Alright at the top!

Report compiled by Sean Hewitt with games annotated by Sunil Weeramantry


Or should that be all white?  Round 7 saw decisive results on the top 6 boards, with white winning on the top 5. GM Vugar Gashimov moved into sole lead of the tournament with 6/7 with a cool victory over previous leader Alexander Beliavsky.  Gashimov created a passed a pawn which became an unstoppable monster. 


Board 1 : Vugar Gashimov -v- Alexander Beliavsky


On the next board, Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna defeated Boris Avrukh.  Despite the latter having two passed pawns on the queenside the Indian's kingside demolition was more than enough to win.


Board 2 : Pentala Harikrishna v Boris Avrukh


The Gibtelecom Chess Festival contains a tournament within a tournament as some of the top women players in the world compete for significant cash prizes. The pairings for round seven were particularly harsh for the leading women as three of them were pitted against some powerful opponents. On board three, GM Antoaneta Stefanova (2557) faced the unenviable task of playing top seed, GM Peter Svidler (2723) with the black pieces. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Bc5 Stefanova repeats the Neo-Archangelsk variation. 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 Earlier in this tournament, GM Bartosz Socko had retreated his bishop to b3 in a game that was analyzed as part of our report for round three. 7...d5 8.d4 dxe4 9.dxe5 exf3 10.exf6 Qxf6 11.Nd2



[Peter Svidler is regarded as a GM who is very well prepared theoretically. It was therefore no surprise to see him fire these moves off in rapid succession. It turns out that Svidler had been here before, and that 11. Nd2 is an improvement on Svidler-Onischuk, Wch (Team) Beersheba 2005, which had continued instead with 11.Re1+ Be6 12.Nd2 0–0–0 13.Qxf3 Qxf3 14.Nxf3 Bd5 15.b4 agreed drawn. Stefanova would not have been unhappy with a similar result.] 11...0–0 12.Ne4 Qg6 13.Ng3!




A clever move that confronts Black with the interesting dilemma of where to place her queen. 13...Qf6 [Stefanova picks what appears to be the most logical square but runs into problems regardless. Other variations are no better. 13...Qg4 , for instance, is met with 14.Qd5 Qc4 15.Qxf3 Bb6 16.b3 Qe6 17.Bd2 Bb7 18.Rfe1 Qd7 19.Rad1²] 14.Qd3 g6 15.Ne4 Qf5 Despite making reasonable choices, Black is drifting into trouble. 16.Nxc5 [White does not want to trade queens with 16.Qxf3 Qxf3 17.gxf3 as his advantage is kept to a minimum after 17...Be7 18.Bf4 f5 19.Ng3 Be6 20.Bxc7 Rac8 21.Rfe1 Bf7 22.Bf4 Rfd8] 16...fxg2 17.Re1 Qxc5 18.Qf3 White's queen applies pressure along the f3-a8 diagonal while simultaneously eyeing the weakness on g7. 18...Kg7 [This logical attempt to prevent White from playing Bh6 turns out disastrously. It would have been wiser to give up the exchange with 18...Bb7 19.Bh6 Qd6 20.Rad1 Na5 21.Be4 Bxe4 22.Rxe4 Qc6 23.Bxf8 Rxf8 although White would still have retained a comfortable advantage.] 19.Be3 Qc4 20.Bb3 The loss of material is unavoidable. 20...Ne5 21.Qg3 Qh4 Desperately hoping for 22.Qxh4 Nf3+. .. 22.Qxe5+ but it is not to be. 1–0


Board 3 : Peter Svidler v Antoaneta Stefanova


On board 4 Swiss GM Vadim Milov kept pace with the leaders after defeating Spaniard GM Del Rio in 40 moves.  Del Rio was in fact close to winning in the following position



and he played the natural looking 33...Qd2 seeking to swap off into a winning endgame.  Unfortunately Milov had other ideas 34.Qc4 Rxb2 35.Rxe6 Rxe6 36.Qxe6+ Kg7 37.Qf6+ Kh6 38.Nf4 Bc5 39.Qh4+ Kg7 40.Nh5+ 1–0 [Black gets mated after 40...gxh5 41.Qf6+ Kg8 42.Qf7+ Kh8 43.Qe8+ Kg7 44.Rf7+ Kh6 45.Qe6+ Kg5 46.Qf6# or loses his queen after 40...Kg8 41. Nf6+ Kf7 42. Ne4+]Vasilios Kotronias got back to winning ways and completed the quintet of white wins on the top boards with a well played victory over Ivan Sokolov in 56 moves.  Spanish GM Josep Manuel Lopez Martinez (2540) was able to break the sequence of white wins with victory over Hungary's Ferenc Berkes (2651).  Black gained an edge early on from his Nimzo-Indian defence and converted it into a full point after 44 moves.

