Shirov leading in Poikovsky

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Alexei ShirovWe left the Karpov tournament in Poikovsky after round 3 and we are returning after round 7. Alexei Shirov is leading with 5 points and two rounds to go. The Russians Jakovenko and Rublevsky are following with 4,5 points. The games can be followed live at the live page of the Russian Chess Federation.

By IM Merijn van Delft

Drawing percentage

At first sight it seems that all the players remembered what happened to Loek in Dortmund since after three rounds the drawing percentage was 80%. That the drawing percentage does not say much about the content of the tournament is proven by the fantastic game Sutovsky-Shirov from the first round: mysterious sacrifices, attack and counterattack, both players avoiding a draw as much as they could (but with a perpetual in the end). This game deserves a more serious analysis than we can provide at the moment. Incidentally, the drawing percentage has sunk to 63% after round seven.

All discussed games can be replayed here

Positional queen sacrifice percentage

The positional sacrifice is one of my favorite themes. Gashimov's 29. Rd6! against Onischuk in round four is a classic example. As every chess trainer would say: print out this position and add it to your collection. And what about Shirov's brilliant positional rook sacrifice against Inarkiev in round round five! He got three pawns for it, which resulted in the famous Pawn Steamroller. A special case is the positional sacrifice of the queen. The positional queen sacrifice percentage of this tournament is quite high with Wang Hao's elegant queen sac against Inarkiev from round one and Rublevsky's fascinating queen sacrifice against Jakovenko in the third round. We have to be realistic, in top level chess not every game can be super special ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú I think we are treated very well in this tournament.

Minor promotion

More proof of the fighting spirit and the going for glory is Wang Hao's minor promotion to a knight against Rublevsky in round five. Unfortunately this led to a bitter defeat ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú one move before the promotion to a queen would have most likely resulted in a draw.

Minority attack

Having read the classic books by Euwe I would think that Bologan had a succesful minority attack against Onischuk in the first round, but for some reason they agreed to a draw. Can't White just continue without risk? I'm ready to accept the elite players' more accurate judgement, but that would be instructive in itself (?¢‚ǨÀúthe death of the minority attack').

Indian openings

The Indian openings do not seem to work out well for Black in this tournament, since apart from a couple of losses Bologan's Kings Indian from round two against Volokitin seemed to be a total failure as well - only extremely stubborn defence ultimately resulted in a text book drawn pawn ending. And as we speak about openings: do not forget to have a look at the truly fascinating battles in the Marshall Attack. More on openings: The Gelfand Variation seemed to be a good shot at neutralising 6. Bg5 in the Najdorf, but Gashimov found new ways for White against Volokitin in round six.

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