domingo, 14 de noviembre de 2010

Tal Memorial Concludes: Three Tie For First in a Dramatic Finish

Source: The Chess Mind

What a last round! More than half the field was in the running for first place, and there were all kinds of surprises.

Mamedyarov started the round in clear first, half a point ahead of Aronian and Karjakin, with Wang Yue, Grischuk and Nakamura another half point behind.

Aronian's opponent was tail-ender Eljanov, but with Black he didn't do anything risky and the game was a quick and easy draw. As it turned out, this was good enough to tie for first, though, as Mamedyarov played a terrible game against Gelfand. His position in the early middlegame wasn't very good, and although Gelfand missed a little trick that would have let him survive he missed it too. Soon they reached a double rook ending where Gelfand's extra space and better rooks gave him the advantage, and he (Gelfand) ruthlessly converted against seemingly non-existent defense.

By the time this happened it looked like Wang Hao would join the tie for first, as he had taken advantage of Karjakin's risky play and enjoyed a winning advantage. Instead, thinking that everything won, he blundered and a bit fortunate that he could escape with a draw. That meant that Karjakin joined the tie for first, with Wang Hao finishing half a point behind.

Before turning to the last game to finish, which also had first-place implications, let's mention the other game, the only one that wasn't relevant to the race for first: Kramnik-Shirov. As in Shanghai a couple of months ago, they placed a Cambridge Springs QGD, though play took on a different character this time. Kramnik sacrificed his a-pawn for the bishop pair and active play, and he got it. Soon Kramnik even sacced a piece for the attack, and when the smoke finally cleared Kramnik had four pawns for a piece and a winning ending. Kramnik thus finished an up and down event on 50%, while Shirov finished in the last place but one.

Finally then, Grischuk-Nakamura. As a result of Mamedyarov's loss, if either player won he'd tie for first. As things went, the only player with a chance at the tie was Nakamura. Grischuk got nothing against his Dutch, and soon Black was clearly better and then winning. By the end of the first time control (move 40) Nakamura was three pawns up, but it wasn't as easy as it might sound. Indeed, by the end of the second time control (move 60) it wasn't clear if Nakamura was winning anymore, though the only winning chances in the position were his. Somewhere in the 70s Grischuk lost the defensive thread, however, and after 77...c5, 78...c4 and 79...h4 it was clear that Nakamura was winning.

He was running low on the clock, however (almost down to the increments), and after five straight days of playing and 7 hours on this day an accident was about to happen. Nakamura's 84...Qf3?? was an absolute blunder, and the odd thing is that it's not even clear what he had expected with and against it. All his hard work was in vain, and he, like Wang Hao and his opponent, finished tied for fourth, half a point behind the winning troika. Ouch.

Final Standings:

1-3. Aronian, Karjakin, Mamedyarov 5.5

4-6. Grischuk, Nakamura, Wang Hao 5

7. Kramnik 4.5

8. Gelfand 3.5

9. Shirov 3

10. Eljanov 2.5

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