Today's Action, Featuring Kings and Queens
Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 8:29PM
Dennis Monokroussos

The Kings Tournament in Bucharest continues to produce draws, but again it's not for want of trying as both of the games could and probably should have seen White come out on top. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu obtained a big advantage against Vassily Ivanchuk on the white side of a Winawer French (Hook Variation) and missed several opportunities to win. First was 30.Nxd5. Maybe he was in time trouble and afraid of 30...Qxc2, but after 31.Rg2 threats like Nb4 and Nf6+ (followed by Nxd7 Kxd7 Qxf7 or by d5, etc.) will soon have Black deader than a doornail. There were other improvements along the way - 31.Nxd5, 35.Qf6 and last but not least, 36.Qg2. (None was as straightforward as 30.Nxd5, however.) After 36.Rb4? Ivanchuk had the shot 36...Rxd2!, after which it's just a draw. White could have avoided the perpetual by playing 40.Ng2, but after 40...Rxa1 41.Rxa7 Ra2+ 42.Kg1 Raxg2+ 43.Qxg2 Rxg2+ 44.Kxg2 Bc8 it's Black who has what winning chances there are. So Nisipeanu acceded to the perpetual, and Ivanchuk remained in first place.

Ivanchuk received a second piece of luck: not only did he receive good fortune in his game, but he received still more when Fabiano Caruana somehow failed to convert an extra exchange against Veselin Topalov. For a computer, the conversion would be easy, but Topalov always had enough play to be annoying, and Caruana never figured out how to fully extinguish it. One possible win may have been 65.Rxc2, banking on the three advanced passers to overwhelm the knight. Here's a reasonable line that stops short of apodeictic certainty: 65.Rxc2 Nxe7 66.f6 Nd5 67.Rc6 Rg8 68.Rd6 Nc3 69.Rd3 Ne4 70.Kf4 Nc5 71.Rd6 Nb7 72.Rd5 Nd8 73.Rd7 Re8 74.Re7 Rf8 75.g5 and now it's certain that the pawns are too strong.

With two rounds to go, then, the relative standings are as they were after round 1, when the tournament's only decisive game took place: Ivanchuk is +1, Nisipeanu is -1, and the other two are necessarily at 50%. (That's the necessity of the consequence, given this paragraph's first sentence, not the necessity of the consequent!)

From "kings" to "queens": the women's world championship started today. It's a 64-player knockout event whose early rounds consist of two-game mini-matches followed by rapid and blitz tiebreaks, if necessary. Today we had the first game of round 1, and while there were 15 of the 32 games were drawn only one lower-rated player managed to win, and that was a relatively tiny 40-point upset with the lower-rated player enjoying the white pieces. The top six players all won their games, while all three Americans drew their games (two playing down, one - Tatev Abrahamyan - playing up [against world citizen Alexandra Kosteniuk]).

Article originally appeared on The Chess Mind (
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