Zurich: Aronian is Playing in "Desperado" Style After Encountering an Unexpected Opening Choice by Kramnik

Время публикации: 24.04.2012 19:54 | Последнее обновление: 24.04.2012 21:15

The script of the currently played third game of the match turned out to be unexpected. Vladimir Kramnik started the game with the king's pawn and played one of the quietest openings in response to 1...e5. However, Levon Aronian chose a desperate strategy in response: he avoided the main variations, opened up the centre, sacrificed the queen for a rook and a knight, and, overall, got somewhat unclear dynamic compensation for the opponent's strongest piece.

A surprise at the start

KRAMNIK - ARONIAN (3rd game)
The Four Knights Game
Annotations by Mikhail Golubev
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4

The following is played in most games: 5...Bb4! 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 with a tranquil play where, objectively, Black doesn't experience any particular problems. It's hard to say why Aronian declined this continuation in the favourable match situation for him.
6.Be3 Bb6 7.Qd2
The plan with long castling, selected by Kramnik, is standard in positions of this type. I can probably recall my game against Ivanchuk, Odessa 2006
, where the following was played: 7.Bb5!? O-O 8.O-O Re8 9.Re1 (9.Bxc6 dxc6!) 9...Ne5 10.h3 with an OK, playable position: 10...c6 11.Bf1, and so on.
7...O-O 8.O-O-O Re8 9.f3 d5!?
After 9...d6 White has a slight advantage in a quiet situation. It's possible that Aronian was worried about getting under a strategic pressure in this case.
10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Bg5!

Levon sacrificed the queen. After other continuations White would have played with some advantage and without a risk.
12.Bxd8 Nxd1 13.Bxc7!?
The alternative 13.Bh4 was possibly preferable as more solid.
13...Bxc7 14.Nxc6 Ne3 15.Bb5!

After 15...Bf5 16.Nd4 Bf4 17.Bxe8 (the consequences of 17.g3 are 
less clear)
17...Nxg2 18.Qxf4 Nxf4 19.Bxf7+ Kxf7 20.Nxf5 Black is without a pawn and a draw is not guaranteed despite activity of his pieces. If necessary, White can cover the entry squares by retreating the knight to g3.
16.Bxc6 Nc4
In the case of 16...Bf4 17.Kb1 Rb8 White can choose: 18.Bxe8 Rxb2+ 19.Kxb2 Nc4+ 20.Kc3 Nxd2; the black knight is not getting out of d2 and Black has all the chances of ending up in a bishop endgame a pawn down.

After the move in the game Black has three minor pieces for the queen and two pawns, and that is, certainly, not a sufficient material equivalent, but Aronian's pieces are not badly coordinated, which is very important with this kind of material imbalance and gives chances to Black.
It's probably not the best square for the queen but White had a very difficult choice to make.
17...Be6 18.Bxa8 Bb6! 19.Qd3 Rxa8

After the intermezzo attack on the queen with 19...Rd8 White could have seriously thought about the endgame after 20.Qxd8+!? Bxd8; a rook and two passed pawns on the queenside have a chance to slowly outweigh Black's minor pieces. Although, it's also possible to move the queen to e2 instead (not to e4 due to the check from e3)

Getting the e3 square under control.

20...Rd8 21.Qe4
The complex struggle continues. White's chances are higher but Black still has hopes of a positive outcome.

You can watch the game with (not always correct) computer assessments transmitted live.


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