Author: Alexey Kuzmin
Fedorchuk,S (2634) - Efimenko,Z (2689)
ch-UKR Kiev, 04.08.2012
The decisive events in this game took place when there were only seven pieces left on the board, and the move count had exceeded a hundred.
The siege of Black’s fortress was long…
The “three vs two” structure arose soon after the time control
... 44.Bxd6 Diagram
Another twenty moves later the dark-squared bishops left the board:
… 64.Bxe5 Qxe5 Diagram
And then the queens:
… 75… Qxf2 76.Kxf2 Diagram
Another pair of pawns was soon exchanged and then for 25 moves Efimenko successfully held the defence in a “two vs. one” ending.
But nevertheless he wavered!
It’s not immediately obvious why Black ends up in zugzwang after this move.
The outcome of the struggle depends on whether the white king can break through to g5. In that case White wins the h5-pawn and the game by transferring the knight to f6 or f4. If the white king manages to occupy the f6-square then it’s also a win: all White has to do then is give a knight check from f7 or f5. As exchanging the bishop for a knight leads to a lost pawn ending the black king will be forced to leave h6 and the white monarch will have an unimpeded passage to g5.
It was possible to retreat the king to h6 or g7 - 107...Kg7 108.Kf4 Kh6 109.Ke5 Kg6=, or to manoeuvre the bishop 107...Bd1 108.Ke5 Bg4 and again the key position arises with White to move. It was even possible to give check, but the retreat 107… Bd7 led to defeat – 108.Nf4+ Kh6 109.Ke5 and the king gets to f6…
108.Kf4! Kg6 109.Ke5 Zugzwang!
109… Kg7 110.Nf6!
Zahar didn’t force his opponent to demonstrate the following variation on the board: 110… Be2 111.Kf5 Kh6 112.Ng8+ Kg7 113.Ne7 Kh6 114.Kf6 Bd3 115.Nf5+ and resigns 1–0
Perhaps another reason Fedorchuk was so insistent was because he couldn’t forget the unfortunate ending he played in the fifth round…
Zubov,A (2617) - Fedorchuk,S A (2634)
ch-UKR Kiev, 31.07.2012
With his last move Black rashly moved his king onto the fifth rank - 50… Kf6-e5. To be fair we should note that he was already in a tough position.
51.Rxc5! Rxc5 52.b7 Rb5 53.Ra5! Rxa5 54.b8Q+ Ke4 [54...Kd5 55.Qd8+] 55.Qb4+ Ke3 56.Qe1+ 1–0
There was also an interesting endgame at the end of the encounter between the future winners of the Biel tournament. Moreover, the Chinese grandmaster, who ultimately finished first, ended up on the receiving end.
Wang Hao (2739) - Carlsen,M (2837)
45th Biel GM, 30.07.2012
White’s careless last move - 46.Nd3-b2 allowed Carlsen to use tactics to hold onto what had seemed to be an absolutely defenceless pawn.
You can’t take the knight - 47.Nxb6?? a3–+
47.Kf2 Nfd7 48.Ke3 Kf8 49.f4 f5 50.exf5 exf5 51.Kd3 Ke7 52.Na3 Nf6 53.N
bc4 Nxc4 54.Nxc4 Ne4 Diagram
This eases White’s task. After 55.Kc2 Nd6 56.b6 Kd7 57.Na5 Kc8 58.Kb2 the outcome still wouldn’t have been so clear.
55...Kd8!–+ 56.g4 fxg4 57.Nxg4
Again, after taking the knight 57.Kxe4 a3 the pawn can’t be stopped.
57...Nd6 58.b6 Kc8 59.Ne3 Kb7 60.Nd5 Kc6 0–1
The Russian Championship Superfinal didn’t spoil us with decisive games this week. Each point or, on the contrary, loss rearranged the grandmasters in the tournament table like a fast lift in a high-rise hotel. Imagine how annoying it must be to lose in such a situation when you had an extra queen! Well, not an entirely extra queen, but nevertheless…
Alekseev,E (2673) - Vitiugov,N (2705)
Superfinal 2012 (1.2), 03.08.2012
The white king is in a mating net and the quickest path to the goal was 80...Qe3+! 81.Kg4 Nh5! and there’s no acceptable defence against the threat of 82…Qf4+ 83.Kh3 Qf3+ 84.Ng3 Nf4 mate.
