1. d4 GM Naiditsch: After a super win of yesturday Gelfand is one step from the qualification!
1... c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e4 d6 5. Bb5+ GM Naiditsch: Shahriar is choosing an opening, where for sure white has an advantage, but maybe he will have a chance to catch his chances also to give a try to make a full point. He needs it!!
5... Nbd7 6. a4 IM Gozzoli: Shak has to win to equalize the match, that's why some agressive set up as Benoni or King's Indian was expected !
6... Bg7 7. Nf3 GM Naiditsch: Boris solid as usual! Very difficult to surprize such a super experianced player like Gelfand. Mamedyarov will have a difficult job today to come back, not to say impossible! Also the position now is not giving us a big hope to see a tie break between this 2 players. Normal move for black now would be: 7...O-O 8. O-O a6 IM Gozzoli: Classical manoeuvre from Gelfand. Bb5+ was heading to exchange his bad light square bishop, but after Nbd7 7. a4 white is preventing the a6-b5 threat and planning to bringing back the bishop. But white lost a tempo ? No ! The Nbd7 is misplaced now because Blacks cannot play Bg4 Bxf3 to eliminate the strong Nf3 knight who is heading to go d2-c4 ! Today's games are reaching you thanks to Chess friends games server and Chess Evolution. GM Naiditsch: what can we suggest Mamedyarov to play now? Any ideas except O-O? hmm to me not many...maybe only first to play a6, but why to do that? Note: For those of you who want to have an access to infinite powerful engine analysis take a look at our premium offers. Premium analysis starts at only 3,99 eur.
7... a6 8. Bc4 IM Gozzoli: Bc4 is a strange square for the bishop, usually it belongs to the Nf3. But probably Boris wanted to prevent the "Benoni push" e7-e6. Mamedyarov's answer h6 is just unpredictable move for me ! Usually Black plays 0-0, Rb8, and Ne8-c7 in order to push b7-b5.. I don't understand the point of ...h6. except that it weakened the Black's kingside...
8... h6 9. O-O g5 IM Gozzoli: ...g5 from Mamed... seems very very very very optimistic! But ok Shak wants to developp a creative play in order to confuse his strong opponent.. Gelfand's Be2 looks obvious now, he wants to prevent g5-g4 and is heading to c4 with his Nf3 knight because it's obvious now that Black will not try to break the center with e7-e6
10. Be2 Qc7 For those interested, for an updated 2700+ live rating list is here with Kazan Candidates players struggling in top 10.
11. a5 Nf8 12. Nd2 Ng6 13. Nc4 Bd7 IM Gozzoli: So what's new here ? Ok first of all Black position is clearly worse strategically speaking especially because of the f5 and b6 squares which are very weak and would perfecly suit to a white knight. But ok Mamed idea wasn't to play a safe game but to put some creativity. the h6-g5 structure has the good point that it prevents white's expension on the center and secures the e5 square for a black piece. White's plan could be to break the queenside playing Be3-Qd2 Rab1 b4 and attack the b7 backward pawn.
14. Nb6 Rd8 IM Gozzoli: Gelfand has to be productive because black's position can become very active after 0-0 and e6 breaking the center.
15. Be3 e5 IM Gozzoli: 15..e5.. Such an ugly move ! Ok Shak decided to close the center in order to launch some typical King's Indian Attack on the white king but... Every King's Indian player knows that the most important piece in King's Indian is the Bc8. Without it no possible sacrifice on h3 or g4 ! And here the bishop is lost for sure... So of course they are exception but it's a good point in white's favour..
16. Nxd7 Qxd7 17. f3 Ke7 IM Gozzoli: Gelfand overprotected his e4 pawn by 17.f3 in order to liberate the Nc3 which can now head for b6 . Then white will try to open the queenside playing b4, openning lines against the b7 pawn and/or openning the c files with c3 in order to invade the 7th rank with their rooks
18. Na4 h5 IM Gozzoli: Mamedyarov's play is too ambitous. He is probably disappointed with the openning outcome and even the match course (don't forget he missed a big opportunity to open the score in his favour in the first game) and want to push everything in Gelfand's king as quick as possible. But it looks very dubious as white's pieces organisation is perfect in contrary of his opponent. 19.Nb6 Qc7 20.Qd2 seems enough for white to secure a strong advantage because the black queen is totaly out of play. Then simply c3-b4 or maybe immediate b4 and Black will soon be in big trouble.
19. Nb6 Qc7 20. Bxg5 IM Gozzoli: I cannot blame Gelfand to take this pawn but why not simply Qd2-b4 ? Now Blacks have the g file for their rooks and can exchange the "stupid" black square bishop.. I don't say it's bad of course but now the position is the one Shak wanted.. So i would say that Qd2 looks "psychologicaly" stronger to me :)
20... Bh6 21. Bxf6+ Kxf6 22. g3 IM Gozzoli: Now Gelfand is a pawn up, but the Bh6 is strong and Black got very good chances to launch an attack. Gelfand's choice wasn't the best for sure, practicaly speaking..
22... Rdg8 23. Kh1 Ke7 24. Ra3 Rg7 Gefand achieved his goal by neutralizing every attacking possibilities and despite having a huge advantage at one point, he is the first qualified for the semi-finals and will face the winner of Kamsky-Topalov match! Stay tuned for a video analysis here and more news, thanks for following with us GM Naiditsch and IM Gozzoli on ChessBomb.com and Chessdom.com! ½-½