Round 3 is History in Zagreb

Ian Nepomniachtchi leads the 2019 Croatia Grand Chess Tour by a full point as Saturday’s Round 4 action gets underway. Wesley So and Magnus Carlsen share second place with 2/3.

courtesy STLCC

They say that fortune favors the bold, and “Nepo” has had to ride his luck a bit to jump out to his early lead. He was much worse against Fabiano Caruana in round 2, but some uncharacteristic errors by the 2018 Challenger allowed him to snatch the full point. Nepo’s knowledge of chess history paid off in round 3, when he defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov by dusting off some classic attacking ideas. ROUND 2

courtesy STLCC

Fabiano Caruana appeared to be well on his way to converting a healthy advantage out of the Sveshnikov against Nepomniachtchi, but after a slip on move 34, followed by his missing an “only move” on move 38, Nepo turned the tables and grabbed his second win of the event.

[pgn] [Event "Croatia GCT 2019"] [Site "Zagreb CRO"] [Date "2019.06.27"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2819"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2019.06.26"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Nb8 9. a4 Be7 10. Bd2 $146 {A novelty, but clearly known to both players.} O-O 11. a5 a6 12. Na3 Nd7 13. Nc4 f5 14. Bb4 Rf6 15. Qd2 Rg6 16. g3 e4 17. h4 b5 18. axb6 Nxb6 19. Na5 Bd7 20. O-O-O Bf6 21. Nc6 Qe8 22. Kb1 Kh8 23. h5 Rh6 24. Qe3 Na4 25. c3 Rxh5 26. Rxh5 Qxh5 27. Be2 Qe8 28. Kc2 h6 29. Qf4 a5 30. Nxa5 Nxc3 31. bxc3 Ba4+ 32. Kb1 Bxd1 33. Bxd1 Qb5 34. Nb3 Bg5 $6 (34... Qxd5 $1 {leaves Black with the advantage.}) 35. Qxf5 Qf1 36. Qg4 Rf8 37. Kb2 $1 { Impressive calculation by Nepo to give up the pawn with check.} ({Caruana had only considered} 37. Qe2 {when Black keeps his edge.}) 37... Rxf2+ 38. Bc2 Qc4 (38... Bc1+ $3 39. Nxc1 Qg2 {is a miracle draw, but of course only a silicon based lifeform (or, as it turned out, Nepomniachtchi himself) could see it!}) 39. Qe6 Bf6 40. Qxd6 Rxc2+ 41. Kxc2 Qd3+ 42. Kb2 e3 43. Qe6 e2 44. Ka3 Bg5 45. d6 Qa6+ 46. Kb2 Qd3 47. d7 Kh7 48. c4 Bf6+ 49. Ka3 Qc2 50. Qxf6 1-0 [/pgn]

Carlsen-Anand (photo Lennart Ootes)

The Carlsen-Anand pairing was perhaps the marquee matchup of the day, and it did not disappoint! After a perhaps risky pawn grab on move 13, Anand had to suffer through a typical Carlsen grind. But tiny inaccuracies by Carlsen on moves 45-47 gave Anand a lifeline, one that he did not waste. The endgame is absolutely stunning, particularly the finale, and Anand’s technique should be studied here.

[pgn] [Event "Croatia GCT 2019"] [Site "Zagreb CRO"] [Date "2019.06.27"] [Round "2.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2875"] [BlackElo "2767"] [PlyCount "155"] [EventDate "2019.06.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bg5 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Qa5 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. Bxd7+ Nxd7 13. O-O Qxc3 14. Qa4 O-O 15. Nxe6 Nb6 16. Qd4 Rfc8 17. Qxc3 Rxc3 18. Nf4 Rc5 19. Rfd1 f5 20. exf5 Rac8 21. f6 Rf5 22. g3 Rxf6 23. Rd3 Rfc6 24. Ra3 Rc1+ 25. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 26. Kg2 Nc8 27. Rd3 Rc7 28. Rd8+ Kg7 29. h4 Ne7 30. Nh5+ Kh6 31. Nf6 Kg6 32. Ne8 Rc6 33. Rd7 Re6 34. h5+ Kh6 35. Nd6 f5 36. Nxb7 Ng8 37. Nd6 Nf6 38. Nxf5+ Kg5 39. Nd4 Nxd7 40. Nxe6+ Kxh5 41. Kf3 Kg6 42. Kf4 Kf6 43. Ng5 h6 44. Ne4+ Ke6 45. Kg4 Ke5 46. f3 Kd4 47. Kf5 Ke3 48. f4 h5 49. Ng5 Nc5 50. Kg6 Kf2 51. f5 Kxg3 52. Ne6 Nd7 53. Kxh5 Kf3 54. Kg5 Ke4 55. Nc7 a5 56. Nb5 Kd3 57. Kg6 a4 58. Kf7 Ne5+ 59. Kf6 Nf3 60. Ke7 Kc2 61. f6 Ng5 62. Nd4+ Kb2 63. Ne6 Nh7 64. f7 Kxa2 65. Ng5 a3 66. Nxh7 Kb1 67. f8=Q a2 68. Qf5+ Kb2 69. Qe5+ Kb1 70. Qe4+ Kb2 71. Qe2+ Kb1 72. Nf6 a1=Q 73. Nd5 Qg7+ 74. Kd6 Qf8+ 75. Ke5 Qe8+ 76. Kd4 Qxe2 77. Nc3+ Ka1 78. Nxe2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Hikaru Nakamura had a relatively quick draw against Mamedyarov, while Wesley So and Vachier-Lagrave repeated moves in a completely equal rook ending. ROUND 3

