Chess (#989)

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 03, 2012 20:03 hrs

Levon Aronyan won his third Tata Steel with a 2891 performance and healthy one-point lead. His rating climbs to 2824, within shouting distance of Magnus Carlsen who should be around 2834. Aronyan scored 9 from 13 (+7,=4,-2). Carlsen shared second-fourth with Radjabov and Caruana (all 8). Radjabov was the only undefeated player. In Group B, Harikrishna scored 9 (+6,-1,=6) to hold first place and win a promotion to the 2013 A Group with a 2738 performance. Alexander Motylev and Lazaro Bruzon shared second-third with 8.5. The prodigious Ilya Nyzhnyk scored 7.5. Harika would be disappointed with last place.

In Group C, Maxim Turov held off the challenge of Tikkannen, scoring 10.5 to win promotion to B, while Tikkannen hit 10. Baskar Adhiban shared third-fourth with Brandenburg ( both 8.5). Sahaj Grover scored 7 to share fifth spot while Tania Sachdev scored 6.

The Gibraltar Open, which followed immediately, is special for several reasons. It has an excellent field, and usually includes a large number of top women players since it offers good conditions and special prizes. This year is no exception with Judit Polgar and Hou Yifan leading the female contingent. Hou has a fantastic performance so far. She shares the lead with Adams (both 6.5 from 8) and she’s scored 2859 TPR. Lower down, the ranks are dotted with class acts like Svidler, Shirov, Short, Sasikiran, Mamedaryov, Movsesyan, Negi, etc. The teenaged world champion has beaten Polgar and Liem. This could be a breakthrough event for Hou, who definitely has the talent to rival or perhaps outstrip Polgar if she’s handled right and allowed to play her peers in terms of strength, regardless of gender.

The diagram, BLACK TO PLAY, (Nyzhnyk,I Vs Harikrishna, Tata B, 2012) is somewhat uncharacteristic of Hari's style. He’s known for his patient endgame play. Here, he avoided the solid 19. Bxg2 and played 19.— Bb5? The move is safe, offers good winning chances. But it does sacrifice a piece. I wonder how much of what followed was instinct and how much calculation? 20.Bxb7 Rxe2+ 21.Kd1? Amazingly 21. Kf1! holds. Discoveries like 21.—Rxb2+ 22. Kg2 Nxc5 23. Bxa8 Nd3 24. Rc8+ Kh7 25. Be4+ g6 are just about equal. I’m willing to bet that neither player bothered to analyse this “computer” line walking into discovery. Play continued 21.— Rb8 22.Bxa6 Bxa6 23.Nxa6 Rbxb2 24.Rc8+ Kh7. This looks lost. The plausible defence of 25. a4 Rxf2 26. Rb8 Ra2 27 Rb1 leaves black with seventh control and he can mop up pawns. Nyzhnyk tried another logical defence and reached a similar position with 25.Nb4 Rxf2 26.a3 a5 27.Nd5 Ra2 28.Re1 d3 (0-1). Not much percentage left with 29. Nf4 d3 and Ra1+ to follow.

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

More from Sify: