Medias R2: All games drawn, Gelfand, Nisipeanu lead

6/16/2010 – In the second round of the Turneul Regilor in Romania all three games ended in a draw. Wang Yue tried to outplay Ponomariov in a quiet Catalan endgame; Gelfand-Nisipeanu was balanced and resulted in a safe endgame with knights versus bishops; Radjabov-Carlsen, the longest game of the round, saw the Norwegian equalise and vainly press for a win. Commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenco.

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ROMGAZ and the Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest are staging a double round robin tournament with six top GMs: the world's highest ranked player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who at the age of 19 has an Elo rating of 2813. Ukrainian GM Ruslan Ponomariov is a former FIDE knockout world champion; Boris Gelfand of Israel, winner of the FIDE World Cup in 2009; the top Chinese player Wang Yue; Teimour Radjabov, the second highest ranked player of Azerbaijan, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, the best Romanian player. The competition is taking place from June 14th to 25th 2010 in Medias, Romania.

Round two summary

By GM Dorian Rogozenco

Results of round two (Tuesday June 15, 2010)
Gelfand, Boris
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter
Wang Yue
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour
Carlsen, Magnus

In the second round all three games ended in a draw. Wang Yue tried to outplay Ponomariov in a quiet Catalan endgame, but the Ukrainian didn’t have problems to achieve a draw. “I slowly get fed up by having the Catalan in every game”, said Ponomariov, who was on the black side of this opening in both starting rounds.

Gelfand-Nisipeanu was a balanced game, where the Israeli got the bishop pair from the opening, compensated by Black’s lead in development. Nisipeanu was keeping the initiative in a very creative way by advancing the pawns from his own king. He seized the space on the queenside, which later secured him a safe endgame with knights versus bishops.

Radjabov-Carlsen was the longest game of the round. Teimour is still fighting with the flu and chose an offbeat system against Sicilian. Carlsen didn't have any problems to quickly achieve a good game, but Radjabov defended carefully and the tactical complications lead to an endgame with minimal advantage for Carlsen, which wasn’t enough for serious winning attempts.

Current standings

Wang,Yue - Ponomariov,Ruslan [E05]
Kings' Tournament Medias Bazna/Romania (2), 15.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

The Chinese Grandmaster is still visibly tired after the long flight from China, followed by a very tough game in the next round. So his choice of the variation is not surprising. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Rd1 Qc8 15.Ba5 c5 16.dxc5 Qxc5 17.Qxc5 Bxc5 18.Nbd2

White's hopes for advantage in such type of endgames are connected with Black's slightly weakened queenside pawn structure. For that purpose White exchanges the light-squared bishops and tries to find a way to use the weak light squares in Black's camp. 18...Rc8 19.Rac1 Nbd7 20.Ne5 Bxg2 21.Nxd7 Nxd7 22.Kxg2 Nf6. 22...Kf8? would be a blunder in view of 23.Nb3 (or 23.Ne4 ). 23.Rc2 Be7 24.Rdc1 Rxc2 25.Rxc2 Kf8

The control of the c-file secures White at least a slight advantage and the question is whether he will be able to use it in order to create a real pressure. In the game Wang Yue failed to do it. 26.f4. Although this move was criticized by the Chinese Grandmaster, it looks natural. White's plan is Kf3 and g4. [26.Rc7 Ke8 brings White nothing, since Black already threatens 27...Bd8.; Wang Yue suggested 26.a3 instead, and only then f2-f4.] 26...Nd5 27.Rc1. After 27.Kf3 Black can choose which piece to place on b4. However, in both cases White still keeps chances for advantage. 27...Bb4 (or 27...Nb4 28.Bxb4 Bxb4 29.Ne4) 28.Nb3! Bxa5 29.Nxa5 Nb4 30.Rc7 Nxa2 31.Nc6 with activity for the pawn. 27...Ke8. With the rook on c1 27...Bb4 is not the same any longer 28.Bxb4+ Nxb4 29.a3 Nd5 30.Kf3. 28.Kf3 f5 29.e4 fxe4+ 30.Nxe4 Kd7

Now that Black covered all important squares on the c-file the position became equal. White's slightly better pawn structure is not enough for advantage. 31.Nc3 Nf6 32.Ne4 Nd5 33.Nc3 Nf6 34.Rd1+ Ke8 35.Bc7 Rc8 36.Be5 Bf8 37.g4 Nd7 38.Bd6

White seems to have managed to create some pressure, but the next two precise moves from Ponomariov show that Black easily keeps the balance. 38...Be7! 39.Re1 Rc6! Not 39...Bxd6 40.Rxe6+ Be7 41.Nd5. 40.Bxe7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Gelfand,Boris - Nisipeanu,Liviu-Dieter [D20]
Kings' Tournament Medias Bazna/Romania (2), 15.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