courtesy STLCC

Ian Nepomniachtchi earned his third win of the tournament in three tries, defeating Mamedyarov in a memorable game.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (photo Lennart Ootes)

Their game began along the same lines as their contest in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year, but Mamedyarov’s 9.h3 gave Nepo a target on the kingside. The position quickly came to resemble a reversed King’s Indian Attack – not the same thing as a ‘normal’ King’s Indian! – and Nepo felt like he was in his element. By move 18, Mamedyarov was already beginning to struggle for decent ideas, and his 18.Qxc7? handed Nepo all the initiative he would need to claim the full point.

[pgn] [Event "Croatia GCT 2019"] [Site "Zagreb CRO"] [Date "2019.06.28"] [Round "3"] [White "Mamedyarov, S."] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, I."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2774"] [BlackElo "2775"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2019.06.26"] {Comments based on Nepomniachtchi's post-game interview.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Be2 d6 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. b3 (8. Qc2 c6 9. b3 Re8 10. Ba3 exd4 11. Nxd4 Nc5 12. Rad1 Qe7 13. b4 Nce4 14. Bb2 Nxc3 15. Qxc3 d5 16. Nb3 Nh5 17. Nd4 Nf6 18. a3 Ne4 19. Qc1 dxc4 20. Bxc4 Bd7 21. Nb3 Bxb2 22. Qxb2 Rad8 23. Rd4 Nd6 24. Bd3 Nf5 25. Bxf5 Bxf5 26. Na5 Be4 27. f3 Bd3 28. Re1 Qf6 29. Rd1 Rxd4 30. Qxd4 Qxd4 31. exd4 Ba6 32. a4 Re6 {1/2-1/2 (32) Mamedyarov,S (2817)-Nepomniachtchi,I (2763) Wijk aan Zee 2019}) 8... Re8 9. h3 $5 {Now the position becomes something of a reversed King's Indian Attack, something that Nepo felt comfortable with as he played it in his youth. White will try to move on the queenside, while Black plays for mate.} (9. Qc2 {would move back towards their game from Wijk.}) 9... e4 10. Nd2 h5 11. b4 (11. f3 $5 {(Nepo)}) 11... Nf8 12. Re1 Bf5 13. Bb2 Qd7 14. Nd5 $6 {A typical idea, but Nepo thought that it wasn't accurate here because now Black has the idea of ...Qd7-e7-g5.} ( 14. Bf1 {followed by a4-a5, "some normal stuff" (Nepo)}) 14... Nxd5 15. cxd5 Qe7 {Black can defend the queenside pawns and has a free hand on the kingside.} 16. Rc1 Nh7 17. Qc2 Qg5 18. Qxc7 $2 (18. Kh1) (18. h4 Qxh4 19. Qxc7 $17 { and the White king is feeling drafty}) 18... Bxh3 19. Bf1 {[#]} Bf8 20. Qxb7 Nf6 21. Qa6 Bc8 $5 {With the idea of gaining time for ...h4 and ...Ng4 ideas.} 22. Qa4 (22. Qe2 Ng4 23. f3 $17) 22... Bd7 23. Qd1 Bg4 24. f3 exf3 25. Nxf3 Qh6 {"Strategically lost for White."} ({Nepo thought that} 25... Qxd5 26. Rc7 Qxa2 {was unclear.}) 26. Qb3 h4 27. Ne5 {A sad move to have to make, but Nepo felt that his position was so good that he didn't have to bother taking the knight!} h3 28. Nxg4 (28. e4 hxg2 29. Bxg2 dxe5 30. dxe5 Nd7 $19) 28... Nxg4 29. gxh3 Nxe3 30. Rc3 Nf5 31. Rd1 Qh5 32. Rf3 Bh6 {A birthday present for Vladimir Potkin, Nepomniatchtchi's coach!} 0-1 [/pgn]
Well-known GM and internet "gadfly" Suat Atalik called"> into the livestream to talk about "the change in the game," saying that when "we were all young" everyone understood that Black was better (after 19.Bf1). Why, he wondered, would White voluntarily head for such a position? Atalik cited Fischer-Myagmarsuren and a Bronstein game (perhaps Bronstein-Kochyev) as known examples of how to play Black's attack. Both are worth replaying.
[pgn] [Event "Interzonal-07+"] [Site "Sousse"] [Date "1967.10.18"] [Round "3"] [White "Fischer, Robert James"] [Black "Myagmarsuren, Lhamsuren"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [PlyCount "61"] 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. Ngf3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. e5 Nd7 9. Re1 b5 10. Nf1 b4 11. h4 a5 12. Bf4 a4 13. a3 bxa3 14. bxa3 Na5 15. Ne3 Ba6 16. Bh3 d4 17. Nf1 Nb6 18. Ng5 Nd5 19. Bd2 Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qd7 21. Qh5 Rfc8 22. Nd2 Nc3 23. Bf6 Qe8 24. Ne4 g6 25. Qg5 Nxe4 26. Rxe4 c4 27. h5 cxd3 28. Rh4 Ra7 29. Bg2 dxc2 30. Qh6 Qf8 31. Qxh7+ 1-0 [/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "Moscow GM-Young M"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "1972.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bronstein, David Ionovich"] [Black "Kochyev, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [PlyCount "49"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d3 d5 4. Qe2 Nc6 5. g3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Be7 7. e5 Nd7 8. c4 O-O 9. O-O a6 10. h4 b5 11. Bf4 Nb6 12. Nbd2 Bb7 13. Rad1 Qd7 14. b3 Rfd8 15. Rfe1 Rac8 16. h5 dxc4 17. dxc4 Nd4 18. Nxd4 cxd4 19. Bxb7 Qxb7 20. Qg4 Bf8 21. Bg5 Rd7 22. h6 g6 23. Ne4 Rdc7 24. Nd6 f5 25. Qxd4 1-0 [/pgn]
The five remaining games of the round were drawn. Magnus Carlsen surprised Fabiano Caruana by trying a sideline of the Open Ruy instead of his now-standard Sveshnikov. This led “one sly wag” to opine: https://twitter.com/hartmannchess/status/1144614713587900416 The game was drawn in 68 moves, with Caruana pushing unsuccessfully for the win for the final 30 moves.

