Sofia 2007: three draws, Mamedyarov leads at the halfway stage

5/15/2007 – As is often the case, the day before the rest day produced quieter chess than usual – nobody wants to risk losing, when they will have an extra 24 hours to ruminate on it. Kamsky’s accurate defence thwarted Topalov’s ambitions, whilst the top two, Adams and Mamedyarov, fought down to bare kings. Tuesday is free, so you have an extra 24 hours to enjoy some defensive heroics.

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Third M-Tel Masters in Sofia, Bulgaria

There are six participants in this double round robin tournament that goes from May 10 to 20. Time control: 2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for 20 moves + 30 minutes to the end the game. The players are not allowed to offer draws, they must consult the arbiter, who will decide (usually against) allowing the offer to be made.

Round five: three draws, Mamedyarov leads at the halfway stage

By Steve Giddins

Round 5: Monday, May 14 2007

Veselin Topalov 
 Gata Kamsky
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
 Krishnan Sasikiran
Michael Adams 
 Shakriyar Mamedyarov

Kamsky’s slightly unusual Queen’s Indian move-order seemed to bring him a solid position from the opening. Discussing the game on, Yasser Seirawan and Erwin L’Ami (“Woef”) began to like Topalov’s position around move 20, but Kamsky showed that White too, had his weaknesses, and a drawn ending soon resulted.

Topalov,V (2772) - Kamsky,G (2705) [E15]
MTel Sofia BUL (5), 14.05.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 d5 6.Bg2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 c6 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nc3 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.f4 Qe7 13.0–0 Rd8 13...0–0 14.Rfd1 Rfd8 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.e4 d4 17.Qxd4 Rac8 18.Qe3 Qb4 19.Ne2 Nc5 20.Rxd8+ Rxd8 =, Tukmakov- Miles Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (1), 1984 14.Rfd1 0–0 15.Qe3 Rfe8!? 15…Qa3! (Seirawan) 16.a4 Qb4 17.Na2 Qc5 18.Rd4


18…f6. 18...Nxe5 was L’Ami’s highly imaginative suggestion, but it seems to fall short after 19.fxe5 (19.Qxe5 f6 20.Qe3 dxc4 21.Re4 cxb3 22.Nb4 also looks good for White - GM L'Ami) 19...dxc4 20.Re4 (or 20.Rad1) 19.cxd5 fxe5 20.fxe5 exd5 21.b4 Qe7 22.b5 Bb7 23.bxc6 Bxc6 24.Nb4 Nxe5. GM Seirawan: Somehow White "executed" all his trumps (pushing his b-pawn, weakened the d5-pawn etc.etc. And then finally... Nothing! 25.Rc1 Kh8 26.Nxc6 Nxc6 27.Qxe7 Nxe7 28.Rc7 Rc8 29.Rxc8 Rxc8 30.Bxd5 Nxd5 31.Rxd5 Kg8 32.a5 bxa5 33.Rxa5 Rc7 34.e4 Kf7 35.Kg2 Rc2+ 36.Kh3 Rc4 37.Rxa7+ Kf8 38.e5 Rc5 39.e6 Re5 40.Rf7+ Kg8 41.Re7 Kf8 42.Rf7+ Kg8 43.Re7 draw.

Nisipeanu-Sasikiran was the first really uninteresting game of the event. 3 Na3 is known to lead to very little for White, and after yesterday’s disaster, Sasikiran seemed happy to equalize very solidly and make a draw. A repetition at move 27 circumvented the prohibition on draw offers.

