Bazna R9: Three draws, but exciting games

by ChessBase
6/25/2009 – Nisipeanu-Radjabov was an important theoretical game in Sicilian Dragon, which ended in a draw in 40 moves. Ivanchuk was slightly better the entire game against Kamsky, but a draw was agreed on move 55. For most of the time Gelfand-Shirov looked like a quiet game, but at some moment Gelfand had a study-like win, which both opponents missed during the game. Report.

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ROMGAZ and the Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest are staging a double round robin tournament with six of the world's top GMs: the young Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaidjan, Elo 2756, ranking 5th in the world), the experienced Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, Elo 2746, 12th in the world), Alexei Shirov (Spain, Elo 2745, 13th), Boris Gelfand (Israel, Elo 2733, 15th), Gata Kamsky (USA, Elo 2720, 24th), as well as the best ever rated Romanian chess player Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (Elo 2675, 55th in the world), 2005 European Champion. The competition is taking place from June 14th to 25th 2009 in Bazna, Romania.

Round nine commentary

By GM Dorian Rogozenco

Round 9: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

   Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Gata Kamsky
Boris Gelfand 
 Alexei Shirov
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
 Teimour Radjabov

Nisipeanu-Radjabov was an important theoretical game in Sicilian Dragon. The Romanian grandmaster prepared a novelty, which required very precise play from Black. Radjabov did everything correctly, but even so his position looked suspicious. The concrete variations showed that in spite of White’s activity, Nisipeanu never had more than a draw, which was agreed on move 40 due to the upcoming repetition of the position.

Romania's top GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu during his game against Teimour Radjabov

Ivanchuk was slightly better the entire game against Kamsky. In time trouble on move 33 the leader of the tournament decided to exchange queens, hoping to break through in endgame. However, Kamsky found a strong regrouping of his pieces and built a sort of fortress. Draw agreed on move 55.

US grandmaster Gata Kamsky before the start of round nine

Vassily Ivanchuk in action

For most of the time Gelfand-Shirov looked like a quiet game, where White got a slight advantage, but not enough for a victory. At some point Shirov decided to defend actively and gave up his weak pawn. The position was still a draw, until in the opposite-coloured bishops endgame Shirov allowed his opponent to activate the king. Then at some moment Gelfand had a study-like win, which both opponents missed during the game. Such a nice win would have been a perfect self-present for Gelfand, who turned 41 years old today. The Israeli GM was disappointed after the game, but he took it easy: “It’s a pity, of course, that I missed a forced win, especially because I saw the idea. But in principle, the game was drawn all the time and I got this chance only due to his inaccurate play in the end”.

Alexei Shirov waiting for his opponent...

... Boris Gelfand, top grandmaster of Israel

Current standings

Nisipeanu,Liviu Dieter - Radjabov,Teimour [B76]
Kings' Tournament Bazna ROM, 24.06.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Nxd4 11.e5

This nice idea of a temporary piece sacrifice was discovered in 1993 by the Ukrainian Leonid Milov and it became very popular after that. For the moment White is a piece down, but Black is not able to take advantage of it and will have to return the knight. 11...Nf5 12.exf6 exf6. In the more frequently played variation 12...Bxf6 13.Nxd5 Qxd5 14.Qxd5 Nxe3 15.Qd2 Nxd1 16.Qxd1 basically only White can play for a win. The move made by Radjabov is less studied by the theory. 13.Bc5. Nisipeanu chooses the most principled continuation. The main alternative is 13.Nxd5 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 Be6; 13.Qxd5 Qxd5 14.Nxd5 Nxe3 15.Nxe3 f5=. 13...d4 [No time for 13...Re8 because pawn d5 is hanging. 14.Bxf8 Qxf8. Such exchange sacrifice is rather typical for Dragon, where the white dark-squared bishop is a very important piece. 15.Nb5 Ne3 16.Re1 f5

17.f4. A very interesting novelty! The idea of the Romanian GM is to force soon his opponent to exchange the powerful knight. [In case of 17.Nxd4 f4 Black's strong minor pieces secure sufficient compensation for the exchange. Here is an example from practice: 18.g3 Qd8 19.Nb3 (19.c3 loses due to 19...Bxd4 followed by a check with the bishop on f5.) 19...Qf6 20.Qc1 Bf5 21.Bd3 Rc8 (Stronger is 21...Bxd3! 22.cxd3 Qf5 with a great play for Black) 22.Bxf5 Qxf5 23.Re2 a5 24.Rhe1 a4 25.gxf4 axb3 and in this unclear position a draw was agreed in Akshayraj,K (2400)-Ganguly,S (2603)/Mangalore 2008.]

