Ivanchuk through to the final against Anand

6/1/2008 – The second semifinal of the rapid chess event in León ended in victory for Vassily Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian grandmaster defeated Alexei Shirov of Spain 3-1, virtually settling the outcome in the first two games, which he won. In game three Shirov came very close to narrowing the gap, but overlooked a clear win to draw. The final Anand-Ivanchuk will take place on Sunday. Illustrated report.

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XXI Magistral Ciudad de León

This rapid chess event is taking place in the Edificio de la Junta de Castilla y León, in the Spanish town of León. There are four players, who play two semi-final matches of four games each, on Friday and Saturday, May 30 and 31. The winners play the final on Sunday, June 1st 2008. Rate of play is 20 minutes for the entire game plus ten seconds increment for each move. In case of a draw there is a tiebreak with blitz games of five minutes. Games can be followed, with live commentary by GMs Miguel Illescas and Michael Rahal on the official tournament site, and on Playchess.com.

Semifinal two (Saturday, May 31, 2008)

In the first game Ivanchuk, playing with the White pieces, obtained only a small advantage after the opening, but a mistake by Shirov led to a difficult position for Black.

Ivanchuk,V (2740) - Shirov,A (2740) [B30]
XXI Magistral Rapid Semi-Final Leon ESP (1), 31.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 d6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.a3 Be6 8.Ng5 Bxc4 9.dxc4 0-0 10.b3 Nd4 11.Bb2 a6 12.a4 Qd7 13.Qd3 Bd8 14.Kh1 Ba5 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Qf5 17.Ne4 Qg6 18.g4

18...Bd8? The mistake by Shirov. 19.f4! With this move Ivanchuk got a clear advantage, then a strong attack, and finally an easily winning endgame with queen against two rooks. 19...Qxg4 20.Nxd6 exf4 21.Bxd4 cxd4 22.Nf5 Qh5 23.Rxf4 g6 24.Qxd4 gxf5 25.Rg1+ Bg5 26.Qf6 h6 27.Rxf5 Kh7 28.Rfxg5 hxg5 29.Rxg5 Qxg5 30.Qxg5 f5 31.d6 f4 32.d7 f3 33.Qe7+ Kh6 34.Kg1 Rg8+ 35.Kf2 Raf8 36.c5 Rg2+ 37.Kf1 Rgg8 38.Qh4+ Kg6 39.Kf2 Rh8 40.Qe4+ Kg5 41.h4+ Kh5 42.Qxb7 Kxh4 43.Qe4+ Kg5 44.Qe5+ Kg6 45.c6 1-0. [Click to replay]

In the second game Shirov repeated his well-known game against Anand, in the Najdorf variation, from Linares Morelia 2008, but Ivanchuk did not play 12…Rc8, preferring 12…Be7. At first White's attack looked promising, but with several strong moves, Ivanchuk demonstrated that his attack was faster, and gained big material advantage, so Ivanchuk obtained a critical advantage of 2-0.

Shirov,A (2740) - Ivanchuk,V (2740) [B96]
XXI Magistral Rapid Semi-Final Leon ESP (2), 31.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 b5 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.Rhe1 Qb6 12.Nb3 Be7 13.Qh3 b4 14.Ne2 h6 15.Bh4 a5 16.Nbd4 0-0 17.g4 Nc5 18.g5 hxg5 19.Bxg5 Bxe4 20.Bxe4 Ncxe4 21.Rg1 b3 22.axb3 a4 23.b4 Rfb8 24.c3 a3 25.Bh6 g6 26.f5 axb2+ 27.Kxb2 Nf2 28.Qg2 Nxd1+ 29.Rxd1 exf5 30.Nxf5 Qa7 31.Nxe7+ Qxe7 32.Bg5 Qe6 33.Nc1 Ne4 0-1. [Click to replay]

The third game followed Carlsen-Shirov from Linares/Morelia earlier this year. Ivanchuk varied with 18.Kh1 instead of 18.Ra6. The game was about equal after the opening, however Shirov tried very hard to win, and even with very few pieces he came very close.

Ivanchuk,V (2740) - Shirov,A (2740) [C78]
XXI Magistral Rapid Semi-Final Leon ESP (3), 31.05.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.axb5 axb5 9.c3 d6 10.d4 Bb6 11.Na3 0-0 12.Nxb5 Bg4 13.Bc2 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Nh5 15.f4 Nxf4 16.Bxf4 exf4 17.Qg4 Qf6 18.Kh1 Ne7 19.Rg1 Ng6 20.Qf5 Qe7 21.Qg5 Qe6 22.Qg4 Qe7 23.Qg5 Qd7 24.Qf5 Qd8 25.Qd5 Qh4 26.Raf1 Ra8 27.f3 Ra5 28.b4 Ne7 29.Qc4 Raa8 30.Qb3 Ng6 31.Qd5 Ne7 32.Qg5 Qxg5 33.Rxg5 Ra2 34.Rg2 Rfa8 35.Bb3 Rxg2 36.Kxg2 Kf8 37.Rf2 f5 38.Ra2 Rd8 39.Ra6 fxe4 40.fxe4 g5 41.h3 Kg7 42.Bd1 Rb8 43.Bg4 c5 44.Nxd6 cxd4 45.cxd4 Bxd4 46.b5 Be5 47.Nf5+ Nxf5 48.Bxf5 Rxb5 49.Ra7+ Kf6 50.Ra6+ Ke7 51.Ra7+ Kd6 52.Rd7+ Kc6 53.Rxh7 Rb2+ 54.Kf1 f3

Black has set up a mating threat (starting with ...Bg3). The best way to defend is 55.Rf7 Bg3 56.Bd7+ Kc5 57.Rxf3. First the rook, then the bishop. 55.Bd7+? Kc5 56.Rf7. Now 56...Rf1 wins: 57.Kf2 Bd4+ 58.Kg3 (58.Kxf3 Rf1+ 59.Kg4 Rxf7) 58...Rg1+ 59.Kh2 f2+–. Unfortunately one of the greatest endgame artists missed it. 56...Bf4? and the game will be drawn. 57.Bg4 f2 58.Rd7 Be3 59.Rd1 Bd4 60.Bf3 Rb3 61.Kg2 Rb2 62.Kf1 Rb6 63.e5 Re6 64.Rc1+ Kb6 65.Rc4 Bc5 66.Re4 Re7 67.Be2 Ra7 68.Kg2 Ra1 69.Bf1 Re1 70.Re2 Kc7 71.e6 Kd8 72.e7+ Ke8 73.Rc2 Re5 74.Re2 Rf5 75.Re4 Bxe7 76.Re2 ½-½. [Click to replay]

In the last game Shirov wanted to play for a win, but Ivanchuk got a decent position right after the opening, and the game finished in a draw by repetition of moves. In the press conference Ivanchuk mentioned several interesting lines of the games, the majority of them best lines suggested by Fritz 11. Shirov was satisfied with the interesting games he had played in the match.

GM Zenón Franco Ocampos, Press Chief


The winner of the second semifinal: Vassily Ivanchuk in the press conference


Alexei Shirov, rueful after the missed chances

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