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    Entries in Nepomniachtchi (1)

    Monday
    Sep052011

    World Cup 2011: Round 3 Tiebreaks

    We're down to 16 players in the World Cup (remember, the top three qualify for the next Candidates event), and one of them is...David Navara, who pulled out the match against Alexander Moiseenko. In the first rapid game, Navara won a tough rook ending when Moiseenko wrongly retreated with 53...Kf6; it seems that the active 53...Kg4 54.c5 Kf3 55.Rb2 Rh4 speeds Black's counterplay just enough to hold the game.

    The adventures weren't over yet, and as in yesterday's game, the trouble came on move 35. (This time it was a purely chess problem, fortunately.) In a complicated Gruenfeld, White enjoyed a space advantage but Black had sufficient counter-chances thanks to his passed b-pawn. Navara should have played either 35...Qb8, preparing ...Ra2 with an eye to moving the passer further down the board, or at least 35...Bxc4 to avoid some structural damage and giving White a potentially useful passed e-pawn. Instead, his 35...Na5 gave White tremendous activity, and the b-pawn never became a factor; indeed, it was soon lost, along with the game.

    So it was on to a shorter time control, and with Black again Navara managed to obtain a material advantage. They eventually reached an ending where Navara had rook + f- and h-pawn vs. rook, where the rule of thumb is that the weak side should draw unless his king is cut off on the first rank. Moiseenko's king was cut off, but Navara's king was stuck on the h-file, in front of his h-pawn, so it was still a theoretical draw. With limited time to think, however, such an ending is difficult to play without errors, and Moiseenko went astray. His 74.Kf1 allowed Navara to execute a straightforward plan that allowed his king to successfully escape from its dungeon, and he was +1 once again. This time, he kept his lead and even increased it, winning pretty easily on the White side of a 4.Qc2 Nimzo-Indian.

    In other action, Ivanchuk completed his comeback against Sutovsky, winning both rapid games. In the first, Sutovsky seemed unable to decide if he wanted to play aggressively with White or solidly, and in the end that's what killed him. In a position that didn't really call for h4-h5 Sutovsky played it, then took on g6, and then castled, only to discover that Black could start a dangerous attack with ...Kg7 and ...Rh8. You might think Sutovsky would be discouraged, but he played the first half of the next game very well and stood clearly better with Black. With 27...Qc2 he'd have maintained the advantage, but from this point on he started slipping (probably in time trouble), and Ivanchuk's passed a-pawn decided the game.

    So an upset was avoided there, but not in the Zherebukh-Mamedyarov match. In the first rapid game, Zherebukh crushed Mamedyarov when the latter's attempt at a queenside attack only served to open lines for White's better developed forces. (23...c4? was the main culprit.) In the second game Mamedyarov dutifully pushed for a long time, but never came close to a win. Zherebukh drew the game and won the match.

    In Ponomariov-Efimenko the favorite won. Ponomariov won game 1 with Black, grinding out a win from an initially equal ending, and then gave Efimenko a charity draw in the second game, forcing perpetual in a dead won position.

    Kamsky advanced, keeping U.S. hopes alive in the event (and of course, his own pre-retirement hopes as well), defeating Nepomniachtchi. In an equal ending in game 1, Nepomniachtchi's slightly careless (or was it provocative?) 26.Rd2 was met by the strong exchange sac 26...Rxe3! It was a genuine sacrifice, and while the payoff wasn't immediate it eventually came. Kamsky reached a clearly winning position, but then he got sloppy and allowed his opponent to reach a clearly drawn rook vs. rook and pawn ending. I'm not sure what the clock situation was, but the increments should have been enough to draw what is usually the third elementary rook endgame given in the textbooks (after the Lucena and Philidor positions). Nepomniachtchi went for a more complicated drawing method but got confused and lost. In the rematch, Nepomniachtchi tried the Hippo with Black, but Kamsky maintained control and won that game too.

    Other winners: Svidler beat Caruana 2-0, Nielsen likewise beat Parligras 2-0, and in a pair of (relatively minor) upsets Potkin beat Vitiugov and Bruzon defeated Le Quang Liem by 1.5-.5 margins. In both cases the match winner first won with Black and drew with White.

    Finally, Dominguez and Lysyj played 6 quick draws, saving energy but wasting the day until the Armageddon game. Dominguez had White and the need to win, and win he did.

    So here are the pairings for round 4, which starts tomorrow (higher-rated player listed first; note that the pairings are given in bracket order, so the winner of the first match will play the winner of the second; the winner of the first quartet plays the winner of the second, and so on):

    Dominguez - Polgar
    Kamsky - Svidler

    Ponomariov - Bruzon
    Gashimov - Nielsen

    Ivanchuk - Bu Xiangzhi
    Radjabov - Jakovenko

    Navara - Zherebukh
    Grischuk - Potkin

    Links: Official site (with video coverage) here, and the games discussed above (with my comments) are here.