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    Entries in Leinier Dominguez (5)

    Tuesday
    Jun042013

    Thessaloniki Grand Prix, Round 11: Dominguez Wins The Tournament

    Surprise, surprise! In keeping with recent tradition (Carlsen & Kramnik in London, Moiseenko in the European Championship, etc.), the leader going into the last round, Gata Kamsky, stumbled over the final obstacle and lost. As a result of Kamsky's loss to Fabiano Caruana, Leinier Dominguez was given a chance to not only catch him but bypass him, and he did with a win over Veselin Topalov. Victory in this Grand Prix tournament is the greatest result of Dominguez's career to date - at least in classical chess, as he won the world blitz championship back in 2008.

    Dominguez had White in that deciding game, but didn't get anything out of the opening; maybe he was even a little worse. A little at a time he obtained a small advantage, and when almost all of the pieces got vacuumed up towards the end of the first time control, the result was a rook ending where White had an outside passer and thus good practical chances. In fact, Dominguez was given two chances to win, and he took the second. The first came on move 53, when 53.b7 would have won: 53...Rb2+ 54.Kc3! Rb6 55.Rh7 h2 56.Rxh2 and Black is lost. If he doesn't take, White plays Rh7 and wins by scooping up the kingside pawns; if he does, then after 56...Rxb7 57.Rh8+ Kc7 58.Rh7+ White trades rooks and invades with the king. He missed it, and a few moves later Topalov could have held the draw with 58...Kb7. Instead, he missed that on 61...Rg3 62.Rg7 Rg4 the bad position of his king would cost him the game to the trick 63.Rxg6 Rxf4+ 65.Ke5+/Kg5+.

    As for Caruana - Kamsky, Caruana may be the world's greatest expert in the Ruy Lopez, but he was only slightly better after 35.Qd1. Had Kamsky played 35...Qf6, that evaluation would have remained in place. Instead, Kamsky blundered with 35...Kh7. Maybe he only saw the funny non-tactic 36.Qh5+ Nh6 37.Qxh6+(??) Kxh6 38.Nf5+ (great, but illegal) and thought that all was well. Instead of 37.Qxh6+, Caruana played 37.Re6, which wins a piece on the spot and forced Kamsky's resignation. As a result, Caruana tied with Kamsky for second, half a point behind Dominguez.

    The other two decisive games were rather odd. Nakamura was clearly worse against Svidler and Ivanchuk was clearly worse against Bacrot; naturally, Nakamura and Ivanchuk both won. Morozevich was also clearly worse in his game with Ponomariov, but he "only" managed to draw. Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk was the day's other draw, and a clean one.

    Final Standings:

    • 1. Dominguez 8 (of 11)
    • 2-3. Caruana, Kamsky 7.5
    • 4-5. Ponomariov, Grischuk 6
    • 6. Kasimdzhanov 5.5
    • 7. Nakamura 5
    • 8-9. Topalov, Svidler 4.5
    • 10-11. Bacrot, Morozevich 4
    • 12. Ivanchuk 3.5

    Saturday
    Jun012013

    Thessaloniki Grand Prix, Round 9: Dominguez Catches Kamsky

    Overall it was one of the least interesting rounds so far in Thessaloniki, and not just because there were only two wins out of six games. Fortunately, it turned out that one of the decisive games was also the most important game for the leaderboard.

    The less important win was Veselin Topalov's victory over Alexander Morozevich on the black side of an Advance Caro-Kann. Morozevich had some nice ideas, but something was always a bit off. His pawn sac on move 23 was interesting, but he had a nice tactical opportunity with 23.Nc5, the point being that 23...Bxc5 24.Ra4! leads to a queen trap. Black will obtain sufficient material compensation, but White's position is superior. Later, the "sac" of his knight for three pawns beginning with 35.Nxf7 was an excellent chance, but he made a crucial - fatal - error in the follow-up. The idea of Bxf5 gxf5 d5 was completely correct - if properly timed. White absolutely needed to play 39.Rd3 first, keeping Black's nosy rook out of c3. If Black continued with 39...Be7, aiming to get both the bishop and the rook on h8 into the game, now White could take on f5 and play d5, with pretty fair compensation. As things went Morozevich was lost, and although he was given a bit of a chance with 41...Rxb3 (the unobvious 41...g5! was the winner), he gave the game away for good with 42.Rfe2?, allowing Topalov to force mate starting with 42...Rxg3+.

