31 January 2009

Wijk aan Zee: Round Twelve

The penultimate round is in progress at Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands. Nearly half of the players in the Grandmaster A Group can be confident that with two good games, he will finish in first. In this fourteen player all play all tournament, 8.5 points is good enough for first place most years. Four players remain capable of reaching that mark. Some years, 8 points are good enough, and six players are within reach of that score.

For the chess fan, it is hard to select the key game to watch.

Alexander Morozevich will finish near last place. He has two wins, four draws, and five losses. Today he has Black against one of the leaders, Levon Aronian. The opening was a Grunfeld. Aronian castled long, and his monarch looks a wee bit less secure than Moro's.

Against Jan Smeets, Magnus Carlsen played 1.c4, but this English rapidly transposed into a Caro-Kann.

The event's top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk, has been inconsistent in this event and will need a strong performance in the last two rounds to finish in the upper half. He is struggling for advantage against Leinier Dominguez, who played a Sicilian Defense. Dominguez is one of the current leaders, and has recently joined the exclusive group of players rated above 2700. His rating graph shows a steady rise: he crossed over 2600 on the April 2002 rating list, and over 2700, July 2008.

Sergei Karjakin - Michael Adams are playing from a closed Ruy Lopez.

Two of the four leaders are playing each other. Sergei Movsesian opted for a Bb5 line against Teymour Radjabov's Sicilian.

It is 6:30 am on the Pacific Coast of North America. That's 3:30pm on the North Sea Coast where these games started two hours ago.

Loek van Wely and Gata Kamsky played to an early draw. Perhaps Kamsky is starting to think more about his games next month. Meanwhile five other games are demanding my attention. I need to make some choices while I extract some nectar from the almighty coffee bean.

The Youngest Grandmaster

My attention has been directed towards the drama of the Corus A Group, but in the C Group Anish Giri completed his final Grandmaster norm. At fourteen and a half, he is now the youngest grandmaster in the world and currently in third place in the C Group, one game behind Wesley So. Watching Giri attempt to break down Leon Hoyos's Modern Defense could easily draw my attention away from the battles in the A Group. Giri came into this event rated 2469, fifteen points lower than the 2004 C Group winner who was about the same age then, Magnus Carlsen.

Giri - Leon Hoyos [A41]

Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.g3 Bxf3 4.exf3 g6 5.c4 Nd7 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0–0 c6 8.Nc3 Nb6 9.d5 Rc8 10.Qd3 Nf6 11.Be3 cxd5 12.cxd5 Nfd7 13.Bd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 0–0

7:21am PST; 4:21pm CET

Aronian - Morozevich [D98]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4 0–0 7.e4 Bg4 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.0–0–0 a6 10.h3 Bxf3 11.gxf3 b5 12.Qb3 c5 13.dxc5 e6 14.f4 Qe7 15.Rd6 Rc8 16.e5 Nxc5 17.Bxc5 Rxc5 18.Kb1 Rc8 19.h4


Carlsen - Smeets [B10]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb5 e6 8.0–0 Be7 9.d4 0–0 10.Re1 Bd7 11.Bd3 Rc8 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Ne5 Bf6 14.Bf4 g6 15.Qb3 Na5 16.Qb4 Be6 17.Bh6 Bg7

18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.h4 Re8

Movsesian - Radjabov [B30]
Corus Chess (12), Wijk aan Zee 2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.0–0 Nge7 5.Nc3 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Ne2 a6 8.Ba4 Nc6 9.d3 b5 10.Bb3 Bc5 11.f4 Qh4 12.Bd2 Bb7 13.Kh1 Qe7 14.Qe1 g6 15.c3 dxc3 16.Bxc3 Bb4 17.d4 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qb4 19.Qe3

19...Na5 20.d5 O-O

Things seem slow this morning (afternoon). I don't know if all the players are on a long think, or if there are broadcast transmission problems. But all these games seem to be moving slow, or not moving at all right now. The clocks on the Playchess server are never fully reliable for these broadcasts, but they usually give up some clues regarding the official game clocks. Today, they seem non-functional. Perhaps the servers are having bandwidth issues.

Perhaps the broadcast issue was local? The Playchess server seemed frozen, but my web browser was slow, and an expected email was delayed. I'll rant about the near monopoly of my ISP another day.

In the A Group, Carlsen beat Smeets and Karjakin prevailed over Adams. Aronian - Morozevich is still in progress, and the otehr games were drawn.

If Aronian - Morozevich ends as a draw:

Standings after Twelve Rounds (Projected)
1. Aronian, Dominguez, Radjabov, Movsesian, Karjakin, Carlsen 7.0
7. Kamsky 6
8. Ivanchuk, Smeets, van Wely 5.5
11. Adams, Wang, Stellwagen 5
14. Morozevich 4.5

Aronian - Morozevich Update

20.Rg1 Qf3 21.Bg2 Qxf2 22.Qd1 Ra7 23.Ne4 Qxh4 24.Qd4 Rac7 25.Nf6+ Bxf6 26.exf6 Rf8 27.b3 Qh5 28.Rd1 Qf5+ 29.Ka1 h5 30.Rd8 Rc8 31.Rd6 a5 32.Bb7 Rce8 33.Re1 b4 34.Kb2 Qh3 35.Re5 a4 36.Qxb4 axb3 37.axb3 Rd8 38.Rxd8 Rxd8 39.Re2 Qf5 40.Qe7 Qd3 41.Rc2

41...Qd4+ 42.Ka2 h4

That pawn must be stopped, and the stopping may relieve Black of any pressure on his king. But, the position is complex, and there is a lot at stake. Aronian can hope to go into the last round with a 1/2 point lead. Morozevich can lift himself from sole possession of last place.

43.Rc7 Qd2+ 44.Ka3 1/2-1/2

The White king's own security appears to be decisive. This draw creates some anticipation for tomorrow's battles.


  1. You're finally up then :-)

    Smeets seems to be holding his own against Carlsen today. Hope it is not another draw.

  2. Yep. I'm up and "working". Tomorrow I'll set the alarm for three so I can catch the games when they begin. They start an hour earlier on the last day.

    Yes, Smeets is holding for now. But Carlsen's 19.h4 looks to be an effort to provoke some weaknesses. The youth did not get into the top five on the FIDE list without learning to press hard, and he's ambitious.