Round 9: Wang Yue beats Radjabov to join lead with Cheparinov
Sunday, 10 August 2008
It’s about time to stop mentioning the Beijing Olympics and the Chinese number 8, and start confirming that Wang Yue is just a very strong chess player. Once more he showed fine technique in a bishop ending, and defeated Radjabov to take over the lead. He's topping the standings with Cheparinov, who easily drew Ivanchuk.
Ducking the most challenging theoretical lines often results in dull and boring draws. Ivanchuk selected the rare move 7.Bd2 in the Slav Defense, and Cheparinov responded with an interesting novelty 9…c5 (although the idea behind this move is very standard).
Central simplifications became inevitable. The only question was whether White would be able to hamper Black’s development. Ivanchuk’s plays and the express analysis gave a negative answer. Black easily solved all the problems, having more than one way to the equality.
The attack on the queenside started with 16.a4 led to a deadly drawn position. Cheparinov: "It was a stupid game. We just exchanged everything and then it was a draw. I didn't prepare this line this morning, but I knew that this 9.Bd2 is not dangerous."
The game Navara-Gelfand itself doesn't really need analysis, but the opening choice of the Czech grandmaster was something special of course. "I couldn't find anything special against the Petroff Defence and so I decided to play something else." For Gelfand it was actually the very first time he met the King's Gambit with Black. "I only started to play 1...e5 about five years ago; before I only played Sicilians."
We often miss daring and spectacular old school chess, but whom do we have to blame for rarely seeing such games? Nobody; just a high level of play and theoretical depth.
Navara used the most romantic of opening – the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4!). But... nothing much! The game was completely logical and uneventful, and ended in a draw. No tactical mess, no emotion...
The players quickly made all the book moves and ended up in a well-studied structure. The novelty 11.Bxf4 will not alter the theoretical assessment of this position. Black’s 13…Na5! Secured safety of his king.
The only chance for White to fight for something more than a draw was missed on the 15th move. Of course, he should have played 15.axb3! with a small advantage on the queenside, while after the White’s queen got stuck on b3, Black created an avalanche of exchanges (16...Nh5!, 21…Rf8) and killed the intrigue. Game drawn.
Once again Gashimov survived a difficult position – this time against Karjakin. In the Modern Benoni he played the new move 17…b6, and executed its idea by 20…Ra7!, which allowed the queen’s rook to transfer to the kingside at once. And yet, Black did not equalize in the opening.
The 21.b4! break gave White excellent attacking prospects. However, in the subsequent game he did not play in the best way.
First of all, I (Shipov) didn’t understand why Sergey rejected the invasion 22.bxc5 bxc5 23.Rb8!, and then, for example, 23…Qc7 24.Reb1 f5 25.Bxe5 Rxe5 26.Be2! Ne8 (26...Rf8 27.f4 Ree8 28.e5!) 27.R8b6! – one rook goes to c6, the other one is heading for b8. Black must consider f2-f4 at all times.
The second issue is even more obvious. The White’s queen after 25.Qg5 looked like a paratrooper in the enemy camp, but it was quite useless there. The situation called for 25.Be2 Ref8 26.Rf1 with the idea to transfer the knight via d1 and e3 to c4. True, executing this plan is not so easy, as Black can respond by 26…Ne8 27.Nd1 Nf6!.
However, in the actual game Black immediately encircled the invader by 26…Rf4!, and then added his own queen to the attack by 31…c4!. Luckily for Karjakin, he found the saving counterattack 34.Rb7!. White sacrificed a piece and forced the move repetition.
After the game the players showed some lines in the press room; e.g. 27...Bxg4 28.hxg4 h6? Which gives White extra chances because of 29.Qxh6 Rxg4 30.Re3. The immediate 30...c4 is worse because of 31.Bxc8 Rxc8 and then 32.Qe7 is annoying. And finally, 35...Ne8 36.Rxf7 Rxf7 37.Ne3 is also a draw because of 37...Qxe4 38.Rb8 Rf8 39.Rb7 Rf7 40.Rb8.
