Essent 2006: Mamedyarov, Judit Polgar are the winners

10/29/2006 – After some very tense roller-coaster periods in their final games both Shakhryar Mamedyarov with white and Judit Polgar with black were able to win their games against Ivan Sokolov and Veselin Topalov respectively. They are the joint winners of Essent 2006. Congratulations Judit and Shak! Full report with a disturbing video.

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Essent Chess Tournament 2006

The 10th edition of the Essent Chess Tournament is taking place from October 20 to 28, 2006 in Hoogeveen, Holland. As in the past years there are a number of competitions: a Crown Group, a strong Essent Open, an Amateur Tournament, a pub tournament and an event for youth. The games are being broadcast live on the official site and on Playchess.com. Full details on the event are available on our first Essent report.

Round six (final)

It was a roller coaster round, with fortunes shifting as quickly as the players could execute moves and manoeuvres on the board. One could sense the pressure. Veselin Topalov, the former world champion, could smell the golden chance to neutralise his abysmal start (0.5/3). In fact by beating Judit Polgar, with a loss by Mamedyarov to Ivan Sokolov, Topalov could become a joint winner of the tournament. We played through this possiblity in yesterday's report.

At one stage it looked as though this scenario would actually play through. Judit Polgar, who had had good winning chances around move 28, suddenly drifted into a potentially lost position. At the same time Ivan Sokolov, who had collected just half a point in the event so far, seemed to have excellent winning chances. But then Topalov did not find the best line to proceed, and Sokolov blundered away a promising endgame. And in the end it was both Judit and Shak who took the full point and the overall tournament victory.


The vanquisher of Topalov, the winner of Essent: Judit Polgar

Topalov,V (2813) - Polgar,Ju (2710) [E32]
10th Essent Hoogeveen NED (6), 28.10.2006

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Nf3 Bb7 8.e3 c5 9.Be2 cxd4 10.exd4 d5 11.b3 Nbd7 12.0-0 dxc4 13.bxc4 Qc7 14.a4 Rac8 15.Re1 Rfe8 16.Bb2 Ng4 17.g3 Ndf6 18.Nd2 h5 19.h3 Nh6 20.Bf3 Red8 21.Re5 Nf5 22.Bxb7 Qxb7 23.d5 h4 24.g4 Ne7 25.Ne4 Ne8 26.Re1 Nxd5 27.Qf3 Rxc4 28.Rg5.

At this stage a famous retiree from chess logged into the Playchess server and said, rubbing his eyes: "I count two pawns for Black? What is going on? Doesn't 28...Qc6 or maybe even 28...Qc7 seal it for Judit?" 28...Qe7? "Oh, no, not that," exclaimed our retiree. "Now Topalov has bishop takes g7! Judit is losing track." The point is that after 29.Bxg7 Nxg7 30.Rxd5 Rxd5 31.Nf6+ Kf8 32.Nxd5 with the queen on e7 the pawn on e6 is pinned and cannot recapture. With the queen on c6 or c7 the combination is not possible. Apparently at his celestial levels people can see this all in a split second. 32...Qd6 33.Nf6 Ne8 34.Qa8 Qe7 35.g5 Rd4 36.Rc1 Rd8 37.Qf3 Rd5

Here our retiree in Moscow looked at 38.Kh1 and then hit on the clever and computer-like 38.Qf4, which Fritz vigorously nods its electronic head at (our human commentator doesn't bother to use an engine). 38.Kf1? Nxf6 39.gxf6 Qd8 40.Rc4 Rf5 41.Qa3+. The following dangerous walk by the black king was once again suggested by our human engine, but he predicted that Judit might be afraid to undertake it against an opponent like Topalov. 41...Kg8 42.Rg4+ Kh7

In a different conversation with a different party (in Brooklyn, NY) our retiree came up with the following miracle save for Topalov: 43.Rg7+ Kh8 44.Qe7 Qd1+ 45.Kg2 Qf3+ 46.Kh2 Qxf2+ 47.Rg2. But: 43.Rxh4+ Kg6 44.Rg4+ Kxf6 45.Qc3+ Ke7 46.Rd4 Rd5 47.Rc4 Kd7 48.h4 Qb8 49.Qf6 Rf5 50.Rd4+ Kc6 51.Rc4+ Kb7 52.Qe7+ Ka6.

Have you followed the long walk by Judit's "iron king"? 53.Rc7 Qa8 54.Kg1 Rf4 55.f3 Rxf3 56.Qg5 f5 0-1.


Winner of Essent on tiebreak points: Shakhryar Mamedyarov [Photos by Fred Lucas]

Mamedyarov,S (2728) - Sokolov,Iv (2670) [D12]
10th Essent Hoogeveen NED (6), 28.10.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Bf5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Ngf6 8.0-0 Be7 9.e4 0-0 10.cxd5 exd5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.Ne5 Bd6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Bf4 Bb4 15.Re2 Qa5 16.Nd1 Nf8 17.Ne3 Ng6 18.Nxg6 hxg6 19.a3 Rac8 20.Be5 Nd7 21.Qb3 Qa6 22.Rc2 Rxc2 23.Nxc2 Bf8 24.Bg3 Qb6 25.Qc3 Nf6 26.f3 Re6 27.Ne3 Rc6 28.Qd2 Qb3 29.Rc1 Rxc1+ 30.Qxc1 Qd3 31.Be5 Nd7 32.Qc3 Nxe5 33.dxe5 Qxc3 34.bxc3.

This endgame, with the bishop and outside pawns, should favour Black. But somehow the luckless Ivan Sokolov manages to blow it. 34...Bc5 35.Kf2 d4 36.cxd4 Bxd4 37.f4 b5 38.Ke2 Bc5 39.Nc2 Kf8 40.Kd3 a5 41.Ke4 Bg1 42.h3 Ke7 43.Kd5 Kd7 44.g4 Bf2 45.Nd4.

White has already seized the initiative. But with the black b-pawn attacked the solution was certainly not to exchange on d4. 45...Bxd4? 46.Kxd4 Kc6 47.h4 b4 48.axb4 axb4 49.Kc4 b3 50.Kxb3 Kd5 51.g5 Ke6 52.Kc4 Ke7 53.Kb5. The game is essentially over, but Sokolov make one last-ditch attempt: 53...f6.

Now the careless 54.exf6+ would only be a draw: 54...gxf6 55.Kc6 (55.gxf6+ Kxf6 is a theoretical draw) 55...fxg5 56.fxg5 (56.hxg5 Ke6 of course loses for White) and the position is drawn. However Shak Mamedyarov is far to clever to fall into that trap: 54.gxf6+ gxf6 55.Kc5 Ke6 56.Kd4 Kd7 57.Kd5 Ke7 58.e6 Kd8 59.Kd6 Ke8 60.e7 1-0.

The final table is remarkable in that it shows that remarkably only two games were drawn in the entire event (Mamedyarov-Polgar and Topalov-Sokolov, both in round three). A draw average of just 16% in a round robin must be some kind of a record. The performances of the players are extraordinary as well: Mamedyarov played like a GM rated 2921; the amazing Judit Polgar performed like a 2927 player; Veselin Topalov, currently the world's highest rated player, clocked in at 2645 (that's going to cost him a bunch of points on the next list); and Ivan Sokolov – oh dear, we cannot bear to say.

One more thing: Garry Kasparov, naturally. What did you think? Taimanov? Smyslov? Come on, be realistic. Sorry, two more things: here's a Dutch TVHN video report on the Essent tournament. You'll never guess what it is mainly about. Or maybe you will. Look what has happened to our wonderful game.

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Topics: Essent 2006
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