Five tense draws and one “black” victory for Gelfand against Nakamura – those were the technical results of the 1st round of the first stage of the FIDE Grand Prix in London. There was a lot of fighting and emotion, but in terms of chess content it was a disappointment both for the spectators and experts… More was expected from such a highly-billed tournament. We could do with a little spice!
The sharpest and most lively encounter was the game between Topalov and Grischuk. It featured an interesting opening and bright bursts – sacrifices and countersacrifices, attack and defence, which in the end cancelled each other out. Veselin instigated the conflict, but Alexander didn’t allow his opponent too much, and the game didn’t once leave the bounds of approximate equality in all its four hours… The result – a draw on the 43rd move.
Kasimdzhanov and Leko ended their game sooner. Peter played an interesting novelty after which the game rapidly switched to an equal ending, and then on the 34th move a three-fold repetition followed in a symmetrical position…
Dominguez and Giri reached the safety of a draw a little later. The Cuban grandmaster had a certain initiative for the whole game, but it’s unlikely he could count on victory. In the final position Black has two extra pawns, but they don’t play any role at all.
The endgame that occurred between Wang Hao and Adams was pretty interesting. The English player tried to make use of that momentum, as anyone included at the last moment would, but he was unable to convert his extra pawn into a win… The experts never did decide whether he had been winning or not. On the other hand, in the middlegame the Chinese player was stubborn and rejected drawish lines on a number of occasions. He didn’t deserve to lose.
Mamedyarov, meanwhile, turned a totally drawn ending into a “knight ending a pawn down”, and fully deserved to lose to Ivanchuk. But, despite his stubbornness – he played 110 moves! – Vassily still couldn’t find a path to victory. The ending remarkably turned into almost a carbon copy of the Kramnik – Ivanchuk ending from their game at the Olympiad in Istanbul. At the time the Ukrainian didn’t even want to sign the scoresheets after being unable to beat the Russian leader, and for a long time after the game he was unable to recover.
No-one knows how long it’ll take the tournament’s rating favourite Nakamura to recover after he unexpectedly lost with the white pieces to Gelfand… In the game Hikaru didn’t manage to impose his will on his opponent: he didn’t get even a hint of an opening edge, and then in a clearly-defined strategic position he was methodically outplayed… Boris’ wonderful “chess education” and the American’s clear lack of knowledge both had their say: Hikaru didn’t have a chance!
FIDE Grand Prix 2012/13. London. Standings after round 1: Gelfand – 1; 2-11. Kasimdzhanov, Leko, Dominguez, Giri, Wang Hao, Adams, Topalov, Grischuk, Mamedyarov and Ivanchuk – 0.5; 12. Nakamura – 0.
Much fighting about nothing...