The Week in Chess
Hikaru Nakamura goes into the second rest day on 4.5/6 half a point clear of Boris Gelfand in the Tal Memorial in Moscow.
Nakamura has played Anand in 11 times in standard time control games only having white twice yet has gone to a +3 score. Playing 3...g6 in the Ruy Lopez Nakamura got a sharp battle and soon got the advantage. The players traded into a favourable Knight and Pawn ending for Nakamura. Anand's 31.Nc8+ seems to lose by force in an already very difficult ending and indeed Nakamura had a choice of winning methods, Nakamura was somewhat annoyed with himself he missed 34...Ne1+ trading into a trivially winning King and Pawn ending but he was winning anyway forcing resignation on move 45.
This is likely to be Anand's last event before the World Chess Championship match in November. Whilst it isn't a definite predictor of future results Anand needs to score some points to stop this becoming a complete disaster.
Boris Gelfand got a small advantage in the Catalan against Magnus Carlsen who traded down into a solid if a little bit passive late middlegame/ending. Carlsen thought that he hadn't been particularly accurate "It got perhaps a bit more uncomfortable than it should have been." but eventually the game ended in a repetition. It might have appeared that Carlsen avoided a repetition but it was confirmed by Gelfand he would have played Qa3-b2 if Carlsen hadn't deviated on move 27 presumably because he thought this a stronger move.
Dmitry Andreikin got a small but tangible advantage against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov even a pawn down but later after recovering and then grabbing a pawn he lost the initiative and actually had to show a small amount of care to get his draw.
Fabiano Caruana seemed to walk into some very deep Vladimir Kramnik preparation in the Berlin Defence leading to quite an irrational position. Caruana however managed to play well enough to force Kramnik to repeat.
Alexander Morozevich got a small but nagging advantage against Sergey Karjakin but despite grinding away for many hours he eventually had to settle for a draw.
Rest day Thurday.
Round 6 Standings: Nakamura 4.5/6, Gelfand 4pts, Mamedyarov, Carlsen 3.5pts, Andreikin, Caruana 3pts, Karjakin 2.5pts, Kramnik, Anand, Morozevich 2pts.
Round 7 Friday 21st Jun 2013: Carlsen-Morozevich, Nakamura-Gelfand, Mamedyarov-Anand, Kramnik-Andreikin, Karjakin-Caruana.
Magnus Carlsen tried to play down the significance of his crushing round 5 victory in the Tal Memorial against World Champion Viswanathan Anand but the stoney look on Anand's face told its own story. Carlsen played a line of the Nimzo-Indian that Anand hadn't played in a decade. Anand reacted tentitively and in an already tricky position 17...Bc8 seems to be the losing move. Certainly after 19.f3 Carlsen no longer had any good suggestions for Anand. Carlsen was reasonably impressive in this game but Anand was barely recognisable today. In the body of the article there is the game with Carlsen's comments and some interesting press conference material. This result leaves Magnus Carlsen tied in 3rd place with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Hikaru Nakamura was held really rather easily by Dmitry Andreikin in a Queens Indian Petrosian where black got an extremely solid equal position pretty much out of the opening.
Boris Gelfand joined Nakamura in the lead after beating Alexander Morozevich in a Benoni. Morozevich's opening choice looked rather weak, he sacrificed the exchange for white's dark squared bishop but Gelfand is entirely the wrong kind of opponent to play this way against and he quickly consolidated to a win. 13...Ne5 seems already to be a mistake from Morozevich who doesn't seem to be playing well at the moment. At one stage he looked interested in the event but now seems to be reverting to recent bad form.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov pressed for some time with a small advantage against Fabiano Caruana but couldn't break through. Vladimir Kramnik didn't seem to get much at all against Sergey Karjakin.
Round 5 Standings: Nakamura, Gelfand 3.5pts, Mamedyarov, Carlsen 3pts, Andreikin, Caruana 2.5pts, Karjakin, Anand 2pts, Morozevich, Kramnik 1.5pts.
