SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The World Cup finals between Boris Gelfand and Ruslan Ponomariov has seen the first two games of the 4-game mini-match end in colourless draws. Should the next two be drawn also, then the title will be decided in rapid games.
Ponomariov, R. – Gelfand, B.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 The feared ‘Petroff’ is one of the oldest openings
3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Be2 O-O 10. Nc3 Bf5 11. a3 Nxc3 12. bxc3 Nc6 13. Re1
Perhaps the mainline of this opening.
13… Re8 14. cxd5 Qxd5 15. Bf4 Rac8 16. h3 h6!? A waiting move
White has the more dynamic pawn levers, but Black has the sounder pawn structure. Steinitz taught long ago that a position without weaknesses is the best guarantee against any attack.16… Be4
Gelfand once played this against Ivanchuk (2008 Russia Club Championship) and drew the game
17. Qc1 Ponomarov obviously was not impressed with Ivanchuk’s 17. Nd2 which he used to defeat Gelfand in a blitz game last year. The game continued 17… Na5 18. Nf1 Qd7 19. Ne3 Bg6 20. Bg4 f5 21. Qd3 Rf8 22. Bf3 Bd6 23. Nd5 Rce8 24. Rxe8 Rxe8 25. Bxh6 etc (Ivanchuk – Gelfand, Alma-Ata 8/11/2008 Ch World (blitz) ) 17… Bf6 18. Qb2 Na5 19. Be5
In the one grandmaster game where this position had previously been reached, Black suffered a bit with 19… Qd8 20. Rad1 b6 21. Bb5 c6 22. Ba6 Ra8 23. c4 Bxe5 24. Nxe5 , though Black eventually succeeded in drawing. Akopian V- Kasimdzhanov , Jermuk 12/ 8/2009 It “FIDE Grand Prix”
19…Bxe5!? Boris’ improvement. After this Black avoids the problems in the above mentioned game.20. Nxe5 c5 21. Bf3 [21. Qb5 b6] 21… Qd6 22. Rad1
Black reacts against White’s centre build up with calm and accuracy.
22… b6 23. Qa2 Be6 24. d5 !?
This leads to some small complications but Black emerges without any damage done.
24… Bxh3!? 25. Nxf7!? Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Kxf7 27. gxh3 Re8
The game is completely equal. Without rooks on the board White must even be careful!
28. Rxe8 Kxe8 29. Qe2 Kd8
The Black King is safer on the Queen-side. If White does nothing in the next few moves, Black might even be able to get the advantage by bringing in his Knight. So White forces a draw.
30. Qa6 Qg6 31. Bg2 Qb1 32. Kh2 Qf5 33. Qxa7
White may have won a pawn, but his Queen is out of play. Now Black forces a perpetual check.
33… Qf4 34. Kg1 Qc1 35. Kh2 Qf4 36. Kg1 Qc1 37. Kh2 [½:½]
Considering that both players are tired, not such a bad game. However, if Ponomariov is to do something with his next White he will probably have to avoid the Petroff.
POST GAME INTERVIEW
Ruslan PONOMARIOV: “WHAT, NOW WE SHOULD NOT PLAY 1.E2-E4 AT ALL?”
The first game of the final match of the World Cup 2009 was drawn after the tough development of the “Petroff defense”. The Grandmasters shared their impressions with the journalists at the traditional press conference.
• R.P.: It is difficult to give an objective view without analyzes. To my mind we played equally. I liked my position, all pieces were centralized, I had a trump card of my potential passed pawn d. But my opponent would always find good moves.
• B.G.: Ruslan had more perspective position. But the black pieces had almost no weak points. I think I was defending quite well and did not allow my opponent to develop an initiative.
• Ruslan, do you think it had sense to play the “Petroff defense” against an opponent who is famous to be good at?
. R.P.: What, now we should not play 1. e2-e4 at all? Do you mean that chess can be considered dead because of the “Petroff defense”? Though I did not win – my chances with white were just wasted.
• Boris, do you think that the “Petroff defense” will kill chess?
• B.G.: No, you cannot kill chess. Yes, we played the “Petroff defense” but we had the position which gave the possibility for both opponents. Today we were equal. If someone blundered, we could have made a score result.
• Boris, is it important for you to have spectators in the playing venue during the match?
• B.G.: Of course it would be more pleasant to play with the spectators watching our match. But it is obvious that chess has its huge Internet audience. No matter where a tournament takes place, 90-95% of the spectators would follow the games via Internet.
• How did you spend your rest day?
• R.P.: I was relaxing, gaining energy. This is my third visit to Khanty Mansiysk, so, I have mostly seen everything.
