Reports | April 29, 2009 23:57

Aronian's finest hour (UPDATE: last video added!)

r13In what was arguably the finest round of the Grand Prix tournament in Nalchik, Levon Aronian managed to beat his direct competitor Peter Leko for first place in convincing and ravishing style. The rest of the games were equally entertaining.

After the Amber tournament in Nice in March, Levon Aronian today won his second tournament of the year: the 4th FIDE Grand Prix in Nalchik. The Armenian, who also won the 2nd Grand Prix in Sochi last year, cashed another € 30,000 and added another 180 GP points to arrive at 360. In the overall Grand Prix standings he's still behind Radjabov and Grischuk, who lead with 363.33 points. In Nalchik, Leko eventually finished shared second with Akopian, who played an excellent tournament.

Let’s get the only dull game of the round out of the way first. It was Svidler-Grischuk, who played a theoretical drawing line of the French Winawer. Svidler tried some improvements, but it turned out to be nothing scary, and he had to concede a draw after 21 moves.

The other two draws were rather more interesting. Gata Kamksy introduced a new idea (13…c5-c4) against Vassily Ivanchuk in his favourite Breyer variation of the Ruy Lopez and followed up with the sharp centre break d6-d5, opening lines for his bishops. Rybka evaluates the complications after 16.axb5 slightly more promising for White, but what Ivanchuk did was also interesting. The resulting position looked quite active for White, but Kamsky defended with a creative queen-sac for R + B. Ivanchuk couldn’t break through and a draw was agreed after a couple more moves.

Kasimdzahnov-Mamedyarov (try pronouncing that quickly a few times!) was a 4.Bf4 Gr?ºnfeld Defence where instead of the usual taking on c4, Black chose a setup with a6 and b5, reminiscent of the Chebanenko Slav. In the complicated middle game position that arose, both players had tactical tricks all over the place but it was Black who had to be most careful. Mamedyarov succeeded just fine, as White had just enough weaknesses to compensate for his two bishops. As usual the Bg7 was a killer and in the end, this was the only light piece left for Black, who then could seal safely towards the draw.

Games round 13

The rest of the games were pure heaven for chess fans. Where to start? Perhaps by noticing that Sergey Karjakin has made some strange opening choices in this tournament. Against Boris Gelfand, he again went for a dubious endgame in a Chebanenko Slav where he had very pleasant memories of an earlier win against Eljanov.This time, he was less fortunate. He got a passive position, and by playing even more passively (it was hard to understand why he went for 15…Nd7 instead of the more active 15…Nd5), he got stuck with his king in the centre and two rather useless rooks. Still, he could have defended more tenaciously on several moments, notably with the logical move 32…Nb4 and, after Gelfand perhaps misplayed with 36.Rd6+ instead of taking on g7, with putting his rook on the second rank with 38…Rd2 instead of 38…Rd3. Still, the endgame was hell for Black from a practical point of view, and it’s no surprise Gelfand finished it in style with a pseudo-exchange sacrifice.


Bacrot: now more draws in the second part of the tournament

Evgeny Alekseev’s good tournament was ruined on the last day when he couldn’t put up a fight against Etienne Bacrot. Alekseev played the Petroff, but it’s not clear what he had in mind with the opening, since his position was already worse on move 12. This is especially curious because the line Bacrot played isn’t known to be dangerous for Black. Anyway, in the game White got an advanced e-pawn and two bishops, which he exchanged just at the right moment to reach a favourable opposite bishops ending. Although according to the computer Bacrot missed several quicker wins, victory was never in doubt.

A very difficult game was Eljanov-Akopian. In a quiet 4…Bf5 Slav (does anyone know what this line is called?) the position took on a closed, but very principled form. White was advancing on the queenside while Black gained space in the centre. With a nice pawn sacrifice, Akopian got rid of Eljanov’s bishops, and subsequently White’s Bd2 became a ‘useless monument’ as we say in Dutch. Black’s Knight invaded the white squares and with a textbook exchange sacrifice, Akopian tore up White’s last defensive hopes. A great game by Akopian!


