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Motylev Wins Poikovsky 09

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Don't you just love it when the leaders play a decisive game for the title near the end of an event? This really doesn't happen all that often, but it feels like we've had quite a few of these decisive showdowns lately. Aronian beat Leko in the final round of the Nalchik Grand Prix. Shirov beat Carlsen in the final round of MTel. Ding Liren beat Wang Hao in the penultimate round of the Chinese Ch. Short and Sokolov met in the final round of Sigeman, and though Short only needed a draw there he got the full point.

With two rounds to play in the 10th Poikovsky Karpov tournament, former Russian champion Motylev was tied for first with Gashimov, who has escaped the shadows of his compatriots Radjabov and Mamedyarov thanks largely to several excellent Grand Prix performances. Motylev, with white, fearlessly went for the win throughout the game instead of chickening out when it was clear a pawn race was the only path with winning chances. His king went on an impressive jaunt from g1 to a5 to tip the balance. The Russian calculated the finale very well, as at first glance the black g-pawn looks very fast. Great two-fisted chess.

The victory left Motylev with a full-point lead heading into the final round, and perhaps that knowledge distracted him a bit in his last-round game against Bologan. Not to take anything away from Bologan, who played a nice game against Motylev's safety-first Petroff, which he played instead of his usual Caro-Kann or Dragon. Motylev must have been busted but managed to bamboozle Bologan in a bi-directional pawn stampede in time trouble to reach a repetition draw. Great to have fighting chess in the final rounds. Even a loss wouldn't have mattered though, since Efimenko reached a pawn-down rook endgame out of his Berlin against Gashimov to hold.

Naiditsch lost his last four games in a row after a good start. The usually-solid German had a single draw in the nine-round event. Shirov stabilized a bit after losing his first four games, but failed to win a game and looked happy just to get the heck out of town and start forgetting as soon as possible. 1.e4 dominated the event, which was full of fight despite nine Petroffs and seven Berlins versus just seven Sicilians.

In a final pair of game notes, check out Inarkiev-Rublevsky after the nice 37..d3! and try to figure out why White can't take the pawn with 38.cxd3. I spent some time looking at and couldn't see anything great for Black after 38..Rc1+ 39.Kh2 Qc7 40.Qf4. I looked at 41..Rf1 but 42.Qg3 looked fine. It's not! Inarkiev avoided the trap but couldn't hold the position in the end. Also worth a look for endgame fans is Naiditsch's failure to hold R+2 vs R against Bologan in round eight. He believed keeping the black king cut off was more important than keeping the black pawn under fire. The tablebase draws, often obscure and useless to study for humans, are actually of practical value in these positions. White plays 94.Rg5= (or Rd5 or Rh5), as long as he can get to d5 to check the black king from d2 and block the pawn. From e4 that's not possible since d4 is covered and so Black got a crucial tempo to protect the c-pawn from the flank and shield his king at the same time. Bologan, a player of classical nature and knowledge, then brought home the win in instructive style.


Thanks, Mig for an excellent summary of the Poikovsky and last round crucial wins in tourneys.
Guess Motylev was very satisfied with a draw with Black vs Bologan.
In fact, he could have won!
48.- g2
Instead the finesse 48.-,Be6 wins.
Takes the g8 square from the Rook.


It's facinating that Shirov could dominate and win a top level tournament one month (Perf. Rating 2864) and then turn around and bottom out against significantly lower level competition (dead last with five losses, four draws and not a single win, Perf. Rating 2472).

For those of us who have played as amateurs in tournaments regularly, this type of insconsistency is understandable, but for a top-level professional? Fire on board indeed. Have to wonder whether there is some non-chess related explanation.

Off-topic (as there is no tag "Shirov" ...): It seems like in the first round of the Bazna, Romania tournament we have seen the other Shirov, and the other Ivanchuk - both winning with the black pieces.

What makes me happy is we finally have a tournament where the winner makes a "Kasparov-like" score. +5 in a nine-round tournament is a fantastic result. I'm getting tired of all the tournaments where the winner is +2, or +3 at best.

It seems to me that Shirov should concentrate on playing more solid and strategically aggressive; when he does, he usually does well. As a chess professional, Shirov is now an old man. He should leave the tactical fires, that once served him so well, to the youngsters. The number of tactical blunders Shirov made at Poikovsky were tragic for a player of his genius. There also may be some truth to Mig's allegation that Shirov may have partied too much following his fantastic victory at Sofia and came to Poikovsky totally out of shape.

Also the number of decisive games and fighting chess was incredible for such a strong tournament. Maybe that's what happens when you have some players in terrific shape and others in terrible shape.

The Petroff games had a 33% draw rate (3 white wins, 3 black wins, 3 draws), compared to a 50% draw rate for the rest of the games (47% overall draw rate).

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 13, 2009 4:54 PM.

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