SIMPLECHESS

Nepomniachtchi downs Jobava!

Things seemed to be going so well for Jobava, but he was knocked back today as the 19-year-old Nepomniatchi inflicted a severe defeat on the pre-round leader.
The young 35th seed Russian is sole leader as Sokolov-Efimenko finished in a draw.
Cmilyte wins with Black against Socko and takes the sole lead in the Women's event.

Apart from the title and prize-money, the players will also be aiming to finish in the top 22 which is synonymous with qualification for the next World Cup, an even more lucrative tournament.

This may induce some players to play cautiously to avoid dropping out of the top 22 which may well occur with any late unfortunate losses.

1GMIan Nepomniachtchi (6.5)RUS26561-0GMBaadur Jobava (7)GEO2695
2GMIvan Sokolov (6.5)BIH26380.5-0.5GMZahar Efimenko (6.5)UKR2640
3GMVladimir Akopian (6) ARM26881-0GMBojan Vuckovic (6)SRB2630
4GMIgor Lysyj (6)RUS26150.5-0.5GMFressinet Laurent (6)FRA2670
5GMFerenc Berkes (6)HUN26590.5-0.5GMBartlomiej Macieja (6)POL2625
6GM Denis Khismatullin (6)RUS26571-0GMValerij Popov (6)RUS2585
7GMArtyom Timofeev (6)RUS26551-0GMHrant Melkumyan (6)ARM2582
8GMMaxim Rodshtein (6)ISR26090-1GMRauf Mamedov (6)AZE2639
9GMVladimir Potkin (6)RUS26060.5-0.5GMAlexander Motylev (5.5)RUS2705
10GMZoltan Almasi (5.5)HUN27200.5-0.5GMPavel Tregubov (5.5)RUS2625
11GMSergei Movsesian (5.5)SVK27091-0GMNidjat Mamedov (5.5) AZE2623
12GMDavid Navara (5.5)CZE27080.5-0.5GMCsaba Balogh (5.5) HUN2622
13GMAnish Giri (5.5)NED26240.5-0.5GMFrancisco Vallejo Pons (5.5)ESP2708
14GMMichael Adams (5.5) ENG27040.5-0.5GMRomain Edouard (5.5)FRA2617
15GMEvgeny Tomashevsky (5.5) RUS27010.5-0.5GMRobert Markus (5.5) SRB2618
16GMViorel Iordachescu (5.5) MDA26210-1GMEvgeny Alekseev (5)RUS2700

Baadur Jobava would probably prefer to remember his eighth round game where he won with an excellent technical display against top seed Zoltan Almasi from Hungary.

Baadur Jobava (2695) - Zoltan Almasi (2720)

Rijeka (European Individual championship for Men 8th round) 14.03.2010

Queen's Indian Defence (E12)

1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘f3 b6 4.a3

The Petrosian System where White invests a tempo to avoid ...Bb4.

4...♗b7 5.♘c3 d5 6.cxd5 ♘xd5 7.♗d2 ♘d7 8.♕c2

White's slow build-up is met logically with a vigorous response.

8...c5 9.♘xd5 exd5

It's possible to recapture with the bishop in order to keep the pawn structure as solid as possible i.e. 9...♗xd5 when the critical reaction would be 10.e4 ♗b7 11.d5!? exd5 12.exd5 ♗d6! (it's too dangerous to snatch the pawn as Black would have problems along the central files with his retarded development) 13.0-0-0 0-0 14.♗b5 with complicated play, Pert,R-Kjartansson, Hastings 2005.

10.dxc5 ♗xc5

Again Black has a choice as to his desired pawn structure, for example 10...bxc5 would instead give Black hanging pawns, a controversial structure which can offer a strong pawn front if well supported. Then 11.e4!? (breaking up the pawns early) 11...♗e7 12.exd5 0-0 13.0-0-0 c4 14.♗c3 ♘b6 15.h4 ♗xd5 was murky but ultimately favoured Black in Sherbakov,R-Riazantsev,A Satka 2008.

11.e3 0-0 12.♗d3 ♘f6 13.0-0

Black has an isolated central pawn, but can hope for active piece play in return.

13...♘e4 14.♗b4 ♕e7 15.♗xc5 bxc5

So we have hanging pawns after all! Jobava decides to break these up forthwith before black can support them with his heavy pieces.

16.b4! cxb4

Instead the anti-positional 16...c4? 17.♗xe4 ♕xe4 18.♕xe4 dxe4 19.♘d4 would give Black a miserable endgame as the centralized knight cannot be shifted.

17.axb4 ♕xb4 18.♖fb1 ♕e7 19.♘d4

For his pawn White has excellent deployment. There is little risk in this strategy as Black is unlikely to ever be in a position to exploit his extra pawn, indeed Jobava's pawn sacrifice turns out to be a good practical way of maintaining winning chances deep into the game.

