On the opening day of the Beijing Olympics, the 8th round of the FIDE
Grand Prix in Sochi was a particularly figthful round, much more
pleasing than the previous one. Ivanchuk scored a quick win over
Svidler, Kamsky defeated Al-Modiahki in a rook ending and Wang Yue
celebrated along with his compatriots, beating Gelfand.
In this rond, Ivanchuk responded to our suggested lack of inspiration in the best possible manner: a quick win against Svidler. It was a sudden blowup and we could never imagine that someone could beat Peter Svidler with Black so easily.
In the Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez, Peter avoided the main lines by 4.d3, and then selected a rare and rather provocative move 6.Bg5 (usually White prefers to keep the bishop on c1 for a while). The line was regularly adopted by Adolf Anderssen (!) but is also known from Anand-Topalov, San Luis 2005. Vassily happily accepted the challenge. By 8…g5! and 9…Nh5 he gained space and created conditions for the anticipated attack. The situation started to look dangerous for White...
Svidler obviously had prepared the knew idea 10.Bxc6 and 11.d4 and opened the game in the center. The key move in his operation – 15.Qf3 – turned out to be dubious. The simple 15.Qh5, intending to castle, looked better.
Ivanchuk’s reply 16…Kg7! was an unpleasant surprise. It revealed that after 17.Nxc6 f5! Black seizes a strong initiative. Ivanchuk was surprised how easily he had reached a very good position: "Suddenly I realized I was almost winning already."
At this point White should have evacuated his king. After 17. 0–0–0 f5 18.Rde1!? fxe4 19.Rxe4 Rf6 he could create some counterplay by 20.Re7+ Kg6 21.f4! gxf4 22.Rg1!. This was probably his last chance to resist.
And after 17...d5! White was in bad shape. Of course, instead of 19.gxf5 he could play more tenacious 19.exf5, but that would just be the lesser of evils. Ivanchuk showed the line 21.Ke2 dxe4 22.Nxe4 Rd5 23.f6+ Kg6 24.Rh2 g4 which is also very good for Black. In the end, more stubborn, but also very difficult for White, is 23.f6+ Kg6 24.Ke2 Rd6 25.f3 Rxf6. Realizing that further resistance was hopeless, Svidler resigned on move 26. A tough defeat.
Radjabov-Grischuk was an interesting draw in a Sicilian Najdorf, where 9.f5 is a rare move. "After 11.Bc4 I think I'm forced to play 11...Nxd4 but it's not a problem because White can never really take on f6," Grischuk explained afterwards. Radjabov’s novelty 13.0–0–0 led to a strategically dangerous situation for Black. Grischuk tried to compensate weakness of the e6-pawn by a nice rook maneuver 16…Rg5!.
The Russian grandmaster said: "After 17.Rd3 I had a big choice to make; the alternative was 17...b5 (17..Kb8 18.Rc3 Qa5 19.Nb6 Re5 20.Rd1 is better for White) which might be the best move; 18.Nb6+ (18.Rc3 Rc5! 19.Nxc5 dxc5) 18...Kb7."
Black’s position was exceptionally rich in defensive resources. After 19.Qa7! and 20.Bd5 his king seemed to be in great danger, but the analysis reveals amazing possibilities!
One who can find 22...Bf8! 23.dxc6 (23.b3 Qe7 24.dxc6 Re1+ 25.Kb2 Bh6!) 23...Bh6+ 24.Kb1 Bd2!, can expect quick promotion in chess ranks. Surprisingly, it is White who must seek salvation in this case.
In the subsequent play Radjabov missed several opportunities to increase pressure. Grischuk: "25.Qf2 just leads to a draw; very interesting was 25.Re3!? e.g. 25...Kf7 26.Qd4 Rd7 27.Qh4 h5 – this should be checked with the computer." Later there was one more moment where White could have continued the game, with 30.Qf3 – Grischuk was planning 30...Qe1+ 31.Kd3 Qe5 and wasn't sure how to evaluate the position.
In the game the players proceeded to an equal queen ending, which ended in a perpetual.
Jakovenko-Karjakin was "a tough game", as the Ukrainian described it, but an outstanding game; a great opportunity for opening theorists and ending experts to display their skill.
Dmitry made a sensible novelty 11.Be3!, and transposed to a promising ending by 14.Qb5. Karjakin: "After 11.Be3 it was difficult to decide what to play and when we entered the ending, I thought he should be slightly better with the bishop pair and the pawn on c5. But I'm not sure about his pawn sacrifice."
The subsequent play can hardly be described in detail. The players showed excellent imagination and great technique.
I (Shipov) dare to for White 18.Nd2 with the idea 18…Bxg2 19.Rg1 Bd5 20.Bd4 Ne8 21.c7!. Possibly Black can defend in this case, too, but he must find several accurate moves.
Karjakin skillfully neutralized the first wave of the opponent’s attack, held an extra pawn and started his counterattack by 26...f6!. Jakovenko’s reply 27.Rc4 was probably inaccurate. Dmitry should have made a useful move like 27.h4, to meet the planned centralization of the Black’s king 27…Kf7 by acrobatic maneuver of the knight: 28.Nc5! e5 29.Nb7!. In this case White has good compensation.
In the game Black seized the initiative, but missed a number of opportunities to increase his advantage. For instance, one could suggest the sharp 31...bxa3!? 32.Bxa5 Rdc8. Another interesting opportunity is 34...Ne7 35.Rxb4 Rxa4! 36.bxa4 Nxc6 37.Nxe5+ Nxe5 38.Rb7 Rd7 39.Rc1 Rxd2 40.Rcxc7+ Kg6 41.Rxg7+ Kf5, and Black gets to the f3-pawn with winning chances.