The next game we focus on is Al-Modiahki - Jakovenko, and even the greatest of skeptics cannot accuse this draw of being dull. We can imagine his passionate speech:
"What’s so special about the unusual course of the game? It does not mean that players were creative! A blot in a copybook also can look unusual.
There is nothing special about White creating serious problems for Black in the Rossolimo Sicilian by the non-trivial maneuver 14.Qd2! and 15.Qc3. Sometimes such things happen purely by a chance.
Nobody was surprised by Black’s forced pawn sacrifice. What else he could do? Then White started to defend against the enemy attack as good as he can. Boooring.
All in all, Black failed to equalize, but then White began to err. Instead of 24.Bxd5, he should have transposed to an endgame with opposite-colored bishops. Two extra pawns would be a nice benefit in this case: 24.Bf1! Nd4 (24...Qc5 25.Qxa6! Re6 26.f5) 25.cxd4 Qxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Bxb7 27.fxe5, etc. How can a grandmaster miss such a simple line?
Black got a real advantage, but then White managed to coordinate his pieces by 29.Ra4!. However, there is nothing unique about this maneuver; great chess players of the past used it on several occasions. Plagiarism!
In the end Al-Modiahki fired from a pop-gun by 37.Bg5!. Did he think that in chess, like in checkers, all the captures are forced? Makes no sense at all. Of course, Black didn’t take the bishop, and then both sides started to repeat the moves in an unclear position. Shame, shame on them!"
Our surprised and respectful attitude to the Chinese grandmaster slowly turns to sincere admiration. He demonstrates not only typically Chinese composure, tenacity and good calculation skill, but also shows good chess education. His endgame technique is very high. Today Wang Yue won another complex bishop ending, against Radjabov, after going through the storm of complications and obtaining a slight advantage against a dangerous opponent.
Radjabov sacrificed a pawn in the Saemisch King’s Indian, played a new move 12...a5 (12...Nd7, 12...e6 and 12...Rxd1+ were played before) and developed a serious initiative. Frankly speaking, White’s idea 14.Bd3 looked dubious, but my analysis showed only several ways to equalize for Black. For example, 15...Bxc1 16.Bxb4 axb4 17.Rxc1 Rxa2 18.Nxe7+ Kg7 19.Nd5 Rxb2 20.0–0 b5!.
However, Teimour showed his ambition by not looking for equal positions. He was determined to play for a win, and missed the moment when he had to secure the equality. His last chance was 19...Rxd3! (instead of 19…Rdc8) 20.Rxd3 Bg5 21.h4! (21.Rd7? Bc6 22.Rc7 Be8) 21...Bxe7 (21...Bf6 22.Rd7 Bc6? 23.Rd6!) 22.Rd7 Bc5 23.Rxb7 Rxa2 24.Rd7 Rxb2 25.Rd2 Rb1+ 26.Rd1 Rb2 with a move repetition.
After that Black desperately fought for a draw, but Wang Yue’s technique was superior to Radjabov’s. The Chinese player calculated a bit deeper and maneuvered a bit finer.
I (Shipov) think, Teimour could and should have taken White’s dangerous central pawn. He played 24…Bxa2, but I failed to fins any danger after 24...Bxe4. For example, 25.Bc4+ Kh8 26.Re1 (26.Rff7 g5!) 26...Bf5 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Kf2 Bb1!, and Black will not lose in this sharp ending. However, this was not the critical moment of the game!
In my opinion, the game was decided in the bishop ending. Radjabov’s passive strategy proved wrong. He could transfer the king to c5 by 31...Kd7! (instead of 31…Ke7) 32.Kf2 Kc6! 33.Bg8 h6 34.Bf7 (34.Ke3 Kc5!) 34...Kc5! 35.Kg3 (35.Bxg6 Kd5; 35.Ke3 g5) 35...Be4 36.Kf4 Bb1, creating an unbreakable fortress.
