Efimenko draws first blood in Mukachevo match

by ChessBase
9/21/2009 – The six-game encounter between former World Championship challenger Nigel Short and the promising Ukrainian grandmaster Zahar Efimenko started with musical pomp in the West-Ukrainian town of Mukachevo. In the first game Efimenko showed great style in beating his more famous and higher-rated British opponent with the black pieces. First round report with GM commentary.

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Universal Event Promotion (UEP), the company that staged major events like Kramnik vs Deep Fritz and the World Championship Anand vs Kramnik, is now continuing their series of the first-class matches with an encounter between former World Championship candidate Nigel Short and the very promising Ukraining GM Zahar Efimenko. The event is taking place in the West-Ukrainian town of Mukachevo. It is a classical match over six games, with time controls of 90 minutes for 40 moves, plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting with the first move. Efimenko is seconded by GM Alexander Beliavsky, Short is playing without a second.

From the official web site:

The 44-year-old Nigel Short belongs to the greatest of his craft. He caused a stir with numerous successes in his early years and was considered a prodigy. In the World Junior Championship 1980 he won the silver medal behind Garry Kasparov and very soon he became a chess grandmaster at the age of 19, the youngest in the world at that time. After winning several tournaments and a victory against Jan Timman in the Candidates final 1993 he got the opportunity to fight for the highest chess crown. The match against Garry Kasparov, which took place outside the World Chess Federation and under the aegis of the Professional Chess Association (PCA) and can be considered as the climax in Short's career. He lost against the mighty Russian 12.5 - 7.5.

Although Short temporarily disappeared from the scene after this defeat he still plays at the highest level to this day and is always a most welcome guest, especially because of his dynamic and aggressive play. His current Elo is 2706 whereby he ranks numer 29th in the world.

Nigel Short, UEP President Josef Resch, Zahar Efimenko

The 24-year-old Zahar Efimenko belongs to a group of young and talented Ukrainian players. As a youngster, his biggest success was a victory in the World Junior Chess Championship U-14 in Oropesa del Mar. In spite of some strong rivals he plays in the national team and won the Ukrainian championship in 2006. In Germany he is known for his participation in the Bundesliga, where he plays for the team of Werder Bremen. The young Ukrainian, like Short, is known for his constant search for the initiative and for the fact that he has no fear of big names. He is supported by the president of the Universal Event Promotion, Josef Resch, and lives in Mukachevo. His current Elo is 2654 whereby he captures the 83rd rank in the world.

The match between Short and Efimenko promises six high class and exciting games with a totally open result. You can follow the games at the official UEP website of Universal Event Promotion and the Mukachevo Chess Club website. Naturally you can watch the games at Playchess.com, together with thousands of other members.

The drawing of lots, with match arbiter Oleg Tovchyga (left) officiating

Liliya Sholomey, a singer from Moldova, performed at the opening ceremony

Photos Viktor Manak

Schedule of the Short-Efimenko match

Saturday 19 September CEST Opening ceremony, drawing of colours
Sunday 20 September 15:30h Game one: Short-Efimenko
Monday 21 September 16.30h Game two: Efimenko-Short
Tuesday 22 September 16.30h Game three: Short-Efimenko
Wednesday 23 September   Free day
Thursday 24 September 16.30h Game four: Efimenko-Short
Friday 25 September 16.30h Game five: Short-Efimenko
Saturday 26 September 16.30h Game six: Efimenko-Short

Game one

The first game of the six-game match was a resounding victory with the black pieces for the local grandmaster Zahar Efimenko. In an exciting and aggressive game he took his British opponent apart to draw first blood in this event. The following commentary was provided by German GM Klaus Bishoff.

Short,N (2706) - Efimenko,Z (2654) [B23]
Match Mukachevo UKR (1), 20.09.2009 [GM Klaus Bischoff]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.Nge2 Nf6 5.0-0 e6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4. All these transpositions have now led to a Sozin Sicilian. This was Fischer's favorite line against the Sicilian, and Nigel has even used it to try to make life difficult for Black against Kasparov. 7...Be7 8.a3

With this innocent looking little move Nigel tries to avoid a theoretical battle. The move in itself is not stupid at all, he wants to keep his Sozin bishop. But of course Black is given extra time to finish his development. 8...0-0 9.Ba2 Bd7 10.Re1 a6 11.Be3 Rc8. Zahar is now ready for Ne5-c4. If he could then protect this wonderful knight with b5, Black would be fine. 12.f4!? The exclamation mark is for the courage. But Nigel is weakening his king. For me it looks a bit strange to combine Rfe1 and f4. 12...Nxd4 13.Bxd4 e5!

14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Bxe5 Bc5+ 16.Kh1. Unfortunately 16.Bd4 does not work. Black has 16...Bg4 with a double attack. 16...Ng4

Black is now winning the exchange. 17.Bg3 Bf2 18.Qf3 Bxe1! Brave! If Zahar had less selfconfidence, he could have gone for 18...Bxg3 which leads to a draw. After 19.Qxg3 Black has 19...Qb6 20.Nd5 Nf2+ 21.Kg1 Nh3+ 22.Kh1 Nf2+ with a perpetual. 19.Rxe1 Qg5 20.Bf4 Qg6 21.Bd5. It was safer to try 21.h3 Nf6 22.Be5 Rfe8 23.Bxf6 Qxf6 24.Qxf6 gxf6 25.Bd5 Rc7 26.Rf1 White has chances to get away with a draw. But he would have to suffer. 21...Bc6 22.e5?! My engines do not like this move at all. But Nigel wanted to prevent Sf6. 22...Rfe8 23.Bxc6 bxc6!? It was also possible to play 23...Rxc6 Zahar probably did not like 24.h3 Nf6?! (but 24...Nh6! is playable with a solid advantage.) 25.Rd1 and the knight suddenly has no good squares. 24.h3 Nf6 25.Rd1 Nd5 26.Nxd5 cxd5 27.c3 Qe4!

The rest is easy for Black. White needs Bd4 for more resistance, but he will of course never get this. 28.Qf2 Rc4 29.Bg3 d4 30.Rxd4 Rxd4! This is a well-known method. After winning the exchange, you should always try to exchange your opponents last rook. 31.cxd4. 31.Qxd4 was also hopeless. After 31...Qb1+ 32.Kh2 Qxb2 White has no compensation at all. 31...Rd8 32.Qf1 Rxd4 33.Qxa6 h5 34.e6 fxe6 35.Qb5 Rd5 36.Qe8+ Kh7 37.Kh2 h4 38.Bc7 Rg5

This brutal move is winning the house. A perfect start for Zahar, who played very well today. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Results and standings

 Nigel Short ENG
 Zahar Efimenko UKR


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

Pictures from Mukachevo

The venue of the match: Cinema Theatre "Peremoha", Mira Square, Mukachevo

The central street of the Ukrainian city

Catholic church in Mukachevo

The well-known "Saints Cyril and Methodius" statue in contemporary Mukachevo. The Byzantine Greek brothers are credited with the creation of the Slavic Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets.

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