramped and there are no natural moves and black has a lot of problems to activate the pieces there.

21. ... a6?! (it is hard to figure out what is this for).

MVL goes for pawn giving Ding some breathing room. However Ding allows

35. e5

and then plays another strange move

36. ... g5?!

(probably hoping that he can stop white pawn to f4)

after which MLV fails to prove that is not possible with

37. h4?

(of course 37. g3 and then f4 regardless, there is really no defence after that)

After all of the miscues MLV allows Ding to reach position after 48 moves that really looks like a defensible draw. Ding plays unexplainable

53. ... Kg7?
(this does not make any sense since it allows white king forward)

Ding got himself in very difficult rooks ending and of course he loses it.

For a 2700 rated player this game is careless and bad on many levels.

Aug-02-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  JointheArmy: <21. ... a6?! (it is hard to figure out what is this for).>

To prevent 22. Nb5.

Aug-02-13  csmath: <<21. ... a6?! (it is hard to figure out what is this for).> To prevent 22. Nb5.>

That makes little sense since it opens b6 square for the same knight.

White knight cannot be stopped since black has so many weaknesses on the queenside after playing illogical and lousy opening.

I don't think you should ever move pawn to "protect" one square while weakening another unless there is a good reason for that. Perhaps Ding wanted to play Ra7 but that didn't happen either. This move looks to me just one in series of planless moves without any particular reason.

Ding played anti-positional chess here, got lousy opening, lost middlegame and only by a grace of MLV did not lose game earlier.

For a 2700 player this is one very poor game.

One can say that this "original" game is breaking new ground in English, only I doubt anybody wants to play such an opening as black. Just plain awful.

Aug-02-13  hermit druid: This game looked weird, but, if you're going to criticize some moves, make sure it's the right ones.

10...Be5 - what's your suggestion there to protect the pawn on d6? I would probably criticize c6 instead

12...Nb6 - where would you put this knight? Are you going to allow Nc4?

15...Bd7 - easy to criticize, but again, hard to suggest another move

21...a6 - same story, black can't move anything on the queenside, so why not play a6 and Ra7?

36...g5! - here activating black's king via g6, provoking pawn exchanges and weakening white's king. Quite hard to be sceptical about this move which is the only one that gives some little practical chances.

53...Kg7 - well if you want to put your king to 5th rank and prevent white's king to go to 4th, you have to allow Rb5+ and Rbd5, then white king comes to 4th rank anyway, and I don't think you improved your position. But let's say it was a plausible option.

In the rook endgame though 71...Rb6 was a bad move, instead 71...Rd1 gave some chances with the idea 72.Rb4 Rh1!

So it looked plain awful, maybe, but sometimes this happens because of one really bad move in the opening, but then afterwards I think Ding defended as well as he could given this position.

Aug-02-13  csmath: <36...g5! - here activating black's king via g6, provoking pawn exchanges and weakening white's king. Quite hard to be sceptical about this move which is the only one that gives some little practical chances.>

Let's be serious.

36. ... g5? is garbage.

White plays g3 and then f4 and black is lost regardless. Ding is lucky that MVL played 37. h4? which is also a miscue.

By the way, if he did not know how to protect d6 pawn then he should not have played 9. ...c6?! either.

On that account it seems to me he is playing some sort of Pirc/Robatsch in a position that is neither.

His whole opening is anti-positional bogus.

You do not exchange your g7 bishop just like that since in that case all the fianchetto you played is only to create a bunch of weak squares around king.

Ding is very lucky that MLV went for queen exchange and a pawn grab, it could have ended a lot worse for him.

Aug-02-13  hermit druid: If black is lot regardless, why would 36...g5 be garbage? Only move that gives practical chances, unless you find another.

Well c6 was a bad move sure, but an oversight, then Be5 was played out of necessity, when of course things are bad.

From MVL side : probably 27.Bg4 instead of 27.d6 was winning on the spot. And 37.g3 was indeed more precise than 37.h4, but things are not so easy there over the board. Well, I'm guessing you don't know that notion.

