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Round 6: Cheparinov back in lead, with Radjabov
Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Not a bad day at all, this 6th of August, with the 6th round of the Sochi GP on the agenda. Most players visited a sanatorium or relaxed in some other way on the first rest day, and today they were playing with fresh energy. Cheparinov beat Grischuk to get back in the lead, and Radjabov escaped and won against Gelfand. Gashimov defeated Navara and the three other games were drawn.


ivanchuk.jpgThe round started with the traditional quick draw, and first seeded Ivanchuk was involved in it again, with Black against Jakovenko.

In a Scheveningen Sicilian, Jakovenko rejected the main line 13.Qd2 in favor of the sharper 13.g4, which allowed Black to fianchetto his queen’s bishop immediately. On the other hand, White got the option of sending his queen to h5 in one go. The game did not answer the main question: who favors from these changes compared to the classical games Karpov-Kasparov, Moscow 1985, or Anand-Ivanchuk, Morelia-Linares 2008.

Jakovenko: "I wasn't sure what to do at move 16. I remembered that Svidler played 16.Qg4 there but I also remembered White had nothing!" The Russian added that Black might have played the move ...b5 somewhere, at move 18 or 19. "Then I don't know what to do with White."

I (Shipov) think 18.Bg1 does not belong to this type of positions. Instead White should consider either immediate attack – 18.Rf3, or 18.Bd4!?, in order to prevent the planned rearrangement of Black’s pieces.

After realizing there's not much left in the position, Javenko went for for the draw with 20.f5 and Ivanchuk used standard measures (20...exf5! and 21...Bxc3!) to neutralize White’s activity, and even got a slight advantage in the endgame. Yet, White’s position was very durable, and Jakovenko drew without much trouble.

svidler_wangyue.jpg Also nothing special was Svidler-Wang Yue. In a Giuoco Piano, White didn't get any advantage, and then had to go for 18.dxe5 and 19.Bb3. "Of course you're not happy when you have to play this, but I didn't see an alternative – otherwise Black will be slightly better, with his nice centralization and all," Svidler said afterwards.

"His 19...Bxb3 was a strang decision however, as it gave me some extra possibilities, and then my 23.b4 was a mistake because I shouldn't allow his c6 pawn to be exchanged for my b-pawn." Note that 24.Bxc5 fails to 24...Qc6 25.N1d2 Nd3 and Black is fine. "In the end it looks light White is slightly better but in fact I didn't see a way to improve my position" (Svidler).

The last moment when Svidler could play more ambitiously was his 32nd move. I (Shipov) suggest 32.Nc4!, vacating the f3-square for the pawn. Black has to play accurately to keep the balance.

In the game Wang Yue created tension around the e4-pawn (33...Bf6!), and chained the White’s forces to it. And there was nothing else to play for...

karjakin.jpg In Kamsky-Karjakin, White played a move against the Najdorf Sicilian that was introduced into tournament practice in 1962 by Fischer – 6.h3. Karjakin reacted in the best way – 7...d5! and until 8.Bg2 Karjakin's game against Mamedyarov (Foros 2006) was followed, until Karjakin's novelty on move 9.

White might question this innovation by 10.g5 Nd5 11.Nde2!? in order to create a counterattack on the kingside under the cover of his strong center. However, Sergey reacted in a more simple way, and in the resulting position White’s optical advantage could not develop into anything real.

Kamsky believed he made a mistake with 14.Qf3. "After Ne5-g6 Black is fine, especially when he goes for the immedate 16...Bd7." The American needed to invest some time on the clock after Black's 18th move, and then decided to go for the "safe" line. "I was also looking at 19.g5!? and then for example 19...e5 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Qxe5."

Then the American tried to create some play on the dark squares after the non-trivial exchange 19.Bxg6, but found that Black has no weaknesses, and started repeating the moves. He also considered 23.Qb6 but considered 23...Qb8 an adequate reply.

Karjakin demonstrated his combative spirit by 25...Be8! and he was right to try it a bit longer in the ending, which was slightly better for Black. But after 33...e5 Kamsky could force the draw anyway, with a petit combinaison. "I had to, because if Black manages Bc6 and f6, hewill be clearly better" (Kamsky).

almodiahki_aronian.jpg Al-Modiahki didn't really try to obtain an advantage against Aronian's Berlin Defence of the Ruy Lopez. The players started a lengthy positional struggle with a symmetrical pawn structure, and Aronian’s excellent technique decided the outcome of the game.

In the knight ending White hesitated for too long before creating counterplay. After the possible 48.Nd7 he could transpose to a complex queen ending with some winning chances for Black.

Levon himself showed a few variations after the game. "I considered 36...Na5, with the idea 37.Kf1 Nc4 38.Bc1 Bxc3, but White replies 37.Nb5! and now on 37...a6 he has 38.Bd4!." Perhaps he should have prevented the exchange of bishops with 42.Be1 because on 42...Nc5 he can just go 43.b4." And then, 48.h4 was the last mistake according to Armenia's number one player. "He should have tried 48.Nd7+ Kd4 49.Nf6 Nxa4 50.Nxh7."

cheparinov_grischuk.jpg The opening handicap delivered by Cheparinov was too hard to handle for Grischuk. An extra hour on the clock and a serious positional advantage for the Bulgarian grandmaster were of course a nice point to start an important game in a major tournament! Curiously, it was the Russian who had introduced a new move: he complicated the game with the sharp 11...a5 (earlier Black preferred 11...Nb6 and 11...Bd6), but the all-knowing opponent probably had studied it at home, as he was making very strong and unobvious moves very quickly.

