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Round 13: Aronian wins 2nd FIDE Grand Prix in style
Thursday, 14 August 2008
The winner: Levon Aronian

In what can be considered an excellent last round, Levon Aronian became the glorious winner of the 2nd FIDE Grand Prix Tournament in Sochi, Russia. And he did it in style, defeating Alexander Grischuk in a fine positional game. In a crazy game Radjabov beat Karjakin to finish clear second, followed by Wang Yue and Kamsky who share third place. Click on 'Read More' below the crosstable to read the final report on the 13th round. Thank you, and see you in Doha!

Final Ranking
Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Pts SB.
1 9 GM Aronian Levon 2737 ARM * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 50,75
2 4 GM Radjabov Teimour 2744 AZE ½ * 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 8 47,50
3 6 GM Wang Yue 2704 CHN ½ 1 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 48,50
4 14 GM Kamsky Gata 2723 USA ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 46,00
5 1 GM Svidler Peter 2738 RUS ½ 1 ½ ½ * 1 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 7 45,00
6 12 GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 RUS ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 7 44,75
7 10 GM Karjakin Sergey 2727 UKR ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 7 43,50
8 8 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2781 UKR 1 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 43,50
9 13 GM Gashimov Vugar 2717 AZE ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 39,25
10 5 GM Grischuk Alexander 2728 RUS 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ ½ 6 38,75
11 2 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2687 BUL 0 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ 1 * ½ ½ ½ 6 37,50
12 3 GM Gelfand Boris 2720 ISR 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 34,00
13 7 GM Navara David 2646 CZE 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ * 0 4 26,25
14 11 GM Al-Modiahki Mohamad 2556 QAT 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 * 4 23,25

almodiahki.jpg Al-Modiahki-Gelfand doesn't really deserve a review. The players set up an interesting Hedgehog position, and quickly found the way to repeat moves. Gelfand: "He chose a very solid set-up and used an accurate move order, so what can you do. By the way, Black cannot take on e4 because of 9...Nxe4? 10.f3 Nf6 11.Nf5."

aronian_grischuk.jpg The leader celebrated another convincing victory that concluded his brilliant finishing spurt! Aronian and Grischuk went for the Meran Variation of the Slav Defense, where Levon presented an excellent novelty 19.Bc5!, completely deadlocking Black’s queenside. I was unable to find any clear ways to equalize for Black. Obviously, Grischuk could defend more tenaciously, but...

Instead of 20…Bxc5?!, allowing White to stabilize the game to his favor, one could consider 20...Nd5 21.Qb3 a5! with the idea 22.Bxe7 (or 22.Nxa5 Bxc5 23.dxc5 Ba6 24.Rfd1 Bb5) 22...Qxe7 23.bxa5 c5!, and the Black’s pieces enjoying unexpected freedom.

Things got sore for Black as the enemy pawn appeared on c5. Nevertheless, his position was quite durable. Sasha correctly returned the pawn by 22…Ba6, but his bishop nevertheless remained passive. However, according to Aronian, a big mistake was 23...Rab8. "23...Ra7 was important to keep control of the a-file."

Levon found an interesting resource 28.Qa5! (with tactical justification 28...Nxb6 29.Qxb5!), seizing control of the a-file, but on the next more he made a mistake not trading on d5. Black, in turn, missed the idea 29...Nc7!, planning 30…e5.

White’s invasion to the 7th rank made the defender’s task critical. 32…Qf6? was the decisive mistake – the only move was 32...Rf8. After 35.Bd7! White was already winning. He captured the c6-pawn, threatening the mating attack, and soon won the game. Bravo, Levon!

ivanchuk_wangyue.jpg Wang Yue played another excellent Grand Prix tournament and finished shared third after drawing with Ivanchuk. Vassily slowly outplayed his opponent in the Petroff, but did not avoid flaws during the technical stage. 31.Rf4 was clearly unsuccessful, as this move allowed Black terminating a strong pawn on d6.

Overall, this was not the best tournament for the rating favorite. It is difficult to climb to the top with such an inconsistent play – even for Ivanchuk...

The Czech grandmaster blundered right when this highly exciting game was about to end in a logical draw. Today he fought against his own weapon – the Gruenfeld Defense, but, to be honest, failed to impress.

navara_kamsky.jpg Kamsky did not repeat Navara’s novelty of Wang Yue-Navara, played yesterday (!) – 13...Bxe5, etc., and opted for the known continuation 13...Be6. Black left the e5-pawn alive, but took an important transfer square c4, and obtained strong initiative.

