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Round 10: Five wins: Aronian, Gashimov, Radjabov & Wang Yue lead
Monday, 11 August 2008
The 10th round of the Sochi Grand Prix was clearly the most spectacular so far. At an early stage, three games were suddenly decided, and none of these were drawn! Aronian beat Cheparinov with Black to take over the lead from his direct opponent; he shares it with Gashimov, Wang Yue and Radjabov, who came back on top.


But before we speak about today's great round, we have to mention this disappointing sight, fourteen (!) minutes after the start of the round. Both Kamsky and Jakovenko had not yet appeared at their board...

radjabov_navara.jpg Radjabov-Navara once again proved that the slightest inaccuracy in the opening can lead to dire consequences, especially in the Sicilian Defense! It seems, David simply mixed up the move order: instead of 11…exf4?!, Black normally plays 11…0-0, taking on f4 on the next move.

Teimour skillfully used the opponent’s inaccuracy. He delivered a powerful blow 13.e5! (after 13.Qf3 the game would transpose to Radjabov-Svidler, Fuegen 2006), and created powerful pressure on the kingside.

At move 15 White was looking at a "dream position", as Radjabov described it. "But I'm not sure about 16.Qh5, probably 16.Qf3 was even stronger." The Azeri pointed out that 17...Qe8 was also bad (17...Ra7 was necessary). Although Black's position looks quite hopeless already, probably 19...Qd7 was the losing mistake. Radjabov played very powerfully in the end. This was a one-way game.

svidler_karjakin.jpg Svidler-Karjakin started with an ultra-sharp and fashionable line of the Queen’s Indian Defense. White sacrificed a piece (15.Nxg6) and forced the opponent playing with the king in the center. Karjakin improved upon Black’s play in Radjabov-Leko, Morelia-Linares 2008 by 19…Ne6! (the computer points on this move instantly!) and confidently converted the material advantage. His analysis was way better.

"I didn't remember what Leko played, but my 19...Ne6 is better," Karjakin said.

Svidler’s creative 20.b4 cxb4 21.Nd5 was fruitless. It is hard to give a good advice during the express analysis, but I (Shipov) would like to draw your attention to 20.Qf7!?. It seems White’s initiative should suffice for equality.

Karjakin himself suggested 22.Qf5 as a possible improvement. A bit later, he didn't play 24...Qc2 25.Rd2 Qg6 because of 26.Qxg6 Nxg6 27.d6, but in this line 25...Qc3!? is interesting.

The rest of the game of void of intrigue: Black calmly completed his development by 25…Qf5!, and then transposed to the ending (29…Qg6!), in which Black’s extra piece played the main role. 33...Rg7! was a very nice finish. The immediate 33...Bc8 is answered by 34.Rc1 Bb7 35.Rc7, but by putting the rook on g7 with tempo, in the game Black has Be7-f8! as an adequate response to White's Rc1-c7.

Svidler keeps falling. He is clearly out of shape. We wish him good health!

gelfand_ivanchuk.jpg Another relatively quick win was scored by Gelfand, against the unpredictable Ivanchuk. This time the Ukrainian disappointed us. We expected him to show something new and interesting in the English Hedgehog, but he just ended up sitting under White’s standard attack and lost despite desperate resistance.

When the players reached the critical position of this very sharp and risky line, Vassily made a standard move 15...Nbd7?!. My analysis of the correct (and known for many years) continuation 15…Qe7!, which occurred in Filippov-Shipov, Sochi 2004, will be published by the end of the year in the first volume of my new book on the Hedgehog.

After the obvious 16.fxe6 fxe6 17.Bh3! the pressure on the e6-square became too strong. The subsequent maneuvering on the Black’s queen was impressive, but objectively Black could not do anything. Gelfand: "With 17...Qc5 he tried to profit from the fact that Be3 is unprotected. There I could already win his queen with 18.Qe2 Qe5 19.Bxe6+ Rxe6 20.Rf5 but after 20...Qxe4 21.Nxe4 Rxe4 it's pretty messy, despite the fact that Black only has two pieces."

After that, according to the Israeli 19...Qxa2 was a clear mistake; Ivanchuk should have tried 19...Bxd5 20.exd5 Qxd5 when 21.Nxe6! (21.Bg2 Qxa2) 21...Qxa2 and now 22.Rf2 or 22.Rc2 are still good for White.

Both players then made mistakes in head-spinning complications (the evaluation varied from += to +-), but I would like to draw your attention to 26.Bd4!, 28.Nxh6+! and 30.Qh5!.

The last blunder 37…Kxf7? spared White a chance to show his technique. More tenacious is 37...Kf8! and now 38.Qe6 Rd8 39.Qxb6 Ke7 40.Kf1! d4 41.Ke2 d3+ 42.Kd1 – the b6-pawn can become very strong. Probably Black is still lost. Gelfand comes back to the contention!

grischuk_wangyue.jpg Grischuk-Wang Yue was an important, but not very interesting game. White made a new move in the sharp line of the Caro-Kann (12.Re1) and obtained some pressure.

