A notable event for the chief of the press centre was that the day of the
last round appeared uniquely carefree. The majority of duels were finished
quickly and practically without struggle by friendly handshake and occassions for the
customaty waste of analysis was rare!
The peaceful tone was set by the leaders. Preferring to hold in their
hands a "titmouse in Las-Vegas" rather than the "champion's crane" in the
Russian sky , one by one came to be finished in a draw in the games of the
leading echelon. Two hours hadn't passed and the stage was almost empty;
the leaders only having to wait until the end of the round and wait on the
consequence of other games, as far as the distribution of the first places
depended from final results sometimes the most unlucky of the participants.
Those are the caprices of a system of Bukhgolts coefficients. Perhaps it is
even less fair than penalties in soccer.
Against a background of rather colourless draws there was a brighter looking
duel between M.Kobalija - O.Korneev. In a sharp variation of the "Four
knights game", where Black sacrifices a pawn for the initiative at an early
stage, the contenders up to the 17-th move were confidently following by game
Shirov-Short in Novgorod, but on the 17-th move Kobalija applied a novelty
( instead of 17.0-0 - 17. Ng2!? ). The idea of the manoeuvre was the
consolidation of his forces and an aspiration to neutralize the Black's
main attacking resource - the break-through f4. Nevertheless O.Korneev had
all the same to resort to this method even if it meant material loss, for if
White has time to castle, Black's business would become simple joyless. Their
now emerged puzzling complications, in which the White king tried to slip
away from direct threats, and Black had to put on the mantle of a new attack
with plentyful sacrifices. Eventually Kobalija managed to safely overcome all
danger and, when his king took cover in the silent harbour of the Queen's
side, Korneev was dished. An excellent achievement by the young grandmaster.
In the " second echelon " there was more liveliness. In truth, in two
games - S.Volkov-Y.Yakovich and A.Rustemov-A.Lugovoi - the outcome of the
battle was determined, alas, by crude mistakes, but in another - the struggle
was more substantial. S.Voitsekhovsky spectacularly crushed A.Galkin. In a
typical Queens gambit accepted position he used classical means for this variation
to break-through in the centre and his vigorous advance on the King side.
Sacrificing at first a bishop, and then a rook, he striped the cover of the
Black king position, has created an irresistible attack, and on the 35th move
Galkin resigned. This beautiful ending gives Voitsekhovsky the right to apply
for a special prize " For the best attack ".
From other matches it should be noted that S.Tiviakov confidently outdid
E.Solozhenkin in a typical "spanish" visciously manoeuvrable game.
E.Sveshnikov in a poor position overlooked simple tactical threat by
I.Ibragimov ( 36. f5! ) and could not maintain the position.
S.Dvoiris in a firey tactical exchange smartly overcame V.Burmakin.
A.Galliamova confidently achieved a victory over E.Sapunov.
As these games ended the chances of the players changed like shares on
the stock exchange. But the tense pressure reached an apogee, when the
outcome of the struggle for the champion's title appeared... in the hands of
participants playing for thirteenth place - P.Tregubov and S.Smagin. It was
calculated, that in case of a Smagin win the title for the fourth time would
be P.Svidler, and for other outcomes - for the first time to A.Morozevich.
( Alas, the best player of all, Sakaev, only achieved third place ).
Fate appeared favourable to the young grandmaster - Smagin lost.
So, 1-st place A.Morozevich
2-nd place P.Svidler
3-rd place K.Sakaev
4-th place S.Shipov
As well as the competitive result of the leaders, other results
were judged for creativity:
The Jury composition of G.Sosonko, B.Khropov and M.Taimanov, having
considered the games submitted by participants, have determined laureates in
Prize " For the best game of the tournament "
GM K.Sakaev ( for the game Sakaev-Rublevsky )
Prize " For the best theoretical novelty "
GM K.Sakaev ( for the game Sakaev-Koblija )
Prize " For the best attack "
IM S.Voitsekhovsky ( for the game vs. A.Galkin )
Prize " For the deepest strategic plan ",
providing by GM S.Dolmatov in a game with S.Ivanov
Prize to the best young participant of the championship
Prize to the best participant of the championship, representing St.Petersburg
Prize for the highest creative achievement
Prize to the best "senior" of the championship for high creative
Press Release 07.08.1998
The round began with a peculiar record. The first result was fixed when
only 3 minutes had passed. S.Ionov with S.Dvoiris agreed on a draw
on...the 9th move. It means only that for for some the last two rounds were
only a beginning to the decisive phase of the struggle, for others the
tournament was effectively finished yesterday...
