24 December 2016

Out for Revenge

Round Two of Nutcracker in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

Round Two of Nutcracker had both “Kings” and “Princesses” avenge themselves on their opponents.

Round one underdog Alexey Dreev immediately made up for his previous failure, winning a difficult and, in the unanimous opinion of round two commentators Sergei Shipov, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Mark Glukhovsky, very purposeful and beautiful game from Vladimir Fedoseev.

The Moscow grandmaster opted for the Caro-Kann Defence with double-edged struggle rife with nuances. Dreev sacrificed an exchange in the middlegame, which earned him a good compensation. Fedoseev started committing inaccuracies towards to the time control, allowing the transfer of the black rook to the b-file, which marked a significant downfall of his position.

Fedoseev – Dreev

On move 38 White made a crucial error, probably underestimating the opponent’s powerful rejoinder.

38. Rb2? Rb3! 39. Qa2 Nd4 40. e6 fxe6 - good advice is beyond price for White in this position. The “King” was impeccable at the stage of conversion and brought the game home in a confident manner.

Mark Glukhovsky asked the participants about their plans for the upcoming Qatar tournament. Aleksey Dreev stated his willingness to go to Doha, jokingly remarking about the recent innovation - a prize for veterans. Vladimir Fedoseev will not take part in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships as he considers having played in too many tournaments this year already. 

The remaining three games between “Kings” and “Princes” ended in draws.

Alexander Morozevich, who played White against round one hero Grigoriy Oparin, found himself in a difficult middlegame position, but with no direct win for Black. The middlegame struggle transposed into an opposite-colored bishop ending with two extra pawns for Black. However, with the drawish tendencies prevailing, Oparin chose to torment neither himself nor the opponent.

Boris Gelfand and Daniil Dubov debated in the Rubinstein system of the Nimzo-Indian Defence. Dubov, playing with the black pieces, acted perhaps too sharply in the opening and allowed White obtaining a long-term initiative while keeping an eye at the exposed black king. However, with the defence and attack balancing each other out, the opponents agreed to a draw.

Alexei Shirov, playing Black against Vladislav Artemiev, employed an interesting plan of sacrificing the b-pawn and leaving his king uncastled. Black got compensation for the sacrificed material, successfully regrouped his pieces and launched an attack at the enemy king. Hot on the trail, the grandmasters could not give a straightforward answer the question of whether Black had full compensation for the pawn. Whatever the reason, Artemiev decided against taking risks in favor of fixing a draw by repetition.

Thus, gaining the upper hand in round two with a 5-3 score, “Kings” levelled the score against “Princes.”

“Princess” won their match by the same score.

The first to score was Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, who, as we see, was not at all upset by the opportunities missed in round one. Her game with Galina Strutinskaya lasted 25 moves only. The opponents handled the opening into the King’s Indian Defence line with White fianchettoeing her light-squared bishop and it seemed as if White should be absolutely out of danger zone. However, in the middlegame Strutinskaya carried out an exchange combination that played into Black’s hands, whereas on move 18 White topped it off by committing a bad blunder.

Strutinskaya – Maltsevskaya

18. b4? Rxc5! 19. bxc3 Qe3+, and White suffered substantial material losses.

Playing with the white pieces, Polina Shuvalova defeated Elena Zaiatz in Ruy Lopez in which the opponents followed in the footsteps of the game N. Kosintseva - E. Zaiatz, 2009. Although the first to sidestep was Elena, she could not improve on her previous play and the sacrificed pawn was not compensated to the full extent. Following the massive exchanges White was on the vigorous attack of the weakened opponent’s king using her queen and rook battery to score a confident victory.

The start of the tournament has so far gone wrong for Alexandra Dimitrova, who has suffered her second defeat already. This time the 2016 World School Chess Championship triumphant’s offender was Alisa Galliamova. Black failed to achieve a full-fledged game out of the opening (which was the English Opening), and White clearly demonstrated the two bishops’ advantage by creating a strong passed pawn in a position full of material. Moreover, Black made a decisive blunder and went down shortly after.

The longest game of the round was Solozhenkina - Kovalevskaya. In the end Elizaveta bravely defended the “rook and bishop versus rook” endgame and eventually managed to hold out the required 50 moves. However, there happened a minor incident along the way as Solozhenkina stopped the clock to claim a draw one move short of the required 105th move to be yet made by her opponent. According to the regulations Ekaterina was added two minutes and Elizaveta was given a warning, while the game continued for exactly one half-move by Black and then a draw was sealed.

Thus, after two rounds the score is equal - 8-8.  

Pairings of round three:

“Kings” - “Princes”

Artemiev - Morozevich, Oparin - Gelfand, Dreev - Dubov, Shirov - Fedoseev.

“Queens” - “Princesses”

Shuvalova - Strutinskaya, Maltsevskaya - Galliamova, Kovalevskaya - Dimitrova, Zaiatz - Solozhenkina.