The best game of August: Zvjaginsev – Zhang Pengxiang
There were eight judges to vote for the best game of August: Alexandra Kosteniuk, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Michal Krasenkow, Evgeny Gleizerov, Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Soloviov, Andrei Deviatkin and Vladimir Barsky. On the whole, our experts marked that the level of the games didn’t impress them indeed. Perhaps, the columnist forgot how to find masterpieces. However, let’s wait a little with hasty conclusions.
Both the intricate struggle and Zvjaginsev’s fantasy and skill helped Vadim’s victory over Zhang Pengxiang become the winner of the contest. This game collected 3 first places (Krasenkow, Ivanov and Gleizerov), 1 second and 1 third. All in all, it came out the best game of the month in an undisputable manner.
Sergey Ivanov: “Zvjaginsev played in his best style without taking a breath! Everything was excellent: the original and skilful opening, positional exchange sacrifice, gradual raising of the threats and “flapping” the opponent’s position by unexpected maneuvers (the mere move 30.Rg1!! seems to be brilliant)”.
Sergey Soloviov: “Zvjaginsev’s glorious sacrifice of exchange is not evident. That’s why it looks like to be even more impressive”.
Evgeny Gleizerov: «Vadim Zvjaginsev scored a victory in his own style. On the one hand, the opening was quite unpretentious. On the other hand, having played 2.Na3, the Russian chessplayer made Zhang Pengxiang invent moves himself. Both positional pawn and exchange sacrifices impress indeed. One can say that they were obvious. In fact, such sayings are absolutely groundless. To tell the truth, it was very difficult for White to appreciate the consequences of the sacrifice and to bring himself to play in this way”.
The glorious game Gelfand – Aronian finished second overall. Vladimir Barsky awarded it with the first place. It also received 3 second and 1 third place.
Evgeny Gleizerov: “Gelfand – Aronian. White’s 10th move is not only a strong novelty but also the beginning of well thought-out plan. Boris carried it into effect with the classical clearness and accuracy”.
The fabulous encounter Nataf – Vachier-Lagrave took the third place. It managed to collect 1 first place (Kovalevskaya), 1 second and 2 third places. It is the only game that was mentioned in all lists. To be honest, taking into account it’s favorable appreciations, it doesn’t yield to the winner at all.
Sergey Ivanov: “I am sure that both these games (Zvjaginsev – Zhang Pengxiang and Nataf – Vachier-Lagrave) can be considered to be candidates for the title of the best game of the year”. When one analyses them, he experiences fantastic pleasure! To my mind, it is time to introduce new column “XXII century chess” on our website. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to collect, analyze and popularize chess masterpieces of this kind. Let everyone enjoy them! Nataf attacked excellently during the whole game. Such moves as 13.Nf7!, 17.Rb7! and 19.Qc6!! are typical for the masters of either XIX or XXII century! Black had even an extra queen at one time! However, it is necessary to admit that young Vachier-Lagrave defended ingeniously (see 25...Rh7! and 26...Kh8!). He managed to repel the first surge of the opponent’s assault. Apparently, Nataf was already satisfied with his brilliant game and decided to repeat moves. The following analysis showed that White could safely play for the victory. It was necessary to play 29.h3! White not only makes a window but also sets a trap for the opponent’s king. This move allows Nataf to continue his strong attack. In spite of some incompleteness, this game is a real masterpiece”.
Evgeny Gleizerov: “One can only admire the chessplayers’ utmost accuracy demonstrated from the 14th to the 25th move. Then White went too far in order to achieve the victory but Black didn’t use it. However, I think that it only adores this tense game. Otherwise, it would have the trace of “computer callousness””.
The strategic encounter of the giants Kramnik – Leko is on the 4th overall spot. Alexandra Kosteniuk awarded it with the first place. It also received 1 third place.
Gleizerov: «The endgame with the bishops of opposite color was very interesting and instructive. It is an excellent example of the weak bishop restricted by the opponent’s pawns”. Let me notice that Evgeny managed to name four best games correctly. Soloviov: “Vladimir Kramnik scored a victory that had a psychological implication. He won the game of the last round like it was in Brissago”.
The game Miladinovic – Ivanisevic came out fifth. Deviatkin put it on the first place. It also collected a second place. In general, our experts liked this game that is interesting because of the positional exchange sacrifice and unexpected final combination – see the review.
Many experts voted for the game Jakovenko – Bu Xiangzhi. However, it was among the leaders only in one list. As a result, it finished sixth. Dmitry’s subtle opening idea 13.Qb1 has something in common with the same maneuver of Nadia Kosintseva in her victorious game against Zhao Xue. Jakovenko himself pointed to this fact in his comment for “64”.
Korchnoi’s win over Tiviakov received 7th place overall. Sergey Soloviov awarded it with the first place. This game also has 1 third place.
Soloviov: “In my point of view, it is an excellent victory of the Main Chess Legend of the XX century. Moreover, Korchnoi managed to defeat a very strong grandmaster”.
Evgeny Gleizerov: “Sergei was not ready for the struggle. Of course, this fact doesn’t belittle Korchnoi’s success. Tiviakov took some positional liberties and Victor Lvovich punished him immediately. 21.С:b8!! pleases eyes indeed! White exchanges his excellent bishop for a knight that doesn’t have moves at all. But the point is that Black’s position does fall to pieces after this brilliant continuation”.
The game Korneev - Sutovsky is on the 8th overall spot (one second place).
Soloviov: “An important theoretical novelty - 17.Rb1!! I analyzed this variation about a year ago and invented 15.с4!
Gleizerov: “Unfortunately, White’s novelty on the 17th move is computer-based. That’s why it is not of great aesthetic value. However, both Black’s stubborn resistance in the difficult situation and the study ending of the game adorn this furious encounter”.
The game Nunn – Smeets took the 9th place.
Gleizerov: “White realized his attack very well. I would also like to mark the way Nunn cleared away the 4th rank in order to remove his rook to the kingside”.
Miton’s win over Ibragimov finished tenth.
Gleizerov: “Ildar was totally crushed. Black’s accurate, forceful and inspired game deserves to be generally recognized”.
Soon we will publish the analytical review. I hope that the September games will provide us with many high quality examples.