29 September 2018

Once upon Aleksandra’s Birthday...

Vladimir Barsky and Eteri Kublashvili reporting about round five of the Olympiad

September 28 witnessed one of the key events of the Batumi Olympiad as Georgios Makropoulos’s complaint vs Arkady Dvorkovich, his main competitor in the FIDE presidential elections, was taken up before the Ethics Commission. Spectators and journalists started gathering at the Sheraton Hotel by 9 a.m. The action began with a half-hour warm up, during which time the Commission head Francois Strydom (Republic of South Africa) was explaining the commission’s work principles and how it is different from the election committee, as well as answering questions together with his colleagues.

A little after ten o’clock A. Dvorkovich and G.Makropoulos entered the hall accompanied by their assistants and lawyers. Another presidential candidate, Nigel Short, was also present as a spectator. It was initially stated that journalists were to leave the hall after a 5-minute footage; however, later Strydom allowed us to stay provided that video and voice recording equipment be switched off. Nothing dramatic was happening during the hour that followed, with lawyers trading now smiles now sarcastic comments and members of court, that is of the commission to be more precise, first asking questions not directly pertaining to the case but then gradually looking into matters more seriously. Approximately at half past eleven, following a brief coffee break, Strydom did ask that spectators not directly involved in hearings vacate the premises. As if saying that all of us, of course, are one family, but the hottest details of family feuds should not go public anyway. 

Picture by Vladimir Barsky

The journalists remained in Sheraton almost until 13 p.m. in the hope of not missing a pivotal ruling. After all, Makropoulos asked no less than to have Arkady Dvorkovich removed from any chess activities on the international arena for as long as of eight (!) years. However, then the commission chairman entered the vestibule to assure us that the ruling would be adopted on Sunday at best. We left for the Olympiad, while the hearings went on to last well until half past seven, at which point the “game was adjourned.” It is with impatience that we anticipate the outcome of the Ethics Commission hearings.  

Round five of the Batumi Olympiad began with a minute of silence in memory of Nino Khurtsidze. This day the Georgian chess player, who passed away April this year, would have turned 43. A special prize has been introduced by organizers that bears Nino’s name. A girl born 1999 or younger is eligible for the prize who demonstrates the best tournament performance. 

Almost immediately after that the participants were informed about the traditional "Bermuda Party", which is known to take place the night preceding the rest day. To prevent our girls from hearing the news and breaking the daily pattern, Sergei Rublevsky literally tried to cover their ears. Let me add that the party was visited both by Makropoulos and Dvorkovich; the Russian candidate staying there for a brief time only, though.

Picture by Vladimir Barsky

The Russian men’s team defeated Peru 3:1. The final score is seemingly self-explanatory: as White Peruvians managed to pull off two draws against stellar rivals and failed to do so as Black. What is so special about it, after all? Moreover, a highly-experienced Julio Granda Zuniga, who could have been a valuable asset for the team, has entered A.Dvorkovich’s ticket, focusing entirely on the pre-election contest. In fact, the Russian players and fans had long nervous minutes to live through.

It all started with Jorge Cori killing any fighting potential and fixing a draw as White against Ian Nepomniachtchi. It is nothing out of the ordinary since a draw as Black against a decent grandmaster is an acceptable result. Meanwhile, the 2018 edition of Vladimir Kramnik sacrificed a piece - his trademark approach to chess as of recently.

Kramnik – Martinez Alcantara

Black on move

Following an optimistic 25...Qg4! 26.Rb8+ Rxb8 27.Qxb8+ Bf8 White would have had hard time proving compensation for the missing material. Instead, Black makes up his mind to initiate simplifications.

25...Nd3 26.Rxc8+ Rxc8 27.Qd2 Rc1+ 28.Qxc1 Nxc1 29.Rxa6

Had Martinez Alcantara known a catch phrase about Kramnik’s passed pawns always passing, he would have though twice about transposing into this ending.

29Rh5 30.Ra8+ Bf8 31.a4 Nd3


32.g4! Rc5

Stronger is 32...Rh4 33.h3 Rxh3 34.a5 Rh6 to take at least one of the pawns.

33.Kg2 Rc4 34.a5 Nf4+ 35.Kg3 Ne6 36.Nxe6 fxe6 37.g5 Kf7 38.h4 Bd6+ 39.Kg4 Rc1 40.a6 Ra1 41.Ra7+ Be7 42.Kh5 Ke8 43.Kh6 Bf8+ 44.Kg6 Be7 45.Ra8+ Bd8 46.h5 Ra5 47.Rxd8+ Black resigns.

Cruz – Vitiugov was an uneventful draw, whereas Sergey Karjakin gave us a reason to worry as his position looked dubious at a certain moment. Nevertheless, his high class took its toll at last and the 2016 vice world champion won the game, clearly cheering up himself and all of us before going into the rest day.  

By the way, September 28 was Aleksandra Goryachkina’s birthday. Our congratulations! She made herself a present by defeating Feliz Osmanodja as Black in what was a really good game. The opponent's name should not mislead anyone: the Russians were playing Germany and won 3.5: 0.5, this being yet another gift, and the most important one at that! 

Picture by Vladimir Barsky

The first to score was again Valentina Gunina. This is what she has to say, 

– I was preparing for the Sicilian, but the game opening was handled into the Petroff Defense. I think our opponents were preparing for me with my game vs Alina Kashlinskaya in mind, which was played in the latest Superfinal. That is, I was bereft of my preparation, so to speak. I made up my mind to get a position with a slight edge; however, after 13. Qxb7 she already needed to trade rooks and start playing against my king.


Gunina – Hoolt

Black on move

–Her plan 13Rab8 14. 14. Qa6 Rb6 15. Qa4 Re816. Rex8+ Qxe8 allowed me to carry out 17. Qd1 Ke4 18. Qe1 f5 19. Kh4 g5

– It is yet to be double checked, but I think after 20. f3! Black is in bad shape already. Everything is hanging, the b6-rook is out of play. On the other hand, my c1-bishop and a1-rook are passive as well, but they are likely to enter the game later. During the game, I thought my position was a good one. 

Piece trades allowed White’s pieces to demonstrate their best and get down to attacking the black king. The German player recognized her defeat on move 28.

Board two, a birthday girl Aleksandra Goryachkina, outplayed her opponent as Black in a many-piece ending. Goryachkina grabbed space in her trademark style, taking White’s position in a bind and winning a pawn. The Russian player’s conversion was impeccable and she ended up winning the game on move 35.

Elizabeth Paehtz, playing Black against Alexandra Kosteniuk, opted for a sideline of the old Indian defense and emerged worse from the opening. In general, the entire course of the game was dictated by the ex-world champion.

Kosteniuk – Paehtz

White on move

Meanwhile, after 31. Ng5! Ne6 32. Bxe6 fxe6 33. Nf3 Kf7 34. Qb2 White skillfully took advantage of opponent’s glaring weaknesses on both sides of the board, while Black lacked resources to defend intermittently on both flanks. Paehtz resigned after the time control move.  

Olga Girya fended off all threats as Black against Zoya Schleining and the game ended in a draw in an opposite-colored bishop ending.

Having scored 10 match points in the men's section are the teams of Azerbaijan, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. Men's team Russia has eight match points.

An unblemished record is with team USA. Women’s team Russia is with eight match points.

Saturday, September 29, is a rest day at the Olympiad. Arkady Dvorkovich’s team invites everyone to the First Intercontinental Football Cup among chess players, participating in which will be the stars of chess and football.