This was a peaceful round. Only one game, Pierrot – Flores, was not drawn owing to Black’s blunder. In the games Milos - Bologan and Leitao – Karpov both leaders, playing Black, achieved an equality easily. The first of these duels repeated until the sixteenth move a bygone game G. Kuzmin - Balashov (Leningrad, 1977) where Black equalised without trouble. The new move 16. b4, made by Milos instead of 16. Nb3, did not change the estimation of the position. In the game Leitao – Karpov the opponents made really no original moves. The Brazilian grandmaster played a long variation of the Karo-Cann Defence to find out what the ex-World Champion prepared after the defeat he suffered this year from Timman in Bali. On the fifteenth move Karpov chose 15… Be7 (instead of 15...Nf6, played in the game with Timman), and equalised confidently. It should be mentioned that at the Europe Championship this year there was a game which lasted only one move longer (Kuczynski - Galkin, Saint Vincent, 2000). In the games Polgar - Ricardi and Milov – Short the opponents struggled for a long time but White also failed to achieve their advantage of the colour.
Pierrot - Flores [C99]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7
Black chooses the solid Chigorin Variation in the Ruy Lopes.
12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nb3 a5 15. Be3 a4 16. Nbd2 Nb4 17. Bb1 Bd7 18. a3 Nc6 19. Bd3 Na5 20. Rc1 Qb8 21. Qe2 Re8 22. Rc2 Bd8 23. Rec1
Usual continuations in this position are 23... b4 and 23... h6. The latter occurred already this year by Diego Flores. After 24. dxe5 dxe5 25. Bc5 White got a slightly better position (Della Morte - Flores, Bento Goncalves, 2000).
24. Nxd4 b4 25. axb4 Qxb4 26. Qf3 Rb8 27. Nf5 Bxf5 28. Qxf5 g6
28... Nb3!? deserved attention, almost equalising the chances.
29. Qf4 was more precise.
29... Nd7 30. Nc4 Nxc4 31. Bxc4 Ne5 32. Qe2 Nxc4 33. Rxc4 Qxb2 34. Qxb2 Rxb2 35. Rxa4 Bb6 36. Bxb6 Rxb6
The exchanges devastated the board, now the opponents have only two rooks and four pawns each. The fact that most pawns are on the same flank and there are no passed pawns on the board increases the drawing tendency of the position. Even the loss of the relatively weak pawn d6 does not threaten any serious problems to Black. Many chess players would prefer to agree to a draw in this position, but F. Pierrot continued to play, and, as the development of events showed, he was right.
37. Rc7 Re6 38. Raa7 Rf6 39. f3 Kg7 40. h4 h5
Black holds to his passive tactics which is quite correct in such a solid position. He could have played more actively: 40... Rb2 with the aim to prevent the white king from getting to g3, because in case of 41. Rd7 (no 41. Kh2? because of 41... Rxf3) 41... h5 42. Ra6 there was 42...Rf4!, attacking the pawn h4, and in case of 41. Ra3 (with the idea to transfer the king anyway) Black had 41... Rf4! 42. g3 (after 42. Kh2 Rxh4 43. Kg3 g5 44. Ra5 Kg6 44. Rf5 Rf4 he held easily) 42... Rf6, and the open second horizontal did not allow White to win. So, after 43. Rd3 d5! 44. exd5 Ra6 there was an evident draw.
41. Kh2 Rb2 42. Kh3 Rb6 43. Kg3 Kg8 44. Rc8+ Kg7 45. Re8 Rc6 46. Rd7 Rb6 47. Rdd8
White is threatening to mate in two. Black has to undertake some defensive measures.
47... Re6 48. Rxe6 fxe6 49. Kf4
Black still found a way to lose this game. He could have covered the square g5 with 49... Kh6! with an obvious draw or there was an alternative move 49... Rc6, because if the white king gets to g5, it will be checked from the fifth horizontal, and in case of 50. e5 dxe5+ 51. Kg5 Black is OK owing to a mere 51... Rc7, and White’s position cannot be reinforced.
This simple blow decides the game in White’s favour.
The pawn endgame after 50... Rxd6 51. e5+ Ke7 52. exd6+ is losing for Black.
51. Ra6 Rc5
Black’s disaster gets worse as he cannot play e6-e5 because of the binding on the sixth horizontal, and in case of 51... Kf7 there was an inevitable 52. e5.
52. g4 hxg4 53. fxg4 Rc7
Black is forced to allow the white king to penetrate into his camp. In case of 53... Rb5 the solution was 54. e5+ Rxe5 55. g5+, and if 53... Rc4, then 54. g5+ Ke7 55. Ra7+ Kf8 (after 55... Kd6 56. Rg7 Black lost the pawn g6) 56. Ke5, and White’s king entered Black’s camp and won.
54. e5+ Kf7 55. Kg5 Rb7 56. Kh6 Rb4 57. Ra7+ Kf8 58. g5 Rxh4+ 59. Kxg6 Rf4 60. Ra6 Ke7 61. Kh6 Rh4+
If 61... Rf5, then after 62. g6 the white pawn was irrepressible.
62. Kg7 Rf4 63. g6 Rf5 64. Ra5 Rf1 65. Ra7+ Ke8 66. Rf7 Rg1 67. Kf6 Rg2 68. g7 1-0 Black resigned.
"He who fears an isolated queen's pawn should give up chess". Siegbert Tarrasch
"The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move"! David Bronstein.