28 September 2018

Taking it out on the Tigresses

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

It has become cold and started raining in Batumi all of a sudden. Chess players from hot countries would show up wearing woolen hats, which looks a little funny.

While the round was underway, Eteri Kublashvili talked to Nona Gaprindashvili – one of the main stars of Georgian chess and this Olympiad. As always, Nona Terentjevna is cheerful and kindly agrees to communicate with the mass media, although admitting to being already bored with same questions asked again and again. 

– Nona Terentjevna, how important is this Olympiad for your country? 

– This event is undoubtedly vital for Georgia. I think our players deserve this Olympiad. The fact that organizers are allowed to put out several teams gives young players and those not qualifying for the main team a chance in trying their hand and getting to know what an Olympiad stands for. In my opinion, round two had our young team Georgia 3 hitting headlines by going down to the favorite American team with a narrow margin. This is a splendid result! The girls drew Germany, while our board one defeated their leader. I think it serves a great incentive for young people in working more on themselves and on chess, imparting them a boost of energy and optimism. This should help them in improving their skills.

From the public point of view, such tournaments are known to cost a lot of money. On the other hand, we are going to get back a lot in return for it. Batumi is already a tourist city, and there will be even more guests after the Olympiad. Millions of people are watching the Olympiad online, and they will likely want to come here one day. 

Of course, Olympiad is a great event, making the right to host it an eternal bone of contention. In general, I can characterize the opening ceremony as wonderful; everything goes well, the playing conditions are good. The comparison is vivid when I recall Norway and the circumstances in which people played and lived there.

Do they show us on TV on a daily basis?

– Of course, but I do not know how many times a day. Our first channel has acquired exclusive rights to broadcast, and the remaining channels are buying from it.

– You were actively engaged in preparatory process before the Olympiad. Please, tell us how it was.

–Indeed, we have had a lot of travelling around the country. This is also because a Cup bearing my name is being competed for here (the Nona Gaprindashvili Cup is to be awarded to the country whose men's and women's teams have come to show the best overall result - Ed.).Our Federation came up with an idea of carrying this gorgeous in all respects cup through all regions of the country. It was a kind of Olympic propaganda that helped attract interest to the tournament and chess among children and youth. Some very interesting events were being organized for that purpose. 

– How do you spend your time here? Do you enjoy the Olympic environment?

– You know, there are many old friends of mine here.. We are always happy to meet our long-standing acquaintances. Meeting friends, sharing memories... We watch games either on screens or being played live in the playhall. However, time flies fast. 

You also find time to play some games yourself.

– Given an opportunity, I play blitz.  

– What is your favorite time format?

– We used to play without time increment. We used to play 5- or 3- minute blitz games, this is why time increment has little influence on me. I performed so well In my young years that even a minute without increment worked out perfectly well for me. Meanwhile, I can afford it no longer now since it involves constant training, whereas my chess inactive periods may last up to half a year. As for me, I prefer a 5-minute format.

– Do you play Internet games?

– No. 

– Do you have free time to watch football matches?

– The thing is, the hotel does not show football over state TV channels. We only have Eurosport, which does not show football, though. I have had no time to address this issue yet. Besides, there have been no significant matchups in the meanwhile.

– What about Liverpool - PSG, did you watch it before the Olympiad?

– Of course, I did. A superb game. I was happy for Liverpool as deserving a victory. True, the coach of PSG (Thomas Tuchel - Ed.) claimed they should not have lost, but I disagree with him because the opponent’s advantage was obvious. It would have been a failure for Liverpool not to win the match.

Photo by Vladimir Barsky

By the way, the Arkady Dvorkovich’s team stand now has a football bearing the 2018 World Cup logo. Some ardent football fans already managed to give it a kick or two in the expocenter before they were stopped. However, a big football day at the Olympiad is expected on a rest day, and the teams are passionately called to participate. 

However, let us switch from football to chess. 

The Russian men's team defeated Georgia's second team with a minimum score thanks to Vladimir Kramnik’s victory on board three. It is somewhat unusual, of course, to see the ex-world champion seated this low (besides, Vladimir is still our country’s highest rated player), but the coaching staff decided that he would bring more benefits to the national team this way. Here is what the match hero has to say:

– The opening shaped very well for me as my opponent was unaware of the 9…Re8 idea, threatening е6-е5. He switched into a passive mode, while his 15.Nf4 is an entirely strange move. 15.Ng3 would have given me a pleasant position, but no more than that. Then I had a host of continuations to choose from. 

19... dxc4, instead of 19 ... h5, might have been a simpler approach; however, the latter also seems a decent continuation to me. I could have probably played more accurately, but I think I had advantage in all lines. Then Beradze ended up in time trouble and went down rather quickly.

Overall, I have expected a complex type of game, him being a talented chess player and a tough opponent; thus, he has recently defeated Ponomariov, and deservedly so, as well as defeating other decent players. He is a very decent player himself, and I expected the game to be anything but easy. Fortunately, it was a plain sailing for me.

– What can you say about playing conditions in the hall? Are they OK?

– Yes, it is OK, more or less. I liked it more in Baku though, but it is OK here in the hall in terms of playing. 

Photo by Vladimir Barsky

Beradze – Kramnik 

Slav Defence D45

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.b3 00 8.Bb2 Qe7 9.Bd3 Re8 10.Ne2 e5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Bxe5 Qxe5 14.00

Black on move

14...Ng4! 15.Nf4?

Taking the pawn with 15.Bxh7+ is quite risky, of course: 15…Kh8 16.Ng3 g6 17.Bxg6 fxg6 18.Qxg6 Rg8, and the bishop is more than likely to be superior to three pawns. However, correct was 15.Ng3, and after 15...h5 16.Rfe1 h4 17.Nf1 White has a quite tenable position, as pointed out by Kramnik.


