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Corus 09 r9: Everybody Leads, Again

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The king is dead, long live the king. Kings, that is. It has become abundantly clear that despite the glory of the top spot and the automatic seeding into the Grand Slam final, nobody really wants to win Corus this year. Are there rumors of an assassination plot against the winner? The latest victim of the Leader's Curse was Sergei Movsesian. Just like clockwork, the day after I extolled the virtues of Movsesian's solid play in Corus so far he lost to our only other clear leader so far, Sergey Karjakin. It was a very strong game by the young Ukrainian, who was soon joined by Aronian and Dominguez in the lead on +2. Movsesian remains in striking distance a half-point back, along with Radjabov. Just a point back in this comically dense field we find van Wely, Smeets, Adams, and Carlsen, who just drew his ninth game in a row.

It was a long round, all three decisive games ending after GM John Fedorowicz and I wrapped up our live Chess.FM coverage at the five-hour mark. Stellwagen kept offering material to Dominguez, or refusing to take it, until it was Dominguez's turn to sac the exchange for a winning endgame. It's always a little amusing when a strong GM plays a move no weaker player would consider and it turns out the move any beginner would play was better. It was hard to believe Black shouldn't take the rook on move 24. The too-subtle 24..Qf3 was a blunder that allowed the Cuban to take three pawns and a pair of bishops into the endgame for the exchange. It took White a little longer than we expected, but he got there eventually and his reward was a share of the lead.

Karjakin repeated Stellwagen's round one try against Movsesian's Scheveningen. The pawn-race ending that was to come started shaping up right at the start. It looked like Black wasted a few moves headed into the queen endgame, but as usual these are very subtle mistakes. Karjakin's 26.Rg5 was singled out as a star move by the Fed. It's not clear why Movsesian selected the more exposed g7 square for his king on move 49, or, to be fair, that it should matter. It did seem to help White centralize his new queen. Karjakin's technique was impressive throughout. Movsesian's losses say as much as his wins about the good level he's playing at. It has taken two of the best games of the tournament to beat him and he's still at +1.

Aronian played the Berlin against Kamsky and somehow the position got very messy, not a word commonly associated with the Berlin. White usually plays for control and either wins or doesn't. Here the position became unbalanced and Kamsky couldn't hold it together in the tactics near the first time control. You might be alarmed by Aronian ignored the hanging rook on a4, but he wanted to avoid the complications of 43..Nxa4 44.Ne6, although Black comes up winning after 44..Nb2. Wonderfully sharp stuff in this stretch. 44.Ne6 looks like the last best hope for White. Then Aronian sacrificed the exchange for endgame domination. Kamsky gave back the rook a few moves later but it wasn't enough. After that it was agony time as Aronian made good his two extra pawns.

Van Wely and Ivanchuk liquidated smoothly into a drawn rook endgame. Desperate for a fight, Carlsen resorted to his Dragon against Adams. The Englishman didn't oblige, playing a positional line with kingside castling. Carlsen neutralized White's queenside ambitions effectively and opened up the center to swap down to equality. Morozevich played an entirely unambitious plan against Radjabov's Grunfeld. Kasparov says that if White has any intention of playing, White should try 10.Bxd5 Bxb5 11.N1c3 and at least there are some imbalances to work with. Smeets and Wang Yue played 24 moves of known Sveshnikov, including the pretty bishop sac 24..Be3!, played a pair of times last year. Grischuk castled and played on against Illescas at the Dresden Olympiad but eventually drew in 39 moves. Smeets, either unaware of that game and the bishop move or happy with a short draw, took the immediate repetition. (The white king can't go to b1 because of ..Qxc6.) Time to go kick your second, Smeets! (Sorry Gusti).

Round 10: Movsesian-Wang Yue, Radjabov-Smeets, Stellwagen-Morozevich, Carlsen-Dominguez, Aronian-Adams, Ivanchuk-Kamsky, Karjakin-van Wely Macauley has a clip with Adams and another with Navara discussing the Grand Prix debacle on the ICC blog.

1 Comment

If Smeets was happy with a short (theoretical) draw, there is no reason to kick his second. Maybe he just wants to play it safe not to ruin his tournament so far, as Stellwagen may have done.
No (or little) criticism implied, but according to bare facts (table standings) Stellwagen is now "down where he belongs" - according to rating and pre-tournament predictions. And that, only that will probably be remembered in the long term. Slight criticism: Maybe Stellwagen now starts regretting that he conceded draws, rather than playing on in the favorable positions he had.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 27, 2009 10:56 PM.

    Corus 09 r8: And a Tourist Shall Lead Them was the previous entry in this blog.

    Corus 09 r10: Aronian Leads Alone is the next entry in this blog.

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