In the fifth round of the Grand Prix in Tashkent Ruslan Ponomariov, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Gata Kamsky won their first games in the event. Ruslan Ponomariov overplayed the sole leader Alexander Morozevich and Karjakin, Kasimdzhanov, Mamedyarov, Caruana joined Russian player on the top of the table. Peter Svidler had good chances to join the group of leaders but didn’t succeed to win the position with advantage against Leinier Dominguez. Two other games Karjakin – Leko and Mamedyarov-Caruana were drawn.
Wang Hao – Kasimdzhanov 0-1
A game turns to be rather one-sided as Chinese player seem to mix two different plans in the Scotch with 4...Nf6 (normally Rc1 is played with White's queen being on h4 and it makes Black's long castle impossible). As Rustam said during his first solo press-conference, "I just was brave enough to play 0-0-0 – it was the most difficult move in the game ". Black got a big advantage after 26. Rc4 and later on Chinese player didn't put the most stubborn defense, as White could’ve played 31.Rc5 (after Black’s 30…c5) to complicate matters. Later on Black found 32…Nb2 and position of White became absolutely hopeless. “I feel support here of course and I’m gald to win a game (applauds). The Grand Prix tournaments are very strong, I managed to win only one game in London. I was not sure I could please the spectators here in Uzbekistan and I’m glad that I managed to do so!" said Rustam Kasimdzhanov at the press-conference after the game.
Ponomariov – Morozevich 1-0
As Ponomariov put it during the press-conference, "a logical game until he (Morozevich) blundered". French defence with 3. Nd2 had been played in this game and, even Ruslan expected this variation, White barely got anything from the opening. According to Ponomariov,18… Nb6 wasn't really needed as he wasn't sure what to do against 18…0-0. Former world champion had some doubts about Black’s decision f5, e5. Anyway, the position was balanced until Morozevich's unlucky 27…Nc8. The original idea of Black was logical – to bring the knight on d4 but Ruslan found nice tactical idea - Bxf5, which gave White a huge advantage. Ukrainian player was not quite sure how to improve white’s position if Black just plays 27…Ref8 and keeps holding the position.
Karjakin – Leko 1/2-1/2
“I’ve already asked Sergey few questions in Queens-Indian playing with white, so I didn’t want to be asked those questions in return”, pointed out Peter Leko explaining why he preferred to go for Ragozin defense which he had never played before. It came as a surprise for Sergey and he “did want to check main lines which might be prepared by the opponent but try to get playable position”. 7.g3 is by far not the most popular plan for White, connected with a pawn sacrifice which was accepted by Leko (8…dc4). During whole game black wanted to push e5 but at the moment he played so there was another interesting opportunity – to sacrifice the bishop after 32…Bd2 33.R1ce Be3 and 34…Qg3. White should keep the balance but have to play precisely. In the game the opponents kept playing solidly and three fold repetitions seemed logical as none of opponents could make a progress in final position.
Mamedyarov – Caruana 1/2-1/2
Once again a surprise in the opening as Fabiano went for Meran Slav with 8…Bd6 instead of his main choice – the Grunfeld Defense. The players followed the game Lupulescu – Inarkiev (Plovdiv 2012), which also finished in a draw, and Caruana’s first independent move seems to be an improvement on Black’s play, as the endgame with opposite colored bishops doesn’t offer White many chances for a win. Fabiano could have chosen to go into another endgame after 17…Rfd8 but as he pointed out “ the version in the game after 17…Be7 looked better”. Black’s nice idea left behind the curtain – 29.Rc7 Rxc7 30.Bxc7 Bxb3!, forcing an exchange of queenside pawns as 31. axb3 a4 loses for White. Mamedyarov managed to win the second pawn but an awkward position of White’s rook was just enough for Black to hold the balance.
Gelfand – Kamsky 0-1
Gata Kamsky chose Leningrad Dutch as he noticed that Boris Gelfand didn’t play it quite successfully land lost against Nakamura in this particular line. Kamsky was not sure why everyone gives away the light squared bishop and preferred to keep it ( 12…Bd7). Black got reasonable position and White’s slightly inaccurate 20. Qc2 break let Black to get the initiative after d5. Gelfand’s try to solve White’s problems by tactical means with 22.Nd5 (22.Bc5 was more resistant according to the engine) was convincingly refuted by American player.
Dominguez – Svidler 1/2-1/2
Another Spanish with 5.d3 was played by Leinier Dominguez, where Peter developed his bishop on c5 in style of Archangelsk variation. 14…c5 indicated an intention to complicate the position, as Peter Svidler pointed out “I could have changed the bishops but it looked too boring”. The same applies to his 17…bxc4 – “17…b4 was ok for Black but once again too boring”. Nevertheless the game remained balanced and both players agreed a three times repetition would’ve been a logical final of the game as Leinier’s spirited decision to play on (32.Rg3) in fact just led him into trouble. During the press-conference Cuban player said he was in the time trouble and didn’t have time to regret his decision but just to find moves. Svidler dropped his advantage with 39…Kh8 (instead after 39…c4 that would be a hard task for White to save the game), hoping to catch White in a nice trap – 40.g3 is met with a stunning 40…Be3!!, and after 41.fe3 Raf8 white’s position collapses, but he completely forgot about the same knight’s pawn move on the opposite wing. ” I have no explanation to what have done. I was walking around shaking my head. Of course the most obvious and most natural move in this position is c4”, said Russian player during the press-conference. After 40.b3 he understood that black lost his advantage and found the way to a forced draw.