Miniatures in Moscow

6/13/2004 – Team Petrosian finally won another game, thanks to Peter Leko, but the World won two to make the lead 11-7 at the halfway point. Anand and Vallejo scored with black. Three games were over before move 25, only one of them a draw. Gelfand lost his second while Kasparov missed an endgame victory against Bacrot.

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World keeps spinning

Round 3 (June 12, 2004)
Petrosian Team
2.5-3.5
World Team
Kasparov
½-½
Bacrot
Leko
1-0
van Wely
Gelfand
0-1
Vallejo
Akopian
0-1
Anand
Vaganian
½-½
Svidler
Lputian
½-½
Adams
Overall score: World Team: 11 – 7 Petrosian Team
View games onlineOfficial Site • Reports: R1R2

For the third day in a row the World team won the day. Team Petrosian finally picked up another win when Leko beat van Wely (both World losses belong to not-so-lucky Loek), but Vallejo and Anand scored for the World to take the round 3.5-2.5. Things would have been different had Kasparov found the winning path in a pawn endgame against Bacrot, more on that later.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: sacrificing for an attack against Peter Leko is best preceded by leaving a note to your loved ones. Van Wely got into a mess out of the opening and tried to solve it with a desperate lunge at Leko's king. His initiative lasted for all of four moves and the Dutchman resigned on move 22.

Boris Gelfand is a team player but isn't a particularly good team performer, historically speaking. A perusal of the MegaBase shows that he has consistently underperformed in team events, although underperforming a stellar top-15 career isn't hard. The Israeli picked up his second loss of the event in embarrassing fashion today, losing to Vallejo with white in 24 moves after completely missing a mate.

After two debacles it was up to World team leader Anand to bring home the decisive full point. Unfortunately, Akopian wasn't being cooperative, at least not in the middlegame. By move thirty the Armenian #1 had a bishop versus a knight and rooks doubled on the only open file. Then he started cooperating. Five moves later Anand's brilliantly rerouted knight was munching kingside pawns and White was dead lost.

Vaganian, by far the tournament's veteran at 53, quickly equalized against Svidler and played his second 19-move draw in a row. Lputian somehow managed to hold his patchwork position together to liquidate and draw against Adams. It was left to see if Kasparov could make something out of very little in an endgame against Bacrot.

Kasparov – Bacrot after 64.Ke2

Blow the dust off your Averbakh books, or just fire up the Fritz endgame trainer or the Endgame Turbo DVDs. Black has two moves to draw this, everything else loses against best play. Kasparov is hoping to use zugzwang to force entry and use his passed h-pawn. Okay class, anyone here remember hearing the term "corresponding squares" before? Anyone? Yes, but you don't remember how to use it either? Don't worry, neither did Bacrot.

He picked a loser with 64...Kf6? when both ..Ke4 and ..Kd4 would have held the draw. Now the Black king will lose the ability to control f5 and g5. Kasparov started out on the right track with 65.Ke3! Kg6 and now only one move wins. Kasparov's 66.Kd4? wasn't it and he agreed to a draw after 66...Kh5.

Instead White can win with 66.Kf3! (Mate in 20, thanks Fritz.) No matter what Black plays White responds with 67.Kf4 and will penetrate either on g5 or e5. A surprising blackout from Kasparov.
 

Gelfand – Vallejo after 20...axb6

Despite his pretty central pawn chain White is hard pressed to demonstrate compensation for his sacrificed pawn. (The sac worked better when Kasparov played it against Timman in a classic 1985 game.)

Gelfand decides he had better get his pawn back immediately with 21.Rxc7 Rxc7 22.Qxc7 but was ill-prepared for White's sneaky reply 22...Qg6! hitting the rook and threatening ..Qd3. Gelfand thought it had it under control with 23.Rh3?? (23.Qe5) 23...Qd3 24.Kd1, stepping out away from the mate.

Vallejo rained on White's parade with 24...Ke7! and Gelfand resigned. There is no answer to the planned 25...Rc8 threatening mate on e2. Nobody expects to be finished off by a king move on move 24!
 

Postscript to yesterday's Vallejo-Kasparov Najdorf theory battle. It turns out that the sharp drawing sequence has been played before, but not over the board, through the mail! Peruvian José Ortiz, an International Master of OTB and correspondence chess, points out the game Andersson-Poulsen mentioned in Nunn's book "The Complete Najdorf Bg5." We'd have found that game and more had we checked our own ChessBase Correspondence Database! It finds no fewer than five games that predict the Kasparov-Vallejo draw.

 


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