Ponomariov and Vallejo victorious in Cuernavaca

2/12/2006 – That, we agree, is quite a mouthful. Ex-World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov and Francisco Vallejo Pons won the Young Masters, a tournament for the world's strongest under 24-year-old players that was held in Cuernavaca, Mexico. We bring you games and annotations in our final report.

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The Cuernavaca Young Masters was held in Mexico from February 1st to 11th, 2006, a round robin tournament with ten of the world's strongest under 24-year-old players. It was won by former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov and Spain's strongest GM Francisco Vallejo Pons. Both finished on 6.5/9, with Ponomariov having the slightly better tiebreak score (25.75:24.75). Here are the final standings:

Notes and annotations by Seppe De Vreesse-Pieters

A tournament always changes his face after a rest day, and that was exactly what happened on Tuesday the 7th of February. On day five all the games were decided! The biggest surprise was the loss of Nakamura, the leader of the tournament, against Leinier Domínguez. Nakamura once again played "lightning" chess, in a somewhat controversial style. White always seemed to be better in an unusual French defense. Nakamura missed some accurate defensive moves, due to his impatient fast play.

Dominguez,L (2638) - Nakamura,H (2644) [C11]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (5), 07.02.2006
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0 10.g3 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Bxd4 12.Qxd4 Nb8 13.0-0-0 Nc6 14.Qc5 Bd7 15.Kb1 Rc8 16.Qd6 Na5 17.Bd3 Rc6 18.Qa3 a6 19.Ne2 b5 20.Nd4 Rc8 21.Rhe1 Re8 22.Nf3 Qb6 23.Qb4 Nb7 24.g4 Nc5 25.Qd2 b4 26.f5 Nxd3

27.f6! Qc5? Nakamura used just a minute or two to execute this move, when 27…Nxe5!? was a more attractive defence. 28.cxd3 Qf8 29.Nd4 a5 30.Rc1 h6 31.g5 g6 32.h4 h5 33.Rxc8 Rxc8 34.Rc1 Ba4 35.Qe3 Qd8 36.b3 Bd7 37.Rxc8 Qxc8 38.Nc2 Bb5 39.Kc1 Qc3 40.Qd4 Qc7 41.Kd2 Bd7 42.Kc1 Kf8 43.Kb2 Ke8 44.a3 bxa3+ 45.Nxa3 Kd8 46.Nc2 Kc8 47.Qc3 Kb7 48.Qxc7+ Kxc7 49.Kc3 Kb6 50.b4 a4 51.Nd4 Ka6 52.Kb2 Kb6 53.Ka3 Be8 54.Ne2 Bb5 55.Nc3 d4 56.Ne2 Bxd3 57.Nxd4 Bc4 58.Kxa4 Bd5 59.Ne2 Bc6+ 60.Kb3 Bb5 61.Nf4 Be8 62.Kc4 Bb5+ 63.Kd4 Be8 64.Ne2 Bc6 65.Nc3 Bg2 66.b5 1-0. [Click to replay]

In round five Vallejo Pons outplayed Felgaer, and Bruzón’s openings experiment was severely punished by Ivan Cheparinov who, together with Volokitin and Domínguez, could realize his first win. León Hoyos and Ponomariov played a game where White made a positional blunder on move 16.b4?!, unnecessarily weakening his queen flank, defended well, reached equality and blundered then on move with 34.a4.

Leon Hoyos,M (2428) - Ponomariov,R (2723) [A30]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (5), 07.02.2006
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.g3 e6 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 Be7 7.b3 d6 8.Bb2 Nbd7 9.d4 cxd4 10.Qxd4 a6 11.Rfd1 Qc7 12.Rac1 0-0 13.Qf4 Rad8 14.Rc2 Nc5 15.Nh4 h6 16.b4? Ncd7 17.Bxb7 Qxb7 18.Nf3 Rc8 [18...Ne5!] 19.a3 Rc7 20.Rdc1 Rfc8 21.Nd1 Ne4 22.Qe3 d5 23.Qd3 dxc4 24.Rxc4 Rxc4 25.Rxc4 Rxc4 26.Qxc4 b5 27.Qc2 Ng5 28.Nxg5 Bxg5 29.Bd4 Qd5 30.e3 e5 31.Qc8+ Kh7 32.Nc3 Qe6 33.Bc5 [might be better 33.Ba7 f5 34.e4] 33...f5.