81.Kg2 g4 82.Ng5 Nf4+ 83.Kg3 Nh5+ 84.Kg2 Nf4+ 85.Kg3 Qf1
By this point Evgeny’s last-ditch defence had already held for forty moves, with a rook and knight for the queen. Nevertheless, the position was still objectively lost, although it required accurate play from Black.
Vitiugov needed to find the tricky variation: 86...Kf5! creating the threat of mate 87.Kh4 Qg2 88.Nd6+ Kxf6 89.Rf7+ Kg6! 90.Rxf4 Qxh2+ 91.Kxg4 Qg2+ 92.Kh4 Qg5+ 93.Kh3 Qxf4, when he would be left with a queen against a couple of knights.
Instead of that he gave his opponent a first present:
Black’s pieces have clearly become entangled – there’s no longer any question of winning…
87... Qg1 88.Nxg4 Qe1+??
And here’s the second present! There was still a draw after 88...Nxf6 89.Nexf6 b4.
Just look how things have turned around: now White has everything defended while Black is attacked everywhere.
89...Qc1 90.Nxh5 Qg5+ 91.Kg3 Qxh5 92.Rg7+ Kf5 93.f7 Qh8 94.Rg8 Qc3+ 95.Kh4 Qe1+ 96.Kh5 1–0
New in the opening
Unquestionably the most significant novelty this week was played in the game
Gunina,V (2507) - Kosintseva,N (2524) [D38]
ch-RUS w Moscow, 04.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 c5 8.e3 c4 9.Be2 g5 10.Bg3 Ne4 11.Rc1 Qa5 12.Ne5 Nc6 13.0–0 Bxc3 14.bxc3 0–0 15.Bf3 Nxg3 16.fxg3 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Be6 18.Bh5 Qxa2 19.Rf6 Qb2
It’s possible to say a couple of words about the pre-history of the position that’s arisen.
I won’t try and judge why the variation with 8…c4 is popular precisely in women’s chess. It seems there’s something in it that appeals to their spirit! It can’t be an accident that it’s started to be played regularly by Hou Yifan, Humpy Koneru and Nadezhda Kosintseva.
This particular variation had already appeared in the games of both Gunina and Kosintseva earlier this year. Nadezhda’s opponents Khurtsidze and Arabidze preferred to deviate at an early stage with 9.Ne5 and 9.Qa4+. But Valentina Gunina went much further in the main line. It was only instead of 15.Bf3 than on the fifteenth move against Tan Zhongyi she’d played 15.Qe1… and soon ended up “worse”.
As for this position: it had occurred only once, but in a World Championship match! In the game Koneru,H - Hou,Y /Tirana 2011 the Indian allowed her opponent to activate her bishop - 20.Rxh6 Bf5! 21.Rf6 Be4 22.Bf3 Bd3! and Black seized the initiative.
A principled improvement. Black’s position looks very dangerous. After any “generally-strengthening” continuations like 20...Kg7 or 20...Rae8 White would reply 21.Kh2, preparing the decisive storm.
Kosintseva tried to generate counterplay by attacking the e5-pawn, but it clearly comes too late.
21.Qf3 Qc7 22.Rf1!
It seems as though Black’s position is already hopeless.
22... Qxe5?! 23.Bxf7+ Bxf7 24.Rxf7 Rfe8 25.Qh5
The black king is cut-off from its army by the f-file. He can’t be saved.
25...Re6 26.R1f5 Qxe3+ 27.Kh2 Qe4 28.hxg5 Qe2 29.Rg7+ Kxg7 30.Qf7+ Kh8 31.g6 Rxg6 32.Qxg6 Qe7 33.Rf7 Qxf7 34.Qxf7 b6 35.Qg6 1–0
Before the start of this year Kasparov’s long-term assistant Yury Dokhoian had been in charge of the Russian women’s team and had worked individually with the Kosintseva sisters. Now Yury Rafaelovich has become the head coach of the men’s team. I suspect the opening gap in Nadezhda’s preparation is one of the first “results” of his change of “workplace” …
The second “opening event” of the week was Grischuk playing an original plan with the move 8…Na5!? in the Saemisch System.