Round 6 Wed 19th Jun 2013: Morozevich-Karjakin, Caruana-Kramnik, Andreikin-Mamedyarov, Anand-Nakamura, Gelfand-Carlsen.
Alex Baburin's 40th auction took place on 13-15 June. There were 94 lots posted at his GM Square Auction site.
They included magazines (for example, an almost complete run of The Chess-Monthly), tournament books, games collections, rare books and chess memorabilia.
The biggest ticket was Opposition et cases conjuguees, by Duchamp and Halberstadt, which was sold for €724. A book in Dutch signed by all players of the 1948 World Championship fetched €250. The first volume of The Chess-Monthly (September 1879 – August 1880) went for €219.43.
GM Baburin runs 5-6 online chess auctions every year. If you are interested in selling anything at his future auctions, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hikaru Nakamura defeated Fabiano Caruana with black in the fourth round of the Tal Memorial to take him to a clear lead with a 3/4 score. Nakamura was roundly defeated by Mamedyarov in Round 1 and was losing against Kramnik in round 2 before turning that game into a win, now he has real momentum after beating Karjakin and now Caruana. In a Sicilian Najdorf Nakamura played slightly unusually and Caruana fell behind on the clock in reaching a position where Nakamura was already thinking of playing for more than a draw. 25...e4 was ambitious and most probably Caruana needed to play the ugly b5 at some point because after 28...b5 he was already in terrible trouble 34...Bb6 already planned the decisive Kg7, Rh8 with the Queen penetrating on c3. Caruana resigned in a hopeless position on move 39.
The remaining games were drawn. Dmitry Andreikin hoped for a small advantage against Magnus Carlsen but the world mumber one had no problems at all setting up a completely blockaded position for the draw. Viswanathan Anand got nothing tangible in a Rossolimo Sicilian against Boris Gelfand. Quite a few pieces and pawns came off early in the Scotch Four Knights between Alexander Morozevich and Vladimir Kramnik and even though there was interesting play it wasn't much of a surprise it finishing in a draw by repetition. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played the highly unusual 7...Nbd7 against the 5.Bd3 Pirc Austrian Attack played by Sergey Karjakin. This led to him being two pawns down although one had to be returned to free white's game. Mamedyarov retained just about enough activity to hold the resulting position.
Round 4 Standings: Nakamura 3/4, Mamedyarov, Gelfand 2.5pts, Caruana, Andreikin, Anand, Carlsen 2pts, Karjakin, Morozevich 1.5pts, Kramnik 1pt.
Round 5 Tues 17th Jun 2013 12pm BST: Gelfand-Morozevich, Carlsen-Anand, Nakamura-Andreikin, Mamedyarov-Caruana, Kramnik-Karjakin.
Fabiano Caruana defeated Magnus Carlsen in a strange game game where Carlsen dropped a pawn as white just out of the opening. He then got a technically drawn ending but most likely saw more problems than there were and miscalculated and lost. Caruana goes to World Number 3 on the live ratings. The lines given in the press conference now in the PGN file. Fascinating stuff.
Alexander Morozevich was doing fine at first time control against World Champion Viswanathan Anand but 41..Qe5 and 42...e3? were just too ambitious and Anand took the material offered and won.
Hikaru Nakamura managed to play 5.Bd2 in the Gruenfeld for the first time even though he had wanted to before. Sergey Karjakin went wrong rather quickly (most likely 15...Ne5 isn't the correct square for the knight) and Nakamura got a huge advantage. Nakamura didn't find the best method (26.Qb2 or 27.Qb2) and Karjakin almost got to a drawn position but blunders in time pressure getting to move 40 ended his chances.
Vladimir Kramnik got off the mark when he got a draw by repetition in a theoretical Nimzo-Indian against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.
