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Round 6 Review
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Kasimdzhanov-Wang Yue

The Chinese grandmaster once again showed his splendid positional skill. Playing the fashionable line of the Slav defense, he selected the variation that caused a lot of trouble for Black recently, and proved that the only reason for trouble was poor play. Only Wang Yue was able to coordinate his pieces and defend his position properly. I believe Kasimdzhanov had a slight advantage after the opening, but cannot suggest any ideas of increasing it in the subsequent game.
Wang Yue’s fine maneuvers 24…Ne8!, 25…f6 and 26…h5 created an unbreakable fortress.
Rustam KASIMZHANOV: - The opening we have played is a very serious system I have applied a great many times in my practice. I didn’t expect The Black Bg4 in the opening, because Wang Yue used to play Bf5 in this position on which I counted. In the emerged position the White haven’t got large advantage. Later on each of us tried to do something, but the position hasn’t surpassed the normal equality framework.
Wang YUE: - The Black defense was good enough, it was difficult for the White to fight for the initiative. That’s why there should be no questions regarding the result – it’s an obvious draw.
This was a very exciting game. The players went for the Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez, and avoided trading a single pawn for quite a while. Akopian pleased the crowd with his attempt to seize the control of the light squares by 21.Bxc5! However, later he surprised everyone by 25.cxd5?!, when he had a much stronger and more natural option: 25.exd5, and the h-pawn joins the attack together with the cavalry.
Alekseev skillfully utilized the opponent’s inaccuracy, and developed strong queenside initiative by 25…c4!, 26…Bf8!
Realizing that quiet play will only lead to a disaster, Vladimir carried out a swift counterattack (31.a3), sacrificed an exchange and broke through in the center, but... Evgeny calmly parried all the threats, and proved that extra material is more important.
Vladimir AKOPIAN: - I think that even after the 31st move the White could play quite normally but my performance then leaves much to be desired: I was not accurate. I do consider even now that the critical position was somewhere near equal. I just had to make the right moves at some point. I spent too much time in search of some possibilities and therefore at the moment when I had to play properly, I didn’t have enough time.
Evgeny ALEXEEV: - The position was double-edged. The White in my opinion began a combination with 31.a3. I had complicated positions though, when I didn’t know what to do further.

The Ukrainian player made an attempt to rehabilitate the branch of the Berlin Variation that suffered in Jakovenko-Wang Yue game. Pavel’s innovation linked with trading on g4 followed by 16…f5 provoked great interest among the titled spectators. Alexander reacted with dignity: he kept an extra pawn and rushed across the board with his king, not being afraid of numerous checks. When the situation became critical, Eljanov sacrificed another pawn (39…Ke5!), creating serious counterplay. Despite all his effort, there was no easy salvation, and Pavel had to move to a theoretically drawn but very difficult rook ending without two pawns, where he failed to save half a point.
The critical moment occurred on the move 67. Almost any waiting move such as 67…Rh2 would keep the balance, as if the White’s king would come to b5, Black could simply give a check from the rear. After 67…Rh5? 68.Kb5! White managed to push the Black’s king to the edge of the board, and eventually won.
Pavel ELJANOV: - I was not going to get into the ending with opponent’s “a” and “c” pawns because one can easily mistaken and lose during time-trouble, though chances are 50 to 50. But that ending finally occurred. I’ve overestimated the opportunities during the game and thought that I could draw easily. I couldn’t saw any sufficient nuances.
Alexander GRISCHUK: - At one moment I seemed to me like a bad joke: for a month I’ve played two games with Pavel. Both were almost won but the first ends with “f” and “h” pawns, another one with “c” and “a” pawns. That is almost the same endings but symmetrical. It is so mystic! At the end that joke turned out to be bad for Pavel. In the first game I couldn’t overcome but now I won in a tied ending.

