Ponomariov Bounces Back in Bilbao; Novy Bor, SOCAR Lead European Club Cup

Ponomariov Bounces Back in Bilbao; Novy Bor, SOCAR Lead European Club Cup

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

After two losses with the black pieces, on Tuesday Ruslan Ponomariov defeated Francisco Vallejo Pons as White in round three of the Chess Masters Final in Bilbao.

The Ukrainan grandmaster switched places with his opponent in the leaderboard, where Viswanathan Anand and Levon Aronian remain first and second after drawing their game.

In the European Club Cup, Novy Bor, last year's winner, shares first place with top seed SOCAR. Batumi is the only team in the women's section to start with three wins.

Update: video report!

Masters Final

The third round of the Masters Final saw the big clash between Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian, but unfortunately it ended in a draw rather quickly. The opening followed Caruana-Aronian from the recent Sinquefield Cup and Anand played in Caruana's footsteps for a while, but didn't swap on e6.

“I didn't want to continue Fabiano's moves for too long because my opponent would surely have an improvement ready, and indeed Black can play better than in that game,” said Anand. 

Anand didn't want to wait for his opponent's improvement.

The game seemed rather dull from the outside, but as Anand and Aronian showed in the post-mortem with Leontxo Garcia, there were many hidden ideas. Below is the game and all variations are from the players themselves.

A draw full of hidden ideas. | Photo © David Kaufmann.

Right after they explained their game, Anand and Aronian started analyzing Ponomariov-Vallejo in front of a few dozen lucky spectators. They entered the game at move 18, when they felt that the position was muy peligroso for Vallejo. And Ponomariov proved them right: he maintained the initiative, kept looking at the enemy king and won rather easily. 

“I missed 16.Nxe6. That means I'm already lost after 11...Rxh5. Sometimes this happens,” said Vallejo. “He played well.”

“Today I was lucky that I got this position with so much initiative so easily and so quickly. At some point I only needed to calculate well as to not spoil it,” said Ponomariov. “It's very difficult to defend for Black.”

An oversight very early in the game for Vallejo...
...which meant the first victory for Ponomariov.

Wednesday is a rest day for the Masters Final, although in the morning the four participants have an activity with sponsors. In the evening, Ponomariov will be attending the Champions League match between Athletic Bilbao and Shakhtar Donetsk!

Which team he'll be rooting for? Find the answer in the video:

2014 Masters Final | Pairings & Results

Round 1 13.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 4 17.09.14 15:00 CET
Vallejo 1-1 Aronian   Ponomariov - Aronian
Anand 3-0 Ponomariov   Anand - Vallejo
Round 2 14.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 5 18.09.14 15:00 CET
Aronian 3-0 Ponomariov   Aronian - Vallejo
Vallejo 0-3 Anand   Ponomariov - Anand
Round 3 15.09.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 19.09.14 15:00 CET
Anand 1-1 Aronian   Aronian - Anand
Ponomariov 3-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Ponomariov

2014 Masters Final | Round 3 Standings

# Name Fed Rtg Perf + = - Pts
1 Viswanathan Anand IND 2785 3023 2 1 0 7
2 Levon Aronian ARM 2804 2858 1 2 0 5
3 Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2717 2647 1 0 1 3
4 Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2712 2490 0 1 2 1

European Club Cup

In the previous round, the Oslo Chess Society surprised with a 3.5-2.5 victory over the runner-up in the Spanish league, Sestao Naturgas Energia. As a reward, the Norwegians got to play SOCAR on top boards! And although they lost, again Oslo made a decent impression.

On boards 3-6, the Elo difference was too big, but top guns Jon Ludvig Hammer and Simen Agdestein gave a good example to their young teammates.

Hammer and Agdestein. | Photo © David Kaufmann.

The latter even won his game, against Veselin Topalov:

Thus SOCAR won all three matches, and at the end of the day only one team could say the same: 2013 winner Novy Bor! This means the two teams will face each other in round four, and so the Azeris can finally take revenge for their surprising loss last year

On Tuesday, the Czech team crushed 20th-seeded SK Rockaden of Sweden, which was at least 200 -- and on some boards even 300 -- Elo points lower-rated. 

So what about Saint Petersburg (Svidler, Dominguez...), Obiettivo Risarcimento (Caruana, Nakamura...) and Malakhite (Karjakin, Grischuk...)? Why don't they have six match points too? Well, the first two faced each other in round three, and played six draws, while Malakhite played 3-3 with Beer Sheva.

