Reports | April 27, 2009 20:29

Nalchik R10: Petroff finally loses

r10Did someone say „Black is hot“? In round 10 of the Grand Prix he was not! The players with the black pieces only scored one draw out of six games plus another draw out of a non-game. Even the Petroff only scored 25 percent. As a result, Aronian is still in sole lead, now half a point ahead of Leko. Video added.

By Michael Schwerteck

Games round 10


Aronian kept his sole lead by beating Eljanov

Levon Aronian put his opponent Pavel Eljanov under big pressure and scored a deserved win (already his fourth), although there were some unclear moments. Personally I don’t understand why anybody, as Black, would willingly enter the line that Eljanov chose. White has the bishop pair and a lot of play on the dark squares. It may sound extreme, but to my understanding (true, I’m not a GM) Black’s position after some 15 moves is close to lost. I checked what Rybka says and she actually agrees! Aronian didn’t always find the most incisive moves, though, and his opponent got a bit of counterplay. Eljanov’s decisive mistake was the strange 30...Kf7?, allowing 31.Bc4+ with tempo. After this, there was no defence against Aronian’s raking bishops.

Former co-leader Evgeny Alekseev wasn’t in great shape and lost a rather one-sided game to Alexander Grischuk. The players discussed one of the classical lines of the Nimzo-Indian where White has the bishop pair and and a pawn majority in the centre, while Black relies on active piece play. Grischuk slowly improved his position, while Alekseev just couldn’t find a good plan. His h-pawn advance is just the kind of idea for which I would severely reprimand my pupils. There may be a point behind it, but I don’t see it. Later this pawn just dropped off, as well as another one that Alekseev had desperately sacrificed. There were still some vague drawing chances because of the opposite-coloured bishops, but in the end the two extra pawns prevailed.

Peter Leko did me a great favour by beating the Petroff – a very rare occurence! Serves Boris Gelfand right for giving up the Najdorf! (Sorry for being biased.) The Hungarian’s concept is really interesting and deserves further tests. As far as I know, theory’s assessment of this line so far was that Black is slightly worse, but has very good drawing chances. A Kasparov-Karpov clash of 1985 led to a draw after only 22 moves. Leko, however, had different plans: to activate his forces as quickly as possible and use his f-pawn as a battering ram, without being interested in winning the pawn back at all. It worked perfectly – after Gelfand missed the critical 26...Rac8, he didn’t get a second chance. I’m really impressed by Leko’s play and only due to laziness I refrained from giving an exclamation mark to every single move.

Gata Kamsky was much less successful against Rustam Kasimdzhanov‘s Petroff. With the rather insipid 4.Nc4 line he couldn’t create any problems for his opponent. The Uzbek could even have played for an advantage with 29...Rf8. The game continuation instead lead to mass simplifications and a draw.


Vladimir Akopian is doing well in Nalchik

Vladimir Akopian is continuing to impress after his unfortunate 0.5/3 start. After beating Etienne Bacrot, he’s already on +1 and can fight for the top places. The opening, an Accelerated Dragon, was probably not so bad for the Frenchman, but somehow he got into an endgame that wasn’t very pleasant to play. Similarly to Alekseev’s game, I’m not enthusiastic about the a5-a4 idea. It’s far from the decisive mistake and might not even be bad objectively, but is it really necessary to create such weaknesses? Bacrot couldn’t find a recipe against White’s advance of the queenside majority and his tricks on the kingside backfired after the cute 49.Rb4! The rest was plain sailing for Akopian.

Mamedyarov-Svidler was a very complicated, unclear game, typical of Shabalov’s 7.g4!? line in the Anti-Meran. It seems that for a long time the position was approximately balanced, but it was perhaps slightly more difficult for Black to play, whose king remained in the centre. When it seemed that the game was heading towards a draw by perpetual check, Svidler suddenly blundered heavily in timetrouble with 31...Ke7?, missing 32.Rxf2. Mamedyarov didn’t miss his chance and quickly secured the win.

Why did I speak of a non-game in the introduction? Well, Karjakin-Ivanchuk would have been an interesting fight, if almost the whole game hadn’t been played before in Karjakin-So. It was only deeply in the rook endgame, at move 37 (!), that Ivanchuk finally played a novelty, but the position was a dead draw anyway. Nice memorization, but this has nothing to do with chess.




Share |


totoy bato's picture

karjakin said of his game against Wesley So "against some Filipino name" Obviously, he refused to remember a GM's name who played against him whose rating compared to his has a huge disparity 2730 vs. 2610 1/2-1/2. Nice phrase:"against some Filipino name". Right, he needs to train with better coaches.

Jens Kristiansen's picture

You have to fundamentally object to Eiae`s statement, even though he/she is not alone in bringing forth this point of view.
Just have a look at this round 10 in Nalchik referred ti above: We have seven interesting games, five of them played out from quite unusual positions. And five of them with "novelties" at quite early stages, even though you can not be sure the players know that they acutually played something new (not to say: prepared) - I guess they were just playing.
What happened in Lekos game - a game won mainly in the preparation - simply have to happen now and then, as it also happened in the "good old days" It is simply in the nature of the game.
So NO ONE has "killed the whole openning phase" at all,. On the controrary: Chess has NEVER been as interesting as it is nowadays - and the game does not need any means to be "invigorated".

Thomas's picture

On Karjakin-Ivanchuk: Not saying that they deliberately steered the game towards a "book draw", but maybe there are several reasons why neither of them really minded a draw:
Karjakin has a terrible score against Ivanchuk, had lost in the previous round against Alekseev (still relevant, even with a rest day in between?) and was surprised by the opening - Ivanchuk plays 'everything', but still the Sveshnikov is a "surprising surprise" even from him.
Ivanchuk simply had a bad tournament that far .... .
Moreover, it was a prestige game (first encounter since Karjakin changed federations), so noone wanted to lose his face!?

