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    Entries in brilliancy (3)

    Thursday
    May102012

    "Garry's Choice": A Great Succesor!

    In my review of Informant 113 I noted a new column by Garry Kasparov entitled "Garry's Choice", where he looks at pretty much whatever suits his fancy. I subsequently elaborated on the subject of his first column, where he found a beautiful queen sac that could have arisen in the recent game Paragua-Debashis, New Delhi 2012, but, alas, was missed. He was unable to think of any suitable predecessor, but that's only because the remarkable game MacDonald-Burn, which isn't in the best-known commercial database, had escaped his attention.

    What's even more remarkable, perhaps, is that today's action at the U.S. Women's Championship provided a great successor, or at least the potential for one. (A big tip of the lid to Danny Olim for mentioning this game.) Here's the position after White's 34th move in the game Alena Kats - Camilla Baginskaite:

    Black's last move was 33...b2-b1Q, to which White replied by smashing the door with 34.Nf4xg6. The door may be smashed, but the doorway is not yet open and the invaders remain outside. Baginskaite couldn't find a solution, and resigned after 34...Qxh2+ 35.Kxh2 Qc2+ 36.Kh1. Alas, she missed her chance. The right move was...well, you've probably already guessed it, based on the previous posts, but try to work out all the details for yourself before checking out the solution. Interestingly, part of the solution itself has a "great predecessor", and I think that predecessor bears some resemblance to the tactic Kasparov highlighted in his column. We've come full circle, and so I'll disembark the merry-go-round here.

    Wednesday
    Sep072011

    World Cup 2011: Round 4, Day 2: Brilliancy Time

    I don't know if this will go into the pantheon with 47...Bh3!! and moves of that ilk, but the coup de grace administered by Peter Svidler against Gata Kamsky is at least a contender, especially considering that he did it against a great player in an important event. Here's the situation: White to move has just played 26.Nc6xb8:

    Perhaps Kamsky expected 26...Qxh6, when after 27.Nc6 Kg7! Black has sufficient compensation for the exchange, but not more. And no doubt he was ready for 26...Qg3, when 27.Nc6 would win, were it not for a strong move that equalizes. It turns out that that same strong move is even better when played immediately: 26...Re2!!

    Fantastic! Black is down a rook, and puts a second rook en prise on an empty square. Of course, its virtue is clear if White doesn't take the rook - Black crashes through on f2. The crucial point is that if White does take the rook, Black plays 27...Qg3 and White is helpless against the threat of ...Qxg2#. When the queen was on c2, Nc6 was an adequate reply to ...Qg3, but now Nc6 is just a spite move.

    So Kamsky played 27.Qc3, and resigned after 27...Rxf2 28.Nc6 Rxf1+, as 29.Kxf1 Qf2 is mate and 29.Kh2 Rxa1 gives Black an extra rook and pawn with mate on the way.

    That gave Svidler a 2-0 victory in the match, and he will play the winner of tomorrow's tiebreaker between Judit Polgar and Leinier Dominguez. Dominguez won game 1 yesterday and had a very promising position today, but at a crucial moment made the wrong choice and suffered for a long time. It took Polgar 112 moves, and she made at least one crucial error and a large number of inaccuracies in converting her advantage, but she kept plugging away to win the game.

    She was not alone in fighting back from a defeat in the first game - Peter Heine Nielsen did it as well, grinding out a victory against Vugar Gashimov in 113 moves! (The game went one move longer but a few seconds shorter than Polgar's victory.) A third comeback hero was Alexander Grischuk, who finally stopped the Vladimir Potkin steamroller with some nice tactics on the white side of a Classical French.

    In addition to those matches, two others will go to tiebreaks; namely, the two that saw draws in yesterday's games. Ponomariov-Bruzon was a "correct" draw, while Ivanchuk-Bu Xiangzhi had some ups and downs before the point was split after 95 moves. (It's some round when that's only the third-longest game.)

    Finally, in addition to Svidler, two other players assured themselves of a rest day tomorrow. David Navara was always doing fine against Yaroslav Zherebukh, but fine turned into winning after the latter blundered with 28...Rf6?? Still, despite losing the match 2-0, the 18-year-old Zherebukh accounted himself extremely well in this tournament, and one would expect to hear a lot more from him in the next few years to come.

    Finally, Jakovenko-Radjabov was a short draw, the only one today (and only the third draw in eight games and fifth in the sixteen games played in the round overall!), and that sent Radjabov through to the quarterfinals. It's not that Jakovenko pulled a Morozevich and gave up without an effort, but that he was, if anything, a bit worse in the final position and without any real winning prospects (though he could have continued a bit anyway).

    So at this point none of the quarterfinal matches are set. Here's a recap: Svidler won his match and is waiting for the winner of Dominguez-Polgar. The winner of Ponomariov-Bruzon will play the winner of Gashimov-Nielsen. Radjabov will play the winner of Ivanchuk-Bu Xiangzhi, and Navara will play the winner of Grischuk-Potkin.

    The official site is here, and today's games (with my comments) are here. Note: I will cover the Kamsky-Svidler game in much greater depth for my ChessVideos show this week (those are free and available to the general public, for those of you who might be new to the site), which should be posted online tomorrow or Friday. (Fear not, there will be an announcement on this site once it's up.)

    Saturday
    Jan092010

    World Team Championship, Round 5: Russia, U.S.A. Lead

    Here were the day's results at the World Team Championship:

    India 2 - Armenia 2

    Russia 3½ - Turkey ½

    Egypt 1 - Azerbaijan 3

    Israel 1½ - United States 2½

    Brazil 1 - Greece 3


    Taking the matches in order: The India-Armenia draw was a bit of a shocker. Akopian won with a nice finish against Harikrishna, but India equalized when Sasikiran beat Aronian in a rook vs. rook and pawn ending that should have been drawn. It wasn't trivial, but it wasn't out of Aronian's pay grade, either, and he had loads of time to work it out.

    Russia's win was no surprise, and neither was Azerbaijan's. However, the latter's one blemish occurred when Gashimov lost his third straight game. (This is putting a real crimp in his plans for world domination, but he still has 721 days to go.)

    The United States win was an upset, but well-earned. Robson worked to hold the draw on round 4, while Onischuk won on board 2 (the only one where the US had a [very slight] rating edge) and Hess lost on board 3 (to Sutovsky). The deciding game was also the first to finish, Nakamura's brilliant (or at least flashy) win against Gelfand on the Black side of a Classical King's Indian. This win probably didn't take as much mental labor as his spectacular win over Beliavsky in the same variation last September, but was if anything even showier.

    Finally, Greece got back on the right foot, crushing Brazil despite being outrated by an average of 25 points per board.  Especially impressive - but strange - was Fier-Banikas. Fier managed to come up with two novelties in the second game, both of which came from the same position! The first was neutral and the second was bad, which just goes to show that newer doesn't mean better. The game featured some very nice geometry, and is worth seeing.

    (And because it's worth seeing, I've included it with my notes, along with the two Armenia-India games mentioned above and Gelfand-Nakamura. Click here.)

    Here are the overall standings:

    1. Russia 8 (based on two points for a team win, one for a draw, zero for a loss), 13 (total individual points, which is the first tiebreaker)

    2. USA 8, 12½

    3. Armenia 7, 12

    4. India 7, 11

    5. Azerbaijan 6, 11½

    6. Israel 6, 11

    7. Greece 4, 10

    8. Brazil 2, 8

    9. Egypt 2, 7

    10. Turkey 0, 4