Round 6 Report by Geoffrey Borg
Sunday, 16 May 2010
The first rest day saw Ukrainian GM, Pavel Eljanov, going into the sole lead with +2 or 3.5 pts / 5 games. Pavel celebrated his 27th birthday just at the start of the tournament and the result is quite merited as he has been steadily improving from one GP tournament to another. This is also reflected in his other tournaments and he enjoys a current no.9 world ranking. Only one point separated thirteen players after round 5, obviously reflecting the cautious play adopted so far.
With so many heavyweight Grandmasters around, we had some very important games again on the stage in Astrakhan today. We had some great fighting games and after 3.5 hours only one game (Svidler - Leko) had finished and the six other tables were showing some very interesting chess. Eventually Mamedyarov - Gashimov also petered out after some heavy pieces were exchanged just before the time control. In general, the no-draw offer rules have turned out well and we are getting great chess in the large majority of the games.
Pavel ELJANOV – Evgeny ALEKSEEV 0 - 1
Today, Eljanov employed one of the trendy ideas against GM Alekseev of Russia who chose the solid Queen’s Indian Defence. With 7.Re1, white gets black to lose a tempo with 7…Qc8 and only then develops the knight to c3. Alekseev seemed to be well prepared however and around move 20 was enjoying a 30 minute advantage on the clock.
This advantage continued as Alexeev started to increase his positional advantage and around move 27 white had 9 minutes left for 13 moves against Alekseev’s 26 minutes. Black soon picked up a pawn and white was in deep trouble. Eljanov managed to fight valiantly for quite some time but the position was really very difficult for him and Alekseev played well to clinch the win. Final times (0:00 – 0:14)
Vassily IVANCHUK – Teimour RADJABOV ½ - ½
The unpredictable Ivanchuk (with white) faced Radjabov in this round.
Both players have still got chances of qualifying for the Candidates
although their approach in the tournament so far has been diametrically
opposite. Once again, Ivanchuk avoided going into a major theoretical
duel in the King’s Indian and selected instead a minor but sharp
variation of the English opening.
Black was first to innovate as early as move 8 which is of course quite
rare at this level. He reached a good position but then started to get
into a bit of time trouble and at move 31 black had 22 minutes left
against Ivanchuk’s 1h06. Teimour won a piece but white started to create
some counter-play and whilst the engines may have been yelling a big
advantage for black, it looked very difficult to convert. Ivanchuk was
also playing the endgame quite fast and accurately. Eventually, the two
extra pawns on the kingside served white’s purpose and there was nothing
more to play with. Final Times (1:20 – 0:11)
Boris GELFAND – Ernesto INARKIEV 0-1
GM Gelfand may be hoping to repeat his great performance in Khanty
Mansiysk also in Astrakhan. Boris has already qualified for next year’s
Candidates after his World Cup win but he still wishes to add a GP
trophy to his cabinet back home. Breathing down the leader’s neck, he
had white against another player on +1, GM Inarkiev from Russia and
Elista. Although the lowest rated in the tournament, Ernesto has been
quite capable of scalping several 2700+ GMs during the GP series.
Boris elected to play his favourite line against the Meran with a
positional buildup with 6.Qc2. The two GMs trotted out 19 moves of
theory before black essayed 19...a6 in lieu of the previous 19…bxa4
played in a cyber game.
It appears that black equalized shortly after and then the game trend
started to swing in his favour. 26.Qc1 may have been inaccurate as after
26…b4, white gave up two pieces for the rook and Inarkiev milked this
advantage to clinch the full point and become the leader of the
tournament! Final times (0:59 – 0:24)
Dmitry JAKOVENKO – Ruslan PONOMARIOV 1 - 0
Two Berlin experts clashed today but not in a Spanish Opening! GM
Jakovenko was white against former FIDE World Champion and wild card for
this tournament, GM Ruslan Ponomariov. In a Grunfeld Indian he selected
a system with 7.Nf3 and 8.Be3 with white innovating on move 13 with
Bf4. Jakovenko built up an advantage and Ponomariov, in a difficult
position, eventually blundered on move 21…Qc6? missing 22.Bxb5!
immediately winning an important pawn.
Black put up a lot of resistance after this, and this is an important
lesson for all of us since one should never give up when there may still
be some small chances of survival. Nevertheless, Jakovenko’s technique
was flawless and he gave black no real chance to save the game. Final
times (0:41 – 0:11)
Shakhryar MAMEDYAROV – Vugar GASHIMOV ½ - ½
The all Azerbaijani derby between Mamedyarov and Gashimov was very
interesting not only from the perspective of two team mates who have
possibly worked and analysed so many lines together but also as both
players are today constantly jockeying with Radjabov for the number one
place in their country. Gashimov abandoned his Benoni and in a Catalan
style line, black took the pawn on c4 and gave white ample space to
prove his compensation.
Shaki pressed continuously and both players consumed great amounts of
time so that by move 16 they had both around 40 minutes left. However,
after recovering his pawn, the position offered little chances for white
and a few piece exchanges before the time control led to bishops of
opposite colour ending with no chances for any side. Final times (1:00 –
Petr SVIDLER – Peter LEKO ½ - ½
Black has been doing very well these last couple of years with the
Berlin Defence and the GP in Astrakhan is no exception. White got
nothing special in Svidler vs Leko. Leko appears to be completely at
home, both with white and black in this line and he had drawn in the
line that Peter chose with the white pieces against Alexeev in the
Elista GP in 2008. The exchange of several pieces shortly after the
opening ended up in an endgame with bishops of opposite colours and
little chances for any side to win. Final times (0:32 – 0:52)
Vladimir AKOPIAN – Wang YUE 0 - 1
Last but not least, was a match between two solid and technical players.
Akopian and Wang Yue went for one of the main lines of the Petroff.
Both players have considerable experience in the Petroff and 17.Qc1 was
played before by Akopian against Kasimdzhanov in another GP tournament!
There black went 17…Bf6 but Wang Yue tried 17…Qd7 instead.
Wang Yue was looking to bounce back, after his round 5 defeat and the
missed win in an earlier round against Dmitry Yakovenko. Only a win
today could put him back with realistic chances of qualifying for the
coveted Candidates place.
He pressed for a long time and eventually was rewarded with a position
having an outside passed pawn. Additionally, white had a somewhat bad
bishop also to resolve. Vladimir put up strong resistance but the
Chinese player’s persistence won through and he obtained the full point.
Final times (0:03 – 0:02)