28 December 2016

No Feast Without Tiebreak

The closing day of the Nutcracker generation tournament in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

Round two of the rapid section was extremely rich in won/lost games with only 5 draws in 16 games for men and even less so for women, who made only 3 draws. An accumulated fatigue must have something to do with it as grandmasters blundered ever so often and demonstrated less persistence in defense. However, I am inclined to believe that the main reason lies in generous prizes for team and individual performance achievements (expressed not only in points scored, but also in creative displays) that encouraged players to refresh their thinking towards playing more relaxed and no risk-free type of chess. 

Gelfand – Fedoseev 

"Gelfand goes about his favorite plan of binding his opponent’s position." This phrase, which I used in my yesterday's review for the Gelfand - Artemiev game, is no less relevant for today's encounter. 

16. f4 Nbd5 17. Bf3 Qb6 18. Qxb6 axb6 19. Ne2! Bb4 20. Bc1! 

These are meaningful moves as White wants to keep as many pieces on the board as possible. Should all pieces be traded, what White is going to use his bind against?   

20…b5 21. e4 Nb6 22. b3 

Restricting the b6-knight. Gelfand does not hesitate at all to make similar moves. 

22…Nh5 23. Be3 f5 

This attempt at counterplay loses immediately. Further resistance could be prolonged by 23…Ba5, however drab it might appear. 

24. d5! Nc8 25. dxc6 bxc6 26. exf5 exf5 27. Nd4 

Boris is willing to take the c6-pawn to best suit his purposes. 

27… Ne7 28. Nxc6 Nxc6 29. Bxc6+ Kf7 30. Bxb5, and White won the game. 

Oparin – Shirov 

The balance in the position was maintained by 17…Qc5! 18.Qb3 Qb6, etc, but Black was up to some heroic deeds. 

17…h5?! 18. g5! Nxg5 

Also grim-looking is 18... Nd7 in view of 19. Nxg6 fxg6 20. d4 Nxg5 21. Qxg6, etc. 

19. f4 Nge4 

One way or another, Black has to part ways with his piece. 

20. dxe4 Nxe4 21. Nxg6 Ng3+ 22. Kg1 Nxf1 23. Bxf1 fxg6 24. Qxg6 Rxe3 25. Bxe3 Qxe3+ 26. Kh1 

And White gradually converted his advantage.

Oparin – Morozevich 

Black got off completely wrong with his opening with his king stuck in the center and no counterplay whatsoever. The only positive aspect, which brings very little comfort though, is being up a pawn. Nevertheless, a breakfree attempt backfired immediately. 

19…h5?! 20. f6! g5 21. Ng6! Rg8 

The knight is not to be taken due to a checkmate from f7. Armed with this idea, White creates decisive threats on the kingside. 

22. gxh5 b4 23. Qg3 Rb5 24. h6 Rxg6 25. h7 Rh6 26. Qxg5 Black resigns. 

A very interesting opening idea was uncorked by Daniil Dubov. 

Dubov – Gelfand 

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 Be7 5. d3 Nf6 6. Ng5 0-0 

7. h4!? Na5 8. f4 d6 9. f5 Nxc4 10. dxc4 h5 

Since Black fails to establish a foothold on g4, this move results in substantial weakening of the flank. Black should have chosen between 10…h6, 10…b6 and 10…а6. 

11. Nd5 Ng4 12. a4 Bd7 13. Ne3! Nf6 14. g4 

The blockade is finally lifted. 

14…g6 15. Qf3 Kg7 16. gxh5 Nxh5 17. Rg1 Bxg5 18. Rxg5 Rh8 19. fxg6 fxg6 

20.Nf5+! Bxf5 21. exf5 e4 22. Qc3+ Kf7 23. fxg6+ Kg8 24. b3 Ng7 25. Bb2 Qe7 26. Qg3 e3 27. Qf3 Rxh4 28. Qf7+ Qxf7 29. gxf7+ Kf8 30. Rxg7 Black resigns. 

