Nepomniachtchi and Cmilyte strong favourites

The penultimate round in the men's event saw only draws on the top seven boards, thus leaving Nepomniachtchi ahead going into the last round where he will have White.
In contrast, in the Women's event, wins by Cmilyte and Cramling leave them in the first two places with the Lithuanian having a half-point more. Their meeting will probably decide the title.

Here's the game from yesterday which led to Nepomnichtchi leap-frogging Jobava into the lead.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (2656) - Baadur Jobava

Rijeka (European Men's Championship 9th round) 15.03.2010

Caro-Kann, Fantasy Variation (B12)

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3!?

White lends support to his centre, but at the risk of weakening himself along the a7-g1 diagonal.


An interesting sideline which Jobava employed in his win over Timofeev in round 6.


The afore-mentioned game continued with 4.♘c3 dxe4 5.♘xe4 ♗f5 6.c3 ♘d7 7.♗d3 e5 8.♘e2 exd4 9.cxd4 ♗b4+ 10.♗d2 ♘e7 11.0-0 0-0 Timofeev,A-Jobava,B Rijeka (round 6) 2010 when Black's superior pawn structure gave him an edge.


We are already out of known theory after move four!

Jobava aims to destabilize White's centre and seeks rapid development. An understandable approach as White has relied uniquely on pawn moves up to now.

Two rounds earlier, in the game Caspi,I-Ruck,R Rijeka (round 8) 2010, after the moves 4...dxe4 5.a5 ♕c7 6.fxe4 e5 7.♘f3 ♗g4 8.♗c4 ♘f6 9.0-0 ♗d6 White missed a big chance: 10.dxe5 ♗xe5 11.♗xf7+! ♕xf7 (if 11...♔xf7 then 12.♘xe5+ ♕xe5 13.♕xg4) 12.♘xe5 ♗xd1 13.♘xf7 ♔xf7 14.♖xd1 with a clear advantage for White as Black will have difficulties to recuperate the pawn and complete development at the same time.

5.dxe5 dxe4?!

Inconsistent in my opinion.

Here 5...♗c5! (directly attacking down the a7-g1 diagonal) is the way for Black to continue. Then in order to avoid a disadvantage White's moves are forced: 6.a5 ♗f2+ 7.♔e2 ♕c5 8.b4 ♕d4 9.c3 ♕xd1+ 10.♔xd1 dxe4 and Black regains his pawn with reasonable prospects.

6.a5 ♕c7 7.f4!

Consolidating and leaving the black e4-pawn exposed.

7...♘h6 8.♘c3 ♗b4 9.♗d2

The e4-pawn is likely to fall (♘xe4 is threatened, and ...♗xc3 would badly weaken Black's dark-squares) so Jobava aims to at least gain some time.


This doesn't really mix matters as intended. So perhaps 9...♗g4 10.♗e2 ♗f5! should have been tried, as White then wouldn't have such an easy time to develop harmoniously.

10.♗xe3 0-0 11.♘f3 ♖d8 12.♗d3

White has more space and his development proves to be easier.

12...♘a6 13.♕e2 ♗xa5

Re-establishing material equality. However White's central majority will probably give him a pull in the middlegame (see later for the damage these pawns actually cause!), so Black has to be careful where he places his pieces. Blockading the f5 and e6 squares is essential to stop White rolling forwards.

14.0-0 ♘b4 15.♗e4 ♗f5

If instead 15...♘g4 16.♗d4 f5 (16...c5 is ugly and weakens various squares, for example 17.♘b5! ♕b6 18.♗c3 with a clear advantage) 17.exf6 ♘xf6 Black's kingside could prove to be in even greater danger.

16.♔h1 ♗b6 17.♗xb6 ♕xb6 18.♘g5!

Black's knights are ineffective and White's grip on the right-hand side is starting to tell.

18...c5 19.♖ae1

Nepomniachtchi is fully mobilized and threatening to expand. In contrast, Jobava's forces are somewhat discoordinated and he lacks counterplay, so he now provokes complications to at least distract his opponent.

19...♕g6 20.♗xb7!

A sharpening of the struggle should suit White who overall has the better pieces.



With nasty threats.

21...♖xd5 22.♗xd5 ♗d3 23.♕f3 ♖e8 24.e6

A strong move, but not the only way as the alternative line 24.♘xf7! ♘xf7 25.f5 also looks crushing.

24...♘xe1 25.♖xe1 fxe6 26.♖xe6 ♔h8

A back rank trick that only delays the inevitable.

