I haven't presented too many games lately, but I hope to rectify that somewhat over the holiday season. Let's start with a quick one, a speedy win by Ian Nepomniachtchi over Vassily Ivanchuk from the recently completed World Mind Games event in Beijing, China. This was from the rapid tournament, and illustrates what can happen even to a super-GM who inappropriately violates the rules of thumb we all learned early on about not moving our queen out too quickly and about not keeping our king in the center. These are not laws, of course, but only rules of thumb. Still, they are rules of thumb for a reason!
Entries in Ian Nepomniachtchi (7)
The last day of the 2013 Russian Championship was an exciting one. The spectators got their money's worth! Peter Svidler came into the last round with a half point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and Ian Nepomniachtchi, and had the challenging pairing of Black against Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin tested Svidler's Gruenfeld in the now-old, former main line of the Exchange Variation with 8.Rb1, and Svidler followed the old recipe to a draw.
That left Nepomniachtchi and Kramnik, who just so happened to be playing each other. Kramnik did much of the pushing, and was better for good chunks of the game, though never winning. A draw was just about always there for the taking, but no guts, no glory: he kept pressing, and with 67...Kh3 he was on his way over the edge. Maybe 69...Rd3 or 69...Ng4+ would have kept things together, but 69...b5? got him in trouble, and 71...Nf7 left him lost. (Maybe he didn't see that 75.Bd4 would stop all of his threats?) Nepomniachtchi's good defense and Kramnik's overextension allowed the former to catch Svidler, and so it was on to a rapid tiebreak - two g/15s.
In last year's Russian Championship tiebreak Svidler was eliminated, while Nepomniachtchi's previous tiebreak experience was a good one - he defeated Karjakin in 2010 to win the title of Russian champion. This time around, however, it was Svidler who came through to win his seventh(!) national championship. Svidler won the first game with White and was winning the second game too when Nepomniachtchi offered a match-conceding draw that was accepted.
Congratulations to Peter Svidler!
The semi-finals and the finals of the ACP Cup, a rapid k.o. event in Riga, Latvia, were played on Sunday, and Alexander Grischuk emerged victorious. He defeated Peter Svidler in his semi-final, 1.5-.5, while Ian Nepomniachtchi came back from a loss in the first game to defeat Ruslan Ponomariov 3-1 after their 3'+2" tiebreak games.
Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi drew their g/25s, so it was on to the blitz playoff. Grischuk started off with a win in his white game, and Nepomniachtchi returned the favor in the rematch. The next stage was an Armageddon game, with Grischuk getting White and five minutes against his opponent's four minutes and draw odds. Grischuk repeated the same funny anti-Gruenfeld line he used in the first blitz game (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Be2 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e4 Nb6 7.0-0 [White's 6th and 7th moves were played in reverse order in the earlier game]), and whatever its merits he managed to win this game too, and with it the tournament.
The World Blitz Championship is a 30-round event, or if you prefer a 15-round event with two games per round against the same opponent. It is broken up into two days, with the first 16/8 rounds taking place on Sunday and the last 14/7 on Monday. Sunday's action is over, and Le Quang Liem and Ian Nepomniachtchi are tied for first with 12/16, with the former beating the latter 1.5-.5 in the final match of the day. Ruslan Ponomariov is half a point behind, and then there is a group of four players at 10.5: Ivan Cheparinov, Ngoc Truon Son Nguyen, newly crowned World Rapid Champion Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov.
Some great players are present, but most of the world's absolute elite is unfortunately missing, probably due to the very crowded calendar of classical events. A pity, but this has been a very entertaining event all the same.
Veselin Topalov was the early leader in the Sberbank Rapid tournament, but he was bludgeoned nicely on day 2 by Sergey Karjakin, who wound up winning the tournament with 6.5/9, half a point ahead of Topalov.
Meanwhile, over in Khanty-Mansyisk, the World Rapid Championship is turning into a runaway for Ian Nepomniachtchi, who has given up a single draw each of the first two days. He has 9/10 and leads his closest pursuers (Ivan Cheparinov and Ildar Khairullin) by two points going into the last day and the final five rounds. (The live commentary with GMs Alexander Khalifman and Efstratios Grivas is pretty good and available on-demand, so if you have a little free time for chess spectating you might enjoy that.) After this finishes, the World Blitz Championship will take place at the same site (and with the same players? I'm not sure) on Sunday and Monday.
When I last reported on the friendly match between Dmitry Andreikin and Ian Nepomniachtchi, the score was 2-1 in the former's favor going into a rest day. Since then, they have played the remaining three games, with the last one finishing just a little while ago. All three games were drawn, so by virtue of winning the first and drawing the rest Andreikin finished with victory in the match.
More interesting posts later today, when I have a bit more time!
We're two games in, with four to go, and so far Dmitry Andreikin leads Ian Nepmoniachtchi 1.5-.5 in this battle of young 2700s. Somewhat like the Kramnik-Aronian match earlier in the year, the audience gets a guarantee of sorts: if the game is drawn in under three hours, the players will face off in a pair of 15' + 10" games after a short break. (Those games won't count towards the official match scores.) So far that threat hasn't had to be carried out, but depending on how the slow games go it might be nice if it were.