World Mind Games: Karjakin & Zhao Xue Winners at "Basque System"
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After winning the blitz tournament, Sergey Karjakin also topped the "Basque System" tournament at the World Mind Games in Beijing, China. The Russian grandmaster dominated the tournament with a superb score of 8.5 out of 10. He finished two points ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and bronze went to Ruslan Ponomariov. Zhao Xue won the women's section ahead of Ju Wenjun and Hou Yifan.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the last two days of the World Mind Games' chess events, the players entered a new discipline at this event: the “Basque System”, named after a tournament held in San Sebastian two year ago. It's like playing rapid chess but with the opponents playing two games simultaneously. According to the official website, this remarkable system created a lot of tense an interesting situations, “especially when both players where in timetrouble, on both boards”.
Three rounds were played on Tuesday, and two on Wednesday. Sergey Karjakin was still in great shape, and dealt with the "mini-simuls" the best. He scored a splendid 8.5/10 (a 3051 performance!) and ended 2 points ahead of the rest. Shakhryar Mamedyarov came second with a decent 6.5/10 and Ruslan Ponomariov followed, with 6.0/10. Peter Leko, who ended second (shared first) in the normal rapid tournament, apparently got totally confused as he finished last here!
As the photo gallery on the official website suggests, the tournament was mostly a "happy event" and not really serious. Critics of rapid and blitz chess have a point when they say that here players of the highest level make mistakes that only belong to amateur games. This seems especially the case in the Basque System, where often a player gets into timetrouble on both boards and completely spoils two decent positions in just a few seconds.
On Facebook GM Emil Sutovsky started a discussion about this.
“I can not recall a single high-quality game played in either London / Beijing - in fact, the vast majority of them were decided by the inexplicable blunders. The winners are, as always, deserving. But I am talking purely about chess content and chess value. And I also feel that the public was not following the events as closely, as it would be with a classical format. But maybe these are just my feelings? What do you think? Did you like it fast? Was there a real SHOW, which compensated for a real CHESS? Your feedback is important, please cast your opinion.”
While we leave it to you if you want to discuss this in the comments section too, for now let's look at a few interesting games played at this funny tournament in Beijing. From the first round here's one of the two games between Alexander Grischuk and Leinier Dominguez. The Cuban defended wonderfully against a typical King's Indian Attack:
In his black game against Anish Giri, Levon Aronian didn't bother about a pawn or two (or three). It was more important to keep the initiative, and in the end he managed to got the white king into a mating net. A tricky guy, that Armenian!
This is a nice one too. Look at how Wang Hao solved his problems at move 19!
Here's the "match" between Karjakin and Aronian. Crazy complications in Aronian's white game, a good technical win for Karjakin in his.
Here's one of the disasters Peter Leko encountered. Can you see what was wrong with his last move 76...f5?
Karjakin's white win over Ponomariov was impressive. He refuted Black's pawn push in the center and then didn't let go of the advantage, even though the former FIDE World Championship fought very hard.
In the match between Ivanchuk and Vachier-Lagrave both players started with 1.b3! (Wonder who was first?) Vachier-Lagrave replied with a system that's one of the main lines these days. The tactics that followed were very interesting for a while, although everything petered out to an equal position:
Ivanchuk chose a different set-up and got a big advantage early on:
Le Quang Liem is an excellent rapid player and quite solid, but Karjakin managed to beat him 2-0. These days everyone keeps playing on in the most equal positions, and why not? Look at this. (Not referring to Le's late resignation, which was surely related to an attempt to do better on the other board.)
In the last round Karjakin beat Grischuk 1.5-0.5. The latter again tried that King's Indian Attack but failed once more.
World Mind Games 2013 | "Basque System" | Final Standings
|8||GM||Le Quang Liem||2756||Vietnam||5.0||4||5||2760|
In the women's section Zhao Xue was half a point ahead of her compatriots Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun before the last round. She met the latter, and was in trouble when she blundered her queen in her black game:
However, Ju Wenjun failed to draw an ending in the other game:
Positions 1, 2 and 3 didn't change because Hou Yifan and Gunina also exchanged wins in the last round. The Russian lady won her white game, but failed to see a drawing line in the other.
World Mind Games 2013 | "Basque System" (women)| Final Standings