Tournament leaders meet, Aronian the strongest

But the exchange sacrifice of the day must still be given to another player, for Levon Aronian was in an inspired mood today against Peter Leko. I had the idea Black never fully equalized in this Nimzo Indian, and Aronian’s bishops soon looked annoyingly at Leko’s king and queen. Slowly but steadily, Aronian made progress, and with the superb 34.Re5! he already more or less decided the game in his favour. His centre pawns were simply an unstoppable force, supported by active queen, rook and two bishops. Of course, Leko played on for a long time still, but the result was settled already.

And so it's Levon Aronian again who finished first in a tournament that was full of fighting chess and very interesting opening developments. We hope you enjoyed the articles by our different editors! Peter is travelling back to Amsterdam tomorrow and hopes to finish the last video while waiting in Moscow airport for five hours. It'll be uploaded tomorrow night, hopefully...


Aronian wearing a Caucasan felt cloack at the closing ceremony, with female singers next to him


Q = Qualification: CH = World Championship, CP = World Cup, RL = rating list, RR = reserve rating list, PR = presidential nominee, HC = host city nominee, nc = not qualified



Share |
Arne Moll's picture
Author: Arne Moll


Castro's picture

Go Gata!

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Girschuk is also (apart from Radjabov) leading with 363.33 points in the Grand Prix ahead of Aronian. Grischuk has completed all four GP's now and the total of best 3 (including this one with 105 pts) comes to 363.33. Aronian is behind both of them. Ofcourse, it is irrelevant since, Aronian has two more to go and will easily finish amongst first. Its only a race for the second spot.

Mauricio Valdes's picture

aronian is having great results on the grand prix........he might be 2nd. or 3th. on live raiting by now.
so, the top 2 players on the GP are going to be on the candidates tournament for the next world championship cycle?
can anyone confirm?

test's picture

Just a quick thx & congratulations for Peter for all the videos. Also the split screen with the board worked really beautifully. :)

Thomas's picture

Mauricio, no I cannot confirm because FIDE may change its mind again about the WCh cycle .... however, "to the best of my knowledge" your statement is correct for the time being.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

I agree with @test, the press conf with the split screen board was great.
Thanks for the great coverage.

Aronjanfan's picture

Its very nice to follow Aronian on his way to top!

Some remarks on the tournament. First of all I personally like events of this kind (or Wijk aan Zee) much more than Linares or Dortmund with only 6 or 8 players.
Secondly it was a good idea by the Russian Chess Federation and from chessvibes to have computer-screens at the press conferences (Please keep that idea alive, Peter) It helps me a lot to follow about which positions they had been exactly talked about. Finally, it was a pleasure to listen to Kasim and to both other Peters (Svidler and Leko). Very funny!

Peter Doggers's picture

@Harish Thanks, Grischuk indeed, added him in the first paragraph.

Peter Doggers's picture

Arne will write the report this time but I've now also added the GP standings - please let me know if I made a mistake, well possible of course.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Some errors in the GP points table. Kamsky, Mamedyarov, Karjakin and Svidler only get 55 pts in this GP. Hence thir total is 235, 240, 205 and 230 . Points for svidler have not been entered. Best to take a look at the wiki entry which has been updated.

Peter Doggers's picture

OK took the table from there, thx again.

Thomas's picture

Not an error but an apparent inconsistency: You do not mention Carlsen, Adams (both withdrew) and Al-Modiakhi ("removed" after the Doha GP was cancelled), but Navara (also removed after the cancellation of Karlovy Vary?) still appears. But FIDE (on the Grand Prix website) makes the same mistake ... . Maybe it's not a mistake after all, and (unknown to me) a solution was found to keep Navara in the competition after all?
Also worthwhile mentioning: Grischuk will at most be shared second in the final standings, because even if Aronian should finish clear last in both remaining tournaments he will earn an additional 10 points for a total of 370. And for Radjabov, tenth place or equivalent (e.g. shared 9th-11th) in his last tournament is sufficient to 'beat' Grischuk - the 4th (worst) result is the first tiebreak criterion.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Grischuk is no way guaranteed atmost shared second. Almost anybody else can over take him. Take for eg. Leko, with two more GP to be played, he can get up there.

