Beyond comparison in December: Motylev – Bareev
Alexandra Kosteniuk, Evgeny Gleizerov, Mikhail Kobalia, Emil Sutovsky, Sergei Soloviov, Ilya Odessky and also Sergei Ivanov and Sergei Klimov, whose eloquence will relieve me of the duty of presenting encounters-nominees by myself, participated in the summing up the last month of the passed year’s results.
I let Sergei Ivanov have the introductory word.
«A good chess year had an impactive finish in December: two strong tournaments were held one after another – the World cup in Khanty Mansiysk and the Superfinal of Russia. Other competitions (and the games played in them, accordingly) looked colorless against such a background, however there was one amazingly pleasant exception, about which you can read below. So, Khanty Mansiysk and Moscow are beyond any comparison, and the number of suggested for the judges’ appraisal games is the evidence of this fact – 8 games from the former tournament and 7 from the latter one. Nuances, tastes and predilections are to follow. Many interesting games, which could be the candidates for the “best game of the month” had been played in both tournaments. The choice is always a subjective matter, which reveals aesthetic, ideological, patriotic and any other views of judges».
I have to say that objectivity has been disgraced in this case. The main conclusion I can draw from the assessments I received from the experts is the following: prizes are not given for nothing in our country. Opinion of e3e5 judges agreed with conclusion of competent jury of the Russian championship Superfinal. The game Motylev – Bareev, which was considered to be the best game of the tournament, has taken the first place in December without any doubt. In all submitted lists it stood at least on the third place! Soloviov, Gleizerov, Ivanov, Klimov and Kobalia considered it to be the best game of the month.
Ivanov: «It’s impossible to describe this fabulous in its tension encounter in a few words, an article can be written about it. Something incredible started happening on board starting from the White’s 15th move 15.Bf6!: there was one blow after another (mixed up with counterblows) for the next thirteen moves – amazing, pieces were flying over the board as if they had wings, and the opponents clinched like two boxers, it seemed that in a moment they will “see stars”… When the smoke lifted there was a prosaic ending with bishops of opposite colors and two extra pawns for White on board. However forty-move converting stage followed, but there was no single moment, when there were doubts that Alexander Motylev will have the most outstanding victory in his career. In my opinion, the mentioned 13-move piece will become history of chess art».
Klimov: «Regardless of the sacrifice correctness – he just placed a bishop under the pawn attack! And the next move Rad1! And what do you think about the nuance that the rook on b8 stands badly because it does not control the a7-square».
I will add that you can read a detailed analysis of his masterpiece by Alexander Motylev in the coming issue of the “64”.
There are no special doubts about the second place as well. It is Alexander Grischuk’s win over Gata Kamsky. Odessky gave the first place to this encounter, three judges assigned this game the second place, and one gave it the third place.
Klimov: «Absolute domination – and bad “Spanish” knight on d8 spoils everything. By the way, Grischuk also places the knight on f6 under the g7-pawn attack».
Skilled play of Ruslan Ponomariov in the World Cup game against Evgeny Bareev deserved the third place. Sutovsky gave the first place to this game, there was also a third place – as a result this game is in the top ten.
Ivanov: «Fine maneuvers of Ponomariov in combination with filigree ending technique; just 11.Ra2!? alone worth much!»
Klimov: «Classical French ending against a strong chessplayer stands high».
As Ivanov fairly notes Evgeny Ilgizovich, alas, “suffered beautifully” this month. Another defeat of Bareev is on the fourth place. Bareev–Dreev encounter was mentioned by all judges, and it was given only one second place.
Ivanov: «It is a convincing victory of Dreev, who proved the superiority of centralized harmony of pieces over amorphous, though numerous pawns».
Klimov: «It seems that the bishop move on g7 was not that successful».
And it is high time to mention new champion of Russia. The Rublevsky-Dreev game is on the 5th place. It was the choice of the champion of Russia among women. Similar things gravitate. This game got one third place also.
Klimov: «Rublevsky’s style is natural and simple, the principles of healthy play triumph in chess. His opening seems to be too simple to bring anything; even Dreev plays the Sicilian that is not characteristic for him. And then he gets a doubtful position by the 10th move».
Another Rublevsky’s victory over the laureate of December deserved honorable judgments. But there is van Wely with his victory over Radjabov between them (one second place).
Ivanov: «It is a perfect analysis of Loek van Wely. Van Wely made a natural and self-suggesting move 13.Ne6! in the well known theoretical position, which is constantly played on a high level during last decade (and it is Radjabov’s main opening; he should know it excellently), and this move turned out to be very strong. It is amazing that it was not played before! The effect of the novelty was stunning: Radjabov made seemingly right moves, but was swept off the board! Subsequently it was shown that Black could have played stronger (immediate 14...Nc6 instead of preliminary exchange on e4, and also 17...Ng5 instead of 17...Nf6), but the pioneers always have a lot of difficulties».
Klimov: «Garry Kimovich must have a file where it is written how one should play. I cannot believe it is a novelty of superhuman power».
One more game with killing though single-serving novelty is the Rublevsky-Motylev (one third place) game. You can find the annotations by the winner in the «64».
Ivanov: «It is a successful attempt of «forcing» the Petroff defense that ended in a fine rook ending (that cannot be won, as we all know)».
The Carlsen-Kamsky game, the struggle of the generation next and the generation past, is on the 8th place, the battling draw Harikrishna-Timman deserved the 9th place.
I will say a few words concerning the game on the 10th place. We rarely can see women in our list.
I will cite Sergei Ivanov once more: «I put the Slavina-Radziewvicz game on the third place (Sutovsky did the same – M.N.) that was played during the regular, ordinary «First Saturday» in Budapest. And it is not a question of bias or animus. It does not matter that the game was played by women or that I cooperate with Iveta Radziewicz for several years. But when you see a move like 17...Qf3!! (being aware that this position occurred in grandmasters’ practice already) in combination with subsequent maneuver 21...Ne5! (at this moment Black has only a bishop for a queen), you want to take the head off to the winner. Ivetka, bravo! It would be nice to have more such «ordinary» tournaments!»
In conclusion I should confess that I committed a serious mistake: I did not include the Svidler-Morozevich game of the Superfinal into the list. I made it accidentally; forgot to do it. I found it out when I started getting the answers of the experts and was amazed not to find this game in the list of the best games. But there are many comforting things that can be said about that: «The one who does a lot, makes a lot of mistakes», «Great ship asks great wreck» etc. I think (it is better to say I hope, otherwise it does not sound good) it would not have taken the place of the Motylev-Bareev game.
In the end of the month there would be a traditional review, where I will annotate the Slavina-Radziewicz game and something else according to my choice. And a bit later I will sum up the results of the year. It is a crucial but very captivating task! I wish all the readers to remain susceptible to the beauty of chess in the new year!