34.a4? [34.e4 looked ok to maintain equality] 34...Nxc5 35.Qxc5 Be7 36.Qc7 bxa4 37.Nxa4 Bxb4 38.Qc2 e4 39.h4 a5 40.Kg2 Qd7 41.Qb3 Be1 42.Nb2 Qd2 43.Nd1 Qe2 44.Kg1 Bb4 45.Qd5 Qf3 46.Qd7 h5 47.Qa4 f4 48.exf4 Bc5 49.Qc2 Qxg3+ 50.Kf1 Qd3+ 51.Qxd3 exd3 52.Nb2 d2 53.Ke2 Bb4 54.f5 Kg8 55.Nd3 Kf7 56.Kd1 Ke7 57.Kc2 Kd6 58.Nf4 a4 59.Nd3 Bc3 60.f3 a3 61.Nf2 a2 0-1. [Click to replay]

In round five we also witnessed the resurrection of Volokitin against Karjakin, cracking up a Berlin Defense in an interesting way with the rare 11.Be3, following Motylev-Karjakin, Sanjin, 2005. This is an important game for Berlin Defense lovers.

Volokitin,And (2665) - Karjakin,Sergey (2660) [C67]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (5), 07.02.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ne7 10.h3 h6 11.Be3.

11...Nd5?! 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Nd4!? An interesting idea 13...Nxe3 14.fxe3 white takes the f-file for the doubled pawn, this idea puts 11....Nd5 in doubt. Precise play by Volokitin after a very bad (1/4) tournament start! 14...Ke8 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Ne2 Bc5 17.Rf3 Rf8 18.Kf2 Rf5?! this doesn't work out [tougher might be: 18...Rd8 ] 19.Rxf5 exf5 20.Kf3 Ke7 21.e4 g6 22.exf5 gxf5 23.Nf4 Rg8 24.g4 fxg4+ 25.hxg4 Rg5 26.Rh1 Kf7 [better was: 26...Bd4 ] 27.Rh5 Be7 28.Nh3 Rg6 29.Nf4 Rg5 30.Ng2 Rg6 31.Nh4 Re6 32.Kf4 c5 33.Kf5 Ra6 34.Nf3 Bf8 35.g5!± Ke8 36.e6 hxg5 37.Rh8 Ke7 38.Ne5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Round six

In round six Vallejo Pons really steamed through, showing excellent preparation against Karjakin, who suffered a second loss in sequence. Fatigue after the long Wijk aan Zee battles maybe a factor, but Vallejo simply is playing excellent chess. In this game he uncorked an improvement in comparison to Karjakin-Sokolov, Corus, 2006.

Karjakin,Sergey (2660) - Vallejo Pons,F (2650) [C83]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (6), 08.02.2006
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 a6!? Transposing into an open Spanish (what’s in the name?) defense: another proof of Vallejo great opening preparation. 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.c3 0-0 11.Bc2 f5 12.Nb3 Qd7 13.Nbd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 c5 15.Nxe6 Qxe6 16.f3 Ng5 17.a4 Rad8! Played once before in the game Navara-Krenskow, Poland, 2005 (draw) [17...g6 18.Kh1 c4 19.b4 a5 20.bxa5 Rxa5 21.Bxg5 Bxg5 22.f4 Be7 23.axb5 Rxb5 24.Ba4 Rb2 25.Qd4 Rc8 26.Rfd1 Rc5 27.Rab1 Rxb1 28.Rxb1 Ra5 29.Bd1 Qa6 30.h3 Kg7 31.Bf3 Ra1 32.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 33.Kh2 Qa5 34.Bxd5 Bc5 35.Qxc4 Bf2 36.Qe2 Qc5 37.c4 Bg1+ 38.Kh1 Be3 39.g3 Qa3 40.Kg2 h5 41.h4 Bc5 42.Qc2 Kf8 43.Qb1 Qb4 44.Qc2 Ke7 45.Bf3 Qe1 46.Qb3 Qb4 47.Qd3 Qb2+ 48.Kh3 Bd4 49.Bg2 Kf8 50.c5 1-0 Karjakin,S-Sokolov,I/Wijk aan Zee NED 2006/The Week in Chess 586 (50)] 18.axb5 axb5 19.Kh1 f4!?N weakening e5 20.Bd2 this seems strange 20...c4 21.Ra5 Qc6 22.Qa1 Bc5 23.Ra6 Qb7 24.Qa5 Rde8 25.Re1 Bf2! 26.Rf1 Be3 27.Bxe3 fxe3 28.Qb6 Qxb6 29.Rxb6 Rxe5 30.Rxb5 e2 31.Re1.