Thomas's picture

Harish, I fully agree ... this may be an English language issue. "At most shared second" means that's the best thing which can still happen to him, but in any case all he can do now is sit and wait and watch how many players will overtake him. As I said (implicitly), he shouldn't yet prepare for the candidate tournament - it is quite unlikely that he will qualify through the Grand Prix.
And beyond that, whether he finishes third, fourth, fifth, ... in the final overall standings only affects his share of the overall prize money.

GG's picture

I hope, there will be no more groundless talks 'bout Nalchik bein' a bad place for hostin' this kind of tournaments. I do think that this event was the best one and organizers should be praised. And i guess by the quality of chess it was also the best one. Hope Peter shares my opinion.
Very much inspired by the game of Vladimir Akopian, a very solid performance. If he keeps on playin this way, he has still chances to become the second in the overall standings. The first one is Mr. undisputed heavyweight (or middle?) ChampiOn LevOn, cmOn cmOn.

Rini Luyks's picture

Great reporting again on Chessvibes.Congratulations!

Jagadish Dube.'s picture

Very Good Data's from Harish Srinivasan & Professor Peter Doggers have enhanced
the images of CHESSVIBES.Congratulations to both of you.I hope you will maintain these trend in future also.
Jagadish Dube,Orissa,INDIA.

me's picture

I do not understand the question marks in the overall Grand Prix standings. Is it really that hard to work it out???

1) Akopian is the host city nominee (Yerevan) and will certainly play in both tournaments - Yerevan + last GP.

2) Alekseev is also a host city nominee (Nalchik!) and will certainly play in both last GP's.

3) Navarra is out so he should be at the bottom with "excluded" tag next to him.

4) Both Eljanov and Kasimdzhanov will play in the last GP tournament (count the number of players).

So the only question mark that remains is who will play in Yerevan - Eljanov or Kasimdzhanov. Thats the only unknown variable. And it all depends on where the last GP is going to be. If it's in Ukraine, it will be Elajnov who plays in Yerevan. If it's in Uzbekistan, then Kasimdzhanov will play in Yerevan.

Thomas's picture

Regarding Arne's comment on Aronian-Leko after move 24 ("Black has a very nice position [but from this moment it only goes downwards]."): This was also my impression while watching the game live - actually I thought Leko with black was playing for a win. However, it may be sort of an optical illusion - you do not necessarily have serious threats just because some of your pieces are close to the opponent's king. So, in hindsight, "black SEEMS TO have a nice position" may be more accurate.
Dennis Monokroussos evaluated the position at least += throughout, his comment (after move 16) seems to be spot on: "Black's position isn't as good as it may look, and I think it's because it lacks a certain "improvability". " Yes, black's threats are temporary or maybe just hypothetical, white's assets (bishop pair, passed pawns [later in the game]) are permanent and will prevail sooner or later [obviously this is written in hindsight].

TC's picture

Don't know what is wrong with Chucky lately.......... He is a much better than the results he has shown for the past few months.......

patj's picture

congrats to aronian.
he seems like a great guy - it is nice to see someone like him at the top. i would love to see him and MC play a WC match one day!! : )

Thomas's picture

TC, did you already forget that Ivanchuk was shared first in Linares? I think he simply is a man of extremes: when things go well they go really well (MTel 2008 is an even better example), when things go bad they go really bad.
In part, this is due to his principled approach to chess, striving to win in every single game - when he is in bad form this leads to more losses. Some other players don't mind a couple of draws in such situations - to recover/stabilize or at least to limit the (ELO) damage .... .

Jonas's picture

You are right for example Svidler don't mind to draw 99 games and lose one game out of 100.'s picture

Aronian Wins Grand Prix...

After a long bit of silence in respect to the round-by-round results of the Nalchik Grand Prix I've decided to report on the final standings (due to pressure from my Twitter following).

To make a long and hard fought tournament into a brief stateme...

Mamedyarovfan's picture

Thanks Peter for the outstanding videos accompanied by well articulated comments that gave us great insights into the players' ideas and emotions. Have a good break now ;-)

Lajos Arpad's picture

Svidler had five decided games, two of them were wins.

Latest articles