Archives for September 2014
Vallejo finally won a game. He got quite a comfortable position in the Nimzo with 4 Qc2 against Ponomariov and on move 21 he had an eternal knight on e5 against black’s bishop on d5.
|White is better here|
A few moves later the following transformation occured:
|White is winning|
A strange game on Ponomariov’s part, his whole tournament was very patchy and Vallejo at the end got his consolation win.
At the ECC, SOCAR confirmed their dominance with a last round win to finish with a 100%. They beat SPB 3.5-2.5, Topalov beating Svidler with white on 1 and the rest drawing. An impressive victory, the whole team played well and seemed to be in good form. Great results also for last year’s winners Novy Bor, coming second and Odlar Yourdu, Sutovsky’s proteges and the next generation of Azerbaijan’s top players coming fourth. The third place of Malakhite is not bad at all, but a team like that is only interested in first place.
With his win Topalov got back to 2800 and number 3 in the world, something I didn’t expect of him, but a string of results thoroughly deserved, especially for a man who considers himself on the way out of the Top 10. And speaking of the Top 10, after the ECC results one very big guy is out – none other than Vladimir Kramnik! As his next scheduled event is an open (!!) this is another worrying thing for the great champion…
From today’s games, the clash Caruana-Karjakin saw the former try to win a better position for a very long time:
|White is better, but couldn’t win|
The bitter rivals Grischuk and Nakamura reached the following impasse:
Vachier lost to Leko and went out of the Top 10. Leko used the advantage of having two knights against two bishops:
|The extra pawn, not the knights, decided the outcome|
Edouard played a rare move against Kamsky in a centuries-old theoretical position:
|7…b6!? (instead of the normal 7…Nc6)|
In the past this has been played once by Korchnoi and three times by Ganguly, but without encouraging results. Since Edouard is well-known for his excellent preparation, perhaps a new trend is coming? Kamsky’s reply was the sharp 8 e4 and it seems that black shouldn’t take on e4 (like Edouard) and should take on d4 instead (as played by Ganguly).
And the inimitable Sulskis produced a move in his style (introduced by Nunn in 1991):
|9 g4, no typical Hedgehog today|
The Bilbaos finished and the heroes are on their way home. Anand to his team and preparation for the match, Aronian to have a really good think what to do, Topalov probably quite happy and Caruana considering whether to raise money and challenge Carlsen, circumnavigating FIDE. I wonder what Karjakin is up to, but he’ll probably surprise me with announcing that together with his sponsor and manager his goal is to bring the crown back to Russia.
Jokes aside, we have the Grand Prix coming up in October and the world championship match in November. Like I said before, it will be an autumn to remember!
|11 Qc2 Ponomariov, 11 e4 Mamedyarov|
|11 Bd2, a new attempt|
|25 Bf4? Bf4! 26 Bf3 Nh2 27 Rh1 Nf3 28 gf4 Rf4|
|Black dominates and went on to win|
|29 Kg3, 30 Kh4, 31 Kh5|
|To beat Kamsky from here is an incredible feat!|
|The control of the d-file is bonus!|
Anand was precise in the realisation of the advantage. A typical top-level game that shows what happens when one of the players cannot get out of the opening with an acceptable position. And the encouraging signs for Anand continue!
In Ponomariov-Aronian white obtained good compensation for the pawn, but even though black ended up with a pathetic bishop on c8 it turned out that everything was defended and white couldn’t break through. Usually these games are lost for the passive player, but here he survived – in the final position his bishop is still pathetic, but there’s nothing white can do to take advantage of it:
|Black surviving his worst nightmare|
At the ECC, SOCAR won again, yet they’re still not guaranteed first place! Topalov (beating Nakamura again after the Sinquefield Cup, making it three in a row!) and Korobov (beating Kiril Georgiev) more than compensated for Caruana’s win against Mamedyarov (who sacrificed a pawn in the opening, in the footsteps of Radjabov who used the same line against Mchedlishvili in the Olympiad, but his compensation fizzled out). Caruana seems to be flying high after his Sinquefield triumph and it’s a good sign – perhaps we’re witnessing the beginning of another big rivalry of players whose names start with the same letter?
When writing about round 3 (http://www.alexcolovic.com/2014/09/the-bilbaos-2014-round-3.html) I mentioned that Alekhine’s employment of the Spanish with Nc3 got me interested in the line and that he tried to jump to d5 as soon as possible. The modern treatment is somewhat slower, but the old ideas are still valid, just take a look at this:
|8 Nd5! Mamedov,N-Bartel|
My good friend Nidjat Mamedov played no worse than Alekhine in this game – only two moves later he was practically winning!
|Black is forced to take on d4 with his bishop, but that didn’t help|
The final position is also worth taking a look at, it could have occurred in one of Alekhine’s games very easily:
|White’s last move is 23 Kh1|
The final move and position reminded me of Alekhine-Asztalos, Kecskemet 1927:
|Followed by Rg1-g7|
Tomorrow we have another clash on the top board – SOCAR meets Malakhite (Leko, Shirov, Malakhov – it’s fitting that a Malakhov should play for Malakhite I think, Motylev, Lysyj and Bologan). Another great fight ahead!
Speaking of Caruana (the man on fire lately) I noticed a peculiar motif that keeps repeating in his games – he sacrifices two pieces for a rook and a pawn (or two) quite often. Here’s today’s example:
And here’s the position from his game with Topalov in Stavanger, earlier this year:
And the theme from his game against Aronian in Saint Louis:
Now, to get things straight, today against Roiz and against Aronian the “sacrifice” was in fact the best move in the position, while against Topalov it was a result of the opening line – the reason I noted this was probably because I have always been wary of giving away the two pieces – either I underestimated the rook or I overestimated the pieces. I always find it curious to pinpoint such pecualiarities in my own thinking!
Back to the ECC, here’s a move I saw for the first time in a well-known theoretical position:
|8…Re8?!?! in Leko-Vitiugov|
I checked and in fact the move has already been played by Zvjaginsev (the man with many peculiar ideas) in 2013. But a weird move nevertheless.
And I noted two excellent technical efforts. The first one from Grischuk, another man on fire – yesterday he destroyed Rodshtein in 22 moves, today he outplayed Dominguez from what looked like a dead-drawn position (I’m sure Dominguez was very surprised by Grischuk’s choice of the Sveshnikov Sicilian, but he could have been more circumspect by deviating from his recent game against Frolyanov):
|18..d5, Grischuk’s improvement over Frolyanov’s 18…Qb6|
The improvement was good enough for a draw, but Dominguez must have been under pressure and managed to lose this:
Later on Grischuk demonstrated good technique by winning the rook endgame (which was already won for him – in the double-rook endgame white still had drawing chances on move 30, when he should have prevented black’s rook from penetrating on the second rank).
The other example I noted was the game Hammer-Ruck. A typical Maroczy endgame with white having the pair of bishops and the space advantage.
|An endgame worth studying!|
Hammer showed great technique, which I’m sure he already had when he started working with Carlsen! When seeing this game I remembered the two classical endgames won by Polugaevsky at the same tournament in Belgrade 1969:
|Polugaevsky-Ostojic, Belgrade (14) 1969|
|Polugaevsky-Ivkov, Belgrade (1) 1969|
Tomorrow the Masters return so we’re having double action again. Always curious about Anand’s play, whether he’ll just sit on his lead or try for more – soon we’ll find out!