Nalchik R8: Black is hot

RobertRis
IM RobertRis
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Gelfand's great novelty blew Kasimdzhanov awayThe Grand Prix in Nalchik keeps on producing exciting chess. In the eighth round Black was in perfect shape by winning two games, while the remaining games ended in draw. Beyond dispute, man of the day was Boris Gelfand, who came up already on move nine with an surprising novelty and outplayed Rustam Kasimdzhanov in only 28 moves! Video added.

By IM Robert Ris

The day started peacefully with a quick draw in the game between Mamedyarov and Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian genius, who seems to be completely out of form, came up with the novelty 11…Na5 in a line where Black can’t do much wrong anyway. From a position where White possessed the bishop pair in return for the isolani, the game soon ended in a draw after a mass of exchanges. A rather disappointing game from both sides of view. Let’s hope that they can entertain the audience a bit more in the upcoming rounds!

In the game Leko-Bacrot the point was also split quite fast, after the opening hadn’t promised White anything. Curiously, Bacrot repeated 13…a6 in a Queen's Indian which he played already in the 4th round against Gelfand. After that game the Frenchman declared that 13..a6 was a bad move, allowing White to play the annoying ending with three pawns against the knight. The fact that Leko wasn’t eager to repeat Gelfand's innovation probably means that both seconds Gustafsson and Pelletier repaired the line for Black. Instead, Leko went for the classical approach with 14.Ng5 but failed to achieve anything after Bacrot’s strong novelty 15…e5!. The Hungarian decided to call it a day by a threefold repetition of moves. Although the game lasted a mere 23 moves, from a theoretical point of view it was an important contribution to the theory of this line.

The leader after seven rounds, Levon Aronian, tried to tackle Peter Svidler in a Chebanenko Slav again, since the Russian GM narrowly escaped in the first round against Alekseev in the same line. The modest 7.Bd2 has casued Black some practical problems recently and therefore Svidler’s new 11…exd4 was really needed to keep the line playable. White’s advantage was only optical and after Aronian played the slightly inaccurate 23.Nd3 the players could shake hands already.

Games round 8



Game of the Day was certainly the encounter between Kasimdzhanov and Gelfand. Where Gelfand yesterday deviated early from the traditional paths (he played against his training buddy Eljanov, and probably didn’t want show their own preparation), today the Israeli showed opening preparation of the highest order. His 9…Nbd7!? was a huge surprise for the former FIDE World Champion, who had to invest a lot of time to handle it. Kasim played quite correctly until move 19, but then under time pressure he made a few grave errors. An outstanding performance by Gelfand, who admitted that he had seen almost the whole game at home already!

As we mentioned in our last Chessvibes Openings magazine, the Ragozin has been extremely hot in recent times, mainly thanks to the efforts of Evgeny Alekseev. In his game against Akopian, the Russian was the first to improve on his own game with Wang Hao played in the Russian league prior to this tournament. The Russian’s strategy looked quite risky, advancing his pawns in front of his king, but the control over the d-file with the help of his knights assured him enough counterplay. After the exchange of rooks, there was not so much left to play for with White, and so Akopian allowed his opponent to force a perpetual check.

It’s always something special to see Karjakin playing on the White side of the Najdorf. As playing with Black, the Russian-to-be is a renowned expert on Kasparov’s favourite opening (let’s see what Karjakin will show us in the near future now he started working with the former second of The Boss!). Against Grischuk he deviated from an earlier game with the same opponent. Karjakin enjoyed a small but lasting advantage through the whole game, but Grischuk didn’t give in and defended stubbornly. After 75 fighting moves, Karjakin hadn’t made any progress and had to resign himself to a draw.

Eljanov beats Kamsky for the 5th time

Eljanov beats Kamsky with Black; their score is now 5-0 for the Ukrainian in classical games!

The last game in this eighth round was played between Kamsky and Eljanov. The American repeated the line which brought him a confident victory against Svidler earlier in the tournament. Eljanov chose for a different setup, by placing his bishop on the long diagonal. Personally, I always tend to prefer White in this kind of positions, but Black’s pieces are harmoniously placed and the kingside is not weakened at all. Around the first time-control Kamsky committed a serious error (32.Ba4?) which gave the Ukrainian an extra pawn. Eljanov brought the full point easily back home and so scored his second Black win a row.

Since we didn‚Äôt see many decisive results in the top of the ranking, Aronian is still leading with 5/8, chased by five players with 4¬?. Looking back at this round‚Äôs games we can only be positive towards the final rounds, expecting many bloody fights on the 64-squares arena!

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