'The Nutcracker' Rd2: The Kings strike back

by Albert Silver
12/22/2014 – With the lineups favoring the 'Kings' in both experience and Elo, it was clear the 'Princes' could not be reasonably expected to hold onto their opening edge for long, and sure enough in round two, Morozevich avenged his round one loss by beating Vladimir Fedoseev in the second round. Artemiev once again emerged up material in an endgame, but could not ooutsmart Shirov. Round two report.

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"The Nutcracker" will follow the original formula: the first four days the team members will fight each other in classical time controls of 60 moves in 120 minutes plus 15 minutes for the rest of the game including a 30 second increment as of move 61; and then the last two two days will be devoted to rapid chess with two rounds per player match-up played at 15 minutes plus ten seconds increment per move. The competition will use the Zurich scoring system: two points for each classical chess win, with one for a draw, and in rapid each win will be worth one point and a draw only half.

Round two

The game between Vladislav Artemiev and Alexei Shirov was by all means a success or the younger GM, except the result. In this game he opted for a Reti, perhaps not wishing to challenge Shirov in deep theoretical waters, and led to strange opening play by both parties. Komodo is quick to criticize both players for less than optimal play, but the truth be told, it is mere quibbling and neither really missed anything staggering.

Vladislav Artemiev has managed to come out ahead material in both his games so far. All
that is missing are the points that should accompany.

A key turning point was when Artemiev and Shirov repeated the position on move 27, but the young player no doubt smelled a rat, and correctly deviated before the third as he was better. By move 37 he emerged with a clear extra pawn in a rook and bishop endgame, but the opposite colored bishops meant that converting it would be exceptionally difficult and despite a valiant effort he found no way to outplay Shirov.

Oparin (left) chose to challenge Dreev in a line the latter knew well, but failed to bring a
destabilizing novelty to justify his choice

Gregoriy Oparin faced Alexey Dreev in a topical line of the Meran in a line that Dreev was quite knowledgeable, having played it in 2008 against Moiseenko. It was an honest struggle, but neither player managed anything and they drew on move 43.

The game of the day was Alexander Morozevich's win over Vladimir Fedoseev by virtue of also being the only decisive game of the day. Fedoseev played a Classical Nimzo-Indian in which Black concedes a pawn on c7 in exchange for superior development, however the main problem is that while he may get compensation, the queens are off as a result, making it hard to properly exploit.

[Event "Nutcracker Classical 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.21"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Morozevich, Alexander"] [Black "Fedoseev, Vladimir3"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E36"] [WhiteElo "2712"] [BlackElo "2661"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2014.12.20"] [WhiteTeam "Kings"] [BlackTeam "Princes"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 b6 8. Bf4 Ba6 9. Qxc7 Qxc7 10. Bxc7 O-O 11. Bxb8 Raxb8 12. f3 Nd5 13. Kd2 f5 14. e3 Bxf1 15. Rxf1 e5 16. dxe5 Rfd8 17. Ke2 Rbc8 18. Rd1 Rc2+ 19. Ke1 {Diagram [#] Black has done an excellent job so far of keeping the pressure and initiative, but not more, and now needs to neutralize White before he gets going. Here he goes astray and it is all that it takes to swing things in White's favor.} Rd7 $2 ({To be fair, the only move that held was hardly straightforward, and depended on a tactical trick.} 19... Kf7 $1 {This surprising move, not only ignores the pin, but invites it. The point is simply that after} 20. e4 fxe4 21. fxe4 Nf4 22. Rxd8 Nxg2+ {leads to a perpetual.} 23. Kd1 Ne3+ 24. Ke1 Ng2+ { etc.}) 20. Ne2 $1 {Now things go badly for Black.} Rxb2 21. Ng3 (21. Nc3 {was stronger} Nxc3 22. Rxd7 Rb1+ 23. Kd2 Rxh1 24. Kxc3 Rxh2 25. e6 $1 {and White is winning. Ex:} Kf8 (25... Rxg2 26. Rd8#) 26. Rf7+ Ke8 (26... Kg8 27. Rxf5 { and the pawn will queen.}) 27. Rxg7 Rh6 28. Rxa7 Rxe6 29. Kd4) 21... f4 22. exf4 Kf7 23. f5 Ke7 24. Rd2 $1 {Who's afraid of the big bad check?} Rxd2 25. Kxd2 g6 26. Rc1 gxf5 27. Rc6 f4 28. Nf5+ Kd8 29. Rd6 Rxd6 30. Nxd6 Kd7 31. Kd3 Ke6 32. Ke4 Nc3+ 33. Kxf4 b5 34. Nb7 Nb1 35. Ke4 Nxa3 36. f4 b4 37. f5+ Ke7 38. f6+ Kf8 39. Nd6 1-0

Peter Leko (center) analyzes the game with live commentator GM Sergey Ruyblevsky (left)
and his opponent GM Daniil Dubov (right)

Daniil Dubov chose a mainline French with 3...Bb4, but deviated early from common lines with 4.e4 c5 5.a3 Ba5. It failed to yield anything and the Hungarian held an edge throughout the game that he as unable to improve on as the pieces came off.

With Morozevich's win the 'Kings' restore balance against the 'Princes' and the match is tied up.

Photos by Vladimir Barsky

Current classical standings


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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