19 September 2015

The Unyielding Mickey

Eteri Kublashvili reviews the World Cup's 2nd round.

Only two Russian players were lucky in the classical part of the World Cup's Round 2: the finalists of the Tromsø knockout tournament, Vladimir Kramnik and Dmitry Andreikin. They defeated Lazaro Bruzon and Anton Korobov in their respective matches and will play with each other in the next round. Other Russians will play in the tie-break, while Vladislav Artemiev and Ernesto Inarkiev have left the tournament altogether.

On the second round's first day, Kramnik played the longest game of the round, in which he was eventually able to outsmart the Cuban grandmaster.

Kramnik ― Bruzon
Round 2, game 1

This balance of forces emerged on move 75, and Bruzon was able to defend the position with confidence through the first 38 moves out of the coveted 50. A draw seemed inevitable, but the Cuban made a mistake under the world ex-champion's powerful pressure.

113…Kb7?, and after 114. Ra1 the king found itself in a mating net.

114…Rb3 115. Ra7+ Kb8 116. Kc6 Rh3 117. Ra1 Black resigned.

The 14th world champion also dominated in the second game, but it still ended with a draw.

Dmitry Andreikin, too, won in the first game and had a draw in the second.

Korobov – Andreikin
Round 2, game 1

The black knights' activity confused White amid time trouble:

37. hxg3?

37. Bxg3 Nxg3+ 38. Kg1 Ne2+ 39. Kh1 Rh5 40. h3 would have saved the game.

37…Rh5+ 38. Qh4 Rxf2 39. Qxh5 Nxg3+ 40. Kg1 Rxg2+ 41. Kxg2 Nxh5, and Black converted the material advantage.

Gadir Guseinov, playing on his home turf, defeated David Navara in the first game and, after a draw in the second, became the first participant to qualify for the 1/16 final stage.

Guseinov – Navara
Round 2, game 1

Black has just castled kingside, oblivious of the beautiful piece sacrifice.

18. Bxh6! gxh6 19. Qg3+ Kh8 20. Nxe6 fxe6 21. Rxd8, and in this position with a non-standard material balance the queen proved to be the stronger.

Julio Granda, the patriarch of South American chess, whitewashed Cristobal Henriquez, who made a sensation in the first round by defeating Boris Gelfand.

Granda – Henriquez
Round 2, game 1

Black was wrong to indulge in gobbling up the kingside pawns, since White's passers on the queenside turned out to be much more dangerous.

46…Nxg3 47. Bxe6 Kxe6 48. Bxd4 Kf5 49. Bb6 Kxf4 50. Bxa5 Nf1 51. Bc7! Ke4 52. Kxb4 Kd5 53. Kb5 Nd2 54. b4 Black resigned.

Lu Shanglei beat his more experienced compatriot Wang Hao, and in both games at that.

Lu Shanglei – Wang Hao 
Round 2, game 1

24. a6 b6 25. Bg2

The long diagonal is bursting apart at the seams.

25…Bxe3 26. Qf3 Qd5 27. Qxf7 Qf5 28. fxe3 Black resigned.

In his first game versus Michael Adams, Viktor Laznicka outplayed his tricky opponent, but the Englishman came back in the second game within just 29 moves.

Adams – Laznicka
Round 2, game 2


It is the knight that should have occupied this square, protecting h7. But after the move in the game, Black  lost quickly.

26. Rh1 f5 27. hxg6 hxg6 28. Qh7+ Kf7 29. Rh6 Black resigned.

Sergey Karjakin was able to come back as well after losing to Alexander Onischuk in the first game. The battle involved opposite-coloured bishops. 

Karjakin – Onischuk
Round 2, game 2

Fortunately for Sergey and to the delight of his fans, White developed a strong a-pawn, while Black's bishop was out of play. 

35. a5 Rg6 36. a6 Rxg2 37. Rf8 Be6 38. a7 Bd5 39. a8Q Bxa8 40. Rxa9 Rf2 41. Rc8 Black resigned.

In the Indian contest, the less-rated player was the stronger.

Seturaman – Harikrishna
Round 2, game 2

A time trouble mistake in a difficult endgame without a pawn resulted in Black's demise:

37…Ke6 38. g6! Nf6 39. Nxf6 gxf6 40. Nd8+, and soon White brought the point home.

A careless move in the endgame affected the outcome of the next game as well:

Vachier-Lagrave – Sargissian
Round 2, game 2

As further events showed, Black shouldn't have accepted the bishop exchange.

24…Ne8?! 25. Bxc7 Nxc7 26. Rd1 Re7 27. Rd8+ Ne8 28. Bh3! Kg8 29. Ra8 g6 30. Rxa7, and the French grandmaster gradually won the game.