IM Irina Krush (2457), the former US womens champion, had earlier defeated GM Sandipan Chanda and was now paired with his colleague on the Indian olympiad team, GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly (2614). Unfortunately. Irina chose a questionable line and went down to defeat without much resistance. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Ne2 c5 One of the main lines in the Gruenfeld Defence. 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Be3 Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Rc1 e5 13.d5 f5




By transposition, we have reached a position from the game Ftacnik-Krasenkow, Dortmund open 1992. 14.exf5?! [Irina varies from the stem game. Ftacnik had been successful with 14.f3 f4 15.Bd2 c4 16.Bc2] 14...gxf5 15.c4 e4 16.Bb1 Ba6µ Ganguly follows earlier analysis by Ftacnik who judges this position to be favourable for Black. 17.d6?! [White guards against the attack on the c4 pawn indirectly by freeing the d5 square for a possible queen check. However, this advance seriously weakens the d6 pawn which falls in short order. Another option was to threaten a fork with Nf4. However, Black would still obtain a significant advantage with best play. 17.Nf4 Nxc4 18.Ne6 Qd6 19.Bf4 Be5 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 21.Nxf8 Ng4 22.g3 Qh6 23.h4 Bxf1µ] 17...Qf6 18.a4 Kh8 [The immediate 18...Rad8 19.Bf4 Qe6 would exert greater pressure on White's position.] 19.Ba2 Rad8 20.Nf4 [White is unable to hold the d6 pawn any longer as even 20.Bf4 fails to 20...Bh6 21.Bxh6 Qxh6µ] 20...Rxd6 21.Qe2 Nc6 22.f3 Nd4 23.Qf2 exf3 24.gxf3



White's pawn structure has been shredded and she is down a pawn to boot. 24...Bh6 25.Rce1 Bxf4 26.Bxf4 Re6 27.Rxe6 Qxe6 Black is content to trade pieces and steer the position into a winning endgame. White is helpless. 28.Be3 Rg8+ 29.Kh1 Qe5 30.Rg1 Rxg1+ 31.Kxg1 Bb7 32.Bxd4 Qxd4 33.Qxd4+ cxd4 There are simply too many pawn weaknesses for White to hold out any longer. 34.f4 a5 35.Kf2 Kg7 White resigns. 0–1

Irina Krush v Surya Ganguly


Two boards away, the reigning U.S. Women's Champion, IM Anna Zatonskih (2462), ran into another formidable opponent, French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2696). 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 A less common treatment of the Caro Kann. 3...e6 4.Nc3 b6 Black borrows a plan from the French Defence which seek to trade off the "bad" bishop. This plan has been used by several strong players, most notably former World Champion, Anatoly Karpov, and Russian GM Alexey Dreev. 5.Be3 Ba6 6.Bxa6 Nxa6 7.Nge2 Bb4 8.Qd3


8...Nc7 9.0–0–0 Bxc3 10.Qxc3 White prefers to keep his knight on e2 and waits to see which side Black will castle on. 10...Qd7 11.Qd3 Ne7 12.Kb1 Nb5 Black is reluctant to commit and tries to keep her options open. At this stage, Vachier-Lagrave enjoys the slight opening advantage that generally comes with having the white pieces. 13.Nf4 Ng6?! In seeking to trade off knights, Black hands over the perfect square to White. 14.Nh5 f6?




[Black fails to anticipate White's next move. Sadly, 14...Kf8 may well be the best move available.] 15.Bh6! Black's position collapses with one brilliant stroke. The loss of material is unavoidable. 15...Kf7 16.Bxg7 Nf4 17.Nxf4 Kxg7 18.Rhe1 Kf7 19.e5 It is time to open lines to the king. 19...f5 20.g4 fxg4 21.Rg1 Raf8 22.Nh5 Faced with the loss of a second pawn and unable to find reasonable shelter for the king, Black resigns. 1–0


Svidler, Harikrishna and Avrukh share a joke before Round 7


Stephen Gordon helps Stuart Conquest with his commentary


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