1.d4 d5. Last year in Bazna Nisipeanu chose the sharp King's Indian against Gelfand and White won a game, which later the Israeli Grandmaster characterized as one of the best games of his career. This time the Romanian player changes the opening. 2.c4 dxc4. Nisipeanu has played the Queen's Gambit Accepted occasionally before, but his records in this opening were not particularly impressive. 3.e4. The most principled continuation. 3...e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Bxc4 Nc6 6.0-0 Be6 7.Bb5. 7.Bxe6 fxe6 8.Qb3 Qd7 9.Qxb7 Rb8 10.Qa6 is another theoretical line. 7...Bc5

8.Nbd2. Here Gelfand deviates from the sharp 8.b4 Bb6 (8...Bxb4? 9.Qa4) 9.a4 which actually caused two losses to Nisipeanu in the past. "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg", said Boris after the game. 8...Nge7. 8...Qd6 9.e5 Qd5 10.Ng5 0-0-0 11.Bc4 Qd7 12.Nxe6 fxe6 13.b4 Nxb4 14.Qb3 Nd5 15.Ne4 Bb6 16.a4 happened in Kasparov,G (2812)-Anand,V (2781)/Linares 1999. 9.Ng5. 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.Nbxd4 Bd7 11.Nxc6 Bxc6 12.Qb3 0-0 13.Bg5 Bxb5 14.Qxb5 Qe8= 1-0 Sargissian,G (2602)-Kaidanov,G (2629)/Moscow 2005/CBM 106 (41). 9...Qd7 10.Ndf3. A novelty, which looks very logical. 10...f6. In case of 10...h6 Black has to reckon with 11.Ne5. 11.Nxe6 Qxe6 12.Nxd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 a6 14.Qc4

14...Qd6! The right decision to keep queens. Otherwise the two bishops will secure White a clear advantage in endgame. For instance 14...Qxc4 15.Bxc4 Ne5 16.Be2 N7c6 17.Be3 and White consolidates. 15.Qa4 0-0-0 16.Bc4. Nisipeanu: "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". 16.Be2 Nd4 17.Bg4+ Kb8 18.Be3 Nec6 is fine for Black. 16...Ne5 17.Bb3

17...b5! A psychologically difficult decision to make. Black must try to keep the initiative before White completes development and the advance of his pawn majority is the correct way. The point is that with advanced pawns Black can already go for the queen exchange later on, since his space advantage on the queenside will compensate for White's bishop pair. 18.Qa5 Kb7 19.Qc3. 19.a4 b4 leaves White with a somewhat awkward position of the queen on a5. 19...c5. 19...Qd3 looks like a decent alternative, but Nisipeanu already has made up his mind to advance the pawns. 20.Be3. 20.Bf4 is best met with 20...c4 21.Bc2 N7c6 and again White achieves nothing. 20...c4. In case of 20...Ng4 White has 21.e5! Qxe5 22.Qxe5 Nxe5 23.Bxc5 although thanks to black active knights the position is close to equal after 23...N7c6. 21.Rfd1. Now after 21.Bc2 Black already plays 21...Ng4 with a comfortable game. 21...Qc7 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Bd1. In order to prevent 23... Ng4. 23...N7c6 24.Be2. White consolidated and Nisipeanu decides that now it is the right time to exchange queens. 24...Qa5 25.Qxa5. The alternative was 25.a4 Qxc3 26.bxc3 but both players evaluated the position after 26...b4 27.cxb4 Nxb4 as safe for Black. 25...Nxa5

In spite of his bishop pair White has no advantage. The pawn chain on the queenside secures Black sufficient counterplay. 26.f4. 26.Rd1 Rxd1+ 27.Bxd1 Nd3 points out the weakness on b2. Then after 28.b3 c3 Black gets a dangerous passed pawn. 26...Nec6. 26...Nd3 was another option, although after 27.b3 Black can neither take on b3, nor advance the c-pawn: 27...cxb3 (27...c3? 28.Rd1) 28.axb3 Nxb3? 29.Rd1 winning a piece. 27.Rd1. 27.Kf2 Nb4 is at least equal for Black. 27...Rxd1+ 28.Bxd1 Nb4

