Reports | April 16, 2009 16:44

Nalchik R1: The Day of Anti-Systems (UPDATE: videos added!)

Many people say that FIDE is destroying chess with its chaotic handling of the World Championship cycle. The Grand Prix series in particular has been the subject of many debates. Chess politics aside, however, it’s great that these tournaments exist. Six big round-robin tournaments with many fantastic players, that’s 546 high-level games!

By Michael Schwerteck

So let’s look at the bright side, i.e. the games. While Peter is in Nalchik to create another series of videos, the other ChessVibes editors will do their best to keep their readers entertained and up-to-date with tournament reports.

The quality of the games in the first round wasn’t sensational (some players seemed a bit rusty), but we saw a lot of interesting opening choices and good fighting spirit. One aspect was particularly striking: Many players deviated from their usual repertoire to prevent their opponents from reaching their favourite setups. In some cases these anti-systems were even met by anti-anti-systems. This kind of shadow-boxing is quite typical of modern chess, so let’s have a closer look:


Can you remember when was the last time Levon Aronian lost a game with the Marshall Gambit in classical chess? If you can’t, don’t worry about your memory: the Armenian has NEVER lost such a game! His Marshall record so far: three wins, many draws and no losses – against world-class opposition, of course. Impressive, huh? Shakhryar Mamedyarov was so impressed that he decided to avoid the Ruy Lopez altogether and try some rare line of the Vienna Game. There White gives up the bishop pair to create some sort of bind. I’ve tried the line myself and, to be honest, I think it’s rubbish. You might be able to confuse a club player with it, but Aronian soon got the upper hand with a series of very natural moves. When his position was already crumbling, the Azeri lashed out with a double piece sacrifice, but it didn’t work at all. A relatively easy win for Aronian.

The other winner of the day was Alexander Grischuk who managed to beat Boris Gelfand on the white side of a Queen’s Gambit Declined. The Israli usually prefers the Semi-Slav, but Grischuk has been quite successful against it lately. The position looked almost equal after the opening, but Gelfand didn’t seem to feel comfortable and started to make inaccuracies. I don’t like his 25...a6, for instance, which just seems to create a pawn weakness (that later dropped off). Grischuk reached a rook ending with two extra pawns and his technique was good enough.

Has Peter Leko ever begun a game with 1.Nf3? Yes, but only rarely, and mostly not in serious games. Against Gr?ºnfeld specialist Gata Kamsky, however, he had prepared one of the English anti-lines and it was a success indeed. Leko was pressing during the whole game and seemed to have good winning chances, but his opponent defended like a lion and eventually created an impregnable fortress. After an epic 121-move struggle the point was split. Hats off to both players for this great fighting game.

Evgeny Alekseev faced the other big Gr?ºnfeld player in the field, Peter Svidler. He had the same idea as Leko and chose a Nf3/c4-move order to circumvent the main lines. Svidler, on the other hand, had his own plans of tricking the opponent and went for the Slav. I remember that Aronian once called Svidler ‚Äûan expert on the Slav Defence‚Äú, but he might well have been kidding. In my opinion Svidler had a lousy position after the opening, but he somehow managed to escape into a drawn opposite-coloured bishop ending. Alekseev probably went for the wrong simplifications; his 22.Rc8 looks illogical.

In the game Ivanchuk-Bacrot the players tricked each other so much that after only four moves they were already in an almost unknown position. Ivanchuk seemed to be slightly on top, but Bacrot reacted well and after heavy simplifications a draw was agreed.

Karjakin-Eljanov was a well-played and attractive game. Karjakin adopted the method of fighting the Zaitsev Variation that Kamsky used in his match against Topalov. Eljanov reacted adequately with counterplay in the centre. Then Karjakin came up with the spectacular blow 27.Bxh6, which led to interesting complications. The balance was not disturbed, however, and both players gained a well-deserved half point for their efforts.

Akopian-Kasimdzhanov saw the same result, but with less excitement. Petroff, draw, that pretty much sums it up. (Yes, I hate this opening.)



Meppie's picture

Nice report with a personal view.

ceann's picture

so glad to see iwantmymammyderov lose, who is he blaming this time.....hope he has an absolute shocker of a tournament. The SOB.

me's picture

I guess ceann never made a bad call in his life, never made any mistake and has never done or said anything foolish. I envy you. I think we all do.

Well, at least people have a new target now and will give Topalov some break.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I do like the personal touch of this report Michael.

ad's picture

funny to hear Leko's comments after the game

Not a patzer's picture

Excuse me, but how does a patzer rated 2124 dare to call a rare line 'rubbish' based on his personal opinion? A personal touch to any report is fine and even welcome, but please refrain from making statements that are based on your 'understanding' of chess. Thanks.

CAL|Daniel's picture

even Aronian called it rubbish in the interview, he used different word choice but its a line long known to be bad... Mr. "Not a patzer" but won't give his identity. Show us YOUR rating... show us your novelties in this line?

It is clearly the author's opinion and he's not the only one that holds it.

Michael Schwerteck's picture

"Not a patzer", do me a favour and do not judge people by numbers. Just because you happen to have a high rating doesn't give you the right to insult other players whom you don't even know. Curiously enough, the patzer without any understanding of chess somehow reached pretty much the same conclusions as GM Shipov, although they worked independently (probably pure luck).

If you think you can do even better than this, please send your express analysis (full of wisdom, I'm sure) to ChessVibes shortly after the end of each round.

ChessGirl's picture

Great report, ChessVibes, I really enjoyed it, and I think that we all agree that the videos are a very big plus :)

Jagadish Dube.'s picture

Professor Peter Doggers,
Thanks for the attractiive & enjoyable Video.Hope You will entertain all the CHESS VIBE'S readers in all the 13 Rounds.Article is also appealing.
Jagadish Dube,ORISSA.

iLane's picture

Thanks for the video report. At some points I felt that too many things were cut out, I really prefer to see the complete analysis after the game.

Thomas's picture

@"Not a patzer": All Michael did was give his personal opinion from his own over-the-board experience. Significantly, he wrote "I think ..." - so it is clearly his own opinion/thought, not even a claim of objective truth.
Similarly, "Patzer Thomas" (rated 1930) called the Grunfeld 'risky' (not bad or rubbish) at other occasions - based on dozens of own games over the years mostly at my own level. Those games also included a few drastic losses against players rated 2300-2400 - but here of course I wouldn't (solely) blame the opening :)

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