12 January 2016

Going Down into Chess Books

Day one of the Paul Keres Memorial – ACP Open in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

As a matter of fact, the first game day began with a press conference. It should be noted that President of the Chess Federation of Estonia Andrei Korobeinik, a representative of Sports Society "Kalev" Alexander Tammert (the bronze medalist of the 2004 Olympic Games in the discus throwing) and two grandmasters, Boris Gelfand and Emil Sutovsky, were originally supposed to deliver speeches in front of the journalists. However, shortly prior to the start of the opening ceremony, an idea to invite a couple well-known players for the event suggested itself. All of them responded to the invitation out of respect to the blessed memory of Paul Petrovich Keres.

A. Korobeinik and A. Tammert shared about other chess events scheduled to be held in Estonia in 2016, which the FIDE announced to be the year of Paul Keres. The European Rapid and Blitz Championship, being the largest of all other events, will take place in Pärnu in December. The chess schedule has in general been made up of a great deal of various competitions, including the ones organized for children.

The grandmasters were asked the question about the influence that the creative works of Keres had on them. Among all participants of the press conference it was only Evgeny Sveshnikov who happened to be personally acquainted with the outstanding Estonian chess player and met him over the board. He told the audience that he grew up on the brilliant opening monographs of the maestro and was trying to continue his work at present time by writing books devoted to the initial stage of the game. However, what his younger colleague Igor Kovalenko revealed in response proved no less interesting indeed: according to the grandmaster he had recently come to obtain the theoretical books by Keres published a few decades ago in Germany, and even nowadays in this computer era of ours he did find a lot of still relevant original ideas in them.

Boris Gelfand praised the book of Paul Keres, devoted to the match-tournament of 1948, and added with regret that such a beautiful work remained yet undervalued up to present days. Keres’s brilliant collection of selected games was, of course, among those works being referred to. Grandmasters pointed out that Keres was being an example of a true athletic nobleness, one of those people who you aspired to look up to. Daniel Friedman once again paid attention to the fact that as many 500 thousand pieces of a two euro coin in honor of Keres had been put into circulation, the case being quite a unique one for chess world: indeed, in Russia, for example, there used to come out coins dedicated to Botvinnik and Chigorin, but they were rather collectors' coins minted from silver in an extremely limited quantity. They were immediately snapped up by collectors. A small coin with a portrait of Keres will spread throughout Europe and thus even those people who are not involved in chess at all will come into awareness about such an outstanding grandmaster, the national hero of Estonia. It will undoubtedly contribute to the prestige of our game.

Meanwhile, let’s now pass on to the story of the first game day, in which 4 rounds featuring 15+10 time control were played. The first ten games were being streamed online, so that by now we have a certain amount of chess material accumulated for the start of our analysis.

The opening round has brought no surprises with it as all favorites gained their first victories in a relatively trouble-free manner. Some of their opponents were outclassed technically, while others yet were outcalculated.

Matlakov – Sarapik

Although Black lacks space, his attempt to break free via 13…d5? ends up in losing a pawn: 14.Nxd5! Qxd2 15.Nxf6+ gxf6 16.Bxd2. It must have been this very recapture that Black overlooked after all, upon which Maxim Matlakov went on to convert his material superiority without any particular adventures along the way.

However, a sensation broke out as soon as round two. 

Krupenski – Gelfand

The course of the game had been dictated by Black, while at this particular moment Gelfand made up his mind in favor of making his knight active via 23...Nh5? Nevertheless, this seemingly logical continuation runs into a tactical refutation; Black should have executed the same idea by playing 23...Nbd5, leaving the g-file closed.

24.gxh5! Rxh4 25.f6! Bxf6 (there is nothing better indeed) 26. Re8+ Kh7 

27.Qg6+!! fxg6 28.Bg8+ Kh8 29.Bf7+, and Black resigned. This is how a 33-year-old FIDE master from Estonia Jury Krupenski went down ... if not into the history of chess, then into the textbooks on tactics for sure!