Boris Gelfand didn't see anything better than to repeat on move 23 with the white pieces against Dmitry Andreikin in a game that started. 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Bb4+ 3. Nd2
Round 3 Standings: 1-4. B. Gelfand, S. Mamedyarov, H. Nakamura, F. Caruana - 2, 5-7. D. Andreikin, V. Anand - 1,5, 8-9. S. Karjakin, A. Morozevich - 1, 10. V. Kramnik - 0,5
Pairings for the 4th round Mon 17th Jun 2013 (rest day Sun): Morozevich-Kramnik, Karjakin-Mamedyarov Caruana-Nakamura, Andreikin-Carlsen, Anand-Gelfand
The now traditional Cez Trophy took place in Prague 11th to 14th June 2013. David Navara played a four game match against former Women's World Champion and now challenger Hou Yifan. After the four standard time control games were drawn there was a play-off 2x3m+2spm Hou won the first, Navara the second and finally Hou Yifan won the match by winning with black in a final Armageddon game with 6 minutes against 5 and no increments. These playoff games are now available.
The 8th Tal Memorial round 2 saw wins with black for Boris Gelfand over Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura against Vladimir Kramnik. The also saw the World Champion and his challenger Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen have to struggle hard to draw.
Vladimir Kramnik lost for the second day running this time with the white pieces against Hikaru Nakamura. Nakamura felt he was lucky as the opening went quite badly for him 21.f4 would have been powerful and after 27.h3 Nc4! black was equal at the very least and after 29.Rd7 Nakamura didn't have many suggestions as to what white could do as his position deteriorated.
Boris Gelfand won a sharp Najdorf Sicilian as black against Fabiano Caruana. 25.h4 seems to have been a step in the wrong direction and after 32.Bf2? Gelfand launched a direct winning attack starting with 32...Ne2!
Magnus Carlsen got a solid but passive position after Sergey Karjakin followed a previous game in the Berlin Defence he played against Peter Leko. 10...Bc5 seems new, Carlsen was later unhappy with his idea of opening the a-file. Both players agreed 33.h6 wasn't the best after which Carlsen could successfully keep his opponent out, Karjakin had intended to follow up with g5 but realised fg was good.
Dmitry Andreikin got a very nice position against Viswanathan Anand who was on the edge of deep trouble for some time but defended well and the finesse 26...Kg6! was really accurate after which he held the draw comfortably.
Alexander Morozevich had a rough series of results in the two recent FIDE Grand Prix but he seemed quite interested at his post-game press conference with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov following their lively if not entirely accurate encounter. Morozevich may do something in this event.
Round 2 Standings: Mamedyarov, Gelfand, Carlsen 1.5pts, Karjakin, Morozevich, Andreikin, Caruana, Nakamura 1pts, Anand 0.5pts, Kramnik 0pts.
Round 3 Pairings: Anand-Morozevich, Gelfand-Andreikin, Carlsen-Caruana, Nakamura-Karjakin, Mamedyarov-Kramnik.
The first day of the Tal Memorial saw three decisive games out of five with wins for Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov although none of the players who lost will be all that happy with their performances.
Magnus Carlsen rolled out the Trompowsky against Vladimir Kramnik and was rewarded with a win in the endgame. Kramnik seemed quite uncertain of himself and started consume time when it wasn't really necessary and this left him short later on. Kramnik's position certainly wasn't that bad for some time even when his pawns became fractured. In fact it was after first time control where Kramnik made a very bad error when on move 44 he traded rooks into what turned out to be a totally lost Bishop and Pawn ending a pawn down. Carlsen afterwards said he wasn't hiding opening preparation for the World Championship as he hadn't started yet, he was here to give his best over the board.
