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GM Karpov-GM Pelletier annotated by GM Balogh

User Rating: / 13
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 03 November 2013
By GM Csaba Balogh, Hungary, FIDE 2630

Karpov was unstoppable in the rapid tournament of Cap'd Agde. This game presents well his chess from his best years.

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Rare photo: Anatoly Karpov and Natalia Pogonina circa 2003

Karpov,Ana (2619) - Pelletier,Y (2578) [E32]

2nd Karpov Trophy Prelim Cap d'Agde FRA (5.3), 27.10.2013

[Balogh Csaba]

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1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 The Qc2 system of the Nimzo-Indian defence is a solid setup for White with the aim of gaining the bishop pair with a3 without making a structural weakening.
4...00 5.e4 This is the aggressive handling of the variation. 5.a3 is the starts of the main line.
5...d5 6.e5 Ne4

7.a3!? Karpov was always very clever in choosing the opening. The move he played was fashionable and very dangerous once, but at some point Black found the right setup against it and the players turned to the 7.Bd3 main line. However, grandmasters need to keep so many lines in their head that sometimes it is a very good practical decision to take a sharp forgotten line, especially in a rapid game, where the opponent has limited time to recall his old analysis.
7...Bxc3+ 8.bxc3
White threatens to play Bd3, so Black needs to find quick counterplay against the center.
8...c5 9.Bd3 Qa5 [9...cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ is the other option for Black, but Pelletier lost a game like this last year against Morozevich. 11.Kf1 Bd7 12.Ne2 (On 12.f3 f5! is always Black's idea.) 12...f5 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Bd2 Qd8 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bh4 Nc6 17.cxd5 exd5 18.f3 White had better prospects with the bishop pair and the weak light squares, which could be used by Nf4 later on. Morozevich-Pelletier, Biel 2012.]
10.Ne2 cxd4
Black must explode White's center, otherwise he simply ends up in a worse position and f3 was also threatening to trap the knight. All this is still theory so far.
11.cxd5 exd5 12.f3!
A very direct line, where both players need to play sharply.

White is not afraid of discovered checks. Obviously such a line can only be played with huge preparation behind it. At this point Pelletier prefers to enter a slightly worse endgame instead of going for the critical line with extreme complications.
13...Nb5+ [13...Ne4+! 14.Ke2

14...f5!! is the right move. Leko Peter found this idea back in 2006 and won a nice game against Vallejo Pons. Since then, theory considers it to be draw after the following line: 15.e6! Nc6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.e7 Re8 18.Qxc6 Rxe7 19.fxe4 fxe4 20.Bc4! dxc4 21.Qxa8 Re8 22.Qc6 Bg4+ 23.Kf2 Qe5 24.Re1 Rf8+ 25.Kg1 Qxa1 26.Qxc4+ Kh8 27.Qxe4 As it was played in the game Braun,A (2558)-Meier,G (2608) Saarbruecken 2009. Karpov was probably ready to make a draw like this, but the chance that Black could recall this ideas found 7 years ago was quite small. In any other case White just gets the initiative.]
14.Bd2 Nxd4 15.Bxh7+!
White restores the material balance with this move.
15...Kh8 16.Bxa5 Nxc2+
White has a nice endgame with a better pawn structure and the bishop pair, but unfortunately for him Black is able to get rid of one of the bishops.
17.Bxc2 Nc6 18.Bb4
[18.Bc3 could have been met by 18...d4]
18...Nxb4 [18...Re8 19.f4 Nxb4 20.axb4 could have arisen from the game as well.] 19.axb4

These kind of endgames were Karpov's favorites, from which he was scoring an amazing percentage. White has a minimal advantage due to his better pawn structure and his more active bishop. Black's queenside pawns are also rather weak and the isolated pawn on d5 might also be a potential target. White's task to create dangerous passed pawns on the kingside is much easier.
[19...Re8 20.f4 f6 would have been principled to undermine the e5 pawn. Unfortunately for Black he does not equalize here either because of 21.Bg6! Re7 22.00 fxe5 23.fxe5 Using the weak back rank. 23...Be6?

(23...Bd7 24.Rxa7! wins a pawn!) 24.b5!
Followed by Ra4 with the ideas of Rfa1, pressing the a7 pawn, or Raf4, threatening on the back rank.]
20.exf6 Rxf6 21.Kd2!
Karpov increases his advantage with each move. His king is excellently placed in the center. If the rooks were exchanged, White might simply win the d5 pawn by driving his king to d4 and his bishop to b3. White also threatens to play Rhe1e7 and once his kingside pawns start to march, it will be very difficult to stop them.
21...Bd7 22.Rhe1
Karpov activates his rook. He intends to play either Re7 or Re5 next.
22...a6 Pelletier would like to use his a8 rook, but he had to lose an important tempo for that.
23.Re7 Rd8

All white pieces are playing. Black is standing without any counterplay. It is typical of Karpov's technique, that he always sets small tactical traps behind his positional moves. This time he threatens to take the bishop followed by Re8 mate.
24...Kg8 25.h4!
Karpov starts to mobilize his kingside. The plan is to push h5 and settle the bishop to g6, completely paralyzing Black, followed by playing g4g5 later on. Black can hardly do anything against it.
25...Kf8 26.h5 Be8 Pelletier aims for simplifications. [26...b6 was met by 27.Bg6! Threatening to play Rxd7 again. 27...Kg8 28.R1e5! Rd6 (Otherwise if the bishop moves, White doubles his rooks on the 7th rank. 28...Bc6 29.Ra7+) 29.Bd3 With the double threat Bxa6 and Rg5. White wins material.; The best chance was definitely to trade a pair of rooks, although it is also doesn't solve all the problems. 26...Rf7 27.Rxf7+ Kxf7 28.g4 White is going to have two connected passed pawns soon, supported well by the bishop and the rook.]
27.Rxb7 Bxh5

28.Rh1! Very precise! True to his style, Karpov does not give any chance to his opponent.
[28...Bf7 is refuted by 29.Rh8+ Bg8 30.Bh7!+] 29.g4 Be8 30.Rxh6 gxh6 31.Rb6!+ White wins a pawn and the game is basically over. One is worse than the other from Black's point of view. White either gets two pawns on the kingside or after taking on a6, the b-pawn decides the outcome of the game.

White does not allow any counterplay. [After 32.Rxa6 Black might hope for some chances with 32...Rb8 33.Kc3 Rc8+ 34.Kb3 d4 although White should win after 35.Be4 but the text move is much simpler.]
32...Rd7 33.Bxa6 Rf7 34.Rb7!
The bishop endgame is easily won with passed pawns on both sides.
34...Bd7 35.b5 Kf6 36.b6 Ke6

White wins after any move, but Karpov employs a little tactic to conclude the full point.
37.Bb5 [Black resigned in view of 37.Bb5 Bxb5 38.Rxf7 Kxf7 39.b7+ A positional masterpiece by Karpov.]  


More annotated games, tactics & endgame puzzles, surprise section/study can be found in the weekly Chess Evolution bulletin.  25 pages total. Subscribe!

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 03 November 2013 )
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