Two more draws on third day Candidates semi-finals

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Two more draws on third day Candidates semi-finalsIn Kazan, Russia yet again both games ended in a draw. On the third day of the FIDE Candidates semi-finals, Alexander Grischuk switched to 1.e4 but was held to a draw by Vladimir Kramnik in a Petroff. Gata Kamsky played the ambitious 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 against Boris Gelfand's Najdorf and both players got their chances in a very sharp game.

General info

The Candidates matches take place May 3-27 in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. Levon Aronian (Armenia), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) and Gata Kamsky (USA) respectively. The semi-final matches consist of four games; there are six games in the final. The winner qualifies for a World Title match against Vishy Anand next year. More info here; tie-break rules here.

Semi-finals, day 3

This third day of the semi-finals in Kazan was a day of contrasts. There was one short and dull draw, between Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik, and there was one great fight, between Gata Kamsky and Boris Gelfand. Both are examples of modern chess.

Grischuk-Kramnik was yet another case of deep preparation by the ex-World Champ (maybe even the full game again), and Grischuk not pushing for too long. The only interesting part about the matter was that Grischuk switched to 1.e4. More about this game below.

Grischuk and Kramnik shake hands

Grischuk and Kramnik shake hands and split the point

Kamsky-Gelfand was one of the best games so far in Kazan, perhaps not in terms of objective quality, but certainly in terms of drama and entertainment. The American grandmaster played the ambitious 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 line against Gelfand's Najdorf and followed up with the rare set-up 8.h3 and 9.Qf3. A few moves later White sacrificed a pawn for good compensation . Kamsky developed an initiative that was so strong, that he had a close to winning position around move 25.

After some missed chances, the tables turned. Especially 29.Qh1 was a weird one, and in fact right after the press conference Kamsky's second Emil Sutovsky asked his 'boss' how on earth he had found it! Then, for a brief moment, it was Boris Gelfand who had a winning position, but in time trouble he missed a trick by Kamsky which led to a drawn rook ending.

Boris Gelfand misses 38...Qh5! -+.

Boris Gelfand realizes he missed Qc5+xe3

This is what Kramnik said about his short draw (which revealed once more the deepness of his preparation and, by the way, also that besides Alexander Riazantsev, Grischuk has top GMs Etienne Bacrot and Peter Svidler as seconds):
This option was very popular with three or four years ago and I have seriously prepared it for the World Championship match with Anand. Plus, I expected it could happen here, because one of Sasha's seconds, Etienne Bacrot, recently played it against Wang Yue, and Peter Svidler played it as well. So I more or less refreshed and tested my memory."

I think 15...Re7 is a novelty. In fact, the position is quite poisonous; it is not as simple as it seems. We have spent a lot of time on working out a clear path to equality. I think 15...Re7 is a good move, which is based on specific variations; there may arise a rook ending which is also a draw. The essence of the position is that as soon as Black has time to play h6 and transfer the knight to f6, then White has no real ways left to win. The only plan is g4-g5, but firstly, it is difficult to achieve thus, and secondly, it's not clear whether it's good in the first place, because White's king position is opened up. In any case, I played very carefully. For example, my 23... Qd7 avoided g4 altogether. I offered a draw after 21 ... c6, because there, in my opinion, there's nothing special to play for. It is clear that Sasha would have liked a little something to try, but there's really nothing to try, the position is quite "concrete". It does not just equal, but, in fact, a dead draw. So we decided not to waste energy.
Grischuk was asked whether it was true that the two players were just "heading for the tie-breaks". Alexander answered:
I think we are all now witnessing the funeral of classical chess. [Then Grischuk made a remark about the many draws in draughts.] On the one hand, it is very disappointing - all the time to play such boring games, but on the other hand - maybe we're doing the right thing.
Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik, with yet another press conference more interesting than the game itself

Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik, with yet another press conference more interesting than the game itself

With this, Grischuk hinted at something he's been saying for years: that he simply likes rapid and blitz much more. In the mean time, the Russian grandmaster seems to be trying to demonstrate that also for the fans, classical chess is something from the old days.

Kramnik responded:
Personally I am "for" classical chess, but it's true that because of computers it has become difficult. As we said after the first game, at this point it's perhaps necessary to introduce some small changes to the rules. I think so far in tournaments the situation is still normal, because preparation doesn't go as deeply, and the opponent can catch you somewhere. In matches, of course, it's much harder. But still, I think, it's not the end yet! Yesterday we had a difficult game and today Kamsky and Gelfand also had a very interesting game, some new things are still coming up. But, of course, the problem is - how to get an edge with White.
Then Kramnik promised that in game 4, where he has White, he would try to look for a serious fight.

Several hours later, Boris Gelfand was also confronted with Grischuk's remark about the death of classical chess, and whether he didn't have nostalgic feelings about the old days. The Israeli grandmaster had to laugh:

Well, he says this at a moment when chess is still very much alive. Today is no exception. Nostalgia - what does it mean? Perhaps, it is necessary to initiate a lawsuit against ChessBase, for the destruction of chess? Or deny the creators of Rybka or Fritz to work, to punish them? It is useless to talk like this.

Boris Gelfand reacts to Grischuk's bold statement that the end of classical chess is near

Boris Gelfand reacted level-headedly to Grischuk's
bold statement that the end of classical chess is near

Games semi-finals, day 3

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Images FIDE | Russian Chess Federation


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