I've now seen Carlsen's press conference, one of his very best technical efforts in explaining the game. http://video.russiachess.org/view/1962 at the end from 17:48:30 (last hour, apparently the hour is different depending which time zone you're in). I've transcribed the notes to the PGN file for play through and download. Firstly it confirmed my feeling that Carlsen was in very bad shape at the end of the Candidates from Round 11 onwards. Gone are the error strewn variations there, here there are no glaring errors. He really shows how he made Kramnik make "some decisions" all the way through the game until he cracked. Really this game is what Carlsen is all about. The fact he spent over half an hour explaining it shows he was happy with it and how he rates wins vs Kramnik.
World Champion Viswanathan Anand also had a day to forget losing horribly in the end to Fabiano Caruana. On the white side of a Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall Anand innovated with 13.Bc2, Caruana sacrificed a pawn for good play with 16...Ncb4 only at this stage trying to equalise. Caruana rather feared 24.Ng4 which Anand didn't play and after 25.Nfd1 he was better. Anand's 39.Ke1 and 40.Kd1 left him completely lost and he resigned 8 moves later.
Even worse was to befall Hikaru Nakamura who just played dreadfully against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Once Nakamura rests from this big run of events the repair on a tattered opening repertoire that has got him into all sorts of trouble recently will surely be a priority. In a Ragozin Nakamura fingered 10.Rad1 as the start of his problems after which he should have concentrated on equalising. Instead Nakamura quickly became worse and his 18.g3?!, 19.h3? absolutely asked for the decisive sacrifice 19...Nxf2 Mamedyarov played and things ended quickly after that.
Dmitry Andreikin had a small advantage against Alexander Morozevich in a Dragon Sicilian but Morozevich defended well. Boris Gelfand played for an annoying plus in a Catalan against Sergey Karjakin but the position gradually became equal.
Round 1 Standings: Carlsen, Caruana, Mamedyarov 1pt, Karjakin, Morozevich, Gelfand, Andreikin 0.5pts, Kramnik, Anand, Nakamura 0pts.
Round 2 Pairings Fri 14th Jun 12pm BST: Morozevich-Mamedyarov, Kramnik-Nakamura, Karjakin-Carlsen, Caruana-Gelfand, Andreikin-Anand.
For the second year running the Tal Memorial had a blitz tournament as the curtain raiser and established the draw for the main tournament. Hikaru Nakamura took clear first place with 7/9 a clear improvement on his 4/9 the previous year. World Champion Viswanathan Anand came in second place with 6.5/9, both players were undefeated and the difference came down to Nakamura beating tail-ender Caruana and Anand only drawing. For Caruana this was the second year in a row he finished in last place, but he was 2nd in the main event encouraging for those who didn't do so well.
Magnus Carlsen was doing fine but his event became somewhat derailed in an exciting loss to Alexander Morozevich in Round 7 after which he drew in Round 8 and lost to Mamedyarov in the final round.
Vladimir Kramnik came third also improving on his showing last year. The players were allowed to choose their draw number this year in order they finished, last year the number was their placing. Nakamura chose 5 which means he has white in the first and last rounds, the same reasoning used by Karjakin in Norway (1st there 8th here) in a similar event. Vladimir Kramnik was the only player in the top 6 to choose to have 5 blacks in the main event. This is the first tie-break but it's interesting no-one else who had a choice thought this way.
Final Round 9 Standings: 1st Nakamura 7pts, 2nd Anand 6.5pts, 3rd Kramnik 5.5pts, 4th Gelfand 4.5pts, 5th Carlsen 4.5pts, 6th Andreikin 4pts, 7th Mamedyarov 4pts, 8th Karjakin 3.5pts, 9th Morozevich 3pts, 10th Caruana 2.5pts.
Draw Numbers chosen in order: Nakamura 5, Anand 2, Kramnik 7, Gelfand 3, Carlsen 4, Andreikin 1, Mamedyarov 6, Karjakin 8, Morozevich 10, Caruana 9
Tal Mem Rd1 Thur 13th Jun 12pm BST: Andreikin-Morozevich, Anand-Caruana, Gelfand-Karjakin, Carlsen-Kramnik, Nakamura-Mamededyarov. There is an all star commentary team for the English video including Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk.
