Bucharest Kings Rd4: Missed wins

11/11/2012 – If round two could be described as missed opportunities, round four was one of outright missed wins. Both Nisipeanu and Caruana will wonder how they failed to win, while Topalov and Ivanchuk will thank their lucky stars. It was an intensely exciting round with superb examples of how resourceful the greats can be when needed. 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. completely lost control of the game", as he himself put it afterwards. Ivanchuk activated his rooks and gave a perpetual after sacrificing his queen.

Some players make a career of an opening. Ivanchuk has made a career of them all...

Game annotations by GM Dorian Rogozenco:

[Event "6th Kings Tournament"] [Site "Bucharest"] [Date "2012.11.11"] [Round "4"] [White "Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2668"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "Dorian Rogozenco"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "ROU"] {The encounters between Ivanchuk and Nisipeanu are always highly principled. They had a long history, starting with the FIDE World Championship in Las Vegas, 1999, when Nisipeanu knocked Ivanchuk out of the competition. Let's not forget that the only decisive game in the first three rounds in Bucharest was between these players and Nisipeanu was certainly eager to level the score. } 1. e4 e6 {So... a French Defence today. There are two ways to prepare against the "Ukrainian genius": either repeat everything and be ready for all openings (can anyone do that properly?), or pick up one variation, prepare it, and then pray that Ivanchuk will choose it! Oh yes, there is one more option, probably the most common: just forget about concrete preparation before the game and save your time. Against 1.e4 in the past three years Ivanchuk played 37 times - 1...e5, 31 times - 1...c5, 13 times - 1...c6, 11 times 1... e6 and several times 1...d5, 1...d6, 1...g6 each. He even played 1...Nf6 twice. One really must be lucky to even guess Ivanchuk's very first move!} 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 ({In his last game against French Nisipeanu played the Advanced Variation: } 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Na3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Bxa3 8. bxa3 Nge7 9. Rb1 Nf5 10. Rxb7 Na5 11. Rb4 Nc6 {with unclear complications in Nisipeanu,L (2661) -Potkin,V (2663) Eilat 2012. That game ended in a draw after very long fight.}) 3... Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qa5 {Ivanchuk had never played this move before and it came as a surprise for Nisipeanu.} ({The usual continuation is} 6... Ne7 {played by Ivanchuk several times in the past.}) 7. Bd2 Qa4 8. Qg4 { [#]} Kf8 {"I knew only about 8...g6 9.Qd1, but it doesn't really makes a difference comparing to 8...Kf8, since the position is not concrete yet", said Nisipeanu after the game.} 9. Qd1 Ne7 10. Qb1 {This is the usual way of playing in this variation. White puts some pressure on Black's queenside and prepares at some moment Bb5. The idea is to provoke c5-c4 before starting active actions on the kingside.} Nbc6 11. Nf3 c4 ({After} 11... a6 {White achieves advantage with} 12. Qb3) 12. g3 (12. h4 {is another attractive possibility.}) 12... h6 13. Nh4 Ke8 14. Bh3 Rg8 {Both players were critical with Black's moves around here.} 15. Qd1 Ng6 16. Ng2 (16. Nxg6 {would be a mistake. The position after} fxg6 {is very hard to break.}) 16... Nce7 17. O-O Bd7 {[#]} 18. Ne3 $1 {Starting with this moment Nisipeanu nicely outplays his strong opponent.} Qa5 {The idea is to protect the d5-pawn in order to meet f2-f4 with Ne7-f5.} 19. Qh5 $1 (19. f4 Nf5 $1 {and after} 20. Bxf5 exf5 {the queen from a5 protects the pawn d5.}) 19... Nf8 20. f4 {White threatens to advance further the f-pawn, destroying Black's bastions.} g6 {Ivanchuk sacrifices a pawn in order to slow down White's initiative} ({A subtle alternative was} 20... Kd8 {and White can neither advance the f-pawn yet, nor take on f7:} 21. f5 (21. Qxf7 $2 Be8) 21... exf5 22. Bxf5 $2 g6 {and Bxb7 is without check (the point behind 20...Kd8).}) 21. Qxh6 Nf5 22. Bxf5 gxf5 23. Kh1 Rc8 (23... Ng6 24. g4) 24. Rg1 (24. g4 fxg4 25. f5 exf5 26. Nxf5 Bxf5 27. Rxf5 Rc6 {is acceptable for Black.}) 24... Qa4 {[#]} 25. Qh4 {Around here Nisipeanu is starting to "lose control" and slowly lets his huge advantage slip away.} ({ His move 25.Qh4 is not bad, but simpler was} 25. g4 {and Black is in deep troubles:} Rg6 (25... fxg4 26. Nxg4 Kd8 27. Qf6+ Kc7 28. Qxf7) 26. Qh4 fxg4 27. Nxg4 Qxc2 28. Nf6+ Rxf6 29. Qxf6 Qe4+ 30. Rg2) 25... Rc6 26. g4 Ng6 27. gxf5 exf5 28. Qh7 (28. Nxd5 $4 Qa5) 28... Rh8 29. Qg7 (29. Qxh8+ {is unclear:} Nxh8 30. Rg8+ Ke7 31. Rxh8 Be6) 29... Rh3 ({Objectively better is} 29... Rf8) 30. Qg8+ (30. Nxd5 {leads to large advantage after:} Qxc2 31. Rg2) 30... Nf8 31. Rg7 (31. Rg3 Rg6 $1 32. Rxg6 fxg6) 31... Be6 32. Rg3 Rh5 (32... f6 {would catch white queen:} 33. Qg7 Rh7 34. Qxf6 Bd7 35. Qg5 Rg6 {although after} 36. Qxg6+ Nxg6 37. Rxg6 {White's chances are still preferable}) 33. Qg7 Rb6 34. Rgg1 Rb2 (34... Ng6 $5) 35. Rgb1 {[#]} Rxc2 {Ivanchuk is willing to exchange the rook for white knight.} 36. Rb4 $2 ({In severe time-trouble White misses the strong} 36. Qg2 $1 {threatening 37.Rb4. Then} Rxd2 37. Qxd2 {is a large advantage for White, since he remained with the knight instead of the weak bishop.}) (36. Nxc2 Qxc2 {offers some positional compensation for the exchange. }) 36... Rxd2 $1 {Now Black escapes with perpetual.} 37. Rxa4 Rdxh2+ 38. Kg1 Rh1+ 39. Kf2 R5h2+ 40. Kg3 ({It makes little sense to play} 40. Ng2 Rxa1 41. Rxa7 (41. Kg3 Rh7 42. Qf6 a6 {is bad for White, since his pieces don't coordinate at all, while the king is exposed to black rooks}) 41... Ra2+ 42. Kg1 Raxg2+ 43. Qxg2 Rxg2+ 44. Kxg2 Bc8 {since here White obviously has no more than a draw anyway.}) 40... Rh3+ 41. Kg2 R3h2+ 42. Kg3 Rh3+ 43. Kg2 1/2-1/2

A nice escape for both Ivanchuk and Topalov .

Nisipeanu and Ivanchuk breakdown their game in the post-mortem

Ion Antonescu (sponsor and hotel owner),  Elisabeta Polihroniade, Daniel Maruis
Antonescu (son of Ion and CEO), Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam (New in Chess), Nisipeanu,
Rogozenco and Gasanov.

Standings after four rounds

All photos by Pascal Simon and Macauley Peterson

Schedule and results

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


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