Possibly, Grischuk had to go for the daring 14...Rxh2 (instead of 14...Bb4), as in the game he ended up in a worse position without any counterplay. Cheparinov: "After 14...Bb4 I'm better and at some point I was winning, but then I made some mistakes because it was less clear, but I won anyway."

There were a few instances when Cheparinov could act more energetically. For example, 19.h5 instead of 19.Bd3 was much more dangerous for Black. However, one cannot blame the Bulgarian, as he eventually won the game. Note his fine maneuvering: 25.Bc1!, 27.Ng1!, 32.Re2, 41.Qb8! etc. This was indeed a high quality game!

After this win Ivan returned to the first place.

gelfand_radjabov.jpg Not only does every round have the usual quick draw, but, as it seems, the "usual drama" is kind of obligatory as well! This time Gelfand was the victim and Radjabov, again, the one on the positive side. Boris handled the game brilliantly, got a winning position, and then blew it in a few moves.

Teimour showed a sensible novelty 17...h6 in a deeply studied variation of the King’s Indian and began unfolding a mating attack. However, Boris not only quickly created the required counterplay, but skillfully evacuated the king from the danger area: 32.Kf2! and 34.Ke1!. The heat of the struggle shifted to the queenside, where White had a clear advantage.

After the game Teimour commented: "He went for the 13.Be3 line and I didn't remember my notes exactly, but I knew 13...Bh6 would lead to interesting play. After 23...Bd7 Black is already more comfortable, because he has the very clear plan of ...Kg7, ...Qh8, and later bringing the other rook into the attack as well. 24.b5 was inaccurate, he probably should have gone for 24.Rc1 Qf8 25.cxd6 cxd6 like my game against Bacrot.

After 25...Kg7 Black is at least better, I just don't know how much. My 31...bxc6 gave White some chances, I should have preferred 31...Bxc6. Then, my 40...Ng7, the last move in timetrouble, was also not good as it allowed 41.Nd5!. Better was 40...Bxc4 41.Qxc4 and only then 41...Ng7."

Boris delivered a devastating blow 41.Nd5!, obtaining a won position, but then the game entered an ocean of tactics. White could minimize risk by 43.Qc6!. The idea is to meet almost any Black’s move by Bc4-b5!. After Boris missed this opportunity, remaining in control became indeed difficult...

Radjabov: "I also saw 42...Qc8 43.dxe6 Nxe6 44.Bxe6 Qxc5+ 45.Kb2 and White wins. After 44...Kf6 he just started to blunder. 45.Bb3 is probably the best move there."

In fact, even stronger is 45.Qc6!, e.g., 45...Nd8 46.Qa6 Ne6 (46...Nh4 47.Bd5!) 47.Bb5 Rxa7 48.Qxa7 Qxb5 49.Qe7+ Kg6 50.Qxe6+ Kg7 51.Qb3, and White must win.

Gelfand’s decisive mistake was 47.d7? where he totally missed his opponent's reply. However, it was already very difficult to find a correct move order that leads to salvation: 47.Rd5! Ne3 (47...Qc6 48.Qb3!) 48.Bxe3 Qc6 49.Qe4 (but not 49.Qb3 fxe3! 50.Bxc6 Rxb3+ 51.axb3 e2!, and the pawn promotes) 49...Rxb5+ 50.Rxb5 Qxb5+ 51.Kc2 fxe3 52.Qf5+ Kg7 53.Qxe6 Qc5+ with perpetual.

Radjabov once again demonstrated amazing composure and proved that he's not defeated until the scoresheets are signed!

gashimov_navara.jpg A very difficult fight was Gashimov-Navara, in which the grandmaster from Baku again showed his impressive calculating abilities and the Czech grandmaster again didn't get anything from a great position.

The number of chances missed by Navara is simply amazing. Judging by the positions he gets, the Czech grandmaster should be a sole leader of the tournament, but he regularly blunders, when the victory is just a few steps away.

The players went for a strategically complicated line of the Ruy Lopez. Gashimov stated his aggressive intentions by 17.Nh2 (earlier White played 17.b3 and 17.Bd2). He created serious pressure on the kingside, and handed the queenside initiative to his opponent.

Objectively one must blame White for such aggressive moves as 28.f4, 32.fxe5, 34.e5, as they led him to a hopeless position. But you can’t blame the winner! The first critical position occurred after the White’s 39th move. Black could maintain the tension by 39...Qg6 or 39...h6 with winning position in both cases. But even after David exchanged on d2, making life much easier for White, he still had a better game. The first big mistake is 40... Ra1+. Much stronger was 40...Rxd2! 41.Nxd2 (41.Qxd2 Be4! 42.Kg2 Qb7!) 41...Qd4!, and White still can only dream about salvation.

What David missed was not the move 42.e6!, but the brilliant idea behind it: after 42...Bh3+ 43.Kf2 Rf1+ 44.Qxf1 Bxf1 White has the winning move 45.d6!.

White suddenly developed an irresistible attack and Vugar attacked with inspiration: 55.Rf8+!, 57.Qe3!, 59.Rf8+!, obtained a material advantage and confidently converted it. A hard-fought victory of the Azerbaijan grandmaster.

Peter Doggers & Sergey Shipov

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