FIDE WCC R5-2: How cool is this kid?

6/30/2004 – Teimour Radjabov and Lenier Dominguez looked content to play all night, but it had to end. It was after four tiebreak draws and past one in the morning when the 17-year-old from Baku drew the sudden death game with black to join Topalov, Adams, and Kasimdzhanov in the next round. The four-game semifinal matches begin Thursday. Report, photos, and games.

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Results of round five, game two

1 Topalov, Veselin (BUL) Kharlov, Andrei (RUS) 1-0 1-0  
2 Dominguez, Lenier (CUB) Radjabov, Teimour (AZE) 1-0 0-1 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2
3 Adams, Michael (ENG) Akopian, Vladimir (ARM) 1-0 1/2  
4 Kasimdzhanov, Rustam (UZB) Grischuk, Alexander (RUS) 1-0 0-1 1-0 1-0

Four-game semifinal matches begin July 1. Kasimdzhanov-Topalov and Radjabov-Adams


The lucky star that has been hovering over Azerbaijani GM Teimour Radjabov shone brightly today. He didn't need any luck in the first of six games he played against Lenier Dominguez of Cuba. In a must-win situation Radjabov sprung a nice opening novelty in the Sicilian and quickly demolished his opponent to force tiebreaks.

This was the fourth consecutive round in which Radjabov has played rapid and blitz tiebreaks. Only in the first round against the Polish IM Bartel (who was watching today's games at Playchess.com!) did he skip overtime. Dominguez was no easy mark in the faster games and had substantial advantages in several.

The drew both rapid games, including one in 13 moves that continued Radjabov's tournament strategy of playing short draws and moving to faster time controls whenever possible. After they drew two wild blitz games it was time for the sudden death, or armageddon, game.

Radjabov, who showed up today with a new Blues Brothers look and actually played with the sunglasses on, a la Benko vs Tal, had black, five minutes, and draw odds. Dominguez had six minutes and the white pieces and it was win or go home. After four consecutive draws, black was the safe bet and so it was. Radjabov survived his second sudden death game in Tripoli to reach a semifinal match against Mickey Adams.

Adams only needed a draw against Vladimir Akopian to reach the semis. The Armenian, shown above with his trademark glare (Adams didn't employ the sunglasses defense), played an excellent game to gain real winning chances against Adams' weak pawns.

We happened to be on the phone with the World's Strongest Kibitzer, Garry Kasparov, during the games, and he was surprised to see that the redoubtable Adams had gotten into danger in a simplified position. But the moment the solid defensive move 41...Rf6! appeared on the board Kasparov pronounced "Mickey is through [to the semifinals]." Seven moves later the draw was agreed and he was. Adams has played Radjabov five times, winning two and losing none. Four of those were rapid games at the 2002 Eurotel.

The other match to need tiebreaks was between Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Alexander Grischuk. The Russian started the day needing a win to tie the match and he had the white pieces to do it. He surprised by playing the normally quiet Queen's Gambit exchange variation. That was just a ruse, however, as suddenly Grischuk launched his h-pawn down the board, castled queenside, and went for a direct attack. "Someone should tell him that this isn't a Sicilian!" was Kasparov's comment.

Whatever it was, it worked. Much as he did in the first game, which he was winning before blundering horribly, Grischuk gained two bishops versus two knights. He used them to deadly effect to send the game into tiebreaks. Grischuk had the momentum, but Kasimdzhanov was not impressed and he ground out an endgame win in the first rapid game.

With his back to the wall Grischuk was unable to strike back in the second game despite gaining a large advantage. He could have finished things off in the diagrammed position with 40.Nxg6! Qxg3+ 41.Nxg3 fxg6 42.Rxc5.

Instead he picked another square for the knight with 40.Nh5 Qxg3+ 41.Nhxg3. Although White kept an extra pawn he couldn't convert and played on until a blunder forced him to resign. Kasimdzhanov's wins haven't been too impressive, but he has survived. Like Radjabov against Adams, he'll be a heavy underdog in his semifinal match against Veselin Topalov.


Veselin Topalov has scored an unbelievable 9.5/10 in Tripoli.
Is the world ready for two Bulgarian world champions?

Never let it be said that Topalov does anything easy. After his win yesterday, Topalov needed a draw with the black pieces against Andrei Kharlov to move into the semis. What we got was the most spectacular game of the tournament so far. (Kozul-Rublevsky is another candidate.)

