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Viswanathan Anand vs Levon Aronian
Zurich Chess Challenge (2016) (rapid), Zurich SUI, rd 1, Feb-13
Four Knights Game: Spanish Variation (C48)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: yea Bd6 is ok, the problems came later. Black made a series of bad moves ( 12, 13, 14, 15) after which there was no recovery.

< 7. ..h6 >

7...Nd4 is =

< 9...Be3 >

(..d6 -0.10)

< 12...Bxc4?! >

This questionable move gives white control of d5 and a slight plus. Better is Nc6-b8-d7 bringing support to the Nf6.

< 13. dc4 Kh7? >

(..Re6 instead) Blacks eval suddenly drops a whole point.

< 14. Qf3 Nb8? >

black's eval drops another point.
(Stockfish gives 14...Ng8 15.Rad1 g6 16.Nxd6)

< 15. Nh6! Kh6?? >

A critical blunder ( 16.Qxf6 Qxf6 17.Rxf6 Rf8 +2.17)

< 16. Qh3 >

(+5.31 black is lost)

< ..Kg6?? >

(+13.22 for white)

Nice little miniature for Anand's collection.
It was not Levon's day. Jumping from the pan into the fire, he went up in flames quickly.

Stockfish 6-64 gives instead..
33/55 01:43 88,777k 858k -5.46

16. ..Nf6-h5 Rf1xf7 Re8-e7 Rf7xe7 Qd8xe7 Nc3-d5 Qe7-g5 Nd5xc7 Nb8-d7 Nc7xa8 Nd7-f6 Na8-c7 Kh6-g6 Nc7-d5 Nf6xd5 e4xd5 Nh5-f6 Ra1-f1 e5-e4 a3-a4 Qg5-e5 a4-a5 Qe5-g5 Rf1-f4 Qg5-e5 b2-b4 Qe5-a1+ Kg1-f2 Qa1-c3 Qh3-f5+ Kg6-f7 Qf5xe4 Qc3xb4 Qe4-e6+ Kf7-g6 Kf2-e2 Qb4-c3 Qe6-f5+ Kg6-f7

or for convenience..

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bd6 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 Re8 7. a3 h6 8. Bc4 Bc5 9. Be3 Bxe3 10. fxe3 d6 11. Nh4 Be6 12. Nf5 Bxc4 13. dxc4 Kh7 14. Qf3 Nb8 15. Nxh6 Kxh6 16. Qh3+ Nh5 17. Rxf7 Re7 18. Rxe7 Qxe7 19. Nd5 Qg5 20. Nxc7 Nd7 21. Nxa8 Nf6 22. Nc7 Kg6 23. Nd5 Qg4 24. Qxg4+ Nxg4 25. Ne7+ Kf7 26. Nf5 Nhf6 27. Nxd6+ Ke6 28. Nxb7 Nxe3 29. Nc5+ Ke7 30. Kf2 Nxc4 31. b4 Nd7 32. Nd3 Nf6 33. Kf3 Nd2+ 34. Ke2 Nc4 35. Nc5 Nd7 36. Kd3 Nxc5+ 37. bxc5 Na5 38. Rd1 Kd7

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <Mendrys: Anytime you feel you have to "undevelop" a piece as in 14...Nb8 there has to be a voice in your head that says "Don't do it!" Aronion should have listened to his as this was the likely losing move. The time control is 40+10 so, as <blackdranzer> points out, Aronion must have been >

But a few moves earlier the "undeveloping" move lead to equality as I show above, courtesy of Komodo. The point being to get to d7. By the time Aronian played it he was in deep crap.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: So 12...Nb8! holds the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <PawnSac: yea Bd6 is ok, the problems came later. Black made a series of bad moves ( 12, 13, 14, 15) after which there was no recovery.>

Yes, it was if he had or was self-destructing but those things can happen, you get onto say one line of thought, make one weakish move, then this induces another etc

Anand played well but even after his N lands on f5 he is not winning....mind you the time control is 40 minutes, it isn't standard chess and they play lightening games as well...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: < < Calar: Who could have imagined that such a quiet opening will lead to such a quick game! 4...Bd6 is fine. If Whit captures on c6, Black has e5 pawn immediately defended. If White doesn't capture, Black plans to regroup with Re8, Bf8 and d6/d5.>>

<Yes, that's the other point it's a bit like anticipating the exchange Ruy Lopez or that endless Berlin Wall line they play...>

<<And while it's easy to be a general after the battle, I can't help but condemn 9...Bxe3. Despite being doubled, e3 pawn is great - it's hard to attack, easy to defend and covers important d4 and f4 squares; all while opening the f-file.>>

But you are right, in general principles (pun unintended!) that exchange is wrong (not Bd6, that is "book" and is "liked" by Komodo (o.k. I "stole" the free version...who want to pay for things! ...but it seems to make sense, although as with all programs it is hard to work out what it is talking about so to speak...*)...And it is in even Pachman's book of strategy etc that doubled pawns can be bad or good depending on the position. Here it is an error as they aren't weak and Black gets the f file (potentially)...of course it doesn't lose but starts the rot.

