Geneva Masters SF: Kramnik and Mamedyarov win

6/30/2013 – It promised to be a great semifinal if the topsy-turvy games from the preliminaries were any indication, and the day’s action lived up to them. Kramnik faced Nakamura in a tough match and it was all decide in a King's Indian in the blitz. Mamedyarov traded blows with Bacrot, and they too had to decide it in the blitz tiebreaks. Report and videos.

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The first Geneva Chess Masters

The first Geneva Chess Masters is taking place from June 26th to 30th. Eight players in two groups qualify for a knockout phase. The games are played at 25 minutes + 10 seconds per move. In the initial phase, two groups of four players play two game matches and play-offs (in other words, no ties) and produce points to go into an all-play-all table. The top two in each group go through to the final phase.

Semifinals

It promised to be a great semifinal if the topsy-turvy games from the preliminaries were any indication, and the day’s action lived up to them. The first semifinal was between Vladimir Kramnik and Hikaru Nakamura, and two styles rarely contrasted more.

The first rapid game was an English in which Kramnik obtained a significant advantage and seemed on his way to a win, however in his desire to neutralize any chances Nakamura have to confuse the issue, he mistakenly exchanged queens and then a pair of rooks which eased off the pressure. The American then held the draw. Game two was an offbeat line of the Berlin, but it quickly went stale as the pieces came off and the symmetrical pawn structure led to a draw.

Needless to say, a draw is not possible in a knockout structure, which led to the blitz tiebreaks played at a rate of four minutes and a two-second increment.

The video footage of their blitz tiebreak

Their first game was a hard fought draw after a Veresov led to an extra pawn for Kramnik which he was unable to convert.

In game two, the gloves came off as Nakamura unplugged the King’s Indian as black, and went for the jugular. At least that was the plan, but Kramnik’s handling of the white side is legendary.

This made Vladimir Kramnik the first finalist of the Geneva Chess Masters.

Vladimir Kramnik gives a post match conference (in English) 

The second semifinal match placed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov against Etienne Bacrot and they too had a very hard match but it went very differently. In the first game, Bacrot tried to intimidate Mamedyarov with a scary looking attack, but the Azeri GM is not one to judge an attack by its appearance, and coolly defended it after which he converted his then winning position.

In game two, Bacrot knew that a quiet positional game was unlikely to maximize his chances, and chose the Dutch defense to settle the score. His choice paid off as he got an edge right out of the opening and then played very well to bring home the point to the delight of the French fans. This meant a blitz tiebreak here as well.

It started badly as Bacrot obtained a very bad position in the opening and was unable to articulate any play to fight back. It was a precision display by Mamedyarov as he forced capitulation on move 22.

 

The video of the first blitz game between Mamedyarov and Bacrot. Commenting in French are Damir Levacic and GM Romain Edouard.

In their second game, they played a Queen’s Gambit Declined and a slightly imbalanced position appeared, just the sort of thing Bacrot needed to try and push for the Armageddon. Mamedyarov was still in fine form and made no mistakes as they pushed into an equal double rook endgame. It went badly though and once the Azeria had doubled his rooks on the seventh, it was clear that a win was no longer in the stars.

The video of the second blitz tiebreaker between Bacrot and Mamedyarov

With this win, Mamedyarov and Kramnik will face off a second time in the event, and no doubt Kramnik will be looking for a bit of revenge for his loss in day one, as well as the opportunity to hoist the trophy.


Links

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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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