The best game of July: Pelletier - Volokitin
As it was in June, the experts disagreed with each other. There are no games that were mentioned in all the lists. Nobody of our experts awarded the game Pelletier-Volokitin as the winner of the contest. Yet, it eventually took the first place. To the contrary, the game Morozevich-Volokitin came off first three times but eventually took the second place overall. To my mind, it is time to represent our experts: Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Mikhail Kobalia, Emil Sutovsky, Kamil Miton, Andrey Zontakh, Andrei Deviatkin, Sergey Soloviov, Vladimir Barskij and Sergey Ivanov.
I would like to use Sergey Ivanov`s remarks both in the review and in this article. The following fragment is his own opinion about the game Pelletier-Volokitin.
"It was Pelletier`s brilliant tactical victory. Unfortunately, this month Andrey Volokitin was losing all the time. Having played 17...¤e5, Black caused a storm himself. However, it was impossible to foresee all the consequences at that moment. White prepared a decisive attack by series of excellent maneuvers. One must highlight the move 22.¦ed1! Immediate 22.Јh6 comes across Black`s counterblow 22...¦g2! Then White makes the only moves. But in spite of this fact, they look very effective and striking. I liked the variation 27.Ґd5!! In case of 27...Јd5 White plays 28.f7 Јe5 29.f8Ј#! To tell the truth, there is another prosaic continuation – 28.Јe8 Јg8 29.f7 and White wins".
Barskij and Kobalia considered this game to take the second place. Three experts put it on the fourth place and one of nine experts didn`t include this game in his list. As a result, Pelletier-Volokitin scored 65 points.
Now let me quote Ivanov`s opinion on Morozevich-Volokitin: ‘It was a difficult game for Alexander Morozevich. He decided to continue struggling in a well-known position that had already occurred in practice. Leko played 26.bxa4 in his game against Karjakin. The opponents agreed to a draw after 26... Јa4 27.¦hd1 ¦f7 Leko-Karjakin, Wijk-an-Zee, 2006. Morozevich played 26.¤f5!? for a good reason, because White`s rook and knight cooperated excellently and attacked the opponent`s pawns. The fact is that Morozevich`s pieces looked stronger than Black`s queen. However, it was quite difficult to push his pawns to the 8th rank. Then Kasparian`s study ideas helped White indeed. Morozevich suddenly left the a7-pawn unprotected on the 78th move. If Black took it, his queen would be entrapped: 78...Јa7 79.¦a5! This situation repeated on the next move. After79.¤d6! Black couldn`t play 79...Јe7 80.ўc6 Јa7 because of 81.¤b5 and he loses the queen. As a result, White pushed the a-pawn up to the queening square. It was an interesting example of the endgame "Q vs. R+N". Black`s queen turned out to be weaker than White`s pieces`. Deviatkin, Barskij and Zontakh put Morozevich`s victory on the first place. However, three experts didn`t include it in their lists because of excessive profundity of the opening development and several mistakes that were pointed out by Alexey Korotylev in his analysis. So in spite of the fact that Morozevich-Volokitin came out third in one more expert list, it takes the second place only. This game scored 56 points and it means that Yannick Pelletier became the winner of July contest.
The second game Volokitin-Morozevich took the third place overall. Kovalevskaya and Ivanov put it on the first place. ‘Volokitin wanted to gain revenge for the defeat in the first round. It`s certain he was going to improve his game against Kasimdjanov that was played in Dagomys, 2006. Then he continued 13...c5 14.d5 c4. But Morozevich chose the other continuation. He exchanged on d4 and only then played c5: 13...exd4 14.cxd4 c5. Volokitin didn`t want to block up his light-squared bishop by 15.d5 and fired 15.b4!? But the problem is that Morozevich made a counterblow 16...¤c4! Now if White continued 17.¤c4 bc4 18.Ґc4 d5, Black would seize the initiative. White decided to exchange on b5. Volokitin hoped to repeat the position after 18...bc4 19.Ґc4 ¦a1 20.¤f7. However, Morozevich felt right at home. He proceeded 18...¦a2!, and received strong and advanced passed pawns for an exchange. White managed to take one of Black`s pawns but the problem is that other pawn instantly replaced the first one. The Black`s pawns supported by two bishops rushed forward. Black sacrificed a queen and got another one immediately. Morozevich incarnated his advantage in the ending "Q+B vs. R+R`. To my mind, it was a brilliant victory! Everything is mixed up in modern chess. The grandmasters played the Ruy Lopez, and Botvinnik`s ideas of advancing Black`s pawns on the queenside (see Botvinnik Variation of the Slav) allowed Morozevich to achieve the victory!"
The expert`s attitude to this game is even more contradictory than it is to the first game of these players. On the one hand, this game was not only the leader of two lists but also came out second once and became third twice (55 points in total). On the other hand, four experts completely ignored it. In my opinion, Alexander Morozevich shouldn`t have got scattered. Probably, if he had won one impressive game, the experts wouldn`t have had any doubts about the winner of the contest.
Sergey Ivanov`s resumptive opinion: "It seems to me that Emil Sutovsky was the most creative chessplayer about a year ago. He always occupied the top lines of the voting for the best game of the month. Now Emil is lost somewhere, and Alexander Morozevich bore the palm".
The next places were taken by the following games. Thesummariesaremine:
4-5th places: Jobava-Wang Hao (this game received a second place and a third place. Baadur utilized his endgame advantage. That endgame was adorned with the sacrifices of pawns, exchange and bishop. White`s pawns were excellent) and Novikov-Wojtaszek(this game also became the second and the third according to two expert lists. White temporarily sacrificed a knight and used the weakness of dark squares that arose as a result of tactical skirmish).
6th place – Berkes-Zhang Pengxiang (two second places. There was an incredible and brilliant knight retreat from f6 to a8 in the middle of the game. Moreover, the game ended in a brilliant mating attack).
7th place – Morozevich-Bruzon (one second place. White handled the Chigorin variation originally. Splendind pieces play resulted in a nice attack).
8th place – Harikrishna-Almasi (a third place. White vigorously played against the Berlin Wall and utilized an extra pawn in the endgame with rooks and bishops of opposite color).
9th place – Navara-Novikov (the first place in Soloviov`s list, and a third place. The Elo-favorite of the tournament was destroyed by a King`s Indian defense hurricane).
10th place – Jennie-Forster (Emil Sutovsky called it first; see the review).
The game Epishin-De la Paz finished out of the top ten. Ivanov and Miton liked it very much. Kamil Miton even awarded it with the first place in his list. I would like to quote Sergey`s opinion in the review. Mikhail Kobalia put Degrave-Meyers on the first place. You can also find this game in my review.
Both bright draws Bruzon-Volokitin and Perelshteyn-Ibragimov were awarded with the third place in two lists of our experts.
Let me finish this report with Sergey Ivanov`s praise to Lilit Mkrtchian, whose victory over Stefanova was mentioned in five lists.
"Lilit Mkrtchian conducted an excellent attack (it looks like to be some kind of tradition for me to mark women`s successes!). It seemed that boring Reti Opening didn`t forebode anything good. However, Lilit Mkrtchian and Antoaneta Stefanova struggled to the end. Black attacked enthusiastically for 23 moves after the combinative outburst on the 16th move. Lilit gave no rest to the ex-world champion! Having reached the third rank, Black`s e-pawn and f-pawn wiped White`s pieces off. My congratulations to Lilit!"