* I think it is good to go through the game without a computer first though. I did that here as it was short and the sudden collapse of a great player was surprising. My instincts were confirmed. I didn't know the Bd6 move and had to run it past the machine and look up the OE...but I was dubious of 9...Bxe3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: < PawnSac: yea Bd6 is ok, the problems came later. Black made a series of bad moves ( 12, 13, 14, 15) after which there was no recovery.>

I would add 9...Bxe3 to that list, although it isn't fatal, and is playable, in general, in that position it opens the f file and doesn't help Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I think that after 15. Nxh6 Aronian was gone given the time control...He may have even played 15...Kxh6?? to shorten the game, but I think the alternative gives White an easy game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <Interbond: Aronian was not outplayed,he played like he was drunk or wanted to lose.>

Point taken! But...

I think he was outplayed (however defined) as Anand played better overall. Aronian was unlikely to have been drunk, or have consciously wanted to lose [tongue-in-cheek or not your speculations are still interesting as it points to why we all sometimes make what we know often immediately are blunders or wrong decisions in a game] but may have not got enough sleep. He made a series of weak moves. This happens to all of us but objectively that is what happens.

In a game over the board, it isn't so easy though of course.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Amazing to see a top-level GM lose on the Black side of the Four Knights in under 20 moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: The most likely candidate seems like Nxh6. 15...gxh6 loses a pawn and 15...Kxh6 16. Qh3+ Kg6 17. Rf3 seems like it should win, but there must be something trickier involved that I'm missing since this is a Friday puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: Having looked at what the big boys played, I didn't anticipate the Nh5 defense, which is surprisingly resistant for such a desperate-looking solution, but it eventually crumbles with precise play.
Jul-28-17  Walter Glattke: White 10 tempi, black 6 tempi,
15.Nxh6 gxh6 or 15.Nxg7 would win, too.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: I know this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: It's demolition Saturday, and at the end of this hot summer day in Central Texas my only question was whether the solution was 15...Nxh6 or 15...Nxg7.

Turns out 15...Nxg7? is bad because Black has time to organize a defense and gain a decisive advantage after 15. Nxg7? Kxg7 16.Nd5 Nbd7 17.Qg3+ Kh7 18.Rf5 Rg8 19.Qf3 Rg6 20.Rf1 Kg7 21.h4 c6 22.Nxf6 Rxf6 23.Qg4+ Kh8 24.Qh5 Qe7 25.Rxf6 Nxf6 26.Qxh6+ Nh7 27.Qh5 Rf8 28.b3 b5 29.cxb5 cxb5 30.Kh2 Qb7 31.Qf3 Qa6 32.Ra1 b4 33. Qf1 Qxf1 (-2.46 @ 28 depth, Stockfish 8.)

If it's truly a demolition Saturday, and 15. Ng7? doesn't work, that leaves only 15. Nxh6! to examine. So I calculated 15. Nxh6!, checked the solution with Stockfish 8 and it worked like a charm:

<15.Nxh6! Kxh6>

( 15...gxh6 16.Qxf6 Qxf6 17.Rxf6 Rf8 18.Raf1 Kg7 19.Nd5 Nd7 20.R6f3 Nc5 21.Rg3+ Kh8 22.Nf6 Ne6 23.Ng4 Kh7 24.h4 a5 25.Rf5 Rae8 26.Nf6+ Kh8 27.Rh5 Ng5 28.Rgxg5 Rg8 29.Rxh6# )

<16.Qh3+ Kg6>

(16...Nh5 17.g4 [+4.17 @ 27 depth, Stockfish 8])

<17.Rf3 Nh5>

(17...Rh8 18.Qf5+ Kh6 19.Rh3+ Nh5 20.Rxh5#)

<18.Rf5 Nf6 19.Qh4 1-0>

Black resigns as he can't stop 20 Rg5#.

P.S.: Black's decisive error appears to be 14...Nb8? allowing 15. Nxh6! . Unfortunately, this appears to be one move too late. A move earlier 13...Nb8 14. Qf3 , instead of 13...Kh7? 14. Qf3 to , would allow Black to put up stiffer resistance with better drawing chances.

Early in the opening, instead of the less frequently played 4...Bd6!?, I prefer the popular move 4...Bb4 as in the recent drawn game Wei Yi vs Naiditsch, 2017.

One interesting aspect of this game is how White's space advantage and more active development give him the advantage despite having two pair of doubled pawns.

Jul-28-17  MrCarciofo: What a boring game. Nice final combination though, very neat, kind of parking manouvre.
Jul-28-17  morfishine: Its easy to blunder when you've bored yourself to death.

<patzer2> Clearly, 15...Kxh6 is a horrendous blooper, but in your line, 17...Rf8 is less than best.