Nisipeanu,LD (2693) - Sasikiran,K (2690) [A09]
MTel Sofia BUL (5), 14.05.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Na3 a6 4.Nxc4 b5 5.Ne3 Bb7 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 Nbd7 8.0-0 e6 9.b3 c5 10.Bb2 Be7 11.Qc2 0-0 12.Rfd1 Qb6 13.Rac1 Rac8 14.Qb1 Rfd8 15.Qa1 Ne8 16.d4 Ndf6 17.Ba3 Ne4 18.dxc5 Nxc5 19.Bb2 Bf6 20.Ne1 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 h6 22.Nf3 Ne4 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Rc1 Rd8 25.Rd1 Rc8 26.Rc1 Rd8 27.Rd1 draw.

For the second day running, Adams featured in the longest game of the day. Some interesting middlegame complications eventually led to an ending where he was pressing, but just when it looked as though his king had penetrated decisively, Mamedyarov uncorked the clever defensive idea 54…Rc7! Adams could find nothing more than to force a draw. He thus has only two half points to show for 158 moves’ worth of work over the past two rounds!

Adams,Mi (2734) - Mamedyarov,S (2757) [B46]
MTel Sofia BUL (5), 14.05.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.e5 Nd7 11.Qg4 g6 12.b3 c5 13.Bh6. 13.Na4 c4 14.Bf1 Bb7 15.Bd2 Bc6 16.Nb2 Qb8 17.Qg3 0–0 18.Rab1 cxb3 19.axb3 Nc5 20.f3 Adam-Svidler Dortmund 2005 1/2.

13...Bb7. GM Seirawan: I always thought that the move 13...Bb7 was "premature" for Black. Judith Polgar, amongst others, takes a different approach. Her idea, and one I approve, is to play 13...Rb8! with the idea of Rb4-h4. 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Qf4 Bf8 16.Bxf8 Rxf8 17.c4 f6 18.cxd5 fxe5

GM Seirawan: In case of 19.Qh4 exd5 20.Qxh7 0-0-0 21.Qxg6 winning a pawn... But White may die of indigestion. 19.Qe3 exd5 20.Rac1 e4 21.f3 Qf4 22.Qxf4 Rxf4 23.fxe4 dxe4 24.Nxc5 Nxc5 25.Rxc5 Kf8 26.Bc4 Re8 27.Rf1 Rxf1+ 28.Kxf1 Re7 29.Ke2 Rd7 30.Ke3 Ke7 31.h4 Kd6 32.b4 Ke7 33.g4 Kd8 34.Be2 h6 35.a3 Rd6 36.g5 hxg5 37.hxg5 Rd7 38.Ra5 Rd6 39.Re5 Kc7 40.Rc5+ Kb8 41.Re5 Rc6 42.Kd4 Rd6+ 43.Kc3 Rc6+ 44.Bc4 Rc7 45.a4 Ka7 46.a5 Kb8 47.Kd4 Rd7+ 48.Ke3 Ka7 49.Re6 Rc7 50.Kd4 Rd7+ 51.Ke3 Rc7 52.Kd4 Rd7+ 53.Ke5 e3 54.Kf6


54…Rc7! 55.Bxa6 55 Be2 Rc6! 56 Rxc6 Bxc6 57 Kxg6 Bb5 is the point of Black’s defence. 55…Bxa6 56.Rxe3 Rc6+ 57.Re6 Rxe6+ 58.Kxe6 Bb5 59.Kf6 Bd3 60.b5 Bxb5 61.Kxg6 Bd3+ 62.Kf6 Ka6 63.g6 Bxg6 64.Kxg6 Kxa5 draw.

Standings after four rounds

Statistics: nine games of a total of 15 were drawn, making for a 60% drawing ratio. Both White and Black won three games each. Topalov has the greatest number of decided games (three), but also, with Kamsky, the greatest number of losses (two).

A word of caution for anyone wagering large sums on Veselin Topalov not winning the tournament: the former world champion has been in a similar situation in a number of tournaments in the past few years, only to pull back dramatically in the second half and rocket all the way to the top. In fact it may be lucrative to bet on him winning Sofia 2007 at this stage, when you get excellent odds against such an outcome. Perhaps an opportunity to make a tidy pile?


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