A Challenging New Level
Review by Michael McGuerty
Anand: Move by Move, Zenon Franco, Everyman Chess 2014, Paperback, Figurine Algebraic Notation, 376pp. $29.95 (ChessCafe Price $25.57)
Zenon Franco is a grandmaster and chess trainer from Paraguay who now lives in Spain. He has represented Paraguay in seven Olympiads on top board, and twice won individual gold medals, at Lucerne in 1982 and Novi Sad in 1990. His most notable pupil is Francisco Vallejo Pons whom he trained from 1995 to 1999. In Anand: Move by Move Franco presents thirty-two very deeply annotated games in chronological order spanning Vishy Anand’s career from his first meeting with Karpov at Linares in 1991 to the 2014 candidates tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk.
In a bit of departure for the MBM series it begins with an appraisal of Anand’s playing style, followed by a section of training positions that highlight various facets of Anand’s play. Franco believes that the standout aspect of Anand’s play is his versatility and claims that Anand’s style most resembles Fischer’s. However, it is almost a prerequisite to top-level play nowadays that a competitor be versatile and I do not particularly agree with the Fischer comparison. I thought he was going to say Spassky, but this is a subjective matter anyway.
Another way that Anand: Move by Move stands apart from other titles in this series is that the analysis is on a much deeper level. For example the following position from the game Anand-Adams, San Louis 2005 arose after 23.Qd2!!Here the reader is presented with an exercise:
Exercise (tactical, very difficult): How should Black defend now? (and without any help from the computer)
And there follows a full page of analysis devoted to other alternatives and the correct 23…Nxe1!, which would have led to a draw with precise play.
Franco notes that the idea of 23.Qd2 was discovered by Yusupov “during the 1995 match”; presumably referring to the Anand-Kamsky match. He includes notes from many contemporary sources, with credits to Megabase 2014, Chess Informant, New In Chess, and Jaque, and expands on them when he deems it necessary to illustrate a point. Thus, as with any best games collection, the games have likely all been published before in various outlets and are likely to be familiar to advanced readers.
Franco also credits the chess engines Fritz, Houdini, and Rybka. It used to be that readers had to rely on an author to sort out the deep analysis and get closer to the truth of the positions. Yet, nowadays, the reader has access to the same tools as the author with regard to chess engines and the pendulum is swinging back in favor of explanation over analysis in what is required from the author. Here, however, analysis seems to win out over explanation. Or at least Franco deems the deep analysis necessary to the understanding of the play. The level of analysis in Anand: Move by Move is probably at a higher level than any book in the series so far, and it will be challenging to the average player.
As is customary in the MBM series, the games are interspersed with questions and exercises for the reader to solve. Here is an example from Anand-Lautier, Biel 1997. Franco introduces the game as follows:
“Anand has good memories of the tournament in Biel/Bienne: excellent organization, very comfortable conditions, and pleasant walks along the lakeside. This sense of well-being was reflected in Anand’s chess as early as the very first round, in which he conjured up a spectacular combination of great beauty, one of which he was very proud, and that produced a miniature.”
We pick up the position after 18 Rb1.
In the event of 18…Bxf3 19 Qxf3 Qxd4 20 Rxb7 0-0, then 21 Qe4 saves the exchange and wins, as indicated by Anand. Inserting 19…Nxe3 20 Qxe3 allows White to defend the d4-pawn and threaten Rxb7, while if 20…b6 (20…0-0-0 fails to 21 Rxb7!, exploiting the loose black queen) 21 Bd2 Qa3 22 Qe5! White’s activity gives him a decisive advantage.
Switching the move order by 18…Nxe3 19 Bxe3 Bxf3 20 Qxf3 allows White to retain his important central pawn. Then after 20…0-0-0, White activates his pieces with surprising speed: 21 Rb3 Qa5 22 Be4! and now 22…Rhf8? loses at once to 23 Bxc6! Bxc6 24 Qxc6+ Qc7 25 Qa6+ Kd7 26 Rb7, while 22…Qc7 runs into 23 Bf4 Qd7 24 Bxc6! Qxc6 25 Rc3.
