To Mess Things Up and Wonder, or to Forget and Blunder?
Dmitry Kryakvin’s report about Rounds 8-9 of the Superfinals
The second rest day had an impact on the round eight that followed. There exists a bad omen in that a tournament participant’s courtesy of giving a simul would be paid back with punishment the following day.
This time it was Vladimir Fedoseev taking up a noble cause of giving a simul to children, while the next day had a rating favorite in store for him.
Artemiev – Fedoseev
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Nxc3 6.bxc3 g6 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Be2 Bg7 9.d4 0–0 10.0–0
There has arisen a popular tabiya of the anti-Grünfeld, in which the elite second players have tried various moves, such as 10...Qa5, 10...Nc6, 10...Bc6, 10...Bf5. However, Fedoseev has own opinion about this line and opted for
10…Qc7, obviously basing his opinion on Malakhov’s games against the Chinese GM, which saw 11.Ba3 b6 12.Rc1 Nc6!? 13.dxc5 Rfd8 14.Qb3 Na5 15.cxb6 axb6, and Black got his usual Grünfeld compensation for the missing pawn. But Artemiev improves on White’s previous play.
11.e4! Bg4 12.Bg5 Rd8
It was probably worth going for 12...cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Rc1 Qd6. The text submits an initiative to White in a short while.
13.Rc1 Nc6 14.d5 Na5 15.Nd2! Bxe2 16.Qxe2 c4 17.Nf3 b5 18.Rfd1 Re8
The engine votes for 18...Nb7 19.e5 f6!? in an attempt to stop White's onslaught.
19...f6 20.Bf4 is no longer working for Black.
20.Rb1 a6 21.a4!
White gets at the b5-pawn, and Fedoseev comes up with a pawn sac to mount his knight on d3 in a Kasparov-like style so as to prevent his queenside from caving in.
21…Nc5!? 22.axb5 axb5 23.Rxb5 Nd3 24.e6!
White’s threats are rather potent, and 24...f5 runs into a simple 25.Ne1. Vladimir does not back out of going all out and taking the brunt of the battle.
24…Bxc3 25.exf7+ Kxf7 26.Qe4
The engine's harsh 26.Qe6+! Kg7 27.Bh6+ Kh8 (27...Kxh6 28.Qh3+ Kg7 29.Ng5 with a double threat of checkmate and a fork) 28.Qf7 was not executed over the board, but Artemiev’s human move keeps the sting of the attack with White.
26...Qc8 27.h4 Ra6 28.Rdb1 Bf6 29.Rb6 Rxb6 30.Rxb6 Qf5 31.Qxc4
Black's pride is down, and he has to send the knight back.
Black commits his last blunder in severe time trouble. It is clear that after 32...Bxe5 33.d6+ Qe6 34.Qxe6+ Kxe6 35.dxe7+ White is up two pawns and that Black's attempt at Bg7 and h6 will be stopped by h4-h5, but it would have at least required Artemiev to demonstrate his technique. Now the game ends immediately.
33.Bxf6 exf6 34.Rb7+ Kf8 35.d6 Qxd6
Or 35...Qe6 36.Qc7.
In the men's section Kirill Alekseenko missed his chances against Alexey Sarana, and Evgeny Tomashevsky, down an exchange, fought back heroically against Alexander Motylev - just one inaccuracy from the national team coach was enough to engineer a fortress.
Still, Tomashevsky was not destined to lead alone as he was caught up with by Nikita Vitiugov.
Predke – Vitiugov
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Nc6 8.e3 g5 9.Bg3 h5
This interesting and combative line is at the peak of popularity at the moment. Black plunges headlong into the attack right out of the opening, and especially instructive is the following line 10.Bb5 h4 11.Be5 Rh6!? 12.h3 Ne4 13.Nge2 Bf5, as in Sjugirov – Yu Yangyi of 2018, in which the rook does an excellent job along the sixth rank. 10.h3 Ne4, 10.Bd3 Qe7 has also been tried, but Alexandr Predke’s approach is more principled.
10.h4 Ne4 11.Bh2 Qe7
One of Tomilova’s games saw 11...Bf5 12.Bd3 gxh4 13.Nge2, but Vitiugov prefers a different path.
