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    « Wijk aan Zee: Shirov's Comments to His Round 3 Win | Main | Nakamura-van Wely, Presented by Nakamura »
    Monday
    Jan182010

    Wijk aan Zee, Round 3: Shirov Still Leads, Carlsen and Nakamura Chase

    It was a good day for the black pieces, as their users won four and drew three in the A-group. Of course, it helped that the players championing Black in this round included almost all the favorites.

    First and foremost, as long as he's leading, there's Alexei Shirov, who kicked Sergei Tiviakov's 2.Nc3 + 3.Bb5 Anti-Sicilian to the curb in a hurry. White's position never made a very good impression, and 24...Bxg2+ heralded doom for the white king. Seven moves later it had gone from f1 to b4, and with mate imminent Tiviakov called it a day.

    That gave Shirov a 3-0 score, but he's only half a point ahead of youngsters Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura. Carlsen had Black against Loek van Wely, and chose a dubious-looking sac against vW's Exchange QGD. (As I noted yesterday, very little of Carlsen's success can be attributed to his opening repertoire; the guy just outplays people from nothing.) Carlsen soon regained the pawn, then won a pawn and went on to win a double-rook ending. As for Nakamura, he played the Classical Sicilian against Nigel Short, and when the former mishandled the Boleslavsky line Black took over the initiative, won a pawn, and converted easily in a rook and bishop ending.

    The fourth win came from Vassily Ivanchuk, whose victory over Jan Smeets has him in clear fourth at 2-1. This was a Najdorf Sicilian with strong similarities to the Classical Rauzer, and on this occasion Black's queenside play and bishop pair proved more important than White's kingside clamp and extra pawn. White failed to pay enough attention to Black's attacking possibilities, and after 27...a4 28.Na1 b4 it was too late, and Smeets got rolled.

    The three draws were all pretty lame and featured the usual suspects: Leko with either color and Kramnik and Anand with Black. (This isn't to say that none of them ever plays for a win, only that they are relatively draw-friendly against their fellow elites under the given conditions.) Leko-Karjakin saw Gelfand's trendy pawn sac against the QID, but the ease with which Karjakin held suggests that it might soon say 2006-2010 on its tombstone. Caruana-Kramnik was - what else? - a Petroff, and Caruana didn't make the ex-champ break a sweat. Finally, there was Dominguez-Anand, and that was a long game - 77 moves. The number is a bit deceptive, however, as the game could have been agreed drawn on move 33. Dominguez had an extra pawn in a rook and bishop ending, but with all the pawns on the same side of the board and Black able to achieve an ideal defensive formation, together with the fact that swapping either the rooks or the bishops would keep the game a dead draw, this was just an exercise in going through the motions. It probably felt nice for Dominguez to "torture" the world champion without any possible danger, but unless Anand had a heart attack or died of boredom, there were no real winning chances either. (Those interested can see the games with Mark Crowther's brief comments here.)

    Standings After Round 3:

    1. Shirov 3

    2-3. Carlsen, Nakamura 2½

    4. Ivanchuk 2

    5-8. Dominguez, Karjakin, Anand, Kramnik 1½

    9-12. Tiviakov, Caruana, Leko, van Wely 1

    13-14. Smeets, Short ½

    Round 4 Pairings:

    Anand - Nakamura

    Carlsen - Short

    Ivanchuk - van Wely

    Shirov - Smeets

    Kramnik - Tiviakov

    Karjakin - Caruana

    Dominguez - Leko

     

    With the exception of Anand-Nakamura, it looks like a good opportunity for the rich to get richer.

    In the B-Group, Giri was held to a draw, so Ni Hua caught him at 2.5/3 by beating Nyback - with Black, of course. The group's only other winner was Harikrishna, who surprisingly managed to win Q+B vs. Q (no pawns) - with Black - against Anna Muzychuk.

    In the C-Group, Robson was also held to a draw and lost his perfect score. He was caught by Vocaturo, who demolished Van Kampen in 23 moves (with White!), and by Li Chao, who won quickly with Black against Plukkel. Other winners were Gupta, Swinkels and Lie.

    Tournament site here, TWIC page here.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    Just want to say that your comments to the games are appreciated. I stop by here after each round, and I suspect many others do too. Keep up the good work!

    January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBertram

    Anand is in a difficult spot. He needs to play cautiously not to give out the preparation to Topalov team.

    January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSundar

    Some nice games today. It's good to see Shirov and Ivanchuk in form once again. More decisive games than draws is a rare sight at super-tournaments! I wonder how far Carlsen will go. It's fascinating how a draw against a 2650+ can actually cost you two Elo points(!), which according to the Live Top List is the price Carlsen has to pay for his first round game against Tiviakov. Not that he's not at +4 anyway after his two wins...

    BTW, the pawn sac seems to be Kasparov's idea. According to some inside information ChessBase claim to have (http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=6068), Kasparov told Carlsen about it yesterday on the phone.

    January 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKajetan Wandowicz

    Yes, Kajetan, I noticed that too - but too late for me to avoid catching a mild case of foot-in-mouth disease. :) There's a good neutral, quickie commentary to that game by GM Christian Bauer on the Chessdom site, at http://www.chessdom.com/corus-2010/van-wely-carlsen.

    January 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterDennis Monokroussos

    Carlsen confirms that the sac was Kasparov's idea on his blog here. http://arcticsec.no/index.php?button=blog&main_image=35

    Just sharing. :D

    January 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter:D

    Harikrishna winning with Q+B against Q was a surprise (and only possible with the help of the opponent), yet it reminded me of Kozul-Shirov 0-1, Sarajevo 2004 where Shirov converted Q+N against Q - the amazing thing about that one is that it was a tablebase win from the very start (after both sides promoted their passed pawns).
    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1287028
    [I only vaguely remembered that one, found it back searching for Shirov wins taking more than 80 moves]

    January 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThomas
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