23 January 2009

Corus 2009: Follow the Leaders

In the Corus Grandmaster A Group in Wijk aan Zee, Sergey Karjakin is half a point ahead of four others after five rounds. Round six in is progress, and he has Black against Magnus Carlsen. Former FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov leads GM Group B, also with 3.5 of 5. Today, he has White against Fabiano Caruana. Six players are half a point behind. Swedish Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp leads the C Group with 4.0 and is playing White against Abhijeet Gupta. Wesley So has 3.5 and is alone in second in the C Group.

Round six is not yet the mid-point, so much can still happen. Indeed, no player is theoretically unable to win his or her section. But some are playing better than others, and starting with two or three losses in five games leaves minimal hope.

Among those close behind Karjakin in the A Group, Jan Smeets and Leinier Dominguez took their game one move longer than the game they followed for twenty-one moves.

Smeets - Dominguez [B92]
Corus Chess (6), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg5 Be6 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qd3 Nc6 11.0–0–0 Qb6 12.Qxd6 Be7 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.Qxd5 Rd8 15.Qc4 Rxd1+ 16.Rxd1 Qxf2 17.Rf1 Qe3+ 18.Kb1 0–0 19.Bg4 g6 20.Bd7 Nd4 21.Nxd4

Black to move


21...Qxd4 22.Qxd4 ½–½ Stellwagen,D-L'Ami,E, Hilversum 2008

22.Qd3 Kg7 23.a3 ½–½

Levon Aronian may have a slight edge in his game, not least because he is twenty minutes ahead on the clock against Vassily Ivanchuk. At least Ivanchuk now has the notoriously stupid drug testing fiasco behind him and can concentrate on the games.

Teymour Radjabov's 5.Nc5 against Gata Kamsky's Caro-Kann is a rare move, but my Master Trends opening book shows a 56% score and higher resulting Elo performance than the vastly more popular 5.Ng3. He appears to have built a slight edge from there, so I'll return to that game shortly.

Karjakin is struggling to hold on to his lead as Carlsen is pressing an advantage. Perhaps, today, he'll show us the winning ways that thrust him to the top five in 2008. He is a future world champion, IMHO. While flapping my jaws at chess club last night, I predicted by age 25 he'll reach that rare summit. A win today will add some confidence to such speculation.

Kasimdzhanov seems to be making some progress against Carauna's Slav.

Beat the Devil

Someone nicknamed the Caro-Kann "the Devil's Opening," perhaps because Garry Kasparov could get nowhere against it in his World Chess Championship matches against Anatoly Karpov. A few years ago, Chess Base News presented an annotated game allegedly played between God and the Devil. God opted for the Panov-Botvinnik Attack, but Radjabov today went for an obscure line in the classical.

Of course, for an American, Kamsky is not the Devil, even if he plays the Evil One's opening. Kamsky is America's hope for greatness in chess on the world stage, and the world's hope for taking down Veselin Topalov in their upcoming match to select a challenger to Anand for the next World Championship.

Radjabov - Kamsky [B18]
Corus Chess (6), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Nc5

Black to move

5...b6 6.Nb3 e6 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.g3

Black to move

8...a5 led to quick victory for White in Kasimdzhanov - Al Modiahki, Doha 2006

8...Nbd7 9.Bg2 Qc7 10.0–0 Rd8 11.Qe2 Bd6 12.Re1 The novelty.

Black to move

12...0–0 13.Nh4 Bg4 14.Qc4 Nd5 15.Bg5 Rc8 16.a4

Black to move

16...b5 17.Qd3 N7b6 18.Nc5 h6 19.Bd2 Nc4 20.axb5 cxb5 21.h3 Bh5 22.Bxd5 exd5 23.Bc3 Rfe8 24.b3 Ne5 25.Qxb5 Bxc5 26.Qxc5 Qd7 27.Qxa7 Qxa7 28.Rxa7

The rook needs some lipstick!

Black to move

29...Nf3+ 29.Nxf3 Bxf3 30.Rxe8+ Rxe8 31.b4

... and the live feed appears to have failed.

When the feed is restored, the game is over.

31...Bd1 32.Ra2 Rc8 33.b5 Rb8 34.Rb2 f6 35.Ba5 Be2 36.b6 Rb7 37.Rb1 Kf7 38.Bd2 g5 39.Bc1 Bf3 40.Ba3 Be4 41.Bd6 1-0

The players have made the time control, and White's passed pawn is well protected by the bishop. Hence White's active rook will rule the board while Black's must try to hold back the b-pawn. Kamsky resigned.

Aronian - Ivanchuk drew in 56 moves.

Kasimdzhanov - Caruana drew in 62 moves.

Carlsen - Karjakin continues with two rooks each, and White's two pawns to Black's one. If Carlsen pulls off a win here, it will be one for the endgame books.

10:02am PST

I don't see that Carlsen has any advantage after 73 moves, but the kid is a lot better than me, and Karjakin is running out of time.

10:07am PST

Karjakin's clock on the Playchess server showed two minutes, then zero, and now fifteen, all to Carlsen's thirty or more. These are not the official clocks.

10:12am PST

A pair of pawns came off the board, and rooks soon will. The players agreed to a draw after 79 moves.

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