After having given it a long thought, Black refuses from 12...Nxd4 13.Qd3 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3
13.Nf3 g4 14.Nd2 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Qxh4 16.Bb5 Bd7 17.0–0 a6 18.Bd3 Be6
This is a critical position for White! The commentators were unanimously claiming that White should have a potent compensation after 19.c4!?. Meanwhile, after
19.Nb3?! Bb6 20.c4 dxc4 21.Bxc4 Bxc4 22.Qxc4
Vitiugov reacted in a very subtle way:
22…Qe7 23.d5 Ne5 24.Qa4+ Kf8
Predke ditched another pawn in search of counterplay, but it had no desired effect on the opponent whatsoever. Having collaborated with Victor Korchnoi, Vitiugov handles up material positions brilliantly.
25.d6!? cxd6 26.Qb4 Ba7 27.Rad1 Rh6! 28.Rd5 Rc8 29.Rfd1 Rc4! 30.Qd2 Rg6! 31.Bxe5 dxe5 32.Rd7 Qe6 33.Rxb7 Bb6! Black has mobilized, and after 34.Qd7 g3! took over and converted his piece activity into a deserved point.
Nikita and Vlad gave a hard time to their opponents.
In the women's tournament, all six games could have been decisive. Aleksandra Goryachkina pardoned Margarita Potapova for her endgame error, and the audience witnessed the queen and knight vs. queen ending, which Potapova managed to hold.
Elena Tomilova found it hard to play on her birthday. Especially when you face Olga Girya as Black! Girya got a slight edge out of the opening, and her technical performance helped materialize it into a full point.
Girya – Tomilova
Should White rush with advancing the f-pawn, converting might run into more difficulties than meet the eye as the king moving ahead runs into Rg1.
The march of the king loses either: 52...Ke5 53.Kg5 a2 54.f4+ Kd4 55.g4 Kc3 56.f5 Kb2 57.f6 Rf1 58.Kg6 a1Q 59.Rxa1 Kxa1 60.g5 Kb2 61.Kg7 Kc3 62.f7.
53.Kf5 Kf8 54.g4 Ke7 55.g5 Rf1 56.f4 Rf3 57.Ra7+ Kf8 58.Ke5 Rb3 59.Kf6 Rb6+ 60.Kf5 Rb3 61.Kg6 Rb6+ 62.Kh5 Rb3 63.f5 Rb5 64.Kg6 Black resigns.
The weekend was marked by the announcement of the teams’ lineups for the European Championships. The ETCC organizers have set the most strict deadline, and the Russian teams headquarters had to announce the lineups right during the tournament, and not at all after it ended... With only five boards in the women’s team, we have as many as seven worthy candidates. Naturally, those who did and did not make it into the team had utterly different mindsets going into their games.
Alina Kashlinskaya defeated Anastasia Bodnaruk over a lengthy queen ending, and Valentina Gunina inflicted a tricky tactical blow to Polina Shuvalova.
Shuvalova – Gunina
22.e5 Qh4 23.Rf1 would have been only the starting point of an exciting fight to come.
22.Rd1? Qxc3! 23.Rxd8+ Kxd8 24.Qxf4
Or 24.Qxc3 Ne2+ 25.Kd2 Nxc3 26.Kxc3 Bxe4.
24...Qe1+ 25.Kb2 Qxe4, and Gunina went on to convert her extra pawn.
It was with enormous pressure that the ex-world champion took the fight to her opponent.
Kosteniuk – Pogonina
23.Ne5! Nxe5 24.Rxe5 Raa8
There is no taking the pawn: 24...Qxd4 25.R5e4 Qd7 26.Re7 Qd2 27.Rxf7.
25...Rad8 runs into the issues with the bishop: 26.f3 Bh3+ 27.Kh2, and even such a superb defender as Pogonina failed to come up with any ideas to contain White's activity.
If 26...Rab8, then 27.Re7.
27.Qxb7 Qd6 28.Qb6, and the white queenside pawns had a decisive say in the outcome of the game.
Dasha Charochkina defeated Zarina Shafigullina.
Charochkina – Shafigullina
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 Qb6
The opening is yet another Charochkina’s miraculous handling of the Trompowsky. The last year's edition of the Alekhine Memorial had Kryakvin- Belous that developed as follows: 7.b3 e6 8.e4 exd5 9.exd5 Bd6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.c4? Qd6!, and in order not to resign immediately, the painful deliberations convinced White to put up with 12.Qe2 0–0 13.Qe3.
