Round 4. Game 1
No, they did play, but somehow sluggishly, without rage. We promised to annotate events in detail but it were participants who hindered us from this. 9 games were drawn in 15-25 moves. Was this a sign of fatigue or a real equality, or maybe favourites just count on their White games? Who knows… This refers both to men’s and women’s championships. By men, only Topalov was defeated. Dreev had a better position on both flanks in the variation with c6, e6, a6 which is for some reason very popular nowadays. But he preferred to attack the king and succeeded. We failed to guess where Topalov could have played better. Nevertheless we annotate the game. Women played more aggressively. Xie Jun attacked Zhukova. Zhukova failed to find a fitting place for her king and immured her own bishop on a4. Xie Jun sacrificed a bishop and organised a mate in a moment. Kovalevskaya won without problems. Peng went for a worsening of her position and perhaps overestimated her opportunities.
Dreev, Alexey - Topalov, Veselin
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. b3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 Nbd7 7. Bb2 e6 8. Bd3 Bd6 9. Qc2 Qc7 10. O-O Bh5
A well known position, bases are stuffed with this picture.
11. h3 O-O 12. c5 Be7 13. Ne5 Kh8 14. f4 Nxe5 15. fxe5 Nd7 16. Bxh7 g6
Both bishops can be caught, White’s and Black’s. Who will benefit? One way or another, the opponents went on without hesitation.
17. g4 f5 18. gxh5 Kxh7 19. hxg6+ Kg7 20. Kh2 Nf6 21. Rf4 Ne4 22. Nxe4
Now it’s obvious that White is better defended against checks. Besides, he has an extra pawn.
22... dxe4 23. Rg1 Rh8 24. Qc4
Now this is already a tragedy. Black cannot defend the e6-pawn together with the king. For example 24... Qd7 25. Rxf5 with evident mating threats.
The last chance. What if White takes on e6? Then Black mates first: Qd2+ and Rxh3+. No, Dreev just covers the second rank, and Black may resign.
Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina - Peng, Zhaoqin
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Qf3 Nc6 6. Bb5 Ne7 7. Bf4 Bf5 8. O-O-O Qd7 9. h3 O-O-O 10. g4 Bg6 11. Nge2 a6 12. Ba4 h5 13. Be3 hxg4 14. hxg4 Rxh1 15. Rxh1 b5 16. Bb3 Bxc3 17. Nxc3 b4 18. Na4 Be4
This doubtful tactical blow was the reason on which Peng damaged her own position. No, White won’t blunder. The threat of Nc5 is much more serious than the trifle of the rook.
19. Qe2 Nb8 20. f3 Bg6 21. Bg5 f6 22. Bf4
Black’s queenside is wretched. The knight is going to spend the rest of its life on b8.
22... Nec6 23. Qd2 Be8 24. Nc5 Qf7 25. Qd3 Na7 26. Qf5+
The Exchange Variation of the French Defence is a dangerous weapon of the Russian player.
"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.