It is only natural that the younger players had more inner resources left by the end of the tournament. On the other hand, the senior players slowed down. The play did not go well at all for Dreev, who scored only a half  point on the last tournament day. Not a single victory was scored by Morozevich, who drew two and lost two games in rapid round two. Gelfand scored 2 out of 4. Only Shirov managed to continue contesting a ticket to Zürich: although he went down to Oparin, but then followed it by scoring three wins. 

Shirov – Dubov 

White succeeded in converting his advantage in this position. This game, being the last one played in the tournament, allowed "Kings" to level the match score, whereas Shirov caught up with Oparin in terms of points gained. 

It resulted in the fate of the main prize being decided in two blitz tie-breaker games with 3+2 time control. Shirov was the first player in game one. Although he won a pawn, a complex rook ending appeared on the board in which it was necessary to somehow get the opponent trapped in a zugzwang upon passing the onus of making a move onto him first... Being carried away with the search of truth, Alexei lost sight of the clock and exceeded the time limit. 

Playing White in game two, Oparin made a draw from a position of strength and got hold of the coveted tickets to Zürich. It will be Grigoriy's debut in the elite round-robin. We congratulate the young Moscow grandmaster on a brilliant achievement! 

In the women's section the most share of points was scored by Alisa Galliamova - 12.5, while her pursuer Elena Zaiatz is behind by as many as three (!) points. Below given is one of the technical displays by the Kazan player. 

Shuvalova – Galliamova 

25…Rd1 26. f3 Rxd5!? 27. exd5 Qxd5 28. Qc7 Qc6 29. Qxc6 bxc6 30. Kf2 Be6 31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. Rb1 Ke7 33. Ke3 d5 34. g4 Kd6 35. Rb6 c4 36. Kd4 Bc8 37. g3 g6 

White ran out of good moves and has to get out of c6-pawn's way. 

38. Rb8 c5+ 39. Kc3 Be6 40. Rb6+ Ke5 41. Rc6 d4+ 42. Kd2 Kd5 43. Ra6 c3+ 44. Kd3 h5 45. gxh5 Bf5+ 46. Ke2 d3+ 47. Ke3 gxh5 48. Rf6 Bg6 49. f4 d2 50. Ke2 Bc2 White resigns. 

As custom has it, "The Nutcracker", being one of the tournaments supported by Oleg Skvortsov, features a number of awards for creative achievements. Two tickets to the Bolshoi Theater went to Polina Shuvalova. The beauty prize was awarded to Alexey Dreev for his spectacular victory (with a positional sacrifice of exchange) over Vladimir Fedoseev. The prizes also went to Vladislav Artemiev and Alexei Shirov for their bright classical duel that ended in a draw. 

"Queens" and "Princesses" received gifts from RCF's strategic partner Renault Russia. Besides, all participants were gifted with a newly published book by Boris Gelfand "Taking Positional Decisions in Chess", while everyone willing could get a signature and good wishes from the book author. 

...This is how a third generation match-tournament "Nutcracker", which saw bright and extremely tenacious struggle, is becoming a history. We look forward to next year's continuation! 

Final standings: 

"Kings" and "Princes" tied the score to make it 32-32. Individual standings: 

1-2. G. Oparin, A. Shirov with 10 points; 3-4. V. Artemiev, B. Gelfand - 9; 5. D. Dubov - 7.5; 6-7. A. Dreev, A. Morozevich - 6.5; 8. V. Fedoseev - with 5.5 points. 

"Queens" defeated "Princesses" 36-28. Individual standings: 

1. A. Galliamova - 12.5 points; 2. E. Zaiatz- 9.5; 3. P. Shuvalova - 9; 4. E. Kovalevskaya - 8.5; 5. A. Maltsevskaya - 7.5; 6. A. Dimitrova - 6; 7-8. E. Solozhenkina, G. Strutinskaya with 5.5 points.