Wednesday, 29 April 2009
There are now two leaders in Nalchik. Leko confidently defeated Kasimdzhanov and caught up with Aronian, who barely survived against the inspired Kamsky.
Everything will be decided tomorrow in the individual game between the leaders. Aronian plays White.
A classic example of the equally strong sword and shield. Kamsky attacked brilliantly, but Aronian defended with incredible accuracy.
I think Black’s opening was far from perfect. For instance, the knight maneuver to b6 is unconvincing. White quickly completed his development and created a strong attack in the center by 12.f5! Levon accepted the challenge, taking everything his opponent dared to sacrifice – a pawn first, then an exchange. Basically, after 14…Bxf5 and until the end of the game Levon was constantly parrying various threats, making many only moves in process.
White’s exchange sacrifice 16.Rxf5! is excellent! Kamsky could create very annoying pressure by the tricky 18.d4!, restricting Black’s knight and passing the right to move to the opponent. In my extensive analysis I didn’t find how to equalize for Black. White could get excellent winning chances.
Levon’s smart knight maneuver allowed him to exchange White’s powerful bishop. Later Levon made a very timely piece sacrifice (21…0-0-0!) and managed to survive without much trouble. In the subsequent game Black’s rook and pawns successfully held against two minor pieces.
Rustam was unable to hold against a better prepared and motivated opponent.
In the Petroff Defense White maintained some pressure on a half-empty
board, as he controlled a central file. Leko used his kingside pawns as
a weapon, and it seems Kasimdzhanov accelerated this by 19…Nf6. Instead
of it, he could play 19…c5 or even safer 19…c6 with the idea to meet
20.h6 by 20…b5!, fixing the pawn structure completely.
Rustam’s decision to bring the knight to g8 (20…Kh8?!) turned fatal
(once against better was 20…c6, intending b7-b5). Peter’s powerful
22.c4! created tension in the center, and Black was unable to bear it.
Rustam eventually got rid of the h6-pawn, but paid dearly for it.
The last mistake (27…f5?) reduced Black’s pain.
Black played very creatively in the opening (substituting the usual
6…0-0 by 6…dxc4), but failed to equalize. White got the space
advantage, while Black had a very weak pawn on c6.
Shakhriyar brilliantly sacrificed a pawn by 14.e6! and created strong
pressure. Pavel sacrificed his pawn in response – 17…c5. I think White
should have taken it in a different way: 18.Rfe1!? c4 19.Bg3! Re8
20.Qxd5 – in this case he keeps many pieces on the board and maintains
a significant advantage in the center.
In the resulting ending Black quickly brought the king towards the
center (22…Kg8!) and secured certain compensation for his material
Both grandmasters played really well in the subsequent complications.
The assessment “White is slightly better” remained unchanged until the
draw was agreed.
This masterpiece was tailored with the best tactical fibers, and can be added to the Petroff textbooks intact.
White made an interesting new move in an old but still popular line
–12.Qa4+!?, but it seems it was anticipated by Boris. If I am wrong, I
beg the pardon and express my utmost admiration to both players. Every
move they played was perfect, and it resulted in an almost equal
position, in which Black’s strong knight on d5 compensated for White’s
Every defeat comes unexpected. This game started well for Peter;
White’s pressure in the Zaitsev wasn’t particularly dangerous. The
players relentlessly simplified the position, but Black took too long
before making the freeing d6-d5 break. He should have played it on the
27th move, and then the game would most likely be drawn, while after
27…Rde7?! 28.Qb2! White created dangerous pressure on the a1-h8
diagonal. In order to defend it Black had to fianchetto his knight,
which gave White a few tempi to develop the initiative and advance his
In the time trouble Svidler committed a couple of errors (instead of
35…Qc7 more accurate is 35…Qc5, and instead of 39…Rc8 much better is
39…Re7!), and Karjakin managed to trade the b7-bishop, which was the
only obstacle for his passed pawn. Black’s position got worse, and his
defeat did not surprise anybody.
Sasha reminds me a fearless boxer with strong neck – his opponents hit him a lot, but he always hits back, and never falls.
As far as I see, the most difficult thing in this game for Grischuk was
avoiding the move repetition in the time trouble. This time he
succeeded, repeating all possible positions just twice.
Bacrot was up to the task for a long time, but made a mistake in the
ending. The automatic 45…Rxb4? was losing, while 45…c3! would make a
draw, as in this case White could not take the d6-pawn and keep his
e4-pawn at the same time.
After White traded an exchange for two pawns (by 48.Kxd3!), Black was
unable to defend against the connected passed pawns, and was one or two
tempi short for creating adequate counterplay.
This game was quite interesting (the Sicilian Defense led to a
sharp fight in the center), but the crowd in the internet gone wild in
the queen ending. Why on earth Alekseev did not transpose to a winning
pawn ending by 33.Qd3+? It turned out that the former Russian champion
knows pawn endgames better than computer-armed internet experts. This
‘won’ pawn ending led to a drawn queen ending... Here are some
exemplary lines: 33.Qd3+ Qxd3 34.cxd3 Kg6 35.Kc2 Kf6 36.Kb3 Ke6 37.Ka4
(37.Kc4 Kd6!) 37…Kd5 38.Kxa5 Kd4 39.a4 Kxd3 40.Kb5 f5 41.a5 (41.gxf5
g4!) 41...e4 42.fxe4 fxe4 43.a6 e3 44.a7 e2 45.a8Q e1Q (Black makes it
right on time!) 46.Qd5+ Ke2 47.Qxg5 Qb1+ 48.Kc5 Kf3 49.Qxg7 Qc2+ 50.Kd5
Qe4+ 51.Kd6 Qxg4 52.Qxg4+ Kxg4 – and this pawn ending is drawn.
Therefore the result of the game is logical and fair.