In the second round of Grand Prix tournament in Tashkent only one game was decided – Russian player Alexander Morozevich won against rating favorite Fabiano Caruana and became the sole leader in the second stage of GP. Despite the drawish result the game between Peter Leko and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov became one of the most exciting!
As Alexander Morozevich pointed out during the press-conference, he was surprised by Caruana`s opening choice (Berlin Defense) and went for a relatively harmless line starting with d3. After a few moves a typical Exchange Spanish pawn structure arose on the board.
Black got decent chances but after few careless moves he found himself defending quite an unpleasant endgame. It seemed that after many more exchanges, provoked by the move 30.c4, the rook endgame was holdable. Whilst Caruana was making the only moves for some time, the decisive mistake was on the last 40th move in the time trouble and fatally changed the evaluation of the position.
“16 times (with 15 min intervals) my alarm rang today until I finally managed to wake up!!”, said Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at the press-conference. “It was already too late to prepare for the main lines”, explained the enterprising Azeri GM, and so he went for rather unusual line (3…c6). As a result, Shakh killed all the preparation of Peter who spent a lot of time checking variations against Caro-Kann.
During the game Hungarian player didn’t want to repeat 3.f4 which has been already played before, decided to continue with logical 4.Nf3 but absolutely forgot about 4…Bg4. Nevertheless, white got quite promising position but it took Peter too much time to calculate all variations. As a result, he ended up with 7 seconds for 5 moves!!
As Peter Leko explained during the press-conference, with 7 seconds on the clock, he remembered his game against Anatoly Karpov in Linares 2001, when Karpov had only 7 seconds for 7 moves in a very complicated position. The former world champion managed to make the best moves and when the time troubles passed he spent another 53 minutes calculating the pawn ending.
“That game finished in a draw, so at least I had an example that someone succeeded to do it!”, said Peter. Shahriyar seemed to be very excited about what happened as well and admitted there were only few GMs in the World who were capable to find and made the best moves with such time.
During the game Peter Leko found the fantastic defensive idea 35.f4 and it turned out that everything works fine for white. After the first time trouble, despite Black’s extra pawn, white had enough compensation and overall a draw seemed to be a logical result.
Kamsky - Karjakin
The Petrosian variation of the Queens Indian was chosen in the game Kamsky-Karjakin, however, after 6.Bg5 the position is closer to a QGD structure. Sergey managed to equalize in a very convincing way, and after 11.Ne4 white could have tried 12.Bf4, which would lead to a more complicated game.
After Be7 it's was predictable that everything was going to be changed and eventually peace was signed in the Queens endgame after a three-time repetition. Sergey Karjakin was happy to grab 1,5 points out of his first two games with black.
Peter Svidler decided to avoid the 4.Bxc6 line, which was debated in the World Championship match Anand-Gelfand. After 10.b4 the position was quite new for both players. Boris Gelfand chose the most principal continuation 10…Nce5, but both players agreed that 10…cxb3 would give black reasonable chances as well.
Nevertheless, the Israeli player might have regretted his decision, as later on Peter Svidler got very promising chances. If Svidler would have found in his calculations the exact move 27.Re7! in the forced variation 24. Rf7 Rg8 25. Nf5 Nh8 26. Rd7 Kc8 27.Re7!, it would be hard to give any good advice to black how to survive. As Peter Svidler pointed out during the press-conference the e7 -square became a blind spot for him in the game. White chose 24.Ra1 instead of 24.Rf7 and missed a good opportunity to fight for the advantage.
Wang Hao – Dominguez
As Wang Hao pointed out during the press-conference his preparation finished after 8…c6 - the move which was missed during his home preparation. The position became quite sharp but both opponents played creatively and it’s not easy to suggest any improvements for both sides.
Perhaps, the best chance for Wang Hao was to take the b4 pawn on 29th move hoping to convert the game into the endgame with an extra pawn (4 against 3 on the King’s side). Later on the above mentioned b4 pawn was advanced and became the real danger, so the Chinese player finished the game with perpetual check.
Kasimdzhanov - Ponomariov
Rustam Kasimdzhanov was not ready for a long discussion in the Breyer variation, which could have happened in the game, so he chose instead a side line in order to avoid some possible variations which Ruslan may have better known.
Rustam was sure black had to face some problems in the middle game but it didn’t really happen as massive exchanges followed and the was converted into a drawish bishop of opposite colours ending. Ruslan Ponomarion proposed 15. Ra5 instead of Ra7 after the game, which could give more promising chances for white.