Medias R3: Radjabov beats Ponomariov

6/16/2010 – After errors by Ruslan Ponomariov in a King’s Indian Teimour Radjabov built up pressure and won rather easily in 48 moves. Nisipeanu-Wang Yue was a quiet draw in the Petrov’s Defence. Carlsen-Gelfand saw the Moscow Variation of the Semi-Slav. Gelfand neutralized White’s attacking intentions and in fact got a slightly better endgame, which was a draw. GM commentary by 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 three summary

By GM Dorian Rogozenco

Results of round three (Wednesday June 16, 2010)
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter
Wang Yue
Carlsen, Magnus
Gelfand, Boris
Ponomariov, Ruslan
Radjabov, Teimour

Nisipeanu-Wang Yue was a quiet draw in the Petrov’s Defence. The chinese Grandmaster made an important theoretical improvement, which probably “closes” the opening variation, as Black equalizes comfortably.

Carlsen-Gelfand saw the Moscow Variation of the Semi-Slav. The Norwegian was somewhat surprised in the opening by 9...Bd6, which Gelfand never played before. Optically White got an attractive position and Carlsen started to build a kingside attack. However, by playing precisely Gelfand neutralized White’s attacking intentions. The arising endgame was better for Black, but it was far from easy to make progress. When given the opportunity, Carlsen quickly exchanged the pawns and achieved a draw.

Ponomariov-Radjabov was a King’s Indian Defence, where White’s prospects looked very good after the opening. Starting with move 20 Ponomariov lost his path and failed to find the most effective way to increase the advantage. After further inaccuracies and the mistake on move 26 things got out of control for the Ukrainian. Radjabov build a pressure and could have won quicker at some point, but he still kept a large advantage and won rather easily anyway.

Current standings

Ponomariov,Ruslan - Radjabov,Teimour [E81]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (3), 16.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3. Surprise! Ponomariov played many different systems against King's Indian Defence, but he never played the Samisch Variation. Apart from its surprising effect, Ponomariov must have taken into consideration the fact that in spite of his vast experience with the KID Radjabov faced the Samisch only few times. 5...0-0 6.Nge2 e5 7.Bg5! As pointed out by Ponomariov, after Black's previous move this is the most precise reaction. White is trying to provoke h7-h6 in order to win time later on. 7...c6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.d5 h6. Although taking on h6 is not convenient for White now, sooner or later Black will have to protect the h6-pawn anyway. 10.Be3. 10.Bxh6 is answered with 10...Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Qh4+ and Black achieves a favourable exchange of pieces. 10...cxd5 11.cxd5 a6 12.Nc1 b5 [12...Nh5!?] 13.Be2 Nb6 14.0-0. Now the pawn h6 is hanging and Black must waste a tempo to protect it. 14...Kh7 15.b4

White is better. His bishops are well places and he is ready for queenside activity, while Black didn't even start yet his counterplay on the kingside. 15...Nh5 16.a4. Now in all cases Black will remain with pawn weaknesses on the queenside. After the game Radjabov said that also strong for White is to bring the knight to a5 by playing 16.Nb3. 16...Nc4. 16...Nxa4 17.Nxa4 bxa4 18.Rxa4 f5 19.b5 is clearly better for White. 17.Bxc4 bxc4 18.N1e2 f5 19.exf5. After the direct 19.Qa2 Black gets a typical KID attack: 19...f4 20.Bf2 g5 21.h3 Nf6 22.Qxc4 h5 with compensation for the pawn. 19...gxf5

The first critical position. 20.f4. This standard move is double-edged. After 20.Qa2 Black probably must give up a pawn and try to get some counterplay, although his compensation is hardly sufficient. If Black is trying to protect it with 20...Qc7 then after 21.b5 White's chances are clearly preferable. 20...Bd7 21.Rab1 Re8 22.Kh1 Rb8 23.Rf3 [23.b5!?] 23...Nf6! 24.h3 Nh5 25.Bg1 e4

The second critical moment. 26.Re3? White should have played 26.Rff1 Bxc3 Of course Black is not forced to take the pawn, but then the retreat of the rook to f1 is clearly preferable than the game. 27.Qxc3 (27.Nxc3? Ng3+) 27...Bxa4 28.Ra1 Bb5 29.Bd4 and a strong dark-squared bishop secures White compensation for the pawn. 26...Qh4! Now all White pieces are misplaced and things are suddenly becoming really bad for him. 27.Bh2 Rg8 28.Qd1

28...Rb7. Radjabov saw 28...Bxc3 but he believed that Ponomariov calculated it and White must have a defence. In the upcoming time-trouble Teimour decided to believe his opponent and simply play something else. In fact Black gets a decisive advantage: 29.Rxc3 (29.Nxc3 Nxf4) 29...Qf2 30.Qf1 Qxf1+ 31.Rxf1 Rxb4. 29.Qf1 Rgb8 30.g3 Qd8 31.b5 axb5 32.axb5 Nf6. 32...Bxb5 33.g4 Nf6 is a transposition to the game. 33.g4 Bxb5 34.Qg2. Also after 34.gxf5 Bd7 35.Rxb7 Rxb7 Black is clearly better. 34...Bd7 35.Rg1 fxg4 36.hxg4 Nxg4 37.Rg3 Qh4. 37...h5 is another way to win. 38.Rxg4 Bxg4 39.Qxg4 Qxg4 40.Rxg4 Rb2

