Happiness, not Pain – Just a 4:0 Train
Dmitry Kryakvin continues reporting from Dagomys on Belaya Ladya
The jubilee edition of Belaya Ladya is in full swing in Dagomys. The Congress of Russian chess players is over; underway are various seminars, master classes, entertainment programs, and lectures with grandmasters, while a massive blitz tournament has just come to an end. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich is a guest of the event.
The main section broadcasts the games of leading teams online; with the finish still far away and no clear leaders so far, the audience’s attention is mainly focused on the Russia – India friendly match. The most titled players' matchup has brought together stellar lineups, many-time world champions Gukesh (the youngest grandmaster rated around 2550), Mendonca (boys), Rakshita, Savitha (girls) declared in the starting list.
The founding fathers of chess’s ancestors are rated a hundred points above their opponents at almost every board, but for the time being the Russian players are giving their guests a harsh treatment - 6.5:1.5 in favor of the Russian team. Representing the home team are Volodar Murzin, Andrey Tsvetkov, Viktoria Kirchei, and Alisa Nur-Mukhametova. It should be noted that the young Russians enjoy strong support of their coaches Mikhail Kobalia and Sergei Rublevsky. In the first encounter, the guests had white color on board one, but the Russian team ended up scoring a narrow victory. However, the next matchup was already 4:0!
Murzin – Mendonca
Black has given a dubious treatment of the opening, but how to go about exploiting their weakened pawns? Volodar’s performance is reminiscent of Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin’s from the famous game with Lasker!
21.Nc4 Kd7 22.Nce5+ Kc7
To immediately defend the most vulnerable pawn via 22...Ke8 23.Nd3 Kf7 would be a tougher approach, but the Indian athlete seems to have underestimated the arrival of the second knight.
23.Nd3 Bf6 24.Nf4 Kd7 25.Nd2!
Bringing all pieces into play! Now that both rooks and knights are pressing Black's weaknesses, there is no escaping material losses.
25…Be7 26.Nc4 Rb8
Perhaps, 26...b5 27.Ne5+ Ke8 28.Neg6 Rc8 was not losing immediately, but fighting back from this setup is almost an uphill battle.
27.Ng6 Nf7 28.Nge5+ Nxe5 29.Nxe5+ Kc7
Trading the knight has eliminated the last defender of the e6-pawn, which Murzin goes on to exploit skillfully.
30...Kd7 fails to 31.Nxc5+.
31.f4! Rbd8 32.fxe5 d5
Also bad is 32...dxe5 33.Nxe5; having appropriated a pawn should be enough to give White an easy victory.
33.Rf1 Rgf8 34.Nf4 Kc6 35.Kg2 Bg5 36.Ne6 and the Russian player went on to win the game.
Even if Murzin’s success over India’s number two (playing Black in round one, Murzin drew Gukesh) was not out of the question, a dominant performance of Andrey Tsvetkov of Moscow over the PR-inflated chess genius delivered a mighty blow to the guest team.
Tsvetkov – Gukesh
A few moves earlier, Black incorrectly claimed a draw by the threefold repetition, and when the play resumed, Andrey would not give his opponent a single opportunity to escape.
44.f6 Bf8 45.g5
Black's poor bishop has no more moves.
Black is also in zugzwang after 45...h6 46.h4.
46.Be1 Na3 47.h4 h5 48.Ba2 Nc4
Black has to give up a pawn, and now transposition into a pawn ending is a decider.
49.Bxc4 bxc4+ 50.Kxc4 Kd8 51.Bf2 Kd7 52.Bc5 Black resigns.
I wish a cameraman were there in the playing hall! Emil Sutovsky posted in Facebook that the footage with young Indian talents had scored a record high on YouTube: it would also be nice to let the viewers know that it is not as bad as that for our country in terms of young gifted athletes.
The Indians were perhaps hoping to bounce back at the girls' boards, but these expectations met with equal success.
Kirchei – Savitha
It may seem unclear at first since Black is ready with her kingside counterplay, but Viktoria Kirchei gripped the dark squares and converted her edge with a steady hand.
25.Bb6! Be6 26.Nc3 h5 27.Nd5 Qg7?!
The knight is not to be tolerated, but its removal is not a cure either: 27...Bxd5 28.Qxd5 (or 28.cxd5 Rff8 29.Rc4) 28...Rc6 29.a5 Kg7 30.b4 with a steady edge for White. However, the queen's placement on g7 gives Black very few opportunities to bail out.
28.Nc7 Bd7 29.c5!
The pawn is doomed, and Kirchei was adamant in converting it.
Bc6 30.cxd6 exd6 31.Ne6
Obviously, not falling for 31.Qxd6? Rcxc7.
31...Qf6 32.Qxd6 with victory soon after.
Nur-Mukhametova – Rakshita
Only on board four the Indian athletes should not have gone down, but looking at what was going on in other games Rakshita got nervous and committed a decisive blunder.
Black's chief trump and basis for compensation for the missing exchange is a passed pawn. Black should have pushed it with 48...e5 with a complicated game. Black lashes out, which results in irreparable damage.
49.axb5 axb5 50.Rb4 Rd5 51.Nd4
The root pawn is gone, and White is about to create hers.
51…Rc5 52.Nxb5 f5 53.Nd4 Kg6?
Taking the last step into the abyss.
Alas, there is no 54...Kh7 55.Rxg7+ Kxg7 56.Nxe6+, and playing down a rook is no way out either.
55.h3 e5 56.Nb3 Rc8 57.hxg4 f4 58.Nd2 Rf8 59.Nf3 Rc8 60.Re4 Black resigns.
The course of the match goes to show that the contradictory statement “everything is bad in Russia and vice-versa in India about the children's chess” is far from true. It is clear that the guests are not going to give up, and it is right now that they need to come up with their best athletic qualities. The festive chess show in Dagomys is going on!