SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Round 3 of this 13-round qualifying tournament saw all games being drawn, some quietly (and quickly) and others only after a fight and some excitement. I give a few examples below. For now, take a look at the classification. It is too early in the tournament for anyone to stand out yet, but my prediction is for the Israeli star Gelfand to win. (Bear in mind, however, that I predicted an easy win for Topalov over Anand!)
Now that the World Championship match in Sofia has ended, many people wonder what the next cycle looks like. Well, the next big thing is the FIDE Candidates matches, which will provide a new opponent for Anand in 2012. Currently it is scheduled for April 2011, for which the following players have qualified: Topalov
, as the loser of the last match; Kamsky
, as the loser of the challenger’s match; Aronian
, as the winner of the Grand Prix Series; Gelfand
, as the winner of the World Cup; Carlsen and Kramnik
Two more players will be added to this list: the number two of the FIDE Grand Prix Series, and a wild card from Azerbaijan, because the Candidates will be held in Baku. Which will complicate matters, since Aronian cannot play there. (unfortunate political issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan)
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 21st MOVE
Gelfand’s last move was 21…c3. White must be a bit better in this position, with his pawn on f6 being a constant worry for the Black pieces. Probably playing f4 here or after taking on c3 is the indicated way to proceed. Ofcourse, Black has a sound position and White has no immediate threats.
We all know that had Topalov been White in this position, then he would play on for 150 moves! But the young Gashimov must have decided there was nothing in it, and so he forced a draw with a clever Rook sacrifice. Do you see it?
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 39th MOVE
White has made progress (his King is deep into Black’s position) but with only Rooks on the board Ivanchuk is in no danger. White can not make progress without taking serious risks. Both players repeated moves and made a draw
Wang deep in thought against Jakovenko. The chinese star created some winning chances but then did not make the most of them when short of time. Jakovenko escaped with a clever trick
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 27th MOVE
The first stages of the game have gone well for Wang, and he has achieved positional trumps in the ending: A Rook on the 7th rank, a better placed Knight and an easy to attack target — b6. Black has an uphill struggle to make a draw.
After some exciting (and perhaps not so perfect) play on the parts of both sides, we arrive at the following position after Black’s 34th move. White has won the Black b-pawn and advanced his own b-pawn to the 7th. It is about to Queen! Meanwhile, Black has not been idle: he has taken some of White’s pawns and activated his Rook and Knight.
Wang should now play 35. Rc8! , with the idea that if Black now plays as in the game (35…Rd2, then 36.Rc3! wins because the Black Knight goes ) Therefore, Jakovenko would have had to try 35…Nd2! 36. Ke1 Ne4 And White has the pleasant choice of endings: an exchange up ending with 3-2 pawns on the Kingside (probably draw with correct defence, though not so simple) 37. b8Q Rxb8 38. Rxb8 Nxd6 39. Rb6 Ne4 40. Rxe6 or an ending a piece up for 2 pawns (37. Nxe4 Rxb7 38. Nd2) .
I would think that both endings are probably drawn, but Black would be forced to defend for hours, knowing that one little slip would be the end.
Instead, probably in time trouble, Wang played 35. Re8?, overlooking that after 35…Rd2! there is no way to avoid a perpetual (N-h2-f3 etc). Both players agreed to an immediate draw.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS