Bucharest Kings Rd2: Missed opportunities

11/9/2012 – Round two was a round of near misses with the players all scratching their heads a bit on missed shots and chances. A serious mistake by Nisipeanu based on an oversight led to a mistaken attempt at a perpetual. His saving grace was that Caruana also missed it, and blundered away a clear win. Topalov and Ivanchuk also drew after a tense battle. Report and analysis by GM Rogozenco.

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The Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest is staging a double round robin tournament with four top GMs: Italian Fabiano Caruana, Italy's greatest player since the Renaissance, Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov, former world champion and world number one, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, the best Romanian player. The competition is taking place from November 7th to 13th 2012 in Bucharest, Romania.

Round two report

Round 2: Thursday, November 8, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk


A young fan shares a move with his father

In the second round game Caruana-Nisipeanu after the quiet opening in the Advanced Variation of the Caro-Kann, it looked like there will be a long maneuvering in the marginally better middlegame for White, but on move 24 the Romanian Grandmaster decided to sharpen things up by producing an interesting positional sacrifice. Black should have got more or less sufficient compensation, but having missed Caruana's reply 27.Qb3 Nisipeanu suddenly panicked and burned all the bridges with the ugly move 27...Re4. When Caruana played 29.Qc4 it looked like the game will last just few more moves and it did so indeed. Only with a different outcome than expected. Nisipeanu sacrificed the bishop rather out of desperation, hoping to give perpetual check and the players started to play in blitz tempo, although both (especially White) had no real time problems. This somewhat unexpected quick play cost Caruana half a point, since in a rather not very difficult position he fell into a trap and his king couldn't escape from the black queen's checks.

"We are all just humans," said Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu before leaving the press center.


David versus Goliath. The question is who is whom?

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.08"] [Round "2"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano GM"] [Black "Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter GM"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2786"] [BlackElo "2668"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 {The Advanced Variation represents nowadays the most popular and principled way for White against the Caro-Kann.} Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 c5 6. Be3 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Ne7 8. Nd2 Nbc6 9. N2f3 Be4 10. O-O {[#]} a6 {This rare move doesn't have a good reputation and most likely it took Caruana by surprise, since the Italian thought for more than 20 minutes before answering.} 11. c3 Qd7 ({Actually Nisipeanu played this variation just two months ago in the Romanian Team Championship, but apparently that game wasn't published in all databases and thus remained unnoticed by Caruana.} 11... Rc8 12. Bf4 h6 13. Bg3 Nf5 14. Nxf5 Bxf5 15. Nd4 {and the draw was agreed in Salgado Lopez,I (2627)-Nisipeanu,L (2648) Mamaia 2012.}) 12. Re1 Rc8 13. Bf1 h6 14. h4 { Preventing any possible counterplay connected with g7-g5.} Nxd4 15. Nxd4 Nf5 16. Nxf5 Bxf5 17. a4 Be7 18. h5 O-O 19. Bd4 {[#] After massive exchanges the position simplified into a slightly better middlegame for White.} Bc5 ({As revealed after the game, in case of} 19... f6 {Caruana was going to continue} 20. a5 fxe5 21. Rxe5 Bf6 {and now positionally sac an exchange with a move like for instance} 22. Qe1 {Ironically, Nisipeanu avoided this and soon sacrificed an exchange himself.}) 20. a5 Qe7 21. Ra4 Bxd4 22. Qxd4 Rc5 23. Re3 Rfc8 24. b4 {[#]} Rc4 {A surprising decision: Nisipeanu makes a pure positional exchange sacrifice. It is not a bad idea itself - all black pieces get active now, White's rook on a4 is out of play and his h5-pawn is also week. However, very soon some unexpected things start to happen.} ({After} 24... R5c7 25. Ra1 {White keeps his small plus.}) 25. Bxc4 Rxc4 26. Qd1 (26. Qd2 {is clearly worse in view of} Qg5) 26... Bg4 ({An even better option was} 26... Qh4 {pinning for the moment the b-pawn}) 27. Qb3 $1 {This strong continuation preparing the advance of the b-pawn came as an unpleasant surprise for Nisipeanu, who suddenly panicked. [#]} Re4 $2 {A horrible move, throwing away a quite playable position.} ({Black had to choose between} 27... Qd7 {(against b5)}) ({or} 27... Bxh5 28. b5 axb5 29. Qxb5 Rc7 {and Black is just slightly worse.}) 28. Rxe4 dxe4 29. Qc4 $1 {[#] Now the game is basically over - White is an exchange up without any compensation.} Bf3 $1 {The last try. Otherwise Black is just completely lost.} 30. gxf3 Qg5+ 31. Kf1 Qc1+ 32. Ke2 Qc2+ 33. Ke3 Qc1+ {[#]} 34. Kxe4 $4 {A blunder just one step away from the victory. It's even more bitter for the Italian due to the fact that he had plenty of time on the clock...} (34. Kd4 Qd1+ 35. Kc5 Qxa4 36. Kb6 {wins easily for White.}) 34... Qe1+ $1 ({Of course not} 34... Qc2+ 35. Ke3 Qc1+ ({or} 35... Qxa4 36. Qc8+ Kh7 37. Qxb7 {winning}) 36. Kd4 Qf4+ 37. Kc5 {and the king escapes.}) 35. Kf4 {The king cannot escape perpetual check.} ({After} 35. Kd4 {Black has} Qxf2+ {and the king cannot go to c5. Then} 36. Kd3 Qf1+ {and White must repeat the position.}) 35... Qc1+ 36. Ke4 (36. Kg3 {won't help:} Qg1+ 37. Kh3 Qh1+ { and draw}) 36... Qe1+ {A disappointing result for Caruana.} 1/2-1/2