Thus, the classical matches in the 1/32 stage were won by: Veselin Topalov (vs. Sergei Zhigalko), Fabiano Caruana (vs. Rauf Mamedov), Wesley So (vs. Csaba Balogh),  Vladimir Kramnik (vs. Lazaro Bruzon), Ding Liren (vs. Ernesto Inarkiev), Leinier Dominguez (vs. Hrant Melkumyan), Dmitry Andreikin (vs. Anton Korobov), Gadir Guseinov (vs. David Navara), Anton Kovalyov (vs. Sandro Mareco), Radoslav Wojtaszek (vs. Vladislav Artemiev), Vassily Ivanchuk (vs. Maxim Rodshtein), Julio Granda (vs. Cristobal Henriquez), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (vs. Gabriel Sargissian), Lu Shanglei (vs. Wang Hao), Pavel Eljanov (vs. Alexander Ipatov), Peter Leko (vs. Yang Wen), and S. Sethuraman (vs. Pendyala Harikrishna).

As we see, quite a number of favorites were unable to enjoy a day off before the 1/16 stage. For instance, Hikaru Nakamura failed to crush Samuel Shankland's resistance, Alexander Areshchenko tied the match against Levon Aronian, Yifan Hou played two equal games versus Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and had a draw in each of them. The Azerbaijani grandmaster noted at the press conference that one had to play more carefully with the women's world champion than with many men.

At the tie-break of September 16, we watched the games: Shankland ― Nakamura, Giri ― Motylev, Grischuk ― Fedoseev, Karjakin ― Onischuk, Aronian ― Areshchenko, Svidler ― Nisipeanu, Fressinet ― Nepomniachtchi, Ngok Truong Son Nguyen ― Tomashevsky, Mamedyarov ― Hou Yifan, Adams ― Laznicka, Smirin ― Radjabov, Bassem ― Jakovenko, Wei Yi ― Vovk, Le Quang Liem ― Vitiugov, and Lysyj ― Yu Yangyi.
The playoff's sensation was, undoubtedly, Levon Aronian's loss to Alexander Areshchenko. In the first game, the Ukrainian grandmaster converted an extra pawn in a knight endgame, and in the second Aronian had to risk greatly as Black and lost again. 

Hikaru Nakamura proved his superiority in a match with his compatriot, Samuel Shankland. After a draw in the first game, the top seeded American outplayed his opponent in a rook endgame. 

Anish Giri was able to whitewash Alexander Motylev in the rapid match.

Giri ― Motylev
Rapid match, game 1

In response to 16. g4, Alexander preferred playing more creatively than 16…Bg6, and got in dire straits.

16…Nfd7?! 17. f4! b5 18. axb5 cxb5 19. Ne3 Qd8 20. Nhf5 exf4 21. Nd5 Bg6 22. Bxa5 Rxa5 23. Ndxe7+ Rxe7 24. Qxa5 with a dominating position.

No sensation happened in the match Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Hou Yifan: the stronger player made it to the third round.

Mamedyarov – Hou Yifan
Rapid match, game 1

12. d5! Bxc3 13. dxe6! fxe6 14. bxc3 Bd5 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Nd4 Rc8 17. Bxd5 exd5 18. Qb5, and by skillfully exploiting Black's delay in development, Shakhriyar won a pawn and converted the extra material in the endgame.

Teimour Radjabov, Peter Svidler, Le Quang Liem, and Dmitry Jakovenko also won their rapid chess matches. 

A lot was decided in the 10+10 games. Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Evgeny Tomashevsky, and Yangyi Yu won the day. 

Only three pairs played the blitz match as a result. The encounter between Yuri Vovk and Yi Wei proved to be a hard-fought battle. First the opponents exchanged blows in the classical match, then two draws followed in the rapid match, then Yi Wei lost the first "10-minute" game but was able to come back. The Chinese won the first blitz game and had a draw in the second, thus qualifying for the next stage.

Conversely, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Laurent Fressinet had seven draws, and the Russian was the stronger in the eighth game.  

Fressinet ― Nepomniachtchi
Blitz match, game 2


Black started an attack and succeeded.

31. Bxg7 Rxg7 32. Ne5 Qf5 33. Rb2 Rbg8 34. f3? Ng3 35. Ng4 Rxg4 White resigned.

The most dramatic match, starting with its classical part, was the one between Michael Adams and Viktor Laznichka. All the games except for the blitz games were resultative, and it came down to Armageddon, where Adams commanded the white army. The Englishman made his opponent face complex problems, and the latter started to think for long periods and finally found himself in a hopeless situation in terms of both the position and the timing. Adams demonstrated cold-bloodedness and a fighting spirit once again.

To sum up the outcomes of this difficult World Cup stage: the Russians Vladimir Fedoseev, Alexander Motylev, Nikita Vitiugov, and Igor Lysyj lost the tie-break and are quitting the tournament together with Vladislav Artemiev and Ernesto Inarkiev.

Those Russians who made it to the 1/16 stage are in for interesting and challenging encounters.

Ian Nepomniachtchi will play vs. Hikaru Nakamura, Peter Svidler vs. Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Grischuk vs. Pavel Eljanov, Evgeny Tomashevsky vs. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Sergei Karjakin vs. Yangyi Yu, and Vladimir Kramnik and Dmitry Andreikin will match strength with each other as mentioned previously.