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Nalchik Heats Up

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As hot as it got in Brooklyn today, nearly 90 after the usual 30 minute NY springtime, it was even hotter on the boards at the Nalchik Grand Prix. I must say this has been an event full of wonderful fighting chess. There's a tendency, and I have it too, of giving short shrift to these non-traditional events that don't have the full roster of A-list names. But there have been more noteworthy battles in Nalchik than I remember from Corus this year. This is the strongest of the GP events it's an explosive mix of established stars, young players trying to make a reputation and a few veterans eager to show they aren't washed up yet. All groups are looking for a chance to get into whatever may come in the FIDE world championship cycle. Whatever the reason, and despite the misleadingly high draw percentage at the start, the chess has been spectacular.

Today's 10th round of 13 was the bloodiest yet, with five of seven games decisive. Aronian won while his co-leader Alekseev lost, so the Armenian is in sole position of first on +3. We even got the rare treat of a loss for the Petroff in Leko's excellent win over Gelfand. Leko's second, Jan Gustafsson, was quite chuffed about his boss's handiwork. He also commented on the general level of play in Nalchik, opining many of the participants came loaded with sharp theoretical work and ready to fight after fairly long layoffs.

Almost all of today's wins were long affairs in which the losing side was steadily outplayed from minimal disadvantage. Aronian slowly squeezed Eljanov with a bishop pair vs a rook. Bacrot was uncharacteristically sloppy in defending an endgame against Akopian. Grischuk had a bishop pair too, though he left one buried on b2 almost to the end of the game. Bishops are long-range, but they are also long-term. Svidler's loss to Mamedyarov was of a different ilk. The ilk that makes you want to pound your head into a wall. Black was holding a wickedly sharp position when he made the wrong choice after a check and got hit by a nice tactic. Perhaps he should have taken up smoking before the game.

The two draws weren't much to look at. Kamsky's 4.Nc4 line didn't get much against Kasimjanov's Petroff despite enterprising attempts. Karjakin, who has a horrible record against his (former) countryman Ivanchuk, which might be why he was happy to repeat 37 (!) moves of a Sveshnikov he played against So a year ago before drawing three moves later.

The Lurking Leko, the only undefeated player in the field, is in clear second place. Speaking of Leko, his response about superstitions and rituals on the official site is classic Leko. "The main ritual is to check the analysis of the opening variation before the game." I'm sorry, but if this is your real answer, just make something up! "Well, some say it's a little silly, but right before each game I like to chug a half-liter of fresh yak blood." For example. Overall it sounded like most players didn't have anything beyond the occasional lucky pen. Grischuk, Alekseev, and Akopian are a full point behind Aronian. Alekseev is the only contender with the white pieces in tomorrow's 11th round. We might have some drama in the final round, when we get the Aronian-Leko pairing. Live here.


Svidler's game deserved a better finish after such interesting play - especially the switch of the king's rook was nice. About half an hour after the game he came back and showed one cool and one trivial way to draw: 30...Rc2! and 31...Rd7.

Off-topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/world/europe/27kasparov.html?_r=1

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The FIDE site said that Svidler - Akopian was "1 - 0." I couldn't see why Akopian would have lost. After about 30 minutes the FIDE site changed to "1/2 - 1/2".

You can't believe everything you read.

This happens occasionally - an earlier example from the same tournament was Akopian-Kamsky (the R+B vs. R ending) which was initially reported as "1/2-1/2" rather than "1-0".
The moves are transmitted automatically (and this works generally well, except when pieces are knocked over in time trouble ...), but the result presumably has to be put in 'by hand', hence operator errors are possible.
Only in rare cases an 'unexpected' result turns out to be correct and requires further explanation, e.g. Radjabov-Smeets, Corus 2009.

Ivanchuk had another weird and wonderful press conference here: http://chesspro.ru/_events/2009/nalchik10.html

"A local journalist asked the "brilliant [genius] Ivanchuk" (as she put it)about who he considers chess geniuses. Vasily said it was a complicated question. And then he began to name names:

- Capablanca - definitely. Fischer - also.

A pause.

- Alekhine? - someone suggested.

- Yes. Alekhine was "approved" by Vasily.

- Kasparov?

- Yes

- Karpov?

- No

- And Tal?

- A mystery. I can't give a clear answer yes or no. I don't understand Tal.

- Among women?

- Judit Polgar

- And Magnus Carlsen?

- A big talent. But I wouldn't be confident of calling him a genius."

I'd love someone to do a proper interview with follow-up questions...

Why do you said Karjakin, was former countryman of Ivanchuk, has anyone changed nationality and I didn't noticed ?

Lol , thx for sharing that! I agree with the Chucky.

Yes, Karjakin is changing to Russian federation.

During the past 3 rounds, there have been 11 decisive games. White has won all of them.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 27, 2009 12:42 AM.

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