Jermuk R8: Ivanchuk beats Gelfand, Leko survives

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Jermuk GPHe needed all his endgame experience, creativity and 98 moves, but Ivanchuk defeated Gelfand in the only decisive game of round 8 in Jermuk. He joined Leko in the lead; the Hungarian successfully defended a difficult ending against Jakovenko.

The 5th tournament in the FIDE Grand Prix Series takes place in Jermuk, Armenia. It's a 14-player round-robin with Aronian, Jakovenko, Leko, Gelfand, Bacrot, Kamsky, Karjakin, Eljanov, Alekseev, Akopian, Ivanchuk, Cheparinov, Inarkiev and Kasimdzhanov. More info on the GP and Jermuk in our preview.

Round 8

After such a horrible first half of the tournament, Inarkiev's quick draw against Eljanov was fully understandable. Not long after that the two Armenians did more or less the same, but at least the games were theoretically relevant.

Akopian-Bacrot was a theoretical battle where 16.Rad1 deviated from a game between the same players in the previous Grand Prix - Bacrot had probably looked at it and equalized easily. Aronian repeated the gambit line of the Queen's Indian he had beaten Leko with in Nice in March, but his 16.Qf4, also tried by Nyback last month against Wojtaszek, was answered with a novelty by Karjakin: 16...Re8. The idea was (a very nice way of) giving back the pawn for full mobilization, and makes you wonder till what point Karjakin had prepared!

Jermuk GP

Levon Aronian and Arianne Caoili listen to Gabriel Sargissian - was fruit juice the missing element in Levon's preparation?

The other four games lasted much longer: 60, 60, 98 and 121 moves! Let's continue from shortest to longest, which comes down to some sort of chronological sequence as well. Alekseev-Kasimdzhanov never seemed out of balance anywhere, but it's instructive to see such endings played out till the very end sometimes. Kamsky outplayed Cheparinov with Black in a Breyer and seems to have missed a win in the knight ending with 51...Nf2 52.h4 g4 53.Nd4 Ne4 54.Nf5 h5.

Jermuk GP

Ivanchuk after the game, at the press conference

Then the battle between the two 40-year-olds: Ivanchuk and Gelfand. It's not clear whether 18.Ba3 lost or sacrificed a pawn because White had clear compensation afterwards. Then 24.g4 was a great move, conquering the e4 square, and after the time cotrol Ivanchuk's compensation had turned into an advantage, which became close to winning after the mistake 43...Nxa4? where 43...Bd6 was necessary. However, Gelfand defended like a lion and might have still drawn with 51...Ra8 52.Nc3 Be7. The final phase was a pretty reward for Ivanchuk's persistance.

It meant that the Ukrainian was at least shared first in the standings, because on the last board left, Leko had been defending a Berlin Wall ending with a pawn down for ages already. It looks like Jakovenko missed wins with 89...Rh2 90.Nc4 Rxa2 91.Re8 a5 and 94...Rd3, so it was a lucky escape for the Hungarian! Black's final move must have been accompanied with a wink, finishing the marathon with a mutual smile.

Jermuk GP

Leko and Jakovenko at the start of their hard-fought Ruy Lopez

Leko is doing well, just like in Nalchik, Ivanchuk is again winning rating points back, Kasimdzhanov performs just excellent while Aronian is a point behind the leaders. But with two GP victories in the pocket already, he hasn't got too much to worry about.

Round 8 games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Round 8 Standings

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Schedule & results

Jermuk GP

Aronian posing with tournament photographer Aram Karakhanyan, this time on the other side of the lens

All photos © Arman Kharakhanyan


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