Nalchik R12: Leko joins Aronian in the lead

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
r12While Aronian got luckily away with a draw, Leko punished Kasimdzhanov for his bad performance. In the last round, starting two hours earlier today, Aronian and Leko will fight out in a direct confrontation who will be the winner of the 4th Grand Prix in Nalchik. Video added.

By IM Robert Ris

The first game that finished in round 12 was the encounter between Akopian and Gelfand. The former had clear intentions to copy his opponent's game from two days ago, when Gelfand was completely demolished after being outprepared by Leko. This time the Israeli had done his homework better and deviated quickly from the aforementioned game with 10…Nxd4. Being unprepared for this less-explored line, Akopian sank into deep thought and came up with the new move 12.Qa4. Gelfand was certainly not impressed and equalized quite easily. After trading off the rooks, the queen+knight combination was ready to penetrate in White’s camp. Hence, Akopian couldn’t do better but giving a perpetual check.

Conform to his style, Mamedyarov rather enjoys an over-the-board fight, leaving the traditional paths as soon as possible. Having lost already twice with the same opening this tournament, the Azeri wasn’t eager to add another loss in Eljanov’s beloved Ragozin and therefore deviated with the surprising 5.a3!?. Eljanov quickly went wrong with 13…c6? (13…Nf8 is my recommendation) and after 14.e6! it was clear that the Ukrainian would have a tough day. Shakh won a pawn, and although the he tried hard, he was never really close to victory. A narrow escape for Eljanov, who defended very tenaciously!

Games round 12

All eyes were focused on the tournament leader Aronian and his pursuer Leko. Today was Leko’s last White game, so in order to keep a serious chance for tournament victory he had to slay Kasimdzhanov's solid Petroff Defence. Well, to be honest I should take my last remark in serious doubt, after seeing today’s game. The Uzbek was probably caught in his preparation, not expecting the Hungarian to try a different line after his victory over Gelfand. In my opinion Kasim didn’t play the most correct reply to 8.Nc3 (Instead of taking, more accurate is 8…Bf5) and the new idea to transfer his knight to the kingside looks very slow. White brought his pawns on the kingside in action, trying to create weaknesses around the black king and then the game ended abruptly when Kasim went wrong with 24…g5 and 26…f6. Such a short and easy win over an elite player must give you some hope to experience it yourself one day!


Kamsky: "This is why I play chess."

Feeling the heat in his neck, now it was up to Aronian to take some measures in his Black game with Kamsky. In an unusual Barcza system (1.Nf3 and 2.g3 etc.) Kamsky tried to make use of Aronian's odd-looking Nd7-b6 manoeuvre, by opening the centre by f4-f5!. Black’s position seemed very dubious, but after castling Aronian had the worst already left behind him. White’s two pieces couldn’t pose Black’s major pieces any problems, and so the players agreed to a draw.

Grischuk played a model game in the Benoni against old youth-rival Bacrot. Optically it looked quite nice for Black, but the more pieces were exchanged, the more weaknesses became apparent. It is interesting to see how Grischuk avoided repetition of moves (42.Re1! - see his own comment about it in the analysis and later also in the video) by triangulating his king in order to make it to the time control. The Frenchman fought hard but couldn’t turn events and so Grischuk passed him in the ranking.

Ivanchuk showed once more how unexpectable he is for every opponent by playing the Rauzer Sicilian this time. The game itself wasn’t that exciting until the Ukrainian allowed his opponent to offer an exchange of queens. After a long think Alekseev decided not to enter the pawn ending. Online spectators at ICC were astonished this could happen to such high-class players, but in fact it's a deep and forced line that ends in a queen and pawn against queen ending which is a draw according to the tablebases. Still, it’s not entirely clear why Alekseev didn’t give it a try as in the game a draw was agreed two moves after this short moment of excitement.


Karjakin recovers well, beating Svidler with White

The last game of the round was a Spanish Zaitsev employed by Svidler. Karjakin opted for a rare line losing a tempo with 12.a3 to play the pawn another square forward two moves later. I’m sorry, but such kind of mysterious opening play I can’t explain to my students! At least Karjakin understood the subtleties better than his opponent and after a few inaccuracies in the middlegame, White’s forces were better coordinated than its counterparts. Karjakin had no difficulties in converting the superiority of his bishop over the knight through binding all Black’s pieces to his b-pawn. A beautiful example of the Spanish torture.

With one round to go Aronian and Leko are sharing first, a point ahead of Grischuk, Alekseev and Akopian. The last round starts at 13:00 local time / 11:00 CET. Hopefully the actors will entertain us one more round with exciting, bloody chess! Do it, guys! May the best win!




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