The World Cup says no to the “draw death” threat
September 6, Khanty-Mansiysk
The first games of the Round 4 of the World Cup were played on September 6 in Khanty-Mansiysk. It was a very uncompromising day – six games out of eight were decisive! White won four times, Black scored two wins.
The 18-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslav Zherebukh, who earlier defeated chess stars Pavel Eljanov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, handled the opening against David Navara (who got his Fair Play Prize today) very unsuccessfully. Not willing to defend passively, Zherebukh sacrificed a rook and went off for a desperate attack. Black carefully parried all the threats and launched the decisive counter-attack…
The game between Judit Polgar (Hungary) and Lenier Dominguez (Cuba) followed the same scenario. In the Sicilian Defense Black quickly seized the initiative and started to advance his central pawns. White had decent drawing chances due to opposite-colored bishops, but Judit didn’t want to suffer for a draw and made a careless pawn push. Black immediately took control of the open file and created the winning attack. Tomorrow Judit Polgar and Yaroslav Zherebukh will face a very difficult task – winning on demand as Black.
Alexander Grischuk (Russia) abandoned his favorite Gruenfeld Defense in favor of the King’s Indian against his friend and compatriot Vladimir Potkin. However, Potkin’s reputation of a great opening expert got another confirmation today: White obtained a big advantage. Grischuk defended stubbornly, but made a few inaccuracies, and Potkin won in the endgame with a spectacular pawn break.
Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) handled the opening against Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia, Ugra) very creatively, and got a better game. Black’s light-squared bishop was shut off. Trying to bring it back, Jakovenko created himself a weak isolated pawn, which was soon captured by his opponent. Radjabov was flawless in the rook ending that followed and concluded the game in his favor.
Peter Svidler (Russia) – Gata Kamsky (USA) and Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan) – Peter-Heine Nielsen (Denmark) games were rather similar – in both games White got the opening initiative, Black defended tenaciously, but White finally prevailed in the endgame.
Only two games ended quickly and peacefully: Ukrainian grandmasters Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov defended with Black pieces against Bu Xiangzhi (China) and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba) respectively.
Today’s round clearly showed that there is no real “draw death” threat in modern chess.
The return games are played on Wednesday, September 7.
All games are relayed with live grandmaster commentary in English and Russian on the official site of the World Cup: http://chess.ugrasport.com
Use the following link for computer analysis of the strongest engine – Houdini: http://chess.ugrasport.com/houdini.html