27 September 2018

Time to Correct Mistakes

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

The Olympic race is gaining momentum, the favorite teams are dropping points and the election campaigns are steadily approaching the peak moment. However, opening our story about day two in Batumi will be a brief interview with grandmaster Konstantin Landa, who shared his impressions of what is going on:

– It is hard to make any value judgments now. The first two days have revealed a lot of room for improvement. People standing in queues and poor logistics is something to mention. Bus drivers would often depart without waiting for players to arrive first. There is no mistaking confusion; games do not start on time. I hope the organizers will correct mistakes by round three or at least by the mid-tournament. Our Russian competitions are definitely better organized.  

In my opinion, the playhalls are better than in Tromsø, but worse than at other Olympiads. It was hot yesterday in the main playhall, the aisles are so narrow that you have to duck and dive from other people going in the opposite direction. I cannot say I am enthusiastic about the way things run now.

– What can you say about the Olympiad as a member of the FIDE Anti-Cheating Commission? 

– This is a separate subject. All rules for dealing with dishonest players are well-written, all that remains is fulfilling them. The situation is changing now as they have brought in some scanners. However, it would have been only natural for organizers to do this earlier. Breathing life into the rules is the will of not only the FIDE Anti-cheating Commission, but of organizers as well. Seated on the viewing stands are chess fans, who can go here in any quantities and with almost any data. This data can be easily viewed from the playhall. Still, organizers are always opposing the idea of not admitting spectators into the playhall. However, the viewing stands are mainly occupied by chess professionals, rather than thousands of ordinary fans who opt for watching everything going on the boards via Internet. These are real organizational measures that need to be implemented. Again, it is too early to speak out in hope that the organizers will straighten things out soon. 

Photo by Eteri Kublashvili 

In round two the favorites ran into a much more stubborn resistance compared to the starting one. Thus, the Americans defeated Georgia's team three with a minimum score: bringing the victory to the reigning Olympic champions was Wesley So.

The start of this match was prefaced by an amusing incident. After the fifth World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili made the first move, it turned out that Fabiano Caruana's clock was malfunctioning. The start of the round was delayed for the duration of bringing the new clock and making the ceremonial opening move again. 

Photos by Boris Dolmatovsky


In round two the Russian men's team was pitted against team Ireland. Our opponent’s board one is an experienced grandmaster from Nizhny Novgorod Alexander Baburin, a great expert in the Alekhine defense. His favorite opening gave him an easy equality.

Karjakin – Baburin

Alekhine Defence, B04

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3

The venerate Alekhine defense players claim that really serious problems for Black can only be posed in the four pawns variation (4.c4 Nb6 5.f4). Nevertheless, Black has a number of approximately equivalent alternatives to choose from with the most complex variations of lines everywhere, and you do not actually want to get involved with them: even if everything is double-checked with the computer, it's far from a given fact that you will recall your home prep over the board. Karjakin opts for a more practical approach, aiming at a small edge.

4dxe5 5.Nxe5 c6

This is a rock solid system: Black additionally buttresses the d5-square and vacates the c7-square for the knight.

6.Be2 g6 7.c4 Nc7 8.00 Bg7 9.f4 00 10.Nc3 Nd7 11.Be3 Nxe5 12.fxe5 f6

It is from this direction that Black needs to break up White’s center because 12...c5 13.d5 Bxe5 14.Bxc5 gives White an edge.

13.exf6 exf6 14.Qb3 f5 15.Rad1 Re8 16.Bf2 Be6! 17.Qxb7 Rb8 18.Qxc6 Rxb2

White to move

Having sacrificed a pawn, Black has activated all his pieces and created pressure on White’s hanging pawns. This is seemingly a critical moment of the game.


Neither 19.Qa4 Bd7! nor 19.Bg3 Bf7! 20.Bxc7 Bxd4+ 21.Kh1 Qf6 promises anything to White since Black wins back material. A way to fight for the initiative is 19.Rfe1!? Bf7 20.Qa4!, and 20…Ne6 is answered by 21.c5. However, in lieu of 20…Be6 stronger was 20...Qb8!, and Black is near equality.

19...Bf7 20.Qd3 Ne6 21.Be3

White needs to cover the f4-square, while 21.g3? fails to 21…Ng5! 22.Be3 Ne4, and Black takes over the initiative.

21...Nc5! 22.dxc5 Qxd3 23.Rxd3 Bxc3

23...Bxc4? fails to 24.Rd8!, winning.

24.Rxc3 Rxe2 25.Bf4 Rc8 26.Bd6 Be8 27.Rg3 Rxa2 28.Rxf5 Bc6 29.Re5 a5

White to move

This is the case of opposite-colored bishops being harbingers of a draw. Sergey Karjakin tried to break through the opponent's defense, but without success: Black’s task is already quite simple.

30.h4 Re8 31.Rxe8+ Bxe8 32.h5 Bc6 33.h6 a4 34.Re3 Rxg2+ 35.Kf1 Rg5 36.Ke2 Rf5 37.Kd2 Rf2+ 38.Kc1 Rf1+ 39.Kb2 Rf2+ 40.Ka3 Rf3 41.Rxf3 Bxf3 42.Kxa4 Kf7 43.Kb5 Ke6 44.Bf4 g5!

