Leko, Gelfand, Radjabov, Ivanchuk in semis of World Cup

1/8/2007 – If it wasn't for an incredible one-move blunder by Morozevich against Radjabov the top four seeds would have made it to the semifinals of the ACP World Cup. This way number five in the seeding list gets a chance. The rapid chess event is taking place in the splendid Londonskaya Hotel, and ends on Monday. Pictorial report.

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First ACP World Rapid Chess Cup

This event is taking place in Odessa, Ukrainefrom January 4th to 8th 2007, in the Hotel Londonskaya. The total prize fund is US $136,000. 16 grandmasters are in this knockout tournament, with time control or 20 min + 5 sec.

The venue of the event is the Londonskaya Hotel, located in the heart of Odessa and offering spectacular views of the Black Sea and famous Potyomkin Stairs. This landmark hotel opened 160 years ago and has been a part of history, with its corridors witnessing many of the historic events.

First day

Peter Leko vs Ivan Sokolov
The first game, in which Sokolov had White, was more or less equal and ended in a draw. After the match, Sokolov mentioned that a small incident with him breaking a glass of water did not serve him well. Leko won the second game confidently in 21 move. Curiously, it was Sokolov who was better prepared for the opening line that occurred in the game. However, Leko, who had studied the line at 11 (!), found a new and unpleasant for the opponent idea at the board. On the move 11 Sokolov should have castled, temporary dropping his bishop, and on the move 14 he missed the chance of extending the struggle by 14…e3, the move suggested in the press center by Teimour Radjabov.


Sokolov vs Leko in game two of round one

Sergey Rublevsky vs Arkady Naiditsch
Rublevsky had White in the first game, which turned quite uneventful and ended in a draw without much excitement. The second game was much more thrilling. Naiditsch utilized the opponent’s carelessness and carried out a dangerous central break on the move 17. However, in two more moves Arkadij made a mistake, taking the f7-pawn instead of correct capture of another pawn on d5. The tables were turned, and Rublevsky won the game and the match.


Rublevsky and Naiditsch in the press conference

Alexey Shirov vs Ilya Smirin
Shirov had Black in the first game. His handling of the opening was rather risky, but Smirin rejected a principled continuation on the 13th move, after which the game became equal. By the 30th move it transposed into a rook ending with a microscopic, almost nominal advantage for Shirov. However, Smirin, as he confessed at the press conference, lost concentration, starting to think about the next game too early. Shirov won, perfectly utilizing all the inaccuracies of the opponent. The grandmasters played the second game clearly being under very strong impression about the first one. After Smirin’s mistake on the move 14, his position became critical. Shirov designed a draw by perpetual, and let his advantage to slip away on the move 16. Both players missed the resource, given by Ivanchuk – 17...Bh6!, which could give Smirin a chance to continue the struggle. After playing another move, Smirin soon had to accept the move repetition in an objectively inferior position.


Shirov vs Smirin in round one

Boris Gelfand vs Hikaru Nakamura
In both games Gelfand showed exemplary technique. It helped him converting his advantage in the first game, despite the position being closer to a draw than to a win for White, according to the Israeli himself, as well as first equalizing from a hopeless situation and then even winning a drawn endgame in the second one. Nakamura missed the victory in that game on the move 47. Gelfand was the only player who won his match with a ‘clean sheet’.


Nakamura vs Gelfand

Second day

Alexander Morozevich vs Pentala Harikrishna
Morozevich won the first game of his match against Harikrishna with unexpected ease. The Muscovite was true to his style, selecting the Pirc and then outplaying the opponent in a complex middlegame. Morozevich won an exchange, and forced the resignation on the move 34. For the first time one of the participants of the World Cup managed to return after losing the first game. And this result was not determined by some blunder – Harikrishna carried out the game at very high level, and his move 28...c2! was greatly praised by Peter Leko, who led the discussion in the press center. In blitz the first two games were each won by White, then Morozevich won the final game, delivering checkmate in the final seconds of the Armageddon game.


Morozevich vs Harikrishna

Evgeny Bareev vs Taimour Radjabov
In the first game the Azeri grandmaster got a tangible advantage after the opening, but unexpectedly for the spectators and commentators released the tension and transposed the game to an almost even ending. After tense struggle, the second game was won by Teimour Radjabov.


Bareev vs Radjabov in round one

Victor Bologan vs Etienne Bacrot
An unfortunate accident happened to Viorel Bologan. Having a noticeable advantage, the Moldovan grandmaster first let it go, and then, having rejected a drawing continuation, blundered and parted with a piece. In the second game the Frenchman returned the compliment by blundering away a winning position in one move. The blitz games were also very nervous, with White winning each game. The Armageddon game was a success for Bacrot.


Bacrot vs Bologan

Vassily Ivanchuk vs Farrukh Amonatov
Ivanchuk's victory in the first game was far from being an easy walk – Farrukh Amonatov did hist best to create problems for his opponent in converting a significant opening advantage, and even being a rook down, forced Ivanchuk finding the only moves leading to a win. Ivanchuk took game two for a 2-0 victory.


Amonatov vs Ivanchuk

Third day

Peter Leko vs Servey Rublevsky
Leko basically swept Rublevsky off the board, outmatching him in the opening preparation – and nothing else was required. Sergey's narrow but well-worked opening repertoire proved being just narrow this time. In the first game Leko snatched a pawn without any compensation early in the game, and in the second one came out with a good equalizing novelty against Rublevsky's pet Scotch. Sergey refused taking a draw and duly lost the second game as well.

Alexei Shirov vs Boris Gelfand
Gelfand's opening choice probably came as a surprise to Shirov, who spent a few minutes thinking on how to respond to the Chebanenko Variation of the Slav. The Israeli won the game as Black in a nice fashion, and took the lead in the match. In the second game Shirov needed to win with Black pieces. He managed to get a promising position, but then did not use all the resources of developing his game. After simplifications, the game ended in a draw, which allowed Gelfand advancing into the semifinal.

Alexander Morozevich vs Taimour Radjabov
The outcome of the first game was decided by a tragic rook blunder in a technically winning position for Morozevich.

Morozevich,A (2733) - Radjabov,T (2729) [B30]

The amazing blunder in a won postion: 64.b5?? Kxc5 0-1


Morozevich (right) blunders a rook against Radjabov

Having won as Black, Radjabov confidently protected his lead, despite all attempts of Morozevich to complicate the struggle, and advanced to the semifinal.

Vassily Ivanchuk vs Etienne Bacrot
Ivanchuk advanced to the semifinal in classical manner – draw as Black, win as White. This match contained much fewer grave errors compared to the previous ones, and the supporters of the Ukrainian grandmaster did not have to worry about their hero...

Score after two days and two rounds

Sokolov
0.5-1.5
Leko

Leko

2.0-0.0

Rublevsky

Leko



Gelfand
 
Rublevsky
1.5-0.5
Naiditsch
Smirin
0.5-1.5
Shirov

Shirov

0.5-1.5

Gelfand

Gelfand
2.0-0.0

Nakamura

Harikrishna
2.0-3.0
Morozevich

Morozevich

0.5-1.5

Radjabov

Radjabov



Ivanchuk
Radjabov
1.5-0.5
Bareev
Bologan
2.0-3.0
Bacrot

Bacrot

0.5-1.5

Ivanchuk

Ivanchuk
2.0-0.0
Amonatov

Final round schedule – Monday, 08.01.2007

1:00 p.m.: Semi-final 1st match
3:15 p.m.: Semi-final 2nd match

6:00 p.m.: Final match
9:00 p.m.: Closing ceremony

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