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The second round of the World Cup brought fewer sensations than the first one — most underdogs already busted and returned home.

Well, it's certainly okay with me — I prefer observing games between strong players!

Round 2 review by GM Konstantin Landa



E. Alekseev — V. Ivanchuk



75...Re1 76.Rc7 Kh6

Playing such position against Vassily is hardly enjoyable. I am sure Evgeny Alekseev also felt that way. White lost a pawn in the middlegame and fought hard for a draw. Finally he found the right arrangement of the pieces, leaving Black no targets to attack.

77.Rc6 Re7

Freeing the way to the juicy e1-h4 diagonal.




After the game Evgeny confessed that he missed the idea 78.Bb3 Be1 79.Rc2!, and Black cannot grab the pawns on f2, g3, and h4.

78...Kg7 79.f3 Re2 80.Bd3 Rg2! 81.g4?

This is too much... In a less nerve-wrecking situation, with a cup of coffee and a lot of time on the clock (Evgeny actually had just bonus 30 seconds left) White would surely find 81.Rc7 Kh6 82.Rc6! Rxg3 83.Bxf5 with a draw.



81...hxg4 82.fxg4 Rxg4 83.h5 gxh5 84.Bxf5 Rg3

After this trade White has no weaknesses, but he also ran out of pawns. Now he must play very accurately to earn a draw.




Correct idea — the king rushes to the h-pawn. If he manages to trade rooks somehow, he can give up a bishop for the d-pawn with a book draw.

85...h4 86.Ke5 Re3 87.Kf4 Be1 88.Re6 Bg3 89.Kg5! Kf7!

Black can't win after 89...Rc3 90.Re7 Kf8 91.Rd7 Bf2 92.Kf6.

90.Re4 h3 91.Rxd4 h2 92.Rd7 Kf8 93.Rd8 Ke7 94.Rd7 Ke8 95.Rh7 Kd8

95...Kf8 creates more practical problems, but it also leads to a draw after 96.Bc8 Re7 97.Rh6 Kg7 98.Rg6 Kf7 99.Rf6 Ke8 100.Rh6 Kd8 101.Ba6 Kc7 102.Bf1.




White cracks under pressure. Correct is 96.Bg4, trying to get to the key h1-f8 diagonal. Also possible is 96.Rd7 Ke8 97.Rh7.


After 96...Bd6 White must give up his rook for the h2-pawn.


Evgeny commits the last blunder. He could secure a draw by moving the f5-bishop almost anywhere: 97.Bd7, 97.Bc2 Re1 98.Kf5!, 97.Be6.


After the rook retreats to the back rank, Black wins by ...Rg3+ and ...Rg1. White resigns.


Vugar Gashimov demonstrated a very interesting novelty.



V. Gashimov — S. Azarov


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.d3 fxe4 5.dxe4 Nf6. 6.Be3!

A very strong an unexpected innovation already on the move 6!



6...Bb4 7.c3 Be7 8.Bxc6 bxc6

According to Vugar, the only chance to resist is 8...dxc6, but after 9.Qxd8 Bxd8 10.Nbd2 White has an improved version of the Berlin ending with a blocked pawn on е5.

9.Nxe5 Ba6 10.Nd2 Rb8 11.Qa4! Qc8 12.0−0−0 0−0 13.Bg5 Kh8 14.c4

White has an extra pawn, and it is not easy for Black to create any counterplay.

14...c5 15.h4 Rb6 16.h5 d6




A brilliant combination!

17...hxg6 18.hxg6 Kg8 19.Qa3! Qg4?

A note for attentive readers: White has an advantage even after the strongest 19...Qe6 20.Rh4 Rfb8 21.Qf3 (or 21.Rdh1 Kf8 22.Qf3 Ke8 23.Rh7) 21...Qe5 22.Rdh1 Qxb2 23.Kd1 Qa1 24.Ke2 Bxc4 25.Nxc4 Qxa2 26.Nd2 Qa6 27.Qd3 Qxd3 28.Kxd3 Kf8 29.Rh8 Ng8 30.Rxg8 Kxg8 31.Bxe7 Ra6 32.e5.

20.f4! Rfb8 21.Rh4 Qe6 22.Rdh1 Kf8 23.f5



Black resigns. After 23...Qe5 White gives a brilliant checkmate: 24.Rh8 Ng8 25.Rxg8 Kxg8 26.Rh8 Kxh8 27.Qh3 Kg8 28.Qh7 Kf8 29.Qh8#.




