Vallejo vs Nepomniachtchi – two young lions in a display of ferocity

by ChessBase
8/6/2008 – Two of the strongest young players in the world today are Ian Nepomniachtchi and Francisco Vallejo Pons. Ian is 18, born in the same year as Carlsen and Karjakin; Paco Vallejo is a veteran at 25, and has scored wins over Anand, Kramnik and Topalov. In his Wednesday night Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos looks at a dramatic encounter between the two. Do not miss.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Two of the strongest young players in the world today are Ian Nepomniachtchi and Francisco Vallejo Pons. Nepomniachtchi is one of the three extraordinary talents born in 1990 (the other two are Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin), whose developing resume includes a victory earlier this year in the Aeroflot Open. Vallejo Pons is a more established player. 25 years old, he has participated in several Linares events, has wins over Anand, Kramnik and Topalov to his credit, and is the strongest native-born player in Spain. Both players have a lively and aggressive style, and it’s not surprising that a game between the two young lions would be a display of ferocity.

That’s just what happened when they played in the 2007 Aeroflot Open. Nepomniachtchi had the temerity to play the Center Game (1.e4 e5 2.d4!?), an opening that sees White sacrifice a pawn and castle long in the hopes of whipping up an attack on Black’s king. Black generally tries to keep things under control, while White assumes the initiative as a matter of course and tries to make something happen. Not in this game! Nepomniachtchi played a rare line, and his 14th move was an OTB novelty, having played only once before, more than 35 years ago, in a correspondence game. Though Black in the earlier game was a very strong postal player, he didn’t find the brilliant rejoinder Vallejo sprung on his poor opponent. His new move was imaginative, deep and accurate, and enabled him to completely take over the initiative. When the smoke cleared, Black had three pawns for the exchange and a better position as well, and went on to win in an endgame.

The game was voted one of the Ten Best in Informant 99, and it also caught the eye of none other than Viktor Korchnoi, who annotated the game for ChessBase Magazine. Some of the strongest players in the world have voiced their approval of this game, but it’s not the sort of game whose appeal is limited to the highbrow set. Players of every level will find this a wonderfully entertaining contest, and it’s also a good excuse to take a look at a rare but important opening for those who meet 1.e4 with 1…e5. Interested? Then join me tonight, Wednesday night, at 9 p.m. ET in the Broadcast Room on the server. The show is live, free, combines downloadable analysis with my audio commentary, and makes for an all-around good time. See you there!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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