31.01.2007 N.Vitiugov. TWO SIDES OF THE MEDAL


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Chess is a game of happiness.
Hein Donner.

Digression One. The third goal scored by Dmitry Alenichev in 75th minute has put an end. With an iron hand Mourinho was leading the humble Porto to the second consecutive victory in the European tournament. Nobody guessed then about the future feat of Steven Gerrard and Co moreover the club of the Southern France princedom's capital looked too helpless. All that my memory kept from that final match is Vassily Utkin's rapid speech the substance of which was approximately as follows: "Rothen hoists – Prso – the ball is thrown down – Morientes shoots– a miss!"

However hard the Monegasques are trying it seems everything is clear in this match. One may understand Didier Deschamps' despair – this is not Real or Bavaria or MU, this is Monaco. M-O-N-A-C-O! When will he get another chance? Indeed, when?

Initially I had no intention to write anything about the Superfinal. Any opinion of the player who finished last but one will be taken inadequately by the masses. If he criticizes someone it means he justifies his own failure. If he praises someone – well is this praise worthy of something? In a word the pot calls the kettle black. But later on I decided to display a civic position – fortunately absolutely everyone has a right for it independently of the place taken in the crosstable. As the classic said – you may not make the grade in your profession but you must be a citizen. The Superfinal had perfect coverage on the leading chess sites so it would be a difficult task to try to add something to a general tournament picture both chesswise and as a kind of summing up. Below I'll endeavour to express my opinion of the past tournament from the standpoint of its direct participant.

I vividly remember my feelings right after the announcement of the High League results in Tomsk. They were extremely contradictory. On the one hand it was a pure joy – to enter the 12 country's strongest players without having an international title just few months before the event was fabulously pleasant. Moreover Miss Fortune darkly baring her teeth at the last moment finally turned her back to the wood. But on the other hand – I beg your pardon I always thought that the main advantage of the Superfinal for a player who has qualified "unintentionally" consists in an opportunity to take his chance in a fight against the rivals who are clearly superior in strength, rating, titles, notability, and in everything else which enables superiority. You may acquire so to speak an invaluable experience in the games against the world's best grandmasters without running any risk. To play it cool, in a festive mood, knowing that nobody will dare to throw stones in case you would fail... And if you achieve a success even a local one or not well-deserved you would obtain a very lot.

Digression Two. A person who lives well never reflects upon global things, he isn't tortured by the problems of the philosophical comprehension of the existence. He never thinks where his luck has come from. Perhaps perceiving intuitively but maybe (and most probably) getting the wrong sow by the ear he, as Herzen wrote, savours a good wine understanding that tomorrow they could serve him a poor-quality kvass. In modern slang it is called "to seize the moment". Another man who has nothing to seize at least in the real world, while having a strong wish to seize something begins to search for another dimension. For example he begins to think, in the worst meaning of this word. He is searching and searching and in the end he finds something and satisfies himself in a sense but actually it isn't him who takes it all. Thenewly-fledgedthinkersomewhatdeceiveshimselfdeliberately. To get pleasure out of the wine it is enough for him to think of it thoroughly, to picture a sunny hillside with a vineyard, to fancy the workers who trample down the ripe berries with their feet and behold – he cannot sit at a steering wheel. In general what a practical man wants to see a thinker needs just to imagine. The former gets from the public the well-deserved though not disgraceful stamp of "materialist" while the latter is running the risk to move to an asylum in the near future. In chess this problem as well as any other associated with the overloaded brain is especially critical.

So let's talk about the undeserved things. While writing these lines I suddenly found out that this is exactly the way the modern PR stars are born. But they have more than one tournament a year of the Superfinal caliber moreover they don't have to qualify for it. Well it just happened to come up. What to do if playing as the dark horse you turn out to be No.7 in the starting list – not because of the recent huge increase in Elo? What to do in this situation? When you have played with majority of the participants in junior's tournaments and grew so to speak side by side? The self-esteem and the sound ambitions of a professional sportsman make you set sporting tasks. And coupled with sporting tasks what pleasure is possible? Here is the first serious mistake. In fact it is a pure optical illusion as the rivals are young, strong, surely the future champions but their rating can't keep up with the strength of their play and the titles haven't been collected yet. And then you erroneously take these fighters not for ones who you may learn from but for ones you should teach. And as a result the usual thing – you must spoil before you spin. Don't teach the teachers.