As a related topic, funny that the Sveshnikov may turn into a 'drawing weapon', even when white sacrifices a pawn with 19.h4!? . How long ago did the Spanish Marshall mutate from a sharp attacking option into a rather safe drawish opening??

Eiae's picture

"Nice memorization, but this has nothing to do with chess."

This is exactly how chess is today. Computers have killed the whole opening phase of the game. We really need some sort of random opening chess to invigorate our game.

Coco Loco's picture

“Nice memorization, but this has nothing to do with chess.”

Oh, yes, I am sure that Ivanchuk throughout the whole game was thinking "come on, remember, dammit, what did grandmaster So play here?". It's a balanced position at the 'end' of the main line, and it's up to white to come up with an idea to try to win.

As a side note, maybe one should first ask Alekseev and Bacrot (or some other strong player) what the pawn pushes were for before reprimanding them like disobedient pupils.

me's picture

Killing the Petroff isn't something you do every day. I am sure the line will be repaired and it will be just as boring as before.

Michael Schwerteck's picture

OK, Peter, I'll let you off this time ;-) I was just wondering about the position at the end of this line - is White better or not?

me's picture

Funny, I haven't been here for couple of weeks, yet there are quite some comentaries by "me".

Since I have an impersonator, does this mean I am famous? I mean, only famous people have them, right? :)

GG's picture

Akopian's performance is still very impressive. He convincingly won Kamsky, Karjakin and Bacrot and he defended amazingly easy with black against Grischuk, Ivanchuk and Svidler.

Aaron's picture

totoy bato : "karjakin said of his game against Wesley So “against some Filipino name” Obviously, he refused to remember a GM’s name who played against him whose rating compared to his has a huge disparity 2730 vs. 2610 1/2-1/2. Nice phrase:”against some Filipino name”. Right, he needs to train with better coaches."
I agree it was quite a clumsy comment by him..."against some Filipino name"...Wesley So is a Pure Chess Player...Car Hacking is running after better coaches so run forest (coz Carlsen and Aronian are in da house baby)...

Michael Schwerteck's picture

Regarding Bacrot's allegedly equalizing line: what about 29...Bxc2 30.Rb4 Rc8 31.Ne6!? ?

Eiae's picture

I love Aronian even more now after he said he wants more chess960 tourns and that he listens to jazz. Creativity for the win!

The opening is dead, come 960!

Honestly, nobody can argue that creativity has been taken out of the opening for top players. They all study the openings way into the middle game on computers and in teams. This has very little to do with over-the-board skills and talent, except from pure memorization.
Gelfands opening novelty is a real rarity these days. Please, let's all go random chess and give the boot to those darn computer programs. Random openings will turn them obsolete and bring back chess into the hands of the human talent.

Thomas's picture

@totoy bato and others: Not mentioning Wesley So's name may have been impolite or even arrogant from Karjakin, but might have been meant as a (misplaced) joke ... .
In any case, the mockery part of totoy bato's comment makes little sense to me: Statistically spoken, how high are a player's winning chances against someone rated ~100 points lower? Certainly less than 100% .... and this does not even take into account that Wesley So is young, still improving and thus underrated at present.
So even with a new coach one cannot, and should not expect that Karjakin will score 100% against 2600 or even 2500 players.

Phil's picture

Some philipino...

Frits Fritschy's picture

I just looked up the games of the 1927 world championship match between Capablanca and Alekhine. I can recommend them to anyone complaining about the Petroff. Yawn, another Queen's Gambit Declined... None of them as exciting as Leko's win against Gelfand. Back in 1927 people were also talking about the 'drawing dead' of chess. A lot of exciting things happened afterwards.
Chess evolves; it get's boring in different ways, but it also gets exciting in different ways.

GG's picture

Guys, i'm not a Karjakin fan but he seems to be a nice guy. He just forgot the name of Wesley. English is not his native speaker, so he could tell that "some" w/out any intention of hurting one's feelings.

GG's picture

I''ve just read the article of Marlowe. Seems like Kirsan was signing agreement with Aronian's compatriot - his last name was Adelhanian. There are a lot of Armenians in Russia? I see that most of'em are of high rank. Now i understand why armenophobia is being disseminated. Nobody likes successful minorities.

Marlowe's picture

Re: FIDE President Meetings

I just cannnot believe all this post-soviet propagand s***t that takes place on fide website: -

I fail to see the correlation between FIDE and FSI and why an accord would favor chess players or has anything to do with chess whatsoever. Maybe the 'carismatic leader' starts to confuse his office as a Kalmykian vasal to Kremlin with being responsible for world chess affairs. The texts and the propaganda is worth of pre-1989 type of Soviet-style rhetoric and the long red drapes behind look like the typical Moscow Commi offices. I just had it with these meetings with Moscow bureaucrats, small-time ex-Soviet "Presidents" or so called 'diplomatic visits' to war-torn zones [read "cheaper than Western"] to organize chess events or secure playing halls in case of an incoming crisis.

When will we have a FIDE president who will actually be received in the West's biggest capitals, sitting down with the mayors of New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc and not with some Soviet/Russian-related party-line yes-men who have no interest nor aid the standards of chess playing? Until then, no wonder chess is in the bad shape it is right now.

Just sick with it. And there seems to be no journalistic reaction whatsoever to this sort of pure b********t.

Peter Doggers's picture

@Michael Just quoting the GM, don't shoot the messenger. ;-)

Latest articles