The 8th Tal Memorial tournament takes place 12th June (opening ceremony and I believe a repeat of the blitz tournament to decide the draw) to 24th June 2013. Players: Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alexander Morozevich, Boris Gelfand and Dmitry Andreikin
The FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Championships took place in Khanty-Mansiysk 6th to 10th June 2013. Alexander Grischuk, Nepomniachtchi, Kamsky, Dreev, Ponomariov, Rublevsky, Mamedyarov, Vitiugov etc played in the rapid and blitz tournament.. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov made up 2.5 points on the final day on the leader Ian Nepomniachtchi by scoring 5/5 to take the title. Le Quang Liem took an early lead in the blitz but had to survive a rocky patch before a final round win against Movsesian secured him the title. Game files now complete.
The French Team Championship Top 12 took took in Haguenau 30th May to 9th June 2013. Leading players: Etienne Bacrot, Dmitry Jakovenko, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Laurent Fressinet, Loek van Wely, Arkadij Naiditsch, Radoslaw Wojtaszek etc. All games now available. Clichy easily won the title with a round to spare. It's starting to become clear there are a lot of errors in the games.
The Sberbank GM Rapid tournament took place 5th to 7th June 2013. Rounds start at 13:30 BST. Players: Areshchenko, Eljanov, Zhigalko, Karpov, Karjakin Korobov, Leko, Naiditsch, Tomashevsky, Topalov. Games and results here. Sergey Karjakin took clear first with 6.5/9 half a point clear of Veselin Topalov.
The 26th Leon Masters took place 7th to 9th June 2013. Vassily Ivanchuk plays Anish Giri over 16 games. Friday 2 games at 45m+15spm. Saturday 4 games at 20m+10spm and Sun 10 games at 5m+3spm. Giri won 1.5-0.5 on day 1, 3.5-0.5 on day two but was hammered 7.5-2.5 by Ivanchuk in the blitz. Am slightly unclear of the scoring but the first two match victories meant Giri won the event in spite of finally scoring less points. Giri pointed out that he really did have to do something about his poor blitz record. He said he played the games inflexibly like a "bull" with one fixed idea which worked on the first two days but not at all on the last. All games and results available below.
The FIDE Grand Prix Thessaloniki took place Wednesday 22nd May to 3rd June 2013. Leinier Dominguez Perez took clear first place with 8/11 after defeating Veselin Topalov in the final round. Fabiano Caruana took second place on tie-break from leader Gata Kamsky after defeating him in the final round. Page for games, results and stories.
Cuban Grandmaster Leinier Dominguez Perez won the Thessaloniki Grand Prix with a big 8/11 score after defeating Veselin Topalov in the final round. The win should take Dominguez to number 11 in the world and a rating of 2757 by far his highest. 30 year old Dominguez should now get further opportunities to play at the highest level.
Dominguez stood worse as white against Topalov but the Bulgarian overpressed and was left trying to save an awkward rook and pawn ending but failed.
The way to the victory was opened by Fabiano Caruana who defeated leader Gata Kamsky in a Ruy Lopez. Kamsky's 13...g6 was probably not the best and this put him under pressure for a long time. 35...Kh7 lost out of hand (35...Qf6 and play continues). Caruana thus took second place on tie-break from Kamsky who nevertheless should still enter the top 10.
Ruslan Ponomariov probably had a winning position against out of form Alexander Grischuk but allowed the Russian to escape with a draw.
Vassily Ivanchuk admitted he was quite close to being lost out of the opening on the black side of a Gruenfeld against Etienne Bacrot. He identified Bacrot's 18.d5 and 22.Bg5 as errors, and he brought home the full point on move 40.
Alexander Grischuk took a quick draw with Rustam Kasimdzhanov in a game that was over in less than 40 minutes.
