Bucharest Kings Rd4: Missed wins

11/11/2012 – If round two could be described as missed opportunities, round four was one of outright missed wins. Both Nisipeanu and Caruana will wonder how they failed to win, while Topalov and Ivanchuk will thank their lucky stars. It was an intensely exciting round with superb examples of how resourceful the greats can be when needed. Report and analysis by GM Rogozenco.

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The Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest is staging a double round robin tournament with four top GMs: Italian Fabiano Caruana, Italy's greatest player since the Renaissance, Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov, former world champion and world number one, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, the best Romanian player. The competition is taking place from November 7th to 13th 2012 in Bucharest, Romania.

Round four report

by GM Dorian Rogozenco

Round 4: Sunday, November 10, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk


Topalov, organisers Dan Gabor and Elisabeta Polihroniade, Ivanchuk with Arbiter Faik
Gasanov.

In the fourth round of Kings Tournament both players with the White pieces were winning at some stage, but they both missed it and the games ended in a draw.


Topalov is mystified how two extra tempi could lead to such a problematic position

"Strange, I had a theoretical position with two tempi up, but got in a very passive and unpleasant situation", said Veselin Topalov at the press conference. Indeed the game Caruana-Topalov transposed from the Sicilian Defense into what looked like a nice version of the Benoni for Black. However, with precise play Caruana succeeded in neutralizing Black’s extra tempi. Topalov had nothing better than to wait without any clear plan to improve his position. In mutual time-trouble the ex-World Champion started active play, but erred soon and was forced to play a position with an exchange down after the time control. The position was winning for White, but Topalov is known as a great fighter and he proved it today once again, by fully using the inaccuracies of his opponent.