The time-trouble is over and White is helpless against the activity of black pieces. 41.f5 R8b3 42.f6. 42.Nxe4? Rxe2; Radjabov mentioned that White's best practical chance was 42.Rxg7+ Kxg7 43.Bxd6 although Black should be winning here too after. 42...Bxf6 43.Nxe4 Bh8 44.N4g3. Also after 44.N2g3 Be5 White is completely paralyzed. 44...c3 45.Rc4 Be5 46.Nc1 Rb1 47.Nge2 R3b2 48.Bg1 Rc2 0-1. [Click to replay]

Carlsen,Magnus - Gelfand,Boris [D43]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (3), 16.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6. 6.Bh4 leads to the very sharp Moscow Variation, where these days the home preparation and good memory are much more important than anything else. Carlsen's move is more quiet, leading to a strategical battle. 6...Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Bd6. A much more popular continuation is 9...g6 - a move which Gelfand played many times before.] 10.Ne4 [In case of 10.0-0 with the idea 11.Ne4 Black plays 10...Qe7. 10...Bb4+ 11.Nfd2 Qe7 12.0-0 0-0

Black has the bishop pair, but he still must complete development and find good squares for his bishops. The position is typical for the Moscow Variation, where in order to fight for advantage White must try to make use of his lead in development. But this is a difficult task, since Black is very solid and has no weaknesses. 13.f4!? Like in the first round, Carlsen shows aggression by advancing the f-pawn. On the other hand in the present situation f2-f4 is mainly designed to prevent e6-e5. 13...c5! Rightly starting to open the files as soon as possible. 14.Nf3. After 14.a3 Black equalizes with 14...Bxd2 15.Qxd2 Rd8 16.Rad1 Nb6. 14...Nb6 15.Bb3 cxd4. Much more logical than 15...c4 which is suggested by computer engines. With the bishop pair Black should aim for opening of the position. 16.Nxd4 Bd7

17.Qh5. Aggressive, but as mentioned before Black is very solid and a direct attack can hardly succeed against a good defence. Some chances to get an opening advantage remained after 17.a3 Bc5 18.Nxc5 Qxc5 19.Rc1 Qd6 20.Qf3. 17...Rac8! Gelfand's moves are very accurate and destroy White's attacking dreams. 18.Rf3 Nc4! 19.Rg3 Kh8. A cool answer, showing that White gets nowhere with his attacking intentions. 20.Rf1 Clearly overestimating White's position. Also after 20.a3 Bc5 it is Black who fights for advantage. 20...Nd6! Again the best move, at least from the practical point of view. 20...Nxb2 is a kind of move White was hoping for. Even if there is no refutation, White gets time to try developing his attack. 21.Nxd6 Bxd6 22.Nf3 Rc5! 23.Rg5. 23.Qg4 is answered with 23...f5 24.Qg6 Rf6 25.Qh5 Be8 with advantage for Black. 23...Rfc8 24.Rxc5 Rxc5 25.Qh4 Qxh4 26.Nxh4

Something went clearly wrong for White. Thanks to his bishop pair Black has an obvious advantage in endgame. 26...Be7 27.Nf3 a5 28.Rd1 Be8 29.Nd4 a4 30.Bc2 g6 31.Kf2 e5. A tempting move. However, as a possible improvement Gelfand suggested to bring first his king with 31...Kg7. 32.fxe5 Rxe5 33.Rd3 Rc5 34.Rc3 Rxc3 35.bxc3

Gelfand: "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". The problem for Black is that he cannot prevent White from playing Be4 and attack immediately opponent's pawn weaknesses on the queenside. 35...Kg7. 35...f5 36.e4 also allows White to escape.; 35...Bd7 36.Be4 Bc8 37.Bc2 a3 38.Kf3 doesn't look particularly attractive for Black wither. The white king comes first to the center via e4 and d5. 36.Be4 f5 37.Bxb7 Bf7 38.a3! This important resource allows White to achieve the draw. 38...Bxa3 39.Bc6 Bb2 [39...Bb3 40.Nxb3 axb3 41.Ba4 b2 42.Bc2=] 40.Bxa4 Bxc3 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Nisipeanu,Liviu Dieter - Wang,Yue [C42]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (3), 16.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.0-0-0 Qd7 10.h4 h6 11.Nd4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Rg8 13.c4 c5 14.Bc3 0-0-0 15.Qe3

15...Rde8! A strong novelty, which points out the vulnerable position of the queen on e3. In the game Li,C (2643)-Bu Xiangzhi (2704), China 2009 Black won quickly after 15...Qa4 but only thanks to White's blunder. 16.Kb1 d5 17.cxd5 Bxd5 18.Qxe7?? (18.b3) 18...Qxa2+ 19.Kc1 Qa1+ 20.Kd2 Qxd1+. 16.Kb1. 16.Qg3 is answered strongly by 16...g5! and White must be careful to keep the balance. 16...Bf6 17.Qg3. 17.Bxf6? runs into 17...Bg4! winning material. 17...Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qc6 19.Be2 Bf5 20.Bf3 Be4 21.Bxe4 Qxe4! Much weaker is 21...Rxe4 22.Qf3 and Black still has problems. 22.g3 Re6

The position is equal. Black can easily protect his only weakness on d6. 23.b3 Qe5 24.Qa5 Kb8 25.Rhe1 Qf6 26.Rxe6 Qxe6 27.Qc3 Kc7 28.Qa5+ Kb8 29.Qc3 Kc7 30.Re1 Qd7 31.Qa5+ 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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