[pgn] [Event "Croatia GCT 2019"] [Site "Zagreb CRO"] [Date "2019.06.28"] [Round "3"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "Carlsen, M."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C80"] [WhiteElo "2819"] [BlackElo "2875"] [PlyCount "135"] [EventDate "2019.06.26"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 Be7 7. Re1 b5 8. Rxe4 d5 9. Nxe5 Nxe5 10. Rxe5 bxa4 11. Nc3 O-O 12. Re1 Bd6 13. Qh5 a3 14. Nxd5 axb2 15. Bxb2 Rb8 16. Rab1 Re8 17. Ne3 Bf4 18. d5 Rb4 19. c4 Bxe3 20. Rxe3 Rxe3 21. fxe3 Rxc4 22. Bd4 c5 23. Ba1 f6 24. h3 Qe7 25. Qf3 h6 26. Re1 Re4 27. Kf2 Bd7 28. Rd1 Kh7 29. Rd2 Qe8 30. Bb2 Ra4 31. a3 Rc4 32. Re2 Qg6 33. e4 Ba4 34. d6 Bc6 35. Qg3 Qxg3+ 36. Kxg3 Kg6 37. e5 fxe5 38. Bxe5 h5 39. Bb2 h4+ 40. Kh2 Kf5 41. Bxg7 Re4 42. Rxe4 Kxe4 43. Bf6 c4 44. Bxh4 c3 45. Bf6 c2 46. Bb2 Kd5 47. g4 Kxd6 48. Kg3 Bb5 49. Kf3 Ke7 50. h4 Kf8 51. h5 Be8 52. Kg3 Kg8 53. Kh4 Kh7 54. Kg5 Bd7 55. Kf4 a5 56. Kg5 a4 57. Kf4 Be6 58. g5 Bf7 59. g6+ Bxg6 60. hxg6+ Kxg6 61. Ke5 Kf7 62. Kd6 Ke8 63. Bc1 Kd8 64. Kc6 Kc8 65. Bf4 c1=Q+ 66. Bxc1 Kb8 67. Kb6 Ka8 68. Bf4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Wesley So navigated an interesting opening idea (14.d4!?) from Anish Giri, and drew without much difficulty. Hikaru Nakamura had to work longer – 77 moves in all – to hold a 3 vs 2 same-side rook ending against Sergey Karjakin.


The Croatia Grand Chess Tour will be contested from June 26th-July 8th, with rounds played at 4:30 local time / 10:30 EDT. There is one rest day on July 2nd. Live round-by-round streaming coverage is available on the Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube channel: English language: GMs Alejandro Ramirez, Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley, and IM Jovanka Houska. Russian language: GMs Evegnij Mironhnichenko and Melik Khachiyan.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] we last checked in with the Croatia stop of the 2019 Grand Chess Tour, it looked like Ian Nepomniachtchi was off to […]

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Plain Text Comments

Share Your Feedback

We recently completed a website update. If you notice a formatting error on this page, please click here.