Game of the Month summary: Ivanchuk-Volkov wins in September!
September has brought a scatter of wonderful games from the Higher league of Russian championship and concomitant tournaments. Eleven experts had to decide a difficult problem of choosing the best game. Ilya Odessky, for example, told me that he started skimming as usual intending to pick up three real candidates by first impression and to send mentally into reserve the ones he did not like. Kazan selected games did not want to be sent to reserve! It's clear, if you need to choose ten out of twenty one, and you understand that you can put aside just one or two of the first eleven games, then you examine the rest of the games with anxiety – but suppose there are also masterpieces, that you'll have to ignore sorely as a result?
Ilya reproached me with a too formal approach that became apparent when I included the game Anand – Adams in the list. It's true, he argued, the game was played in the very end of September, but no one would notice and even if they noticed, they would have understood your reasons, if you had postponed it till the next month. It would be better to follow the principle: September – Kazan and the others, October – San Luis and the others. Most likely, Ilya is right, but we had already been voting by that moment and I did not come to change anything. Interesting is that the best one became the game that was played in absolutely different tournament, but we'll speak about it after announcing the names of judges.
Alexandra Kosteniuk, Nikita Vitiugov, Vladimir Belov, Sergei Soloviov, Ilya Odessky, Vladimir Barsky, Mikhail Golubev, Denis Yevseev, Sergei Shipov, Michal Krasenkow and Emil Sutovsky assessed advantages of the nominated encounters. By joint efforts the experts picked out six games, which had appeared in almost all lists and took the highest places in some. The calculations showed that having got a microscopic advantage, Vasily Ivanchuk was announced to be the laureate (win over Volkov at the European club championship). Sutovsky, Yevseev and Krasenkow put it on the first place, it was also given a second place and a third places.
Sergei Shipov explains: "The point is that Volkov is an ideal co-author! He is greedy and clever. And wins over such a chessplayer are good by definition. You can close your eyes and take to the hit-parade any Volkov's lost games from last TWIC. Fortunately, Sergei does not loose that often". Those who consider this assertion to be questionable can pass to further results of the voting.
Here comes opinion of Nikita Vitiugov: "A very original, though typical of Ivanchuk intuitive piece sacrifice. Black's extra bishop was of not a great importance, White was calmly attacking the king. 12.d5!!»
Vishy Anand takes the second place for his fabulous novelty (it turned out that the idea belongs to Artur Yusupov) and a slashing attack in the game against Adams. It wind the first place in Golubev's and Vitiugov's lists in addition to two second places and a third place.
Vitiugov: "A brilliant novelty! Skillful attack and all these in the world championship! There is one "but" – the article of the columnist decreased my delighting with the strength of the novelty a bit". Well, it's within the realm of possibility that those, who want to fix a draw, will please us with playing one of the variations, which had been found in computer analyses by numerous annotators. However, Vishy had scored a point and figured in history.
The following results show that three games equally deserve the third place. Nevertheless, I'll mention at the beginning the encounter Volokitin – Nakamura from Young Masters tournament in Lausanne. It took the first place in the opinion of Odessky, two second places and a third, and a strict appraisal by Shipov: "Well done, Volokitin. Nakamuras should be beaten! Preferably with sacrifices and necessarily with tortures in the ending, i.e. a full-scale torment – wiping his nose with a board. Yes, you can put it like this in your review!" I wrote it. Get it, Hikaru. Don't act out of line on board!
There follow two absolutely equal games, according to my system of estimation – Zvjaginsev – Shariyazdanov (Soloviov put it on the first place, and this game also got a second and two third places) and Khalifman – Volkov (it was given a first place by Shipov and also got a second and two third places). We've already discussed Volkov, as for his opponent, Sergei expressed "high esteem and respect to the people, who overcome their gravitation to a sofa and fight like the young and the hungry" by putting encounter Bareev – Bocharov on the second place. We can congratulate once again our outstanding grandmasters on their excellent play in Kazan and wish them similarly interesting play in the superfinal. We will support them.
Nikita Vitiugov, when assessing the game Khalifman – Volkov as if guessed: "To all appearances, this game should get into the top five at least – integral play of White, permanent increasing of pressure, and finally a thoroughly calculated sacrifice of a piece and a good realization technique – let's not hurt Sergei Volkov and his favorite French defense. That's why this game takes the sixth place". Nikita has put Vadim's win on the fifth place of his list. "A very pithy and strained game in which, in fact, an access to the superfinal was betted. It's difficult to assess objectively the sacrifice made by Zvjaginsev hot on the traces, but it's impossible to pass over in silence such a challenging idea in such an important game".
Sergei Shipov colligates: "I like both games of Zvjaginsev . He always surprises. When it seems that one needs to play simply, he makes an unexpected move. When it seems that something unexpected is to follow, he plays very simply". Areshchenko – Kobalia encounter is on the sixth place (Barsky awarded it the first place and this game also got a second place). A win in this game played a crucial role in general success of the young Ukrainian in the Isle of Man open tournament (he shared the first place with Shabalov). If I'm not mistaken, in spite of the inventive play of the opponent Mikhail had a drawish position for a long time (see details in the review). But this does not diminish Alexander's attacking break-through. A game Prusikin – Korchnoi, which was played at the team championship in Switzerland, keeping a distance, is on the seventh place (it got a second and a third place and is mentioned almost in all lists).
Personally for me it's valuable because the author of this work had sent his brilliant win over the celebrated veteran himself. It's not only the evidence of our contest popularity, it also makes the work of the columnist easier. Mikhail also showed key variations, on which annotations of Alexander Baburin on Chess Today was based. I just need to translate the text of our Irish resident into Russian and you'll get acquainted with a product of our joint venture in the review.
The winner of the Higher league got the eighth place. Kosteniuk gave the first place to a decisive encounter of the tournament Bareev – Bocharov and this game took the second place in another list.
Vadim Zvjaginsev is again on the ninth place. Belov gave the first place to the game Zvjaginsev – Riazantsev, this encounter also got a third place. Chuprov – Khismatullin game tails the top ten. Nikita Vitiugov's opinion about this game is the following: "The final position and, in general, the whole mating construction is beautiful, but, unfortunately uneconomical, it turned out impossible to brush bishop c2 off board..."
Both experts, having confirmed their estimations with verbal reasoning, pointed out the game Sakaev – Yakovich. Here are their opinions:
Vitiugov (in this case he was the eye-witness of the events): "Perhaps, having come across a novelty (or trying to remember his old analysis), around the move 17-18, Konstantin was buried in thought. First, an excellent piece sacrifice followed by offering a rook, came as a result. White knight on e5 and two separate black rooks look very impressive in the final position. Shipov: "It is much of the situation "I was watching, but did not understand a single move!". I can not understand who stands better even analyzing the final position".
I agree with Sergei: I missed a nuance of the final stage, when annotating this game for Chess Pro, though I tried to "analyze". Sergey Klimov corrected my mistake in his review. The majority of the best games of September have been annotated (at least the "length", while the analysis of the "breadth" is usually left for those who created masterpieces). Nevertheless, about five games, which are not well known for Russian speaking readers, have fallen to my lot. See you in my review.