Carlsen, Jakovenko and Topalov win in great 8th round Pearl Spring

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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Nanjing r8In a fantastic 8th round of the Pearl Spring tournament all three games were decided: Topalov crushed Leko with Black in a Grünfeld, Jakovenko grinded down Radjabov in a Dragon ending and in a tough Slav fight that should have ended in a draw, Carlsen profited from a wrong check by Wang Yue.

The 2nd Pearl Spring tournament takes place September 27 - October 9 in Nanjing, China. It's a 6-player, double round-robin with Topalov (2813), Carlsen (2772), Leko (2762), Radjabov (2757), Jakovenko (2742) and Wang Yue (2736) playing for a € 250,000 prize fund. The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 1 hour.

Round 8

Today we saw clearly the best round of the tournament so far, with three decisive games. Topalov went away with the full point the quickest, and it's hard to avoid calling it a win in Kasparov-style.

To start with, the Bulgarian used the same Grünfeld line that was played by Kasparov in Valencia and Carlsen against Leko two days ago. But more importantly, after choosing the more active 12...c4 (instead of Carlsen's 12...Nc4), he used a prepared double pawn sacrifice (17...f5!, 22...f4!) to immediately grab a strong initiative. Leko didn't have a good answer and before he knew it the Hungarian was defending a lost position. It was the highly effective opening preparation combined with the complete dominance with the black pieces that reminded Topalov's win of the times The Boss was still around at top tournaments.

Nanjing r8

And if we go a bit further back in time: what always impressed me most of Anatoly Karpov as a reigning champion, was the way he used 1.e4 positionally. Sharp lines like the Keres Attack or the Dragon were always treated in such a crystal-clear manner, where simple, healthy moves often proved much more effective than the aggressive interpretation of players who tried to be the new Tal. This is how Jakovenko beat Radjabov today: answering his opponent's new opening idea with healthy moves, and converting a better endgame into a win using excellent technique.

Nanjing r8

But the richest game of the round was Carlsen-Wang Yue, which can be analysed for days and days to come. It started with the sharp 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Nxc4 Qc7 8.g3 e5 Slav that was tested in both World Championship matches between Alekhine and Euwe and which was re-introduced at top level by Morozevich.

After the opening Black was fine and perhaps more than that, if Wang Yue had answered Carlsen's bishop sacrifice with the tricky 23...Ne7. In the game White got the better chances, and even had a clear win at move 32 which both players missed. After move 40 was reached, the ending with an extra pawn for White should have been a draw, and Wang Yue defended well for a long time, but eventually the continuous pressure became too much even for the tough Chinese; one careless check and the position was suddenly lost. Walking through a minefield, the black king managed to avoid the many mates, but then suddenly the knight was lost.

Nanjing r8

Carlsen, who now beat every player in the tournament once, still has that amazing two point lead in the standings, just two games before the end. It means he can enjoy the second restday on Wednesday with the knowledge that has already won the Pearl Spring Grand Slam at least shared. Not to mention his performance rating, which went over 3000 again (3019 to be exact)! He won't surpass Topalov on the rating list, but suddenly there's a new goal on the horizon: trying to reach 2800 himself - just 3.6 points to go...

Games round 8



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2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Round 8 Standings 2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Schedule & results 2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

Nanjing r8

Magnus Carlsen, on a bed of roses



Nanjing r8

Veselin Topalov, going for second place this time



Nanjing r8

Wang Yue, seven draws and one loss now



Nanjing r8

Dmitry Jakovenko must be content with his play today



Nanjing r8

Peter Leko, victim of devastating opening preparation



Nanjing r8

Teimour Radjabov, sharing last place with Leko



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