<17...Re7> is much more stubborn: 18.Raf1 is answered 18...Kg7 and the Black King now has access to <f8>; or 18.Nd5 Rd7; Black is working for Nc6 bringing the other rook into play, then keeping the super-prophylactic Nd8 as a possible option

My gut feeling says Black has zero chance to win from this cramped position, but his drawing chances look better. Note, White's pawn plus is partially offset by his two doubled pawns

This has to be better than the silly finale Aronian fell into


Jul-28-17  malt: Looked at 15.N:g7 K:g7 16.Nd5 Nbd7 or 16...Re6 (if 16...N:d5 17.Q:f7+ Kh8 18.Q:d5 ) or 15.N:h6 gh6 16.Q:f6 Q:f8 17.R:f6 Kg7 18.Raf1 Rf8 Also looked at 15.N:h6 K:h6 16.Qh3+ Kg6 (16...Nh5 17.g4 ) 17.Re3 (17.Qf5+ Kh6 18.Rf3)
Jul-28-17  Pasker: Ha Ha Aronian resigns before mate in 1. Very rare to see games reach that close.
Premium Chessgames Member
  takchess: Puzzled as to what to play here but it's definitely on the King Side and needs to be quick ,Black has challenges of bringingin defensive resources there and counterattack in the center/Queenside doesn't work, White has the resources of a rook reload, a knight to be added pawn push.Some elements of an Anastasia mate with a knight on e7 might come into play. There is a wealth of candidate moves (seem my notes below as to my selection ideas) Ne5, I think too slow as it allows Nd7
Nxg7 might lead to Rg8
Qb3 forcing either ...g6 or ...Rg8,I think too slow Qh3, I think too slow
g4 with the thoughts of g5, I think too slow
I am selecting Nxh6 as the most direct though Nxg7 is a close second. Both Pawn times pawn x h6 and King x h6 (which seems dangerous)
Jul-28-17  saturn2: I got the the first 3 moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <morfishine> If I understand correctly, instead of 15...gxh6 16.Qxf6 Qxf6 17.Rxf6 <Rf8> you are recommending 15...gxh6 16.Qxf6 Qxf6 17.Rxf6 Re7 (diagram below):

click for larger view

Plugging 17...Re7 here into Stockfish 8 indicates it's not enough to hold:

[Stockfish 8 64 @ 35 depth:+3.98] 17...Re7 18.Raf1 Kg7 19.Nd5 Nd7 20.R6f3 Rae8 21.Nxc7 Rf8 22.Nb5 Re6 23.Rd1 Nf6 24.Nxd6 b6 25.b4 Kh7 26.c5 Rd8 27.Rdf1 Kg6 28.Rg3+ Kh7 29.Rh3 Rf8 30.Rhf3 Kg6 31.Rd1 bxc5 32.bxc5 a5 33.Rh3 Kh7 34.Kf1 Rb8 35.Rf3 Rb2 36.c4 Rc2 37.c6 Ne8 38.Nxf7 Rxc4 39.Nd8 (diagram below)

click for larger view

when play might continue 39...Rd6 40. Rd5 (+4.86 @ 28 depth, Stockfish 8)

P.S.: Just curious about your Gator avatar. It looks like the University of Florida mascot logo image. Are you a U of F fan or an alumnus? I'm an FSU alumnus myself, but unlike many of my fellow Seminoles I'm not a Gator hater.

Jul-28-17  morfishine: <patzer2> Of course it doesn't hold, but it's more stubborn and avoids that goofy finish

Yes, I graduated from the University of Florida, class of 1983. I am not an FSU hater at all, and in fact, have much respect for Bowden and the Seminoles. You see, during my time, the Gators football head coaching position was a revolving door; for me it went Doug Dickey, Charley Pell and Galen Hall by the time I left. Thats a lot of coaches for such a short period of time. Meanwhile, Bowden was steady-Eddie coaching for something like 35 years? I have a lot of respect for Bowden and the Seminole football team/organization.

Now, if we bring the Miami Hurricanes into the discussion, that's a team I truly despise lol


Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <morfishine> Never a Miami fan, but I have great respect for their new coach Mark Richt, who you may remember was the offensive coordinator under Bobby Bowden at FSU before he went on to be the head coach at Georgia.

Now Richt's got the number one recruiting class in the country at Miami, and may soon be giving both the Seminoles and the Gators regrets about his return to coaching in the state of Florida.

I attended FSU in the years before Bobby Bowden, when Bill Peterson was coaching all American Fred Biletnikoff and an 8-3 reecord and an appearance in the Gator Bowl was a big deal. I graduated in 1970.

P.S.: I found myself cheering for the Gators when they won the NCAA baseball championship in Omaha NE in the series final against LSU. The Gators also have a fantastic women's sports program, especially in softball, gymnastics and soccer.

Jul-28-17  The Kings Domain: Nice puzzle, admirable miniature by Anand against a top player, a rarity if one ever saw one.
Jul-29-17  morfishine: <patzer2> My hatred for the hurricanes stems from the infamous 1980 game at Florida field where Schnellenberger called a last second time out so he could kick a field goal. He could've and should've had his QB take a knee, securing the 28-7 win; but, no, he had to rub it in by calling time out, kicking one more field goal winning 31-7

I was in the stadium that day and can still the cow manure filled paper bags flying through the air towards the hurricane bench



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