Apr 21, 2001

Round 9

The tournament was won by V. Bologan and J. Polgar who played each other in the last round. The grandmaster from Moldova equalised without any particular problems. Until Black’s twentieth move the opponents repeated the game Milos - Timman (Bali, 2000). The move 20... Qxe7 allowed Bologan to maintain an equality even sooner than was done in that game. Anatoly Karpov could have joined the leaders, he had an extra pawn and good winning chances in the game with P. Ricardi, but he ran out of time. Nigel Short, who defeated easily D. Flores, gained profit from Karpov’s disaster, having left him behind, and finished third. R. Leitao failed to overwhelm the defensive redoubts of F. Pierrot with White in the Petroff Defence and had to be content with a draw. The game Milov - Milos was the longest in the ninth round but was also drawn despite Milov’s violent efforts to win.

Karpov - Ricardi [A58]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 c5

P. Ricardi wants to exacerbate the play, avoiding a quiet variation of the King’s Indian or Gruenfeld Defences.

4. d5 b5

Black decided for the Volga Gambit. In this opening he gets good piece play on the queenside for a pawn, and simplifications usually don’t help White to achieve his extra pawn but only increase the potential of his opponent’s major pieces.

5. cxb5 a6 6. bxa6 Bxa6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. Bg2 d6 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. O-O

There was also a popular move 10. Rb1 with the idea that if 10... Nb6, then 11. b3.

10... Nb6 11. Nh4

11. Re1 is played more often.

11... O-O 12. Qc2 Qd7 13. Rd1 Bb7

14. a4!

A reinforcement. This move is more precise than 14. e4 which allowed White to simplify the position and put pressure upon White’s centre after 14... Na4 15. Nxa4 Rxa4 16. Bd2 e6.

14... Rfb8 15. e4 Ne8 16. b3 Nc7 17. Bb2 e6 18. dxe6 Qxe6

After 18... fxe6 19. f4 Black’s position was rather passive.

19. Rab1 Bc6 20. Ne2

White forces a favourable exchange of the dark-squared bishops.

20... Bxb2 21. Rxb2 Na6 22. Qc3

A tactical operation 22. Nd4 cxd4 23. Qxc6 Nb4 24. Qc1 d3 gave Black a strong play in the centre.

22... Nd7 

23. Nf3?! 

Here 23. Nf5! was very strong, and Black has big problems.

Ne5 24. Nf4 Nxf3+ 25. Qxf3 Qe5 26. Rbd2 c4

White’s pressure on the pawn d6 makes Black look for tactical defensive means.

27. bxc4

After 27. Rxd6 Rxb3 (in case of 27... cxb3? 28. Rxc6 b2 29. Rb1 White coped with the passed pawn, having an extra piece) 28. Qe2 Bxa4 (in case of 28... Bb7 29. Qxc4 Rb4 30. Qc2 Bxe4 31. Bxe4 Qxe4 32. Qxe4 Rxe4 33. a5 White had an extra pawn in a quiet position and real winning chances) 29. Qxc4 the game was reduced to one flank which made it more difficult to achieve the extra pawn. At the same time, in this line White had an easier play than in the continuation, chosen by A. Karpov, which allowed him to keep going until the time control and then to concern himself with achieving his advantage.

27... Bxa4 28. Re1 Nc5 29. Rd5 Qe7

30. Qe2

White missed a good chance to increase his advantage. After 30. e5! there was no 30... Bc6 because of 31. Qd1! Bxd5 32. Nxd5 Qf8 33. exd6, making Black’s position far from enviable.

30... Bc6 31. Rd2 Ra4 32. Nd5

White allows an exchange of his knight which decreases his winning chances to some extent. Probably 32. Red1!? complied better with the position, because after 32... Nxe4 (no 32... Bxe4? because of 33. Nd5 Qe5 34. Bxe4 Nxe4 35. Qxe4!) 33. Rxd6 Qb7 34. R6d4 White’s extra passed pawn supported his winning chances, whereas after 34. Rxc6 Qxc6 35. Bxe4 Qxc4 36. Qxc4 Rxc4 the play with two minor pieces and all pawns on a single flank was much more difficult.

32... Bxd5 33. Rxd5 Nd7 34. Red1 Ne5 35. Rxd6 Nxc4 36. R6d4 Rb2 37. Qd3 Qf6

After 37... Ne5 38. Qc3 Raa2 39. Rd8+ Kg7 40. R8d2 Black’s active pieces got exchanged.

38. f4

After 38. Rd8+ Kg7 39. Qd4 Qxd4 40. R8xd4 Rc2 41. Bf1 Nb2 42. R1d2 (weaker was 42. Rxa4 Nxd1 43. f4 Ne3 44. Bh3 h5, forcing White to exchange his bishop for the black knight) 42... Rxd4 43. Rxc2 Nd3 44. f4 White still had some winning prospects.

38... Qb6 39. Kh1 0-1 White ran out of time.

Despite White’s extra pawn a correct play of the weaker side should have brought to a draw owing to the forced line 39... Ne3! (no 39... Raa2? because of 40. Rd8+ Kg7 41. Qc3+ Kh6 42. g4!, Black’s king suffering a very strong attack) 40. Qxe3 Rxd4 41. Qxd4 Qxd4 42. Rxd4 Rb1+ 43. Bf1 Rxf1+, leading to a defensible rook endgame with four pawns by White against three by Black.

"Chess is so interesting in itself, as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it;and thence it is never played for money."

Benjamin Franklin, "Chess made easy", 1802

"It is one of the insights of modern players, and especially of the best ones, that one has toplay the position itself, not some abstract idea of the position."

John Watson, "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", 1998

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