Haik Martirosyan beat Amin Tabatabaei while Alexandra Kosteniuk took down Valentina Gunina in the only decisive games in a quiet start to Round 5 of the FIDE World Cup. Magnus Carlsen found himself under pressure despite having the white pieces against 19-year-old Andrey Esipenko, but the most dramatic game of the round was Vidit-Durarbayli, where Vidit missed a fleeting chance in a wild position before Vasif Durarbayli seized complete control only to allow his opponent a great escape.
And here’s the day’s live commentary from Loek van Wely and Laurent Fressinet.
The stakes are getting higher by the day at the FIDE World Cup and few players wanted to burn their bridges in the first game of Round 5. That said, there were no contentless draws, with the quietest involving the two French stars remaining in action. Etienne Bacrot won a pawn against Kacper Piorun, but the players were following Karjakin-Carlsen from Norway Chess 2018 for 18 moves. Piorun had full compensation and eventually won back the pawn for a draw, though in a different manner to how Magnus had done the same.
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is famous for his willingness to take on, and beat, the Berlin Endgame, but Sergey Karjakin came very well-prepared, and after Maxime spent 32 minutes on the new move 16.g4 Sergey simply continued to blitz out his replies. He gave up a pawn, but barely blinked.
The game ended on move 35, with Sergey having the same time on his clock as when he started the game.
That was the first draw of Round 5, but it was quickly followed by Carlsen-Esipenko.
It was a game neither player could be entirely happy about. Magnus took six minutes to play the rare 8.Bc3!? in the opening, only for Andrey to take eight minutes himself and respond with 8…c5!?
Esipenko said afterwards:
After the opening when he played Bc3, I had a lot of moves like Ne4 probably or b6, but I played c5, and i think it’s quite a good decision.
It certainly got the World Champion thinking, with Magnus then spending 28 minutes on 9.Nbd2!?. Andrey was able to respond with quick and natural moves as Black soon became clearly the preferable side. Magnus switched to bail-out mode and achieved that goal, with a draw by repetition by move 24.Andrey was asked if he was happy with the draw:
Not really, because I think it was some problems for White and he needed to calculate at some moment, so it’s ok, this result, but it could be better.
So there was no immediate revenge for Magnus for his loss to Esipenko in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year, while Andrey will have the white pieces on Monday.
There were other intense games, with Fedoseev-Ivic a case of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Fedoseev had scored 5.5/6 in classical chess, needing no tiebreaks, while 18-year-old Velimir Ivic was also unbeaten, needing tiebreaks only against Dmitry Andreikin.
Their game raced to a tricky double-rook ending, where Vladimir managed to win a pawn and apply real pressure on the clock, but when Velimir made the time control at move 40, with 14 seconds to spare, the worst was over for the Serbian and the game was drawn in 60 moves.
Grischuk-Duda was a razor-sharp battle in a pawn sac line of the Vienna with 9.Bg5, a move Jan Gustafsson wasn’t recommending allowing in his Vienna Repertoire, where he describes the idea first used by Levon Aronian to beat Vishy Anand back in 2011 as:
A very strong move — Black is in some trouble, as Bg5 is preparing a very quick d5 breakthrough by pinning the knight, and I haven’t found a way to equalise here.
Some have been willing to try the line, however, with Dmitrij Kollars most recently using it to beat Vincent Keymer in Dortmund, while Duda himself used it against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in Wijk aan Zee 2019. After 9…Bxc3 10.bxc3 it seems Duda’s 10…h6 was a new move, and though he later talked about not being able to remember his analysis he appears to have been objectively fine the whole game. Loek van Wely in our live commentary felt it was a lot of suffering for a measly pawn, but Jan-Krzysztof seemed to enjoy it:
To be honest, I quite liked my position the entire game! Obviously it was risky, because he had an attack, but I was very solid and with an extra pawn.
The game finally petered out after 25…Kh8 (Duda said he originally intended to play 25…Ra1, but rejected it because of 26.Nf3).
26.Rxe6 fxe6 27.Ng6+ Nxg6 28.Qxg6 was dramatic, but it was only a way of forcing a draw. After 28…Rg8 29.Qf6+ Kh7 30.Qf7+ Kh8 31.Qf6+ neither player had any better option than repeating moves.
Duda was happy with his start to the match:
I’m feeling ok, of course, especially considering that there was a moment in my career when I lost to Alexander Grischuk like five games in a row, I think, starting with d4 on the first move, so at least I stopped the bleeding after that. Because I was having quite a good score after 1.e4 against him, but then he switched to 1.d4 and I was losing everything, including the Grand Prix final in Hamburg 2019, and now I’m happy and I’ll just try to get a game with White.