Nisipeanu and Caruana share their insight on a tragedy of errors that concluded their game

In Topalov-Ivanchuk Black quickly solved his opening problems in a quiet variation of the Ruy Lopez. In the middlegame Ivanchuk achieved some advantage, which he preserved also in endgame. However, in spite of all Ivanchuk's efforts to convert his tiny advantage into something more tangible, Topalov was never in the danger of losing and after a long accurate defense from White the draw was agreed on move 65.

Thus after two rounds Ivanchuk is leading with 1.5 points.


Ivanchuk tries to see whether a change in perspective helps

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.08"] [Round "2"] [White "Topalov, Veselin GM"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily GM"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C87"] [WhiteElo "2769"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "129"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 {These days this is quite popular move on the high level, designed to avoid tons of theory in the main lines.} d6 7. c3 O-O 8. Re1 Bg4 9. Nbd2 Nd7 10. h3 Bh5 11. Bc2 {[#]} (11. Nf1 {allows Black to start activity in the center:} Nc5 12. Bc2 (12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. g4 Bg6 14. Ng3 Ne6 15. Kg2 c5 $11 {Carlsen,M (2786)-Beliavsky,A (2619) Dresden 2008}) 12... d5 13. Qe2 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 d4 $11 {Adams,M (2735) -Kasimdzhanov,R (2679) Cala Mayor 2008}) 11... h6 {A new continuation in this particular position. Like yesterday against Nisipeanu (19.h3), the Ukrainian GM makes a useful waiting move, asking White to define his intentions.} (11... Nc5 {has been played before, after which White can start playing aggressively with} 12. g4 Bg6 13. d4 {winning a tempo by attacking the knight and Black has nothing better than retreat it back to d7.}) 12. a3 {Playing "cat and mouse": for the moment Topalov is choosing a similar strategy, asking his opponent to find another useful move.} Re8 {Ivanchuk doesn't have problems with that: Black is not forced to hurry with playing Nd7-c5, since there are sufficient other options.} 13. g4 {White can hardly pretend to fight for advantage without the pawn advance in the center. And in order to play d3-d4 the ex-World Champion decides to go for this double-edged advance as well.} ({The immediate} 13. d4 {would be a mistake in view of} exd4 14. g4 dxc3) ({But} 13. Nf1 {was a very decent alternative}) 13... Bg6 14. d4 {[#]} exd4 15. cxd4 d5 $1 {A good "human" decision. In all cases Black's chances for a successful fight for the supremacy in the center is by no means worse.} 16. e5 {"When I went for this, I missed that he can arrange his pieces so comfortably like in the game and that White can be even worse" (Topalov)} (16. exd5 Bxc2 17. Qxc2 Na7 { is also fine for Black.}) 16... Bxc2 17. Qxc2 Nf8 {The knight comes to e6, blockading e5 and underlining the weakness of pawn d4.} 18. Nf1 {[#] Ideally White would like to bring this knight to f5 and create some attack, but Black will mobilize his forces very quick and start himself counterplay on the kingside, using the weaknesses created by the advance of white g-pawn.