Bilbao: Anand Wins Again, SOCAR Crosses Big Hurdle | Update: VIDEO

Bilbao: Anand Wins Again, SOCAR Crosses Big Hurdle | Update: VIDEO

| 28 | Chess Event Coverage

In the fourth round of the Masters Final in Bilbao, Viswanathan Anand won another game to increase his lead to four points.

On Thursday, he got a very pleasant position out of the opening against Francisco Vallejo Pons, and forced resignation on move 33. Ruslan Ponomariov got excellent compensation for a sacrificed pawn against Levon Aronian, but couldn't get more than a draw.

In the European Club Cup, top seeds SOCAR of Azerbaijan crossed one of the biggest hurdles by beating the strong Italian team Obiettivo Risarcimento. Batumi Chess Club "Nona" is already close to victory in the women's section after beating Ladya today.

Update: video!

Masters Final

In most of the rounds, the games of the Masters Final have started a bit later than those of the European Club Cup — usually because of officials involved, a ceremonial first move, things like that.

In round four, there was another reason: Ruslan Ponomariov had prepared for Anand, but to his horror saw that he had to play Aronian, which caused some commotion.

What was the case? Normally in these double round robins, the first round of the second half mirrors the first round of the first half (when Ponomariov played Anand). However, the second half cannot be completely the same as the first, because then there will always be someone playing with the same color three times in a row. Therefore, usually two rounds are swapped, to avoid this problem.

The organizers had swapped rounds, but the wrong ones! As a result, Ponomariov not only got confused, but he ended up playing the white pieces in rounds 3-5 while Vallejo played Black three times. When the tournament director was told about this error, he decided to maintain the published pairings.

Anyway, back to the fourth round! Anand just keeps on playing well, and he defeated Vallejo rather smoothly.

“He played the Queen's Gambit Accepted, which was a bit of a surprise,” Anand said. “But then he chose a line in which I knew a few model games which helped me to orientate and think of a plan. Then he made a few inaccuracies which helped White a lot. I got and advantage with zero risk.”

Luckily for Ponomariov, preparing for the wrong opponent didn't have disastrous consequences. On the contrary: he got a nice position out of the opening against Aronian. However, the Armenian grandmaster was solid as a rock today and a draw was a natural result. Now Ponomariov can use tomorrow morning to double check his preparation for Anand (or go for a stroll along the Ría del Nervión).

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 - Vallejo
Vallejo 0-3 Anand   Ponomariov - 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 4 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf + = - Pts
1 Viswanathan Anand IND 2785 3074 3 1 0 10
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2804 2821 1 3 0 6
3 Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2717 2688 1 1 1 4
4 Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2712 2435 0 1 3 1

European Club Cup

In the European Club Cup, top seeds SOCAR of Azerbaijan crossed one of the biggest hurdles by beating the strong Italian team Obiettivo Risarcimento. Mamedyarov lost to Caruana on board one, but Anton Korobov and Veselin Topalov won their games for the Azeri team.

The fifth round was a crucial one because the two top seeds met: SOCAR of Azerbaijan and Obiettivo Risarcimento of Italy. With 2728 vs 2691 as average ratings, the Azeri team was the small favorite and it did not disappoint. Anton Korobov won his game for SOCAR as White against Kiril Georgiev, and rather convincingly:

Anton Korobov.

Fressinet vs Radjabov, Giri vs Bacrot and Vachier-Lagrave vs Adams ended in a draw. “MVL” chose a good day to play the Scotch Opening against a British grandmaster, although he said it was a coincidence! Here's the game, and Adams’ comments about the “coincidence”:

And so it all came down to the two top boards. It looked promising for SOCAR, because Topalov was better against Nakamura and Mamedyarov seemed to have drawing chances against Caruana. However, the Italian cemented his world number two status some more with yet another win. (The difference between him and Carlsen is now as small as 20.4 points.)

Surrounded by about two dozen spectators closely watching, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov failed to find the best defense in a B vs N ending, and had to throw in the towel on move 64, visibly disappointed.

Caruana-Mamedyarov, another win for the Italian GM.

This meant that Obiettivo could still tie the match, but for that to happen Nakamura needed to win a worse ending. Instead, he lost:

Veselin Topalov.

SOCAR's next hurdle to take is Malakhite of Russia, the only team that is trailing by one match point. In round five, the Russians defeated their compatriots Ladya 4-2, with Alexei Shirov and Viktor Bologan winning their games against Artyom Timofeev and Ramil Faizrakhmanov respectively.

One match point behind Malakhite, four teams are still in contention: G-Team Novy Bor, SHSM Nashe Nasledie, Minsk and Huginn Chessclub.

2014 European Club Cup | Open section | Round 5 Standings (Top 10)

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt Buc_G SB_GM
1 SOCAR Azerbaijan AZE 10 124 22.5 94 188
2 Malakhite RUS 9 109 20 91.5 164
3 G-Team Novy Bor CZE 8 113.5 22 87.5 130
4 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 8 88.5 21.5 78 111
5 Minsk BLR 8 84.5 20.5 83 129
6 Huginn Chessclub ISL 8 68 20.5 70 100
7 Obiettivo Risarcimento ITA 7 101.5 21 84 104.5
8 SPB RUS 7 98.5 18.5 95 129
9 Odlar Yourdu AZE 7 96.5 19.5 89 114.5
10 Ladya RUS 7 81.5 17.5 83 109

In the women's section, the Batumi chess club increased its lead to three match points, and so on Friday it can clinch the cup with a round to spare. The Georgian ladies beat Ladya 2.5-1.5 thanks to this game:

Hou Yifan defeated Anna Ushenina on board one of the match Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo-Ugra:

2014 European Club Cup | Women's section | Round 5 Standings

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt SB_GM
1 Batumi Chess Club Nona GEO 10 52.5 14 100
2 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 7 44 12.5 65.5
3 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo MNC 6 52 13 48
4 Ladya RUS 6 45.5 13 35
5 SC Bad Konigshofen GER 5 45 12.5 22.5
6 Ugra RUS 4 43.5 10 33
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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