After the move in the game, the Chinese grandmaster prepared a zugzwang position (46.Bf5!) and took the b4-pawn. Then the b6-pawn fell as well. I was impressed by 55.Ba6! (intending 55...Ke7 56.b5!). Compared to that, 58.Bd7! looks really simple.
White created an adjacent passed pawn, and secured a win. Wang Yue is now one of the leaders!
Aronian and Svidler turned a quiet line of the English Opening into a bloody battlefield. At an early stage, Svidler was surprised to see the move 14.Kh2. "I was more afraid of 14.e4 a6 15.f4 b5 16.f5."
The players analysed their game using the laptop of yours truly (PD), and rapidly entering the moves, Svidler suddenly found the following line which you just have to see for yourself: 17.Bxc6 bxc6 18.Qxb8 Qd7 19.g4 Nxg4+ 20.Qxg4 21.Rh1! (at first this seemed to refute Black's idea, but...) 21...Qh5+ 22.Kg2 Qg4+ 23.Kf1 Qh3+!! and Black draws. How beautiful chess can be!
In the game, it was Aronian who grabbed the initiative – 20.c5+!, 22.d4, 23.f3!, but then he pushed a little too hard. After the game he thought he might have preferred 27.Rdf1 (instead of the macho 27.d5) 27...Qg6 28.R1f3 Rxf3 29.Rxf3 Nf6 30.e4.
And then 28.d6 (stronger was the preliminary 28.Qc2!) allowed Black’s counter-blow 28...Rxg3! which had the effect that a disappointed Aronian started to make more mistakes: 33.Qb5? and 35.e3? which put him on the verge of defeat. However, then the Armenian grandmaster pleased his supporters by hanging on.
After the time control, Svidler refraine from the natural move 41...Rd3 ("if I hadn't had so much time I would certainly have played it!") which might have won after 42.Rxa5 Rd2+ 43.Kg1 Rxd6 44.Rd5 Rxd5 45.Bxd5 Bb5.
Another option there was 41...Kg7 42.Rxa5 Kf6. There is no guarantee he would win the resulting position, but there was a chance, while after the move in the game the players went to a rook ending, which, despite two extra pawns for Black, was drawn.
In Grischuk-Kamsky, the American decided not to tempt fate by playing the Gruenfeld once again against such a well-prepared and dangerous opponent. The American returned to the Chebanenko Slav, and played another super-solid game. For more than half of the game Grischuk attacked the opponent’s walls, and for the rest of the game he... had to fight hard for a draw.
Grischuk praised his opponent's move 8...Bg4 – a strong novelty. "I wasn't happy about my 9.Be2 and 10.Bb3 because the planned 11.h3 fails to 11...Bxf3 12.Bxf3 h6! 13.Bh4 Bf6!."
Black could have replied to White's active 11.e4 with a counter-break – 13...b6!. However, Kamsky was true to his style, as he just kept cementing his defense.
17.Qb6 was a strong move that profited from the temporary clumsiness on Black's kingside. "19...a5 is not a problem because of 20.Bd2 Ra8 21.Rfc1 Nf6 22.b4," Grischuk said, "but my 22.Rfc1 was silly as it loses a few temi compared to 22.Rac1."
And only when the opponent pushed a bit too hard, Gata delivered his blow – 29…Bxe5! 30.Rxe5 Nf6!, obtaining a certain advantage.
Why this advantage did not turn into anything real? Because Grischuk defended skillfully and accurately. The complications that were started by 44…e5, forced a drawn pawn ending.
After the game, Kamsky told his opponent there was the interesting option of 46. Bc3 Kf5 47. b5 cxb5 48. Rc7 but Black probably can draw by 48...Nxe5+ 49. Bxe5 Kxe5 50. Rxb7 b4 51. Rxe7+ Kd4.