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    Entries in Potkin (2)

    Thursday
    Sep082011

    A Closer Look at the Potkin-Grischuk Pawn Ending

    In the second tiebreak game of the fourth round match between Vladimir Potkin and Alexander Grischuk from the World Cup, Potkin voluntarily entered the following king and pawn ending:

    (Potkin-Grischuk, round 4.4. Position after 39.Kxe1.)

    It seemed lost to me before I knew the result or checked with an engine. He did indeed lose, and the one part of it I did check with an engine before writing my summary article on the tiebreaks confirmed my suspicions. What I checked was whether White could hold the position if he refrained from playing b4 (after a3), and when I worked out to my satisfaction that he couldn't, I just assumed that it was a simple win and that the course of the game bore it out.

    Wrong! Grischuk won, and the position was objectively won, too, but it wasn't trivial. In fact, Grischuk erred and let the win slip, only to have Potkin give away the half point on his very next move. In a slow game, with a reasonable amount of time to think, Potkin would have worked out the draw though Grischuk wouldn't have given him the opportunity in the first place. All the same, it's a good exercise for the diligent reader to try to work out the ending from the diagram.

    The first crucial moment, alluded to two paragraphs ago, comes after 39...Ke6 40.Kd2 Kd5 41.Kc3 Kc5 42.a3 Kd5.

    How does Black win if White refrains from 43.b4, and chooses instead 43.h3?

    Second, after 43.b4 axb4+ 44.axb4 h6 45.h3 h5 46.h4:

    How should Black continue? Try to work it out to the end.

    The game, with my fairly deep analysis of the pawn ending, is here.

    Saturday
    Apr022011

    Potkin Wins European Championship on Tiebreak

    Entering the last round, three players were tied for first: Vladimir Potkin, who by virtue of leading from start to finish was bound to have the best tiebreaks; Judit Polgar, whose late run had put her into contention, and sometime Anand second Radoslaw Wojtaszek. The top final round pairings were Potkin-Polgar, which was drawn before the popcorn could be popped, and Wojtaszek-Svidler, which took a while longer but still managed to be dead drawn when they called it a day after 21 moves.

    Short draws were the order of the day, as almost all of those in or near the lead were more interested in qualifying for the World Cup than risking a bigger paycheck. As it turned out, only one player - Alexander Moiseenko - managed to join the leading troika, which he did by virtue of his win over Luke McShane. That gave him a bigger check, but not a medal, as the top three, in tiebreak order, were Potkin, Wojtaszek, and Polgar.

    They finished with 8.5 points, and 11 more players finished with 8. (Vallejo Pons, Ragger, Feller, Svidler, R. Mamedov, Vitiugov, Zhigalko, Jakovenko, Korobov, Inarkiev and Postny.) All of these players qualified for the World Cup, as did the top eleven (of 29) players with 7.5: Azarov, Khairullin, Kobalia, Guliyev, Zherebukh, Riazantsev, Iordachescu, Lupulescu, McShane, Fridman and Motylev. (Yes, that adds up to 26 and only 23 qualifying spots were available. The solution to the mystery is that Potkin, Svidler and R. Mamedov had already qualified for the World Cup!)

    Event site here, final standings here.