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    Entries in Polgar (3)

    Saturday
    Sep102011

    World Cup 2011: Round 5, Day 2: Svidler, Ponomariov Advance to the Semis

    We had another round like we're used to at the World Cup, with lots of fight and lots of wins. There were also plenty of mistakes - chess mistakes and mental errors too, which is to be expected near the end of such a long tournament.

    Vassily Ivanchuk was in the best shape of anyone after the first day of round 5, as he had defeated Teimour Radjabov while all the other games were drawn.  No more. Radjabov devised an enterprising piece sacrifice in a quiet-looking Symmetrical English, and it worked like gangbusters. Soon Radjabov regained the material (and then some) while enjoying strong attacking chances as well. Ivanchuk was crushed, and so they're off to tiebreaks tomorrow.

    Judit Polgar was also in good shape coming into the round, having drawn easily with Black on day one. She enjoyed a reasonably promising position in today's game after sacrificing a pawn to set up a strong position where her light-squared bishop was extremely strong while Svidler's dark-squared bishop was correspondingly passive. Maybe at one moment she could have enjoyed a small advantage (and likewise Svidler too may have missed some chances earlier), but most of the way equality was the most she could have hoped for, and that was certainly true on her 30th move. Polgar should have played 30.Qh5, inviting a repetition, but instead hoped for more. Unwarrantedly. Svidler was able to consolidate his extra pawn and take care of his king's problems, and when Polgar continued to play as if she was better, Svidler counterattacked, winning almost immediately.

    Simply put, Polgar lost her objectivity, and it cost her the game. Oddly, assuming Mark Crowther has transcribed her comments at the post-game press conference correctly, Polgar began by lamenting that "my luck was not with me today". That seems somewhat ungracious, slightly absurd after the colossal servings of luck she received in the Dominguez match, and odd considering her easy draw with Black yesterday despite mistakenly preparing to have White. (I think her point was that because she had an extra day of White preparation, Svidler decided to play 1...c5 rather than 1...e5 in their game, and in that way she was "unlucky". Svidler offered a different explanation in the press conference, but since Polgar got a very good position in the middlegame in any case, it's again hard to see what this "luck" business is all about.) Even aside from all of that, I can't see any way in which she was unlucky in the last game. She just got greedy, overpressed and lost. There wasn't some long combination she had seen that didn't work because of some ingenious resource Svidler hadn't seen but found at the last second. She just pushed where there was nothing to be had, and her opponent was able to use his trumps to win.

    Ruslan Ponomariov also won with Black to advance to the semis; he and Svidler will reprise their battle from the semi-finals of the 2002 FIDE World Championship. (Ponomariov won the title, and by implication their match as well.) He got there by grinding out a very long victory in a knight vs. bishop ending. There were a lot of errors, as is to be expected (tired opponents without a lot of time to think), but Ponomariov's win was the most logical result given the game's general trend.

    Finally, David Navara should have also qualified for the semi-finals today. He had done a great job of outplaying Alexander Grischuk from an equal opening, but at the last second, by his own admission, he got careless. 49.Nc3 would have won a second pawn and rendered the win trivial; instead, his 49.Ke5 allowed Grischuk to escape.

    Tomorrow, then, the Ivanchuk-Radjabov and Grischuk-Navara matches go to tiebreaks. No rest for the players, commentators or bloggers!

    Official website (with video coverage) here, today's games (with my comments) here.

    Saturday
    Sep032011

    World Cup 2011: Round 3, Day 1: Polgar and Sutovsky Beat Karjakin and Ivanchuk

    While Judit Polgar and Emil Sutovsky are both generally rated in the neighborhood of 2700, their victories today over Sergey Karjakin and Vassily Ivanchuk were still very much upsets. Garry Kasparov famously suffered his one and only loss to Polgar when he chose the Berlin against her, and although many - Kasparov included - were inclined to say the fault was with Kasparov playing an opening antithetical to his style, Polgar showed today that she could handle White even against a more experienced Berliner. It was a game she won a little at a time, with perhaps the fatal error being 37...Bb7. A nice win for Polgar, who seems to be on her way back to the elite if she's not there already.

    Ivanchuk-Sutovsky had a different feel to it. Ivanchuk was doing fine for a long time, and though Sutovsky had made a little progress as the game entered the time trouble stage it was still roughly equal through 34 moves. Had Ivanchuk played 35.Bxf6+ Kxf6 and only then 36.Nxa3 a draw would have been the likeliest result; instead, he blundered with 35.Nxa3??, missing the zwischenschach 35...Bc5+. After this White either loses a piece immediately or a few moves later on account of the connected passed pawns, and Ivanchuk resigned after Black's 40th move.

    The marquee match of the day was Grischuk-Morozevich, and it lived up to expectations. Grischuk played a rare gambit, and the players were breaking (practically) new ground by move 8. The chances were relatively balanced for a long time, with Grischuk having the slightly better chances most of the way. This changed from moves 36-40. Maybe Morozevich felt that trying to defend the queenside would be hopeless in the long run, or perhaps he was sanguine about his kingside chances. At any rate, the moves 36...Rf8?! (36...d4!), 37...h5?! (again 37...d4 was indicated) and 40...g4? (you guessed it: 40...d4) left him lost - and ironically, both on the queenside and on the kingside, too.

    Other winners: in a battle of Gruenfelders, Gata Kamsky won with White against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Dmitry Jakovenko beat Baadur Jobava (also with White), and Leinier Dominguez, following Polgar's example, won on the White side of a Berlin against Igor Lysyj.

    Official site here.

    Thursday
    Nov262009

    Ivanchuk, Polgar, Akobian Interviews

    The interviews above, and more, are all accessible from the World Cup home page. They're short and less than ideally translated, but they're better than nothing. Or at least, most of them are: the Ivanchuk interview has an almost apocalyptic tone. Here are some excerpts:

    To my mind I should leave the professional chess now. Chess becomes hobby for me from now on. As for the signed contracts, yes, I will play in all tournaments where I have to. Perhaps I will even participate in a tournament before the New Year. I should win SOMETHING! And that will be the end. No serious plans, no professional goals.

    ...

    • (Questioner:) It is well known – chess and Ivanchuk cannot exist separately.

    •  This is right but in the past. And now chess is killing me. Chess is playing against me! Chess is destroying me! I would take it easy if my opponent would be much stronger than me, or he will be better prepared. But my loss was so stupid, it is a destiny sign, which screams: “Vasya, leave it, it is not your business”.

    ...

    •  There is an impression that you put all stakes on this tournament?

    Maybe. But now I only feel that the world crashed down around me. Everyone is against me and I don't see the way out…