Mastrokokus – Motylev

25…g5! 26.Qg4 Ndf6 27.Qh3 g4 28.Qxh6 gxf3 29.gxf3 Qe2

The engine opts for an inhuman grabbing of material: 29...Nxd2 30.Qxf6 Nxf1. Meanwhile, the move made by Motylev is no less reliable for a win as well. 

30.fxe4 Qg4+ 31.Kh1 Qf3+ 32.Kg1 Nxe4 33.Bb4 f6 White resigns. 

In round three a setback was suffered by the tournament rating favorite. Peter Svidler handled the opening poorly as White against his peer, the strongest chess player of Estonia Kaido Kulaots. Being in a passive position he tried to launch counterplay, but it only hastened his defeat.

Svidler – Kulaots

33…h5 34.Nc2 h4 35.Kf1 Bc8 36.Ke1 Ba6 37.h3 

This impatient pawn advance only assists Black in creating his passed pawn on the kingside.

37…Bc4 38.Rc3 Rb8 39.Nb4 f5 40.Kd1 Kf6 41.Kc1 Rg8 42.Nc2 g3 43.fxg3 hxg3 44.Ne3 Bd3 45.Rb3 Ke6 46.Ng2 Bf1 47.Ne3 g2 White resigns. 

An interesting theoretical duel broke out between two French defense connoisseurs, but at the critical moment the senior player committed a blunder.

Sveshnikov – Vitiugov

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.a3 Nh6 7.b4 cxd4 8.Bxh6 gxh6 9.cxd4 Bd7 10.Ra2 Rg8 11.h3!?

This move is made to discourage the white rook from landing on g4. Even though White’s play is very logical, it is too unhasty at that. 

11…Rc8 12.Rc2 Be7 13.g3 a6 14. Be2 f6 15.Qd3 Rg7 16. Nbd2 fxe5 17. dxe5 Kf8 18. Nb3 Kg8 

The short castle would now fail to the capture on g3, whereas 19.Kf1 is unpleasantly met by 19…Rf8 with the idea of 20.Kg2 Nxe5. White were to maintain equality via 19.Rc3 Bf8 20.Qe3, but at this very moment a blunder followed instead. 

19.Nc5? Nxb4! 20.axb4 Qxb4+ 21.Kf1 Rxc5, and Black won the game. 

We wrap up this review with a dramatic finish of the game that was played on table one in round four. 

Fridman – Tregubov


An ingenuous 50.Nxc3 would have resulted in an equal pawn ending. Even though the engine points to a seemingly promising opportunity 50.g4!? hxg4 51.Nf2 g3 52.Nxe4+ Kc4 53.Nxg3, such type of a sharp play needs a lot of time for assessing all associated details. However, the text move could have put White up against difficulties after 50...Kd4 51.Nd1 e3 52.Kb1 Nc5 53.Kc2 Ne4.

There followed instead 50...Kxb5?! 51.Nxe4 Kc4 52.e3 b5 53.Nd6+ Kc5 54.Nf7 b4 55.axb4+ Kxb4 56. Ne5 Nb6 57.Nd3+ Kc4 58.Ne5+ Kb4 59.Nxg6 Nd5 60.e4 Ne3+ 61.Kc1 Nf1 62.Nf8 Nxg3 63.Nxe6 Kb3 64.Nd4+ Kc4 65.Nf5 


65...Nxe4 66.Kc2 was a way to equality. It is quite remarkable that each player was angling for a win in this position even though both featured no more than just seconds on their clocks. 

66. Kc2 Nxf4 67. Ne3+Kd4 68. Nd5 Ne2 69. Nf6 Kc4 70. Nxh5 Nd4+ 71. Kc1 Nb3+ 72. Kc2 Nd4+ 73. Kc1 Kd3 74. Nf4+ Kxe4 75. Ng2 Kf3. Although this move, leading to a complete annihilation of material, was made by Pavel Tregubov on the board, he nonetheless failed to timely press the clock button. Black exceeded the time limit.

After completion of day one leading the field with a clean score are Kiril Georgiev (Bulgaria), Daniel Fridman (Germany), Victor Mikhalevski (Israel), Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) and Alexei Goganov (Russia). Trailing a half-point behind are as many as 8 participants. On Saturday, January 9, rounds 5-8 will be played.