    Now for the main event. Gata Kamsky drew pretty easily with Black against Etienne Bacrot, which meant that if either player won in the clash between Fabiano Caruana and Leinier Dominguez, that person would catch up to Kamsky in first place. Caruana had White, but it was Dominguez who dominated the game. I'm especially impressed by his exchange sacrifice on move 29, for which he received no pawns, no new passed pawns (at least not immediately) and no attacking chances. Queens were off the board and White had the bishop pair, too, so all the usual justifications were absent. Black's position was obviously pleasant - if one ignores the material - but I think most of us would expect White to slowly consolidate and make progress. Maybe Black would hold a draw, but not more than that unless White made some pretty big errors, right?

    Wrong. Looking at the game as it happened, it's easy to agree with and internalize the logic of Dominguez's decision. Chances were even after the sacrifice, but Black's position was easier to play: more space, more active pieces, further advanced pawns, etc. As Dominguez pointed out after the game, Caruana probably should have bailed out on move 45 with 45.Rf1+ Ke5 46.Rxf6 Kxf6 47.Rxe4, with a draw. Caruana either missed this (unlikely) or trusted in his winning chances based on queenside counterplay, but that was a deeply mistaken decision. Dominguez may have made a couple of inaccuracies the rest of the way, but that only meant that Caruana might have had an outside shot at a "miracle" draw; the rest of the time Dominguez had a big enough advantage to win two or three games. It was a very impressive game by Dominguez, and he and Kamsky are very deserving leaders at this point.

    Here are the pairings for the penultimate round, round 10:

     

    • Grischuk (5) - Dominguez (6.5)
    • Topalov (4.5) - Caruana (5.5)
    • Kamsky (6.5) - Morozevich (3.5)
    • Ponomariov (4.5) - Bacrot (4)
    • Ivanchuk (2) - Nakamura (3.5)
    • Svidler (4) - Kasimdzhanov (4.5)

     

    And a look ahead: the critical last round pairings are Caruana - Kamsky and Dominguez - Topalov.

    Monday
    May272013

    Thessaloniki Grand Prix, Round 5: Dominguez the Sole Winner, Sole Leader

    Coming into round 5 seven players led the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, and only one - Rustam Kasimdzhanov had White. Normally we'd think this would give him a leg up, but instead he was the day's only loser. His opponent, Leinier Dominguez, has now won three in a row and enjoys the sole lead with 3.5 points. Dominguez played the solid Bogo-Indian, in shocking violation of the guild's policy of playing the Gruenfeld whenever possible, and was rewarded for his insouciance. Kasimdzhanov misassessed the rook ending he started to head for with the exchanging combination starting with 22.Qxe4 and directly permitted with 26.Rc5. The resulting ending wasn't lost but it was very difficult, and some neat moves like 28...Kf8, 33...Re2 and 39...Ke8 helped push White over the edge.

    The other five games went in every direction. Ivanchuk-Kamsky was drawn in just 25 moves and in half an hour, but the other draws all made it to at least the second time control. Svidler-Topalov saw White gain an advantage after 23...Nf8, but the position re-equalized after the natural 26.Ne5. (26.Nd2 was better, even though it doesn't force Black to initiate the swap.) Ponomariov-Grischuk was a Berlin that always looked pretty comfortable for Black. Interestingly, Grischuk wasn't completely sure that the final position was drawn, so the endgame mavens among you may wish to delve and see.