What does Black now play? 31...Rxf3!! 32.gxf3 Nxf3 33.Rxd5 Rxd5 34.Rxe2 Rg5 Mate or wins the bishop... 0-1. [Click to replay]

Well done by Vallejo Pons, who is in perfect shape to play the Linares tournament in Morelia, Mexico from February 18 till February 26 together with Topalov, Leko, Svidler, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Bacrot and Radjabov.

Ponomariov,R (2723) - Bruzon,L (2650) [B43]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 b5 an extravagant variation 6.Bd3 Qb6 7.Nf3 Bb7 A line played by Hillarp Persson against Ponomariov. We could expect some improvement by Bruzon. [More usual is: 7...Qc7 this moves defends the manoeuvre in the game a4 b4 a5 although it also looks suspicious, black has expanded on the queen flank but suffers a big lack of development] 8.0-0 Nc6 Very rare... it doesn't seem to improve black's position. Qc7 still looks the correct reaction [8...Qc7 Ponomariov,R 9.Re1 d6?! 10.a4!N bxa4 A) 11.Rxa4!? Ponomariov,R 11...Nf6 (11...Nd7 12.Be3) 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nxe5ƒ; B) 11.Bf4 11...Nd7 12.Rxa4 Ne7 13.Qa1 Ng6 14.Be3 Qc8 15.Qa2 Be7 16.Ra1 Bf6 17.Rc4 Qb8 18.Qa4 Ke7 19.Qb3± Ponomariov,R-Hillarp Persson,T/Torshavn 2000/Inf 80/[Ponomariov,R] (19)] 9.a4! b4 10.a5 Qc7 11.Na4 Nf6 12.Be3 Be7 13.Bb6 Qb8 14.Qe2 0-0 15.Nc5 Bxc5 16.Bxc5 Rc8 17.Bb6 Ne5?! 18.Nxe5 Qxe5 19.b3 Qc3?! [better: 19...d5 but black stays inferior 20.f4 Qc3 21.e5²] 20.Qe1 e5.

21.Ra4! d5 22.f3!+- According to Ponomariov, Bruzon underestimated the strength of this move...b4 is extremely weak and black is lost. 22...dxe4 23.fxe4 Bc6 24.Rxb4 Bb5 25.Qxc3 Rxc3 26.Bxb5 axb5 27.Rf2 1-0. [Click to replay]

Cheparinov and Domínguez played a clean game that ended up in a draw. Volokitin had an incredible advantage against León Hoyos, outplaying the Mexican in a accelerated dragon, and then letting the advantage slip away, to win in an endgame after a passive and bad defense by Black. A second win in a row for Volokitin.

Nakamura prepared for an accelerated dragon against Felgaer, but at the last moment he pulled another big surprise out of his hat: 1.e5 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.a3?!Bg7 5.Rb1 It lead to an obviously inferior position for white, but Felgaer handled the position really badly in the heat of the moment. Poor Rubén is having a horrible tournament, being the only one without a single win.

Players (Volokitin, Nakamura, Karjakin) and a mother (Tanya Karjakina) in Mexico

Again 4 wins and 1 draw that was fought all the way. The Sofia rules and the game rhythm of 100 minutes for 40 moves with a 30 seconds increment really works out: Sometimes it lowers the quality of the games but it raises the level of the spectacle like many of the “internauts” on playchess can confirm.

Round seven

Another day of surprises, although there were only two wins. The first one of Lázaro Bruzón against Volokitin and another one for Cheparinov in a French defense against the unlucky Felgaer. Bruzón proved that his pair of bishops was better than Volokitin’s pair of knights in a closed position of the King's Indian Defence. He beautifully outplayed Andrei in the endgame.

Bruzon,L (2650) - Volokitin,And (2665) [E90]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (7), 09.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Bg5 c5 6.d5 d6 7.e4 e6 8.Nd2 Na6 9.Be2 Nc7 10.a4 Qe8 11.0-0 Nd7 12.Re1 h6 13.Bh4 Bxc3 14.bxc3 e5 15.Bd3 g5 16.Bg3 Qe7 17.Nf1 Ne8 18.Ne3 Ndf6 19.Nf5 Bxf5 20.exf5 Qd8 21.f3 Ng7 22.Bf2 Qd7 23.g4 Nh7 24.h4 gxh4 25.Bxh4 f6 26.Ra2 Kf7 27.Rh2 Rh8 28.Kf2 Rae8 29.Reh1 Qc8 30.Qb1 Ng5 31.Be4 Reg8 32.Bxg5 hxg5 33.Rxh8 Rxh8 34.Rxh8 Qxh8 35.Qxb7+ Kf8 36.Ke2 Qh2+ 37.Kd1 Qa2 38.Qxa7 Qxc4 39.a5 Qxc3 40.Qb6 Qa1+ 41.Kd2 Qd4+ 42.Kc2 Ne8 43.a6 Qa4+ 44.Kd2 Qd4+ 45.Ke2 Qc4+ 46.Bd3 Qa2+ 47.Kf1 c4

