Author: Alexey Kuzmin
Svidler,P (2749) - Vitiugov,N (2705)
65th ch-RUS Moscow RUS (8), 11.08.2012
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.a3 Nge7 7.dxc5 Qc7 8.Bb5 Bd7 9.Qe2 f6 10.exf6 gxf6 11.Nbd2 0–0–0 12.c4 Rg8 13.g3 e5 14.cxd5 Nxd5 15.Nb3 Bg4 16.Qc2 Nf4! 17.Nbd2
Vitiugov played a fantastic game! First he sacrificed a pawn, which allowed him to complete his development rapidly. On the sixteenth move his knight was placed en prise, cutting off the f5-f3 line of communication, and the game entered the zone of concrete threats. The next move was an exchange sacrifice!
17... Rxd2! 18.Nxd2 Nd4 19.Qa4 Bxc5 20.gxf4 exf4
White has a whole extra rook, but his king is like Shakespeare’s King Lear, renounced by his daughters.
21.Ne4 Nf3+ 22.Kf1 Bh3+ 23.Ke2 Nd4+ 24.Ke1 Bg2 25.Qc4 Rd8 26.Nxc5
And it’s over!! In terms of inspiration, logic, and the scenario outlined above the game should have been crowned by a stunning mate:
26...Qa5+ 27.b4 Qxb5 28.Qxb5 Nc2+! 29.Ke2 f3!!# Diagram
28.Qd3 Nf3+ 29.Ke2 Ne5!! 30.Qxb5 Bf3+ 31.Ke1 Rd1! # Diagram
…But it seems the angel responsible for masterpieces had gone off somewhere: the paints on the palette had dried up and the brushstrokes lost their freshness and colour…
The canvas saw the pale
26...Nf3+? 27.Ke2 Nd4+ 28.Ke1 Nf3+?? 29.Ke2 Nd4+ 30.Ke1 and the result: a draw that disappointed everyone.
Botvinnik and Tal became USSR Champion six times. Svidler has won the Russian Championship six times.
With two rounds to go until the end of the 65th Championship Peter had only draws to his name, and his winning the tournament seemed incredibly unlikely. When he wasn’t mated in the eighth game I thought the gods had smiled kindly on him. And when, after winning the only decisive game in the last round, Svidler shared 1st-6th place I was sure it was going to be his year to become seven-time Russian Champion!
…But it turned out I was wrong!
Andreikin upset “my calculations” by beating Svidler in the decisive game of the play-off in the penultimate round.
Young, confident and very dangerous!
The new Russian Champion is 22 years old. A couple of years ago he became World Junior Champion, and this year he took first place at the Higher League of the Russian Championship. Now he’s conquered the Russian Superfinal!
Dubov,D (2594) - Andreikin,D (2715)
65th ch-RUS Moscow RUS (9), 12.08.2012
A win in this game would have meant tournament victory. Dmitry tried to complicate the position as far as possible. Do you think it’s easy in the sturdy Nimzowitsch Defence for Black to open the h-file and transfer his rook to g5?!
White’s last move 24.Nfe2 was inaccurate.
And if at this point Andreikin had found 24...Ncxe4!! sacrificing the knight to open the diagonal with tempo 25.fxe4 Rxg3+ 26.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 27.Rg2 Qh3!, then Russia would already have had a new champion on Sunday!
24...Rxg3+ 25.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 26.Rg2 Qxf3 27.Rf2?
Again giving his opponent a chance. There was double-edged play after: 27.Rf1! Qh5 28.Nxd5 Bxd5 29.Bxd5 Ncxe4 30.Qxc7 Qxd5 31.b4 Re8.
But there followed
28.Rg2 Qf3 29.Rf2 Qg3+ Draw...
30.Rg2 Qf3 31.Rf2 Qg3+ Draw!! But why?......
Either time trouble got in the way, or the nervous tension played a role. Or, perhaps, Dmitry simply decided: “It’s not worth taking risks now! Tomorrow there’ll be a tiebreak. I’ll deal with my rivals in rapid chess!”
He turned out to be absolutely right. By winning the rapid tournament of six contenders Andreikin became Russian Champion the next day! Sergey Karjakin was second while third was… Svidler.
