Anand Secures Victory in Bilbao, SOCAR on the Brink, Gold for Batumi

Anand Secures Victory in Bilbao, SOCAR on the Brink, Gold for Batumi

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

With one round to go, Viswanathan Anand is already certain of tournament victory at the Masters Final in Bilbao. Today both games ended in draws, which means that Anand cannot be caught tomorrow, even if he loses to Levon Aronian.

SOCAR is confirming its favorite status day after day; after beating Malakhite in the penultimate round, it's very close to victory. Batumi Chess Club "Nona" has already won the cup in the women's section. 

Suddenly the tournament is already decided! Due to the football scoring system that’s traditionally employed in Bilbao, Anand’s three wins and two draws are good for a four-point lead over Levon Aronian, who has scored four draws and one win.

After the two draws today Anand has secured sole victory, while in the classical system Aronian could still have finished in shared first place by beating Anand in the final round.

The game between Anand and Ponomariov was the first to finish. From a Ragozin Defense, the players reached an identical pawn structure as in Anand-Vallejo from the previous round, but in this case the middlegame position was roughly equal.

As Anand explained, there were a few details that made the position quite different.

“I was much faster with my counterplay and I still kept both bishops," said Anand. "I would say in comparison with yesterday he was about two, three tempi down.”

Yesterday, Ponomariov thought he would be playing Anand, and so the Ukrainian GM had two days to prepare for the tournament leader. He used only one.

“I already had everything more or less in my memory. I tried to rest a little bit,” he said. “It was an interesting game, not so much theory.  But Vishy found some good maneuvers. In the end I even thought I’m slightly worse, but he decided to secure the draw.”

At that point, Levon Aronian was still trying to squeeze water from a stone in a rook ending against Paco Vallejo. Asked about it, Anand confidently evaluated the position as drawn: “Especially since Paco found the right plan with checking on the first rank.”

The Spaniard had played a topical line in the Semi-Tarrasch, which he had faced himself with the white pieces in his rapid match with the Chinese super talent Wei Yi, in Leon, earlier this year. Still, it was Aronian who came up with the first new move.

“I am not happy with my play, but I am very happy that I found 11.Bd2,” the Armenian number one said. “I thought I had analyzed everything, but [that move] was very interesting,” Vallejo said. It was clear that White was better, having a more healthy pawn structure, but Vallejo defended well and the draw was justified."

Strong defense from Vallejo today.

The fight for first place is over, but the fight for the other places is still open. Ponomariov can still finish in second place if he beats Vallejo tomorrow. For that to happen, Aronian needs to lose to Anand.

“I always look forward to playing chess, especially against a player who is having such a good tournament," said Aronian. I will do my best to make the game attractive for the spectators,” 

“You still want to play a good game and play a good tournament," said Anand. "I’ll go and start getting ready for that game."

Anand already secured tournament victory.

Whereas the final round of the European Club Cup will start one hour earlier tomorrow, the Masters Final will commence at the usual time: 3pm.

2014 Masters Final | Pairings & Results

Round 1 13.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 4 17.09.14 15:00 CET
Vallejo 1-1 Aronian   Ponomariov 1-1 Aronian
Anand 3-0 Ponomariov   Anand 3-0 Vallejo
Round 2 14.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 5 18.09.14 15:00 CET
Aronian 3-0 Ponomariov   Aronian 1-1 Vallejo
Vallejo 0-3 Anand   Ponomariov 1-1 Anand
Round 3 15.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 19.09.14 15:00 CET
Anand 1-1 Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Ponomariov 3-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Ponomariov

2014 Masters Final | Round 5 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf + = - Pts
1 Viswanathan Anand IND 2785 2973 3 2 0 11
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2800 2821 1 4 0 7
3 Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2708 2688 1 2 2 5
4 Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2712 2539 0 2 3 2

European Club Cup (by Lennart Ootes)

SOCAR takes it all: Azeri team very close to winning European Club Cup

The big matchup for the sixth round was SOCAR-Malakhite, the number 1- and 3-seeded teams. The Azerbaijanis still had a maximum score, while the Russian team had ceded a draw to Beer Sheva along the way. And what a match it was! SOCAR won convincingly with 5-1.