27.h3 ♖xe6 28.♗xe6 ♗b5 29.f5

The f-pawn now readies itself for the decisive blow.

29...♕e8 30.f6 ♕f8 31.f7

Completely paralysing the black position and Jobava now resigned as there is no defence against 32.♕-e4 e.g.31...a6 32.♕e4 g6 33.♕e5+ ♕g7 34.f8♕+.


© official site.

In today's round on board two Rauf Mamedov pushed Jobava all the way, but the Georgian managed to draw the queen ending two pawns down.

As to any thoughts of finishing in the top 22, several early draws suggest that a number of players already have their qualification for the World Cup in mind.

I estimate that 7.5 will be necessary to get into a play-off, but 8 may be required to ensure automatic qulaification.

1GM Denis Khismatullin (7)RUS26570.5-0.5GMIan Nepomniachtchi (7.5)RUS2656
2GMRauf Mamedov (7)AZE26390.5-0.5GMBaadur Jobava (7)GEO2695
3GMVladimir Akopian (7) ARM26880.5-0.5GMIvan Sokolov (7)BIH2638
4GMZahar Efimenko (7)UKR26400.5-0.5GMArtyom Timofeev (7)RUS2655
5GMEmil Sutovsky (6.5) ISR26500.5-0.5GMSergei Movsesian (6.5)SVK2709
6GMEvgeny Alekseev (6.5)RUS27000.5-0.5GMBartlomiej Macieja (6.5)POL2625
7GMLaurent Fressinet (6.5)FRA26700.5-0.5GMVladimir Potkin (6.5)RUS2606
8GMErnesto Inarkiev (6.5)RUS26670-1GMIgor Lysyj (6.5)RUS2615
9GMIvan Salgado Lopez (6.5) ESP25920.5-0.5GMFerenc Berkes (6.5)HUN2659
10GMDavid Navara (6)CZE27081-0GMMarkus Ragger (6.5)AUT2572
11GMAnish Giri (6)NED26240-1GMZoltan Almasi (6)HUN2720
12GMFrancisco Vallejo Pons (6)ESP27080.5-0.5GMVladimir Belov (6)RUS2619
13GMCsaba Balogh (6) HUN26220.5-0.5GMAlexander Motylev (6)RUS2705
14GMIldar Khairullin (6) RUS26171-0GMMichael Adams (6) ENG2704
15GMRomain Edouard (6)FRA26170-1GMEvgeny Tomashevsky (6) RUS2701

In the women's tournament a complicated struggle in Viktorija Cmilyte-Anna Muzychuk went on late into the evening, which the leader eventually won.

Pia Cramling's victory over Stefanova puts the Swede in contention for the title going into the last round, especially as she will play Cmilyte in tomorrow's showdown.

Marie Sebag of France and Monika Socko of Poland both won, giving them sporting chances of finishing on the podium, their meeting tomorrow will be decisive.

In the ladies event 7.5 points should be enough for automatic qualification.

1IMViktorija Cmilyte (7.5)LTU24851-0IMAnna Muzychuk (7)SLO2533
2GMPia Cramling (7) SWE25231-0GMAntoaneta Stefanova (7)BUL2555
3IMAnna Ushenina (6.5)UKR24520.5-0.5GMTatiana Kosintseva (6.5)RUS2524
4GMMarie Sebag (6.5)FRA25061-0WGMLilit Galojan (6.5)ARM2380
5IMMarina Romanko (6.5)RUS24090-1GMMonika Socko (6.5)POL2465
6IMYelena Dembo (6.5)GRE24570.5-0.5WGMJolanta Zawadzka (6.5)POL2404
7IMEva Moser (6) AUT24371-0IMLela Javakhishvili (6)GEO2500
8WGMNatalia Zhukova (6)UKR24921-0WGMBaira Kovanova (6)RUS2385
9IMNino Khurtsidze (6)GEO24340.5-0.5GMHoang Thanh Trang (6)HUN2487
10WGMOlga Girya (6)RUS23620.5-0.5IMIweta Rajlich (6) POL2459
11WGMAnastasia Savina (6)RUS23911-0WFMValentina Gunina (6)RUS2457
12IMAlmira Skripchenko (6)FRA24561-0IMElena Sedina (6) ITA2334
13IMMariya Muzychuk (6)UKR24440.5-0.5WGMAnastasia Bodnaruk (6) RUS2384
14WFMNastassia Ziaziulkina (6)BLR21880.5-0.5IMEkaterina Kovalevskaya (6) RUS2438
Viktorija Cmilyte
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