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    Friday
    Jul272012

    Biel 2012, Rounds 4 & 5: Wang Hao Dominates, Bolozevich Stuck at Zero

    The Chinese grandmaster Wang Hao was something of a regular on the world chess scene in 2010, but then disappeared last year. He's back now, and with a vengeance, as his first half total of four wins (and a loss to Magnus Carlsen) has him in a dominating first place, all the more so on the 3-1-0 scoring system in place at Biel. In round 4 he defeated Anish Giri, who had been leading after three rounds. The chief culprit was probably 15.g3, a TN (theoretical novelty) that was more like TNT that backfired. Despite the fairly symmetrical pawn structure that resulted a couple of moves later, and the exchanges of several pieces, it was always Black who enjoyed more space and more control, and Giri was ground down mercilessly.

    In round 5 Wang Hao won again, this time against Viktor Bologan, who has unfortunately managed to build flawlessly on Morozevich's "perfect" score. Bologan's 10...Bc8 was rare and the sequence 10...Ba6-c8, 11...Ba6-c8, 12...Bf5-c8, 13...Bc8-a6 was pretty amusing; but as students of the Benko Gambit know it's in fact a pretty typical maneuver. On move 10 the bishop does little on a6 but get in the Ra8's way, and that's thanks to the pawn on e2. Richocheting the bishop to f5 induces e2-e4, and then the bishop can bounce back to a6 and from there go to d3. Thus White played 15.Nf3, and that covered d3 but allowed 15...Bc4. Now neither 16.Ra1 nor 16.a3 is pleasant, while 16.b3 is an outright error. So Wang Hao simply sacrificed the a-pawn to break in the center. (He was up a pawn anyway, and returning it broke the pressure and let him completely take over the initiative.)

    After 22.e6 White enjoyed a very big advantage, and soon it was a winning one, but on move 28 he gave most of it away. 26.Nd3 would have won a piece, and 26.Re2 would have been fine if he had met 26...Nc6(!) 27.Nxc6 (not 27.Qxb6?? Nd4!) Qxc6 with 28.Re7! Instead, he played 28.Re6?, probably missing 28...Qa4! 29.Qxb6 Qd1+ 30.Bf1 Rxf4! Taking the rook allows an immediate perpetual, so Wang Hao had to play 31.Qxc5 and hope to win the game all over again. He did. 35...Ke6 was an error, as was 42...Qg4. In the end, Bologan even lost his bishop, but after 42...Qg4 there was already no saving the game.

    Wang Hao was not the only player to go 2-0 in rounds 4 & 5; Hikaru Nakamura did so as well. In round 4, he "welcomed" Bologan to the tournament by defeating him in a long, exciting but not very cleanly played game and after winning that game with Black in a Queen's Gambit Accepted he defeated Etienne Bacrot with White. Bacrot has played well and successfully with White in the tournament, but with Black he has used the King's Indian in every game and been decisively outplayed each time. Bacrot's earlier King's Indians were in the Bayonet Attack, but Nakamura chose instead the Petrosian System.

    Bacrot followed theory for a long time, but it's not clear that he was really in control in terms of his preparation. His 14...f5 (rather than the usual 14...Bh6) left the beaten track (although Garry Kasparov beat Vladimir Kramnik with that move in a rapid event back in 1995, but Bacrot deviated from that game a move later. The position after White's 20th move had occurred in six earlier games, with White scoring 100%. Only Nakamura's 22nd move was officially new, but it's unlikely that either player was still in preparation by then. Certainly Bacrot wouldn't have been, or he would have prepared a losing line! Nakamura's move was a very good one, and when Bacrot played 22...Nb8, fearing 22...Nc5 23.b6, the upshot was that he was a piece down for the rest of the game, as that knight would never again see the light of day.

    It all came down to whether Black's kingside attack could break through. If not, then the joke-knight on b8 would cost him the game. Objectively, it seems that White was much better or winning, but the position was complicated enough for the players to miss something, and perhaps they did. After Nakamura's apparently erroneous 29.Qd2 (the engine prefers 29.Nxg3, 29.Nxg5 Qxg5 30.gxh3 and even 29.b6) Bacrot missed a spectacular resource: 29...hxg2 30.Kxg2 Nh3!!, which would have offered dangerous counterplay. Having missed his chance, White kept control and won.