7.Bc1 e6 8.e4 exd5 9.exd5 Qd6?
Now the a1-rook is out of threat, which renders the queen move underwhelming.
10.c4, and the black queenside remained forever underdeveloped.
In round nine, Nikita Vitiugov could have taken the sole lead. The St. Petersburg GM pressed Dmitry Jakovenko's position, but the latter once again confirmed his reputation of an endgame specialist. Vitiugov’s play deserves the most king words.
However, there is no lack of those eager to finish first, and it was Ernesto Inarkiev who clinched into the share.
Sarana – Inarkiev
68.Kf1 f2 69.Rb8 is a theoretical draw.
68...f2+ 69.Kf1 Kf3 70.Rd8 Re2!
There are no stalemate ideas that work out for White in this position.
71.Rd3+ Re3 72.Rc3
After 72.Rd1 Black has a choice between a caveman’s approach with 72...Re1+73.Rxe1 fxe1Q+ 74.Kxe1 Kg2 and a more aesthetic 72...Kg3 73.Rc1 f3 74.Rd1 Re8 75.Rc1 Rh8.
72...Kg3 White resigns.
This, it's anybody’s tournament with two rounds to go! Participants form a tight group, although the number of candidates fighting for the championship title is already limited. However, the bronze medal is still an open contest!
1-3. Evgeny Tomashevsky, Nikita Vitiugov, Ernesto Inarkiev - 5.5; 4-5. Maxim Matlakov, Kirill Alekseenko - 5; 6-8. Alexander Motylev, Alexey Dreev, Alexandr Predke - 4.5; 9. Vladislav Artemiev - 4; 10-11. Vladimir Fedoseev, Alexey Sarana - 3.5, 12. Dmitry Jakovenko - 3.
In the women's section, Pogonina – Kashlinskaya ended in a draw. More difficulties were in store for those closing the tournament table as Zarina Shafigullina came under heavy fire from Polina Shuvalova, and Elena Tomilova missed a tricky central counterblow from Daria Charochkina. Charochkina is superb in this competition.
However, a real revelation of the event is Margarita Potapova.Potapova’s exceptional fighting qualities are beyond doubt.
Bodnaruk – Potapova
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.0–0 b5 9.Qf3 Qc7 10.Qg3 0–0 11.Bh6 Ne8 12.Rad1
A rusty line of the Sozin Attack. Black needs to be on the alert so as not to go down immediately, which is the case with 12...Nc6? 13.Nxc6 Qxc6 14.Nd5! Bd8 15.Rd3 Bb7 16.Rc3 Qd7 17.Rc7!! Bxc7 18.Nf6+! However, Garry Kasparov and Boris Gelfand have left much legacy behind for the players of the future.
12…Bd7 13.f4 Nc6 14.Nxc6
In a famous game Morozevich - Kasparov, played in Astana in 2001, there followed 14.f5 Nxd4 15.Rxd4 Bf6 16.Rd3 Be5 17.Qg4 b4, and a legendary champion eventually took the upper hand.
Bodnaruk opts for a trendier line, the cutting edge of the modern theory.
14...Bxc6 15.f5 Kh8 16.f6 gxh6 17.fxe7 Qxe7
Kasimdzhanov – Gelfand of 2014 and Murtazin – Tsvetkov of 2018 tested 18.Qf2! Ng7 19.Qb6 - the theory of this line is just gathering momentum, and there is still a lot of computer analysis to be done here.
18.Qe3?! Rg8 19.Rf2 Rg7 20.Rdf1 Qa7! 21.Qxh6 b4!
It is in the nature of this line that a single inaccuracy from White was enough for Black to eliminate the central pawn and wall up the Sozin bishop.
22.Ne2 Bxe4 23.Ng3 Bg6 24.Kh1 d5, and Black went on to convert his edge.
Valentina Gunina has been performing unusually solid throughout the entire tournament.
Gunina – Kosteniuk
White's clock displays 30 seconds. White is down a piece. The white rook is en prise. The attack has bogged down. More than enough for any mortal to just resign. It may be anybody else, but not Gunina.
