SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Boris Gelfand, 41 years of age, won the 2009 World Cup, perhaps the greatest success of his career to date. Congratulations! With this achievement Gelfand qualifies for the next stage of the FIDE world championship cycle, which is to begin sometime next year, providing FIDE does not change its ideas. Gelfand picks up a cool 120k dollars for his trouble, while Ponomariov wins 80k dollars.
The final match with former world champion Ponomariov was very tense and both players showed visible signs of fatigue. The World Cup began on the 20th of November and it is quite remarkable to this writer that both players still had nervous energy left for the tie-break!
During this difficult knock-out tournament Gelfand played a total of 36 games (including tie-break games), and up to the final tie-break he had lost but one game! A remarkable feat, considering his age and the level of opposition.
Yesterday’s tie-break games consisted of 4 rapid games and 4 blitz games. In the rapid games both players scored one victory and two draws. In the blitz games both players split the first 2 games, but then Ponomariov completely collapsed in the final two games, giving Gelfand the opportunity he needed to take the match.
Gelfand’s overall performance indicates that he is approaching the peak of his career. The consistency of his play and especially the lack of big blunders over such a long competition means, to me atleast, that Boris must now be considered one of the top 3 or 4 players in the world at the moment, and a strong contender for the world title.
Summarizing, with the White pieces Boris played 17 games, winning 9 and losing 1. With the Black pieces Boris played 19 games, winning 5 and losing 2.
A strong contender for the World Championship title next year!
HERE ARE SOME SNAPSHOTS FROM THE FINAL 4 BLITZ GAMES THAT DECIDED THE WORLD CUP TITLE
Gelfand, B – Ponomariov, R
1. d4 e6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. e4 Nf6 7. a3 b6 8. Be3 Bb7 9. f3 Nc6 10. Rc1 h5?!
Ponomariov shows that he is not familiar with the Paulsen Sicilian, and his last move completely overlooks Gelfand’s threat! It was necessary to play the Knight to e5, with a normal position for this opening. Now Black gets crushed.
11. Nd5! exd5 12. cxd5 Nxd5 There is nothing better. [ if instead 12… Bc5 13. dxc6 dxc6 and now 14. b4 is strong] 13. exd5 Qe5 14. Kf2! Ne7 [Ofcourse 14… Qxd5 would be met by 15. Bc4] 15. Qd2 Nxd5 16. Bg5!
White’s position plays itself. The Black King is trapped in the centre and the Black Queen can find no safe haven.
16… Ne7 17. Bc4 f6 18. Bf4
Black can resign
18… Qa5 19. b4! Qa4 [Ofcourse 19… Qxa3 loses the Queen to 20. Ra1] 20. Bb3 Qxa3 21. Ra1
The Black Queen is lost, and so Ponomariov resigns. It is never nice to a miniature in such an important occassion!
Ponomariov, R – Gelfand, B
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qb3 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg4 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. e4 Bxf3 8. gxf3 e5 9. Be3 Bd6 10. O-O-O exd4 11. Bxd4 Qc7 12. Ne2 O-O 13. Qc2 b5 14. Kb1 Rfe8 15. Bh3 c5 16. Be3 Nb6 17. Bg5 Be5 18. Bc1 Nh5 19. Rhg1 Nc4 20. b3 Rab8 21. Rg5 g6 22. Rdg1 Kh8 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rxh5 gxh5 25. Ng3 Rg8 26. Rd1 Bd4 27. Nf5 Qb6 28. e5 Qg6 29. Ne7 Qxc2 30. Kxc2 Nb6 31. Nxg8 Rxg8 32. Be3 Rd8 33. b4 ?!
White’s last move was a mistake that throws away a comfortable edge. Now if Gelfand now plays 33…Nd5! he would have the advantage. Instead, he blunders and resigns the very next move!
