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T. Petrosian 80

Round 9 report

In the game between Gelfand and Alekseev, white played the new move 14.Ndf4 as the opponents delved into a Catalan.  At first glance it seemed that white was on top due to better and more centralized piece placement.  Indeed white soon won a pawn but black had excellent compensation with the bishop pair and good open lines.  The game continued and after some trades, black regained the pawn and the life slowly exited the position.  Gelfand is probably not so satisfied with his play today as he didn't create any serious problem for his opponent.

Kasimdzhanov-Cheparinov.jpgThe only decisive game of the round saw Kasimdzhanov join Leko and Ivanchuk at the top of the leaderboard with a good win against the free-falling Cheparinov.  Black played the new 14...g6 but in doing so, invited a kingside attack.  White played quickly and upped the pressure on black's monach with the interesting 17.g4!?.  It appears that 22...Qxc5 was a mistake eschewing what would have been a very interesting position had black played 22...Bxb2 instead.  After 23. Rac1, black's position began to get worrisome.  Deep calculations were needed to safely navigate through the web of problems, but with 31...Rc2!? black may have even been in the driver's seat in the very complex and hard to assess position.  Instead, black made a series of less-than-ideal moves playing somewhat passive defense rather than counterattacking with activity, understandably difficult to conduct with such heavy time pressure. Karjakin-Inarkiev.jpg
Karjakin vs. Inarkiev saw white try 13...b4, which while new may not revolutionize this line of the Ruy Lopez.  With the tempo loss, black also helps coax white's knight into the center.  White indeed made good use of this opportunity and took control of the center, started his own activity.  With 21...Bxf3 black created problems for himself on the white squares which would haunt him the rest of the game, as white's tangible advantage would be palpable for a long time.  Black defended admirably, especially when it seemed that a white victory was a move or two away.  In mutual time trouble each side made mistakes, with both players missing instant wins.  After the dust settled and some pieces were exchanged, a draw was agreed.  Given the bad luck that Inarkiev has had in this tournament, some good fortune was due his way.


Kamsky tried a move that had not been attempted at the highest levels with 12. c4, while black responded by ditching a pawn for strong play out of the opening.  Most probably, white should have played more carefully, as with 21. g3, the draw is already in hand with the response 21...Nh5 with a forced line guaranteeing the draw.  A short and relatively easy game for Leko and an enjoyable game for fans.

Eljanov-Ivanchuk.jpgIn the game between two top Ukrainians, Eljanov White gained nothing from the Queen's Gambit Accepted, and went right into an queenless middlegame.  After some piece trades, the players slid into a rook endgame in which, after some very subtle inaccuracies by black, white enjoyed a tiny edge.  The game should have ended in a fast draw, but Ivanchuk was determined to get something out of the position, and in fact, was able to create something in the position.  Move by move, taking advantage of Eljanov's hesitancy, the tournament leader made a bid to break from the pack.  The double rook endgame was always better for black, but white found enough resources to hold.  For example 31...Rd1 could have created more concerns for white.  Nevertheless, a fine demonstration of the gritty determination of Vassily Ivanchuk.

Jakovenk-Akopian.jpgA very interesting game was seen in the game between Jakovenko and Akopian.  White did not disguise his ambitions to play for a win, evidenced by 7. g4.  But black was up to the task and went for a double edged position in which each side was going for it all.  A closed, but complex position unfolded with black focused on the center and queenside, while white was attacking along the g-file, in some sort of dynamic equality.  At some point, black didn't maintain the energy, slipping into a more passive defensive position, instead of maybe pushing harder on the a-file and launching a queenside attack.  White then enjoyed some advantage, as for example 23...Rh5!? may have offered black more possibilities.  In short, the game flow undulated back and forth with each side enjoying certain chances.  With 31. Rh1?, white missed an opportunity to play Nb5! with a strong position.  As a result the game simplified to more or less equality and a draw was agreed.

The line that Bacrot and Aronian grappled over has been popular in Jermuk.  The Armenian played very confidently and fast with black, and the two opponents steered the game into a position where black appeared to have certain activity and ascribed some hope to the pawn.  After 23. b3 an equal position would have arisen but with white's choice of Rxc6, the possibilities for black were reawakened.  Regardless, with 27...Nf8, black was still fighting to fully equalize.  With a large advantage on the clock, and time on Levon's side, he was able to find the needed moves and emerge with a draw.
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