This pawn only interfered with Black's plans: White wanted to put his bishop on g5, creating a threat of breaking through with the king to g7.

45.Bxg5 Kd7 46.Kb6 Kc8 47.c6 Be4 48.c7 Bb1 49.Kc6 Bc2 50.Kd6 Bb1 51.c5 Bc2 52.Bf4 Bb1 53.Ke7 Bc2 54.Kf6 Bb1 55.Kg7 Bc2 56.c6 Bb1 Draw.

The match victory to our team has been fetched by Ian Nepomniachtchi and Nikita Vitiugov. For almost 80 moves Dmitry Jakovenko was trying to grind out his stubborn opponent as Black, but in the end he had to put up with a draw. The score is 3:1 in the Russian team’s favor.

Vitiugov – O`Donnell

Black has given a passive treatment of the opening, allowing the St. Petersburg grandmaster to achieve spatial advantage and launch a kingside offensive. At this moment White, naturally, shies away from the trade of queens and resumes an offensive following a brief regrouping of his forces.

White to move

16.Qh2 Nd7 17.Bf4 Nc5 18.Be2 Ne4 19.Rf1 Nc3 20.Ng1 Nxe2 21.Nxe2 g6

This is forced in view of f2-f3, trapping a queen.

22.hxg6 Qxg6

White to move

Who is the black king most scared of? Your guess is correct if you point out to the a1-rook - its joining in the attack quickly seals the fate of the battle.

23.a4! Bd7 24.Ra3 Qf7 25.Rh1 Rfe8 26.Rh3 Re7 27.Nf3 Qg7 28.Ng5 Black resigns.

A nice textbook victory has been scored by Boris Gelfand. Boris himself joked about preparing material for a new edition of his book "Taking Positional Decisions in Chess.” It was a classical bind of Black’s position in the style of Akiba Rubinstein.

Gelfand – Duran Vega

White to move

17.d4! exd4 18.Nxd4 Bh3?! 19.Bxh3 Qxh3 20.Nf5! Nxd5

Forced in view of a pending 21.Nf4, trapping a queen.

21.cxd5 Ne7 22.Qa4!

Weakening the opponent’s queenside further.

22b5 23.Nxe7+ Rxe7 24.Qc2 Qd7 25.Qd3 Qc8 26.Rc6 Qb7 27.Bd4 a5 28.b3 Re8 29.Rfc1 f6 30.Rb1 Re7 31.Rb2 Re8 32.g4 h6 33.h4 Kf7 34.h5 Kg8

White to move

35.a4! b4 36.Rbc2 Kf7 37.Kf1 Qb8 38.Ra6 Qb7 39.Rxa8 Qxa8 40.Qb5 Qc8 41.Ke2 Re7 42.Kd3 Kf8 43.Rc6 Black resigns.

The Russian women's team going down to team Uzbekistan was quite unexpected. Our opponent’s ratings are clearly understated, and they belong to the old Soviet school of chess at that. The first two boards, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Aleksandra Goryachkina, could do nothing about the viscous defense from their rivals, whereas on boards three and four Valentina Gunina and Natalija Pogonina ran into serious problems. Gunina’s “gravitas” salvaged her a half point, while Natalija filed to do so.

Gevorgyan – Gunina

White to move

35.g4! Ng7 36.Bxh6 Qa5 37.Rf1 Qxa2 38.Ng5 Rc3 39.Bxg7 Bxg7 40.Ndxe6! Qxb3

The knight is not to be taken: 40...fxe6 41.Qxg6 Qxb3 42.Qxe6+ Kh8 43.Qe8+ with a checkmate.

41.Nxf7 Kxf7 42.Ng5+ Kg8 43.Qxg6 Ne7 44.Qe8+ Bf8 45.Qh5 Bg7

White to move


White seals a draw by repetition, although a victory was not that difficult to find already: 46.e6! Rf3 (the only move) 47.Qh7+ Kf8 48.Qe4! Rc3!? (to interpose 49.Qa8+ with 49…Rc8, but…) 49.Qf4+ Ke8 50.Qf7+ Kd8 51.Qxg7, etc.

46...Bf8 47.Qh5 Bg7 48.Qe8+ Draw.

Pogonina – Nadirjanova

Black's position is solid but passive. White could prepare a kingside offensive by buttressing the d4-pawn first, but Natasha initiated activities on the opposite side of the board.

White to move


This pawn was best kept on b3 to help keep control over the vital d5-square.

20Nf6 21.Qc3 Re7 22.Re3 Red7 23.Qa1 b5!

This breakthrough is an equalizer. Unwilling to put up with it, White makes a careless pseudo-active move.

24.Re5? Rxd4! 25.Rc5 Rxc4 26.Rxc4 bxc4 27.Qc3 Rxd1+ 28.Bxd1 Qf4

A blunder on move 24 left White down two pawns. White reclaims one of them, but her surviving fellow is fast towards the queening square.