33… Nc4?? 34. bxc5 Gelfand loses a piece and resigns immediately! The score remains tied…
Gelfand, B – Ponomariov, R 14/12/2009.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Be3 Nb4 8. Be4 f5 9. exf6 exf6 10. Nc3 f5 11. Bb1 N4d5 12. Nf3 Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. Bd2 c6 15. Re1 Bf6 16. a3 Kh8 17. Bd3 Qd6 18. Qc2 g6 19. Bh6 Bg7 20. Qd2 Bd7 21. Ne5 Rad8 22. Re2 Bc8 23. Rae1 Nf6 24. Nf3 Rde8 25. Bf4 Qd8 26. Be5 Ng4 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. h3 Nf6 29. Re5 Nbd7 30. Rxe8 Rxe8 31. Rxe8 Nxe8 32. d5 cxd5 33. Nxd5 Ndf6 34. Nxf6 Nxf6 35. Qc3 Be6 36. Bc2 Qc8 37. Nd4 Bd7 38. Qb4 Qe8 39. Nf3 Bc6 40. Nd4 Bd5 41. Bd3 b6 42. Nb5 Qd7 43. Qd4
The position is roughly equal. White’s pieces are a bit more active and Black must watch his Queen-side pawns, but even so it is hard to imagine any result other than a draw if this game was being played under normal circumstances.43… a6 44. Nc3 Bb7?!
Unnecessarily active. Perhaps Ponomariov was in a gambling mood. Black had to maintain the balance with the solid 44… b5
Now White gets the advantage45. Qxb6! Bxg2
Undoubtedly Ponomariov thought that the weakened King position would be full compensation for the lost of his Queen-side pawns. However, it seems that he overlooked the very simple fact that White can exchange Queens and be left with excellent winning chances with his connectors on the Queen-side.
46. Bxa6 Bxh3 47. Qb7 oops!
The move Black overlooked. Chess can be so simple…
Gelfand exchanges Queens and Black is on the edge of losing47… f4 48. a4
Gelfand wastes no time in advancing his pawns.
48… Ne8?! The final mistake. The only chance was to bring in the King with 48… Kf7 and try to sacrifice one of his two pieces for the Queen-side pawns. In that case there would still be practical chances for a draw.49. Qxd7 Bxd7 50. Bb5!
Now the White position is easily winning. By exchanging one of the pieces White avoids the defence mentioned in the previous note. The rest is quite simple now…the Queen-side pawns are unstoppable.
50… Bxb5 51. Nxb5 Nf6 52. Nc7 Nd7 53. a5 Nb8 54. a6 Nc6 55. b4 Na7 56. b5 Nc8 57. Nd5 Kf7 58. b6 Black resigns.BLITZ 4
An unfortunate loss for Ponomariov. Now Gelfand only needs to draw the next game to win the Cup!
Ponomariov, R – Gelfand, B
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qb3 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bf5 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Nbd7 8. O-O Be7 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Re1 h6 11. e4 Bh7 12. a3 Rc8 13. b4 a5 14. Bf4 Nh5 15. Bd2 Nhf6 16. Qb3 axb4 17. axb4 Qb6 18. b5 c5 19. e5 c4 20. Qa4 Nd5
21. Nxd5 exd5 22. Bh3 Qc7 23. b6 Nxb6 24. Qb5 Qc6 25. Ra5 c3 26. Bf4 Nc4 27. Qxc6 Rxc6 28. Rxd5 c2 29. Rb5 Rb6 30. Rxb6 Nxb6 31. Bc1 Bb4 32. Bd2 Nd5 33. e6 Re8 34. exf7 Kxf7 35. Rc1 Bxd2 36. Nxd2 Nb4
Ponomariov cracked under the pressure and soon out of the opening he already stood worse. Gelfand managed to avoid the traps his opponent set for him and has reached a winning ending. The Black pawn on c2 will cost White atleast a piece. The immediate threat is …Na2
37. Bf1 Rc8! 38. Nb3 Na2 39. Ra1
The pawn now scores a touch down
39… c1=Q 40. Nxc1 Rxc1 41. Rxa2 Bd3 !
An important tactic that Gelfand had up his sleave! Ponomariov can now resign with a clear mind,but continues for a few moves out of momentum.
42. Rb2 Rxf1 43. Kg2 Ba6 44. d5 Rd1
Ponomariov resigns Gelfand wins the World Cup!
