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    Entries in Evgeny Tomashevsky (2)

    Sunday
    Aug252013

    2013 World Cup: Round 5, Day 2: Kramnik, Tomashevsky(!) Advance

    The classical stage of round 5 of the 2013 World Cup has finished, and two of the four matches have been decided. Vladimir Kramnik defeated Anton Korobov on day 1 of the round and needed only a draw on day 2 to advance, and that's just what he got - with great difficulty. The games Peter Svidler - Dmitry Andreikin and Fabiano Caruana - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were both drawn and the four players will proceed to tiebreaks tomorrow. Finally, Evgeny Tomashevsky caught out Gata Kamsky in mutual time trouble and won with the black pieces to advance to the semi-final round.

    Kramnik has been pleading a bit of tiredness lately, and it has shown up in the form of little lapses of concentration and intensity. He came out of the opening in good shape; such good shape, in fact, that with a couple of accurate moves in the early middlegame his position was so healthy that Korobov said he was going to offer a draw. Either 18...Bd3 19.Nc1 c4 or 18...g5 19.Bg3 Qc6 would have been fine; instead, "at the last moment" he was attracted by the immediate 18...Qc6, thinking he could play ...g5 later. The problem was that by not first driving the bishop back g3 remained available to White's knight, and after 19.Ng3 Bh7 20.h4 Korobov was back in the game. A few more inaccuracies by Kramnik left him fighting to stay alive in a very bad ending with opposite-colored bishops.

    Now it was Kramnik who was thinking of giving up the struggle - in this case resigning - but it was Korobov's turn to start slipping. One error came on move 41, immediately after the time control, when Korobov played 41.Kf3. The problem with this move is that it allowed Black's king to start heading over to the queenside, where it could help defend against White's soon-to-be-passed a-pawn. The point shows up after 41.Kf3 Kf8 42.Bb4+ Ke8 43.Ra8+ Kd7 44.Rf8 Bg6. Here 45.f5 can be met by 45...Bh5 check; had the king not gone to f3 but remained for the moment on a dark square that resource would be unavailable and Black would lose serious material. On move 49 Korobov probably should have played 49.Bb4 followed by 50.Kc3; that would at any rate have been a more effective way of implementing the idea he wanted in the game. Finally, 52.Rf6 gave up any remaining hopes. In reply the immediate 52...Rf5 wouldn't have worked because of 53.Rd6+ and 54.Rd4, but after the zwischenzug 52...Rb5! it's an easy draw. Giving up the a-pawn renders a dead draw, and 53.Rb6 Rxb6 is an easy draw as well. Korobov played 53.Bc3, but now that the bishop no longer covered the d6 square Kramnik's 53...Rf5 made the draw an easy one. White can either give up the f-pawn as he did in the game (note that 53.Bd2 would have protected the pawn but allowed 53...Rb1#) or trade into a dead opposite-colored bishops ending. (Black's king stays in the a8 corner and he drops his bishop back to h7 after White plays f4-f5, eventually sacrificing it to eliminate all the kingside material. The result is a standard wrong bishop and rook's pawn combo.) After Kramnik's 58th move Korobov shrugged and offered a draw, which was of course accepted, and Kramnik went through to the semis, where he'll await the winner of the Caruana - Vachier-Lagrave match.

    About the game between Caruana and Vachier-Lagrave, its character, though not its result, was determined on move 17. Had Vachier-Lagrave played 17...Bf8 the position would have been fully equal and perhaps the game would have ended in a short draw. Instead, Black played 17...Bd6, but after 18.Nb6 Black was forced to surrender the bishop pair and needed to suffer for almost another 40 moves before the draw was secured. Good defense by the young Frenchman.

    The other draw was a short one - 20 moves - between Svidler and Andreikin, but despite its brevity there was quite a lot of content. Andreikin played 3...c5 in an Advance Caro-Kann, and White seemed to come out of the opening with an edge. The position was very complex, with Svidler up first one pawn and then two, but with Black taking aim at more than half of White's pawns in one way or another. Ultimately Svidler failed to maintain his pawns and his edge, and so they're off to tiebreaks as well, where the winner will play tournament Cinderella Evgeny Tomashevsky.

