mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: Just looking at the
position, you have to admit that it is a very complex one indeed. There is material
equality, but other than that, everything seems to rest in a precarious dynamic balance.
Thanks to the pawn structure, white seems to hold the edge on the king side, which
is the direction that most of his pieces are pointing at.
At the same time, though, the rook on a1 is proving to be an important factor on the queen side, due to its exclusive control of the completely open file on the board. Black, meanwhile, seems to have a wonderful pawn structure on the queen side, and thanks to his solid defense on the king side, he is holding up pretty well there too.
An interesting thing about this position is the sheer number of pawns. Now, six pawns doesn't sound like that many, but in a strange way, they seem to control the entire board. What this does, is practically constraining almost every single piece on the entire board, on both sides. If you do not believe me, just look at how limited in go-to squares the following pieces are: the knight on f3, the knight on e3, the bishop on b1, the knight on h7, the knight on b4, the bishop on b7. In other words, every single light piece is almost dead because of the may pawns surrounding them.
However, in the category of dead pieces, there is one that wins the competition of who is more dead by a mile: the knight on e3! You see, not only can the knight not go to c4, d5, f5, and g4, thus lacking any aggressive perspectives, but at the same time, it keeps the 'e' file closed, thus impeding a possible e4-e5 breakthrough. Furthermore, black is clearly intending to get rid of his terrible knight on h7 by trading it on h5. It is once again our knight on e3 that would allow this to happen.
So, it should be clear that moving the knight is a priority. There is simply nothing that white can mount offensively as long as the knight sits there. Now, the real question is where to move it? One direction is f1, so it can then head to g3. But where to from there? Nowhere, really...
The other way to do it, is to try trading the black knight on b4, who seems pretty active, by heading with the knight to c2. The problem is, as you will shortly see, that the black knight on b4 is not as strong as it looks! The only place it can actually go to, is a6, which is an absolutely great place - for us! The other interesting thing the black knight does on b4, is prevent the b5 pawn pawn from going anywhere. Under normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong with that. But in this case, the pawn happens to be undefended. And when there is a pawn that is both fixed and undefended, guess what - it's a weakness!
Which is precisely why 1.Nd1!! is the fantastic move made by Anand.
The knight is moving, and its destination is quite attractive: c3.
This is the ideal place for the knight for a couple of reasons: it helps
further defend the d5 pawn, thus preparing e4-e5; it defends the e4 pawn, and it threatens
our newly found weakness on b5.
This last aspect proves to be much more important that it might seem at first glance. The reason is amazingly simple: black is running out of ways of defending the pawn. White is preparing to move his knight to c3, and then the rook on a5. Further, the queen can move to e2, and additional pressure could be coming as well. In order to fight this, black would have to build a defense that would block his own knight on b4, and create a very precarious situation, by tying too many pieces to the defense of the pawn, thus giving white a free hand to do everything he wants too.
This is why black, American Gata Kamsky, decided to pull back, and allow the 'b' pawn to reach safe haven on b4. But just look at the position after 1...Na6 2.Nc3 b4
In order to save his pawn, black has granted some huge concessions on the queen side. His knight couldn't have reached a better square for us, and while the last move puts his pawn in a safer positions, it has also created some huge holes in his position. Both 3.Na4 followed by Nb2-c4, or the 3.Nb5 chosen by Anand lead to a much superior position for white. The bishop can then follow to d3, and with the rooks coming up on the 'a' file, black has a very tough defense ahead of him. Kamsky did indeed defend for a while, but white's precision play ended things in his favor.