By WGM Alina L’Ami
There can be high drama below the apparent mask of peacefulness…
The eleventh, last and most expected round in Paris did not produce any decisive game! It started with three relatively short draws by move repetition, sealing the tournament’s main heroes’ fate.
Caruana and Gelfand share the tournament win, Mamedyarov qualifies for the Candidates!
Top three – Caruana, Gelfand and Nakamura – with the FIDE President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of Commission of Finances in St.Quentin, Bernard Tabarie, the FFE President, Diego Salazar, and the IA Laurent Freyd
The better tie-break secured the first place for Caruana, but it was not enough to propel him to the Candidates…(for a full explanation, kindly read the first article written on this official website; the general overview will be updated shortly on the FIDE Grand Prix website.)
The most surprising of today’s draws (the second chronologically), was Dominguez-Caruana. Barely out of the opening, White sacrificed a piece and initiated a move repetition. Although the tournament situation strongly required him to play on, Caruana evaluated that the risk involved by avoiding the repetion would be higher than any reasonable limits. If he would lose and Gelfand would do the same, Caruana ‘could never forgive himself for such a suicide’.
But Gelfand did not lose…so Caruana is shared first with the Israeli grandmaster, with 7 points!
Leinier Dominguez – Fabiano Caruana
At the end of the press conference of the game Bacrot-Grischuk, the Russian showed his surprise that Caruana decided to repeat the moves against Dominguez. In the position where the players decided to take the draw, the opinions differed. Grischuk felt that Black would have had very decent chances after:
15…Qd8 16.Qa7 Bc6 (16…0-0!?)17.Bb6 Bxb5 18.Bxd8 Rxd8 but Caruana felt White is doing very well after for example 19.Qe3 followed by Rhd1, f4-f5 etc.
After the conference, Caruana started following with interest and, possibly, some hope the game:
Boris Gelfand – Ruslan Ponomariov
The latter, who had half-jokingly stated the day before that he would be some sort of arbitre for the qualification, seemed to be rather motivated. He chose the provocative Leningrad Dutch, an opening that had caused Gelfand two painful defeats over the last years, to Kamsky and Nakamura.
Being the kind of player who permanently works on his repertoire, Boris controlled the position rather well today. About an hour after Caruana’s draw, he, too, offered a move repetition. Ponomariov did not find any positional reasons to continue; his acceptance of a draw sealed Mamedyarov’s qualification to the Candidates!…
…and Gelfand’s shared win with Caruana!
Throughout the tournament, Tomashevsky had a (surely not intended) shoulder to shoulder race with Ponomariov. They fought hard, tried to play some creative chess, but got only lots of draws and one defeat each. Today, Tomashevsky tried a bit harder to break the spell than his rival (or should we call him rather a colleague of misfortune?!)
Evgeny Tomashesvky – Vassily Ivanchuk
Determined to win a game, Tomashevsky started of aggressively against Ivanchuk. A decision he surely would not regret! His treatment of the a6-Slav was very successful and brought him an overwhelming advantage:
Spoiled for choice, in the press conference Evgeny said he regretted not having played 17.e6 with the idea 17…Nc5 18.Qd4 g6 19.b4 pinning the knight. Instead, he went for the forced 17.Nxd5!? cxd5 18.Qxd5+ Kh8 19.Bc3 b5 20.Qg2 g6 21.e6+ Bf6 and it’s time for another diagram!
Here the game continuation: 22.Bxf6+ looks logical but deprives White of the c6-squares. This becomes especially important after 22.exd7 Bxc3 23.bxc3 Rxd7 24.Qc6! and White consolidates his extra pawn. After 22.Bxf6+ Rxf6 23.exd7 Rxd7 White was still a pawn up, but the technical conversion is much more difficult. Tomashevsky continued to pressure his opponent all the way into a queen endgame. It would be outside the scope of this round report to go into the details of this endgame but the reader is definitely recommended to see the instructive comments by Tomashevsky in the press conference. As so often in queen-endgames, the game ended in perpetual check.
