Grand Prix: Nakamura Leads After Round 8
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After a few quiet days, the Grand Prix in Élancourt heated up again on Monday with four decisive games. Hikaru Nakamura was worse throughout his game, but defended well and even won as Vassily Ivanchuk lost on time in a drawn position. The American grandmaster is the sole leader now as Boris Gelfand lost to Fabiano Caruana. Alexander Grischuk won his white game against Anish Giri, and Etienne Bacrot won with Black against Ruslan Ponomariov. Tuesday is a rest day.
The top of the standings at the Grand Prix was shaken up considerably on Monday as tournament leader Boris Gelfand lost for the first time, against the number three in the leaderboard, Fabiano Caruana. Hikaru Nakamura, who was half a point behind Gelfand, took over the lead as he got one half point thanks to good defense, and another half point because Vassily Ivanchuk handled the clock badly and lost on time in a drawn ending. Going into the second and final rest day, the American is now half a point ahead of Caruana & Gelfand. Behind them, Etienne Bacrot is on "plus one".
As so often, Ivanchuk was involved in a dramatic game. The Ukrainian got a slight advantage in a 5.d3 Ruy Lopez due to an inaccuracy by Nakamura on move 17. But then, after reaching the time control, Ivanchuk spent almost an hour (!) on his 41st move, trying to calculate a forced win. In the end he went for 41.Kg2 (a move he could have made "after a minute", as he said himself) and Nakamura held everything together while sacrificing his f-pawn. In huge time trouble Ivanchuk allowed some complications and his flag fell five moves before the second time control.
It took about ten minutes before press officer Alina l'Ami managed to convince Ivanchuk to join the press conference, while Nakamura had already started analyzing with Sergey Tiviakov. When he finally arrived, Chucky, still upset, immediately grabbed the mouse and started explaining what he had been looking at on move 40. It eventually became clear that Nakamura had looked at the positions more objectively. He said:
“My opponent was always a bit better but I never saw a clear win for him.”
Fabiano Caruana bounced back from his first loss with a smooth win over Boris Gelfand. His rare move 5.d4 in the 3.Bb5 e6 Sicilian worked like a charm mostly due to one big mistake from Black: 12...e5. Gelfand called it a "horrible move" and after 13.g3! he must have realized what he had done.
“Now the knight on g6 is really terrible and Black probably has a really bad position,”
said Caruana, who had a few easy moves to make but then faced some stiff resistance. However, the Italian calculated very accurately and fearlessly took all the material that was thrown at him.
Alexander Grischuk kept pace with Caruana as he beat tail-ender Anish Giri in the first game of the round to finish.
“I was lucky because usually Anish knows everything but today he didn't know the theory,”
said Grischuk, who reached an ending that's known to be better for White.
When Giri also missed 16...c6, he had to suffer till the end.
“ completely underestimated the danger,”
said Giri about the ending.
Ruslan Ponomariov started with seven draws in the tournament, and during his game with Etienne Bacrot he was determined to avoid another one. Well, he succeeded! Quite cheerfully, at the press conference he said:
“The good news is that I did not play another draw. The bad news is that I lost!”
Neither player really expected to reach one of the absolute main lines of the Benoni, but Bacrot knew the theory more than his opponent. He got excellent compensation for a sacrificed pawn, as the ending was a good version of the Volga/Benko Gambit. Only one small mistake by Ponomariov was enough to get into serious trouble. Commentator Tiviakov praised Bacrot for finishing the game so efficiently.
Wang Hao-Dominguez was an Open Catalan where the Cuban chose a solid but slightly passive variation. In a future game White could perhaps try a knight manoeuvre to b6, where it keeps the black queen away from play at least for a while and prevents Black from doubling rooks. In the game Dominguez solved all his problems and even got a slight advantage, and so the Chinese was probably happy to be able to repeat moves.
Fressinet-Tomashevsky, the longest game of the round, was another quiet, Closed Ruy Lopez. The Frenchman managed to get a slight opening advantage but should have continued his plan of doubling rooks with 26.Rha1. But, he got another chance much later in the game: according to Tomashevsky 46.Kd3! would have been winning. The Russian's pawn sac 46...d3! was a fantastic practical decision.
Live video with press conferences
Paris Grand Prix 2013 | Results & pairings
|Round 1||15:00 CET||22.09.13||Round 2||15:00 CET||23.09.13|
|Round 3||15:00 CET||24.09.13||Round 4||15:00 CET||25.09.13|
|Round 5||15:00 CET||27.09.13||Round 6||15:00 CET||28.09.13|
|Round 7||15:00 CET||29.09.13||Round 8||15:00 CET||30.09.13|
|Round 9||15:00 CET||02.10.13||Round 10||15:00 CET||03.10.13|
|Round 11||14:00 CET||04.10.13|
Paris Grand Prix 2013 | Round 8 standings