31.Bf2!! cxd1Q+ 32.Rxd1 Bd5
Despite being up material, Black's task is not that simple. If the pawn is defended, then after 32...Qc6 33.e6 Kxe6 (33...Rf6? 34.Bh4 Nxh4 35.Qxg7+) 34.Qg6+ Ke7 35.Bh4+ Rf6 36.Qxf5 Kf7 37.Bxf6 Qxf6 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39.Qe8+ Kh7 40.Rd8 Bc6 41.Qg8+ Kg6 42.g3 White is only down a piece and has a draw in her pocket. The engine says no fears after 32...Qe2, but it does not feel like that at all. Kosteniuk makes the most logical move from a human point of view.
The engine keeps insisting on its own: 33...Ke8 34.Bxf8 Qe2. However, the idea does not sit well with one who has suffered so much for this very rook.
White can win back a lot of material: 34.Bxf8 Kxf8 35.Qxf5+ Qxf5 36.Bxf5 Nc6 37.Rxd5 Ne7 or 34.Qxf5+ Qxf5 35.Bxf5, but this is a risk-free ending for Black. This is when Gunina uncorked yet another practical chance. At this moment there was not that much time on Kosteniuk’s clock either.
34.e6+?!? Bxe6 35.Bg4
35...Kf6!! 36.Bxf8 Qe3+ 37.Kh1 Nd7 is objectively winning, whereas 35...Ng3! 36.Bh5+ Kf6 37.Bd4+ Qxd4+! 38.Rxd4 Nxh5 gives an edge, but is there anyone capable of unearthing something like this in severe time pressure? A simple defensive move by the knight proved insufficient – the energy of white pieces and their owner fused in the last deadly attack against the black king.
36.Bh5+! Kf6 37.Bd4+ Ke7 38.Qxg7+ Rf7 39.Bf6+! Kd7 40.Bxf7 Kc6
There is no defending the king: 40...Bxf7 41.Qxf7+ Kc8 42.Qg8+ Kb7 43.Qb3+ Kc8 44.Qc3+ Nc4 45.Rc1 – and the black queenside remained forever underdeveloped.
41.Bxe6 Qxe6 42.Be5! Ne8 43.Rc1+ Kb5 44.Rb1+ Kc5 45.Qb7 Black resigns.
Whatever else, Mikhail Tal would have definitely admired the attacking sequence!
Aleksandra Goryachkina managed to keep the intrigue alive by outplaying Olga Girya.
Goryachkina – Girya
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 e6 8.Ne5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Nd7 11.Bf4 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Qa5+ 13.c3 Nf6 14.0–0 Ng4 15.Rad1 Nxe5 16.dxe5 Rd8 17.Qxd8+ Qxd8 18.Rxd8+ Kxd8 19.Rd1+ Kc7 20.h5 Be7 21.Kf1 Rd8 22.Rxd8 Kxd8 23.Ke2 f6 24.Nf1
Now 24...fxe5! 25.Kf3 Kd7 26.Ke4 Kd6 27.Nd2 b5 28.Nf3 Bf6 seems correct, and there is no way of forcing Black into zugzwang.
24…Kd7?! 25.exf6 gxf6
25...Bxf6 is possible, but you are welcome to try your hand in playing this position against Goryachkina yourself.
26.g4! f5 27.Ne3 fxg4 28.Nxg4 Bf8 29.Kd3 b5 30.Ke4
Defending the h6-pawn has slowly turned into a nightmare, and the last chance to hold it was in 30...Ke7 31.f4 Bg7 32.f5 c5, preventing the infiltration with the last strength. Girya’s gamble on her king’s counter-infiltration does not materialize.
31.f4 a4 32.f5 exf5+ 33.Kxf5 a3 34.b3 Kd6 35.Kg6 Kd5 36.Nxh6 b4 37.c4+ Kd4 38.Nf5+ Kc3 39.Kf7, and the white pawn is the first to queen.
Standings after Round 9 in the women's section: 1. Olga Girya - 7; 2-5. Natalija Pogonina, Alina Kashlinskaya, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Valentina Gunina - 6; 6. Margarita Potapova - 4.5; 7. Daria Charochkina - 4; 8-9. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Polina Shuvalova - 3.5; 10. Anastasia Bodnaruk - 3; 11. Elena Tomilova - 2.5; 12. Zarina Shafigullina - 2.
Despite this mishap, Olga Girya’s safety cushion is still there; however, her pursuers are now only one step behind!
We will know our champions soon! See you!
Photos by Dmitry Kryakvin