Thessaloniki R08: Kamsky wins again

5/30/2013 – An amazing round that saw five decisive results and five Spanish openings. Kamsky dispatched Nakamura in the French in masterful style. Ivanchuk has not recuperated and lost to Svidler, Ponomariov suicided against Kasimdzhanov, Bacrot made short work of Topalov with black while Dominguez's assault on Morozevich's king was irresistible. Analysis, standings and pictures.

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From May 22 to June 03, 2013, the fourth stage of the FIDE Grand Prix Series 2012-2013 is taking place in Thessaloniki, Greece. Twelve players are competing in a round robin tournament with time controls of 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes and an increment of 30 seconds per move for each player. The Grand Prix Series consists of six tournaments to be held over two years, with 18 top players, each participating in four of the six tournaments. The winner and second placed player overall of the Grand Prix Series will qualify for the Candidates Tournament to be held in March 2014.

Round eight report

Round 08 – May 30 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 ½-½ Caruana Fabiano 2774
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 1-0 Morozevich Alexander 2760
Topalov Veselin 2793 0-1 Bacrot Etienne 2725
Kamsky Gata 2741 1-0 Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 0-1 Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 0-1 Svidler Peter 2769

Fact:
Today five out of the six games featured the Spanish opening, the only exception being Kamsky-Nakamura, which was a French.

Ivanchuk, Vassily - Svidler, Peter 0-1
Ivanchuk sacrificed an exchange for some dark-square control and the possibility of obtaining play against his opponent's king, which was now exposed due to the lack of a g-pawn. However with every simplification on the board Ivanchuk's position kept deteriorating, to the point where he had three pawns for the exchange and was still worse due to his lack of coordination and exposed pawns. He resigned in a position with equal material that was almost impossible to hold.

A jolly Svidler prior to the game. Ivanchuk didn't give him any reason to be any less happy either.

Topalov, Veselin - Bacrot, Etienne 0-1
Bacrot started the game by, in the first ten moves, executing the maneuver Nf6-d7-b8-c6. Due to the close nature of the position, this was not only feasible but perhaps the best course of action! Topalov tried to open some lines early, perhaps trying to take advantage of Black's sub-par development. However this backfired badly as Black's bishops became the masters of the board, and they soon claimed an extra exchange that Bacrot cleanly converted into victory.

Dominguez, Leinier - Morozevich, Alexander 1-0
Morozevich quickly sacrificed a pawn for the pair of bishops and for pressure on a very weak c6 pawn, which was not supported by the rest of White's pieces. Dominguez instead of giving the c-pawn back, sacrificed his e-pawn to retain the advance position on c6 which cramped his opponents pieces. This worked well as despite the bishops, Morozevich had trouble coming up with a useful plan. A beautiful sequence allowed White to exploit weaknesses against Black's king, and the combined power of the centralized queen, rook and knight were too much for Morozevich.

Typical poses: Gata staring intently at the board, Hikaru thinking without looking at it.

Kamsky, Gata - Nakamura, Hikaru 1-0
The duel of the Americans was a one-sided affair as Kamsky swept Nakamura off the board. Kamsky's understanding of the position was perfect, and his 12.b4!, which left a pawn en prise, created insurmountable problems for Nakamura in the center. Black's decisive mistake came early as 15...Qa3?! as White's sequence exposed his true weakness on e6. Nakamura played resiliently as usual after that, and his moves were always difficult to deal with and as stubborn as possible, but Kamsky had too great of an advantage and was able to convert.

"How did I beat this guy last time...?" Hikaru Nakamura pondering his opening moves.

