30 April 2011

Svidler - Leko, Mainz 2003

In my previous post, The Path of Bliss?, I mentioned a game by GM Peter Svidler from the recent 2011 European Championship where Svidler opened with 1.g3. The blog Chess960 Jungle expanded on this with Chess960-SP080: The Buckingham Palace Defense, where HarryO wrote, 'This amazing 1.g3 game looks like the players grew up playing chess960'. I don't know about the player of the Black pieces who, after seeing the move 1.g3, 'sat there, trying hard to think, and simply wasn't able to find a decent reply', but Svidler was a multiple winner at Chess Classic Mainz (CCM).

According to my page Chess960 @ Chess Classic Mainz, the super-strong Russian GM won the 1st Chess960 Open in 2002, where he earned the right to a match against the reigning chess960 World Champion Peter Leko in 2003. He won that match, followed up with match wins against Aronian in 2004 and Almasi in 2005, then lost to Aronian in 2006. After the lost match, he appears to have hung up his chess960 spurs and did not compete in CCM again.

The first match against GM Leko was a close affair. Svidler had White in the first game and the first three games were drawn. In the fourth game, Leko won with Black; there was another draw; Svidler won with Black to level the score; and there was another draw. The last game saw Svidler playing with White in a game with start position BNNRQKRB (SP051).

The players started 1.d4 d5 2.g3 g6 3.O-O O-O 4.b3 Nc6 5.e3 b6, leading to the first diagram, where the start position is still discernible. Among the special characterisitics of the position are the four Bishops placed in the corners, and the right to castle O-O on the first move. In the first five moves, both players have released their Bishops and castled O-O. The game continued 6.c4 dxc4 7.bxc4 Nd6 8.Nd2 Na5 9.Bxa8 Rxa8, as shown in the second diagram. One pair of Bishops has already been swapped off, a frequent occurrence in start positions where the Bishops are in the corners.

In the second diagram, White appears to be in trouble. The c-Pawn is attacked twice and defended only once. If 10.Qe2 to defend the Pawn, then 10...Qa4 attacks it again, when there are no more pieces to aid in the defense.

Svidler solved the problem with 10.Ncb3, sacrificing the Pawn. After 10...Naxc4 11.Nxc4 Nxc4, he continued 12.Rc1 Qa4 13.Qe2 b5 14.Nc5 Qa5 15.Bc3 Qa3, developing his forces on every move while Black was obliged to play defensively. Now there came 16.Rc2, threatening the terrible 17.Rb1 with a Queen trap. Leko played 16...b4, letting White recover the Pawn. White's position was better than Black's and Svidler won in 63 moves to become the second chess960 World Champion after Leko.

1 comment:

HarryO said...

Eh Mark. A really nice example in so many ways thanks. I've commented on it over at Chess960 Jungle blog: