Shirov dominating big chess in Sarajevo

by ChessBase
5/26/2004 – With two rounds to play and his arch-nemesis safely behind him, Alexei Shirov is ready to finally win the Bosna tournament after many near-misses. Twice in the past late losses to Movsesian cost him the title, but now he has a full point lead and no Sergei in sight. We have pictures, games and analysis here.

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Shirov gets his turn

Bosna 2004

Sarajevo, Bosnia

May 18 – May 27

Official Site
(Source of photos by Bicevic)

View games online and PGN

Quick, name the last classical chess tournament won by perennial top-tenner Alexei Shirov of Spain. That's a bit of a tough one, but it's much easier to name the next tournament he's going to win. With two rounds to play the Latvian is leading the Bosna tournament in Sarajevo by a full point. (FYI, he won the 2003 Hrokurinn tournament in Reykjavik.)

Shirov has followed the usual winning recipe of wiping out the regional representatives. No one with a Balkan passport has escaped him with a half point. It has been an entirely dominating performance with Shirov's trademark combination of tactical brilliance and endgame precision.

To those wins Shirov has added a win over Bologan and a draw against his closest competitor and nemesis. Sergei Movsesian has made a habit of raining on Shirov's parade in Sarajevo. In 2000 Shirov was close to what would have been one of his career's top highlights with a victory in the strongest Sarajevo event ever. But with two rounds to play he fell to Movsesian with white and was passed by a rampaging Kasparov, who took the title.

In 2002 it was deja vu all over again when Shirov was leading heading into the final round. Again he had white against Movsesian and again the Armenian-Slovakian beat him, this time taking the trophy himself. Now things are looking much better for Shirov with Movsesian safely behind him. This year's Bosna is a far cry from its supertournament heyday of 99-00 when it hit category 19, but it is still a respectable category 15 with lots of fighting chess. While Shirov is making it look easy against the locals, second seed Nigel Short hasn't been able to score a single win. The Englishman has a chance to regain some pride and Elo and possibly upset the apple cart by beating Shirov in their game.

The regal playing hall.

Bosnia GM 2004 standings after Round 7

Movsesian: It looks like he's got us this time, Nigel.

Shirov – Kurajica, round 1

Kurajica tempted the fates first by playing his favorite risky line of the Scandinavian Defense. He was already getting into serious trouble when he threw caution to the wind with 14...b5 (diagram).

Shirov got much the better of the complications with 15.Bxb5! Nxg4 16.Bc4 Qc8?! 17.Rhe1 Qf5 18.Rxe7 g5 Black was relying in this pin, but Shirov has it all under control. 19.Be2! keeps the piece, the pawn, and the position.

Dizdarevic – Atalik, round 3

It's been a rough ride for the home team but that doesn't mean they can't show off against each other. Dizdarevic found a complicated route to gaining a passed pawn with 29.e4!, taking advantage of a curious diagonal chain reaction of pins.

29...dxe4? loses a piece to 30.Rxc6! Rxd4 31.Rxc8+ Qf8 32.Rxf8.

Black was quickly on the ropes anyway after 29...h5 30.exd5 Bb7 31.f6!

Sokolov – Bologan, round 4

Prodigal son Ivan Sokolov, now playing for the Netherlands, played a speculative piece sacrifice here with 30.f5! giving up the knight to cut off the black king's escape after 30...Kxh6?! 31.f6!

Black had to give back the piece to save his king. 31...Rxe1+ 32.Bxe1 g5 (forced) 33.Bxc3. Fritz points out that 33.h4! was a quicker win, but Bologan resigned on move 40.

Bologan – Dizdarevic, round 5

All right, Black to play and draw. One move draws, everything else loses. Dizdarevic plumped for "everything else" with 64...Ke8?? and resigned after 65.Ke6. The loss of the opposition is trivially fatal after 65...Kd8 66.Kd6 Kc8 67.Kxc6 Kb8 68.Kd7 with mate in three.

But a stalemate trick using the pawn on a6 allows Black to hold the draw after 64...Kd7 65.Kf6 Kd8 66.Ke6 Kc8 67.Kd6 Kd8 68.Kxc6 Kc8 69.Kd6 Kd8 70.c6 Kc8 71.c7 stalemate.

Quite a way to promote the event!

The locals play big chess too.


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