Kramnik Wins With Amazing Rook Sac In Shamkir

Kramnik Wins With Amazing Rook Sac In Shamkir

Two days ago, Veselin Topalov played a wonderful rook sacrifice in Shamkir that some commented might be a move-of-the-year candidate. Today, Topalov's long-time adversary Vladimir Kramnik one-upped him with a possibly even more astonishing rook sacrifice. Kramnik offered his rook for three not-very-dangerous pawns in the middlegame: a pure positional sacrifice! To our knowledge, this particular sacrifice is unique in chess history, but we invite readers to post comparable sacrifices in the comments.

Photo courtesy of the official site.

By his own admission, Kramnik was not too happy with his position leading up to the rook sacrifice. Things were certainly going Pentala Harikrishna's way, and the move 24...f5 seemed nearly winning for him. Kramnik's rejoinder 25.Rxe5!! was an utterly brilliant sacrifice. Both players were certain that objectively Black must still be better, but practically there were no longer any clear answers.

What's more, Kramnik had only been playing for a draw before. Now all three results were entirely possible. In time trouble, Harikrishna drifted, failing to find a plan. Both players were critical of 30...Bg8, 32...Re8 and 34...Rbd8. They looked like nice moves but didn't really do anything.

In general, the sense was that Black's pieces were only theoretically superior to White's pawn armada. After 37.c6, White's pawns were too far advanced, and Kramnik won in only five more moves.

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Harikrishna's defensive task proved too difficult today. Photo courtesy of the official site.

Don't miss IM Danny Rensch's instructive explanation of this game!

Michael Adams has shown himself to be in good form in Shamkir as he already defeated Karjakin as Black. Today, he needed only to play 35.Re6!. He then likely would have defeated Pavel Eljanov as well and joined Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the tournament lead. The pin is extremely difficult to break. After a good think, Stockfish shows +5! at 40+ ply. Adams wasn't able to offer an explanation for the miss in the post-mortem where he was quick to suggest the idea. He seemed quite surprised himself that he had rejected it.

Adams noted that it would have been the practical decision as Eljanov would have been forced to make difficult decisions in time trouble near move 40.

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Adams was quite close to handing Eljanov his second loss in a row and joining Mamedyarov in the lead. Photo courtesy of the official site.

The three remaining games were drawn and contained little action of note. In something of an "anti-miniature," Radek Wojtaszek and Sergey Karjakin reached a completely sterile position on move 25. The Azeri players have a reputation for quick draws against each other. Today was a typical example as Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov drew one move before Wojtaszek and Karjakin.

Finally, Wesley So and Topalov contested a full 64-move game, but the game was always equal. Topalov surrendered a pawn in the end, which made the computers flip their switches, but it is just an easy fortress.

Standings After Round Four

Place Fed Player Rtng Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2772 3 1 1 ½ ½
2 Topalov, Veselin 2741 2.5 ½ ½ ½ 1
3 Adams, Michael 2761 2.5 ½ ½ ½ 1
4 Kramnik, Vladimir 2811 2.5 ½ ½ ½ 1
5 Eljanov, Pavel 2751 2.5 0 ½ 1 1
6 So, Wesley 2822 1.5 0 ½ ½ ½
7 Radjabov, Teimour 2710 1.5 ½ ½ 0 ½
8 Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2745 1.5 0 ½ ½ ½
9 Karjakin, Sergey 2783 1.5 ½ 0 ½ ½
10 Harikrishna, Pentala 2755 1 0 0 ½ ½

Games from TWIC.

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