Certainly at the centre of attention was a meeting of the leaders. The
all-knowing computer has prompted the fact that in large competitions
these countrymen have met 11 times, and in 7 games with white P.Svidler has
won 4,5 points against 2,5, and K.Sakaev with white in 4 games - 2,5 against
1,5. However, the balance of 6:5 to the benefit of Svidler is honourable
to both parties. Today's game developed unusually. Begun as a reply to the
move 1. e4 Sakaev for the first time ( in any case against Svidler ) elected
the Russian Game, and in one popular variation the contestants quickly made
14 theoretically well known moves. Their own creativity began with the novel
lunge 14... Na5 ( usually played is 14. ... Bd6 ), when Sakaev, faithful to
his active style, sacrificed a pawn for fast mobilization of his forces.
Probablly this idea "was already in the air ", and Svidler has not caught
unawares. He accepted the sacrifice and rather harmoniously arranged his own
forces. However the activity of the black pieces was a determined
compensation for an insubstantial material deficit. This evaluation probably
shared by both players, and as soon as the 18th move (from which their "own"
play yielded only four and a half) the leaders agreed to draw.
Their example was followed by A.Dreev and E.Pigusov. But the
position,in which their world existed, by no means looked equal - White had... an
extra piece. That is why the decision of the contestants requires a
clarification. First of all, it not so paradoxical, for it is well known
in the theory of the Nimtsovich defence and usually the dangerous initiative
delivered by the opening leads to an extremely sharp and tangled game
with mutual chances, for a sacrificed piece Black gains a dangerous
initiative. Numerous analysis (including computer) result in a conclusion
with approximate equal chances. Consequently, if the players did not undertake
special preparations in the spirit of this risk, there isno basis to
condemn this early draw.
Multiexperimental E.Bareev in meeting with young M.Kobalija in Dutch
defence ( with rearrangement moves from Queen's Gambit ) a long time and
persistently find out chances on achievement any item of position
advantage, but unsuccessfully. Kobalija strongly " holded a zone " and has
confidently finished the game up to draw.
Difficultl to explain the logic of development of events in the duel
A.Shchekachev-S.Shipov. A characteristic Sheveningen variation build-up
(though formally the game began as an English), Shchekachev utilizing the
languid game of the contender, arranged his forces harmonically and
rather actively on classical models for an approach to the King side.
If he had made a classical lunge on move 19 with the knight on d5, which
the is drawn to make, Black's business would at once become unenviable
(19...exd5 20. exd5 and now, if 20... Bd7 then 21. Rxe7, and on 20...
Be8 - 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 22. Qf5 ); but the young GM made an attempt to reinforce
his pressure by crossing a rook on the third rank. It cost several tempii
and gave time to Shipov to consolidate his defence. The business was resolved
absolutly dramatically. Rashly opening the centre, Shchekachev deployed his
pieces extremely unsuccessfully and not only did not achieve any benefit, but
also enlivened the long-ranged pieces of his opponent. Already in a bad
position he missed the mate. It is distressing not that the young GM did not
find the right plan and even made an error but that he does not know the
elementary methods of attack, so typical in the Sicilian defence.
Conversely, the game A.Morozevich and S.Rublevsky was conducted rather
academically and professionally. A Long manoeuvring struggle in a closed
position entered a dynamic stage when Morozevich executed a break-through on
the King's side ( 16. f5! ), which resulted in the appearance of a vulnerable
pawn e6 in the Black camp. It is necessary to give due credit to the enterprising
young GM, who resourcefully created breaches in Rublevsky's strenghs. Using
the activity of his pieces, Morozevich compelled a transition to an endgame
where his bishops supervised the whole board. The main problem for Rublevsky
was the hobbled knight on the 8th rank. Morozevich achived a refined final
combination, and this liquidation decided the outcome of the struggle to his
Fascinating events occured in the duel V.Popov - V.Zviaginsev. After
originally being outplayed in the opening Zviaginsev was already aspiring
to the initiative by the 12th move, and perhaps recklessly, gave back the
queen for two pieces. Black's position looked rather threatening, but White's
large material superiority allowed him to "ransom himself" by returning a
part of his gains and after the game had simplified and passed to an endgame
White's advantage of additional material became argued a simple technical
Deserving complete recognition is the creative achievement of S.Dolmatov.
In a game against S.Ivanov he invented an interesting manoeuvre in a known
variant of the French defence: 14. Qh3, improved the dynamic prospects for
White. Ivanov has high skill in the protection of constrained positions, but
this time he could not oppose the continuous escalation of White's pressure
on the King side. Dolmatov conducted his approach without hurry, but very
vigorously. He managed to drive in a pawn wedge at f6 inhis opponent's camp
andit, to a decisive degree predetermined the development of the final events.