It is amazing how strong drawing tendencies in chess are! Even after obvious blunders, and there is no doubt that the horrible 44.f5? belongs to this category, one can still defend successfully. In this game Ivan was attacking in his usual style, but at some point became overambitious. However, after blundering a pawn, he managed to put himself together and save the game. Vugar could keep practical winning chances by 51…Ne6+! The pawn ending would be completely hopeless for White (curiously, the players disputed this subject after the game), however, I failed to find a victory for Black with the minor pieces on the board.
After Black played 51…a5? (this move deserves a question mark from the practical point of view), Cheparinov found a nice saving resource – 52.c4!
Both players looked very disappointed after the game – and one can easily understand them both.
Vugar GASHIMOV: - I’m not very confident about the h5 move in the opening. Though White had the lead the game remained balanced. We kept on playing but Ivan decided to checkmate quickly by 44.f5??. Of course it was a blunder. After that unfortunately I was inaccurate too. I had better chances to win than Ivan to draw.
Ivan CHEPARINOV: - I think that after the opening the White had a better hand. During the game I struggled for initiative but Vugar was defending well. I think that the draw is a regular result. But my mistake on the 44th move is unexplainable. I hadn’t seen an obvious 44. Qe5 counter strike. It seems to me that all the spectators have seen that childish move. It must be the tiredness that redounded upon me. After that my position was lost but luckily I managed to survive.

An exciting opening duel. In the Marshall Attack Bacrot employed a new move 19.Bxd5 (Anand played 19.a4) and declared his aggressive intentions by the ambitious 21.b3!? However, there was no follow up to this declaration!
I think that instead of starting massive exchanges on the move 25, Etienne should have played the attacking 25.c4! If 25…bxc4, then 26.Nxc4 is unpleasant for White. In the case of 25…Qf5 26.Rxe6 Qxe6 White can break the enemy structure by 27.d5! cxd5 28.cxb5! Capturing on e6 with the pawn creates additional weaknesses in the Black’s camp. Having avoided this reef, Inarkiev held a draw.
Ernesto INARKIEV: I played the Marshall variant, using the rare move. I don’t think Etienne could expect this. The critical moment was after the 18th move Ra7, I can say that this move is a kind of novelty, although one could see it earlier. The opponent decided not to mix with possible complications and began to simplify the position. As for the question about the native walls helping me, so here if compared to the Baku Grand Prix tournament the strain is completely different. It means I feel more confident and calm. As a matter of fact, my performance shows that I play here more densely than in Baku.
Etienne BACROT: - I didn’t expect the Marshall variant. It was a huge surprise for me.

The leaders played a disappointing game. Teimour probably did not expect his opponent selecting the Petroff. The Azerbaijani grandmaster played a well-known variation with confidence, but failed to show any new ideas later on. The Russian used a well-known scheme to force simplifications, and created an unbreakable fortress.
Dmitry JAKOVENKO: - I hope to have surprised Teimur with the Petroff. I actually couldn’t remember the exact way the Black play here. Further on after the powerful a5 move the Black got rid of their only weakness and didn’t have any more difficulties.
Teimur RADJABOV: - I counted on unexpectedness, my hope was that Dima would not remember some of the variants. I parsed this variant long ago, not in the pre-game preparation. The position was estimated by me and during my home analysis, as close to an equal one, so there was space to play and to test and maybe somehow torture my opponent. But I failed to do that, Dima played rather accurately and I don’t see the way the White could enhance their game.

This amazing game can be compared only to Medieval ceremonial dances: no rush, and a lot of elegance and provenance. The board was locked by the pawn chains from one side to another, and the players, despite their wonderful maneuvering, failed to open up the game. Of course, they could have found the way if they didn’t show such a great respect to each other. For instance, Black could undermine the enemy center by c7-c5 on several occasions; however, all these attempts were not clearly beneficial. Peter and Shakhriyar played a very long game (110 moves!), but the outcome was almost doubtless. In the end Leko looked for the smallest of edges, but failed to shake the myth of the drawing death of chess. Image
Shakhriyar MAMEDYAROV: - Yes, my opening of the game was not very successful. The Black should have prepared c5, for the opponent was to attack me at some square. I think the Black had the opportunity to play for victory during the game.
Peter LEKO: - I consider my opening with the Black quite OK. After the opening I didn’t know what to do and played g4, Rg5, but the opponent played very well. The White probably don’t have advantage in this position. At some moment I was going to propose a draw because of a repeated position but the opponent avoided it.







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