Bilbao ECC 2014 – Round 4

In the clash of the teams with maximum number of points the juggernaut of SOCAR beat last year’s winners Novy Bor with 4-2. A major step in the fight for final victory, as now they’re the only team with a 100% score. But it’s not over till it’s over and they still need to overcome the Italian Obiettivo with Caruana on board 1.

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:

24…Qd4! still making problems for white

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!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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