[Event "Makedonia Palace GP"] [Site "Thessaloniki GRE"] [Date "2013.05.30"] [Round "8"] [White "Kamsky, G."] [Black "Nakamura, Hi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2741"] [BlackElo "2775"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2013.05.22"] 1. e4 e6 {Interestingly this was the only non-Spanish game of the round. Nakamura uses the French once in a while, but his main weapon is still the Najdorf Sicilian which he used to defeat Kamsky last year in the key round of the 2012 US Chess Championship.} 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. c3 c5 5. e5 {Kamsky's approach is unusual. This resembles a 3.e5 (sometimes called Nimzowitsch, sometimes called Steinitz French depending on where you live) but the inclusion of Be7 and Nd2 is supposed to be good for Black.} Nc6 6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nh6 8. Ndf3 f6 (8... Nf5 {is a safer way of playing the variation, since Bxf5 is generally undesirable. However it is unlikely that Hikaru was going for 'safe'.}) 9. Bxh6 gxh6 10. Ne2 Qb6 11. O-O Bd7 (11... fxe5 12. dxe5 Bd7 13. b4 $14) 12. b4 $1 {A fantastic move. The pawn can be taken in three different ways, but none of them are appealing for Black. The lone ranger here is simply trying to push itself forward to b5, kicking out the knight from c6 and relieving the central pressure, granting White a solid space advantage.} a6 ( 12... Nxb4 13. Rb1 $16) (12... Bxb4 13. Rb1 {either way the pin is very unpleasant.}) (12... Qxb4 $2 13. Rb1 Qa5 14. exf6 Bxf6 15. Rxb7 {and Black's position collapses.}) 13. Qd2 fxe5 14. dxe5 Qxb4 15. Qxh6 Qa3 $2 {A bad move that is quickly refuted. However Black's position was not pleasant.} (15... O-O-O 16. Rab1 Qa4 $6 17. Qe3 $1 {is losing for Black, as he can't hold his queenside together.}) (15... Qg4 $1 {was the only move, but it's hard for a human to play} 16. h3 Qg8 $1 17. Rac1 Qf7 $1 {and Black is holding on.}) 16. Bg6+ $1 Kd8 17. Bf7 $1 {Amazingly, Black's structure cannot be defended. This means that his king will be exposed if he doesn't act quickly.} Rf8 18. Bxe6 Rxf3 19. gxf3 Qxf3 20. Ng3 (20. Rab1 $1 {first was much cleaner, but this just seems like a complete computer move. For us humans keeping it simple when winning is usually more important.}) 20... Nxe5 21. Rae1 Qf6 22. Qxf6 Bxf6 23. Bxd5 Bb5 24. Rd1 Kc7 (24... Bxf1 $2 25. Bxb7+ $1 $18) 25. Rc1+ Kb6 26. Rfd1 Nc6 {Black has managed to stabilize his position, but now the material deficit is too big.} 27. Be4 h6 28. Rd7 Rb8 29. Rb1 Ka5 30. Kg2 Bh8 31. Rh7 Nb4 32. a3 Na2 33. Rxb7 Rxb7 34. Bxb7 Ka4 35. Ne4 Kxa3 36. Nc5 Nc3 37. Rb3+ Ka2 38. Bxa6 Bc6+ 39. Kg1 Bd5 40. Rb4 Ka3 41. Rh4 Bg7 42. Bc4 Bf3 43. Ne6 Be5 44. Rxh6 {The position has been hopeless for some time, but now without pawns Hikaru will have to resign soon.} Kb2 45. Nc5 Bd4 46. Nd3+ Kb1 47. Rd6 Ba7 48. Rd7 Bb6 49. Ne5 Ba8 50. h4 {Kamsky has been showing incredible strength in this Grand Prix. Will he be able to continue his form into the final stretch?} 1-0

 

Grischuk, Alexander - Caruana, Fabiano ½-½
The game was very level throughout the opening and the middlegame up until Caruana played the dubious 30...Qc6?! The simplification to the endgame meant that White's passed e-pawn, safer king and better bishop gave him significant chances to win. Caruana can consider himself very lucky as Grischuk missed several ways of gaining a decisive advantage. Through a series of mistakes Grischuk simplified into an opposite colored bishop endgame with no chances of winning.

Grischuk missed a key opportunity to catch Caruana in the standings and be in striking distance of the leaders.

Ponomariov, Ruslan - Kasimdzhanov, Rustam 0-1
A topsy-turvy game in which both sides missed their chances. Ponomariov created some tactical threats against Black's misplaced queen on h4 and the weakness on g7, but didn't execute it properly. Black took advantage of this and won two pieces for a rook and a pawn, but White's position remained solid and due to the reduced material count it seemed that the game was headed for a draw. However Ponomariov took the valiant and suicidal decision to break on the kingside with g4, after which Black's passed pawns were simply unstoppable.