Peter Svidler finished a long series of events by losing for the first time to Hikaru Nakamura after having a near winning position from the opening. Svidler somewhat overpressed and after missing 48.Bc3 it's entirely possible there was no saving the game. He'll be glad of the break as will Nakamura who has already said he's more than ready for one.
The event was organised in less than a week but the enthusiasm of the organisers and local chess players made this perhaps the most successful Grand Prix so far. Often the Grand Prix tournaments have seemed like something that just had to be organised somewhere as part of the World Championship but not cherished as individual events in their own right.
Perhaps this is a lesson that places that really would appreciate such a top event as they don't have regular ones of their own should be helped financially to put them on. Whilst Greece has hosted a large number of summer swiss opens over the years this was their biggest chess event since the Thessaloniki Olympiad of 1988.
In the closing ceremony it was announced that the next Grand Prix is in Peking (Beijing) China July 3rd to 17th. The current list on the FIDE Grand Prix website says the players are: Mamedyarov, Wang Hao, Gelfand, Karjakin, Morozevich, Topalov, Leko, Grischuk, Ivanchuk, Giri, Kamsky, Radjabov. Maybe there will be withdrawals from players with no chance of qualifying such as Radjabov. Final Standings: Dominguez 8/11, Caruana, Kamsky 7.5, Ponomariov, Grischuk 6, Kasimdzhanov 5.5, Nakamura 5, Topalov, Svidler 4.5, Bacrot, Morozevich 4, Ivanchuk 3.5.
Gata Kamsky was not forced to work very hard at all for yet another win in the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki, this time in the 10th round against Alexander Morozevich. Kamsky turned 39 today although he was trying not to make very much of it. For Morozevich this was his fourth loss in a row. He arrived at the board hidden under a baseball cap and played a rather rare variation which he used over a decade ago against Peter Leko. Already 17...Nxb2 loses to a long line in which Kamsky missed a key point at the end: 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. exd5 Rxc2 20. Rxe7 Rxe7 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Qxf6! Re1+ 23. Rxe1 Qxf6 24. Re8# but his 18.Bb3 left him with an easy position to play and after 18...Bd8? (20...Ne5 had to be tried) 19.Nxg7 Morozevich could have resigned. Morozevich just needs the event to end now. Kamsky leads by half a point going into the final round and a draw in the final round against Caruana should take him back into the top 10 in the world.
Leinier Dominguez Perez managed to draw a very sharp Anti-Gruenfeld as black against Alexander Grischuk. Dominguez found a way to give perpetual check just out of theory, and it might have been more as Grischuk almost miscalculated and lost. Dominguez is in second place half a point behind Grischuk and a decent final round result should take him into the top 15 in the world.
Fabiano Caruana was completely busted out of the opening against Veselin Topalov but fought back to win. Showing the difficulties in staying on top of all the Ruy Lopez theory Caruana was caught out by 8.Nd5 which is by no means new. 8...Na5 (maybe 8...h6) wasn't good and Caruana ended up with a displaced King. Computers like 21.Rxa6 for Topalov but this is complex, 25.Nxd6? was a mistake for deep reasons which lost Topalov a piece for good compensation (25.Rc3!?) and allowed Caruana to equalise. Caruana supposed that the resulting position wasn't played well by either side but it was terribly difficult to understand. Topalov looked like he would draw but 51.Re7? should have lost but 54...Kh8? returned the favour (54...Qf7) allowing a forced draw after 55.Rxa2 but Topalov missed this and lost. Chess is a hard game.
Ruslan Ponomariov ground down Etienne Bacrot in a manoeuvring Giuoco Piano which is rather similar to a Ruy Lopez. This sort of thing was in vogue in the late 1970s when I was learning chess. Ponomariov got the two bishops and a small initiative which allowed him to pressurised Bacrot over a long time. 45...c5 was the final mistake most probably.