    Two games made it past move 80, both Gruenfelds. Bacrot-Morozevich saw Moro down the exchange in return for a pawn and a beautiful knight. Soon he was even a little better, and refused a draw by repetition. Soon he regretted it, and after inaccuracies on moves 60 and 61 and an outright error on move 64 (he needed to try 64...Nxb5) he was lost. The key moment came on move 66, when Bacrot had to decide which way to move the king: to the kingside, to deal with Black's most dangerous pawns, or to the queenside, to support his own passer and free his rook to deal with the pawns. He chose wrongly, keeping the king on the kingside with 66.Rb8 followed by 67.Ke4-f3. Instead, 66.Kd4 followed by 67.Kc5 probably won.

    Nakamura-Caruana initially followed a somewhat similar trajectory: Nakamura's inaccuracies just before and after the time control turned an equal position into one that favored Black and may have been winning. Nakamura had some compensation for a couple of pawns, but had Caruana immediately started the plan he initiated a move later it might not have been enough. Instead of 45...c5, it would have been better to consolidate with 45...Kf7 and 46...Bc8 (or vice-versa). As things went, Nakamura got one of his pawns back, and while Caruana tried for a long time to win the resulting same-colored bishop ending he was unable to break through against Nakamura's accurate defense.

    Round 6 Pairings:

    • Grischuk (3) - Morozevich (3)
    • Caruana (3) - Bacrot (2)
    • Dominguez (3.5) - Nakamura (1.5)
    • Topalov (3) - Kasimdzhanov (2.5)
    • Kamsky (3) - Svidler (2)
    • Ponomariov (2.5) - Ivanchuk (1)

    Saturday
    May252013

    Thessaloniki Grand Prix, Round 4: Seven Lead!

    Two players won today in round 4 of the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, Veselin Topalov and Leinier Dominguez, and as a result they share the lead with five others going into the first rest day.

    Topalov blitzed Vassily Ivanchuk off the board in just 21 moves, but this was primarily Ivanchuk imploding rather than a collapse due to his opponent's heavy pressure. Topalov had a small initiative after 17.dxe6, but it shouldn't have been anything too worrisome after 17...Nxe6 18.Qa4+ Kf8. Black's king isn't where it wants to be, but White's kingside structure isn't a dream come true either. Instead, Ivanchuk played one bad move after another, and his reward was a lost piece and a terrible king.

    Dominguez beat Peter Svidler after the latter failed to preserve his king in a queen and rook ending. Svidler needed to play the overtly passive 26...Qf8 rather than the more active-looking 26...Qb7. The question is which White piece to contain, and it turned out that it was more important to keep White's queen off e8 than White's rook from a7. 29.f5 left Svidler in trouble, but the game wasn't decided until Black played the natural but erroneous 33...Kh8. Understandably, Black wanted to avoid allowing Qxe6 to come with check; the more important detail was that Black needed to keep extra control over f7. Thus after 33...Kh8 34.f6 White threatens 35.Ra8+ Qxa8 36.Qxg7#. If Black played 34...Rc8, then 35.f7 wins right away thanks to the threat of 36.Qh5#. This wouldn't be a factor had Black played 33...Kg8, as 34.f6 Rc8 35.f7+ just blunders the pawn: 35...Qxf7. Black tried 34...Rc7 instead, but after 35.Rf1 (threatening to take on g7 and continue 37.Rf8+, mating) 35...Rf7 36.Rf3 White is mating; the only question is how much material Black wants to throw into the wood chipper to delay it by a few moves.

    Of the four draws, I'll take note of two. Kamsky-Ponomariov was even throughout, except for one fascinating moment right after the first time control. Kamsky should have played 42.Rxc5, when he should be able to neutralize Ponomariov's pressure after 42...Rxe4 43.Qb1 (e.g. 43...Re2 44.Qf1, or 43...Rd4 44.Rd5 Rxc4 45.Rd8+ Kh8 46.Qb2 etc.). Instead he played 42.Nf6+, but after 42...Qxf6 43.Rxc5 he was fortunate that Ponomariov missed 43...Qe7, which basically wins on the spot. Black threatens White's rook, and also threatens 44...Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Re2, when White cannot save his queen and cover the mate threat starting with ...Qxf2+. 44.Rc6! is the best try, aiming to meet 44...Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Re2 with 46.Rxg6+! If Black takes the rook, White has perpetual check; if he tries instead 46...Kf8? White wins with 47.Qf5.

