The Russian grandmaster Ernesto Inarkiev has seized control of the European Individual Championship and leads by a full point with only two rounds to play.
The European Individual Chess Championship is turning into a one-man show. After nine rounds, Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia leads by a full point and is on an absolute tear. Including his performance in the recently concluded Russian Team Championship, Inarkiev stands to gain over 40 points on the next rating list, which will push his rating well above 2700.
After he beat the Ivan Saric in Round 7, he was tied with David Navara, the top seed from the Czech Republic. At that point, I predicted his demise against Navara in Round 8. I now must eat my words as Inarkiev made beating an elite player with Black look surprisingly easy.
Navara, David vs. Inarkiev, Ernesto
European Individual Chess Championship |Gjakova, Kosovo |Round 8 |21 May 2016 |0-1
c5!Black correctly decides not to fear having the hanging pawns structure. In general, I think the rule of thumb that if a player has one bad piece, it makes his whole position bad applies here. If White could move his bishop from d2 to either b2 or outside the pawn chain to g5, he would be doing great. As it is, he does not have enough play
against Blacks pawns, which will soon create problems. 14. dxc5bxc515. Qh3g616. Nce2Bc617. Bc3Nbd718. Bb3Qa8So far, both sides have just been maneuvering and improving the placement of their pieces. The computer swears the position is
dead equal, but Black looks a little more comfortable to me. Still, what
followed next was entirely bizarre 19. g4?Why?
( 19. Ng3Just about any other move left White with a reasonably solid position. )
( 19. Qg3 )
19... Ne5!Black immediately pounces; d4 is now a big threat. 20. g5
( 20. Bxe5This was the best chance to fight on, but it was obviously not what White had in mind when he played g4. 20... Rxe5Rg5 and h5 is going to hurt, but maybe White can continue to breathe for a little while. )
20... d4!All too easy. White can already
resign 21. f3dxc322. gxf6c423. Bc2Nxf3+24. Kf2cxb2With a couple
basic one-two punches, Black is now up two pawns with a huge attack. The rest
requires no comment 25. Qg3Qb826. Nc3Ne527. h4Rd728. h5Qd829. hxg6fxg630. Rxd7Qxd731. Kg1Kf732. Ne4Bh633. Qh4Bxe434. Bxe4Qg4+35. Qxg4Nxg436. Bd5+Kxf637. Nxg6+Kg5
Going into Round 9, Inarkiev held a half point lead over Igor Kovalenko of Latvia, Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland, and Aleksey Goganov of Russia. While the latter two fought to a draw, Inarkiev just kept on cruising, winning a second game in a row with Black after Kovalenko made some errors in a worse, but defensible endgame.
Kovalenko, Igor vs. Inarkiev, Ernesto
European Individual Chess Championship |Gjakova, Kosovo |Round 9 |21 May 2016 |0-1
Rf7!A very important move. Black prepares to play Rb7 and Kf7, with an excellent coordination for his pieces. 27. Ne4d5!28. b3Na3!29. Ng5Rfa7!As strange as Black's play looks, his position remains solid and he will soon be able to open the queenside with
a5-a4. Note that having the rook on a7 means Black does not have to worry about Re8. 30. Be5Presumably White did not want his bishop to get shut out of the game.
( 30. Re8d4! )
30... h631. Nf3a432. Rb6The start of White's problems.
( 32. Bd6 )
32... Ra633. Rb7R6a734. Rb6Ra635. Rxa6Objectively, it looks foolish to decline the repetition here, but its very understandable given Kovalenko's standing in the tournament. 35... Rxa636. Kf2Rb637. Rd1d438. Nd2Nc239. Kf3Rb740. Rb1Nb441. a3Nd542. bxa4Ra743. Rb8Kf744. Ke4Nc3+45. Kd3Rxa446. Nc4Nd147. Rxf8+?!White correctly surmised that he was worse and should be playing for a draw, but this is not the best way to do it.
( 47. Bxd4!cxd448. Ne5+Kg849. Nd7 )
47... Kxf848. Bd6+Kf749. Bxc5Ne350. Nb6?I don't understand this move. White is starting to lose the thread of the game.
( 50. Nxe3Should hold easily 50... dxe351. Bb4! )
50... Ra551. Bb4Rh552. a4?
( 52. h4This pawn was worth keeping. Black is too slow to be able to take the kingside: 52... Nf153. a4Nxg354. a5 )
52... Rxh253. a5Ra254. Na8
( 54. Kxd4This was the last chance, but it looks pretty bad as well. 54... Nc2+55. Kc3Nxb456. Kxb4Ke6White should lose )
Almost all of the other games on the top boards in Round 9 were drawn, so Wojtaszek and Goganov are tied for second and third. While most of the rest of the players in the tournament can no longer fight for first, they are not necessarily playing badly. I particularly liked the clean execution in Round 9 of Dmitry Svetushkin of Russia by the Polish grandmaster Dariusz Swiercz:
Svetushkin, Dmitry vs. Swiercz, Dariusz
European Individual Chess Championship |Gjakova, Kosovo |Round 9 |21 May 2016 |0-1
Kh8!Simple and strong. Black is preparing to advance
the f-pawn to create counterplay 27. Rg1Rf8!Patient and powerful 28. Rgg4
( 28. Rxh5In light of how the game went, White should have tried that. 28... gxh529. Qf5Qc830. Qxc8Rbxc831. b3Despite being a pawn and exchange ahead, it's very difficult to find a plan for Black. At the same time, White threatens to decimate the queenside by playing Bb6 )
28... Qd729. Be4Nf4!Black is more than happy to give up a
pawn to unleash the dragon bishop 30. Qf1b3!31. a3Qe6White is nearly
in zugzwang and will soon lose to some combination of f5 and Rc8. His position is so bad that he decides to open up the diagonal for the Black bishop, but this offers no relief 32. Bxf4exf433. Rxf4Qe5!34. Qc1
( 34. Qg2Trying to defend both g5 and b2
fails: 34... d5!Opening the c-file 35. cxd5Rbc8And Rc2
cannot be stopped )
34... Qxg5Simple and easy; Bh6 is one threat. 35. Rhg4Qe536. Rh4f5Unable to prevent g5, White called it a day
Inarkiev will possibly be playing White in both of his final games. At this point, it is truly his tournament to lose, and given how convincingly he has played so far, I don’t see anyone catching him.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
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After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players