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.11"] [Round "4"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano GM"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin GM"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2769"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "162"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ {On the highest level the check on b5 started to gain some popularity lately mainly due to the fact that the World Champion Anand was facing obvious problems against it this year.} Nd7 {The most ambitious reply.} 4. O-O ({More often White plays} 4. d4 {here}) 4... a6 {[#]} 5. Bd3 {A rather unusual retreat. White's plan is c3, Bc2 and d4.} Ngf6 6. c3 g6 7. Bc2 Bg7 8. d4 Qc7 9. a4 O-O {[#]} 10. d5 {A very responsible decision. White transfers to Benoni structure with some tempis down (c3-c4, Bb5-d3-c2).} b6 ({After the immediate} 10... Rb8 {White can play} 11. a5) 11. c4 e6 ({ Perhaps better was} 11... e5 {said Veselin Topalov after the game.}) 12. Nc3 ( 12. dxe6 fxe6 13. Nc3 {was an interesting alternative.}) 12... exd5 13. cxd5 ({ Again, a very serious alternative was} 13. exd5 {hoping to use the space advantage. Then} Ng4 14. h3 Nge5 15. Nd2 f5 16. f4 Nf7 {is marginally better for White.}) 13... Re8 14. h3 Rb8 {[#] Comparing to the usual line in Benoni, here Black has two extra tempis and now he threatens to play b6-b5. Sounds great, but chess can be strange sometimes...} 15. Qe2 $1 {A very concrete approach. It is important to prevent 15...b5. Black cannot use the fact that white queen is on the e-file and it is surprisingly difficult for him to get counterplay.} Ne5 ({If} 15... Qb7 {with two ideas - 16...b5 and 16...Nxd5 - White has} 16. Bd3 $1 {defending against both.}) (15... c4 16. Be3 {is also better for White.}) 16. Nxe5 ({In case of} 16. Nd2 {Black consider even} g5) 16... Rxe5 17. Be3 Re8 18. Bd3 $1 {White succeeded to prevent any counterplay from Black and his prospects are better.} Bb7 19. Rac1 (19. Bxa6 Bxa6 20. Qxa6 Nxe4 {obviously favours Black.}) 19... Re7 20. Qd2 {Although this move releases control over square b5 and Black can start to regroup his pieces in order to prepare the advance of the b-pawn, we'll see that things are not so simple.} Qd7 21. b3 Bc8 22. Bh6 {[#]} Bh8 ({Here Black could play} 22... b5 { but both players evaluated the position after} 23. Bxg7 Kxg7 24. axb5 axb5 25. Rfe1 {as clearly better for White. I myself am slightly surprised, as I thought that Black is just slightly worse here.}) 23. Qe2 $1 {Now Black must suffer again. Next moves show that Topalov didn't have a clear plan.} Re8 24. Rfe1 Ra8 25. Qf3 Qc7 26. Qg3 Nd7 27. f4 {On his side Caruana slowly improves the position.} Bb7 28. Kh1 Nf6 29. Bc4 Nh5 30. Qf3 Rab8 {Topalov clearly has problems finding an useful move.} 31. Rcd1 $1 ({If White starts active play right away with} 31. g4 Nf6 32. e5 {then after} dxe5 33. fxe5 Rxe5 34. Rxe5 Qxe5 35. Bf4 Qe8 36. Bxb8 Qxb8 {Black has compensation for the exchange.}) 31... Ra8 32. Rd2 b5 {Finally Topalov sets the board on fire. It was difficult to wait any longer, since Caruana was improving his position with each move. The mutual time trouble explains the upcoming tactical mistakes.} 33. axb5 Qa5 34. e5 ({Not} 34. bxa6 Qxc3 {with advantage for Black}) 34... dxe5 35. Rde2 $2 {This logical move has concrete drawback. [#]} ({After} 35. bxa6 Bxa6 36. Ra2 ({also} 36. Rde2 {is strong}) 36... e4 {(the only move to stay in the game)} 37. Rxe4 Qxc3 38. Qxc3 Bxc3 39. Rxe8+ Rxe8 40. Rxa6 {the endgame with a pawn up should be winning for White.}) 35... e4 $2 {The right idea, the wrong time.} ({Correct was first} 35... axb5 $1 36. Nxb5 (36. Bxb5 {loses a piece after} e4 $1) 36... e4 {with double-edged position, since White cannot take on e4:} 37. Rxe4 Qxe1+ 38. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 39. Kh2 Raa1 {winning}) 36. Nxe4 axb5 37. g4 $1 { This is the move missed by Topalov in time-trouble.} Rxe4 {Loses,} ({but also the position after} 37... bxc4 38. bxc4) ({or} 37... f5 38. gxf5 bxc4 39. bxc4 {is difficult for Black, especially with few seconds left.}) 38. Rxe4 Nf6 39. Re7 bxc4 40. bxc4 Bg7 41. Bxg7 Kxg7 {The time control is over and after the next precise move from Caruana it becomes clear that Black is in serious troubles.} 42. f5 $1 (42. Rxb7 {would be a blunder, of course, due to} Qxe1+) 42... g5 {A tough decision, but unfortunately for Topalov, there is nothing better and he must give up the bishop in order to prevent a direct crushing attack.} ({If} 42... Ba6 {then} 43. fxg6 hxg6 44. g5 {winning}) 43. Qe3 $1 { Attacking pawn g5 and protecting the rook on e1.} h6 44. Qe6 Rf8 45. Rxb7 {[#] Now it looks that White's victory is just a matter of time. Caruana's temporary technical problems are connected with the exposed position of his king, but Black is tied up and is unable to set problems with the queen alone.} Qc3 46. Kg2 Qxc4 47. d6 Qd3 48. Re3 Qd1 49. Re1 Qd2+ 50. Re2 Qd3 51. Re7 $1 c4 52. d7 c3 53. Qc6 Qd4 54. Qc7 {The main threat is 55.Rxf7+} Qd3 {[#]} (54... Qd5+ 55. Kh2 Qd3 56. d8=Q {is almost similar to the game, while}) (54... Nd5 { loses due to} 55. d8=Q) 55. d8=Q (55. Rxf7+ {doesn't work, because after} Rxf7 56. d8=Q {the rook on e2 is hanging.}) 55... Rxd8 56. Rxf7+ Kg8 57. Rg7+ Kh8 58. Rge7 h5 {[#]} 59. gxh5 ({Simpler is} 59. Qe5 {avoiding all tactics.} Qd5+ ( 59... Rf8 60. Rc7 Qd5+ 61. Kg3 h4+ 62. Kf2 {is hopeless for Black}) 60. Qxd5 Nxd5 (60... Rxd5 61. Rc7 hxg4 62. hxg4 Rd4 {was Topalov's intention, but it loses right away after} 63. Rc8+) 61. Re8+ Rxe8 62. Rxe8+ Kg7 63. Rc8 {looks completely winning. For some reasons Caruana wasn't so sure that White's win is simple here.}) 59... g4 {Topalov is trying to use all the resources of Black's position. Under such pressure even a player of Caruana's calibre can collapse.} 60. hxg4 Qd5+ 61. Kg3 ({It is not simple to find computer's move} 61. Kh2 {and White wins everywhere.}) 61... Qd4 (61... Rg8 {runs into the nice refutation} 62. Rh7+ Nxh7 63. Qxc3+ Rg7 64. Re8+) 62. Qf4 Qxf4+ 63. Kxf4 Nd5+ { [#]} 64. Kf3 {Possibly this is still winning, but as Topalov said after the game "everything wins except 64.Kf3".} (64. Kg5 Rg8+ ({Other moves don't help either:} 64... Nxe7 65. Rxe7 Rc8 66. Re1 c2 67. Rc1 Kg7 68. h6+ Kh7 69. Kh5) ({ or} 64... c2 65. Re8+ Kh7 66. R2e7+ Nxe7 67. Rxe7+ Kg8 68. Rc7) 65. Kh4 c2 66. Rxc2 Nxe7 67. f6 Nd5 68. Rf2) (64. Kg3 $1 {wins as well. The difference to the game continuation can be seen in the following variation:} c2 65. Re8+ Kg7 66. f6+ Nxf6 67. R2e7+ Kh6 68. Rxd8 c1=Q 69. Rh8+ Kg5 70. Rg7#) 64... c2 $1 {Now in order to keep winning chances White must find some good version to play a position with rook and three pawns versus knight.} 65. Re8+ ({Better is} 65. Rxc2 Nxe7 66. f6 Nd5 67. Rc6) 65... Kg7 $1 (65... Kh7 {loses:} 66. R2e7+ Kh6 67. Re6+ Kh7 68. Rxd8 c1=Q 69. Rd7+) 66. h6+ ({In opposite to the variation 64. Kg3, here} 66. f6+ Nxf6 $1 67. R2e7+ Kh6 {is a draw}) 66... Kf7 67. Rxd8 ({ Here after} 67. Rxc2 Rxe8 68. g5 Re3+ {Black will probably escape.}) 67... c1=Q {Now the position is objectively a draw.} 68. Rd7+ (68. Rxd5 Qh1+ 69. Rg2 Qh3+ 70. Kf2 Qh4+ 71. Kf1 Qh1+ {White can't escape perpetual}) 68... Kf6 69. Rd6+ Kf7 70. Rd7+ Kf6 71. g5+ Kxg5 72. Rxd5 Qf4+ ({After} 72... Qh1+ {the answer} 73. Rg2+ {is with check. This is the idea behind 71.g5+}) 73. Kg2 Qg4+ 74. Kf2 Qf4+ 75. Kg1 Qc1+ 76. Kg2 Qc6 77. Red2 Kxh6 78. Kg3 Kg5 79. f6+ Kg6 80. R2d3 Qc7+ 81. Rd6 Qc5 1/2-1/2