    Fortunately for Black in this variation, but unfortunately for Ponomariov, who must rue the missed opportunity, Black can improve with 44...Qb7! Now the rook sac is in vain: 45.Rxg6+ fxg6 46.Qxg6+ Qg7, forces a queen trade. If the rook retreats, however, e.g. 45.Rc5, then Black forces a speedy mate with 45...Re1+ 46.Kh2 Qf3. Instead of the winning 43...Qe7, Ponomariov instead returned the queen to f3, and Kamsky managed to hold starting with 44.Qd2.

    The other especially noteworthy draw was the mind-boggling battle between Morozevich and Nakamura. Rather than give any hints or clues about it, I'll leave it to you to replay, analyze and simply enjoy it on your own. I'll note only that it was a remarkably well-played game considering its wildness.

    Tomorrow (Sunday) is a rest day, and on Monday round 5 will occur with these pairings:

    • Ponomariov (2) - Grischuk (2.5)
    • Ivanchuk (.5) - Kamsky (2.5)
    • Svidler (1.5) - Topalov (2.5)
    • Kasimdzhanov (2.5) - Dominguez (2.5)
    • Nakamura (1) - Caruana (2.5)
    • Bacrot (1.5) - Morozevich (2.5)

    Friday
    May242013

    Thessaloniki Grand Prix, Round 3: Ivanchuk Loses A Won Game

    Five of the six games in round 3 of the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki were drawn, and of the five four of them were logical; that is, neither side ever had a serious advantage. Kamsky-Grischuk was another story, as Kamsky had a huge time advantage and an outright win in his grasp with 27.Nxf7! Nxf7 28.Nxg6. White's attack is too strong, and Black has loose material on h5, f8 and e7. Kamsky waited one more move before firing away with his attack, but 29...Qa2+! (perhaps Kamsky had missed this a few moves back?) gave Grischuk just enough to survive. Enough to survive, but not to equalize: Kamsky could have played on with 34.Qh7+ Kf8 35.Qe4 (or likewise two moves later); instead, he took the repetition and called it a day - pretty understandably, taking into account his own vulnerable-looking king and the ridiculous (and loose) bishop on h2. (Note, however, that after 35...Qxh2? White has 36.Rg2 Qh1 37.Nh7+, when Black loses the rook on f6 for nothing [at least nothing but the bishop captured on move 35], as White will otherwise win Black's queen with a discovered attack.)

    As for the one decisive game, it was a catastrophe for Ivanchuk. He had a colossal advantage against Dominguez, missing an easy outright win on move 26 with 26.Be5 (he had time, too, but it's one of those moves you either "see" quickly or you don't; more time is unlikely to help), and then a more subtle win on move 31 (31.Nxg7 Rxd6 32.Qe8+ Kh7 33.Nh5! - not too difficult either, if one has time on the clock) and yet a third win the next move (32.Nxg7 followed by 33.Ne8). Even after these errors he was still better, and would have had good winning chances after 37.Nf6+ or especially 37.Nc7. Instead, he uncorked the ridiculous 37.f4??, hanging his knight.

    The finish was if anything even more amazing. Back in 2009 the same players had another time scramble. Ivanchuk knocked over some pieces then, and although he was winning at the time control he felt bad about the toppled pieces and offered a draw. In act of remarkable sportsmanship, Dominguez didn't take the knight but went for a perpetual check, to pay Ivanchuk back for the 2009 game, but Ivanchuk's flag fell on the last move of the time control and the arbiters declared the forfeit - even as Dominguez tried to declare the game drawn! Alas...

    Round 4 Pairings:

    • Grischuk (2) - Bacrot (1)
    • Morozevich (2) - Nakamura (.5)
    • Caruana (2) - Kasimdzhanov (2)
    • Dominguez (1.5) - Svidler (1.5)
    • Topalov (1.5) - Ivanchuk (.5)
    • Kamsky (2) - Ponomariov (1.5)