Sunday, 19 April 2009
What looked like a coincidence now seems to be a consistent pattern in Kamsky’s play! Once again Gata produced a painfully long and tense game. By the end, his opponent was dying of exhaustion, while Gata remained fresh and firm.
Peter played very creatively after the opening. His ‘knight mill’ 24…Nd8!, relocating the knight from с6 to с5, deserves the highest praise. Black lost a pawn, but created strong pressure on e4. Later, however, he incorrectly traded the light-squared bishop. Instead of 27…Bxf5?! Black could continue playing on equal terms by 27…Qb7 or 27…Ncxe4.
The text-move gave Black some freedom in the center, but allowed dangerous advance of White’s b-pawns. Soon Peter had to give up an exchange.
A very interesting spot occurred on the 38th move. Trading the queens on b4 led to a difficult ending. Black could get more saving chances if he dared to sacrifice a knight by 38…Nxf2! I do not say it guaranteed a draw, but the struggle would be a lot tenser. The game could continue 39.Kxf2 e4 40.Qc7! Qxb4, and here, in order to play for a win, White is obliged to find the refined 41.Rb1!, brining the rook to b7 or b8. However I seriously doubt that grandmasters would play all the computer moves exactly – in human chess everything is possible.
After Black missed this chance, Kamsky methodically converted his endgame advantage. Svidler built up a solid position with the pawns on e3, g5 and h4, which looked like a fortress, but Kamsky’s mating threats dispersed this illusion. However, in the post mortem it turned out that Gata missed the neat 65...Nf2!, which could indeed construct an unbreakable fortress, but Peter was too tired to resist.
Overall, Kamsky’s victory in this game was quite logical.
A head-spinning game. Both players deserve the highest praise.
In the Queen’s Indian Defense, Black constructed a pawn ‘barb’ in the
center, but fell somewhat behind in development. Gelfand decided to use
the latter fact. His opening revelation 14.g4! led to enormous
complications, which after incredibly precise play of both sides
resulted in a complicated ending with White having three pawns for a
knight. How they managed to find all the best moves, is almost
inexplicable. This was a demonstration of the highest skill!
In the mutual time trouble Boris missed an excellent chance. He had to
play 38.Kd3! at once (without inclusion of h2-h4 and Ke5-f5), in order
to win the game after the most natural 38…Nc5+ 39.Kc3 Ncxa4+? 40.Nxa4
Nxa4+ 41.Kb4 Nb6 42.Kc5 Na4+ 43.Kс6. Etienne would have to find the
only defense 39…Nd5+! 40.Kc4 Nb7! with just a few seconds on the clock.
In the actual game Black managed to stop all the pawns in due time.
Another creative game, in which both players showed some non-orthodox
ideas. Pavel stylishly solved the problem with his pinned f3-knight by
14.Qb3! Activity of White’s pieces fully compensated for structural
flaws. The pressure on Black’s position began to grow... And then
Vassily launched a nice saving operation.
Black bravely accepted the pawn sacrifice: 20…Rxd4!, and then suddenly
gave up a queen for a rook and a bishop. In the resulting position
computer engines insist that White has a big advantage, but any human
player immediately recognizes a fortress. Game drawn!
The players initiated a joint research project on the Chebanenko Slav
and came up with important conclusions. White’s spectacular novelty
14.Nxd5 did not surprise Karjakin. Black’s subsequent play is
characterized by computer precision. I was unable to find any
improvements for White in the express analysis. A bloody battle in the
middlegame led to an equal ending, and Black made a draw from the
position of strength.
The logical course of the game that developed around the d6-pawn was
shaken by the sharp 18…f5!? This move came as a surprise for
Shakhriyar, and the Azerbaijani grandmaster didn’t find the nice
reaction 19.h4!, keeping Black’s minor pieces at the bay. The point is
that 19…fxe4 20.Ne1! d5? doesn’t work due to multiple attacks on d5
followed by deadly pins on light-squared diagonals.
After the exchange on f6 the position simplified (via complications!),
and the players entered a heavy-piece ending. The draw by move
repetition was logical.
The Armenian grandmaster made an attempt to win the game on sole
technique, without any risk. Many time he succeeded doing this, but...
not against Grischuk. The Russian consumed a lot of thinking time, but
found all the accurate moves that equalized the game.
In the English Opening the players quickly traded the queens and
several other pieces, ending up in a simple-looking ending with almost
symmetrical pawn structure. White played a good novelty, suggested in
Khalifman’s opening books. It looks like Grischuk was unaware of it,
but he managed to find the best moves at the board. Looking for
possible improvements for White, I can suggest 22.Nf3!?, for example,
22…Kg7 23.g4!, and then, if necessary, h2-h4, the pawn goes to g5, and
the knight establishes on e5.
After White lost a tempo by 22.a3, Black built solid defensive line and held the position.
This long game was surprisingly free of obvious mistakes. Apparently,
the position after the opening was approximately even, but Rustam
overestimated the attack started with 24.g4. This kingside aggression
only created problems for White. If Alekseev played the accurate
28…Bb7!, he would get reasonable chances to succeed. However, he went
for total exchanges, and soon found himself suffering in a rook ending
without a pawn. Yet, he managed to defend it, and the game ended in a
GM Sergey Shipov