29.e5! Black has the upper hand on the queenside, so Gelfand rightly goes for a quick counterplay. Bad for White is 29.a3 Nd3. 29...fxe5 30.fxe5 Nac6. A passed pawn supported by bishops can be very dangerous, as seen from the following variations: 30...Nxa2? 31.e6 Nc6 (Other moves lose immediately: 31...Kc7 32.Bb6+; 31...Kc6 32.Bf4) 32.Bf3 Kc7 33.Bf4+ Kb6 34.Bd6 and White will win a knight. 31.e6 Kc7 32.Bf4+ 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Radjabov,Teimour - Carlsen,Magnus [B23]
Kings' Tournament Medias Bazna/Romania (2), 15.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Nge2 a6 6.a4 e6 7.0-0 d5 8.exd5 exd5 9.Ba2 Bg4

10.f3. The less committing 10.h3 was also possible, since the natural answer 10...Bh5 drives the bishop away from the potential weakness on d5. White can consider then 11.g4 Bg6 12.d3 and it is not simple for Black to exploit weaknesses on opponent's kingside, while his center remains shaky.; 10.d3 Bd6 11.h3. 10...Be6 11.d3 Nc6 12.Nf4 Qd7 13.Bd2 Be7 14.Nce2 0-0 15.c3

Black has a pleasant position and Carlsen tries to expand on the queenside. 15...b5 16.Bb1 Rab8. The immediate 16...b4 deserved attention, avoiding the exchange of a-pawns. 17.axb5 axb5 18.Bc2 Bd6 19.Qe1 Radjabov chooses the waiting strategy. A reasonable approach, since White's only problem are the weaknesses created by the move 10.f3 and he is able to cover them. There was nothing wrong with 19.d4. 19...Rfe8 20.Qf2 Qc7 21.Kh1 b4 22.d4. Carlsen: "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". Radjabov rightly calculated that in the following tactical complications White keeps the balance. 22...bxc3 23.bxc3 cxd4 24.cxd4

24...Nxd4 25.Bxh7+. Forced. Other moves leave Black with an extra pawn. 25.Qxd4? Qxc2; 25.Nxd4? Bxf4; 25.Nxe6? Nxe6. 25...Nxh7 26.Qxd4 Be5 27.Nxe6 Rxe6 28.Bf4 Bxd4 29.Bxc7 Bxa1 30.Bxb8 Rxe2 31.Rxa1

The endgame should of course be a draw, but the passed d-pawn leaves Black with possibilities to play on. Although in the next part Carlsen improved the position as much as possible, White's defensive resources are always sufficient. 31...Ng5 32.Kg1 Ne6 33.Rd1 d4 34.Kf1 Rb2 35.Be5 Rb5 36.Bg3 Kh7 37.Bf2 Kg6 38.Ke1 Rb4 39.h4 Kf5 40.g3 Ke5 41.Ke2 Kd5 42.Rd2 Ra4 43.Rb2 Nc5 44.Rd2 Nb3 45.Rc2 Ra7 46.h5 f6 47.Rb2 Re7+ 48.Kd3 Nc5+ 49.Kd2 Ra7 50.Ke2 Ra4 51.Rd2 Nd7 52.Be3 Ne5 53.g4 Nf7 54.Bf4 Nd8 55.Rb2 Ne6 56.Bd2 Ra1 57.Rb5+ Kc4

58.Ra5. A somewhat risky move, requiring precise calculation. The simplest way was pointed out by Carlsen: 58.Rb6 Nc5 59.h6 gxh6 60.Rxf6=. 58...Nf4+ 59.Kf2 Rxa5 60.Bxa5 Kd3 61.Kg3 Ne2+ 62.Kf2 Nf4 63.Kg3 Ke3

64.g5! The precise move, which secures the draw. After other continuations White is in troubles. 64...fxg5 65.Kg4 d3 66.Kxg5 Kxf3 67.h6 Ne6+ 68.Kg6 gxh6 69.Kxh6 Ke2 70.Kg6 Nd4 71.Kf6 Nc6 72.Bc3 Ne5 73.Kxe5 d2 74.Bxd2 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Dorian Rogozenco in ChessBase Magazine 136

In his retrospective on the chess highlights of the last two months GM Dorian Rogozenco starts with two highly entertaining games from the European Championship in Rijeka, in both of which White sacrificed his rook on a1 and was able to go on and win the game. Both players of the white pieces (Nisipeanu and Motylev) have annotated these games on the DVD. He also introduces in this first video a strategically impressive victory of both the second and third placed players in the ECh, Baadur Jobava and Artyom Timofeev.
When looking back over the WCh match in the second video Rogozenco casts some light on the critical moments from Sofia. Starting with the two White victories in the first two rounds, then Topalov’s levelling of the match in the third game with the Slav he goes right through to the dramatic final of the last game. Rogozenco takes a critical look at Topalov’s plan in this 12th game, which allowed Anand to decide the match in his favour with the help of the only victory with Black. This meant that there was no need to go into a tiebreak.


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