The Bilbaos 2014 – Final Round

Heh, so Anand had to botch it, didn’t he? This has happened to him in the past, twice losing to Wang Hao in the last round: in Wijk 2013, spoiling somewhat a good tournament, and again in Sandnes 2013 throwing him back to only +1. Having already won the tournament he was under pressure right from the opening against Aronian in yet another Ragozin. Incidentally, I’ve analysed this line in depth some time ago and according to my analysis the following ideas are worth noting: on black’s 11th move 11…Qg6 is an interesting alternative; white had an option to play 13 Bd3; Anand’s 14…f5 is something I hadn’t analysed, my move was 14…Rfd8 and black gradually equalises. Anand’s computer is without a doubt much more powerful than mine so what he played is probably good enough and the comp does give some zeros around move 20, but with a weakened king this is probably one of those equal positions “that you like to play” (Anand) but only with white. Objectively though, black should have drawn this. But Anand losing this can also be considered a good warning sign not to get too confident. (And some time ago we were talking of him not being confident…)

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:

Draw agreed

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!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Sep 25,2014 at 12:03 pm

    Yes, and if it is on the level of Karposh Open, it should be great!

  • Anonymous
    Sep 23,2014 at 12:14 pm

    Speaking about future events: Next year's edition of the ECC will take place in Skopje!

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