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All pictures by Anastasiya Karlovich

Schedule and results

Round 01 –May 22 2013, 14:00h
Topalov Veselin 2793 ½-½ Grischuk Alexander 2779
Kamsky Gata 2741 1-0 Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 ½-½ Caruana Fabiano 2774
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 ½-½ Morozevich Alexander 2760
Svidler Peter 2769 1-0 Bacrot Etienne 2725
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 1-0 Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Round 02 – May 23 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 1-0 Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Bacrot Etienne 2725 ½-½ Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Morozevich Alexander 2760 1-0 Svidler Peter 2769
Caruana Fabiano 2774 1-0 Ivanchuk Vassily 2755
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 ½-½ Ponomariov Ruslan 2742
Topalov Veselin 2793 ½-½ Kamsky Gata 2741
Round 03 – May 24 2013, 14:00h
Kamsky Gata 2741 ½-½ Grischuk Alexander 2779
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 ½-½ Topalov Veselin 2793
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 0-1 Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Svidler Peter 2769 ½-½ Caruana Fabiano 2774
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 ½-½ Morozevich Alexander 2760
Nakamura Hikaru 2775 ½-½ Bacrot Etienne 2725
Round 04 – May 25 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 ½-½ Bacrot Etienne 2725
Morozevich Alexander 2760 ½-½ Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Caruana Fabiano 2774 ½-½ Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 1-0 Svidler Peter 2769
Topalov Veselin 2793 1-0 Ivanchuk Vassily 2755
Kamsky Gata 2741 ½-½ Ponomariov Ruslan 2742
Round 05 – May 27 2013, 14:00h
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 ½-½ Grischuk Alexander 2779
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 ½-½ Kamsky Gata 2741
Svidler Peter 2769 ½-½ Topalov Veselin 2793
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 0-1 Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Nakamura Hikaru 2775 ½-½ Caruana Fabiano 2774
Bacrot Etienne 2725 ½-½ Morozevich Alexander 2760
Round 06 – May 28 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 ½-½ Morozevich Alexander 2760
Caruana Fabiano 2774 1-0 Bacrot Etienne 2725
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 ½-½ Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Topalov Veselin 2793 ½-½ Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Kamsky Gata 2741 1-0 Svidler Peter 2769
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 1-0 Ivanchuk Vassily 2755
Round 07 – May 29 2013, 14:00h
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 ½-½ Grischuk Alexander 2779
Svidler Peter 2769 ½-½ Ponomariov Ruslan 2742
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 0-1 Kamsky Gata 2741
Nakamura Hikaru 2775 1-0 Topalov Veselin 2793
Bacrot Etienne 2725 ½-½ Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Morozevich Alexander 2760 0-1 Caruana Fabiano 2774
Round 08 – May 30 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 ½-½ Caruana Fabiano 2774
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 1-0 Morozevich Alexander 2760
Topalov Veselin 2793 0-1 Bacrot Etienne 2725
Kamsky Gata 2741 1-0 Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 0-1 Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 0-1 Svidler Peter 2769
Round 09 – June 01 2013, 14:00h
Svidler Peter 2769 - Grischuk Alexander 2779
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 - Ivanchuk Vassily 2755
Nakamura Hikaru 2775 - Ponomariov Ruslan 2742
Bacrot Etienne 2725 - Kamsky Gata 2741
Morozevich Alexander 2760 - Topalov Veselin 2793
Caruana Fabiano 2774 - Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Round 10 – June 02 2013, 14:00h
Grischuk Alexander 2779 - Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723
Topalov Veselin 2793 - Caruana Fabiano 2774
Kamsky Gata 2741 - Morozevich Alexander 2760
Ponomariov Ruslan 2742 - Bacrot Etienne 2725
Ivanchuk Vassily 2755 - Nakamura Hikaru 2775
Svidler Peter 2769 - Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699
Round 11 – June 03 2013, 12:00h
Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2699 - Grischuk Alexander 2779
Nakamura Hikaru 2775 - Svidler Peter 2769
Bacrot Etienne 2725 - Ivanchuk Vassily 2755
Morozevich Alexander 2760 - Ponomariov Ruslan 2742
Caruana Fabiano 2774 - Kamsky Gata 2741
Dominguez Perez Leinier 2723 - Topalov Veselin 2793

The games start at 14:00h Eastern European Summer time, 15:00h Moscow, 7 a.m. New York. You can find your regional starting time hereThe commentary on Playchess begins one hour after the start of the games and is free for premium members.

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