26 June 2015

Not Every Question Has its Answer

Round Three review of the Russian Championship Higher League by Eteri Kublashvili.

The ability to set reasonable questions is already an important and indispensable sign of intelligence and insight.
Immanuel Kant 

Posing questions and setting problems is what the participants of the Higher League start doing from 3 pm up until the very night. Those who manage to get their opponents confused during the game in a most intelligent and creative manner go on to win and take the lead.

The trickiest of questions to his counterparts at this stage of the tournament have so far been posed by Ivan Popov, who defeated Alexandr Rakhmanov in the third round to maintain the perfect score. 

In the game Ivan was quite early to get a better position with the advantage of a bishop pair. Gradually White succeeded in finding the optimal setup for his pieces and managed to organize two consecutive breakthroughs.

Popov – Rakhmanov

44. f5! gxf5 45. gxf5 Nxf5 46. d5! cxd5 47. cxd5 Ng7 48. dxe6 Nxe6 49. Rxe6 fxe6 50. Nxe6+ Ke7 51. Nxd8+ Kxd8 52. Re6 with an overwhelming position.

The leader is pursued by Mikhail Kobalia, Vladislav Artemiev, Evgeny Alekseev, Dmitry Frolyanov, Daniil Dubov ,and Ildar Khairullin.

Evgeny Alekseev and another native of St. Petersburg Maxim Matlakov in a similar manner achieved swift victories as Black. Both kindly agreed to enlighten us about the course of their encounters.

Evgeny Alekseev: "We have played out the 4...Bb7 line of the Queen's Indian Defense. It is quite a while that I have last played this line and I do not know if I have managed to take y opponent by surprise, because I do not seem to remember everything there myself. All in all, we got off into quite an interesting fight.”

Shimanov – Alekseev

“White should have played 17. Bf4 in this position. My intention was to swap pieces on е5, followed by Nb4 with a roughly equal game.”

17. Ng4?! “This is unsuccessful since it runs into a strong idea of 17...h5 18. Ne3 Be5, after which I am probably slightly better. However, the major bulk of the struggle still lies ahead.”

19. Nd1 Nb4 

“Here Alexandr blundered with 20. Nc3? Stronger was 20. Be3. My opponent had apparently overlooked the idea of 20... Bxc3 21. bxc3 Nd3!, when White had to resign himself to either losing the exchange sacrifice or having to face his king getting into a mess. The game ended in an elegant mating attack.”

22. Rf1 Rxf2+! 23. Rxf2 e3+ 24. Rf3 Ne1+ 25. Kh3 Qe4. White resigns. 

Maxim Matlakov: "The game has in fact been decided by virtue of a single move:

Eliseev – Matlakov

“In this one of the most complex positions my opponent reacted poorly by 16. Nde2?! Better is 16. Nce2, which I was going to answer by 16...Nb4 17. Ng3 Nxd3 18. cxd3. Following the end of the game we discussed this position with Urii, and I have no idea how to go about its evaluation, because while White is attacking, Black has his advantages as well. I was going to play 18...Ng7, since 18...Nxf4 is risky in view of 19. Qxf4 e5 20. Qf2 exd4 21. Bxd4 with an attack.”

“In the game it turned out that after 16...b4 White's position starts crumbling. Urii is most likely to have overlooked that 17. Na4 is met by 17...Ne5, after which the previously perspective White's position becomes extremely unpleasant.”

18. fxe5 Bxa4 19. exd6 Bxd6 20. b3 Bb5

“This was also an important moment: was White OK after 21. Bd4? The most principled answer is 21...Bxh2, but taking such a pawn is not completely risk-free, and it is not a matter of fact that I would have taken it. After 21. h4 I enjoy a very nice position with a big advantage meanwhile my opponent is in time trouble."

This was followed by 21...Be5 22. Nd4 Rfd8 23. Bxb5 axb5 24. Rhf1 Ng3 25. Rf2 Qb7 26. Bf4, and White resigned without further waiting for Black’s reply. 

In the women's event Baira Kovanova, Daria Pustovoitova and Marina Guseva gained 3 points each. 

Bodnaruk – Kovanova

In this trickiest of positions, in addition to its being move 40, White committed a mistake that resulted in her defeat.

40. Be2?

It might seem to be quite a logical move, but it turned out that now the black queen takes hold of a strategically important square c6.

40...Qc6 41. Qd2 f6 42. a4 e4! 43. Rf1 Qd6+ 44. Kg4 e3! 45. Qxe3 Qb4+ 46. Kg3 Rc3, and White resigned shortly after. 

Pustovoitova – Savina

The fate of the game was sealed by a single move blunder.

22...b6? 23. Bxe7 Re8 24. Rd8 Here Black had to resign himself to being down a pawn and went on to lose the game after all. 

For the second day in a row Marina Guseva hits the headlines of the Higher League "Newsreels".

Guseva – Bivol

30. Rf1!

Marina does not count pawns, but rather takes up an open file.

30...Nxc3+ 31. Kd3 Nb5 32. Rf7 Bh8 33. Rh7 h5 34. Bh4 Nd6 35. Bd8, and Black ended resistance. 

Alina Kashlinskaya and Ekaterina Kovalevskaya are trailing half a point behind the leaders.

Let us also pay tribute to the young Alexandra Maltsevskaya, who has scored 2 points out of 3 and is turning into a serious threat to her opponents.

In the round four of the men’s section the first three tables will be occupied by Artemiev – Popov, Alekseev – Dubov and Kobalia – Khairullin. Women’s section will also see the key matches Kovanova – Guseva, Kashlinskaya – Pustovoitova and Bodnaruk – Kovalevskaya.