E.Inarkiev (2628) – N.Vitiugov (2596) [B48], Round 2

1.e4 c5 2.¤f3 e6 3.¤c3 ¤c6 4.d4 cxd4 5.¤xd4 Јc7 6.Ґe3 ¤f6 7.f4

The opening of the game is developing in a principled way. Ernesto Inarkiev has already played this line against Alexander Khalifman in Khanty-Mansyisk. In the annotations to that game Sergey Klimov and I suggested 13...f6 as an alternative to 13...a6 chosen by the former World Champion.

7...Ґb4 8.¤db5 Јa5 9.e5 ¤e4 10.Јd3 ¤xc3 11.bxc3 Ґe7 12.g3 0–0 13.Ґg2 f6

Black is ready to answer for his comment. It's not a secret that many players – some from laziness and those who are smarter deliberately –in their comments (let's give them their due, mainly not on the sites but in Chess Informant and Chess Base) give recommendations that won't follow themselves because of the quality of these recommendations. In the given case the author has become a victim of his excessive fidelity to principle. If I knew about my opponents' analysis in this line of which he mentioned – not without a pride – after the game I would never in my life poked my nose here.

14.exf6 Ґxf6 15.0–0 d5 16.¦fe1?! An abstract move. To my mind more interesting is 16.¦ab1 a6 17.¤d6 Јxc3 18.Ґh3 ¤d8 19.Јxc3 Ґxc3 20.¦fd1 Ґf6 21.c4 d4 22.Ґf2 ўh8 23.Ґg2ѓ, and for a pawn White obtained a strong initiative in the ending, Gallagher – Pelletier, Lenzerheide 2006.

16...Ґd7 17.Ґh3 ¦ac8 18.¦ab1. To achieve a perfectly excellent position Black needs to make only one move but this is what he failed to do – and as a result the opening duel is kind of won by White. After this move Black's game got derailed.

18...¤e7? I'm sure that after 18...¤d8! Black's problems are left behind. While White's ones are certainly ahead. Probably one shouldn't talk about Black's substantial advantage but to reach equality White will have to make some efforts.

19.Ґd2 Јa6 20.¤d4 Ґxd4+ 21.cxd4 ¦c4 22.Ґb4 ¦f7 23.Ґxe7 ¦xe7 24.f5 Јxa2 25.¦xb7 Јa5

The last interesting moment. Staking his all in time trouble Black to his surprise perplexed his opponent who makes a mistake in the already winning position.

26.Јf1?? 26.¦f1 just won.

26...¦f7. The first step into the right direction.

27.Јe2. For some reason I originally saw a danger looming in the line 27.fxe6 ¦xf1+ 28.¦xf1 Ґe8 29.e7 g6 30.¦b8 Јa4 31.¦f8+ ўg7 32.¦bxe8 ¦xc2°.

27...¦xc2. The second step.

28.fxe6 ¦f8?? Ah, experience, experience, the son of heavy mistakes! Black just trusts his opponent. 28...¦xe2 29.exf7+ ўf8 30.¦xe2 Јa6, and the position is equal but it is White who will have to make a draw. 29.Јe3 Ґc8 30.e7 ¦e8 31.¦f1 Јa6 32.¦f8+ 1–0. May be it was a success anyway, eh, Ernesto?

So it goes. In addition an illness prior to the tournament came right in time, two naughts, a lack of self-confidence, then one more loss... Later on something started to arrange, dim gleams of play appeared, yet I didn't manage to score my first win. And if I say in which games I was close to a win most of all they wouldn't believe me – as Black against the 2006 Champion Sergey Rublevsky and the unquestionable favourite of the tournament Peter Svidler.