48.Bb1! Qa3 49.Kf2 c3 50.a7 Qa4 51.Ke1 Qa1 52.Ke2 Qa4 53.Kd3 Kg7 54.Bc2 Qf4 55.a8Q Qd2+ 56.Kc4 Qxc2 57.Qxe8 Qe2+ 58.Kxc3 Qe1+ 59.Kc4 Qf1+ 60.Kb4 Qe1+ 61.Kb5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Joint leaders Vallejo Pons and Ruslan Ponomariov battled for the win respectively against Nakamura and Domínguez but only Vallejo Pons seemed to have real chances against Hikaru who played again an extravagant opening which leaded to a pawn loss and an inferior position, which he could resolve by his tactical brilliancy.

The show of the day was the game León Hoyos-Karjakin which begun as a boring game, that turned into a spectacle after some nice counterpunching by local Manuel León.

Leon Hoyos,M (2428) - Karjakin,Sergey (2660) [D00]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (7), 09.02.2006
1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 c6 4.Nf3 Qb6 5.b3 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Be7 9.Bxe7 Nxe7 10.c4 0-0 11.Nc3 Nd7 12.0-0 Qa6 13.Rfd1 Rfd8 14.Rac1 Rac8 15.Qb1 b6 16.e4 Nf6 17.a4 Ne8 18.Qa2 Nd6 19.Qe2 dxc4 20.e5 Nb7 21.Ne4 Ng6 22.bxc4 c5 23.d5 Rxd5 24.Rxd5 exd5 25.e6 dxe4 26.exf7+ Kh8 27.Qxe4 Nf8 28.Ne5 Nd6 29.Qd3 Rd8 30.Nc6 Rd7 31.Nb8 Qxa4 32.Nxd7 Qxd7 33.Rd1 Qxf7 34.Qxd6 Ne6 35.Qd7 Qg6 36.Re1 Nd4 37.Qd5 Kh7 38.h4 Qf5 39.Qxf5+ Nxf5 40.Ra1 Kg6 41.Rxa7 Nd6 42.Kf1 Nxc4 43.Ke2 Kf6 44.Kd3 Nd6 45.Ra6 Nc8 46.Kc4 Ke5 47.Kb5 Kd5 48.Ra1 Nd6+ 49.Kxb6 Nf5 50.Rd1+ Nd4 51.h5 c4 52.Kc7 c3 53.Kd7 Ke4 54.Ke7 Ne2

55.Rd8?? Tragic. 55.Re1was a very simple win: Black's king has to defend the knight and White will win both black pawns. 55...c2 56.Rc8 c1R 57.Rxc1 Nxc1 58.Kf7 Kf5 59.Kxg7 Kg5 60.f4+ Kxh5 61.g4+ Kxg4 62.Kxh6 Kxf4 ½-½. [Click to replay]

Day 8

Since day six there have been few changes in the positions of the players. Still Ponomariov and Vallejo Pons are in the lead, they are the ones (together with Cuban Leinier Domínguez) who didn’t suffer a single loss. Both were on +3 and come on +4 having a shared ticket to win the tournament since they both play each other on day 9.

Karjakin showed again his bad shape in his game against Nakamura, getting nowhere in another rare French Defense, only managing to save a draw after some missed chances by Hikaru. Domínguez played another Petrov-Defense against ‘Volo’ that resulted to be yet again a way to equalize, but nothing more.

Lázaro Bruzón, his Cuban compatriot won his second game of the tournament against León Hoyos who played again unambitiously:

Leon Hoyos,M (2428) - Bruzon,L (2650) [A29]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (8), 10.02.2006
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 e5 4.d3 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.c4 0-0 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nc3 Nb6 9.Be3 Bg4 10.a4 a5 11.Rc1 Re8 12.h3 Bf5 13.Nd2 Be6 14.Nb3 Nd5 15.Bc5 Nxc3 16.Rxc3 Bd5 17.Bxe7 Rxe7 18.Nc5 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 Nb4 20.Ne4 b6 21.Rc4 c5 22.Nc3 Raa7 23.Qc1 Rad7 24.Qg5 h6 25.Qh5 Rd4 26.Rc1 Re6 27.Nb5 Rd7 28.Nc3 Nc6 29.Qh4 Qe8 30.Qe4 Rd4 31.Qe3

Black moves and wins – solution on the end of this report.

The two games ended strangely. It seems that the light went out at 8 o’clock in Cuernavaca, due to an energy failure, something that is quite usual in México. Both games had to played on in the Hotel 1 hour later. In the case of Cheparinov it was exactly in the position where he avoided the draw, and in case of Felgaer it was in the position were he had played Qxf4, missing out a better defence with Bxe7 instead of Bxd4. Maybe both players were affected. Joint leaders Ponomariov and Vallejo Pons surely were happy with there results.

Paco Vallejo Pons played a complicated game against Cheparinov which resulted in the following position.

Cheparinov,I (2625) - Vallejo Pons,F (2650) [D44]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (8), 10.02.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 b5 7.a4 c6 8.e5 h6 9.exf6 hxg5 10.fxg7 Rg8 11.h4 g4 12.Ne5 Rxg7 13.h5 f5 14.g3 Qd5 15.Rh2 Qe4+ 16.Be2 Nd7 17.h6 Rh7 18.Nxd7 Bxc3+ 19.bxc3 Kxd7 20.Qd2 Bb7 21.Kf1 Rah8 22.Re1 Qd5 23.Bd1 Qd6 24.Re5 a6 25.Qe3 Bc8 26.f3 gxf3 27.Bxf3 Kd8 28.axb5 axb5 29.Qf4 Bd7 30.Ra2 Rxh6 31.Ra8+ Kc7 32.Ra7+ Kc8 33.Ra8+ Kc7 34.Ra7+ Kc8

White has a simple draw playing Ra8-a7, since Blacks king can’t go on the b-file because of Rxb5+ and QxQd6. With five minutes on the clock each Cheparinov got optimistic and chooses a move that gives Vallejo Pons a chance to stay in the lead: 35.Kg1?! Qb8 36.Ra6 b4 37.cxb4 Qxb4 38.Ra1 Qb2 39.Ree1 Kd8 40.Qg5+ Kc8 41.Qf4 Rh2 42.Qe3 f4 43.Ra8+ Kb7 44.Rxh8 Rg2+ 45.Bxg2 fxe3 46.Rf8 c3 47.Rff1 e2 48.Rf7 c2 49.Rxd7+ Kc8 50.Rd6 c1Q 51.Rxc6+ Qxc6 52.Bxc6 Qxd4+ 53.Kg2 Qc3 54.Rxe2 Qxc6+ 55.Kg1 Kd7 56.Rg2 Qc1+ 57.Kh2 Qh6+ 58.Kg1 Qe3+ 59.Kh2 Ke7 60.g4 Kf6 0-1. [Click to replay]

Ponomariov played a very complicated game against Felgaer, who seemed to be just bad in the opening. The game continuation showed on the other hand that it wasn’t so clear at all.

Ponomariov,R (2723) - Felgaer,R (2607) [B07]
Young Masters Cuernavaca MEX (8), 10.02.2006
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.f3 c5 4.d5 e6 5.c4 b5

A sort of Benko, hard to say if it is ?! or !? 6.cxb5 exd5 7.exd5 Be7 8.Bc4 Nbd7 9.Ne2 Nb6 10.b3 Nfd7 11.a4 11...Bf6 12.Ra2 Ne5 13.Na3 a6! 14.0-0 [14.bxa6 Nbxc4 15.Nxc4 Bxa6] 14...Nexc4 15.bxc4 axb5 16.Nxb5 Nxc4 17.Qc2 Ne5 18.f4 Ng6 19.Ng3 0-0 20.Ne4 Bf5 21.Qc4 Bxe4 22.Qxe4 Re8 23.Qc4 Qd7 24.Kh1 Ne7 25.Re2 Nc8! =+ 26.Rxe8+ Qxe8 27.Qb3.

27...Qe7?! [27...Qe2! for example: 28.Rg1 Ne7! 29.Nxd6 (29.Nc7 Rd8) 29...Bd4] 28.Bd2 Nb6 29.Re1 Qd7 30.a5 c4 31.Qb4 Nxd5 32.Qxc4 Ne7 33.Nd4 d5 34.Qb5 Qd6 35.Bb4 Qxf4 36.Bxe7 Bxd4?! 37.Qxd5± Rc8 38.Qd7 Rb8 39.Bh4?! 39...Rf8 40.Bg3 Qd2 41.a6 Qb4 42.a7 h5 43.Rd1 Bc5 44.Bd6 Ra8 45.Qc6 1-0. [Click to replay]

Solution to the position in the game León Hoyos-Bruzón above: 31...e4 32.Nxe4 f5 33.Rxd4 Nxd4 34.Nf6+ gxf6 0-1. [Click to replay]


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