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Games Commentary

7th round press conferences
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
180510-svidler-gashimov.jpgAfter 7th round games of the FIDE Grand Pix in Astrakhan all the participants visit the press conferences and answered to the questions.

Vugar Gashimov vs. Peter Svidler

Svidler: I didn’t expect 14.Bg5. Human beings don’t normally play like this – 14.Ng3 looks more standard. I spent 40 minutes for the next two moves, considering the best locations for my pieces, and then found an interesting pawn sacrifice in order to get rid of the pin and obtain a bishop pair.
White was poorly coordinated, so I thought I should have good compensation. The key question was whether White transfers the knight from f3 to f5 first, or Black trades all the pieces or brings his knight to d3. Vugar kept creating problems for me for the whole game, however, I managed to trade the pieces without paying too dearly. Generally, we played a good game, which logically ended in a draw.
I found an interesting opening idea – 14.Bg5 is a rare move. Peter’s reaction was also interesting and strong. I could take the central pawn, but rejected it, because I didn’t want to give Black the initiative. My position remained slightly better, so Black had to struggle to make a draw. I tried to avoid simplifications, but Black eventually managed to trade the pieces, and the game was drawn.

180510_gelfand-ponomarev.jpgRuslan Ponomariov vs. Boris Gelfand

Gelfand: It was a very interesting game. We played a rare variation. I thought for a long time and probably found the best reply – castled long, not fearing possible attacks. Ruslan released the tension in the center fairly quickly. I think I got a very comfortable game. I hoped to fight for an advantage, but it didn’t materialize. Ruslan correctly played 21.е4 with equality. In the ending I had to be alert, while White continued at almost no risk.
Ponomariov: After two losses I needed to score at least half a point. First I decided to play solid, but it isn’t easy when the kings castle to the opposite sides of the board. My position was good, I had a bishop pair, but my king was weak. Black had a very easy and straightforward game. I hoped my opponent would be affected by possible time trouble, but it didn’t happen. 17.Bа6 looked like an interesting try. Later I played 21.е4 because I felt I must be careful. After we traded a few pieces, I completely missed 30...b3, but nevertheless drew the game.

180510_akopian-alekseev.jpgEvgeny Alekseev vs. Vladimir Akopian
Alekseev: We played the Ruy Lopez. Black selected a passive line and transferred his knight to f7. After 20.Be3 his position became difficult, but he probably could hold with patient play. After 21...Ng5 it turned out that he has no counterplay, and the g7-knight is completely out of play. White had a very simple and straightforward plan on the queenside, and Black’s kingside counterplay was of no help.
Akopian: 20...с4 is a huge blunder. I considered this move for quite a while, choosing from several possibilities. I thought it opens up the position with a lively and dynamic game, but it turned out that my counterplay with h5 fails – White immediately drived my queen off the c8. I underestimated this idea and was disappointed to find that I have no counterplay in a hopeless position. I either had to resign immediately or complicate the game at all costs.

180510_ivanchuk-leko.jpgPeter Leko vs. Vassily Ivanchuk
Leko: We went for an ancient opening variation, which was frequently played by Lajos Portisch. I mixed up the move order: instead of 11.g3 I needed to capture 11.Bd7 first, and only then go for 11...Nd7 12.g3. After the castling Black obtained an extra option – 12...Qd7. Then Vassily found 19...Rad8, which was fairly strong, and Black got a good albeit a bit passive game. There was no real advantage for White, although in the endgame I had a symbolic extra pawn.
Ivanchuk: I played an old line – Lajos Portisch used it in the 80s, and before him it was played by Paul Keres. Recently Wang Yue employed it against Short. White found a strong plan with 18.h3 and 19.Qg4, so I had to find 19...Rad8. I think I defended quite well.
180510-inarkiev-eljanov.jpgPavel Eljanov vs. Ernesto Inarkiev
Eljanov: I played a variation that is considered semi-correct and quite dangerous, but I think it is better than its reputation. I found the ways to hold Black’s position. After 9...с4 my position was already better strategically: I had a good structure and better pieces. White had many alternatives to 11.Kd2. After 11...Bb4 I couldn’t see how White can get rid of the highly unpleasant knight pin. Ernesto turned desperate and played 13.g4, accepting an ending without a pawn. I surely could win it faster.
Inarkiev: I went for a sharp line, but was unable to claim any advantage. Still, I have faith in White’s position and think we’ll see more of this variation in future. 13.g4 is a horrible blunder, as after that move I obtained a very difficult position, which was hard to defend. I created some problems for Black, but realistically I couldn’t hope to survive.

180510_wang-mamedyarov.jpgWang Yue vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Wang Yue: I played this opening for the first time and didn’t quite understand what I should do. Maybe instead of 16.Nd5 I should go for 16.Ne3 with unclear play, but I wanted to act more solidly. I still thought I had the advantage until the opponent made his 22nd move.
Mamedyarov: My opponent played 3.g3 instead of his usual 3.Nc3. I was completely perplexed when I saw that move on the board – he caught me unprepared. I looked around and saw Ivanchuk playing 3...Ngе7 in the Ruy Lopez – and this man knows everything! So I decided to try something creative, too. 16.Nd5 is probably a mistake, as I have a better game after 16...b5. I obtained a certain advantage, but Wang Yue defended accurately and made a draw.

180510-rajabov-jakovenko.jpgTeimour Radjabov vs. Dmitry Jakovenko
Radjabov: I clearly had an opening advantage, because Dmitry mixed up the move order: it is better to play Ba6 and then Bb7. White had many good options, I selected one of them. The game became complicated; I was worried about possible dc and с5 advance. After 32.Nh3 Black’s position became very difficult. I was told I missed 35.е4 with the idea to sacrifice a piece on e4, but during the game it looked too risky to me. After 35...Nh7 Black made several only moves to hold his position, and my advantage evaporated... It was a very hectic game.
Jakovenko: I planned to play the usual 10...а5, but suddenly got very interested in 10...Bb7. Then I spent 40 minutes on 11...h6, because I really didn’t want making that move. Later I regretted that the rules of chess do not allow me to retreat this pawn... Teimour forced me to trade the dark-squared bishops, and obtained a clear plus. I wasn’t sure if the plan with dc and с5 worked – I thought White can always play d5, and Black is in trouble. So I tried to keep the game closed. 30...g5 looks suicidal, but somehow there was no clear win for White. The resulting position was still very difficult for Black – my bishop did not participate in the game at all. However, I held the position by a miracle – White didn’t find a good moment to carry out the e4-break. After I took on a4 I was already sure that Black holds.
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