Medias: Round one commentary

6/15/2010 – Round one of the category 20 event in Romania saw two wins and a draw. Nisipeanu and Gelfand won brilliant games, although they differed a lot. The Romanian grandmaster capitalised on the strategic inaccuracies of his opponent, Teimour Radjabov, while Boris Gelfand slowly but firmly destroyed Wang Yue's defensive bastions to take the full point. Commentary by GM Dorian Rogozenco.

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ROMGAZ and the Chess Club Society "Elisabeta Polihroniade” of Bucharest are staging a double round robin tournament with six top GMs: the world's highest ranked player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who at the age of 19 has an Elo rating of 2813. Ukrainian GM Ruslan Ponomariov is a former FIDE knockout world champion; Boris Gelfand of Israel, winner of the FIDE World Cup in 2009; the top Chinese player Wang Yue; Teimour Radjabov, the second highest ranked player of Azerbaijan, and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, the best Romanian player. The competition is taking place from June 14th to 25th 2010 in Medias, Romania.

Round one summary

By Dorian Rogozenco

Just one draw out of the three games in the first round! The shortest game was between Carlsen and Ponomariov. Having the white pieces the Norwegian started an aggressive plan, but with precise moves Ponomariov neutralized opponent’s initiative. Carlsen had to admit that White got nowhere and agree to a draw.

Nisipeanu and Gelfand won brilliant games, although they differed a lot. The Romanian Grandmaster used very well the strategic inaccuracies of his opponent and suddenly Black’s position became really difficult. Radjabov couldn’t put up a long resistance, in contrast to Wang Yue, who defended for 82 moves.

Gelfand produced a strong novelty in the opening and achieved a big positional advantage. Then slowly, but firmly he destroyed the opponent’s defensive bastions, although it must be said that Wang Yue showed a very tenacious defence, which is typical for the Chinese Grandmaster. Both winners can be very happy with their play in the first round.

Results of round one (Monday June 14, 2010)

Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter
Radjabov, Teimour
Gelfand, Boris
Wang Yue
Carlsen, Magnus
Ponomariov, Ruslan

Carlsen,Magnus - Ponomariov,Ruslan [E05]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (1), 14.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

Mr. Cool prepares for his game against the world's number one player

Magnus Carlsen with aggressive intentions

1.d4. When asked to make few comments about the present game, Ponomariov started with the following: "It was very difficult to concentrate on chess in this game because it was very hot in the playing hall". Indeed, the Ukrainian was visibly disturbed by the high temperature and looked really happy that he got out of the playing area to reach some cooler places. 1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nc3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 c6 14.Rad1 a5 15.e4 Nd7 16.e5 Be7 17.Be4 Qb6 18.f4

White's aggressive plan looks strong, but it is far from simple to break through. His main problem is the weak pawn on d4. Notice that due to the pin on the a7-g1 diagonal White does not threat to advance f4-f5 yet. Actually a closer look will reveal some weak dark squares in White's position. 18...Rad8 19.Qe2. Carlsen: "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg". However, after Ponomariov's strong answer it seems that Black faces no particular problems. 19.f5? runs into 19...Nxe5. 19...Nb8! Opens the d-file for the rook and transfers the knight to a better position. Actually with this move backwards the knight is heading for square d5. 20.Qf2. 20.f5 The mentioned by Carlsen 20.f5 is an interesting, but of course risky pawn sacrifice. 20...Na6 21.Kh1. Again 21.f5 is premature due to the very strong answer 21...f6! and Black's pieces are better placed for the opening of the position. 21...f5! 22.Bb1. Both players agreed that better was 22.Bf3 preventing 22...h5 and preparing 23.g4. 22...h5! 23.h3 g6 24.Ba2 Nc7. Right in time to protect everything.

25.g4. Black is very solid and has no troubles at all to face this advance. 25...hxg4 26.hxg4 Kf7 27.Kg2 Rh8 28.g5! A common quality for many strong players is to feel the danger and switch from their initial aggressive intentions to a more realistic approach. The position started to become dangerous for White and Carlsen rightly leaves aside his ambitions, trying to keep the balance now. 28...Rh7 29.Rh1 Rxh1 30.Kxh1 Rh8+ 31.Kg2 Qa6. "/portals/all/_for_legal_reasons.jpg" said Ponomariov immediately after the game. 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Nisipeanu,Liviu-Dieter - Radjabov,Teimour [B33]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (1), 14.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

Top Romanian GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

In trouble against LDN: Azeri GM Teimour Radjabov

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4. A very safe choice for White, whose main task in this variation is to prevent Black's activity. 11...b4 12.Nc2 0-0