Andreikin,D (2715) - Sjugirov,S (2635)
65th ch-RUS Moscow RUS (6), 09.08.2012
Black has just played the somewhat “nondescript” move 12... a6? The reaction was rapid and fierce!
13.g4! Nbd5 14.Rg1 Bb4+?
Depriving the white king of the right to castle isn’t such a big achievement: it feels perfectly comfortable on f1. It was better to play 14...Qb6, although in that case as well after 15.c3 White has all the chances…
15.Kf1 Be7 16.g5 hxg5 Diagram
17.Nxg5! Bd6 18.Nh7! Qc7
Taking the knight led to mate 18...Nxh7 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.Rxg7+ Kxg7 22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Qg4+ Kh7 24.Qg7#
19.Bh6! Ne8 Diagram
20.Bxg7! Nxg7 21.Rxg7+ Kxg7
22.Qg4+ Kh8 23.Nf6 Diagram
The curtain falls!... 1–0
New in the opening
Among concrete novelties the one that seemed the most interesting to me was an idea of Jakovenko’s, continuing a recent discussion.
Jakovenko,D (2736) - Svidler,P (2749) [D97]
65th ch-RUS Tiebreak Moscow RUS (5), 13.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0–0 7.e4 Be6
Odeev’s Variation – the Turkmenistan grandmaster played that way in the 90s of the last century – became a focus of attention after the game Morozevich - Giri, Biel 2012, played three weeks ago. On that occasion White continued 8.Qb5, but after 8... Bd7 9.Qc5 b6 10.Qg5 c5 Black didn’t have even a hint of difficulty.
A serious improvement.
8... c5 9.d5 Bc8 10.Be3 b6 11.h3 e6 12.dxe6 Bxe6
Jakovenko decided to exchange queens himself 13.Qxd8?! Rxd8, putting his trust in the manoeuvre 14.Ng5, but after 14... Nc6 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Bc4 Kf7 Black got good counterplay. Svidler subsequently seized the initiative and won the game. Dmitry should have gone for the forced variation 13.e5! Qxd3 14.Bxd3 Nd5 15.Be4 Nxe3 16.fxe3 Nd7 17.Bxa8 Rxa8 18.Ng5! and Black’s compensation for the exchange would nevertheless have been insufficient. A question remains, however: why did Peter prefer to retreat his bishop to c8 rather than play 9...Bg4!?
In response to the popular Gligoric Variation (7.Be3) in the King’s Indian Defence Black has recently started more often to choose the plan with an exchange on d4. That’s of course not a novelty, but an interesting trend. And the fact that both Grischuk and Svidler played the rare variation with 13…Bf8 – is a specific piece of news that's worth thinking about…
Sjugirov,S (2635) - Svidler,P (2749) [E92]
65th ch-RUS Moscow RUS (7), 10.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0–0 6.Nf3 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Bf2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.c5
People usually play 12.0-0 Nc6 13.c5. Advancing the pawn on the twelfth move gives Black additional options. A day later, when Sjugirov repeated the variation – he played two games in a row with White – Grischuk chose 12...Nbd7 13.c6 Ne5 14.cxb7 Bxb7 15.0–0 Nc4 16.Bxc4 dxc4 and got good play Sjugirov,S -Grischuk,A /Moscow RUS 2012
At the Blitz WCh in the game Morozevich,A -Grischuk,A /Astana KAZ 2012 White exchanged on c6 immediately - 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.a3, but after 15... Nh5 16.Re1 Nf4 17.Bf1 Rxe1 18.Qxe1 Bd7 Black seized the initiative.
Also tried have been 15.Qd2 and 15.Rb1, but White derived no particular benefits from those moves.
15...Nh5 16.Qd2 Nxd4! 17.Bxd4
I was by no means planning to turn this weekly publication into a review of the Russian Championship, but what can you do if the majority of interesting events took place precisely in the games of that tournament…
But to make amends, nevertheless, here are two closing fragments from other events.
A solid but dull variation of the Queen’s Gambit for Black drew attention to itself due to the efforts of Anand’s compatriot and second GM Ganguly to get counterplay.
