28 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Ten

Five players contend for tournament victory in the Corus A Group in Wijk aan Zee. With four rounds to go, Levon Aronian, Sergei Karjakin, and Leinier Dominguez share the lead. Half a point behind them are Sergei Movsesian and Teymour Radjabov. There are no easy games in a tournament of this stature; the players at the bottom of the rankings are some of the world's best that are having a poor event. The top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk is tied in tenth with Gata Kamsky--who is playing a match with Veselin Topalov next month to select the World Championship challenger--and Wang Yue, who went most of 2008 without a loss.

Aronian's penultimate game in this event (Saturday) will be against Alexander Morozevich who is currently in last place, but capable of beating anyone. Today Aronian played a Catalan against Michael Adams. Things looked tense early on when the Armenian castled long. Now they are in a rook endgame in which Aronian has better pawn structure and some semblance of an initiative. As we know, however, "rook endgames are drawn," and these two players usually draw in their battles.

Sergei Karjakin is hammering away at Loek van Wely's Najdorf. The game featured the customary opposite wing castling and storms of pawns to frighten both monarchs. A win for White could give the youngest Grandmaster in history a temporary lead in this event. Van Wely is among those tied for sixth, which is far better than his performance here in recent years. Indeed, he and Jan Smeets are showing that Dutch players do not always finish at the bottom at Corus in the post-Jan Timman years. Perhaps Timman's harsh words for his countrymen last fall has given them some motivation to prove him wrong.

Magnus Carlsen shared first with Aronian last year, but neither can win nor lose this year, it seems. He has White today against the third of the current event leaders: the Cuban player Dominguez. Dominguez played a Grunfeld and now has a bishop pair against a knight and bishop with the heavy pieces still on the board. But, the queenside pawns for both players have been liquidated, and that might favor the young Norwegian's horse. With so many pieces remaining, however, tactical considerations come first. Either player can create threats that the other must parry.

I don't know what to say about Radjabov's game against Smeets. It appears to have come from some sort of offbeat English. Smeet's pieces seem a bit hemmed in around his king, and the players are at move fifteen nearly three hours into the game. The clock may prove decisive if they don't decide on one of those accursed grandmaster draws.

Wang Yue played a Petroff (Russian Defense) against former leader Movsesian, and the game was drawn in 22 moves.

Movsesian - Wang Yue [D20]
Corus Chess (10), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 c6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.d4 Be7 8.h3 d5 9.Bd3 0–0 10.0–0 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Nbd7 12.Re1 Nb6 13.Bb3 Nfd5 14.Bc2 Bf6 15.a3 Be6 16.Ne5 g6 17.Ne4 Bg7 18.Bg5 Qc7 19.Bh4 Rae8 20.Nc5 Nd7 21.Bg3 Bxe5 22.Bxe5 ½–½

I may be able to update this post with the results during lunch four hours from now. As unemployment in the world grows to levels not seen in decades, and that some fear might reach proportions last seen in the 1930s, I am not yet unemployed. Today is a full day of work that keeps me away from my computer. Life could be much worse: I'm teaching chess in classrooms today. The older youth in one school will be battling it out on their chess ladder, and a few might challenge me for a lesson. In another school, I'll be teaching first graders how bishops and rooks move. Then, there's the after school club where my scholastic chess activities began when my son (a few months younger than the Carlsen boy) was a third grader there.


  1. I worked too, still managed :) to see Carlsen's game. He risked when Dominguez was in time trouble, it paid off. Dominguez made mistakes and lost, Carlsen's sac in the end was educational. Aronian won and looks like will be the sole leader since Karjakin gets opposite colored bishops and draw, I think.

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