    The young Russian (and economics Ph.D.!) has had an amazing run. He won the last two games of his first round match against Alejandro Ramirez, including an Armageddon game, to squeak out with a narrow victory. He won "normally" against Wesley So before playing and beating the top seeded Levon Aronian. He then won a harrowing match against Alexander Morozevich and this time it was Gata Kamsky who was shown the door. Kamsky played the Anti-Marshall line with 8.h3, but here too Black can sac a pawn with 8...Bb7 9.d3 d5. In fact, like Andreikin, he even went two pawns down for a while, but both his general prep for similar positions and the engine indicate that his compensation was sufficient. Indeed, he probably could have forced a draw starting with the tactical 18...Nxc2 19.Qxc2 Qxf3 20.Nd2 Bh2+. For example: 21.Kf1 Qxh3+ 22.Ke2 Qe6+ 23.Ne4 f5 24.Qb3 Qxb3 25.Rxb3 fxe4 26.fxe4 Re8. That would have been a nice finish, but then he would have missed out on the chances he got in the game.

    Even after he regained one of the pawns the evaluation was the same - equal - and it remained that way after Black's 34th move. White was up a pawn and had a nice looking d-pawn, while Black had the better structure, a safer king and a passed h-pawn. That pawn didn't look so dangerous, but it was. White should have played 35.Qd4 or 35.Re4, in both cases aimed against the possibility of ...h4. After 35.b4? h4 36.Qd4? h3 White was completely lost, and resigned after both players made the time control on move 40. Although Tomashevsky's last move was good enough, sliding the rook over one more file would have been even better: 40...Rh6 forces an immediate mate, spite checks aside.

    Two tiebreaks in the morning, and then it's on to the semi-finals, which are a finals of a sort. The two finalists, properly speaking, are automatically seeded into the Candidates, so the most important thing (except for Kramnik, who has already qualified by rating) is getting to the final, which in turn means that the main prize is winning in the semis.

    A curiosity: if Vachier-Lagrave wins his quarter-final tiebreak against Caruana, then no matter what a player born in 1990 will be in the next Candidates' tournament. V-L would play Kramnik, with the following implications. If Kramnik wins, then he qualifies for the Candidates not by rating but by being a World Cup finalist. That would mean that the next highest-rated player (based on average ratings over a certain time period) after Kramnik would take his rating spot, and that player is Sergey Karjakin. On the other hand, if Vachier-Lagrave beats Kramnik, then he would qualify for the Candidates from the World Cup, while Kramnik would qualify by rating. (Karjakin would be left out unless he was awarded the wildcard spot.) Both Vachier-Lagrave and Karjakin were born in 1990, so Q.E.D. (That was quite the year: Andreikin was also born then, as was Ian Nepomniachtchi. And...above all, Magnus Carlsen.)

    Thursday
    Aug222013

    2013 World Cup: Round 4, Day 3: Tomashevsky The Tiebreak Hero

    Three of the four tiebreaks today at the World Cup were straightforward affairs, but the last was something else. Two of the three relatively mundane tiebreaks saw upsets as two of the pre-tournament favorites were eliminated.

    Dmitry Andreikin didn't just show Sergey Karjakin the door, he gave him a swift kick through it. In their first game Andreikin blew him off the board with a very direct kingside attack. As usual, Andreikin didn't go at him with an absolute main line. That's not his usual approach anyway, and against Karjakin, who is one of the most well-armed theoreticians on the planet, that would be counterproductive in any case. Instead, he chose the Torre Attack, and everything was as smooth as silk. In the second game the more theoretical Steinitz French appeared on the board, and this time Karjakin went head-hunting. Andreikin defended well, and in need of the win Karjakin may have eventually gone astray out of a need to take risks. The result was a second Andreikin win. This guy is dangerous!

    That was a match of two players born in 1990, and the winner will be joined in the quarterfinals by another member of that golden year, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. (The leader of that pack is of course Magnus Carlsen.) "MVL", as people who don't want to type his full name tend to call him, was in some trouble in the first tiebreak game against Boris Gelfand, thanks to the lemon 21.f3? This didn't last too long, and the position became equal after Gelfand erroneously chose to take on d5 on move 27 rather than going after the f-pawn (e.g. with 27...Rf8 or 27...Bf6 28.Qd2 Bxf5). Soon Vachier-Lagrave was better, and he eventually won the game in an ending. In game two Gelfand tried hard to make something happen, but in the end he was the recipient of a semi-charitable draw offer.

    In the match between Peter Svidler and Le Quang Liem, the favorite (Svidler) eventually prevailed, but it wasn't at all easy. In their first game, Le was just about winning out of the opening, had he played 21.Bf3. Missing that chance he was still better, but with (very) resilient play Svidler eventually managed to equalize and draw. Game two was a 135-move marathon that could very well have been drawn, but as in his second classical game with Alexander Grischuk (a 154-move monster) Le got a bit careless in an ending that just went on and on. The place where the trouble really began was 73...Ra1; 73...axb5 was better. The difference is that after 73...Ra1 Svidler could (and did) play 74.Bxd5, and with a passed d-pawn Svidler was able to keep posing difficult problems, and finally Le was unable to solve them. After 73...axb5 the capture 74.Bxd5 results in an immediate draw: 74...Ra4+ and now if 75.Kc3 b4+! saves the game. If the king goes to d3 Black has 76...Ra3+ and 77...Rxe3, while on king moves to the second rank 77...b3+ will quickly do the trick.