However the tournament is not merely a sequence of losses and draws. Someone loses and this means that someone finds. The players who took the pedestal in this tournament have surely found. I think none of the players who took the remaining places can say that he is fully satisfied with the tournament results. There are holidays outside so it doesn't make sense to talk about something that hasn't come true thus let's leave these remaining ones to their own mournful thoughts. In addition – while a negative experience is important in order to figure out what one shouldn't do and in general it is primary then a positive experience is of course more valuable as it indicates a concrete path instead of pushing away from one of decisions. Correct decisions are usually not many while incorrect ones are always more than enough.

DigressionThree. Who wins? A practical man who waits for a lucky chip to come or a thinker who had originally won in his mind but comprehending the senseless of any victory as well as anything in the world actually lost of course? Who is riding high – a noble and generous winner who has passed a long and hard course of life, who improved his karma and in the end reaps the fruit carefully raised by his own hands? Or perhaps the real winner is that who just knows what he is doing and nothing more? Who's first in the encounter of two cultures one of which is senselessly beautiful and arouses sympathy while the other one simply exploits the fact that any game in the broad sense of the word in any case is played according to some concrete rules and deserves respect for its practicality? What is more correct – to display generosity or to make use of all methods that the rules allow? The ideal philosophy smashes against objective reality. Like any war this one has no winners.

Evgeny Alekseev and Dmitry Jakovenko shared the first place scoring +4. In any other tournament the winner will be decided by the Sonnenborn-Berger which obviously favoured the native of Nizhnevartovsk who now lives in Moscow. I can't help commenting on Dmitry's residence – in an article in "64" he asked torefer to himas a resident of Nizhnevartovsk but how on earth to be with his participation in the matches Moscow vs Saint Petersburg where his performance is fantastic – close to 100%. A slight hitch is taking place. Happy New Year Dmitry! 

But the Superfinal is not a commercial event after all and not merely money is due for the first place. Therefore the tie-break had been justly scheduled in the regulations in case of a tie for the first place. I wouldn't dwell on it in details. I would just say that Alekseev had stronger nerves. Jakovenko was probably weighed down by his status of the favourite.

The new Russian champion is 21 years old. His trainer is Sergey Dolmatov who is also the coach of the men's national Olympic team. Evgeny's success is shared by his father Vladimir Evgenyevich. He always made a lot for Zhenya and in one of the recent articles ("Chess Is cheaper than football" in the "Nevskoe Vremja" daily 21.12.06, http://www.nevskoevremya.spb.ru/cgi-bin/pl/nv.pl?art=260394307) he even confessed that he "paid for his son's sports career out of his own pocket". Indeed what a cruel time we are living in! And so much the better that despite all the plots of fate, the permanent neglect of Evgeny's person by functionaries, and a difficult situation concerning his education (how does it feel to attend two colleges?!) the inhabitant of Saint Petersburg has made his path nevertheless.

E.Alekseev (2639) – I.Nepomniachtchi (2545) [B91], Round 11

1.e4 c5 2.¤f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.¤xd4 ¤f6 5.¤c3 a6 6.g3. The game was played in the final round. Jakovenko and Alekseev having +4 each were White against Grigoriants and Nepomniachtchi respectively. And for the reason unknown to the author of these lines both of them trying to obtain a comfortable edge have stood worse after the opening.

6...e5 7.¤b3 Ґe7 8.Ґg2 b5. A brand new move. Another genius junior Sergey Karjakin played it in particular.


9.a4 b4 10.¤d5 ¤xd5 11.Јxd5 ¦a7 12.Ґe3 Ґe6 13.Јd2 ¦b7 14.0–0 0–0 15.Јd3 Јc7 16.¤d2 a5 17.¦ac1 ¤d7 18.b3 ¦c8 19.Јe2 Јc6 20.f4 f6 21.Ґf3 Ґd8 22.Ґg4 Ґf7 23.Ґh5 Ґxh5 24.Јxh5 Ґb6і, and Black obtained a comfortable edge (Kasimdzhanov – Karjakin, Tomsk 2006).

9...¤bd7 10.¤d5

A move I don't quite understand. Perhaps White is aiming at simplifications in order to hold a slightly inferior position.