Black's pieces had difficultly in protecting the position of the Black king
and, not shying from a sacrifice, Dolmatov "landing a powerful force" of
pieces in the breaches made in the position of the enemy's castled king.
Under the inevitable threat of mate Ivanov resigned.
It remains to add, that S.Smagin inexplicably lost an absolutaly
equal endgame to V.Epishin.
So, the number of leaders with 7 points was increased to 4, and
their direct pursuers with 6,5 points has decreased to 6.
Press Release 06.08.1998
The hero of the day is again K.Sakaev. His play in the game with
M.Kobalija deserves maximum praise. In a sharp variant of the Slav
he has confidently pursued a well-known variant, connected with a pawn
sacrifice for the initiative, which theory evaluates fairly ambiguously.
shown that White's problems in managing his dynamic resources are not
complex than Black's problem in defence.
In any case, the balance of existing games in this variation is about
equal. But Sakaev had his own opinion on this matter, reinforcement by
In position, arising after the 11th move,instead of the usual 12. Bxc4
( for which he was obviously prepared ) he made a new and very
strong move 12. Nc5! The purpose of the manoeuvre - to allow development
Black's knight b8 to d7, to ensure a powerful and unassailable bishop on
Probably, theoretical researches ( and they will undoubtedly follow )
show that a deeply complex problems were delivered by Sakaev's novelty,
obviously, Kobalija did not negotiate them.
After castling he could not avoid opening the "h" file;
his King got under direct attack, and defensive resources to resist were
obviouly inadequate. Sakaev continued with his customary energy, and
concentrated powerful forces on the King's side, so by the 25th move his
young contender was already defeated.
A magnificently creative Petersburger achievement!
Sakaev was the first to move into clear first place in the tournament
truth, his sole leadereship was not for long.
One of the main favorites P. Svidler quickly overtook his countryman.
The duel P.Svidler - S.Smagin was rather fascinating.
The contestants very quickly and confidently made 21 moves,
as they were certainly following the game Ionchuk-Murdziya, played five
years ago in Poland.
Only on the 22nd move Smagin deviated ( instead of 22... Nd7 - 22... b3
probably connected to a plan of contrplay. The position appreciably
more acute, when with a temporary Bishop sacrifice he opened the game on
the Queen side. Seemingly, Smagin's pieces had taken up threatening
positions, but, as is shown in the current struggle, Svidler's deeper
creative interpretation of the position showed only a temporary
for Black with no real prospects ( besides there were concerns withthe
advanced pawn b3, and the
concentration of White forces on the King side, whereas the Black king
having insufficient defenders, became threatened. At this moment Smagin
unexpectedly decided to undertake a desperate course, probablly connected
with a tactical miscalculation. By and large, having recaptured
one of two pawns, he had not achieved sufficient compensation. To
his misfortunes in an already hopeless position Smagin lost on time.
The duel of the third pair of leaders between A.Dreev and
was very adventurous. After apeculiarly played variation of the Indian
defence Dreev obviously overlooked simple tactical threat ( 14... c4! ),
after which be is compelled to part with a piece.
To his credit he negotiated this with fortitude and with great
inventiveness found counterchances. Shchekachev spent a lot of time s
earching for the best continuation and decided not to tempt fortune by
accepting a draw offered by Dreev.
An important victory was the defeat by S.Rublevsky over S.Ivanov. In a
variant of the French defence after a number of simplifications had
position with a small advantage to white (open "d" file!). Although
Black's problems did not look complex, they required accurate
defence, as Rublevsky with great imagination found ways of
developming the initiative ( 19. BЕ3!, 21. Ng5!, 23.Rd4!, 25. d5, 27.
). For a long time Ivanov defended with his customary perseverance, but
when the main difficulties were already overcome, his blunder was to
exchange the remaining pieces and risked (always requires special
consideration) moving into a pawn endgame, where the opponent had a
passed pawn. Now all depended on the struggle for "tempo", and it
transpired that in this quiet struggle Ivanov was doomed. On the 51st
Ivanov was dished.
The appreciably improved young GM A.Morozevich, in his
duel with D.Yevseev in a known variant of the Chekh defence, for a long
time maneuvered with his opponent in search of a bridgehead for offensive
operations. A signal to particular action was the advance of white's pawn
( 19. е5 ), which would seem to determine White's chances on the King's
Morozevich managed to coolly neutralize this intention of his opponent
and strongly blocked approaches to his king. Probably at this critical
Yevseev lost objectivity and groundlessly played an "all or nothing"
attack, leaving to mercy the fate of his Queen's side. From this plan of
commiting all his forces, he has suffered many losses. It predetermined
outcome of the struggle, and Morozevich won.