Vassily Ivanchuk seemed in talkative and more cheerful mood at his press conference for the draw against Hikaru Nakamura. Both players thought Ivanchuk should be better at one point maybe with 22.Bb2 but later Nakamura was slight better but both seemed happy enought with a draw by repetition.
Peter Svidler and Rustam Kasimdzanov ended up in a sharp variation of the Ruy Lopez neither could remember properly and so instead pieces were traded for a draw.
Round 10 Standings: Kamsky 7.5pts, Dominguez 7pts, Caruana 6.5pts, Ponoamriov, Grischuk 5.5pts, Kasimdzhanov 5pts, Topalov, Svidler 4.5pts, Bacrot, Nakamura 4pts, Morozevich 3.5pts, Ivanchuk 2.5pts.
Round 11 starts two hours early at 10am BST Pairings: Kasimdzhanov-Grischuk, Nakamura-Svidler, Bacrot-Ivanchuk, Morozevich-Ponomariov, Caruana-Kamsky, Dominguez-Topalov.
Leinier Dominguez Perez continued his fantastic form by defeating Fabiano Caruana with black in a Najdorf Sicilian in the FIDE Grand Prix in Thessaloniki. Queens were swapped off on move 16 and the resulting position seemed very comfortable for Dominguez, on move 29 he gave up the exchange for a long lasting initiative and put Caruana under pressure, 52.a5? gave more ground and 56.Rd7+ lost. Dominguez thus caught Gata Kamsky on 6.5/9.
Kamsky had a comfortable draw with black against Etienne Bacrot with the Chebanenko/Schlechter Slav he specialises in. Bacrot thought he should be better out of the opening but gradually realised he wasn't in time to trade down to a draw.
Veselin Topalov and Alexander Morozevich were on a run of losses and it was Topalov who emerged the winner after choosing a variation against the Caro-Kann that didn't impress. 20.a4 was risky and 23.Nd2 (23.Nc5! although even when pointed out Topalov wasn't convinced) was almost the last error. Morozevich fought on but Topalov managed to remain in control for the full point.
Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk had almost diametrically opposed opinion of their game in a Benoni. Svidler thought he was doing OK and was looking for chances before things became a bit difficult and his opponent let him back in the game. Grischuk thought he so outplayed Svidler in the opening he wouldn't even like to joke about it. Personally I think white's structure always looked ropey but it was space and that was their battleground. I would rather have been black and I guess I'm not alone.
Kasimdzhanov eventually got a small advantage in an ending against Ivanchuk but it didn't amount to quite enough for a win after good defence.
Hikaru Nakamura surprised Ruslan Ponomariov with a Veresov which the latter hadn't really studied at all. Ponomariov thought that he relaxed after getting a reasonable opening and Nakamura was a bit better for a while. Things then became very complicated but likely as not the position remained equal and eventually drawn.
Round 9 Standings: Kamsky, Dominguez 6.5/9, Caruana 5.5pts, Grischuk 5pts, Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov, Topalov 4.5pts, Bacrot, Svidler 4pts, Nakamura, Morozevich 3.5pts, Ivanchuk 2pts.
Round 10 Pairings: Grischuk-Dominguez, Topalov-Caruana, Kamsky-Morozevich, Ponomariov-Bacrot, Ivanchuk-Nakamura, Svidler-Kasimdzhanov.
Gata Kamsky continued his wonderful form to beat fellow US player Hikaru Nakamura in Round 8 of the Thessaloniki FIDE Grand Prix. Nakamura's opening play has been of surprisingly poor quality getting him into all sorts of trouble. Today he played a strategically risky variation of the French and 15...Qa3? was just plain bad after 16.Bg6+ Kd8 the rest was a matter of technique for Kamsky. Kamsky thus leads alone on 6/8 going into the second rest day. This was one of 5 decisive games of 6 in the eighth round.
