Report of round 13

Triumvirate At The Top Of Group A, Eljanov Wins B, Krasenkov On Top Of C.

The fight between the leaders was as expected a cautious affair. Understandably, neither player wanted to take any risks and possibly ruin an otherwise fantastic result. Topalov actually said after the game he had prepared everything at home - a residue of the homework he did for the world championship match. 15.Qe1!? was an interesting way to play for white, but to quote Radja: “I didn’t want to put all my pieces on the first rank”. The most interesting moment was of course black’s (see diagram 1) 21...dxe3! and white’s sober response 22.Qxe3!. Radja would have been foolish to go for 22.Rxd8?! exf2+ 23.Qf2 (Topalov:” the computer’s preferred move”) Bxd8 with an unclear position, where black certainly has enough compensation. 22...Bg5! was a lifesaver for black, since 22...Qc7? 23.Nd5 spells the end. The players had no choice but to repeat moves, and share the point.

Levon Aronian capitalized on his opportunity after the draw on top board, with a solid win over Tiviakov. In Tivi’s 6...c6 “pet line”- to quote Aronian, the Armenian managed to get a comfortable edge. When Tiviakov accepted the pawn sacrifice (13...Bxe2 and 14...Qxd4) it was a dubious decision. In the post-game conference, Levon criticized his 19.Rad1 and suggested 19.Be4 at once, with f4-f5 to follow. Amusingly, Aronian confessed he overlooked 22...Nxe5?!, but as it turned out, that was a bad idea anyway, as 23.Qe3 keeps white on top. The real mistake however, was 23...Ng4? (see diagram 2) (23...Bc5 was the only move: 24.Bxh7+ Kxh7 25.Qe4+ Kg8 26.Nxe5 and white is somewhat better). On move 28 white could also have won with 28.Bxh7+! and now 28...Kxh7 29.Rh1 or 28...Qxh7 29.Kxg4 and wins. In any event, the rook was much stronger than the black pawns, and the eventual win came as no surprise.

Van Wely started out quite well against Kramnik, even outplaying him in the early middlegame. Afterwards, both opponent’s agreed that had black chosen 20...Bxe3+! (instead of 20...Re7?) 21.Kh1 Nf4, he would have been the one with the better prospects. In the game white’s battery along the a2-g8 diagonal was quite annoying, and with 24.Rxf6! (see diagram 3) he crushed through to victory a few moves later.

Anand didn’t get much in the Ruy against Navara, and after 16.d4 (16.Be3!? with the idea of 17.b4 would have been a good alternative), if anyone was better, it was black. 17...exd4!? 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Qxd4 Qc6!? might have been the way to go for him. In the game black sacked a pawn, and had enough to show for it, but no more. After the game David said he thought Anand’s draw offer was a bit early, as the Indian GM could have played a few more moves to test him.

Svidler - Karjakin was an exciting debate of the Najdorf, with opposite side castling. After the game, Sergey was quite pleased about how he played, as well as his home preparation. He criticized Peter’s 18.g5? as the critical mistake, saying white should have neutralized black’s attack with the pacifying 18.Qb6!?. In the game the Ukrainian completely took over with his 18...Rfc8! (see diagram 4) and 19...Rab8!, after which the black attack developed menacingly. With a series of simple but effective moves, Sergey brought the point home.

Ponomariov - Motylev saw white nursing a slight middlegame edge from the Semi Slav, till 24.Qa5?! was played. 24.f4!? would have been a better move, when white maintains his slight superiority. After the queen trade in the game, black was at least equal, and white tried to inject some new blood into the position with 26.b4. After the following sequence of moves, white had two minor pieces for a rook and 2 pawns, with dynamic equality. When white passed on 34.e5+!?, the game was drawn quickly thereafter.

Shirov had no problems against Carlsen, till his 20...g6? which quickly landed him in trouble. His difficulties would have been magnified had the Norwegian played, after 24...Qf6?! 25.fxg6 fxg6, the strong 26.Nfe6. After further inaccuracies by both players, white was still in great shape with an extra pawn and an agile bishop pair. 46.Rh3 would have been the best test of whether black can hold this endgame or not, since after the game’s 46.h7?! the draw was imminent.

Ukrainian Pavel Eljanov won the GM B-Group with a 9/13 score, and will play in the A group next year.

Polish GM Michal Krasenkov took advantage of Ian Nepomniachtchi’s first and only loss to overtake him at the top of group C.

See a video of round 13, Topalov's/Radjabov's joint press conference and Aronian's press conference on