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Games Commentary

Pavel Eljanov: “Chess is a sport for gentlemen”
Friday, 28 May 2010
The Ukrainian grandmaster Pavel Eljanov sensationally won the Astrakhan stage of the FIDE Grand Prix. Eljanov, despite being 9th in the current FIDE rating list, has never won any tournaments of this level. The winner happily shared his impressions about the event after the final game.
280510_eljanov.jpg– My motivation at this Grand Prix stage was very strong, – started Pavel. – I wanted to show my best and prove to everyone including myself that I can beat the best. I didn’t have to contend for the candidates matches, therefore I was relaxed, played creatively, and won many games, while other participants played cautiously and made many draws.
– Are you happy now?

– I was a happy man before the tournament, and I am certainly happy now!
– When you started to feel that you play at the same level as other elite players?
– Only after this tournament I can safely say that I am one of the best players in the world. Before that I never had any serious tournament achievements, and ratings are very relative: today I am in the top 10, and tomorrow I can be far, far away. However, I try to develop my skill gradually, constantly analyze my game and look for improvements. In Astrakhan I just tried to do everything that depends on me.
– Did your opponents in this tournament underestimate you?

– No. After all, I was the second seed here according to the rating. And we live in a quite closed world, and know each other well.
– Did you feel two weeks ago that you can achieve something special?
– No, not really. Generally I do not rely on feelings and try to control my emotions. Sometimes it doesn’t work, though.
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Eljanov and Radjabov are triumphants of the final FIDE Grand Prix stage
Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Two participants of the Astrakhan FIDE Grand Prix stage were congratulated today by numerous chess enthusiasts from all over the world: Pavel Eljanov from Ukraine and Teimour Radjabov from Azerbaijan. Eljanov finished clear first in the tournament, while Radjabov won the remaining ticket to the candidates matches.
The fate of the first place was determined quite quickly – the Ukrainian grandmaster secured his victory by making a draw with Boris Gelfand. However, the struggle for the qualification ticket continued until the last minutes of the competition.
The contenders, Wang Yue and Radjabov, met in the last round, and the Chinese grandmaster needed to win the gme in order to qualify. After six hours of play Wang Yue was a pawn up, and had serious winning chances. However, the Azeri player defended resourcefully and managed to make a draw, which gave him the second place in the overall Grand Prix standings.
Another qualification ticket went to the winner of the Grand Prix series – Levon Aronian from Armenia. Eight world’s strongest players will compete in the candidates matches later this year, and the winner will challenge the reigning World Champion Vishwanathan Anand.
Pavel Eljanov collected 8 points in 13 games and finished a clear first. Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine), Dmitry Jakovenko, Evgeny Alekseev (both – Russia), and Teimour Radjabov tied for the second place with 7 points each.
12 round press conferences
Monday, 24 May 2010
After 12th round games grandmasters came to the press centre and answered to the journalist’s questions.

240510_gashimov-rajabov.jpgVugar Gashimov vs. Teimour Radjabov

One can only dream about my position after the opening. White has a healthy extra pawn and the rest should be a technical task. Maybe I should have castled long, because my king would be safer on the queenside, but after 15.0-0 White also stands better. After 30.g4 it looked like the game ends in White’s favor, but then something strange started to happen. After 36...Qe8 White’s position looks completely winning, but I could not find a clear-cut way to win! Maybe I slipped it away earlier, I don’t know.

Question: This game may have ended you quest for the candidates matches...
– I disagree! First, there is one round to go, and anything can happen. And second, I may receive an invitation as a player from the host country.

The opponent outwitted me in the opening. I mixed up the move order and lost a pawn. Knowing Vugar’s technique, I was quite pessimistic about my chances to save the game. I desperately needed some counterplay, therefore I took an anti-positional decision to lock the kingside and play a King’s Indian kind of structure. I wanted to get some pleasure from the game, and after I played 22...Bf8, 25...h5, I actually cheered up. During this game I constantly needed to look for creative ideas in order to survive – I was quite sure that my position is objectively lost. And then I found a strange idea 36...Qe8, which looks more suitable for a blitz game. The resulting position is very suspicious for Black, but I cannot find a win for White. And then I discovered the perpetual check idea... To sum up, I got really lucky today.

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Round 12 report
Monday, 24 May 2010
240510_gashimow-web.jpgVugar Gashimov vs. Teimour Radjabov   ½:½

This game could determine a second qualifier for the candidates matches: the winner could more or less secure the ticket. However, it ended in a draw, and the issue was postponed to the final round.
In the Rollolimo Sicilian Gashimov won a pawn already on the 10th move. Black did not have full compensation, but Radjabov managed to complicate the game. Gashimov played well and kept his advantage for a while, but prior to the control Radjabov transferred his queen to the queenside and gave the perpetual check.

Peter Svidler vs. Boris Gelfand 1-0

The five-time Russian champion won his first game at the Astrakhan FIDE Grand Prix stage. In the Four Knights Opening both players were eager to complicate things. Gelfand’s sharp f-pawn push on the 21st move proved to be a big mistake. Svidler delivered a nice tactical blow, and Black’s position collapsed. Gelfand resigned on the 31st move.
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