Thessaloniki Chess Grand Prix 2013 Round 2: More Decisive Games, Five Players in the Lead
The second round of the FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Thessaloniki produced more decisive results and now we have as many as five players sharing the lead with 1,5 points each. Alexander Morozevich, Fabiano Caruana and Alexander Grischuk took advantage of the white pieces and signed important victories. The other three games were drawn.
Hikaru Nakamura, arriving directly from Norway Chess tournament, has a difficult start with two losses in two consecutive games with black pieces. The Grand Prix tournament is attracting huge attention in Thessaloniki, the chess capital of Greece. Even on the working days, around 100 people join the commentator GM Ioannis Papaioannou in the Salonika bar of Makedonia Palace.
In addition, GM Stelios Halkias and FM Sotiris Logothetis are providing live English commentary for the official website. Guests are commonly joining in to share their thoughts on the games. Today we had an honour to welcome the reigning Greek champion Antonios Pavlidis in the commentary room.
Nelly Serefidou, reigning Greek U18 Girls champion, and Elisavet Papathanasiou, two-times Greek U18 Girls champion, also analysed with the commentators.
Leinier Dominguez - Ruslan Ponomariov 1/2-1/2
Ponomariov aimed to play the popular Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez, but Dominguez deviated with the quiet 8.h3 and 9.d3. Black prepared the d5-push and comfortably equalised. White released the tension on the a-file and exchanged a couple of pieces. Immediately after that the players silently agreed to a draw with the three-fold repetition. Dominguez said that he was surprised by the black's opening choice and decided to play solid. Ponomariov based his preparation on the game that Leinier played with white against Kasimdzhanov in Tashkent. He also analysed some games from the recent European Championship in Poland.
Etienne Bacrot - Rustam Kasimdzhanov 1/2-1/2
Bacrot revived the old main line against the Gruenfeld Indian defence that is occasionally springing into popularity thanks to the efforts of Gelfand and Kramnik. He however played the direct 13.Rxb7 instead of the more popular Bg5 or Be3. This system allowed black to take down the central d4-pawn, which is often white's main trump in the resulting endgames. Here white relied on the Rook on the 7th rank and pressure against the f7-pawn.
Black was on time to activate his pieces and contest the 7th rank. After the massive exchanges of heavy pieces, draw was singed on move 35.
Alexander Morozevich - Peter Svidler 1-0
The match started as a Four Knights Game and Svidler opted for the active Rubinstein variation. Black sacrifices a pawn but gets good compensation as white pieces are a little bit clumsy. Replay the full game with Chess King.
This was another Gruenfeld Indian defence, but here Topalov employed Kramnik's plan with g3 and e3. Only few days ago he used the same system against Jon Ludvig Hammer in Norway Chess tournament. Kamsky improved on that game with 8...a5 and 9...Ba6, forcing white Knight to a less active square d2. After some maneuvering with the pieces, Topalov decided to force matters with 19.Nxd5 in attempt to exploit the bad placing of the black Queen.
However, later he admitted that this backfired to him as black obtained a very active play and even a slight advantage. For the rest of the game white struggled to contain the heavy influence of black's dark-squared Bishop and eventually succeeded on move 47.
Fabiano Caruana - Vassily Ivanchuk 1-0
Ivanchuk decided to defend with the deferred Ruy Lopez Steinitz to which Caruana responded by trading the pawns on e5 to clarify the structure in the center. 8.d5 instead of 8.h3 would lead to a totally different setup, reminiscent of the King's Indian defence. Caruana exchanged the dark-squared Bishop for opponent's Knight and after 19.Qa4 obtained a slight advantage. Replay the game with Chess King to see how White won.
Alexander Grischuk - Hikaru Nakamura 1-0
Black played the Neo-Arkhangelsk variation of the Ruy Lopez, which was broadly analysed after the inspiring games of Shirov and Ivanchuk. You have to watch the long haul after White exchanged the Rooks and played with his Bishop in a pawn-packed situation. Must-learn endgame technique here. Replay the game with Chess King.
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