In Saint Petersburg-Obiettivo Risarcimento, this was the most interesting game:

Six draws in one of the top matches of this tournament.

In Malakhite-Beer Sheva there were four draws and two decisive games. Grischuk decided to prevent at all cost that his opponent could finish his development, and even sacrificed a piece for it.

“I think chess fans and amateurs should like this game!” he said afterward (and he could be right about that!).

However, on one board it went wrong for Malakhite since Alexei Shirov lost his second game in a row. The Latvian GM stayed true to his style, didn't shy away from entering his opponent's pet line in the Rauzer, but got lost in the complications. 

Two consecutive losses for Alexei Shirov.

Before going to the women's section, one sensational result needs to be mentioned: Sestao Naturgas Energia (Spain)-Bronshoj Skakforening (Denmark), 3-3. Look at these ratings!

19 Rtg Sestao Naturgas Energia  3 3 Bronshoj Skakforening Rtg
19.1 2674 Edouard, Romain 0 1 Bromann, Thorbjorn 2413
19.2 2609 Anton Guijarro, David 0 1 Pilgaard, Kim 2382
19.3 2619 Salgado Lopez, Ivan 1 0 Aabling-Thomsen, Jakob 2302
19.4 2488 Romero Holmes, Alfonso 0 1 Christensen, Esben 2055
19.5 2451 Gomez Esteban, Juan Mario 1 0 Petersen, Steen 2023
19.6 2191 Marchena Hurtado, Javier 1 0 Almer, Julia 1974

Here's Bronshoj's board one about his win against Edouard:

The top pairings in the open section's fourth round are SOCAR-Novy Bor, Obiettivo Risarcimento-Beer Sheva, Malakhite-Saint Petersburg and Ladya-Solingen.

European Clup Cup | Open section | Round 3 Standings (Top 20)

Rk Team Fed Pts SB1_MG GamPnt Buc_G
1 G-Team Novy Bor CZE 6 39 16.5 25.5
2 SOCAR Azerbaijan AZE 6 38 15 29.5
3 SG Solingen GER 5 37 13 33
4 Beer Sheva ISR 5 35 13.5 28.5
5 Malakhite RUS 5 35 12 36
6 Odlar Yourdu AZE 5 33 13 29.5
7 SPB RUS 5 31 11 38.5
8 Obiettivo Risarcimento ITA 5 27 14 23
9 Ladya RUS 5 26 12 29
10 Gros Xake Taldea ESP 4 34.5 12.5 30.5
11 SK Hohenems AUT 4 27 11 29
12 Minsk BLR 4 23.5 12.5 27
13 Huginn Chessclub ISL 4 21 12.5 23.5
14 LSG NED 4 21 11.5 25.5
15 Haladas VSE HUN 4 20 11 21
16 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 4 19.5 10.5 32
17 Royal Salzburg AUT 4 19 12 19.5
18 KSK47-Eynatten BEL 4 17.5 11 26.5
19 Solvay ESP 4 16 11.5 25.5
20 Oslo Schakselskap NOR 4 16 10.5 26

The new ECU President, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, will be happy to see that Batumi is topping the standings in the women's section after three rounds. The Georgian ladies won all three matches; on Tuesday they were way too strong for Herzliya Chess Club of Israel: 4-0.

The three Russian teams, Ugra, Ladya and SHSM Nashe Nasledie, share second place with SC Bad Konigshofen of Germany –- all have four match points. Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo started with two losses but are back in the tournament after beating Bad Konigshofen.

Anna Zatonskih is a few months pregnant but that doesn't stop her from playing well in Bilbao! She beat Alexandra Kosteniuk with the black pieces today:

European Clup Cup | Women's section | Round 3 Standings

Rk Team Fed Pts SB1_MG GamPnt Buc_G SB_GG
1 Batumi Chess Club Nona GEO 6 10 9 13.5 36
2 Ugra RUS 4 16 8 17.5 41.75
3 Ladya RUS 4 16 8 16 34.25
4 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 4 16 6.5 21.5 45.75
5 SC Bad Konigshofen GER 2 16 6.5 17.5 32.25
6 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo MNC 2 15 5.5 22 39.5
7 Rishon Letzion ISR 2 1 3 16 7
8 Herzliya Chess Club ISR 0 0 1.5 20 4.5

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