13.g3. Taking the pawn with 13.Ncxb4 brings White not even a shadow of advantage, which Radjabov himself proved two years ago against Anand: 13...Nxb4 14.Nxb4 Qb6 15.Nd5 Qxb2 16.Bd3 Bd8 17.0-0 Be6 18.Qb3 Qxb3 19.axb3 Rb8 20.Rfb1 Bxd5 21.cxd5 a5 22.Ra4 Bb6 and the draw was agreed soon in Anand,V (2798)-Radjabov,T (2744)/Bilbao 2008.; The main alternative for White is 13.Be2. 13...Be6. Much more popular is 13...Bg5 and if 14.Bg2 then 14...Qa5 15.0-0 Qc5 is considered to be sufficient for equality. It remains a mistery what Nisipeanu prepared here. 14.Bg2 a5 15.0-0 Rc8 16.Qd3 g6

Good chances to equalize offers 16...Bxd5 17.cxd5 Nd4 18.Nxd4 exd4 19.Bh3 Rc5 20.Rac1 Qc7 21.Rxc5 Qxc5. 17.Nxf6+! The first important strategical moment in this game. Nisipeanu exchanges his powerful centralized knight for black's poor bishop on f6. But the bishop was going to retreat to g7 and from there it would have controlled important squares around the black king. Most important, however, is that with the bishop on g7 the advance f7-f5 would have been good in almost all cases (because the opening of the position would have been in Black's favour). White's last move practically kills any hope for Black to get activity in this game. 17...Qxf6 18.b3 Qe7 19.Rad1 Rfd8 20.h4

This is quite a typical position for the whole variation. After the game Radjabov evaluated it as quite reasonable for Black. However, it is more pleasant to play with White if only for the simple fact that Black has no active plan and must wait. On his part White can combine the pressure on the d-file with the advance h4-h5. 20...Kh8. The first step into the wrong direction. Black overestimates his chances and prepares the advance f7-f5. 21.Kh2 f5? 22.exf5! gxf5

23.Bxc6! The second important strategical moment. Again Nisipeanu exchanges his strong-looking piece. And again the Romanian Grandmaster showed a very subtle strategical understanding - after the next White's move it will become clear that Black faces serious difficulties. 23...Rxc6 24.f4! Now a deeper look reveals the following factors: Black has very weak central pawns and a passive bishop. Moreover, potentially his king is vulnerable as well. From the practical point of view Black's position is very difficult, although the chess engines see no danger for Black. 24...Rcc8 25.Qe3 Qg7 26.Rf2! Protecting the knight and ruling out any d6-d5 ideas. The immediate 26.Nd4 exd4 27.Qxe6 allows Black to activate the rook after 27...Re8 28.Qxf5 Re2+. 26...Rd7 After this Black is probably lost, but as mentioned before, his position was difficult anyway.

27.Nd4! Simple and efficient. Black's position collapses. 27...Qg4 28.Rdd2. The dark-strategy domination. Black's bishop is useless. 28...Re8 29.Nb5! Not a bad transfer from c2 to b5. 29...d5. Radjabov tries to complicate matters, but his position is just too bad. 30.Nd6. The most precise execution. Nisipeanu's play is impressive until the very end. 30...Red8 31.Qxe5+ Qg7 32.c5 Qxe5 33.fxe5 Rc7 34.Rc2 d4 35.Rfd2 f4 36.gxf4 d3 37.Rxd3 Bf5 38.Nf7+ Kg7 39.Rg2+. A very nice achievement by Nisipeanu. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Gelfand,Boris - Wang,Yue [D15]
Kings' Tournament/Turneul Regilor Bazna/Romania (1), 14.06.2010 [Rogozenco]

A week shy of 42, and still in top form: Boris Gelfand

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.c5 g6 7.Ne5 Bg7 8.f4 a5 9.Be2 Qc7 10.0-0 0-0

11.a3! This strong novelty is based on deep strategical considerations. Basically White's aim is to make most use of his space advantage. For that reason he needs to avoid the exchange of pieces and also prevent his opponent to come with the knight to e4. Thus 11.a3 is designed to keep control over square e4. 11.Bd3 Bf5 12.Bxf5 gxf5 13.Bd2 Nbd7 14.Be1 e6 15.Rf3 Ne4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rh3 Rfe8 18.Nxd7 Qxd7 19.Qh5 h6 20.Bh4 Ra7 21.Rg3 Kh7 22.Bg5 Rh8 23.Qh4 Qe8 24.Bf6 Bxf6 25.Qxf6 Rg8 26.Rxg8 Qxg8 27.Kf2 Rd7 28.Rg1 Qd8 29.Qxd8 Rxd8 30.g4 fxg4 31.Rxg4 f5 1/2-1/2 Bacrot,E (2705)-Wang Yue (2736)/Dresden Olympiad. 11...Be6. Perhaps already here Black must consider some sort of almost extreme moves like 11...Ne4. 12.Bf3! Nbd7 13.Nd3! In accordance with the explained strategical concept. 13...h6 14.g4! Nh7 15.h4! f5 16.g5! hxg5 17.hxg5

