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International Grandmasters Vlad Tkachiev and Alexey Kuzmin will answer your chess-related questions on a regular basis.


Tkachiev - Topalov


This might not be the right place for it, but could you describe what happened in your game against Topalov at the Rapid World Championship? When did you think you could actually win it? :-)

What happened against Topalov?Well,he lost.


Well,after the series of unfortunate,not really deserved losses before the game against Topalov I did feel myself at perfect shape anymore.So,starting from some point I was pretty much sure to lose another game-this time in a rather normal manner.First ray of hope came up when he started to  move forward his pawn g,thus allowing me to blockade his passed pawns.Some drawing chances,even big ones,suddenly appeared.And then,when he allowed me to move my pawn to a7 I understood he would rather loose this game  than male a draw.So,final moves did not surprise me anymore!Still,what happened is quite incredible,of course!!!!



Sicilian theory

I have a pretty specific opening question: After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 Qb6 7.Ndb5 a6 8.Be3 Qa5 9.Nd4, can black play 9.-Nxe4 ? It seems that it hardly occurs in practice, it looks risky, but is there a direct refutation?

Rauzer Variation


I would not recommend to play 9...Ne4 with black.Acoording to the the practice after 10.Qf3f5 is just bad because of 11.Nc6bc12.0-0-0 and white's advantage in development is overwhelming.Houdini proposes 10...Ng5 or 10..Nf6 instead,but in both cases seems black is very far from solving all the problems:10...Ng511.Bg5Nd412.Bf7Kd813.Qf4Nc214.Ke2Qb415.Qb4Nb416.Rad1 with initiative or 10...Nf611.Nc6Qc712.Ne7Be713.Bd4 with a nice positional advantage due to the weakness of d5 square.I took a look at these lines quite quickly ,but do believe the general assesment of this line as dubious is correct.





What would u think of a setup like - 1.Nf3 d5 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 Nf6.

How white should react ? Can black obtain an ok position ?


Sorry for a late reply!How white should react?-well,it's a big question.I suppose the main move here is 4.0-0 and then black is having a choice between 2 most principled set-ups:whether to play 4...g6 or 4...e6-depends of taste.In both cases white is in another crossroads:to opt for 5.c4 or 5.d3 with and idea to prepare e2-e4 later on.And then...a lot of theory starts,but I can assure you black may perfectly obtain a good position!

Grunfeld -- Russian System

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dc4 6.Qc4 O-O 7.e4 a6 8.Be2 b5 9.Qb3 Nc6 10. e5 Be6 11.ef6 Bb3 12.fg7 Kg7 13.ab3 Nd4 14.Nd4 Qd4

2 moves, 15.O-O and 15.Be3

What is your opinion of the position after the 14th move? Is White able to coordinate his pieces sufficiently, or does it seem that Black has adequate play with his pawns? It would be very insightful to see what a strong player would make of the position. Do you think Black has sufficient winning chances?

Grunfeld-Russian System

Thanks for an interesting question.As far as I know the most important game on this subject was Bologan-Svidler,2006,after which this subline is considered not good enough for black.In the other hand,it's not 100% sure black is not having some additional resources.Generally speaking,3 pieces shall garantee good prospects for an attack,especially due to the weakness of black squares around the king on g7.

Sharp pawn endgame - can it be evaluated? With Computer?

I have a question about this pawn endgame:
8/7p/4k3/1p2ppP1/1P5P/8/P1K5/8 w - - 0 38

the diagram is shown here, where I asked same question, but got no full answer:

White to move, here is a brief summary of my analysis where I attempted to determine exact evaluation. Number of pawns is equal but White's 2 pawns on the queenside are held by one Black's pawn, so in a sense Black has an extra pawn on the rest of the board.
`1. a4` with pawn breaks on both sides of the board by both White and Black (!) leads to a difficult queen endgame for White.
`1. Kc3` (played by me in the game) is a blunder that should lose after 1...f4! since then Black puts pawns on e4 and f4 and goes to the kingside with his king to pickup White's pawns.
`1. Kd3` is possibly best as now `1...f4` is met with `2.Ke4`. But Black instead plays `1...Kf7` and manoeuvres, waiting for zugzwang. Can Black win? Can a computer engine be used in this day and age to determine exactly if this position is a draw or win for Black?

This is a pawn endgame - which are supposed to be evaluated precisely... I feel this is likely a draw, but can't prove exactly. What would Mr. Grigoriev say?

Thank you!