Tight at the top

The matches are becoming evenly balanced with 12 draws and only four wins today. The only player to tip a match in his favour being Alexei Shirov at the expence of Evgeny Tomashevsky.

It's decidely nippy in Khanty-Mansiysk at -30°C, ideal weather for chess!

Only six of the sixteen matches were decided today and so ten matches will be have to be fought out in the rapid (and possibly Blitz) play-offs tomorrow.

Of the six qualifiers, five won yesterday and drew the second set of games today: Mamedyarov, Vachier_Lagrave, Ponomariov, Vitiugov and the astonishing So. The sixth is Alexei Shirov who won against European Champion Tomashevsky, who apparently was unbeaten for 58 games before this defeat.

Of the remaining ten matches seven of them have only involved draws, a sign that the players are becoming cautious as the stakes become higher. The three notable comebacks were of Judit Polgar (who won with White and thus equalized against Boris Gelfand), Areshchenko and Karjakin (who did the same to Jakovenko and Navara respectively).

The game of the day was that of Polgar's as she played with reckless abandon to open up the game and ultimately came out on top in the murky complications that followed. Vintage Judit attacking chess!

Areshchenko in contrast won an instructive bishop ending as he squeezed Jakovenko out of moves.

Here are the decisive games with brief notes.

Judit Polgar (2680) - Boris Gelfand (2758)

Khanty Mansiysk (World Cup 3.2) 28.11.2009

Bishop's Opening (C24)

1.e4 e5 2.♗c4 ♘f6 3.d3 c6 4.♕e2 ♗e7 5.♘f3 0-0 6.♗b3 d6 7.0-0 ♘bd7 8.c3 a5 9.a4 b5 10.♗c2 ♗a6 11.axb5 cxb5 12.♘bd2 ♕c7 13.d4 a4

Otherwise 13...b4 can be comfortably met by 14.c4 with a good centre.

14.♗d3 ♖fb8 15.♘h4 g6 16.f4!

In her youth Judit Polgar played the King's Gambit, so this would have been second nature to her! It hasn't escaped her attention that most of Black's pieces are on the other wing.

16...exf4 17.♘df3!? ♘h5 18.♗d2 ♘b6


All in! The world's leading woman has to win to stay in the competition, so she doesn't count the cost in pawns to generate 'practical' attacking chances.

19...fxg3 20.♘g5 ♘c4

After 20...♖f8 21.♘f5!? White is also well in the game.


Objectively 21.♖xf7 gxh2+ (21...♘xd2? 22.♘f5!) 22.♔xh2 looks better, as Black's kingside then looks somewhat shaky.

21...♗xg5 22.♗xg5 f6 23.♗h4 gxh2+ 24.♕xh2 ♖f8?!

Perhaps the piece could be taken: 24...gxf5 25.♖xf5 ♘g7 26.♖xf6 ♖f8 27.♖h6 when any 'compensation' is somewhat vague.

25.♗e2 gxf5 26.♗xh5 fxe4 27.♕f4 f5 28.♔h1 ♔h8 29.♖g1

Black has three extra pawns, but White's powerful pieces exert too much pressure.


Or if 29...♘b6, then 30.♕h6 ♘d5 31.c4! bxc4 32.♖xa4 with too many threats.

30.♗xf7 ♕xf7 31.♕h6 ♖f8 32.♖g6!


Alexander Areshchenko (2664) - Dmitry Jakovenko (2736)

Khanty Mansiysk (World Cup 3.2) 28.11.2009

Scotch Opening (C45)

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.d4 exd4 4.♘xd4 ♘f6 5.♘xc6 bxc6 6.e5 ♕e7 7.♕e2 ♘d5 8.c4 ♗a6 9.♘d2 0-0-0 10.b3 f6 11.♗b2 fxe5 12.0-0-0 ♘f6 13.♕xe5 ♕xe5 14.♗xe5 ♘g4 15.♗g3 ♗a3+ 16.♔b1 ♖hf8 17.♘f3 ♗c5 18.♖d2 ♘f6

It's hard to imagine here, but within a few moves Black's d-pawn proves to be a serious weakness.

19.♗d3 ♖de8 20.♗f5 ♖e7 21.♘e5 ♗b7 22.♖hd1 ♗d6 23.♘g4!

The exchanges lead to the demise of the d-pawn.

23...♗xg3 24.♘xf6 ♖xf6 25.♖xd7 ♖xd7 26.♗xd7+ ♔b8 27.fxg3 c5 28.♖d2 ♖d6 29.♔c1!

It's the quality of the remaining awns, not just the quantity that Areshchenko demonstrates with this move. Instead after 29.♖xd6 cxd6 30.♗h3 the extra pawn would be difficult to exploit.

29...♗xg2 30.♗f5

Black is able to maintain material equality, but must now make a major concession.

30...♖xd2 31.♔xd2 g6

Necessary, but the kingside soon becomes a target.

