Karjakin and Malakhov lead the way

Two players have taken a major step towards the semi-finals, Sergey Karjakin of the Ukraine and Russian Vladimir Malakhov.
On the other hand things are looking grim for their opponents, Mamedyarov and Svidler, particularly for the latter who lost with White.

The second set of games will be played tomorrow (on the 4th of December) but after the first leg the situation is as follows.

NameCountryRatingAgeGame 1Game 2NameCountryRatingAge
Boris GelfandISR2758410.5-0.5Dmitry JakovenkoRUS273626
Sergey KarjakinUKR2723191-0Shakhriyar MamedyarovAZE271924
Ruslan PonomariovUKR2739260.5-0.5Vugar GashimovAZE275823
Peter SvidlerRUS2754330-1Vladimir MalakhovRUS270629

Gelfand-Jakovenko was a fairly short draw. White had the bishop pair but in compensation Black was able to weaken White's structure. Gelfand offered a draw obviously not being that happy with his position.

A comfortable draw for Jakovenko.
©official site

Karjakin also obtained the two bishops, but in this case was able to grind away and eventually obtained a superior rook ending. Fine technique enabled him to convert his advantage.

Against Malakhov's Chebanenko Slav, Svidler opened the centre with attacking intentions, but it was Black's counter-attack that soon settled the game.

©official site

The remaining game was drawn but, not for the first time in this World Cup, Ponomariov missed winning chances. Gashimov has had some shaky positions with Black in Khanty Mansiysk, but yet again got out of jail for free! See what you think...

Ruslan Ponomariov (2739) - Vugar Gashimov (2758)

Khanty Mansiysk (World Cup 5.1) 2009

Modern Benoni (A63)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘f3 c5

Gashimov is loyal to his pet opening the Modern Benoni. Some may consider the resulting assymetric structures to be 'risky' but the young Azeri is not afraid to employ it at the highest level.

4.d5 d6 5.♘c3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.g3 ♗g7 8.♗g2 0-0 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 ♖e8 11.h3 ♘bd7 12.♗f4 ♕c7 13.♖e1 ♘h5 14.♗d2 ♖b8 15.a5 b5 16.axb6 ♕xb6 17.♘a4 ♕c7 18.♗c3 f5 19.e3 ♘hf6 20.♖c1 ♘e4 21.♗xg7 ♔xg7

22.♘d4 ♘df6 23.♘c6 ♖b7 24.b4!

A daring pawn sacrifice to expose Black's queen and obtain access to the d4-square.

24...cxb4 25.♕d4 b3 26.g4!?

Loosening Black's grip on the kingside, but at the risk of a certain self-weakening!

26...fxg4 27.hxg4 b2?!

It seems such a shame to give away the b-pawn so lightly. Indeed Gashimov should have given a piece with 27...♗xg4! 28.f3 ♗xf3 29.♗xf3 ♕d7 He has three pawns and a certain solidity and the safer king. This looks like adequate compensation especially as White's pieces now lack bite.

28.♘xb2 ♖b5?!

Perhaps 28...h6 (to stop any options of an eventual g4-g5) although White keeps some pressure with 29.♘a4.


Here 29.f3! would have been challenging for Black: 29...♖xd5 30.♘b4 ♖c5 (30...♖xd4?? loses as 31.♖xc7+ is check) 31.♘2d3 and Black loses material.

29...♕f7 30.♘f4 ♗d7


Here 31.f3! (again this move!) 31...♘g5 32.e4 consolidates White's structure and, as Black is left with various weaknesses, Ponomariov could have thus maintained the advantage.

31...♗xe6 32.dxe6 ♕xe6 33.f3 ♘g5 34.f4 ♕xg4!

This seems to lead to equality.

35.fxg5 ♖xg5 36.♖c2 ♕xd4 37.♘xd4 ♘d5 38.♘f3 ♖g4 39.♘h2 ♖g5 40.♘f3 ♖g4 41.♘h2 ♖g5 42.♘f3


Gashimov and second Iordachescu.
©official site.

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