And so Anish Giri has a 3-1 lead over Alexei Shirov and Baadur Jobava a 2.5-1.5 lead against Jan Timman in their showcase six-game matches at the Unive chess tournament.
Entries in Alexei Shirov (13)
Both Alexei Shirov and Jan Timman were pressing today against Anish Giri and Baadur Jobava, respectively, but in the end both games were drawn. Giri leads 2.5-.5 and Jobava leads 2-1 going into the rest day. Three rounds remain in these sub-events of the Unive chess tournament.
This fun event (the Unive chess tournament), comprising a pair of six-game classical matches, began Sunday in the Dutch city of Hoogeveen. The marquee match is between Dutch prodigy Anish Giri and Latvian superstar Alexei Shirov of "fire on board" fame. If Shirov were playing at his best the match would be a toss-up, but his results have been declining the last couple of years and in the last few months his results have been awful. Indeed, Giri leads 2-0 so far, and if this keeps up he might bridge the 14-15-point gap separating him from the top 6 in the world.
The second match is between top Georgian grandmaster Baadur Jobava and Dutch legend Jan Timman. Their first game was drawn, but Timman lost the second game after a couple of blunders. (He had been under some pressure, but objectively the position was fine.)
Both are Latvians grandmasters who love sharp play, but as Alexei Shirov is 200 points higher rated and 22 years younger than Evgeny Sveshnikov, their six game (g/50) match this weekend looked unlikely to be much of a contest...and it wasn't. Shirov blew him away, 5.5-0.5.
Shirov administered a whipping in the other direction late last year when he smashed Russian teenager Daniil Dubov 5-1, but he'll come up on a real test in a few weeks...or will he? On this page's "Future Events Calendar" it mentions a match between Shirov and Anish Giri due to run from October 12-18. That's wonderful, but Giri is also scheduled to play in the Grand Prix tournament in Baku from October 1-15. As I doubt he'll leave early for the sake of the Shirov match and don't expect him to try a simul, there seems to be a difficulty here. Hopefully some accommodation will be found, and the Giri-Shirov match will come off without a hitch.
When an amateur defeats a super-GM, it's not only a shocking story but also grounds for hope. Even the greatest players can be upset, and in the case of Florian Armbrust's first round win over Alexei Shirov, they can earn it! The point did not just drop in the winner's lap thanks to a simple blunder; no, he played very well and won a nice game. (Maybe even more impressively, it isn't as if Shirov was rusty or had been in bad form. He had been in excellent form in the Olympics, which just ended a few days ago.)
HT: Ross Hytnen
And so the exhibition match between Alexei Shirov and Daniil Dubov has come to an end with a draw in game 6. As after game 1, a draw in the classical game meant they had to play blitz afterwards, and the results were a repeat of what happened in game 1: a draw followed by a Dubov win. In the part that counted, however, Shirov proved his dominance, and while Dubov is an impressive young talent this will have reminded him that he still has a long way to go to reach the elite. For Shirov, it netted him some points and probably some confidence, and hopefully presages a return to better things for him. There's nothing wrong with 60-move rook endings, but as chess fans most of us - myself included - would rather see his "fire on board" approach instead.
Mr. Fire On Board is having his way with young Russian GM Daniil Dubov in their six-game match, consistently outfoxing him in the crazy complications. If you enjoy tactically rich positions, this match is a feast for you.
The Daily Update: Russia Beats Ukraine And Leads The World Team Championship; Shirov Beats Dubov Again
There's still a round to go at the World Team Championship, but for practical purposes the winner and the medalists seem to have been decided. In the key match of the tournament, the leading Ukranians took on the Russians, hoping to keep or extend their lead of a single match point (half a point in normal chess scoring). The first three boards were drawn, but Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Yuriy Kryvoruchko, and his team won the match. As the Russians' final opponent is the Egyptian team, which has lost all its matches and has only managed eight points in their eight matches - in 32 games - it would seem to be a foregone conclusion. If so, it would mark the first time in quite a while that the Russian team has managed to win a major team competition.
Ukraine is now a point behind, but their chances of catching or leapfrogging the Russians are exceedingly slim, as we just noted. Worse, they're not in second right now but in third. The Chinese team beat the Germans - also 2.5-1.5 with the sole victory coming on board four - and while they are tied with Ukraine on match points they are ahead in board points. Better still for the Chinese, Ukraine must play the tough and motivated Armenian team, while China will play the next-to-last placed Turks. If Armenia wins, they will finish ahead of Ukraine (they are the only other team besides the Russians and the Chinese) who can do so, but before we assume that the Chinese are a shoo-in for second there's a warning to be issued.
The American team played Turkey in this round, and if they had won they still would have been in the medal hunt. They were apparently confident enough to rest Hikaru Nakamura, and they paid the price. Ray Robson was convincingly beaten on board 3, and only Varuzhan Akobian's fine endgame play enabled them to save a tie thanks to Akobian's win on board 4.
Meanwhile, in the other noteworthy ongoing event Alexei Shirov won again to take a 2.5-.5 lead over Daniil Dubov in their match (and to get back over 2700). They've reached the halfway point, and have a rest day tomorrow.
They're headed for home at the World Team Championship, and right now it's a three-team race for the gold. The Ukranian team bounced back - sort of - from yesterday's loss with a victory over Egypt. It was only 2.5-1.5 over a team that had lost all of their matches, but as match points have priority over board points that was good enough. The Ukranians thus lead with 12 match points out of 14 (six match victories worth two points apiece, and one loss).
They are a point ahead of the Russians, who beat the Dutch team 3-1. The Dutch team had been in the thick of the medal hunt, but will now have a tough time catching up. They had been tied for third, but now that belongs to the Chinese alone. The Chinese team beat Azerbaijan 3-1 and have 10 match points.
Three teams have 8 match points, and in tiebreak order they are the U.S. (3-1 victors over Germany), Armenia (3-1 winners against Turkey) and (as noted above) the Dutch team.
Here are the key pairings for the last two rounds:
- Ukraine-Russia (that match will probably decide the tournament, especially if Russia wins)
There's also the exhibition match between Alexei Shirov and Daniil Dubov. Game 2 was an exciting win for Shirov with the black pieces in a Moscow Gambit (Semi-Slav), and while Dubov had a big advantage in time out of the opening Shirov's very deep experience in such positions mattered, and he managed to outplay his young opponent in the complications. So far, it's a very entertaining match.