17...Qc5 The only move, otherwise Black is in trouble. 18.c3 Nxf1 19.Re8+ [19.Rhxf1?? Qxb5] 19...Bf8 20.Qxd4 Qxb5 21.Qd8 Nd2+ 22.Kc2 [22.Qxd2?? Qxe8; 22.Ka1? Qc5 23.Qxd2 b6] 22...Qa4+ [22...Qc5 doesn't work in view of 23.b4] 23.Kc1 [23.Kxd2 looks very risky, although after 23...Qxf4+ 24.Kd1! Qh6 25.Rhe1! f4 26.R1e2! White defends against immediate threats.] 23...Qxe8 24.Qxe8 Ne4!

After a more or less forced sequence of moves the players came to a very sharp position. Often the three pieces are stronger than the queen, but here Black has problems to complete development and therefore Radjabov's position looks dangerous. But if Black would succeed to play b6 and Bb7, he will have the advantage, that's why next few moves are actually forced as well.

25.Rd1. Threatening 26.Rd8. 25...Nf6 26.Qe5 Nd7! 27.Qe8. If the queen goes elsewhere, Black would consolidate with Nc5-e6. 27...Nf6 28.Qd8 Ne4

29.Rd7. The only attempt to play for a win. 29.Qe8 leads to a draw by repetition. 29...Bxd7 30.Qxa8 Bc6 31.Qxa7 Nc5! In the post-mortem analysis the players came to the conclusion that this move is very strong. Nisipeanu realized after it that White should better settle for a draw before Black creates counterplay. 32.g3 Nd3+ 33.Kb1 [After 33.Kc2 Black plays 33...Be4 anyway] 33...Be4 34.Ka1 Bc5 35.Qb8+ Kg7 36.Qd8 Bg1 37.h4 h5 38.a4 Bf2 39.a5 Bxg3 [In case of 39...Nc5 with the idea to put it on e6, after which Black can try to play for more than a draw, White can continue 40.Qb6 and Black will have nothing better than repetition anyway.] 40.Qd4+. Black cannot escape perpetual check: 40.Qd4+ Kh7 41.Qd7 Kg7 42.Qd4+ Kf8 43.Qd8+. Draw. [Click to replay]

Ivanchuk,V (2746) - Kamsky,G (2720) [D15]
Kings' Tournament Bazna ROM (9), 24.06.2009

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 c6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.a4 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.e3 a5 8.Be2 Na6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qb3 Nb4. As it often happens in the Slav, Black has a slightly passive, but very solid position. 11.Na2 Na6 12.Rac1 h6 13.Bh4 g5 14.Bg3 Ne4 15.Nc3 Nxg3 [15...h5 16.cxd5 exd5 favours White: 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Nd2 h4 19.Be5 and Black is left with a lot of weaknesses.] 16.hxg3 Bf6 17.Ne5 Bg7

18.f4. White is slightly better thanks to the kingside initiative. 18...Nb4 19.Rf2 Bd7 20.Na2 Nxa2 21.Qxa2 Be8 22.Qb3 Rb8 23.Bg4 Qe7 24.Qb6 Qd8 25.Qb3 Qe7 26.Nd3 f5 27.Bf3 g4 28.Be2 h5 29.Rff1 Rf6 30.Kf2 Rh6 31.Rh1 Bf6 32.Qb6 Qd8 "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" (Ivanchuk) White's problem is that in the arising endgame the only way to make progress is connected with the advance b2-b4, but after that Black has a clear plan to hold the position. 33.Qxd8 Bxd8 34.Ne5 Kg7 35.Bd3 Rf6 36.Rc2 Ra8 37.Rb1 Bc7 38.b4 axb4 39.Rxb4 Bxe5 40.fxe5 Rf7 41.c5 Rc7 42.Ke2 Kf8 43.Rcb2 Ra7 44.Kd2 Ke7 45.Kc3 Kd8 46.Bc2 Rh7 47.Rb1 Kc7 48.Rh1 Rh8 49.Rb6 Bf7 50.Kb4 Rha8