19 Rxb7 Rd8
Exercise: The other critical line was 19…Bh3. What did Anand have in mind in that case?
Answer: White can exploit the loose black queen once again with 20 Rxf7!. Anand commented that he looked no further, but Lautier calculated more deeply: 20…c5 (defending the queen and threatening to take the rook) 21 Rf5!! and wins; for example, 21…c4 22 Rf4!! or 21…Nxe3 22 Bxe3 Qb2 23 Qe2! (threatening Bb5+; Anand’s 23 Rxc5 0-0 24 Kg3! wins as well) 23…exf5 24 Bxc5+ and mates.
In the event of 19…Nf4 20 Kg3 Qd6, White has the nice shot 21 Ba3!, and if 21…Qxa3 then either 22 Be4! (Anand) or 22 Bb5!, while after 21…Nxh5+ 22 Kxg2 Qg3+ 23 Kf1, White threatens 24 Re7+ as well as to capture the knight on h5.
Finally, 19…0-0-0 can be met by the simple 20 Rxf7 Kb8 21 Qg1!.
Exercise (difficult): The black king is still in the centre and White’s pieces are active. Is it possible to exploit these factors? If so, how?
This is not the first move that springs to mind. In ChessBase Magazine #60, Anand explained his thought process: “Here I saw the possibility of Bg6 and then I realized that it didn’t work because at a certain moment Black would simply play …Kg8. Then I saw the possibility of h6, when …Kg8 could be met by Rg7+!. Suddenly, all that remained was to check the details.”
To clarify, the first line he saw (which didn’t work) was 20 Bg6?? Qxd1 21 Rxe6+ Kf8 22 Ba3+ (or 22 Rxf7+ Kg8) 22…Ne7 23 Bxe7+ Kg8 and Black wins.
“This gave me a chance to have a really beautiful finish. Black could still fight with …Nxe3, but Joel hadn’t seen the idea behind h5-h6.”
In view of the harsh punishment now meted out, 20…Nxe3 was preferable, though White would still be winning after 21 Bxe3 Qe5 22 hxg7 Rg8 23 Qc1! (covering the e3-bishop so as to enable Kxg2, while also threatening Qa3) or similarly 23 Qg1!. Note that White should avoid 23 Bh6? Qh2!.
Now if 21…Qxd1, Black does get mated: 22 Rxe6+ Kf8 23 Bxh6+ Kg8 24 Bxf7 mate.
And there are no better defences:
a) 21…Qxe3+ 22 Bxe3 hxg6 (or 22…fxg6) 23 Qd4 wins with multiple threats.
b) 21…Qf6 22 Bxf7+ Qxf7 23 Rxf7 Nxe3 24 Qxd8+! (retreating the queen is good, but the most practical, and indeed strongest, option is simply to give it back) 24…Kxd8 25 Bxe3 Bh3 26 Rxa7 with an easy win.
c) 21…Nxe3 22 Bxf7+ Kf8 23 Qxd4 Rxd4 24 Bxe3 wins easily too, threatening Bxh6 mate as well as the rook and bishop.
22 Qxd4 Rxd4 23 Rd3!
23 Rxe6 Rd7 24 Rxd7 Kxd7 25 Bxf7 would win, but the text move is simpler, eliminating Black’s only active piece.
23…Rd8 24 Rxd8+ Kxd8 25 Bd3! 1-0
After 25…Bh1 26 Bb2 Re8 27 Bf6, Black is paralysed and will soon lose material.
Anand: Move by Move takes this series to a challenging new level that is sure to test and expand the capabilities of the average reader. If you approach the material in a serious and diligent manner, then working your way through this title is almost guaranteed to raise the level of your play.
My assessment of this book:
Order Anand: Move by Move
by Zenon Franco
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