Aug-02-13  csmath: <53...Kg7 - well if you want to put your king to 5th rank and prevent white's king to go to 4th, you have to allow Rb5+ and Rbd5, then white king comes to 4th rank anyway, and I don't think you improved your position. But let's say it was a plausible option.>

That is not true since you can exchange rooks on 5th rank before white king goes forward.

53. ...Kg7? is also garbage. There is really no explanation for that move other than another bad move.

Aug-02-13  csmath: <If black is lot regardless, why would 36...g5 be garbage? Only move that gives practical chances, unless you find another.>

Because if that move is to suppose to stop f4 it cannot do that. Again, white plays g3 and f4 and what exactly black can do? From a bad position he is into a lost position.

There is nothing in this game that Ding Liren played that is with any sensible plan. The whole game is without any plan whatsoever. This includes senseless opening, poor middlegame, and equally bad ending.

Aug-02-13  hermit druid: <That is not true since you can exchange rooks on 5th rank before white king goes forward.>

Homework, see the subsequent rook endgame with the rook behind the passed pawn is totally winning :

53...Kf5 54.Rb5+ Kf6 55.Rbd5 Re5? (basic rook endgame rules) 56.Rxe5 Kxe5 57.Ke3 Rxd6 58.Rxd6 Kxd6 59. Kd4 f5 60.f4 Kc6 61.Ke5 Kc5 62.Kxf5 Kd4 and white promotes to queen before black can.

Aug-02-13  hermit druid: Why exchanging g pawns would be so bad? Why activating the king via g6 would be so bad? From my point of view, g5 turns the position from a certain loss to some little drawing chances, which almost happened to be true.
Aug-02-13  csmath: <Why exchanging g pawns would be so bad? Why activating the king via g6 would be so bad? From my point of view, g5 turns the position from a certain loss to some little drawing chances, which almost happened to be true.>

You still do not understand the point.

The reason why he got breathing space is because MVL played 37. h4?

If MVL played 37. g3 and 38. f4 Ding Liren would have been lost completely.

If he wanted to stop pawns he should have stoppen e-pawn earlier.

Again, his whole game makes little sense. There is nothing in this game he did that looks good. The only reason why he did not lose earlier is that MVL let him linger around for so long.

Aug-02-13  hermit druid: If black allows f4 with another move, is there ANY room for white to make a mistake? Especially with black's king cut off play...
Aug-02-13  csmath: <53...Kf5 54.Rb5+ Kf6 55.Rbd5 Re5? (basic rook endgame rules) 56.Rxe5 Kxe5 57.Ke3 Rxd6 58.Rxd6 Kxd6 59. Kd4 f5 60.f4 Kc6 61.Ke5 Kc5 62.Kxf5 Kd4 and white promotes to queen before black can.>

No sir, if white plays 54. Rb5 he will lose the pawn on d6 unless he returns that rook promptly back.

Aug-02-13  csmath: It is true however that black cannot exchange the rooks on 5th rank, that is my error. But he does not need to!

Nevertheless Kg7 allows white easy progress, it is surely not the move that makes sense. It actually helps white to accomplish progress at no costs whatsoever.

Aug-02-13  csmath: <If black allows f4 with another move, is there ANY room for white to make a mistake? Especially with black's king cut off play...>

That is not easy. However since Ding played a4 he should have played Ra5. That way he gets rook on the fifth rank. If white plays f4 then he would play g5 and it is harder for white to make progress although I am guessing white can get around anyway. What Ding played makes the job of white easier.

37. g3!

and if Ding tries to stop f4 with 37. ... Kg6

then first

38. Rb5 Kf5
39. f4! (anyway) g4

and it is hopeless.

MVL played 37. h4? and let Ding linger longer.

I think the play of Ding can be summarized as follows:

1. Opening - horrendeous
2. Middlegame - planless
3. Ending - bad.

So yes, some parts are better than the others but no part of his game was good.

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