Originally posted by wormwood
22...f4. you know, today's game. game 8.
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 e6 7. f3 c5 8. e4 Bg6 9. Be3 cxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd4 11. Bxd4 Nf ...[text shortened]... Rac1 f5 21. e5 Bg5 22. Be3 f4 23. Ne4 Rxc1 24. Nd6+ Kd7 25. Bxc1 Kc6
Ah! I see. I'm at work, so all the other sites are off-limits (for whatever reason, RHP seems to fly under the radar).
In this patzer's opinion, after 22. Be3, Anand had several options: (1) trade off the dark-squared bishops; (2) retreat the bishop; (3) block the exchange of bishops; (4) do something else brilliant I couldn't imagine if my life depended on it. Each of these options had their advantages and disadvantages.
(1) Trade off the dark-squared bishops
After 22. ... Bxe3 23. Kxe3 f4+ 24. Kf2 it seems black managed to free his light-squared bishop but with only a few squares to aim for at present. Moreover, it seems he has lost control of the dark squares including e5, ceded control of e4 to white, and given white's knight enough breathing room to make its way to an outpost on either d6 or b6. I don't think this looks good for black.
(2) Retreat the bishop
I think this was Anand's best option. Retreating the bishop with 23. ... e7 allows black to keep his most active piece alive in a defensive role. I suppose Topalov would try to double his rooks to take advantage of black's king position, possibly exploiting black's currently inactive light-squared bishop in the process, but I think Anand can keep a timely ... f4 in reserve for the right time to create counterplay or help in the defense of the 7th or 8th rank. Possibly a drawish position? I don't know, maybe Anand sees serious defects with this plan, but I still think it was his best shot.
(3) Block the exchange of bishops
Black can try 22. ... f4 now to avoid the exchange of the dark-squared bishops, but 23. Ne4! seems like a crackerjack reply. The knight move attacks the hanging rook on c8 while at the same time heading for a nice outpost on d6. Anand is forced to take on c1, but in the knight check 24. Nd6+ followed by the capture 25. Bxc1 seems to allow white to claim the outpost without making any concessions, since black will have to spend time avoiding a discovered check attacking the hanging dark-square bishop on g5. Black may have freed his light-squared bishop, but in return has handed d6 to white on a silver platter and placed his king in a very precarious position on the open c-file. This looks bad for black.
(4) Something else brilliant I couldn't imagine if my life depended on it
This plan has one major advantage over other options - it's brilliant. What it could be only Anand could say, but undoubtedly it would have two (maybe three) exclaimation marks after it, and maybe a
thrown in for good measure. Yes, it's that brilliant. Here's hoping he's got one of those up his sleeve.
WARNING: The above analysis was prepared by a patzer hastily examining cutting-edge, world-class, Super GM play. Use at your own risk.