A Czech mates in Turkey

5/27/2004 – A young Czech champion is leading the 2004 European Individual Championship in beautiful Antalya, Turkey. With three rounds to go nineteen-year-old David Navara is ahead of big names like Ivanchuk and Radjabov. Can he hold on? What does Kasparov think? Test your tactical prowess. We have games and analysis.

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Can Navara hold on?

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19-year-old GM David Navara of the Czech Republic is having the tournament of his life. With three rounds to play his only problem is that there are still three rounds to play! That's plenty of time for the large pack of more experienced players to catch up to the youngster if he falters. So far he's been very impressive, winning six games against a loss and three draws. Can the Czech champion last three more rounds? (Photos from the very entertaining official site.)

The long list of players in Antalya, Turkey hoping otherwise includes top seed Vassily Ivanchuk. The supertournament veteran started the event with a loss but has steadily risen since. In the last two rounds he rested with two short draws and so should have energy for the home stretch. Meanwhile Miroshnichenko has played only two draws during the entire event so far.

When you look at the leaderboard on the right you might wonder what has happened to two of the top seeds, Vadim Milov and Teimour Radjabov (photo below). The Swiss Milov was hit for a pair of losses and is out of the running.

Wunderkind Radjabov's story is simply too many draws. He started with two wins and since then has drawn eight games in a row! The last one was an 11-mover against his Azerbaijani teammate Gashimov, but overall Radjabov has simply been unable to score points against his lower-rated opposition.

According to Garry Kasparov this has much to do with how Radjabov was dropped into so many top-level events at such a young age. "He hasn't really learned how to win," was how the world #1 put it. Radjabov is used to trying to survive in Linares, where draws against the likes of the top-ten are more than reasonable.

When playing against lower-rated guys he should beat he doesn't seem able to shift gears. While Radjabov has an incredible amount of top-level experience he has never won a GM tournament because he plays in such strong events.

Kasparov was also disdainful of many of the games played in this year's event. Not because of the players, but because of the FIDE time control in use that makes consistent play all but impossible. We watched over his shoulder as he flicked through some of the Euro Ch games in ChessBase.

More than a few times he would see an interesting result and then be surprised when a very drawish position would arise in the game. "How could anybody lose this position?" he would wonder, and then watch as blunder followed blunder in the increment time control.

One of the ideas behind the increment is to avoid silly losses on time in even positions, or to allow a clearly winning position to be converted. But when you start with only 90 minutes and don't get any more time at move 40, the endgame is often a total disaster. This makes the games a little painful to annotate, we admit. We don't like to show strong Grandmaster playing blunders in relatively simple positions.

Ivanchuk – Radulski after 29.Bg3

This position is anything but simple, but it IS simply terrible. White has no way to deal with the pressure on the h-file and the top seed resigned after 29...Nxg4! 0-1

It's curtains after 30.fxg4 Rxg3+ 31.Kxg3 Qh3+ 32.Kf2 Bh4+ (the point) 33.Rg3 Bxg3+ 34.Kg1 Bxg4 and Black has a few extra pawns and a continuing attack.

Navara – Anastasian after 37...Rc5?!

Here the tournament leader used a pretty trick to force liquidation into a winning rook endgame.

38.Rb4! Rxc2+ (38...Rxb4?? 39.Re8# checkmate) 39.Rxc2 Rxb4 40.Rc8+ Kh7 41.Kb2 Ra4 42.Rc5 Ra2+ 43.Kxb3 Rxg2 44.a6 and White won the race easily.

Nyback – Ivanchuk after 29.Bd2??

White was hoping to prevent ..c3 but he only made it more powerful! Some interesting skewers make this tactic a little hard to see.

29...c3! 30.Bxc3 b4 pinning and winning the bishop was the prosaic game continuation and White resigned a few moves later. The c3 pawn was immune.

30.bxc3 Rxd2 wins a piece (also 30...Qd5+ 31.e4 Qxd2)

Jobava – Aronian after 14.Na3?

You can't blame this one on the time control. Black makes a pawn disappear in thin air.

14...Bxh3! 15.c4!? Offering the a1 rook to get at the black king and the h3 bishop at the same time. Fritz says Black can take the rook, but it wouldn't be an easy defense for a human after 15...Qxa1 16.c5. However, 15...Ng4! hitting f2 was very strong. Black retreated with 15...Bd7 and won on move 31.

White couldn't capture the h3 bishop because of mate in five with 15.gxh3?? Qg3+ and ..Ng4 is coming.


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