    Finally, there was the majestic fight between Alexander Morozevich and Evgeny Tomashevsky. In the first g/25 Tomashevsky pressed a bit with White and even won a pawn in a rook and bishop ending, but because the bishops were of opposite colors Morozevich held the draw. In game two it was almost exactly the same story with the names changed: Morozevich pressed, had good winning chances, won a pawn but failed to win in an ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. So they and they alone were forced to move on the 10' + 10" games.

    In the first Tomashevsky obtained a huge advantage with White in the early middlegame, and if he had played 25.Nc7 the point would almost surely have been his. Instead 25.Rc1 allowed Morozevich a great tactical trick: 25...exf4 and now on the obvious 27.exf4 Black has 27...Qxb5!! 28.axb5 Bd4+ 29.Kh1 Nf2+ with a draw. The knight can't be taken on account of a back rank mate, while 30.Kg1 Nh3+ 31.Kh1 Nf2+ repeats. Tomashevsky was forced to play 26.Rxc8 Rxc8 27.Rxf4 (27.exf4 Qxb5!! again), maintaining a smaller advantage. More importantly, he no longer had control over the position, and Black started to enjoy more tactical possibilities. After 29.Qd5? (29.Rd1 is probably still winning) the game started to get away from Tomashevsky, and in severe time trouble on move 36 he blundered with 36.Qe7?? (the logical follow-up to his mistaken 35th move) and resigned after 36...Qxb4, as 37.Qxd8 allows an elementary smothered mate combination: 37...Qxd4+ 38.Kh1 Nf2+ 39.Kg1 Nh3+ 40.Kh1 Qg1+ 41.Rxg1 Nf2#.

    Between the discouragement and Moro's having White one would expect this to be the end of Tomashevsky's World Cup, but he showed some fantastic mental strength. He equalized pretty quickly with Black, but achieving equality is one thing and obtaining winning chances is another. So he maneuvered...and maneuvered and maneuvered, managing to find every possibility to keep the game going and to create chances. When he found something, he went for it; when he didn't, he manuevered around, looking for chances and luring Morozevich into doing something impatient. After a staggering 169 moves and about an hour and a half of play, the "ten-minute" game came to a conclusion, and Tomashevsky had won it. (That game, with my brief comments, is here.)

    It's pretty hard to come back from a game like that, but it looked like Morozevich was up to the challenge in the first 5' + 3" game. Tomashevsky castled queenside on the black side of an Advance Caro-Kann, and Moro's attack on that wing looked very dangerous. With accurate play Black could hold, and that's just what Tomashevsky demonstrated. Tomashevsky made a couple of minor errors, but the overall trend was in his favor and he was the deserved winner. He rebuffed Moro's attack, collected his offerings and crashed through with a powerful counterattack to win the game.

    Now the burden was on Morozevich to win with Black to stay alive, and he couldn't do it. In fact, he was lucky to come out with a draw - Tomashevsky even missed mate in one (twice!) in his haste at the end of the game to force a perpetual. All in all, though, it was great play by Tomashevsky. Defeating Levon Aronian wasn't a fluke and it wasn't followed by a letdown: he's really there and not just showing up to collect a paycheck.

    It's down to the quarter-finals now, with the following matches (given in bracket order):

    • Tomashevsky - Kamsky
    • Svidler - Andreikin
    • Caruana - Vachier-Lagrave
    • Kramnik - Korobov

    I went 5-3 predicting last round's results (I got Tomashevsky right, but missed on Korobov, Andreikin and Vachier-Lagrave); let's see if I can improve my percentage this round. In the first match I'll go with Kamsky just to fulfill my patriotic duty, but I wouldn't be very upset to see Tomashevsky win. He's having a great tournament and it would be nice to see it continue, and he seems like a decent individual as well. The second match is the hardest one to predict, I think. Svidler's top end is presumably still higher than Andreikin's, but the latter is looking so smooth and confident that it's hard to guess against him. Still, I expect Svidler to find a way to win. In the third match I'll stick my neck out and go for the upset: MVL. Vachier-Lagrave has been playing great chess recently, and his rating is approaching the ranks of the super-elite. Finally, I expect Kramnik to end Korobov's run.