Sometimes you have a round where the play is cagey, sophisticated but not that appealing to the naked eye. Other times you wander around the top boards and you wonder what the players have been having for lunch! In the fifth round of the 31st edition of the Reykjavik open there were interesting and enough puzzling looking positions to make some very high rated spectators walk away shaking their heads in disbelief. Perhaps the most interesting was that of the second seed Dmitry Andreikin fresh from his extended rest like a footballer who has had a layoff and just wants to kick a football as hard as he can towards the opponents goal.
Witness the following position, consider your options as to what you would play with the black pieces. White has just played 19.Be4 starting to point his pieces at the black king.
You know white has some attacking chances with typical moves like Qh5 to force h6 then Nf3 will follow and although the bishop on f8 is doing a fine job of protecting the king you know there is some danger. Grandmaster Dmitry Andreikin is 26 years of age, in the prime of his life and can play extremely solidly when playing another supergrandmaster or is willing to play in a more “creative” and risky way to achieve an unbalanced position when only a win is an option. still how many players do you know would give up their queen here for just a rook and a bishop with 19,…Qxe5!?
What does Andreikin have for his queen? Well, apart from the obvious rook and bishop he has traded an edge pawn for whites pride and joy on e5. He feels that he can expand slowly in the center using his pawns and with his two rooks supported by two bishops is in little danger of losing. Would he make the same decision against a fellow supergm? I am not sure but suddenly the position is much easier to play for black and there is no danger of getting mated anymore. Witness the position a few moves later after 36,…Rd8.
Black has grabbed space in the center, his two bishops rake the board, his rooks can combine to gang up on various targets. Andrekin has no real way to push a pawn through though so he casts an eye at the weakened light squares around the white king, looks down at his light squared bishop and understands that his opposite number is looking in from the sidelines!
White has put his rook behind his passed a-pawn and is ready to start pushing but black has take over the center and has started to create his first tangible threats. His last move was 39,..Rd3. White can play 40.Qxc6 and black would take on c3 with his own rook, There is even the option of the interference move 40.Nd4 although it does not win anything but the game is still in the balance but as it often happen the crucial error happens on the 40th move in time trouble. 40.c4 does not lose on the spot but black well and truly dominates now and Hauger resigned only two moves later. The final position minus one move is worth showing to see the culmination of blacks ambitious plan of sacrificing his queen.
Here white blundered in an already lost position to hasten the end. After 42.Qxc6? then Bd5 would follow but the game is already without hope.
What about the top seed Shakh Mamedyarov? Would he be trying to play in a more technical, dry way against tough Italian GM Sabino Brunello? In a normal looking Queens Indian with the moves a3 and a5 thrown in, The Azerbajani GM tries to stir up things with the aggressive looking 20,…Ne4
Sabino Brunello is a man who will not be intimidated easily and he takes the plunge with the correct but risky looking 21.Bxe4, dxe4 22.Qb5, laying siege to the weak b6 pawn. Black has little option but to give it for active looking pieces until the following critical moment.
Mamedyarov has just played Rb8 and he has been repeatedly attacking the white queen alternating between Ra8 and Rb8. The white queen has no safe passage back home so the draw looks inevitable unless the Italian GM takes one more risk decision, to give up his queen for rook and minor piece with 29.Nxd5! We then reach this strange looking position.
Mamedyarov does not like the idea of white simply pushing his a-pawn up the board so plays the tricky 30,…Bxa3 31.Rxa3, Rxe5 but after the strong 31,Rc1! the threat is to take on c7 using the weakness of the back rank so 31,..Re8 is forced but then white can increase the pressure to boiling point (no so hard in Iceland if you know about the numerous naturally heated pools of water) by 31.Ra7.
Now Mamedyarov is forced to give the queen back by 31,..Nd5 32.Rc8 and go into a pawn down ending with decent chances to draw. We move forward to this calmer looking positon.
The only way to make progress is to play 42.Kd1 threatening Kc1 but then Mamedyarov plays 42,..Rb1+ and if 43.Kc2 then the black rook can start taking the white kingside pawns by 43,..Rf1 after 44.Be3 balc has the choice of 44,..Nxe3 with Rf2+ to follow and then choosing between taking the pawn or Re2 going after teh e-pawn but white would then have an acitve king and his own passed b and d pawns which look faster. Black does not have to take on e3 but his position looks dangerous but in this moment the Italian grandmaster decided he had taken enough risks for one day and repeated moves with Ke2 agreeing to the draw with his more higher rated opponent. Another fascinating game where the final position is still not clear.
Hungarian GM Richard Rapport is a hard man to play against, he often avoids main line openings and does not play ambitiously at the beginning of his games but as soon as there is one chance he will take it with both hands in the blink of an eye. Witness the following.
The position looks fine for the black player Icelandic GM Gretarsson, he even has been making vague threats of his own to the slightly exposed white king but then plays the error 24,…Nc5 allowing 25.Rxd4! Rxd4 and the aesthetic looking 26.Kh1! Now have another look.
The knight on g4 is now en prise, if the knight moves back then Be3 will follow attacking the rook on d4 which if it moves will allow the white bishop to be hitting the knight on c5 that is in turn only defended by the black queen on h5 which in turn can be attacked by the white pawn to g4! In other words Blacks position falls down like a house of cards due to one error in a complicated position but this what happens when you face a supergm and you allow him a chance, they take it!
What of the board one clash between the only two players with a perfect 4/4 English GM Gawain Jones and Indian GM Adjaheet Gupta. Jones tried to repeat the English set up that led Anish Giri to victory over Vishy Anand but did not get anything substantial from the opening and peace negotiations were soon reached in an endgame.
One of the longest games was played by two of the more “mature” players in the event. Simen Agdestein and Alexander Shabalov were involved in their own personal battle of the 48 year olds! Somehow as I watched them battle out an exciting time trouble scramble and then fight it out for 69 moves with Shabalov pressing in an extra pawn bishop versus knight endgame that each must have looked at each other and thought ” I can take out this guy!” because neither player plays like a “veteran”, they are still strong in will, in fighting spirit, in hunger and when you see them walking towards you in “body”!
It was a good day for the top ladies as leading Indian IM Tania Sachdev scored a victory over the highest rated Icelandic GM Hannes Stefansson while the Elisabeth Paehtz built her own version of the “Walls of Jericho” to hold her black against the higher rated GM Sergey Grigoriants from Russia. The amicable German number one lady is gregarious person to talk to but as soon as she is playing she is all business and concentration. The game is worth two snapshops.
Black has just played 9,..e6 after bring her dark squared bishop and exchanging on f3, then she has virtually very pawn on a white square, the wall has been built! Now we go to the final position.
The wall has held!
To see al the results from round click here.
To see the pairings of round six which starts earlier at the time of 12:00 pm click here.