10...¤xd5 11.Јxd5 ¤b6 12.Ґxe7 ўxe7 13.Јd2 f6 14.0–0. If White is seriously fighting for the first place may be he should have tried the more acute 14.0–0–0!?

14...Ґe6 15.c3 ¦c8 16.h4. I wouldn't dare immediately say what Evgeny made this move for. Perhaps he suspected of Ian's ambitious plans on the kingside.

16...¤c4 17.Јe2 Јb6 18.¤c1 b4 19.cxb4 h5 20.Ґf3 g5

A large-scale play. To comment on it thoroughly doesn't make much sense – just enjoy the pictures.

21.hxg5 fxg5 22.¤d3 g4 23.Ґg2 h4 24.gxh4 g3  25.b3 ¤a3 26.¦ac1 ¦cg8

27.Јe3 Јxe3. Interesting is Peter Svidler's advice 27...gxf2+!? 28.Јxf2 Јxf2+ 29.¦xf2 ¦xh4, and later on Black may transfer the knight to d4.

28.fxe3 Ґd7 29.¦c7 ¦xh4 30.¦fc1 ¦hh8 31.¦a7 ¤b5 32.¦b7? White certainly has too much respect to his opponent. Why not 32.¦xa6!? ¦c8 33.¦xc8 ¦xc8 34.a4, and probably even Ian's optimism wouldn't be suffice to save this position.

32...¦b8 33.¦xb8 ¦xb8

34.Ґf3? Those who have gathered in the press centre at that moment couldn't understand completely why the future champion didn't cut the knight off – 34.a4 ¤a3, and then whatever he likes.

34...Ґh3 35.Ґe2. Nothing has changed, 35.a4!? was still strong.

35...¦c8 36.¦xc8 Ґxc8 37.ўg2 ¤c3 38.¤c1 ¤xe4 39.Ґf3 ¤c3 40.ўxg3 d5 41.ўf2 ўd6 42.ўe1 d4

It's very hard to imagine that soon this position will transpose into B + N vs N with the extra piece for Black. Nevertheless so it is. 

43.ўd2 e4 44.Ґh5 ўe5 45.Ґf7. If White needed a draw so badly why not to force it at once? 45.exd4+!? ўxd4 46.¤e2+ ¤xe2 47.Ґxe2=.

45...Ґg4 46.a4 ¤b1+ 47.ўc2 ¤a3+ 48.ўd2 dxe3+ 49.ўxe3 ¤c2+ 50.ўd2 ¤xb4 51.ўc3 a5

White is already clearly inferior but it seems that with a correct defence he wouldn't lose yet. The unpredictable final round!

52.Ґc4 Ґh5 53.Ґb5 ўd5 54.Ґc4+ ўc5 55.Ґg8 Ґg4 56.Ґf7 ¤c6 57.Ґg6 Ґf3 58.¤a2 ¤e5 59.Ґxe4 Ґxe4 60.b4+=

This position was played for a long, long while. Various journalists put forward the absurd suppositions that allegedly Ian wanted to help Jakovenko trying to exhaust Alekseev as much as possible but I assure you it is not so. I don't know why none of the writing fraternity guessed that Ian just played for a win which would give him the GM norm. Unfortunately this time the peak hasn't been conquered. Well Ian, good luck in Wijk aan Zee!

Last Digression. When a man takes a great interest in something he is awful. A practical man is terrible at the moment he believes he is close to his aim for the sake of which he is ready for anything. His eyes, ardent for some unknown reason, his agitation, his passion – how ridiculous and unpleasant it all looks from the outside! But a philosopher-theoretician changes not to the best as well. His lack of will at these key moments offends the eyes in an unpleasant way. I.e. he seemed to want something but he doesn't know what it was and if he guesses then he is afraid to confess it to himself – sure all is perishable, everything will be buried in the ground, everything will turn to dust!

In the New Year I would like to wish creative realization for all chessplayers – practical men, theoreticians, endgame players, blitz experts. I would like to wish them not to miss their own fortune but not to covet on someone else's one either. Chess is the greatest of the games invented by human beings. And human beings are not perfect.

Be happy!

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