B.G.: I was also trying to get more energy. The good thing is that I have managed to visit the Regional Library and the Picture Gallery. I was amazed by the variety of good pictures in the Gallery. You know what interested me the most? The sculpture “Magnus”. How did he manage to show up here I wonder? I am sure you got me?..
Gelfand, Boris – Ponomariov, Ruslan
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Boris is a big fan of Catalan systems
4… Bb4!? The most popular way of handling the opening. Older (and quite sound) is ..Be7. 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 c6 7. Bf4 Nbd7 8. Qc2 O-O 9. O-O
A well known position
9… b6!? Gelfand has a lot of experience against the alternatives: 9… Nh5 10. Bc1 Nhf6 11. Nbd2 b6 12. e4 was how Gelfand vs Adams, wijk ann zee 2006 went, 1-0; 9… a5 was Gelfand vs Kamsky, 2008 Sochi , draw result eventually] 10. Rd1[10. Nc3 Nh5 11. Bc1 Nhf6 12. Bf4 was Gelfand vs Leko, wijk ann zee 2008, draw result eventually. Ponomariov is probably wise to avoid Gelfand’s improvements over these games. 10… Bb7[10… Ba6 11. Ne5 Gelfand vs Alekseev 2008 Tal Memorial, a draw eventually. 11. Nc3 Nh5 12. Bc1 f5
David Bronstein first experimented this way of playing against Botvinnik in their 1951 match for the World Championship. The combination of Queen-side fianchetto and ‘Dutch’ pawn structure is very popular today in grandmaster chess.
13. b3 Rc8 14. Bb2 Bd6 15. e3 Qe7
The position is very closed. Both sides improve their pieces before beginning active play
16. Ne2 Nhf6 17. Nf4 Ne4
18. Qe2 This is new. Previously White was successful with 18. Ne5 and 18. Nd3. Gelfand’s idea is logical: he takes his Queen off of the c-file, not liking the ‘cannon’ facing him on c8! 18… Ndf6 19. Ne5 Rfd8 20. Rac1 c5
In this very complex, but completely normal and balanced position, both players agreed to a draw. I prefer the Black side, but that is just my personal taste. It appears that neither player was interested in risking playing on…there are still 2 games left.
Gelfand and Ponomariov recharging batteries
The winner gets to keep the trophy (and the girl).
POST GAME INTERVIEW
Ruslan PONOMARIOV: “SO FAR THE FINAL MATCH IS BORING”
The second game of the final match Gelfand vs. Ponomariov was drawn. This is the traditional press conference after the game :
– B.G.: The “Catalon” opening was played today, which was led to the “stone wall” variation of the Dutch defense. It brought us to a tough and flexible fight. I did not see a concrete plan of further development in the endgame. Ruslan did not see it either. I offered a draw and he agreed.
– R.P.: To my mind it was the only reasonable end. It is strange: it seemed that there are a lot of pieces on the board still, but all useful moves were already made. In such a position a draw is a logical result.
– Boris, why were you playing so slowly today?
– B.G.: I could keep my opponent in a deadlock only by making precise moves. I was trying to find some variations to puzzle Ruslan. But I did not manage.
– How did you estimate the final games of the Cup?
– B.G.: So far it is equal. We came back to the formula which we used during first 6 rounds. The two last Rounds will decide everything. In extremis we will play the tie breaks.
– R.P.: So far the final match is boring. We don’t manage to have interesting games, to create new combinations, to keep an opponent under tension.
– Do you follow the tournament in London ?
– R.P.: Yes, I follow some games. Internet considerably quickens the exchange of information. Do you remember an old story of the match Korchnoi-Polugaevsky? Before a decisive game Korchnoi prepared an interesting opening idea. In the day of a game, his second bought a morning newspaper and saw that the same idea was already used in a tournament which was taking place at the same time. The question was: should they use the novelty or not? They decided positively. The reasons were: Polugaevsky does not wake up early. And the head of the Soviet delegation would not spend the foreign currency to buy a newspaper. As a consequence, an opponent would not know about the used novelty. And now? You had hardly used a novelty when it had been already analyzed online.
– B.G.: An instructive story. I remember in 80s I was in Moscow and struggled to get into the files of the Central Chess Club to see the games of big tournaments. It is a fortune to get in there! You had to tell how talented you are, how important it is for you. Even they wrote some letters from Minsk : please, let Boris have an access
The London tournament is not bad. But only two chess players from top thirty take part in it. If you ask me what tournament is more interesting: World Cup or London tournament, the question is obvious: with all due respect for London .