GP in Astrakhan: Eljanov leads, two rounds to go

5/23/2010 – After eleven of the thirteen rounds in the FIDE Grand Prix the Ukrainian GM Pavel Iljanov has a full point lead over his nearest rivals. It is, however, Teimour Radjabov, in equal second position, who has the best chances of qualifying for a place in the World Championship cycle. Tension is high, as is the "chicken factor" (68% draws). Big illustrated report.

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The Sixth Grand Prix is taking place from May 10th to 25th in the new State Drama Theatre of the city of Astrakhan. The stakes are extremely high, not only on account of the high prestige of winning the event but also because a ticket can be won here to the candidates' matches.

Round ten – May 21, 2010

Svidler Peter
½-½
Jakovenko Dmitry
Gelfand Boris
½-½
Ivanchuk Vassily
Eljanov Pavel
1-0
Leko Peter
Akopian Vladimir
0-1
Radjabov Teimour
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
½-½
Ponomariov Ruslan
Gashimov Vugar
1-0
Inarkiev Ernesto
Wang Yue
½-½
Alekseev Evgeny

Pavel Eljanov remained in the lead with three rounds to go, following his round ten win against Peter Leko. The Ukrainian started the Grand Prix series as an underdog, but has improved significantly during the last couple of years, and arrived in Astrakhan as one of the favorites. He confirmed this status with very confident play.


Vugar Gashimov (left) remained the only player half a point behind the leader,
following his win against Ernesto Inarkiev.


Shakhriyar vs. Ponomariov ended quickly in a draw (25 moves)

In Wang Yue vs. Alekseev the Chinese grandmaster possessed the initiative for the whole game, but Alekseev defended resourcefully and did not allow White to develop that advantage into anything real.

Akopian vs Radjabov saw the Armenian grandmaster reacting rather toothlessly to the Sveshnikov Sicilian, and allowing Black to achieve a comfortable game. After the queens were traded, Black got the initiative, won two pawns, and forced his opponent to resign.


Isareli GM Boris Gelfand

Gelfand vs. Ivanchuk was a Grünfeld, with White going for a quiet line. The queens were exchanged early on, and Black brought his pieces to comfortable squares, following White’s slight delay with establishing the central control. Gelfand was forced to trade pieces and opt for a draw in 26 moves.


Peter Svidler and Dmitry Jakovenko in the press conference after the R10 game

Svidler vs. Jakovenko was a Catalan in which Jakovenko accepted a passive but very solid position. Svidler needed to break Black’s strong defensive line. In the middlegame White obtained a queenside pawn majority, however, Black pieces came out to good squares, and his queen became very active. White eventually had to accept the move repetition – a draw on the 40th move.

Full report...

Round ten – May 21, 2010

Alekseev Evgeny
½-½
Svidler Peter
Inarkiev Ernesto
½-½
Wang Yue
Ponomariov Ruslan
1-0
Gashimov Vugar
Radjabov Teimour
1-0
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
Leko Peter
½-½
Akopian Vladimir
Ivanchuk Vassily
½-½
Eljanov Pavel
Jakovenko Dmitry
½-½
Gelfand Boris
A panorama view of round eleven in Astrakhan (with horizontal scroll)

Teimour Radjabov (picture above) regained his chances to qualify for the candidates' matches after his win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Let us remind you that the main contenders for the qualification spot are Radjabov, Wang Yue, Vugar Gashimov, Peter Leko, and Dmitry Jakovenko.


Vassily Ivanchuk, the top seed Ukrainian player, did not torture his teammate Pavel
Eljanov, who is leading in this event. The game was drawn on the 25th move.

The five-time Russian champion Peter Svidler selected the Scheveningen Sicilian, which he does not use that often. Evgeny Alekseev avoided the sharpest lines and went for a quiet game, which ended in a draw after 22 moves.


Ukrainian GM Ruslan Ponomariov

Ponomariov avoided Gashimov’s main weapon, the Benoni Defense, and went for the English Opening schemes, obtaining a significant advantage thanks to Black’s reckless play. Vugar Gashimov was forced to resign, on the 47th move.

Dmitry Jakovenko showed an improvement in the Petroff line that was played in Leko-Gelfand in Astrakhan. This time Boris Gelfand did not react in the best way, and Jakovenko was able to force a heavy-piece ending with an extra pawn. However, instead he went for a queen ending where Black had sufficient resources to hold. On the 49th move Gelfand sacrificed a pawn and created an unbreakable fortress. The game was drawn in four more moves.


Back at 50% after a round ten loss: Hungarian GM Peter Leko

After 20 theoretical moves in the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez Peter Leko obtained a slight advantage. However, Black could hold the position with accurate play. Vladimir Akopian demonstrated the required accuracy, exchanged a few pieces, and parried all White’s attempts to play for a win in the ending.

Photos by Nikita Kim and Eldar Mukhametov by courtesy of FIDE.

Pairings for round twelve (Sunday)

Svidler Peter
-
Gelfand Boris
Eljanov Pavel
-
Jakovenko Dmitry
Akopian Vladimir
-
Ivanchuk Vassily
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
-
Leko Peter
Gashimov Vugar
-
Radjabov Teimour
Wang Yue
-
Ponomariov Ruslan
Alekseev Evgeny
-
Inarkiev Ernesto

Information, images and games by courtesy of FIDE

Standings after eleven rounds

Statistics

Of the 77 games played so far:

  • 68% (53 games) have ended in draws
  • White won 12 games = 16%
  • Black won 12 games = 16%

We conclude that the "chicken factor" is relatively
high in this tournament.


Links

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