The Chinese grandmaster defended very well –15…Bb4!, 20…Rc4! 24…Nc4!. After series of exchanges White was effectively a pawn up, but it was useless, as Black had it safely blocked. Since the queens were on the board, White could not bring in his king.

Grischuk found Wang Yue's play "very strange", although he added "but perhaps he thinks my play was strange." He thought he was much better, and expected 24...Qd5 25.Rxb5 Qc4 26.Rcb1. "But I missed something there, I think it was 24...Nc4 25.Nxb5 R4a5 26.Qb3 Nd2." In the end, the Chinese ended the game "brilliantly", according to Grischuk: "He just called the arbiter and said: 'draw!' And I agreed."

cheparinov_aronian.jpg Cheparinov also quickly went astray today, against Aronian. An excellent suicide manual for dummies: kill yourself quickly and efficiently!

In the popular line of the Slav Defense, Aronian radically altered his plan from the game against Ivanchuk ("I wanted to do something different"). Instead of simplifications, he added central tension by 13…e5 and maintained it for a while, keeping White behind the pawn chain. "His queen on c2 and Rae1 both look a bit misplaced in that position. After 16...Qd6 I think I'm already slightly better," Levon said.

Subtle maneuvering from both sides led to a critical position, in which White made a horrible positional blunder: 26.gxh4? (the unhurried 26.Be2 is way better, while Aronian himself expected 26.Bg4 to which he was planning 26...Qf6) led to the collapse of White’s pawn structure, and the counterattack against the g6, started by 28.h5, proved completely irrelevant. Having missed the tactical chance 30.b4 (instead of 30.Bxd4?!), Cheparinov completely surrender the center. After that Aronian’s play was impeccable: 33…f5!, 35…Kg7!, 40…b5!. The Armenian grandmaster celebrated a convincing victory.

gashimov_almodiahki.jpgGashimov and Al-Mdiahki were chatting for a long time during lunch, and then sat down against each other – a good example of the friendly atmosphere here in Sochi. In the game, Gashimov had to hide his friendly attitude when he saw 11...Ng4. "Maybe it's not a mistake, but it's certainly more difficult to play for Black compared to the normal 11...b5."

The Sozin Attack in the Sicilian suggested that one of the kings, castled to the opposite corners of the board, is going to fall. The Black king obeyed.

The outcome of the game was determined between the 15th and 21st moves. Amazingly, Black allowed the f5-f6! Blow, after which he was doomed.

Of course, one can blame 15…b4 (15…Na5 looked interesting), but those are subtleties. The really big mistakes were still to be made. I don’t like 18…Kh8. Without the bishop on b3, this prophylaxis is pointless and just wastes a tempo, and the importance of time in such sharp Sicilian games is obvious even to kids. Much better is 18...Bb7, for example, 19.Nb6 (19.Nh5 Rac8 20.Rd2 Qa5) 19...Rad8 20.Nh5 exf5 21.exf5 Rfe8!, and Black is almost equal. Playing 20...f6 was bad due to 21.Nb6 Ra7 22.Nd5 Qc5 23.Qe4! Bd8 24.Nhf4! with total domination of the White’s knights.

And after the White pawn was established on f6, the victory was within Vugar’s reach. He calmly accepted the bishop sacrifice after 26…Qa5, survived a couple of checks and finished his attack.

kamsky_jakovenko.jpg Against Kamsky, Jakovenko played his tenth draw in ten games. In the deeply studied variation of the Ruy Lopez, Dmitry implemented a new move 18…Bd8 (instead of 18…h6). Perhaps the point was that Black does not weaken the f5-square, which is so attractive for White’s knights, but in any case, Jakovenko didn't like it after the game: "I underestimated his Re1-e3."

After knights were traded, the Russian played 24…h6, but still, with all due respect, failed to equalize completely. Kamsky maintained the initiative until the end of the game, attacked energetically (22.Nh5,  28.c4), but Black held. We didn’t find an obvious way to improve White’s attack

Jakovenko: "At first I was planning 24...Bf6 25.Qd2 Nb7 but then I found  26.Ba3 annoing. My opponent suggested 25.Qh5 but I can probably just play 25...Re6."

The American refrained from 28.Rxd6 because of 28...Rxd6 29.Qxd6 Qxc3 30.Ra2 Qe1+ 31.Kh2 Qxc1 32.Qxd7 Qf4+ 33.Kg1 Qc1+ 34.Bd1 Qb1.

"After that he won a pawn but Black has sufficient counterplay," Jakovenko said. A last, fascinating line is 34...Nxb3? 35.Qc8+ Kh7 36.Bf5+ g6 37.Rxd6 (37.Qd8 Qxb2 38.Qxf6 Qc1+ 39.Kh2 Qf4+) 37...Rxf5 (37...Rxd6 38.Bxe5 gxf5 39.Qxf5+ mates) 38.exf5 Qxb2 39.fxg6+ Kg7 40.gxf7 Qc1+ 41.Qxc1 Nxc1 42.Rf6! and White should win.

Peter Doggers & Sergey Shipov

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