30 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Eleven

Three rounds remain in the Corus Chess 2009 tournament. In the Grandmaster A Group, five of today's seven games could have an impact on who emerges as the champion on Sunday. Levon Aronian leads and Sergei Karjakin follows him by half a point. Another half a point behind him are four players: Magnus Carlsen, Leinier Dominguez, Teymour Radjabov, and Sergei Movsesian.

There are plenty of interesting and vital battles in the Grandmaster B Group, and the GM C group, too. Nigel Short leads the B Group with five players half a point behind. In C, Tiger Hillarp Persson is half a point ahead of Wesley So.

This tournament is a potluck prepared by the greatest chefs. Every choice excludes many other exceptional possibilities. I'm a terrible sports fan because I prefer to watch only the best winners. It is hard to divert my attention from Dominguez - Aronian because Aronian is in first. A win by Dominguez cdould produce a new leader from one of the other games and put both opf these players in second. Kamsky - Karjakin is my second choice because the player of Black is in second and Kamsky is hungry. Still, I will be unable to ignore three other games: Wang - Radjabov, van Wely - Movsesian, and Morozevich - Carlsen. The players with the best chances to finish at the top mostly seem to be playing Black today.

6:32am PST, 3:30pm CET

I was up late last night because I drank a bunch of coffee at chess club where I played another French against Michael Cambareri, a high school senior that has not played much recently. In 2005, he ran over the top of my MacCutcheon, so last night I opted for the Winawer. He got in an early Nd6+ and I was struggling in an almost equal position that was tiring. Our game lasted two hours and my position collapsed on move twenty. More on that game another day. Suffice it to say, I'm bleary eyed for my virtual visit to the Netherlands this morning where the games have been underway for two hours.

Dominguez - Aronian [C88]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.d4 Nxd4 9.Nxd4 exd4 10.e5 Ne8 11.c3 dxc3 12.Nxc3 d6 13.Bd5 Rb8 14.Be3 Be6 15.Ba7 Bxd5 16.Bxb8 Bb7 17.Ba7 Qa8 18.exd6 Bxd6 19.Bd4 b4 20.Na4 Bxg2 21.Rxe8 Qxe8 22.Kxg2 c5 23.Be3 Qc6+ 24.f3 Re8 25.Bf2 c4

So many pieces are gone already, but queens on an open board is always beyond my search horizon, and easy for my software to mis-evaluate as well. Grandmasters are different. They understand nuances of the game that give them insight into positions such as this, and can answer the critical question: who stands better?

Kamsky - Karjakin [D02]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c3 c5 4.dxc5 g6 5.g3 Bg7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.Qb3 Qa5 9.Qa3 Qc7 10.Bg5 Ne4 11.Be3 e5 12.Nbd2 f5 13.Rad1 Nf6 14.b4

This position looks a little more like those I'm struggling with every other month in some correspondence game or other. Kamsky's queen side pawn majority might give him something to play for in the endgame, but for now he struggles to create weaknesses in Karjakin's position. If he oversteps, the dynamism of Black's forces will become all too clear.

7:00am PST; 4:00pm CET

Dominguez - Aronian Update

26.Nb6 c3 27.bxc3 bxc3 28.Qd5 Qc7 29.Nc4

Black to move

Fritz 9 is convinced that Aronian must play Bf8; Hiarcs 12 prefers Bxh2. Both see the knight for two pawns as having White slightly more than one pawn to the good. I don't think that Aronian is in any serious danger. He has some pressure, and his additional pawns assure that he will always have threats. On the other hand, the material imbalance may warrant the claim that White stands better.

Morozevich - Carlsen Update

Chess Fans' Favorite

These players like to avoid draws, yet their game seems headed that way.

Morozevich - Carlsen [E37]
Corus Chess (11), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 c5 8.dxc5 Nc6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.e3 Bf5 11.Bd3 0–0 12.Nf3 Qa5+ 13.Nd2 Nxd2 14.Bxd2 Bxd3 15.Qxd3 Qxc5 16.Rc1 Qb6 17.0–0 Rad8 18.f4 Rfe8 19.b4 h6 20.h3 a6 21.Rc5 a5 22.Rfc1 axb4 23.axb4 Re4 24.Kh2 Rc4 25.R1xc4 dxc4 26.Qe2 Nxb4 27.Rxc4 Nd3 28.Rd4

Black to move

It's hard to imagine that the rooks will remain on the board another move. That will leave us with a queen and minor piece each and a few pawns. After Moro stops the b-pawn, Carlsen should be happy with another draw, even if his opponent languishes in last place.

28...Rxd4 29.exd4 Qxd4 30.Qe8+ Kh7 31.Qxf7 Qe4

7:43am PST; 4:43pm CET

Dominguez - Aronian Update

29...Bb4 30.Rc1 Re2

I think that move was an error. Aronian is low on time, and may have cracked. A loss will keep this event wide open for many contenders.

31.Rxc3 h6 32.Re3 Rxa2 33.Re8+ Kh7 34.Ne3 Rxf2+ 35.Kxf2 Bc3 36.Kg2 1-0

Morozevich - Carlsen Update

32.f5 Qe5+ 33.Kh1 Nf2+ 34.Kg1 Ne4 35.Bf4 Qd4+ 36.Kh2 Nf6 37.Bxh6 Qe5+ 38.Kh1 Qe1+ 39.Kh2 Ng4+ 40.hxg4 Qh4+ 41.Kg1 Qe1+ 1/2-1/2

8:31am PST; 5:31pm CET

Kamsky won!

8:40am PST; 5:40pm CET

Two games are still in progress. Both Movsesian and Radjabov apear to have a significant advantage. If they both win, four players will lead with 6 1/2: Aronian, Bominguez, Movsesian, and Radjabov. Karjakin and Carlsen are right behind with 6.

Eight points, or even seven and a half, might be enough to share first this year. And eight of the fourteen players still have a shot at 7.5. Six could finish with 8.

Movsesian won!

8:55am PST; 5:55pm CET

Standings after Eleven Rounds (Projected)
1. Aronian, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian 6.5
5. Karjakin, Carlsen 6
7. Kamsky, Smeets 5.5
9. Ivanchuk, Adams, van Wely, 5
12. Wang, Stellwagen 4.5
14. Morozevich 4

Wang Yue - Teymour Radjabov is still in progress, but Radjabov appears to be winning.

9:40am PST; 6:40pm CET

Radjabov won. My projected standings above are now official. Nigel Short is solidly in first place in the B Group.


  1. 10.53am EST. GM Zagrebelny on chesspro.ru thinks Dominguez is better, but he didn't see 29.... Bb4.

  2. It looks as if Bb4 was not as powerful as thought, or that Aronian underestimated his back rank problems when he played Re2. My engines no say (after move 31) that Aronian is lost. I cannot find reason to disagree.