It seems Black had a slight advantage for the entire game. Note the nice shot 22...g5! where he could have continued 23...h4 and 24...h3!.

The finale was tragic. After the players started to repeat moves, David decided to play for a win and went for the suicidal 36.Be3?. Gata showed his usual calmness, captured everything he could and easily won the game: 36…Qxe5 37.Ng4 Qc3! (probably David missed this resource) 38.Nh6+ Kh8! – White’s attack evaporated, and he resigned soon.

jakovenko_cheparinov.jpg In Jakovenko-Cheparinov, the Russian skillfully exploited his technical superiority. The Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez sometimes produces such one-sided games with the same scenario – White’s pawn advantage on the kingside slowly dominates other positional factor, sooner or later he creates a passed pawn, and – please, sign the scoresheet!

Jakovenko produced several excellent moves: 15.Ng5! (using the fact that Ivan just weakened the g5-square), 33.g5!, 40.g6!. After the game he said that 17...h4 was a big mistake. "It allowed me to transfer my rook to g4 later in the game."

The conclusion of the game was spectacular: with 44.Rd6!, 46.Ne4! and 49.Nf6+! Rxf6 50.d7+! Jakovenko managed to finish on plus one. "He should have tried 44...Ke7 where I intended 45.Ne4 (45.Rxc6 Bxe5 47.Rxb6 Rf4+ 48.Kh3 Bc3 is nothing) 45...Bb8 and then perhaps 46.g7 Rg8 47.Rd7+! Kxd7 48.Nf6+ Ke7 49.Nxg8+ Kf7 50.Nxh6+ Kxg7 51.Nf5+! and in a similar endgame as Svidler had yesterday, White might be winning here as well."

karjakin_radjabov.jpg In elite chess, the opening is usually paramount. Deep opening research sometimes allows grandmasters to get huge advantage without working at the board during the game.

 Today Karjakin failed to equalize in the opening as White! Radjabov made a strong improvement in the Dragon Sicilian – 17…Bf6! (in the recent Anand-Carlsen, Mainz 2008 Black made a mistake – 17…Rxc3), and Karjakin was unable to overcome the difficulties.

Of course, Karjakin’s game can be improved. Instead of 19.Bxf8 one could try 19.Bf4!, intending to remove the obstacles on the way to the Black king. Black’s advantage grew was he sacrificed another exchange by 20...Rxc3!, and White responded with 21.Qxc3. I think White’s drawing chances were higher with the queens on the board.

Black was slowly squeezing out the victory in the endgame, but Karjakin’s tenacity almost saved him half a point! Radjabov’s slight mistake 39…g4 (more accurate is 39...Ke7!) created a real study almost solved by White.

Sergey was very close: instead of 46.Kb2? he had to capture the knight: 46.Rxe4! f5 47.Re1 f4 48.Rg1! Ke6 49.Kb2! Kf5 (49...a3+ 50.Kc3!) 50.Kc3 Kg4 (50…Ke4 51.Kd2 Kf3 52.Rf1+!) 51.Kd2 f3 52.Ke3 f2 53.Ra1 Kh3 54.Kf3 Kh2 55.Ke2 – this is a positional draw!

White was a tempo short of a draw after the move in the game. Black advanced his passed pawn to g2, and cut off the White king with Kg3. The game was over soon. An excellent victory of Radjabov!

gashimov_svidler.jpg Gashimov-Svidler was a Zaitsev Variation of the Ruy Lopez which led to an extremely complicated position with the board full of pieces. Early in the middlegame Vugar masterfully brought the queen’s rook into play via а3, then timely started the central offense by 19.e5, and... suddenly stopped half way. 22.Bd2 was clearly anti-positional; brining either the e4-knight or the c1-bishop to g5 was much better. The slow 23.Nc3 only made things worse. The rook on а3 remained off the action, the e5-pawn fell soon. Peter quickly traded some pieces and parried the opponent’s threats by the neat 30…Nd7!

The resulting endgame with an extra pawn for Black looked more drawish rather than winning for Black. Svidler did his best (53…Rf8!, 58…h2!), and in the end his opponent made a mistake.

Instead of 67.Kg6?, White could make a draw by 67.Nf2! h4 (67...Kd4 68.Kf4) 68.Kxh4 Kf4 69.Nd3+ Ke4 (69...Ke3 70.Ne5!) 70.Kg3!

In the actual game White had to place his knight awkwardly on h3, and Black removed his shaky obstacle in front of his pawn by 73…Nf4! Svidler was simply outstanding at the finish of the tournament!

Peter Doggers & Sergey Shipov


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