After almost two hours of play, SOCAR's Anish Giri found himself in a won position against Vladimir Malakhov, who played inaccurately in a Chebanenko Slav. The young Dutchman, now the number seven of the world in the live rating list, is in great form, and he has clinched 28 rating points in his last 26 games.

Around the same time, the fight on top board between Karjakin and Mamedyarov entered its first critical stage. Karjakin didn't get much from the opening, a Petroff, and was soon forced to defend. Supported by his king, Black’s pawn majority soon started rolling and Mamedyarov won after 55 moves.

The second board saw a clash between two players who have been in the chess scene for quite some time already: Veselin Topalov and Alexander Grischuk. In their eight previous encounters, Topalov had the white pieces no less than seven times, and this game was no exception.

Topalov gained some advantage, but the position became very sharp when Grischuk went for what seemed a dangerous winning attempt, although he was very short on time. Topalov survived and reached an endgame with two pieces and a pawn against a piece and three pawns. The Bulgarian must have had good winning chances, but the Russian made the time control and defended really well, so the game ended in a draw.

In the meantime, SOCAR had already won its match due to Wang Hao’s nice king walk.

Or course this game reminds us of Nigel Short’s famous win over Jan Timman in Tilburg 1991.

After Radjabov drew with Lysyj in a King's Indian, the big wait started for Michael Adams to convert his advantage against Alexei Shirov. That game lasted no fewer than 120 moves, with the Englishman on the winning side.

The clear favourites at boards 2-4 didn’t make mistakes: G-Team Novy Bor beat the Icelandic Huginn Chessclub 5.5-0.5, while Minsk lost 4.5-1.5 to SHSM Nashe Nasledie.

These two teams only have a theoretical chance to catch SOCAR, both being two match points down, but playing each other tomorrow. SOCAR will play the St Petersburg team SPB. Mathematically they still need a few SB points to claim the title.

In the fourth match, Obiettivo Risarcimento's number one Fabiano Caruana beat GM Robin Swinkels, thus adding some more points to his impressive rating. From the same Obiettivo Risarcimento-KSK47-Eynatten match, Michael Hoffmann did not show up for his game against, who was ill at his birthday and had to forfeit his game with French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

[PD: The story was slightly different. Hoffmann, who celebrated his birthday, wasn't supposed to play but because his team captain had accidentally emailed the line-up to himself instead of to the organizers. The team had missed the deadline for entering their names, and therefore had to play with the numbers 1-6 of their list. At 10:30 in the morning Hoffmann heard that he had to play anyway, and he said no.]

2014 ECC | Round 6 Standings (Top 10)

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt Buc_G SB_GM
1 SOCAR Azerbaijan AZE 12 205 27.5 135 270
2 G-Team Novy Bor CZE 10 167 27.5 124 193
3 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 10 139 26 118.5 182
4 Malakhite RUS 9 152 21 132.5 189.5
5 Obiettivo Risarcimento ITA 9 140.5 25 120.5 163
6 SPB RUS 9 136.5 23 128 189
7 Odlar Yourdu AZE 8 136.5 22.5 127.5 157
8 Minsk BLR 8 128.5 22 125.5 153
9 SG Solingen GER 8 120 22.5 117 150.5
10 Ladya RUS 8 119 20.5 117.5 150.5

(Full standings here)

European Club Cup for women

There was no doubt anymore that Batumi was going to win gold this year. The Georgian ladies were paired against Rishon Letzion, one of the two teams of Israel, and not surprisingly they won 4-0. The gap with SHSM Nashe Nasledie is three match points; Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo is one match point further down.

2014 ECC (Women) | Round 6 Standings

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt SB_GM
1 Batumi Chess Club Nona GEO 12 70.5 18 123
2 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 9 62 16.5 81.5
3 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo MNC 8 83 16 84
4 Ugra RUS 6 65.5 13 62
5 Ladya RUS 6 64.5 14 43
6 SC Bad Konigshofen GER 5 61 13.5 26.5
7 Rishon Letzion ISR 2 5.5 3.5 3
8 Herzliya Chess Club ISR 0 0 1.5 0

Games via TWIC, which turned 20 this week!

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