21 August 2015

Denis the Terrible

Round Ten of the Superfinal in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

The penultimate round of the Superfinal has virtually introduced no changes into the overall standings in the leading group. In the men’s tournament a key game Karjakin-Tomashevsky developed in a relatively quiet manner, without dramas and fireworks. In the middle of the game Black even managed to seize the initiative, but after the end of the time control the opponents agreed to a draw.

Draws by repetition happened in Khairullin-Lysyj and Bukavshin-Jakovenko, whereas a perpetual check put an end to Motylev-Vitiugov.

Peter Svidler and Daniil Dubov played a combative game. It was a Slav Defence variation featuring a pawn sacrifice by White. The grandmaster from St. Petersburg obtained a solid compensation for the missing material because the black kingside turned out to be quite undeveloped. However, White failed to come up with a decisive type of play at some moment of the game and, as a result, Black managed to get back into shape and the game ended in a draw by a perpetual check.

A third win in a row was scored by Denis Khismatullin, having thus edged Vladislav Artemiev out of the third place.

Artemiev – Khismatullin 

"Hope is the last to die" – this controversial thesis could have been proven by Vladislav Artemiev, who was defending tenaciously in a seemingly hopeless situation up to a certain point of the game. However, the position was so complicated that it was easy for White to lose the right track, which he did and his position became hopeless once again.

47…Bb8 48. Ne3 

The knight starts his long journey into the enemy’s camp.

48…d4 49. Nc2 d3 50. Nd4+ Kf6 51. Nc6 e3 

52. Nxb8?

52. a7 would retain drawing chances. It could be followed by 52…Bxa7 53. Qf1+! Kg5 (53…Kg7 54. Qa1+) 54. Bxd3 Nxd3 55. Qxd3.

52…Ne4! 53. Qa1+ Kg5 54. Bxd3 Nf2+ 55. Kg1 Nxh3+ 56. Kh1 Kf2+ 57. Kg1 Nxd3 58. a7 e2 59. Qa5+ Kh4 60. a8Q e1Q+, and White resigned in a few moves. 

A quick draw was agreed in the game between Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno.

Olga Girya and Ekaterina Kovalevskaya played a very tiring game. White emerged with a very promising position out of the opening, but then displayed some hesitation, and the initiative passed on to Black. Although Ekaterina organized an attack on the kingside and won an exchange, Olga managed to confuse her opponent in the time trouble and, as a result, it all ended in a draw by a perpetual check.

The leader of the race Alexandra Goryachkina, whose number of fans has probably increased considerably in the course of the Superfinal, made them go through a great deal of mental anguish.

Goryachkina – Pogonina 

White lashed out a little bit too aggressively and not entirely in the spirit of the position: 28. h4, which was met by a nice rejoinder.

28…e5! 29. fxe5 fxe5 30. Rxe5 Qxh4 31. Rh1 Qd8 32. g5 

It was played somewhat ambitiously once again. 32. Rhh5 would have put a stop to the 32…c5! breakthrough.


33. dxc5?

This move opens up the d-file and the position of the king becomes vulnerable. It appears that the assault that has just started should have been continued by 33. gxh6 gxh6 34. Qf7 cxd4 35. cxd4, although it should be noted that in this position Black is likely to be able to simply transpose into the endgame by 35...Qf8 36. Qxf8 Rxf8 37. Rxa5 b3 with good winning chances.

The game, however, saw Natalija returning the favor: 33…Rd2+? 

It was essential that the c5-pawn be first taken by the rook, and only in response to 34. Rxc5 should 34…Rd2+ be played with the following exemplary line: 35. Kg3 (35. Kg1 changes nothing) 35...Qd6+ 36. Kh4 Qxc5, when 37. Qe6 can be met by 37…Qxg5+, winning. 

In the game Aleksandra failed to discover the strongest continuation: 34. Kg3 Rxc5 35. Qe6! Rxe5 36. Qxe5, and a draw was agreed several moves later. 

Valentina Gunina put Marina Guseva into zugzwang in the endgame that featured same coloured bishops and won in a confident manner.

Evgenija Ovod refused repetition of moves in the improved Tarrasch Defence and soon found herself in a difficult situation against Alina Kashlinskaya who, by her own admission, had not expected to see this opening in their game. White won a pawn, then grabbed the second offering and went on win the game by sheltering her king against all possible checks.

Anastasia Bodnaruk has won a second game in a row; this time against her namesake Anastasia Savina.

Savina – Bodnaruk 


Evgeny Najer dubbed the move as a "sacrifice in the style of Paul Morphy."

19. gxh3?

White took up the gauntlet, which, judging by the course of the game that followed, should not have been done. Stronger was 19. Nxe4, not fearing 19...Bxg2 in view of 20. Kxg2 f3+ 21. Kg1 Bh2+ 22. Kxh2 Qh4+ 23. Kg1 Qh3 24. Qc4+ Kh8 25. Bxg7+ Kxg7 26. Qc3+ Kg8 27. Qc4+, etc. 

19…Qg5+ 20. Kh1 Qf5 21. Qc4+ Rf7? 

Better is 21…Kh8 with the idea of capturing on h3 and transferring of the queen rook to the kingside via е8. 

22. Nxe4 Re8 23. Nxd6 Qxh3+ 24. Kg1 Qg4+ 25. Kh2 Qh5+ 26. Kg2 f3+ 27. Kg3 Qg6+ 

Here followed a fatal blunder.

28. Qg4? Qxd6+ 29. Kh3 Re6, and Black won shortly after.

With one round to go, the situation in both tournaments remains unclear. In the men’s tournament Evgeny Tomashevsky (with 7 points) is half a point ahead of Sergey Karjakin. Nikita Vitiugov, who scored 6 points, is in the clear third place at the moment.

The women’s tournament features exactly the same situation as Alexandra Goryachkina has scored 7.5 points. Half a point behind her is Alexandra Kosteniuk, while Anastasia Bodnaruk with 6.5 points has pulled into the third place.

In the final round, which starts at 08:00 Moscow time, the men's tournament will see Evgeny Tomashevsky playing White against Peter Svidler, Sergey Karjakin playing Black against Dmitry Jakovenko, and Nikita Vitiugov playing White against Ildar Khairullin.

In the women’s tournament Alexandra Goryachkina will play Black against Kateryna Lagno. Alexandra Kosteniuk will face Ekaterina Kovalevskaya with black pieces, while Anastasia Bodnaruk’ opponent will be Olga Girya - the player from St. Petersburg will be in charge of white pieces.