Vitiugov,N (2705) - Grischuk,A (2763) [E81]
ch-RUS Moscow, 06.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Na5!?
Alexander had already played like this against Dreev at the recent Rapid World Championship in Astana. At the time the idea of voluntarily putting your knight on a5 struck me as absurd. I thought it was “for a single game” and didn’t even include the encounter in my review but, of course, I was wrong! It seems Vitiugov was also under the same misapprehension. He was clearly unprepared to fight against the new idea.
Dreev also moved back to c1, but if a couple of moves later that knight and the knight on a5 were exchanged then you can’t talk about any advantage for White.
Why both of them, major experts in the Saemisch System, rejected 9.Ng3 is a mystery to me. Perhaps they were “scared” by the course of events in the game Wang Hao - Vovk,Andrey /Universiad Men Shenzhen 2011 - 9.Ng3 a6 10.Qd2 b5! and you can’t play 11.cxb5? axb5 12.Bxb5 because of 12...Nb3! But, of course, that resource for Black is a “special case”...
9...e6 10.Be2 exd5 11.cxd5
The game Dreev – Grischuk /Astana KAZ 2012 continued 11...a6 12.Nb3 b5 13.0–0 Nd7 14.Nxa5 Qxa5 15.Qd2 Re8 with good counterplay. Now Alexander demonstrated that Black has a wide range of options at his disposal.
11...Nd7!? 12.Nb3 f5 13.Qd2
After the capture 13.exf5 there would follow 13... Nc4!.
13...Ne5 14.Nxa5 Qxa5 15.0–0 fxe4 16.Nxe4 Qxd2 17.Bxd2 Nf7
The endgame, as usual in the Benoni, didn’t turn out to be bad at all for Black. After
18.Bc3 Bf5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Nc3 Rae8 21.a4 Re7 it’s clearly easier for him to play...
And finally another two curious opening variations.
Eljanov,Pavel (2693) - Areshchenko,Alexander (2691) [D70]
ch-UKR Kiev, 03.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nb6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Be3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0–0–0 Qd6 10.Kb1 Rd8 11.Nb5 Qd7 12.d5 a6 13.Nc3 Ne5
The game Zhao Xue -Lahno,K /Jermuk ARM 2012 which saw 14.Qe1 Qe8 15.Be2 e6 16.Bxb6 cxb6 17.f4 exd5! was discussed in our review two weeks ago.
A strong pawn sacrifice, but Eljanov had probably taken it into account as a possibility.
15.Bxc5 Nec4 16.Bxc4 Nxc4 17.Qc1 Qc7 18.Bd4 e5 19.Bf2 b5 20.b3 Nd6 Although concrete threats are still a long way off I think Black’s initiative offsets the sacrificed pawn.
Dreev,A (2677) - Cheparinov,I (2677) [D80]
Politiken Cup Helsingor DEN, 02.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 7.e3 Be6 8.Nf3 Nd7 9.d5 Bg4 10.Qd4 Bxf3
11.gxf3 11...Rg8 12.Qxc4 Bg7 13.Rd1
In the Rapid World Championship game Mamedyarov -Topalov /Astana KAZ 2012 the ex-World Champion continued 13...Kf8 14.Bg3 Ne5 15.Qe4 f5 16.Qf4 c6. But firstly, at this point 17.dxc6!? led to favourable complications for White, and secondly, the simple 14.Be2 is also possible.
14.Qb3 Qd6 15.Bb5+ Kf8 16.Bg3 Qc5 17.0–0 Rc8 Black undoubtedly has counterplay, although it seems to me that it’s somewhat easier to play as White. 18.e4 g5 [18...h5!?] 19.Rc1
And that, it seems, is that…
Zugzwang ends the siege (30 July - 5 August, №31)