The tactical blow 34…Nc3 eventuallty led to an ending with opposite-colored bishops, and even two extra pawns were not sufficient for Black ton win. The precise 43.f4! secured a draw for White. Both players deserve praise for this game.
In Gashimov-Aronian, White continued to explore a rare line of the Berlin – 10.Ne4 (instead of the usual 10…h3). Aronian had prepared a modest but poisonous novelty 15…Be7 (earlier Black tried 15...c5, Gashimov-Alekseev, Dagomys 2008), inviting the opponent to attack. He completely gave up the center, but kept the potentially strong bishop pair.
Vugar’s 19.Nf3 was probably a mistake that allowed Levon to simplify the position and create a great place for his king by 20…f6!. Then Black seized the initiative. Maintaining the tension on the kingside, he methodically advanced on the queenside (31…b6, 34…c5, 36…a5).
However, then Aronian’s offensive slowed down (perhaps he should have considered 37…a4 or even 37…b5!?). Gashimov used it to his favor by 38.Nf1!, and soon forced the needed simplifications. The final remark 46.Ne5 completed the drawing picture.
Aronian after the game: "I shouldn't have played 38...f5 because after that it's just a draw. He has this Ng5 move all the time. But I don’t know what to do there actually, maybe something like 38...Bf8, take on g3 and then ...Ne7. But really, I don't know for sure."
Kamsky-Al-Modiahki was a Rossolimo Sicilian in which the American grandmaster showed a strong innovation: 11.Qb1! (instead of 11.Qc1 and 11.Nc4). Al-Modiahki reacted too softly. Instead of the meek 11...Qc7, Black had the interesting 11...0–0 12.b3 f5!?. After the move in the text, White seized the initiative by 12.b3!, and then developed his advantage by 19.a5!. Black’s structure got demolished.
Black then tried to cement his position with the pieces, and it almost worked out. Kamsky: "I shouldn't have allowed his 25...Nd4 after Black is close to equality. But 29...Rd8 is probably a big mistake. I think he should wait there, with 29...Rb6, bevause if I go 30.Ke2 he has 30...Qh5+ and I have to play 31.Nf3 when 31...Rb4 and 32...Bf8 is OK for Black." In the game he could force simplifications by the timely 31.Qxb5!, won a pawn, centralized the king and then, although Kamsky considered the rook ending "very uncomfortable for Black", he still almost didn't win the game!
The classics were right about drawing tendencies of rook endings. Instead of 43…Kf5? Black had 43...b3!, complicating White’s task. For instance, 44.Kc3 Kf5 45.Rb2 (45.f4 Rg1 46.Re3 Rd1 47.Re5+ Kf6 48.d5 Rg1 49.Rg5 Rb1=) 45...Rxb2! 46.Kxb2 Ke4 47.Kxb3 Kxd4 48.Kc2 Ke4 49.Kd2 Kf3 50.Ke1 Kg2 51.Ke2 Kg1!, and White’s cannot win the pawn ending. Unbelievable! However, in the game Black lost another pawn and had to resign soon. Generally, Kamsky’s victory is fair and just.
Was the Chinese grandmaster inspired by the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, or was it simply the number 8 (considered a lucky number in Chinese culture because it sounds like the word "prosper" or "wealth")? In any case, against Gelfand, Wang Yue played a strong game and won in a bishop ending.
This time Boris' defeat was a logical sequence of the events in the game. In a well developed line of the Slav, Gelfand implemented a new move – 17.Nxe5 (instead of much tested 17.dxe5 and 17.d5), but met a strong reply – 18…Bc5!. It seems the Israeli grandmaster did not smell the danger in time. Instead of 23.Rd4 he had to play the simple 23.e5!, in order to place the knight on e4. In this case the game would be most likely drawn.
After the text move, Black’s simple maneuvers 24…Nc5 and 28…Qc5 called favorable simplifications, and Wang Yue got a better ending due to weakness of the a4-pawn.
Wang Yue played very energetically in the endgame. Note his strong 32...f6!, which opened the path into the White’s camp for his rook. By 43...a4! he indirectly defended his b7-pawn – if the White’s king took it, Black’s c6 would quickly get to c3 with dangerous threats.
I (Shipov) was also impressed by the unorthodox 45…h5!?, which prevented simplifications on the kingside. Wang Yue: "That was a great move. It refuted 44.h4, which was his last mistake." Threatening to bring the king to а5 (50…Kc7!), Wang Yue forced the opponent to abandon his waiting strategy. In the end the Black’s king suddenly broke through to the kingside.
Cheparinov and Navara played a rare line of the English Opening that led to a variation resembling the Catalan Opening. Since in the game Black was left with an isolated pawn on c6, after the game David said he should have gone for the main line with 6...cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ndb4.
In the game, the players surprisingly quickly traded all the pieces, and the resulting endgame could be a real pleasure for Kramnik, but did not seem to please Cheparinov, who is not fond of positions that require technical play. Or maybe he just suddenly felt tired after many major battles? For example, thevariation 26.Bxd4! cxd4 27.Rc8 Rxc8 (27...Red5 28.Rxd8+ Rxd8 29.Rc7) 28.Rxc8+ Kf7 29.Rd8 does not look so hard to find. A move later 27.Bxd4 was also possible, as Navara showed: 27...Red5 28.e3 e5 29.Ra4 a6 30.Ra5.
Like yesterday, Navara defended tenaciously in the rook ending and deserved this draw. After the game he mentioned some lines he had looked at during the game. One of them was 36.Ree3! Rb4 37.Re5 Ra6 38.Rce3 Rb7 39.Rxc5 Rab6 40.Rcc3. He had missed White's king's march which was a bit unpleasant, and thought he should have preferred 45...Kg5.