32.♗c2 ♔c8 33.♔e3 ♔d7 34.♔f4 ♔e6 35.♔g5 ♔f7 36.♔h6 ♔g8

Holding for the time being, but with weaknesses on both wings Black still has serious difficulties.

37.h4 ♗f3 38.♗d3 ♗d1 39.♗e4 a5 40.♗d5+ ♔h8 41.♗e4 ♔g8 42.♗d3 ♔h8


The only was to make progress is for the king to seek greener pastures.

43...♔g7 44.g4! ♗f3

If 44...♔f7 then 45.h5! could be clearest: (45.♔f4?! may not win after 45...♔e6 46.g5 c6 47.♗e4 ♔d6 as Black's fortress looks solid) 45...gxh5 46.gxh5 ♔g7 47.h6+ ♔h8 48.♔f6 and invades.

45.♔f4 ♗b7 46.♗e4 ♗c8 47.g5 ♔f7 48.♔e5 ♔e7 49.♗f3 ♗e6 50.♗c6 ♗f7 51.♗d5 ♗e8 52.♗e4

Now the threat is ♔-d5, whereas 52.♗g8 can be met by 52...♔f8 when White should retreat and try again.


Not exactly a healthy sign for Black.

However after 52...♗f7 there is at least 53.h5! ♗e8 (53...gxh5 54.♗xh7) 54.hxg6 hxg6 55.♔d5 and the c5-pawn drops.

53.♗f3 ♗d7 54.♗g2 ♗e8 55.♗h3 ♗f7 56.a4 ♗g8

56...♗e8 57.♗e6 leaves Black totally Zugzwanged!

57.♗g2 ♗e6

After 57...♔d7 58.♔f6 the result is also not in doubt.

58.♗xc6 ♗f5 59.♔d5

Winning a second pawn.

59...♗c2 60.♔xc5 ♗xb3 61.♔b5


Alexei Shirov (2719) - Evgeny Tomashevsky (2708)

Khanty Mansiysk (World Cup 3.2) 28.11.2009

Spanish Archangel (C78)

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗a4 ♘f6 5.0-0 b5 6.♗b3 ♗b7 7.c3 ♘xe4 8.d4 ♘a5 9.♗c2 exd4 10.b4 ♘c4 11.♗xe4 ♗xe4 12.♖e1 d5 13.♘xd4 c5 14.bxc5 ♗xc5 15.f3 0-0 16.fxe4 dxe4 17.♖xe4 ♕d5 18.♕f3 ♘e5 19.♕f5 ♖ae8 20.♘d2 g6 21.♕f4 b4 22.♗b2 bxc3 23.♗xc3 ♘c6 24.♔h1 ♗xd4 25.♖xd4 ♘xd4 26.♗xd4 ♖e2 27.♘f3 f6 28.h3 ♖e4 29.♕d2 ♖d8 30.♖d1 ♖e6 31.♕c3 ♕c6 32.♕b3 ♖dd6 33.♖b1 ♔g7 34.♕b8 ♖e7 35.♗e3 ♖dd7 36.♖b6 ♕c3 37.♗f4 a5 38.♔h2 ♕c4 39.♗g3 ♖e6 40.♖b2

White must be at least slightly better (two pieces for a rook and a safer king) so Black has to defend and try and keep White's pieces out. However on his fortieth move Black makes a serious oversight.

40...♖e2? 41.♗d6!

41...♖xd6 42.♖b7+ is hopeless.


Sergey Karjakin (2723) - David Navara (2707)

Khanty Mansiysk (World Cup 3.2) 28.11.2009

French Defence (C10)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 dxe4 4.♘xe4 ♘d7 5.♘f3 ♘gf6 6.♘xf6+ ♘xf6 7.♗e3 ♘d5 8.♗d2 c5 9.♗b5+ ♗d7 10.♗xd7+ ♕xd7 11.c4 ♘b6 12.♖c1 ♗e7 13.dxc5 ♗xc5 14.b4 ♗e7 15.c5 ♘d5 16.♘e5 ♕c7 17.♕a4+ ♔f8 18.♘d3 a6 19.0-0 ♖d8 20.♕b3 h5 21.a4 h4 22.h3 ♖h5 23.b5 ♗g5 24.b6 ♕b8 25.♗xg5 ♖xg5 26.c6 bxc6 27.♖c5 e5 28.a5 ♕d6 29.♖fc1 ♘e7 30.♘e1 ♖f5 31.♕c4 ♖f4 32.♕xa6 ♖xf2 33.♕d3 ♕xd3 34.♘xd3 ♖a2 35.♘xe5 ♖dd2


The rook sacrifice kills off Black's counterplay.

36...♖dxc2 37.♖xc2 ♖xc2

If 37...♖xa5, then 38.b7 ♖b5 39.b8♕+ ♖xb8 40.♘d7+ ♔e8 41.♘xb8 etc.

38.b7 ♖b2 39.♘d7+ ♔e8 40.♘b6

The pawn promotes.


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