Round 6: Ponomariov, Topalov and Morozevich share the lead
Both leaders Veselin Topalov and Alexander Morozevich finished their games in draws while Ruslan Ponomariov outplayed Gata Kamsky to join two other leaders on the top. Hikaru Nakamura won the first game in the tournament against Rustam Kasimdzhanov The craziest game of the sixth round between Fabiano Caruana and Sergey Karjakin ended in a draw, but not before either player had had a winning position.
Teimour Radjabov - Veselin Topalov 1/2-1/2
Following yesterday’s game, Radjabov wanted to come back to the event and he selected the Alekhine variation against the Nimzo Indian. The line they followed was quite extensively played before and the new move was 17.0-0-0 but this did not change much. However, White decided to check Black’s preparation and Veselin Topalov had to play precisely in order to equalize. It seems both opponents were familiar with many different lines in this opening as the players used around 1 hour each for the 30 odd moves played today.
Fabiano Caruana - Sergey Karjakin 1/2-1/2
6 of the GMs in this event became a Grandmaster before the age of 15! The record holder Karjakin (GM at 12 years and 7 months but now a ripe 23 years old!) was Black against Caruana who also achieved his title at a very young age. They chose the positional variation of the Ruy Lopez Berlin with 4.d3 and while Black maintained equality till move 19, Karjakin then chose the dubious 20…Ne5?! which gave Caruana the opportunity to get a winning advantage with 21.f4! However, Caruana missed the easy 35.Rxe7+ Bxe7 36.Qe6+ Kf8 37.d6 Bd8 38.d7 Be7 39.Qd6 winning immediately. After 37…a4 Black was back in the game as the pawn had to be blockaded before it became a runner. Fabiano Caruana started to make mistakes and it was hard for Italian player to defend his position after 42.d6. Computer was showing -6 in Black’s favor when suddenly Sergey “helped” his opponent to survive. 48…Bd4?? 49. Bd4 Rd4 50.Rf6! and it’s a draw on the board! During the press-conference Sergey pointed out that probably he just didn’t deserve to win this game. His opponent replied with a smile that most likely both of them deserved to lose it.
Ruslan Ponomariov - Gata Kamsky 1 - 0
Interestingly, Ponomariov tested his opponent with 1.c4. Kamsky spent some time on his first move choice and then replied 1…c6 which soon transposed into a Caro Kann - Panov Botvinnik with Bb4. Kamsky avoided the main line with 10…Bb7 and instead chose 10…Bxc3 which allowed white to resolve the traditional isolated pawn structure. “I tried to trick my opponent with this move order today. We had English, then Slav, Panov and even ended up in some Nimzo”, explained Ruslan Ponomariov. The new move came on with 15…Rfd8 but Kamsky was spending a lot of time on the position and around move 25 had only 4 minutes left for 15 moves in a very difficult position. Both players agreed that Black could have tried to play f6 earlier in order not to let White to get so strong initiative. 29.d5! was a nice touch and White dominated from that point on. “The tournament is very strong and it’s hard to win at least one game here. I have +2 which I believe is a good result, taking into consideration my previous results in Grand Prix events”, said former world champion during the press-conference.
Alexander Morozevich - Peter Leko ½ - ½
Morozevich played a positional line against Leko and they chose the Symmetrical English. Black chose a minor line with 6…Bc5 instead of the main line 6…Qb6 or 6…Bb4 transposing to the Nimzo Indian. The idea of Black was just to avoid repeating the line with Qb6 played between same opponents in Tashkent. Hungarian player lost that important game and it was psychologically hard to repeat the same line. White in turn, chose a rarely played line with 10.Nd5!? instead of 10.Bf4. “If I would have been ready for Nd5 I would have reacted immediately”, said Peter Leko at the press-conference. Leko’s 12…d5 was a new move compared to the previous 12..b5. There was very little movement in the equality line however as both players played extremely accurate and gave no chance to the other side to take any realistic advantage. “Today I feel very happy because it’s a first game when I equalized with White and I’m pretty happy that I’m improving. I was not so sure after the opening if I would be able to do it today but once I played Qe4 I thought it should be ok. Maybe I had some advantage but not enough to put some real pressure. So, I plan to keep on playing game by game and equalizing”, commented Alexander Morozevich on his play.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Anish Giri ½ - ½
After yesterday’s game the Azeri player decided not to spend much time for preparation and just play some fighting chess. Anish Giri cleverly chose a line with little complications and one which they had both played before, as white! Mamedyarov tried to tempt Giri to take on c4 after 4.Bg5 but black went for a Ragozin setup with a slight improvement of 13…Bd7. In the post game analysis the players spent some time on 19.Nh5 and although White may have been better, he could not convert the position into a concrete advantage. Once queens came off there was a steadfast exchange of pieces in very short time and a draw was agreed on move 46. However, after inaccurate move 29.Rb1 Black could have tried to play for more with 29…a5. “I’ve already said to myself it is a draw and in such case it’s not a good idea to change my mind. Maybe I have slight pressure in this position”, explained Anish Giri.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov - Hikaru Nakamura 0-1
Nakamura was obviously in a mood for complications as he first went for 1…Nc6 and then chose 3…Nge7 in the Ruy Lopez. Kasimdzhanov played very well and got a solid advantage up until the dubious sacrifice 26.Rxd6?! which Black reacted very well to and took the upper hand defending against the immediate threats to emerge with a piece extra for three pawns. This might not have been enough to win but Rustam was in time trouble and made a few mistakes. According to Rustam, the last mistake was 37.Be2. He should have played 37.Be4, changing the pieces and keeping good chances to make a draw. After the move Be2 Black pieces came close to the White’s king and there was no defence against checkmate.