Akopian’s winning streak calls for respect. The Armenian considerably improved his position and got rid of the outsider status. He defeated Karjakin, questioning Sergey’s ambitious plans in this tournament.
Svidler skillfully used Eljanov’s carelessness to return to the struggle for the main prizes.
Kamsky can blame the fate, as he missed a huge advantage against Gelfand. On the other hand, this was only his own fault.
Other games logically ended in draws.
Vassily, looking for winning chances, called fire upon him, and perished. The game was very one-sided. Black made a mistake, allowing Nc3-d5 by 12…Bxc6?! Of course, he should have taken with the queen, securing an equal game. Maybe Ivanchuk thought that he can pick up the h2-pawn, but later discovered that it is impossible. Consequently, he had to defend a slightly worse position. The opposite-colored bishops did not guarantee a draw. With the queens on the board, pawn weaknesses on b6 and f7 as well as poor king’s safety played an important role.
Resume by GM Sergey Shipov
Black held the balance for quite a while, however, Aronian’s
spectacular 36.e5! was too much for Ivanchuk. By 36…Qg7! 37.Qe6 Qg6!
Vassily could defend stubbornly, but he captured on e5, and White
quickly developed the mating attack.
White created powerful pressure in a seemingly harmless position.
Mamedyarov’s innocent-looking play was actually very poisonous. Black
was close to equality all the time, but never could reach it.
It all started with a tricky novelty 13.Bd2 in the Chebanenko Slav.
Knowing the future events, one can question the 14…d4 break (14…Be6
looked well) or recommend the following line on the next move: 15…Qc2!?
16.Nxf6+ gxf6 17.Rxc2 Bf5! – here Black manages to develop his
queenside at a relatively small cost of doubling the f-pawn.
After the exchanges Black was left with the only problem – weak
b7-pawn. However, Grischuk failed to find the solution to it, and
possibly there was no such solution. One can only point at the more
tenacious continuations with more chances to survive, for instance,
24…Bf6!? 25.Bd6 Rd8 26.Bc7 Rd2 27.Bxb7 Rf8, and Black attacks White’s
After Mamedyarov relocated his rook to b5, Black’s situation became
really difficult. White won a pawn and energetically ended the game in
The representative of the older generation (who had also been a young
star someday) gave a perfect lesson to the young and brilliant
opponent. Maybe Karjakin simply underestimated Akopian and decided to
play against him beyond the acceptable risk.
Perhaps judging Sergey’s novelty 16…b5 by a single game is
irresponsible, especially considering that ‘Karjakin-made’ opening
ideas are usually of the highest quality. However, Akopian used simple
and logical means to parry Black’s threats, and obtained a lasting
Vladimir converted this advantage in a classic way. The excellent 31.Qc7! deserves special attention.
In the endgame White sacrificed a bishop (51.Qb5!) and advanced his
passed a-pawn. Here began the most interesting part! Usually players
always queen their pawns without giving a proper thought to
underpromotion. However, in this case the automatic 71.a8Q? only led to
a perpetual check. By promoting his pawn to the knight, Akopian
defended his king and created irresistible threats to the opponent’s
An excellent victory!
quiet outline of a position can often be misleading, and deep
positional considerations are useless, when a sharp and unexpected
combination can change everything.
In a well-known variation of the Gruenfeld, Eljanov obtained a slight
pressure in the endgame. White’s main trump was his super-solid
d4-pawn, which completely locked Black’s dark-squared bishop. It seems
Pavel overestimated this factor. The careless 21.Ne4? (after 21.Nf3!
White is at least not worse) allowed Black to deliver the devastating
21…Bxd4! He heroic bishop crushed the White’s center. Soon Black
regained the piece and ended up with an extra pawn.
Svidler conducted the converting stage perfectly.
amount of blank spots in the theory is simply amazing. Take the Catalan
– a highly popular opening! Everybody played in recently, completely
exhausting certain variations. However, Kamsky’s natural strengthening
8th move led the game to a whole new territory. And Gelfand was unable
to solve the new set of problems. When it turned out that Black cannot
hold the c4-pawn, Boris decided to simplify the game with a dubious
central break – 14…e5? Gata could probably punish the opponent by
17.Nc5! with a crushing attack after 17…dxe3 18.Bxc6+! bxc6 19.Qe4+!
However, the spectacular 17.Nd6+ also gave him the initiative. The
Black’s king remained in the center and barely survived. I am sure
Kamsky could handle his advantage better. For instance, one can suggest
26.Be4, and the threat of Be4-h7 provokes the weakening g7-g6, after
which White’s queen can land on f6.
In the game White played a little too slow and Black managed to
regroup. Gata preferred to avoid problems, and transposed the game into
an equal ending.
game was short and seemingly peaceful, however, it contained an
interesting theoretical innovation. Bacrot’s 11…Qh3! prevented White
from castling. Kasimdzhanov brought his king to the queenside, but it
wasn’t safe there either. Therefore Rustam took the safe route and
forced a draw by repetition.
this lengthy struggle White had a small edge all the time, but it
didn’t give him anything real. In the Catalan, Black correctly opened
the lines on the queenside by 13…b5!, which allowed him to survive
White’s attack in the center.
The structure that arose resembled the French Defense. White’s only
chance for the advantage was attacking on the kingside. However, Peter
wasted some time, and when Evgeny started to build his counterplay on
the queenside, White preferred to force a draw by 49.b4 followed by the