29.Bf3 e5 30.Bxc6 Ne4 31.Qe3 Nd2 32.Qxa7 c3 33.Ba4

Black to move


33...Qe4! 34.Kh2 Nf1+ 35.Kg1 Qe1 was an immediate decider.

34.Qxd4 exd4 35.Bc2 Nc4 36.b5 Kf6 37.Kf1 Ke5 38.b6 Kd6 39.Ke2 Nxb6 40.Kd3 Kc5, and Black converted her edge.

A modest world champion Ju Wenjun was not playing that day, but still decided to come root for her team. Soon after the start of the game Ju Wenjun entered the press center to answer the question that had interested Eteri Kublashvili for so long: what is the reigning champion thinking about the women's world championship cycle? After all, she will have to defend her recently won title as soon as this spring. 

However, Ju admitted to have never given it a thought. Her goal is to improve chess and conquer new summits, whereas circumchessic topics are of little concern to her. Something to learn from and about the world champion.


Photo by Eteri Kublashvili

The expocenter is teeming with life. It feels like a lot many people than on day one. It is for the first time that Nigel Short has been to the exhibition center, visiting the stand of Arkady Dvorkovich’s team. The GM and presidential candidate tasted a wonderful red wine, which was generously given out to all attendees along with with the white wine, as well as enjoying some games of chess, including against Maia Chiburdanidze. A game between the high-rated guests became viral, so to speak. Coming to see their blitz games was a newly arrived Genna Sosonko, who was sitting next to Mahir Mammedov and actively supporting the 6th world champion. 

Also enjoying blitz games was Nona Gaprindashvili, opposed by a writer David Turashvili and a Secretary General of the Georgian Olympic Committee Emzar Zenaishvili.  

Meanwhile, the stand of Georgios Makropoulos has an artist drawing friendly caricatures for everyone willing. One of such “models” was Arkady Dvorkovich. The pictures below show him as portrayed by his competitors. 


Photo by Eteri Kublashvili

Given below are opinions about the pre-election campaign from the world's leading chess players:

Alexandra Kosteniuk, 12th World Champion: 

I wish Arkady Dvorkovich to win the elections.  All teams are fighting at the World Chess Olympiad, but the elections will see a special struggle.  It is much more difficult than the chess fight because we know what to expect from our opponents and we play by the rules, while the words don’t matter during the game.  Nevertheless, we hope and believe that Arkady Dvorkovich is going to win. 

Boris Gelfand, the 2012 Vice World Champion: 

- I was very happy to learn that Arkady Vladimirovich Dvorkovich has come forward as a FIDE presidential candidate. His joining the work of Russian chess authorities has been extremely beneficial. Not only has he organized ten supertournaments dedicated to Mikhail Tal, participating in which were the world's elite chess players, he has also managed to find energetic people to actively promote chess across Russia. Having discussed these topics with my colleagues on many occasions, their opinion was unanimous: Dvorkovich’s arrival has marked the rise of Russian chess.

It is very important that Arkady Vladimirovich has managed to put together an excellent team this time as well. Mahir Mammedov has organized many top-scale events, suffice it to recall the 2011 Candidate matches in Kazan and the 2013 Candidate matches in London, the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 World Chess Olympiad in Baku, the FIDE Grand Prix stages, the Vugar Gashimov Memorial supertournaments in Shamkir... Both Dvorkovich and Mammedov know to get along with big sponsors. Also in Dvorkovich’s ticket are my colleagues: ex-world champion Zhu Chen and outstanding grandmasters Julio Granda Zuniga and Bachar Kouatly; the latter has long been publishing a popular chess magazine Europe Echecs, as well as having been in charge of the French Chess Federation throughout the recent years.

Meanwhile, opposing this wonderful team are people with reputation varying from neutral to dubious, who care only about themselves and their satellites. Long years in the FIDE office have only taught them to spend money brought into chess by Arkady Dvorkovich and Mahir Mammedov. However, it is unclear how a famous English organizer Malcolm Pein has come to align himself with them -- it's a mystery for me. It seems to me that taking an opinion poll among chess players would now give an approximately 95:5 result in Dvorkovich’s favor in terms of percentage correlation. Nevertheless, elections are decided by delegates casting their votes, and I do not know whether the opinion of professional chess players does or does not matter to them. If you ask me, I would, without any hesitation, vote for Arkady Vladimirovich, a man with an excellent reputation in the world of chess, who has put together an outstanding team that will definitely raise chess to a new level.

Thirty two years in the FIDE office have honed Makropoulos's skills to perfection in staging elections and burdening tournament budgets with payments for himself and his friends. While excellent at spending, he has never actually demonstrated his efficiency in attracting financial means. The same is true about almost every member of his team.

It pleases me to see that Nigel Short and Arkady Dvorkovich are sharing a similar vision of the main problems haunting chess. Nigel is a legendary chess player, the 1993 vice world champion, but has yet to show his skills as an organizer. On the other hand, Nigel’s great enthusiasm is obvious for everyone to see as he has traveled to over 100 countries with lectures, speeches and simuls. Well done - big kudos to him! Let us hope that an experienced organizer Arkady Dvorkovich and a great chess player Nigel Short will win the elections and succeed in changing the world of chess for the better.