The last merely relatively eventful draw before we get to the main action was Svidler-Shankland, with Peter Svidler telling Nigel Short afterwards:
It’s good to still be in the running, and it feels like I’m playing myself into some sort of semblance of form.
Against Sam Shankland, Svidler relatively quickly got control of the c-file, describing the position as “equalish, but not the way he played it”.
White’s advantage would eventually fizzle out, with Peter putting the blame on his choice on move 35.
Here he went for 36.f4!? and a draw was soon inevitable, so that he regretted not trying 36.e5. That was also Nigel’s preference, though there was no clear winning line there either.
That brings us to Vidit-Durarbayli, which was by some distance the highlight of the round.
The opening was wild, and the first moment of truth came after 19…h6.
Vidit didn’t delay long before simply retreating with 20.Qf4, but it turns out the intermezzo 20.Nd6+! is probably simply winning after 20…Bxd6 21.Qg6+! Kf8 22.exd6. One line could continue 22…Qc6 23.Rh3! and the rook is both defending the c3-square and ready to harass the black king. Black’s position is incredibly dangerous.
Instead in the game after 20.Qf4 it was very much both sides risking everything.
Vasif Durarbayli began to play perfectly with 20…Be6 21.g3 b4! 22.Bg2 b3 and when 23.Nd6+?! now came it was a mistake. Vidit did eventually manage to castle, but his position went from bad to worse until he was forced to exchange queens.
This was the critical position, and Durarbayli blitzed out the “winning” move that our commentators also expected, 33…Rd8? It turns out, however, that 33…Rd6! was the only move to retain Black’s advantage, while in the game Vidit was now able to allow the b-pawn to queen with 34.Rxd4! b1=Q 35.Rxb1 Bxb1 since that allowed the saving 36.Bd5.
When the dust had settled White emerged with three pawns for Black’s bishop and a comfortably drawn position. Vidit had lived very dangerously!
The one game that did end decisively was in no way a classic, but that won’t bother 20-year-old Armenian Haik Martirosyan one bit, since a win with the black pieces puts him in the perfect position to fight for a place in the quarterfinals. His Iranian opponent Amin Tabatabaei was at first better with the white pieces, while the situation on move 21 was interesting.
Haik felt that 21.Ra2!? here was a blunder, allowing Black to win a pawn with 21…Rxa3 22.Rxa3 Qxa3, but the computer gives a big edge to White after not 23.Nd5!? as played by Tabatabaei, but 23.Ne4!, with moves like Nd6 and Qd5 to follow. Haik suggested instead 21.Rc2, when 21…Rxa3? would lose to 22.Rxa3 Qxa3 23.Ra2, winning the bishop on a6.
That wasn’t the only curious moment, since later on move 27 Tabatabaei could just have kept repeating moves for a draw by 3-fold repetition with 27.Rc1.
Instead he exchanged off queens with 27.Qc1!?, which Haik described as, “a move I didn’t expect, because I’m a pawn up and only I can win the game.”
Objectively it seems the position was still level initially, but it was a strange decision that went on to prove costly. By the final position, Haik had an extra three pawns.
It was a similar story in the Women’s FIDE World Cup, with three of the four games ending drawn. It was notable that Dinara Saduakassova was the first player to hold Aleksandra Goryachkina to a draw with the black pieces in 10 games.
China’s only representative in the Women’s World Cup, Tan Zhongyi, seemed to get a real advantage against Kateryna Lagno’s Grünfeld, but it faded to nothing.
All eyes were on Kosteniuk-Gunina, which became a thriller in the run-up to the time control, when Alexandra Kosteniuk found some only defensive moves with almost no time on her clock. 40.f4!, for instance, was the computer’s top choice, and was found with 18 seconds to spare.
There was a great chance for Valentina shortly afterwards, however, after 42.Qd5? (42.Rxf4! was an only move).
42…Qg1! was the winning resource, threatening mate-in-1 with 43...Qe1#. It turns out there’s no good escape from that mating net, but the reason Valentina instead played 42…Kh6? is probably that she’d been worried about 42…Qg1 43.Qd7+, when at a glance it seems there’s no more than a draw with 43…Kh6 44.Qh3+ and the king going back to g7. Instead, however, 44…Kg5! is possible, with 45.Qxg3+ met by 45...Rg4!
After missing that opportunity we saw a very familiar story for Gunina’s games, where she insisted on playing on and on, rejecting any chance of a draw, and was rewarded only by a 76-move defeat.
Gunina will now have to play for a win on demand on Monday, but since that’s her approach to every game anyway it shouldn’t require too much of an adjustment!
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