Boris Gelfand’s still got it.
Gelfand, 48, an Israeli grandmaster, has won a match against Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia that ended Friday. The 12-game match kicked off last week and included six classical and six rapid games. Gelfand won two and drew four of the classical games and then dominated in the rapid games as well, scoring three wins and two draws before losing the final game. Since the games played at a classical time control counted double, the overall score was a lopsided 12-6 in Gelfand’s favor.
Despite the disparity on the scoreboard, Inarkiev has not played especially badly. Instead, Gelfand has been playing well, winning more of the theoretical battles and making the best use of his chances. The first two games (a draw followed by a Gelfand win) were covered in last week’s column. This was Game 3, the first of four Rossolimos in the match:
Very good preparation by Gelfand led to an easy draw. In Game 4, his preparation was also better, but Inarkiev handled the post-opening phase more adroitly and even enjoyed slightly better chances as the game went along.
Game 5 was another Rossolimo, and Gelfand varied first.
Gelfand still led by a point – or rather, two points on the doubled scoring system – going into the final classical game, and he won in excellent style with a direct kingside attack in an important and currently popular line of the Queen’s Indian Defense:
With the win, Gelfand finished the first half of the match with an 8-4 lead. By winning the first rapid game, he put Inarkiev in the position of needing to win the final five games to tie the match.
The next game was very well-played by both grandmasters, but the drawn finish meant that Gelfand had already clinched the match with four games remaining.
In Game 9, Inarkiev finally had his chance to strike. The players repeated the opening of Game 5 through White’s 18th move, and while Gelfand improved on his play in the earlier game, he soon went wrong, and Inarkiev obtained a big advantage. Soon the advantage was nearly decisive, but a blunder on Move 33 (compounded by a further error on the next move) gave away the full point.
The last day of the match initially didn’t bring Inarkiev any better results, as Gelfand won yet again. Gelfand enjoyed a promising position that turned into a winning one after Inarkiev blundered a piece with 23…c5. Black had some counterplay, but it wasn’t enough, and Gelfand’s lead grew to seven points.
Game 11 was a short draw, assuming that what follows is the full score.
Finally, in Game 12, the match ended with a bright spot for Inarkiev. Gelfand’s choice of the solid London System did not turn out so well after his king was caught in the center. Gelfand tried to create an attack on Black’s king, but in the end it was his own king that perished. That gave Inarkiev his only win of the match, which was otherwise all bright spots for Gelfand.
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
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