The post-mortem analysis of Ivanchuk-Caruana


Nisipeanu came very close to avenging his first round loss to Ivanchuk

Nisipeanu achieved a large advantage against Ivanchuk after the Ukrainian misplayed the middlegame with unsuccessful knight maneuvers. However, at some point the Romanian GM "completely lost control of the game", as he himself put it afterwards. Ivanchuk activated his rooks and gave a perpetual after sacrificing his queen.


Some players make a career of an opening. Ivanchuk has made a career of them all...

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.11"] [Round "4"] [White "Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2668"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] {The encounters between Ivanchuk and Nisipeanu are always highly principled. They had a long history, starting with the FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas, 1999, when Nisipeanu knocked Ivanchuk out of the competition. Let's not forget that the only decisive game in the first three rounds in Bucharest was between these players and Nisipeanu was certainly eager to level the score. } 1. e4 e6 {So... a French Defence today. There are two ways to prepare against the "Ukrainian genius": either repeat everything and be ready for all openings (can anyone do that properly?), or pick up one variation, prepare it, and then pray that Ivanchuk will choose it! Oh yes, there is one more option, probably the most common: just forget about concrete preparation before the game and save your time. Against 1.e4 in the past three years Ivanchuk played 37 times - 1...e5, 31 times - 1...c5, 13 times - 1...c6, 11 times 1... e6 and several times 1...d5, 1...d6, 1...g6 each. He even played 1...Nf6 twice. One really must be lucky to even guess Ivanchuk's very first move!} 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 ({In his last game against French Nisipeanu played the Advanced Variation: } 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Na3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Bxa3 8. bxa3 Nge7 9. Rb1 Nf5 10. Rxb7 Na5 11. Rb4 Nc6 {with unclear complications in Nisipeanu,L (2661) -Potkin,V (2663) Eilat 2012. That game ended in a draw after very long fight.}) 3... Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qa5 {Ivanchuk had never played this move before and it came as a surprise for Nisipeanu.} ({The usual continuation is} 6... Ne7 {played by Ivanchuk several times in the past.}) 7. Bd2 Qa4 8. Qg4 { [#]} Kf8 {"I knew only about 8...g6 9.Qd1, but it doesn't really makes a difference comparing to 8...Kf8, since the position is not concrete yet", said Nisipeanu after the game.} 9. Qd1 Ne7 10. Qb1 {This is the usual way of playing in this variation. White puts some pressure on Black's queenside and prepares at some moment Bb5. The idea is to provoke c5-c4 before starting active actions on the kingside.} Nbc6 11. Nf3 c4 ({After} 11... a6 {White achieves advantage with} 12. Qb3) 12. g3 (12. h4 {is another attractive possibility.}) 12... h6 13. Nh4 Ke8 14. Bh3 Rg8 {Both players were critical with Black's moves around here.} 15. Qd1 Ng6 16. Ng2 (16. Nxg6 {would be a mistake. The position after} fxg6 {is very hard to break.}) 16... Nce7 17. O-O Bd7 {[#]} 18. Ne3 $1 {Starting with this moment Nisipeanu nicely outplays his strong opponent.} Qa5 {The idea is to protect the d5-pawn in order to meet f2-f4 with Ne7-f5.} 19. Qh5 $1 (19. f4 Nf5 $1 {and after} 20. Bxf5 exf5 {the queen from a5 protects the pawn d5.}) 19... Nf8 20. f4 {White threatens to advance further the f-pawn, destroying Black's bastions.} g6 {Ivanchuk sacrifices a pawn in order to slow down White's initiative} ({A subtle alternative was} 20... Kd8 {and White can neither advance the f-pawn yet, nor take on f7:} 21. f5 (21. Qxf7 $2 Be8) 21... exf5 22. Bxf5 $2 g6 {and Bxb7 is without check (the point behind 20...Kd8).}) 21. Qxh6 Nf5 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. Kh1 Rc8 (23... Ng6 24. g4) 24. Rg1 (24. g4 fxg4 25. f5 exf5 26. Nxf5 Bxf5 27. Rxf5 Rc6 {is acceptable for Black.}) 24... Qa4 {[#]} 25. Qh4 {Around here Nisipeanu is starting to "lose control" and slowly lets his huge advantage slip away.} ({ His move 25.Qh4 is not bad, but simpler was} 25. g4 {and Black is in deep troubles:} Rg6 (25... fxg4 26. Nxg4 Kd8 27. Qf6+ Kc7 28. Qxf7) 26. Qh4 fxg4 27. Nxg4 Qxc2 28. Nf6+ Rxf6 29. Qxf6 Qe4+ 30. Rg2) 25... Rc6 26. g4 Ng6 27. gxf5 exf5 28. Qh7 (28. Nxd5 $4 Qa5) 28... Rh8 29. Qg7 (29. Qxh8+ {is unclear:} Nxh8 30. Rg8+ Ke7 31. Rxh8 Be6) 29... Rh3 ({Objectively better is} 29... Rf8) 30. Qg8+ (30. Nxd5 {leads to large advantage after:} Qxc2 31. Rg2) 30... Nf8 31. Rg7 (31. Rg3 Rg6 $1 32. Rxg6 fxg6) 31... Be6 32. Rg3 Rh5 (32... f6 {would catch white queen:} 33. Qg7 Rh7 34. Qxf6 Bd7 35. Qg5 Rg6 {although after} 36. Qxg6+ Nxg6 37. Rxg6 {White's chances are still preferable}) 33. Qg7 Rb6 34. Rgg1 Rb2 (34... Ng6 $5) 35. Rgb1 {[#]} Rxc2 {Ivanchuk is willing to exchange the rook for white knight.} 36. Rb4 $2 ({In severe time-trouble White misses the strong} 36. Qg2 $1 {threatening 37.Rb4. Then} Rxd2 37. Qxd2 {is a large advantage for White, since he remained with the knight instead of the weak bishop.}) (36. Nxc2 Qxc2 {offers some positional compensation for the exchange. }) 36... Rxd2 $1 {Now Black escapes with perpetual.} 37. Rxa4 Rdxh2+ 38. Kg1 Rh1+ 39. Kf2 R5h2+ 40. Kg3 ({It makes little sense to play} 40. Ng2 Rxa1 41. Rxa7 (41. Kg3 Rh7 42. Qf6 a6 {is bad for White, since his pieces don't coordinate at all, while the king is exposed to black rooks}) 41... Ra2+ 42. Kg1 Raxg2+ 43. Qxg2 Rxg2+ 44. Kxg2 Bc8 {since here White obviously has no more than a draw anyway.}) 40... Rh3+ 41. Kg2 R3h2+ 42. Kg3 Rh3+ 43. Kg2 1/2-1/2

A nice escape for both Ivanchuk and Topalov .


Nisipeanu and Ivanchuk breakdown their game in the post-mortem


Ion Antonescu (sponsor and hotel owner),  Elisabeta Polihroniade, Daniel Maruis
Antonescu (son of Ion and CEO), Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (New in Chess), Nisipeanu,
Rogozenco and Gasanov.

Standings after four rounds

All photos by Pascal Simon and Macauley Peterson


Schedule and results

Round 1: Wednesday, November 7, 15:30h
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Round 2: Thursday, November 8, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 3: Friday, November 9, 15:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Round 4: Sunday, November 10, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 5: Monday, November 11, 15:30h
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
   Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Veselin Topalov
Round 6: Tuesday, November 12, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
   Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

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