6 October 2018

Symmetrical Answer

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

Year 2018, October 3 of the year 2018 to be more precise, will go down into chess history as a date when a longstanding administration of FIDE was replaced and Arkady Dvorkovich stepped in as FIDE President. The Russian Chess Federation congratulates a newly-elected FIDE President!

Meanwhile, the Olympiad playhall witnessed events captured by Boris Georgievich Dolmatovsky. The Russian teams have scored vital victories to make a comeback into the medal race. 

The Russian men’s team was facing Italy. A confident and energetic performance was delivered by the Russian team’s leader Sergey Karjakin.

Vocaturo – Karjakin

White on move

It is hard to tell whether Daniele Vocaturo stopped his choice on the Italian Game out of patriotic or pragmatic considerations. Trying to gain momentum on the kingside, he started compromising his pawn structure, which was his downfall at the end.

16.Ng4 Nxg4 17.hxg4 Bxb3 18.axb3

Let us mention that within a span of two moves White has got a pair of doubled pawns.

18Re6 19.Qg3 Be7 20.f4

But for this aggressive advance, Whites would have had to forget about his attacking ambitions. Now the doubled g-pawns turn into isolated ones.

20Bf6 21.c4 exf4 22.Bxf4 Be5 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 24.b4 Rc8!

According to Nimzowitsch: “A mysterious rook move!” However, there is no mystery here: Black guards himself against b4-b5, and and is not in time to move the rook to d8 or e8.

25.Rf1 Qg5 26.Rae1 g6

Black somewhat rushed it, it feels like. Better is 26...Rce8, e.g.: 27.b5 axb5 28.cxb5 Rxb5 29.Qxc7 Ne5! (avoiding 29...Rxb2? 30.Nxh6+), and now too bad is 30.Nxd4 Rxb2, whereas after 30.Re2 Qd8! Black consolidates and starts getting at Black’s weak pawns.

27.Nh4 Re6 28.Nf3 Qe7


White misses his chance. After 29.b5 axb5 30.cxb5 Ne5 bad is 31.Nxd4 in view of 31...Rd6, but a neat 31.Re2! gives hope of equalizing gradually. For example: 31…Kg7 (31...Nxd3? 32.Nxd4) 32.Nxe5 Rxe5 33.Ref2 Rf8 34.Rc2!, and White is in the game, although his numerous weaknesses are still there.

29...g5 30.Qf5 Re8

30...Rd8 is, perhaps, more precise, and in the line 31.b5 Nb4 32.Rd1 Nc2! the black knight lands triumphantly on е3.

31.e5 b5!

Sergey Karjakin’s performance is very technical as his strike on the queenside is well-timed.

32.Re4 bxc4 33.dxc4 d3 34.Re3

More tenacious is 34.Nd4, but even here after 34…Nxd4 35.Rxd4 Rxe5 36.Qxd3 Re1 Black’s edge is quite substantial.

34...Nxb4 35.Kh1

35.Nd4 runs into 35…Nc2.

35...Rf6! 36.Qe4

Also hopeless is 36.Qxf6 Qxf6 37.exf6 Rxe3.

36...Rf4 37.Qb7 c6 38.Qb6 Rxc4

Having given the White queen a good run around the board, Black resumes his harvest gathering.


This is White’s last attempt to annoy the opponent’s king. It is easily thwarted, though.

39fxe6 40.Re5 Rxg4 41.Rfe1 Qd6 42.Qb7 Rf4 43.Nxg5 Re7, and White resigns as after 44.Qa8+ Rf8 he is about to lose a knight.

Not overly convincing in the opening, Ian Nepomniachtchi gradually outplayed his opponent and got excellent winning chances. However, Luca Moroni’s subsequent performance in the endgame was nothing short of a miracle of resourcefulness that allowed him to salvage half a point. Sabino Brunello, playing Vladimir Kramnik as White, aimed at avoiding even the slightest risk and succeeded in achieving this goal. The game was very smooth and ended in a draw.

Even if not without adventures, Nikita Vitiugov did manage to outplay Alessio Valsecchi. The opening was a rare line of the Dragon that ended in White’s winning a pawn. A series of trades gave rise to the rook ending that proved more tricky than it looked at first glance. There was a moment when Black was seemingly making a draw, but is was not as easy as that. The Italian player misplaced his pieces and went down.

The Russian girls’ answer was symmetrical to that of men's as they defeated team Romania with the same score and on the same boards Alexandra Kosteniuk found her way superbly around the complication, bringing her edge home in a technical manner.

Kosteniuk – Bulmaga 

27.Nxe5! fxe4 28.Nxc6

Having given it a deep calculation, the engine claims 28.Rxf8+ Rxf8 29.Qa6 as stronger, but just look at the setup arising after 29…Bf2 30.Nxc6 Qe6 31.Bxf2 Rxf2 32.Qb5 Kh7 33.Qc5 e3 – would you risk going for it as White?


28...Qxh4+ 29.Bxh4 exd3 30.Bg5 Bf2 looks like a tougher approach

29.Nxe7+ Kh7 30.Nxd5 d2 31.Nf6+

Nice prancing indeed! Black lost her nerve and gave up an entire rook for this knight.


In the case of 31...Kg6 32.Nxg4 hxg4 33.Rfd1 the d2-pawn is reliably blockaded and will gradually perish.

32.Rxf6 Be3 33.Rd6 Rc8 34.Rd3 Re8


The opponent should be deprived of her main trump.


After 35...dxe1Q+ 36.Rxe1 White wins a piece back by exploiting the pin.

36.Bxd2 Bxd3 37.Re1 Bc2 38.a5 Ba4 39.Bxe3 Bb5

Black’s last hope is in opposite-colored bishops, but White has too many pawns and, which is important, they are on both flanks.

40.Kg1 Kg6 41.Kf2 Rf8+ 42.Kg3 Re8 43.Kf3 Bc6+ 44.Ke2 Bb5+ 45.Kd2 Kf5 46.Bg5 Rxe1 47.Kxe1 Ke4 48.Kf2 Bc4

49.g4! hxg4 50.h5 Kf5 51.h6 Kg6 52.Bf4 Black resigns.

Peptan-Gunina (92 moves) and Pogonina-Cosma (84 moves) were so full of events that deserve a poem to be dedicated to each. Let us just lay out bare facts: Gunina bailed out and Pogonina failed to win. Meanwhile, the last board Olga Girya managed to pull off both - getting out of the woods first and even winning afterwards.

In the evening people were again to the Arkady Dvorkovich’s chess lounge to congratulate a newly-elected FIDE President in person, play chess and chat with nice people - in short, to have a good time. A choir of Georgian singers performed for the guests, and wine, as usual, flowed in streams.

The Olympiad has two most crucial rounds in store for us yet. Leading the field in the men’s section is a phenomenal team Poland with 16 points. Trailing a point behind are teams USA, China, Armenia and England. The Russian Men's team has 14 match points.  Ahead in the women's section are Chinese players with 16 points. A point behind are teams Ukraine, Armenia and USA. The women’s team Russia is with 14 match points.

In round ten the Russian men’s team is paired against England and women's team is pitted against the Ukraine. We wish good luck to the Russian teams!