POST MATCH INTERVIEW:
Boris GELFAND: “I MADE A GOOD PRESENT TO MY MOM ON HER ANNIVERSARY”
Boris Gelfand from Israel became a winner of the World Cup 2009. He defeated the Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomariov in the tie breaks 7-5.
• I managed to win in the tie breaks, though it was very hard, – a happy winner shared his impressions with the journalists. – I think I could have showed good result already in the second rapid game. But the stress and tension did the work and I started blundering. Ruslan was also making mistakes and we ended in a draw. I had a bit advantage in the fourth game. The only thing I should have done is to make a goal in the empty gates. But I blundered again. Ruslan started a counter game and I gave in. Then we started playing blitz games. Here everything depended on the coolness and ability to keep the nerves together.• Did you have a feeling that you will win the tie breaks?
• I realized that a tough match is ahead. I expected that I should fight. Today is my mom’s anniversary and I cannot leave her without a present. She has done a lot for me. I am very grateful to her for all. I also thank my father, may his memory live forever. I am also very thankful to my wife and daughter who miss me a lot. I am also grateful to all who was helping and training with me. We have been working with Alexander Huzman for already 20 years together. Also, during this tournament my second Maxim Rodshtein was helping me. He did not seem to sleep at all, was preparing to my opponents. My friends were calling and writing to me. Thank you all for your support. My victory is your merit as well.
Boris, Max Rodshtein and Alex Huzman• Can you call the World Cup 2009 the best tournament in your career?
• I think the World Cup 2009 can be only compared with the second place in the World Chess Championship 2007 in Mexico .
• You are the oldest participant of the World Cup. Are you happy that could manage to show your strength to the young players?
• Undoubtedly age influences performance. Older Grandmaster is, more experienced his games are. Starting from 1997 I was participating in almost every knock out tournament. I have gained a great experience since then, especially in the tie breaks. There were so many strong and young chess players who were “falling apart” after their first defeats. They were lacking the moral strength; they could not forget about one failure to continue the fight in the further games. I think it comes with experience.• The situation when the top seeded player wins a tournament is rare.
I was not impressed by the fact that I was top seeded. There were about 20 chess players who had every reason to expect to win the Cup.• Do you have something to say to your opponent?
• Ruslan does not need consolation. He was doing well during the whole tournament and managed many tie breaks. My opponent is very good at the knock out tournaments; it is confirmed by his results during last two years. Ponomariov once again proved that he is a great chess player.• Where do you take energy to participate in such long tournaments?• I just like to play chess. Therefore I work much; I try to improve my results.• Do you feel compassion to your opponent when you win?
• It is not a battle of gladiators. We play chess. Someone wins, someone loses. This is sport.• For many years the chess society is interested what do you have in this special bottle which you bring to the games?
• It is not a doping… (laughing). I was checked at the last World Championship, so, everything is legal.
• Is it important for you to have an audience when you play?
• Yes, that would be more pleasant if the hall would be crowded. But it is obvious that our main spectators are in Internet. Whenever a tournament takes place, about 90-95% of spectators watch the games via Internet.
• They were writing in 80s, that no matter if you walk along the hall or look around, you used to make the strongest moves…
• The position is always with you, in your head. No matter where you look: around or at the chess board.
• What do you do in your free time?
• I like to read classics: Pushkin, Bulgakov, Maugham. I regularly watch soccer and tennis. I like sport.• Would you share your impressions about Khanty Mansiysk?
• I would like to thank the city for this wonderful tournament. I had no problems here at all. Every year it is better and better in Khanty Mansiysk. The only thing which complicated my staying here was the temperature drop: from -30 to 0. It is harder to stand this with age. There are many cultural and sport institutions here: library, picture gallery, hockey palace, tennis center. The Art Center for talented children of North – the playing venue – is just fantastic building. I would come back here next year with pleasure. I just hope that the weather would be milder. I hope we will have a chance to walk around the city. You were playing chess for almost a month without any rest. How are you going to recover?
• More than a month. Two weeks before the start of the World Cup I took part in Tal Memorial and World Blitz Chess Championship, two toughest tournaments. Now I will relax, make up for lost sleep, walk with my daughter. So I will be back to “normal” life.• Did you choose any souvenir from Ugra land?The World Cup is the best souvenir!