White achieved what he wanted – he avoided the trade of pieces and prevented his opponent to come with the knight to e4. Thanks to his large space advantage the only question remains if he will be able to break through Black's defence. 17...Kf7 18.Kg2 Rfb8 19.Bd2 Nhf8 20.Be2 Ke8 21.Ne1 Bg8. The start of a highly unusual maneover - the transfer of the bishop to h7. It shows that Black really has big problems to find squares for his pieces. 22.Nf3 Rb7 23.Bd3 Nb8 24.Ne2 Qd8 25.Ng3. By threatening to sac on f5 Gelfand provokes the move e7-e6, which takes one more square from black pieces. 25...e6 26.Rh1 Bh7 27.Qc2 Kf7 28.Rh3 Kg8 29.Rah1 Raa7

A pretty sad position for Black. Especially poor impression leaves the bishop on h7. A pawn would be hardly worse on h7 than a bishop... 30.Kf1 Qe8 31.Be1 Bh8 32.Rh6 Bg7 33.R6h4 Bh8 34.R1h3 Re7 35.Qh2 Reb7 36.Rh6 Re7

The first stage is achieved - White created maximum pressure on the h-file. But that is not enough. The next step is to provoke the advance a5-a4 and thus get square b4 for the knight. 37.Ne2 Reb7 38.Nc1 Re7 39.Nb3 a4 40.Nc1

Second stage is over. The next part of the plan is to transfer the knight to d3 and then prepare a sac on g6. 40...Reb7 41.Be2 Re7 42.Nd3 Reb7 43.Nh4. Suddenly it turns out that Black has no good defence against knight takes g6. 43...Bg7

44.Rxh7! Nxh7 45.Nxg6 Nd7. After 45...Qxg6 46.Bh5 the queen is trapped. 46.Bh5 Qd8 47.Nb4 Rc7

48.Nh8! A highly spectacular way to make use of the control over the h-file. 48...Ndf8. Black is also in troubles after 48...Kxh8 49.Bg6; or 48...Bxh8 49.Bf7+! 49.Nf7! Rxf7 50.Bxf7+. The computer prefers another win: 50.Nxc6 Qa8 51.g6 Qxc6 52.gxf7+ Rxf7 53.Bxf7+ Kxf7 54.Rxh7 Nxh7 55.Qxh7. 50...Rxf7 51.Rxh7 Qe8. 51...Nxh7 52.g6. 52.Rh3 Ng6

As the result of tactical complications White emerged with a pawn up. There is still a long way, but Gelfand's technique is impeccable and he finally manages to convert his advantage into a full point. 53.Qe2 Rc7 54.Qh5 Kf7 55.Qh7 Qg8 56.Qxg8+ Kxg8 57.Nd3 Ra7 58.Ke2 Kf7 59.Nb4 Ne7 60.Kd1 Ra8 61.Kc2 Rg8 62.Nd3 Ra8 63.Rh7 Ng6

64.b3! The opening of the queenside is a very important resource for White. 64...Nf8 65.Rh2 axb3+ 66.Kxb3 Ke8 67.Ra2 Kd7 68.a4 bxa4+ 69.Rxa4 Rxa4 70.Kxa4 Kc8

How to win this position? 71.Ba5! Ng6 72.Nb4! Kd7 [72...Kb7 73.Bd8] 73.Na6! Here is the answer: the bishop penetrates via c7! 73...Kc8 74.Bc7 Bf8 75.Ka5 Kb7 76.Bd6 Be7 [76...Bg7 77.Nc7] 77.Bxe7 Nxe7 78.Nb4 Ng8 79.Nd3 Ne7 80.Ne5 Ng8 81.g6 Nf6 82.g7. It must be said that earlier this year Gelfang drew twice against Wang Yue, both times having winning positions. And now finally the Israeli Grandmaster managed to win against his tough opponent. 1-0. [Click to replay]

The players sign cartoon drawings of themselves

The artist proudly shows the commemorative version is his work

Dorian Rogozenco in ChessBase Magazine 136

In his retrospective on the chess highlights of the last two months GM Dorian Rogozenco starts with two highly entertaining games from the European Championship in Rijeka, in both of which White sacrificed his rook on a1 and was able to go on and win the game. Both players of the white pieces (Nisipeanu and Motylev) have annotated these games on the DVD. He also introduces in this first video a strategically impressive victory of both the second and third placed players in the ECh, Baadur Jobava and Artyom Timofeev.
When looking back over the WCh match in the second video Rogozenco casts some light on the critical moments from Sofia. Starting with the two White victories in the first two rounds, then Topalov’s levelling of the match in the third game with the Slav he goes right through to the dramatic final of the last game. Rogozenco takes a critical look at Topalov’s plan in this 12th game, which allowed Anand to decide the match in his favour with the help of the only victory with Black. This meant that there was no need to go into a tiebreak.


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