} Ne6 19. Be3 Bg5 20. Rad1 (20. Nxg5 hxg5 21. Rad1 f6 {offers Black a great play as well. }) 20... f6 $1 21. Qb3 Na5 22. Qc3 ({After} 22. Qb4 {Black plays} Nc4 {as well} ({Better than} 22... c6 23. h4 Bxe3 24. Nxe3 $14) {and} 23. Qxb7 {favours Black after} Rb8 $17) 22... Nc4 23. h4 Bxe3 24. Nxe3 Nxe3 25. Qxe3 c6 (25... fxe5 26. Qxe5 c6 27. Re3 $11) 26. h5 Rf8 27. exf6 Qxf6 {[#] Ivanchuk succeeded to achieve a slight advantage. Almost at every move White has several options, but there is no clear equality, which means that Topalov is always forced to defend a slightly inferior position. However, in spite of many remaining moves, the game never crossed the line of just minimal advantage for Black.} 28. Ne5 {Topalov prefers to keep the knights, possibly hoping that in a more complicated position the time can play its role (Ivanchuk had less than 10 minutes left at this moment).} (28. Qxe6+ Qxe6 29. Rxe6 Rxf3 30. Re7 Raf8 $15) 28... Qh4 29. Qg3 Qxg3+ 30. fxg3 {Black's structural advantage is not enough for real winning chances.} Ng5 31. Kg2 Ne4 32. Rf1 Rxf1 33. Rxf1 Re8 (33... Rf8 34. Rf5 $1) 34. Nd7 Rd8 35. Ne5 Re8 36. Nd7 {[#]} a5 {Obviously, being at no risk himself Ivanchuk prefers to keep the game going.} (36... Rd8 37. Ne5 Re8 {would have been a draw due to the threefold repetition.}) 37. a4 Ng5 38. Ne5 Rf8 39. Rf5 $1 {White is ready to exchange rooks only if improving the pawn structure.} (39. Rf4 $2 Ne6 40. Rxf8+ Kxf8 {and the knight endgame is lost for White}) 39... Ne4 (39... Ne6 40. Nf3) 40. Kf3 Re8 41. Kg2 Nd6 42. Rf2 Re7 43. b3 Re8 44. Rc2 Nf7 45. Nf3 Kf8 46. Rf2 Kg8 (46... Ke7 47. Nh4 $1) 47. Rc2 Kh7 ({The complications after} 47... Re3 48. Rc5 Rxb3 49. Rxa5 {will most likely lead to a draw as well}) 48. Rc5 Re2+ 49. Kf1 Re3 50. Kg2 Ng5 (50... Rxb3 51. Rxa5 $11) 51. Nxg5+ hxg5 52. Rxa5 Rxb3 53. Ra7 {[#]} g6 54. a5 Kh6 55. Ra8 (55. a6 bxa6 56. Rxa6 Rc3 57. hxg6 Kxg6 58. Ra7 Kf6 59. Rc7 {is also possible}) 55... gxh5 56. Rh8+ Kg7 57. Rb8 Rb5 (57... hxg4 $2 58. a6) (57... h4 58. gxh4 gxh4 59. Kh2 $1 $11 (59. a6 $4 {loses here:} Rg3+ 60. Kh2 bxa6)) 58. gxh5 g4 59. Kf2 Kh6 60. Ke3 Kxh5 61. Kf4 Kg6 62. Kxg4 Rxa5 63. Kf4 c5 64. dxc5 Rxc5 65. Rxb7 1/2-1/2

 
Topalov gives an overview on his game against Ivanchuk

All photos by Ionut Anisca


Schedule and results

Round 1: Wednesday, November 7, 15:30h
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
1-0
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Round 2: Thursday, November 8, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
½-½
 Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 3: Friday, November 9, 15:30h
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Fabiano Caruana
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
   Veselin Topalov
Round 4: Sunday, November 10, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
   Veselin Topalov
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Round 5: Monday, November 11, 15:30h
Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu 
   Fabiano Caruana
Vassily Ivanchuk 
   Veselin Topalov
Round 6: Tuesday, November 12, 15:30h
Fabiano Caruana 
   Vassily Ivanchuk
Veselin Topalov 
   Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

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