When we took a glance at the game in progress with Kasparov we observed that Topalov had sacrificed the exchange for a few pawns and a powerful light-squared bishop. "What do you mean, exchange," he replied, "Topalov is down a full rook!" Oh yes, that. When Topalov gave up the exchange he had already sacrificed an entire piece!

Position after 38...Bb8

For the rook Topalov had three pawns, a serious positional advantage, and Kharlov's knight was cut off from the game on b5. "The knight is the problem," Kasparov observed around move 40, "there's no way to get it back into the game. Topalov has clear compensation, plus a big time advantage. He might even win this game."

We hope that doesn't spoil the surprise. Kharlov crumbled under Topalov's incredibly imaginative play. Giving back an exchange didn't help and Black moved in on the white king. Not content with how much he had sacrificed so far, Topalov gave up another exchange (!) to move in with his queen.
 

Here Topalov played 46...Rf4!, which seems to guarantee at least a draw against best defense. But after so many heavy blows and with his clock ticking, Kharlov had no chance to find the best defense.

White went down in flames after 47.Bxf4 Qxf4 48.Rg2? (Qe1) 48...h4! Now Black is winning. 49.Qe1 e3 50.Rh2 Qxg5+ 51.Kf1 h3! 52.Qb1 (Rxh3 Qg2#) 52...Be4 53.Qb2 Bd3+ 0-1

Fantastic.

And so we bid a fond farewell to Kharlov, Akopian, Dominguez, and Grischuk. The loss of the last two, pictured above, rules out the "Long-haired Hunks" dream final some female chess fans had hoped for. Sorry, ladies!


General information

The FIDE site, which is being hosted by Libya Telecom And Technology, looks well equipped to handle live coverage of the event. The schedule, list of players, results tree and games are all in place, there are reports and picture galleries. The start page is http://wcc2004.fide.com and http://wcclibya2004.com.

Live coverage

The live game transmission from Tripoli, apparently of all games, requires you to have Java Virtual Machine installed on your PC. This program is distributed free of charge by Sun Microsystems (and is useful for many other applications). Visit the Java check page to see if you have everything required for the live coverage and install Java if you don't. To follow the games click on "Live coverage" in the link list above. There is a "View" button behind each pairing of players. Many of the key games will also be covered and discussed on the Playchess.com server.

Schedule

Note that local time in Tripoli is the same as in Central Europe. The start of the games is generally at 14:30h, which is GMT + 2 and translates to 13:30 London, 8:30 a.m. New York, 16:30 Moscow, 18:00 New Delhi, 20:30 Hong Kong, 21:30 Tokyo, 22:30 Melbourne, and 03:00 a.m. (on the next day) in the French Polynesia-Marquesas Islands of Taiohae.

World Chess Championship 2003-2004
18 June - 13 July 2004 – Schedule
Date Day Events Games Time
18 June Friday Opening Ceremony
Players' Meeting
18.00
22.30
19 June Saturday Round 1 Game 1 14.30
20 June Sunday Round 1 Game 2*
14.30
21 June Monday Round 2 Game 1 14.30
22 June Tuesday Round 2 Game 2*
14.30
23 June Wednesday Round 3 Game 1 14.30
24 June Thursday Round 3 Game 2* 14.30
25 June Friday Rest Day
26 June Saturday Round 4 Game 1 14.30
27 June Sunday Round 4 Game 2* 14.30
28 June Monday Round 5 Game 1 14.30
29 June Tuesday Round 5 Game 2* 14.30
30 June Wednesday Rest day
1 July Thursday Round 6 Game 1 14.30
2 July Friday Round 6 Game 2 14.30
3 July Saturday Round 6 Game 3 14.30
4 July Sunday Round 6 Game 4 14.30
5 July Monday Round 6 Tie-Breaks 14.30
6 July Tuesday Final Match Game 1 14.30
7 July Wednesday Final Match Game 2 14.30
8 July Thursday Final Match Game 3 14.30
9 July Friday Rest Day
10 July Saturday Final Match Game 4 14.30
11 July Sunday Final Match Game 5 14.30
12 July Monday Final Match Game 6 14.30
13 July Tuesday Final Match Tie-breaks 12.30
13 July Tuesday Closing Ceremony 18.00
* Tie-breaks at 20:30h

 


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