    The day before Bacrot drew with White against Carlsen in a Bogo-Indian (via the Keres-Indian), and Carlsen could only draw in round 5 with Giri in a 5.d3 Petroff. (Boooooooooo!) The good news for Carlsen is that he has his round 3 game with Bologan coming Sunday, and as the Morozevich/Bologan "team" ("Morozogan"? "Bolozevich"?) has gone 0-for-the tournament so far, he'll have good chances to get right back into the race for first.

    Here are the standings at the halfway point, excluding tomorrow's make-up game:

    1. Wang Hao 12
    2-3. Nakamura, Giri 8
    4. Carlsen 6 (out of 4 games)
    5. Bacrot 4
    6. Bologan 0

    Round 6 Pairings:

    Nakamura - Carlsen
    Bacrot - Wang Hao
    Giri - Bologan

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    Reader Comments (7)

    The free day is on Sunday 29th. Round 6 on Saturday. (I know it is a bit unusual.)

    [DM: Oops. Will fix in a moment.]

    July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiel Observer

    Dennis, acc to Chessgames the make-up game is on Sunday; round 6 on Saturday.

    July 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterganso

    I think Nakamura would have it under control after 29...hxg2 30.Kxg2 Nh3 31. Bxg3. Likewise ChessBomb identifies 30.Nxg5 as a 'red move" after 30...Rxb4, but 31.Qxb4 Qxg5 32.Qe4 looks handy enough owing to the frozen N on b8.

    Here's a question: The tournament became Cat 21 when Carlsen replaced Dominguez Perez. Now Morozevich being replaced by Bologan drops the average to 2749.17 for Cat 20 by my calculation. However, if you count it as 2/10 of Moro and 8/10 of Bologan, the average goes back over 2750, and that is how my data-collation will compute it. So does the tournament still officially count as Cat 21?

    July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth Regan

    I believe instead of "11...Ba6-f5", you meant "11...Bc8-f5", in the 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence. Maybe also correct "aganist" typo at the same time.

    July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen

    Round 6 is on Saturday. The make up round 3 game is on sunday.
    Official Biel schedule: http://www.bielchessfestival.ch/en/grandmaster-tournament/

    I was completely flabbergasted by Bologan's loss to Nakamura. I thought 74. Rc3 was a rather simple win but instead he went for this estranged kingside walk with Ke4.

    July 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

    Some comments on two players:

    Wang Hao had dropped out of the World Cup in 2011 shortly before it started due to heart problems. Later in the same year, he also didn't play Tal Memorial - where he had been on the list of participants before being quietly replaced by Svidler. But he didn't disappear completely, as he kept playing team events and tournaments in China.

    Bacrot - I wouldn't say that he played well with white, at least not from a preparation point of view. Against Morozevich, he needed lots of time to re-invent the theoretical wheel before Moro went wrong. Against Carlsen, he got nothing out of the opening and was soon slightly worse but held the draw. (Today's rather dull draw with white against Wang Hao might count as a 'neutral' result).
    With black, I wonder if it's lack of theoretical knowledge in the KID or rather lack of 'feeling' for the resulting positions: Against Wang Hao, he took the wrong pawn keeping the coffin nail on e6 alive. Against Nakamura, good or bad he should have gone for 22.-Nc5 (even if he was already decisively worse at that stage), and an experienced KID player (e.g. Nakamura) might have seen and gone for tactical chances around move 29/30 - again good or bad, sufficient or not.
    Bacrot did play the KID before but mostly against lower-rated players - for example he beat Giri in the German Bundesliga 2009 when the latter had Elo 2466. Though earlier this year 2012, he got reasonable results in the French Team Championship against reasonably strong players (two draws against van Wely and Le Quang Liem).
    Before anyone thinks that Bacrot is a bit overrated and simply doesn't fit into the field: he did pretty well in his last supertournament (50% in Nanjing 2010, where he didn't play the KID).

    July 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Ooops! Wrong Wang! I glad Yue picked that up, I don't know Hao I could have made that mistake.

    July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Henderson

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