Fabiano Caruana was under pressure for a long time on the black side of a very complicated Ruy Lopez against Alexander Grischuk. 40...Kh6 was dubious and left Caruana with a difficult endgame which he nevertheless managed to hold.
Leinier Dominguez Perez returned to winning ways managing to keep Alexander Morozevich's dangerous tactics quiet until Morozevich started to go wrong. The game remained competitive but 23...Be6 was not a good idea and 31...Qb8? losing for Morozevich after which Dominguez smoothly brought home the point. Both Caruana and Dominguez are only half a point behind Kamsky.
Veselin Topalov took one risk too many against Etienne Bacrot and went down to defeat. 8.g3 and 12.b4 left Topalov struggling due to a pin of the Nf3. The game remained complicated but Bacrot played very well to bring home his advantage.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov seemed somewhat surprised to end up beating Ruslan Ponomariov in an extremely complicated Ruy Lopez Arkhangelsk which even after the game he didn't seem to fully understand. 28.Bf5 was probably some kind of mistake but 28...Re3 wasn't the winning blow Kasimdzhanov thought and indeed 29.Qa1 or Qc1 were better for Ponomariov. 29.Qb2? was a mistake after which Kasimdzhanov was better. Later Ponomariov incorrectly claimed a draw by three-fold repetition a sure sign of nerves and then went on to lose a difficult endgame.
Peter Svidler showed faith in the variation of the Ruy Lopez he lost to Leinier Dominguez Perez earlier in the event. Svidler had analysed the opening deeply and this time this work seemed to pay off. Ivanchuk played reasonably well compared to some of his recent losses in the tournament but his position became increasingly difficult once Svidler defused a dangerous exchange sacrifice. Svidler stood clearly better and he eventually completely stablised his position and was just and exchange up.
Round 8 Standings: Kamsky 6pts, Dominguez, Caruana 5.5pts, Grischu 4.5pts, Kasimdzhanov, Ponomariov 4pts, Svidler, Bacrot, Topalov, Morozevich 3.5pts, Nakamura 3pts, Ivanchuk 1.5pts.
Round 9 Pairings Saturday 1st June 2013 12pm: Svidler-Grischuk, Kasimdzhanov-Ivanchuk, Nakamura-Ponomariov, Bacrot-Kamsky, Morozevich-Topalov, Caruana-Dominguez.
Gata Kamsky hit top form in completely outplaying Rustam Kasimdzhanov with black in Round 7 of the Thesseloniki Grand Prix. Kamsky chose the Dutch Defence at the board and this seemed to be spot on as his opponent made a number of inaccuracies and was demolished on the kingside. Kamsky already leading moved to 5/7.
Kamsky was joined much later in the lead by Fabiano Caruana who was very unhappy with his opening against Alexander Morozevich but mutual time trouble ended with him having much the better of it after move 40 and Morozevich didn't resist much after that.
Hikaru Nakamura played another marathon game but this time he was rewarded with a win in a difficult endgame against Veselin Topalov.
Leinier Dominguez Perez was lost against Etienne Bacrot but somehow he escaped with a draw in the final game to finish.
Peter Svidler is clearly finding motivation tough out of the running. He didn't get anything with white against Ruslan Ponomariov and they drew in 25 moves.
Vassily Ivanchuk was in clear trouble after his last loss but was given an easy pass today by Alexander Grischuk with a repetition and draw in only 13 moves.
Round 7 Standings: Kamsky, Caruana 5pts, Domginuez 4.5pts, Ponomariov, Grischuk 4pts, Topalov, Morozevich 3.5pts, Nakamura, Kasimdzhanov 3pts, Bacrot, Svidler 2.5pts, Ivanchuk 1.5pts
Round 8 Pairings Thurs 29th May 12pm BST: Grischuk-Caruana, Dominguez-Morozevich, Topalov-Bacrot, Kamsky-Nakamura, Ponomariov-Kasimdzhanov, Ivanchuk-Svidler