19...g6 20.♗xe4 dxe4 21.♕b3 ♖fc8 22.h4!

Opening a second front and not falling for the standard trap 22.♕xb7?? ♖c1+!

22...♖c7 23.h5 ♕g5 24.♕d1 a6 25.♖b6 ♗c8

After 25...♕xh5 26.♕xh5 gxh5 27.♖a5 Black would have two extra pawns, but it would be him who would be under pressure in the endgame.

26.♕b1 ♗f5 27.h6

This ensures that Black's back-rank will remain vulnerable for the time being.

27...♖ac8 28.♘xf5 gxf5 29.♕b2 ♖d8 30.♖bxa6

Material equality has been re-established. Now the question is: who has the more vulnerable king?

30...♖cd7 31.g3 ♕g4

32.♕f6!

After 32.♖a8 Black has perpetual check starting with 32...♖d1+ 33.♖xd1 ♕xd1+ 34.♔h2 ♕h5+ etc.

32...♖d1+ 33.♖xd1 ♕xd1+ 34.♔h2 ♕h5+ 35.♕h4

Avoiding an immediate draw.

35...♕xh4+ 36.gxh4

It's often the case that rook endings with all the pawns on the same flank are drawish. Here White's king cannot be prevented from marching up the board and attacking the Black pawns, whereas Black's king is restricted. So White retains winning chances.

36...f4?!

An interesting try but I suspect that this is an error. It's easy for a casual observer to criticize, but I prefer the more cautious 36...♔f8 37.♔g3 ♔e7 e.g. 38.♖a2 (38.♔f4 perhaps allows too much simplification: 38...♖d2 39.♔xf5 ♖xf2+ 40.♔xe4 ♖h2 41.♔f5 ♖xh4 and White's winning chances are minimal) 38...♖d5 39.♔f4 with some pressure, but I suspect not enough to win.

37.exf4 ♔f8

White's pawns are not 'pretty' however Jobava is now able to show that it's the power of his king and not aesthetics that makes all the difference.

38.♔g3 ♔e7 39.f5!

Constructing a shelter for his king.

39...♖d3+ 40.♔f4 ♖f3+ 41.♔e5!

The pawn is less important than space for his king.

41...♖xf2 42.♖a7+ ♔e8 43.♔f6

The king keeps on going!

43...♔d8 44.♖a4

44.♖e7?? would lead to an unfortunate end to the game: 44...♖xf5+!

44...e3 45.♖e4 e2 46.♔g7

Threatening f5-f6 followed by capturing on f7.

46...♖xf5 47.♖xe2 ♖f4

White is left with only rook's pawns, which in certain circumstances would lead to a draw, but here Black's king is cut-off from the action and so White wins.

48.♔xh7 ♖g4 49.♖e5 f6 50.♖e6 ♔d7 51.♖xf6 ♔e7 52.♖f5 ♖xh4 53.♔g6!

Instead 53.♔g7? ♖g4+ 54.♔h8 ♖h4 55.h7 ♖g4 is a book draw. Continuing the struggle after 53.♔g6 is unnecessary as 53...♔e6 54.♖g5 ♖f4 55.h7 ♖f6+ 56.♔g7 ♖f7+ 57.♔g8 is straightforward.

1-0

Cmilyte's win takes her to 7.5, whilst behind her are three players on 7, Antoaneta Stefanova, Anna Muzychuk and Pia Cramling, the first, third and fifth seeds respectively.

So the tournament is still far from over!

1GMMonika Socko (6.5)POL24650-1IMViktorija Cmilyte (6.5)LTU2485
2GMAntoaneta Stefanova (6)BUL25551-0WGMNatalia Zhukova (6)UKR2492
3GMHoang Thanh Trang (6)HUN24870-1IMAnna Muzychuk (6)SLO2533
4GMTatiana Kosintseva (6)RUS25240.5-0.5IMYelena Dembo (6)GRE2457
5IMNino Khurtsidze (6)GEO24340-1GMPia Cramling (6) SWE2523
6IMAnna Ushenina (5.5)UKR24521-0IMNadezhda Kosintseva (5.5)RUS2554
7GMKetevan Arakhamia-Grant (5.5)SCO24470-1GMMarie Sebag (5.5)FRA2506
8IMLela Javakhishvili (5.5)GEO25000.5-0.5IMMariya Muzychuk (5.5)UKR2444
9WGMLilit Galojan (5.5)ARM23801-0IMElina Danielian (5.5)ARM2491
10GMNana Dzagnidze (5.5)GEO24790-1IMMarina Romanko (5.5)RUS2409
11IMSalome Melia (5.5)GEO24670-1WGMJolanta Zawadzka (5.5)POL2404
12WFMValentina Gunina (5.5)RUS24570.5-0.5WFMNastassia Ziaziulkina (5.5)BLR2188
The first board battle between Socko and Cmilyte
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