The most aggressive move. A more tranquil approach would be 15... d4, for example: 16.h3 dxe3 17.Bxh7 + Kh8 18.hxg4 Qxf4 19.Bf5 e2 20.Rfe1 - even though Black has an edge there is nothing decisive visible yet.

16.h3 gxf4 17.exf4 Qxf4 18.hxg4 Bxg4 19.Rfe1

Pawn taking is still a taboo: 19.Bxh7+? Kg7 20.Bd3 Bf3! 21.Rfe1 Rh8, and Black mounts a direct offensive against the black king. 


Going forward, never looking back! Also good-looking is a positional approach 19...dxc4 20.Bxc4 Qd4 21.Rac1 Rad8.

20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Qc5 Re5 22.Qc3

White should not have allowed the opponent’s rook into the kingside. Better is 22.Rxe5 Qxe5 23.Rc1 or 23.Rf1!?) 23…Rc8 24.Qa3 Rxc1+ 25.Qxc1 Kg7 – with a lot of fighting in the arising endgame yet.

22...Rg5 23.Bf1 d4 24.Qc1 Qf6 25.Re4 d3

White on move


This is a final blunder. Holding the last line of defense was 26.Rb1 Rd8 27.Rb2.

26...Rd5 27.Rb1 d2 28.Qg3 Qg6 29.Bd3 Bf5 White resigns.

Ian Nepomniachtchi’s kingside offensive was very ingenious and energetic, but in the opponent’s severe time pressure he rushed with a natural-looking move only to miss an excellent scoring opportunity.

Nepomniachtchi – Sanikidze

White on move

A straight-forward opening of the g-file with 28.gxh6 runs into 28…Nc4+ 29.Ke2 Rb2, and it is nothing short of a miracle that White can come up with the following bailout: 30.Nf4+ Kh8 31.Ng6+ Kh7 32.Nf8+ Kxh6 (32…Kh8 33.Ng6+) 33.Rg6+ Kxh5 34.Rh1+ Qh4 35.Rxh4+ Kxh4 36.Qxb2 Nxb2 37.Nxe6 a3 38.Nc5. ]

White should have covered the f-file to allow his king’s transfer to the kingside: 28.Nf4! Nc4+ 29.Kf3 Kh8 30.g6 Rf5 31.Qxa4, with a decisive edge for White.

However, White rushed to capture the pawn.

28.Rxa4 hxg5 29.Nh4 Kf8 30.h6?! Qc7! 31.Rxa5!?

An attempt to mess things up, which paid off in the end.

31Rxa5 32.Qb3

Black on move


It leads to simplifications and an equal endgame. In the case of 32...gxh4 33.Qb4+ Ke8 34.Rg8+ Kd7 35.Rg7 White is also safely out of the woods; however, after 32...Qb6! 33.Ng6+ Ke8! 34.Qxb6 axb6 35.Rxg5 Ra3 he is in for an uphill battle for a draw.

33.Qxb5 Qxc3+ 34.Qd3 Qe1+ 35.Qe2 Qc3+ 36.Qd3 Qc1+ 37.Qd2 Qa3+ 38.Qd3 Qc1+ 39.Qd2 Qxd2+ 40.Kxd2 gxh4 41.Rxh4

The rook ending gives real winning chances to neither of the opponents.

41Kg8 42.Kc3 Rb7 43.Rf4 a5 44.Rf6 Rb6 45.Rg6+ Kh7 46.Rg7+ Kxh6 47.Ra7 Kg5 48.Rxa5 Kf4 49.Ra1 Ke3 50.Re1+ Kf2 51.Rh1 Draw.

Paichadze-Karjakin and Vitiugov-Quparadze were uneventful draws; in both games our grandmasters were pressing a little, but no more than that.

Our girls, upset by the defeat in round two, came down on Malaysia like hungry lionesses. It is noteworthy that in Batumi this Asian country team wears a form reminiscent of a tiger skin. However, Malaysia failed to turn into real predators, the end of the day had screens displaying a 4:0 score in favor of the Russian team. 

Photo by Boris Dolmatovsky

Bakri – Goryachkina

Black on move

18...Ne5! 19.Ne2

19.Nxc6 runs into 19…Nf3+ 20.Kh1 (20.gxf3 Qxh3) 20...Qg4 21.Ne7+ Kf7, and there is no escaping checkmate for the white king.

19...Nd3 20.Rb1 Rf8 21.Nf4 e5

Even tougher is 21...Rxf4! 22.exf4 Rg6 23.Kh1 Rxg2! 24.Kxg2 Nxf4+ 25.Kg1 Qxh3.

22.Nxd3 exd3 23.Qg4 Qe7 24.c5

Black on move

24...Bxg2! 25.Qxg2 Rg6 26.Qxg6 hxg6 27.c6 Qg5+ 28.Kh2 Rf3 29.c7 Qf5 White resigns.

Vladimir Kramnik is yet another player voicing his support of Arkady Dvorkovich: 

– Our entire team supports Arkady Dvorkovich not so much because he is Russian, but because the choice is absolutely clear.  Unfortunately, it is for the delegates to vote rather than for the chess players; otherwise, it would have been settled here and now. Nevertheless, I still hope that the delegates will think more about the future of chess than look into their private interests. I think that from the point of view of the future of chess we have a unique opportunity to start developing our sport in the right direction, should Arkady Dvorkovich win. 

It is absolutely clear that Georgios Makropoulos’s victory will give us a 4-year-longstagnation.  I have been around playing chess for quite a while now and know what I am talking about; therefore, I do hope that Arkady Dvorkovich ends up winning.  Of course, I am already a veteran, but I would still like chess to develop progressively; thatiswhy the choice is obvious, at least between the above-mentioned pair of candidates.