N. Vitiugov — A. Korobov


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.Qc2 Nbd7 11.Rd1 Nh5

This game shows that Nikita Vitiugov also works hard at home.




White breaks in the center! After this move Black began to think. Apparently, Anton was unfamiliar with this position, and it predetermined his quick loss.

12...Nxg3 13.hxg3 Bg7 14.dxe6 fxe6 15.e5!

A very strong move — the White's queen goes to g6.



15...Qe7 16.Qg6 Kf8 17.Ne4 Nxe5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.Rxh6 Rxh6 20.Qxh6 Bg7 21.Qg6 c5

I don't know anything about Nikita's analysis, but Black cannot survive in the endgame after 21...Qe8 22.Qxg5 Qe7 23.Qg6 Qe8 24.Qxe8 Rxe8 25.Nc5 Bc8 26.Bh5! — suddenly an exchange is lost — 26...Bxb2 27.Bxe8 Kxe8 28.Rd6 e5 29.Rxc6 Bf5 30.Kd1 c3 31.Nb3.

22.Nxg5 Bd5 23.Bg4 Re8 24.Kf1

As we noticed with Anna Sharevich during the online relay, White wins beautifully by 24.Rxd5 exd5 25.Ne6 Kg8 26.Bf5. However, Nikita's move is also quite good. Black has literally no moves.

24...c3 25.bxc3 Bc4 26.Kg1 Kg8 27.Re1 Qd7 28.Re4. Black resigns.


M. Parligras — Z. Almasi


Here comes a brilliant tactical shot.




An introduction...


Shall we sacrifice the f4-knight?


Nope! White plays hard!



32...Kg7 33.Qf3 Qg5 34.Qg3 Qf5 35.Qf3 Qg5 36.Qg3 Qf5 37.Nxf6 Qxf6 38.Rd5

White is obviously winning.

38...Bf4 39.Qg4 Qe7 40.e3 f5 41.Qf3 Bg5 42.Qd1 Kh6 43.Rd7 Qf8 44.Qd6 Qh8 45.Rf7 Kh5 46.Qf8. Black resigns.



F. Vallejo — L. Bruzon


White's position is completely won, so we switched to other games of the round. Oh how wrong we were! The action just begins.

43...Kf8 44.Rc6?

This rook retreat is a mistake. Simpler is 44.Rg7 Nd3 45.Kg4 Ne5 46.Kg3 with an easy win.

44...Nd3 45.Kg3 Re3 46.Kh2?

Gives Black drawing chances. White should have calculated 46.Kg4!

46...Nf4! 47.Rxb6 Rh3! 48.Kg1 Rxc3 49.Rxa6 Nh3

Check! And the g5-pawn is lost.



50.Kf1 Nxg5 51.a4 Kf7 52.a5 Ne4 53.Rb6 Nc5 54.Rc6 Na4 55.Rd6 Nc5 56.Ke2 Ra3 57.Nc6 Ne6 58.a6

Here we once again stopped observing this game. Try to guess which passed pawn finishes first. You think, f6 or a6? Wrong!



58...g5! 59.a7 g4 60.Rd7 Kxf6 61.Rb7 g3 62.Rb3 Ra2 63.Kf1 g2 64.Kg1 Nf4




It seems White cannot survive even after 65.Rg3 Ra1 66.Kf2 g1Q 67.Rxg1 Nh3 68.Kg2 Nxg1 69.a8Q Rxa8 70.Kxg1 Ra4.

65...Ra1 66.a8Q

And White resigned the game. Everyone was completely shocked.


L. Bruzon — F. Vallejo


In the second game Vallejo needed to win as Black, and he achieved it brilliantly, despite the ending reminded him of the unfortunate first game.



42.Rd6 Ra3 43.Kf4 Ra2 44.Kf3 Rf2!

Very strong! After the rook trade Black's a-pawn becomes very strong. And losing is clearly out of question, too!



45.Kxf2 Ne4 46.Kf3 Nxd6 47.Kf4 f6 48.g5 fxg5 49.hxg5 Nf7!

Tying the king to defending the g5-pawn. I am not sure about the objective evaluation of this ending, but White failed to show a convincing way to survive.



50.Nd5 a5 51.Ke3? Nxg5 52.Nf4 Nf7

This position is clearly hopeless.



53.Nd5 g5 54.Kd4 Nd8 55.Kc4 Kg6 56.Ne3 Kh5 57.Kd5 g4 58.Nf5 Kg5 59.Ke4 a4 60.Nd4 a3. White resigns.


V. Potkin — A. Shirov

Vladimir Potkin played a very good game! White got an advantage in the opening, and now the reigning European Champion launches the winning attack.



