25 April 2017

Nimzovich in Practice

Round two of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

Shamkir gathers tournament guests. Thus, round two of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial was visited by President of the Georgian Chess Federation Georgy Giorgadze, while on the very same day a Georgian chess player Nana Dzagnidze became European Champion in the faraway Riga. The Russian Chess Federation congratulates Nana on her convincing triumph, and Aleksandra Goryachkina and Alisa Galliamova on their silver and bronze medals respectively! 

Going back to our tournament, the first to finish their game that day were Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin.  Move one in this game was made by the Shamkir rural district deputy Sona Alieva. The game did not last long and ended in a draw by perpetual on move 22.

At the press conference the players shared about their friendship, tournament encounters and joint training sessions. 

Your correspondent’s question about the upcoming Sunday El Clásico was replied by Sergey that since Magnus rooted for Real Madrid, he would do so for Barcelona. Shakhriyar was of the same opinion. 

Sergey's further chess plans include the super tournament in Stavanger and the Grand Chess Tour legs.   

Shakhriyar is enrolled by "Siberia" in the Russian league, then his plans feature the FIDE Grand Prix leg in Moscow and the Grand Chess Tour leg in Paris. 

Veselin Topalov was “at his best” in round two, as they like to say. Playing the black side of the Slav Defence, he managed to put Radoslaw Wojtaszek up to definite challenges. According to the Polish grandmaster, he was at a complete loss after Black's move eleven. With both kings stuck in the center, Black timely carried out the d5-d4 breakthrough to open up the position and get a firm grip on the initiative. 

Topalov managed to castle and deliver a nice blow involving an exchange sacrifice (or a queen sacrifice, depending on White's response) a few moves afterwards. 

Wojtaszek – Topalov 

22…Rxb2! 23. Qxb2 

At the press conference the players mentioned 23. Qxe7 Rxc2 24. Qxa7 dxe3+ 25. Kg3 exd2, followed by Nc3. The resulting position was evaluated as winning for Black by both players. 

23…dxe3+ 24. Bxe3 Qxe3+ 

25. Kg3? 

This is yet another inaccuracy. Both players agreed that 25. Kf1 was a tougher response since the g3-king is way too exposed. 

25… Qf4+ 26. Kf2 Rb8! 27. Qc1 Qd4+ 28. Kg3 Ne3 29. Rc5 Rb2 30. Rg1 

Although 30…Rc2!! was an immediate crusher, 30…Rxa2 also did the job. White resigned several moves later. 

Pavel Eljanov outperformed Pentala Harikrishna in a lengthy fight. The opening was a Nimzo-Indian Defence with White going for a principled line involving a long castle and a pawn storm on the kingside. Having achieved a promising position, Harikrishna hesitated with his offensive activities and, following the trade of queens, White’s initiative died out. Meanwhile, Black emerged with a more harmonious coordination of his pawns and pieces. 

Eljanov won a pawn, but Harikrishna’s defense was very precise up to a certain moment and he was likely to have had definite chances to bail out. However, when the Indian grandmaster gave Black free hand in infiltrating the theater of hostilities with his king, good advice was beyond price for White already. Pentala resigned after Black's move 54. 

Michael Adams and Wesley So drew their game. The opponents demonstrated creative approach as early as the opening (which was the Reti) by opting for rare continuations. While Adams sacrificed a pawn on the queenside, So pushed forward the h-pawn and exchanged it on g3 at the cost of having his king uncastled. 

Meanwhile, Black’s lack of development started to tell and White’s counterplay grew to ever more dangerous proportions. Adams, in his turn, missed an opportunity to have his position improved, which led to quick simplifications. Despite having a "computer" trick at his disposal in a heavy-piece ending with opposite-colored bishops, So chose a more logical human move. The trade of queens and rooks petered out into a dead draw.  

The longest game of the round was again played by Vladimir Kramnik, this time against Teimour Radjabov. Having the white pieces, the 14th world champion sacrificed a pawn and got a decent compensation, while Teimour ran into time problems, same as in round one.  

White exerted a lot of pressure, and Vladimir Kramnik felt like there should be a victory somewhere, which would not lend itself to an easy discovery, however. Black found a best setup for his pieces to achieve a draw. 

Thus, Pavel Eljanov has grabbed a sole lead with two victories under his belt. Trailing half a point behind are Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Veselin Topalov.

Round three pairings are as follows:

V. Topalov - V. Kramnik, W. So - R. Wojtaszek, S. Karjakin - M. Adams, P. Eljanov - Sh. Mamedyarov, T. Radjabov - P. Harikrishna.