Kovalyov triumphs at St.Jean tourney
Hebert emerged from the opening with a clear advantage when Sambuev got caught in an opening ambush.
Black’s last move (11…Qf7) won some games a couple of years ago and forced the White players to take a serious look at this position. Sure enough, in 2010 it was discovered that 13.Qf3 is the best move, and is almost winning by force after 13…fxe4 14.Nxe4!
Since then about a dozen games have been played, with White winning almost all of them. Sambuev’s 14…h6 presented Hebert with no difficulties at all. I get the idea that Sambuev did not know that the line had been refuted…
It is always nice to play White in the last round , especially when you are playing the tournament leader. The opening was a popular line of the slav defence where White gets the 2-Bishops but Black has a very solid position and can simplify the pieces. Hebert seemed to be quite ok for a while, but then he started to loosen his position, first with a Queenside advance of his pawns and then with f5.
Both players started to make small imprecisons and quickly Kovalyov’s advantage dissipated when Hebert got some counterplay. Probably in time trouble, Hebert missed a good chance to draw the Rook and Pawn ending and afterwards Kovalyov increased the pressure. (Note: the final moves have not been recorded; the final position is probably a win for White with best play, though not at all easy )