22.f5! Nxe5 23.Bf4 Bd6 24.Nc6 Nxc6 25.Bxd6 Qa7 26.f6

Black's army is helpless.

26...gxf6 27.Rxf6 Ne7




The final blow. Black resigns due to the line 28...Kxf7 29.Rf1 Kg8 30.Bxe6 Bxe6 31.Qxe6 Kh8 32.Be5#.


G. Kamsky — R. Kasimdzhanov


It was unfortunate to see such a strong players meeting at such an early stage. One mistake by Rustam Kasimdzhanov was enough for his opponent to win.




After 28...Nc6 29.Bxd5 Rd8 Black feels just fine.

29.Bxd5 Rd8 30.Bf3

30.Ra8!? Rff8 31.Rxd8 Rxd8 32.Bf3 Bxf3 33.Nxf3 Rd3 34.Kf2 Rxc3 35.Re8 Kh7 36.f5 Nh8 37.Re7 was also good.

30...Bxf3 31.Nxf3 Rd5?

31...Rd3 32.Nd4 b4!

32.Ra8 Kh7 33.Ree8 Rxc5 34.Nd4 Nxf4?

34...Rxc3 35.f5 b4 36.fxg6 Kxg6.

35.gxf4 Rxf4 36.Ne6

A rook usually works well with a knight, and two rooks with a knight can simply give mate!



36...Rg4 37.Kf2 Rf5 38.Ke3 h5 39.Ra6 g6 40.Re7 Kh6 41.Ra8!



Black resigns. The game could continue 41...g5 42.Ra6 Rf6 43.Nf8 Rxa6 44.Rh7#.



E. Bacrot — A. Filippov


Anton Filippov sensationally defeated Etienne Bacrot in the first game and was one move away from a draw here, which would allow him to advance to the next round.




Black could make a draw in several ways, for example: 49...Ra2 50.Kc3 h5 51.Kc2 Ra1, or 49...Rc1 50.Kb4 Rb1 51.Kc3 Rc1 52.Kd2 Rb1 53.Kc2 Ra1.

50.b4! g5 51.hxg5 Kg6 52.Kb5!

A very strong maneuver — the king goes to а6 in order to defend against the b-pawn march.



52...a3 53.Ka6 Rb1 54.b5 Rb2 55.b6 Rxf2 56.b7 Rb2 57.Rxa3 Kxg5 58.Ra5

Black resigns, and the players proceed to tie-breaks.


S. Movsesian — J. Polgar


It was a tough tournament for Sergey Movsesian — he was knocked out from Women's World Cup! In the first round Sergey outplayed Women World Champion Hou Yifan, but couldn't do anything against the world's strongest woman player Judit Polgar in the Round 2.



21...g6 22.Qh6




Sergey praised this maneuver after the game.


23.Rf3 with the tricky idea 23...Kh8? 24.Ba4! Qxa4 25.Rh3 would be very much in Movsesian's style, but it wasn't his day.

23...Kh8 24.Re4 f5 25.Re3 Bf6

The tables have been turned. Black already stands slightly better due to safety of his king.




Somewhere around here Sergey offered a draw, but Judit declined the offer.

26...Bg7 27.Qh4 Rxe3 28.Rxe3 f4 29.Re4 f3!

Black opens the enemy king's position.

30.gxf3 Rxf3 31.Be6 Qd6 32.Bg4 Rf8 33.Qe7 Qb6 34.b3 Qa5 35.Re2 Qxa2 36.Qxc5 Qa1 37.Qg1 Qc3 38.Bh3 a5!

If Black creates a passed pawn on the a-file, White will be unable to hold it.



39.Qe1 Qc5 40.c4 b5 41.cxb5 Qxb5 42.Bg2 Qxb3 43.Re8

Not good is 43.Qxa5 Bc3!

43...Qb2 44.Bd5 Qf6 45.Rxf8 Bxf8

Despite trading the rooks, White's position cannot be defended — his king is too weak.



46.h3 Bd6 47.Bg2 Qf4 48.Kg1 a4 49.Qc3 Be5 50.Qa3 Kg7 51.Qe7 Kh6 52.Qa3 Bd4 53.Kh1 Qf2 54.Qc1 Be3 55.Qa1 a3

White resigns. And Judit proceeded to changing her airplane tickets. Her next round opponent is Sergey Karjakin. Russian chess fans would probably like Judit to come back home after the Round 3, but the outcome of this match is impossible to predict! At least I am not going to try.

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