Press Release 05.08.1998
Only 4 rounds to
the end of the championship, and the leaders are unusually tightly grouped, which
is why all attention is absorbed by duels on the proscenium.
Very a propos,therefore
was the meeting of M.Kobalija - P.Svidler. In a double-edged popular variant
of the Sicilian defence, after 11 moves well known to theory, Kobalija
avoided beaten tracks and instead of the approved 12. Nf5 played the quieter
12. Nb3. Svidler reacted in a classical way, and with the temporary pawn
sacrifice ( 16... d5 17. ed5 Bb4 ) intercepted the initiative. Black's
position looked rather speculative, but perhaps 19... Qxe5 was not best.
With the accurate manoeuvre 21. Rf4 Kobalija strengthened his position
and Svidler had duly to offer the draw, which was accepted. Unfortunatelly,
such fascinating events did not continue to a logical conclusion, The result
was taken purely for competitive reasons, although in the final position
Kobalija had a potentially profitable opportunity to complicate the struggle.
In the forcing variation 22. Bd4 Qxe1 + 23. Qxe1 Nf3 + 24. Bxf3 Rxe1
+ 25. Kf2
the endgame would precipitate, where despite a slight material disadvantage
(bishop and pawn against rook), the initiative would undoubtedly belong
to White. For example, 25... Rb1 26. Bxf6! gf 27. Ke3!
Rather than quickly accepting
a peaceful decision like countrymen S. Ivanov and K. Sakaev. On the board
was more opportunity for a pithy struggle, but here also competitive positions
have superceded over creativity. However, this draw benefitted Sakaev.
He is a typical "white player," and safely passed a "black" day satisfactorily.
Deeper development in the
duel S.Dolmatov - S. Shipovalso also ended peacefully. In a Sicilian Defence
the partners played out a double-edged variant of in the Sheveningen
system, where White sacrifices a central pawn with the purpose of openning
the game and throw over his forces to the King side. This variant has a
rich precedent in ways of developing the
initiative, as well as defence methods, and is well investigated.
Not surprising, as in today's duel,
Dolmatov and Shipov were easily enmeshed in strategic problems, and after
a short flare of "hand-to-hand" fighting the game passed into an endgame,
not giving either party any optimistic hopes, and drawn on the 29-th move.
The brisk struggle deployed all over the board was
seen in the duel of S.Volkov vs A.Dreev. The players played a peculiar
"hybrid" from several variants of the Queens' Gambit, and after opening
the centre both sides had their trumps - White a "good" knite on e4, Black
- a "good" bishop on d4. Chances of the parties were provisionally equal,
but Volkov imprudencely allowed a Queen exchange, and in the arising endgame
Black's pieces appeared more active. Probably Volkov had enough resources
for the neutralization of pressure. However, the young master again demonstrated
an insufficient skill in playing endgames. Dreev skillfully used
opportunities and achieved an important victory.
A. Shchekachev and S.Smagin
had a long typically Spanish "entrenchment"
manoeuvrability struggle. But when the partners had moved pieces to
scheduled active outposts, there began an unexpected double-edged tactical
skirmish, in which both GMs displayed a lot of inventiveness. However here
also interesting developments did not received a logical
completion. In an undefined position the players agreed a draw.
As a tragedy it is possible to name the loss
of A.Galliamova. In the "closed" variant of the Sicilian Defence she skilfully
used the passive play of A.Morozevich and defeated him, by using
classical strategic rules, well know to us. Black's initiative on the Queens'
side had taken a threatening character, and in searching out any conterchances
Morozevich rushed in with a desperate attack. At first Galliamova
reacted confidently and coolly to this action - and creating "luft" had
moved one of the three pawns protecting the king, and that, objectively
speaking, guaranteed a simple win. But, unfortunatelly,several intervening
mistakes, destroyed all
Galliamova's achievements. The errors were followed one by another,
and instead of a deserved victory Galliamova received an offensive setback.
Morozevich had no merit in it...
The most extendsive game was V.Yemelin and
S.Rublevsky. Here was a persistent and hard struggle, in which the chances
of the parties often interchanged. Eventually, in the double-edged endgame
the rival forces were exhausted and with a rook against bishop ending the
partners agreed on a draw.
In a long endgame with about equal chances
V.Vorotnikov in a game with A.Kharlov did not maintain the pressure, overestimated
his chances and suffereded serious material loss. On the 65th move he recognized
himself as defeated.
From results of the "second echelon" a victory
should be noted by E.Bareev over A.Poluliakhov. One of the favorites of
the championship, the GM from Moscow with ELO 2690, unexpectedly became
the unlucky person of the championship, but due to this win (after an energetically
conducted attack) he at last moved to a 50% match-score.