"/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" (Ivanchuk). Now it becomes clear that White cannot break through. 51.Ra1 Ra5 52.Bb3 R8a7 53.Ra2 Ra8 54.Ra1 R8a7 55.Rf1 Ra8. Draw. [Click to replay]

Gelfand,B (2733) - Shirov,A (2745) [A15]
Kings' Tournament Bazna ROM (9), 24.06.2009

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5 9.d4 cxd4 10.Be3 Rd8 11.Nxd4 Qh5 12.Qc2 Bxd4. A new move. Previously Black played 12...e5. 13.Bxd4 Nc6 14.Bc3 Bh3 15.Bxc6 bxc6 16.Rfd1 Qf5 17.Qxf5 Bxf5

18.Bb4 Kf8 19.Rdc1 a5 20.Ba3 Rd2 21.Kf1 Rc2 22.f3 [22.Rxc2 Bxc2 23.Rc1 Be4 24.f3 Bd5 25.e4 Bxa2=] 22...Rxc1+ 23.Rxc1 Ra6 24.Bc5 Be6 25.a3 Ke8 [Better is 25...h5 removing the potentially weak pawn from h7.] 26.g4! Ra8 27.Bd4 Rd8 [There was nothing wrong with 27...Kd7 ] 28.Bb6 Rb8 29.Bxa5 Rxb2 30.Rxc6 Bd7 31.Rc3 Bb5 32.Re3 Kd7 33.Bb4 e6 34.g5! Kc6 35.Re5 Rc2 36.Kf2 Ba6 37.Be7 Bb5 38.Bf8 Kb6 39.Bb4 Kc6 40.h4 Ba6 41.Bf8 Bb5 42.Be7 Kb6 43.Re4 Rc4 44.Rxc4 Bxc4 In spite of White's extra pawn the endgame is a draw due to the opposite-coloured bishops. 45.e4 Bb3 46.Ke3 Bd1 47.f4 Bc2 Necessary was 47...e5 with an easy draw: 48.fxe5 (or 48.f5 Kc6) 48...Bc2 49.Kd4 Kc6. 48.Kd4 Kc6 49.Ke5 Kd7 50.Kf6 Ke8 51.e5 Bb3 52.Bb4 Bc2 53.Kg7 Ba4 54.Kxh7 Bc2 55.Kg7 Bb3 56.Kf6 Bc2 57.Bd6! Bb3

58.a4? 58.f5!! White gives up all (!) his kingside pawns, wins the bishop and then it does not allow the opponent's king to come to a8: 58...exf5 (58...gxf5 59.h5) 59.e6 Bxe6 (59...fxe6 60.Kxg6) 60.h5 gxh5 61.g6 fxg6 62.Kxe6 Both opponents saw this idea, but they both thought it's a draw because the a8 is "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" coloured corner. Gelfand calculated this line with the bishop on e7 instead of d6, when indeed it doesn't work because of f5-f4. 62...Kd8 63.Kd5 Kc8 64.Kc6

Analysis diagram

The point of the entire idea: black king is cut from square a8! 64...g5 65.a4 f4 66.a5 f3 67.a6 f2 68.a7 f1Q 69.a8Q#]

58...Bxa4 59.f5 Bc2 60.fxe6 fxe6 61.Kxe6 Bb3+ 62.Kf6 Bc2 White is two pawns up, but it's a draw. 63.e6 [63.h5 gxh5 64.g6 h4 65.g7 Bh7 this is a draw even without Black's h-pawn.] 63...Bd3 64.Bg3 Bc2 65.h5 gxh5 66.g6 Bd3 67.Bh4 Kf8 68.e7+ Ke8 69.Kg7 Bc2 70.Kh6 Bb3 71.Kxh5

White cannot win: 71...Ba2 72.Kh6 Bb3 73.Kh7 Bc2 74.Kh6 Bb3 75.g7 Bg8 76.Kg6 Kd7 and then back to e8. Draw. [Click to replay]


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