Etienne Bacrot – Alexander Grischuk
Much to the surprise of Grischuk, Etienne Bacrot did not try to win with the White pieces and ‘forced’ a repetition on his opponent in a 7.Bc4-Grunfeld. Grischuk explained that after:
13.Bf4 Qc8 14.Be3 Black can’t really go 14…Rfd8 15.Qc1 followed by Rd1, Qa3 with pressure. Instead, the a-rook should go to d8. But in order to do that 14…Qc7 is forced, after which 15.Bf4 forced the repetition.
Bacrot blamed his lack of fighting spirit on a sleepless night caused by the pressure of the tournament; his game against Grischuk was the shortest draw of the day – a friendly draw between two good friends! All over the tournament, Grischuk played entertaining chess, at times taking big risks that did not turn out well. For several days, he knew that the qualification was mathematically denied to him, so he did not mind (too much) the repetition offered by Bacrot either. As for the latter, this tournament will remain as a nice memory, not only for the shared third place (with Nakamura) but also for reaching top position among French players in live rating – a personal best of 2744!
Anish Giri – Hikaru Nakamura
Another draw occured in the game Giri-Nakamura, but of quite a different nature. If you think that the Berlin Wall guarantees boring positions you may be very much mistaken! Starting with:
19.e6 the game got incredibly sharp. After the forced sequence 19…fxe6 20.Nxe6 hxg4 21.Nxc7, Anish showed that 21…Rxh3 22.Nxa8 Rf3+ 23.Kg2 Rxf4 24.Nc7!! gets the knight into safety because of the fork on d5. Therefore, Hikaru chose 21…Bh6 22.Bxh6 Kxc7 23.Bf4+ Kb7 24.hxg4 gxf5 when Anish had originally planned to continue 25.gxf5 but then felt that 25…Nd4 or even 25…Rf8 should suffice. Still, 25.g5 promised White some advantage and it is on move 30 that White perhaps could have hoped for more. With:
30.Kf2 (instead of 30.Kd3 which was played in the game) White could have kept the g-pawn alive. For example: 30…Ne6 31.Kg3 Rg8 32.Rh7+ followed by Rh5, Bc1, Kh4 with serious pressure. In the game Hikaru managed to exchange the remaining king-side pawns and the draw was agreed.
This draw secured the third place in the final standings for the American!
Wang Hao – Laurent Fressinet
Paradoxicaly, the player who had been constantly complaining about his tiredness was the last one to resign himself to the drawish last round syndrom. In a positional line of the English Opening, Wang Hao obtained long lasting pressure, but could not find a way to cash the point.
The play developed normaly until Fressinet miscalculated, which led to:
26…e4. From this moment on Wang Hao was in the driver’s seat – he won that e-pawn, had a strong bishop-pair and seemed to be cruising to a win. But time-trouble changed the course of the game. Instead of:
37.Rd1, Fressinet proposed 37.g5! and this looks very strong indeed. For example: 37…Qe6 38.Be4 Qh3 seems to create counterplay but 39.Rc4! elegantly defends and prepares Bc2, with a large and stable advantage.
In the game 37…Qb4 38.h5?! followed, when 38…Bc5! was a good defensive move. Following 39.Rd7 Bd6 40.Kg2 Kh8 Black was fully back in the game. Twenty more moves were played before the players repeated in a drawn opposite-colour bishops endgame.
That was it all, the 2013 Grand Prix tournament… An outstanding event with 12 top grandmasters and another one in the background: Mamedyarov. We had a high rate of decisive games, continuous suspense until the very end, good and excellent moves but also occasional blunders, deep plans and psychological games… Life is a theater they say, but such a complex and eventful tournament surely is a great episode of life itself!
Short break for Fabiano Caruana and Wang Hao – tomorrow they will be flying to the next chess event:
Kings tournament from Bucharest, Romania!
Au revoir Paris, it was simply magnifique!