Esen,B (2587) - Ganguly,S (2629) [D37]
16th HZ Open Vlissingen NED , 08.08.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0–0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 Ne4!?
This continuation isn’t a novelty, but it’s only been seen in around a dozen games.
Last year Stelios Halkias played like this twice 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Ne5 (After 9.Nd2 e5! Black seized the initiative in Socko -Halkias/Kavala 2011) 9...Nxe5 10.Bxe5 b6 with acceptable play Gagunashvili -Halkias /Porto Carras 2011;
The first to play the move 7…Ne4 was Hungarian GM Istvan Csom: 8.Qc2 g5!? 9.Bg3 f5 10.h3 Nxg3 11.fxg3 Nf6 with complex play Forintos,G-Csom,I/Hungary 1968
A new move, but not a dangerous one for Black.
If 9.Nb5 there would follow 9…c6 and 10.Nc7? is no good due to 10…e5! However, there was no reason to exchange the light-squared bishop.
9... fxe4 10.Ne5 Nxe5 11.Bxe5 b6 12.b4 a5 13.a3 bxc5 14.bxc5
By continuing 14…Bf6! (instead of 14... Rf5) 15.Bg3 Ba6 Black could have firmly seized the initiative.
You’d have thought there would be more chance of discovering bold attacking fragments among the games of the World Junior Championship, but I took an interest in a curious ending.
Ipatov,A (2577) - Ter Sahakyan,S (2567)
51st World Juniors Athens GRE , 11.08.2012
Of course it’s unpleasant that the pawns are fixed on light squares, but for now it’s difficult to evaluate all the dangers of that fact.
Sooner or later you have to play this – if Black switches his king to e5 and plays f5 and g5 then apart from f5-f4 he’ll also have the strong resource g5-g4.
30... g5 31.Bg4?
After provoking g6-g5, White should have played 31.g4! Kg7 32.Kf2 Kf6 33.b4 Bc8 34.a3 and if Black pushed f5 White would simply exchange pawns and keep the king on g2 and h2. There’s no way of Black breaking through such a fortress.
31...Kg7 32.Kf2 Kf6 33.gxh4 gxh4 34.Ke2 Bc6
It’s unlikely White would have managed to hold the position by “treading water”: 35.Kd2 Ke5 36.Bc8 f5 37.Ke2 f4 38.Kf2 Be8 39.Ke2 a5 40.a3 Bf7 and, by combining an attack on the h3-pawn with the threat of a5-a4 Black should break through the defences.
No better is the attempt to restrain the bishop “from the other side”: 36.Kf2 f5 37.Be2 Bd7 38.Bf1 f4 39.a3 Be6 and White would have to exchange on f4 ...
36... f5 37.Kd2 Be8 38.c5 Bb5 39.Ke1 bxc5 40.bxc5 Bc6 41.Kd2 f4 42.exf4+ Kxf4 43.Bg4 e3+ 44.Ke2 Bb5+ 45.Ke1 Ke4
There’s now no obstacle to Black picking up the pawn, and the outcome of the game seems to be decided…
46.Be2 Bd7 47.Ba6 Kd4 48.Ke2 Be8 49.Kf3 Bh5+ 50.Kf4 e2 51.Bxe2 Bxe2 52.c6 Bb5 53.c7 Bd7 54.Kg5 Bxh3 55.Kxh4 Bc8 56.Kg3 Kc3 57.Kf3 Kb4 58.Ke4 Ka3 59.Kd4 Kxa2 60.Kc4
Up until this point Ter Sahakyan had acted very technically. Now all he had to do was bring up his pawn while not allowing the white king into the black corner.
That could be achieved with 60...Ka3! 61.Kb5 Kb3 62.Ka5 a6 63.Kb6 Kb4 and a win. Instead of that the Armenian grandmaster unexpectedly played
…And it turned out there was no way of “driving” the white king off the fourth rank…
61... Bb7 62.Ka4 Ka2 63.Kb4 Bc8 64.Ka4=
After another dozen moves of vain effort a draw was agreed.
And that, it seems, is that…
Unplayed masterpiece (6 - 12 August, №32)