SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
With 5 rounds remaining, Carlsen and Aronian lead the field with 5.5 points, half a point ahead of Radjabov. Ivanchuk, Caruana and Nakamura follow with 4.5 points. Former world champion Topalov disappoints with 3.5 points. Even worse is world champion challenger Gelfand–he has just 3 points and can even count himself lucky!
Gelfand and Kamsky embarrassed themselves in round 8 with a blunderful draw.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 24th MOVE
After some imprecise play in the early middlegame, Gelfand finds himself with his major pieces misplaced. The Knight sacrifice on f2 has been hovering in the air for the past couple of moves and finally Kamsky gathered the courage to play it
Really there is absolutely no risk invoved as the White pieces must return the material . To boot, the White King is forced out of its shelter and soon finds himself a sitting target.
25. Kxf2 e4 26. h3?!
Condemned by Gelfand himself after the game. Weaker are 26. Ng1? Qxh2; or 26. Ne1? Qxh2; when the White King finds its retreat blocked. The only try to hold things together is 26. Qf6!, but even then White must keep his fingers crossed…
26… ef 27. Bxf3 Bxf3 28. Kxf3 Rae8
A remarkable position! White’s King seems to be leading the attack…(!) Even more remarkable is that a grandmaster of Kamsky’s experience and strength fails to find any of a number of knock-out blows.
At first Gelfand succeeds in avoiding immediate disaster:
29. Qd4 [29. Kf2? Qf4 30. Kg1 Re1 is forced mate] 29… Re6 30. c5 [30. Kf2? Qh2] 30… h5
The advance of the h-pawn should be decisive. Gelfand’s next move does not help
31. Rcd2? bc 32. bc h4! 33. Qxh4
Now Kamsky can force Gelfand’s resignation with 33… Re3! 34. Kf2 Qh2! 35. c6 R3e4 36. Qg5 Rf4 etc.
Needlessly extending Gelfand’s suffering…
Now there is still business to do: 34… Qc7! 35. Kf2 Qh2 when the White King can not retreat.
Kamsky played the nervous 34… Re4?, throwing away most of his advantage, which allowed Gelfand back into the game. I leave it to the reader to find out how things ended (Kamsky still missed a win or two before finally agreeing to a draw on move 44.) I simply don’t have the stomach for it!
The game between Caruana and Ivanchuk was a good example of attack and defence in a balanced position: some sharp tactics lead to a draw by perpetual check. Neither side could avoid the draw without incurring extreme risks.
POSITION AFTER 17 MOVES:
White is more coordinated and, before Ivanchuk can bring in his Rooks, decides to grab an opportunity to see if his opponent will go wrong in the ensuing blitz…
18. Rd7 !
A shock move! Black must not take the bait he would then go under in a fireball:
18… Nxd7? 19. Rxd7 Qc8 20. Bxe6!! fe 21. Qg4 Qxd7 22. Nxd7 Rf5 23. Qc4 Bd5 24. Qc7 and the ending is quite hopeless for Black. Not only are Black’s Rooks unable to coordinate, but the White Queen and Knight dominate the game.
A cool headed defence! Now if the Rook retreats to d4 then the Black Queen will return to c7, repeating the position.
Once more the bait can not be eaten: 19…Rxf7? 20.Qxe6 is curtains.
19… Nxd7! 20. Nxh6 !? (Deserving consideration is 20. Nd6!? Qc7 21. Bxe6 Kh8 22. Nxb7 Nc5! 23. Nxc5 Qxc5, though Black is ok.)
Caruana was hoping for 20… Kh8?? 21. Nf7 Kg8 22. Nd6 Qc7 23. Bxe6 when White wins!
Precise to the end! Down a Rook, Caruana must give perpetual check
21. Qh5 Nf6
Draw agreed. White has a perpetual starting with Bd3-ch.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS