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Round ten - Caruana takes the lead!
By WGM Alina l'Ami

29The storm we had predicted after the peaceful ninth round exploded at full violence in round ten. It is not only about the three decisive games, since we had had two even more „fruitful” days before, but rather their impact over the hot zone of the classification.
The "winner's luck" abandoned Nakamura, who lost the game and the tournament leadership, while Caruana won and advanced to a shared first place with Gelfand, one step closer to his main goal - the Candidates.

Rank after round 10
Rank Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts. Res. vict SB
1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2779 ITA * 1 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 4 24,50
2 GM Gelfand Boris 2764 ISR 0 * 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 4 24,75
3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2772 USA 1 0 * 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 6 1 3 24,25
4 GM Bacrot Etienne 2723 FRA ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 6 0 3 22,75
5 GM Grischuk Alexander 2785 RUS ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 5 ½ 2 18,50
6 GM Dominguez Leinier 2757 CUB 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5 ½ 1 19,50
7 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2731 UKR 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ 2 16,50
8 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2756 UKR ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 18,25
9 GM Wang Hao 2736 CHN ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ ½ 1 0 20,25
10 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2703 RUS 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 0 19,00
11 GM Fressinet Laurent 2708 FRA 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ 4 0 1 14,75
12 GM Giri Anish 2737 NED ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 3 0 0 11,00

Over the past years, Gelfand frequently chose solid openings with Black, such as the Petroff and the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Today, he adopted a more ambitious attitude, by switching to the ultra-sharp Najdorf Sicilian, one of the first chess loves from his youth. The choice proved very inspired, catching Nakamura a bit unaware, who put the blame on two consecutive and unfortunate queen moves right after the opening.


Hikaru Nakamura - Boris Gelfand

The game of the day (!) faced an English attack with 6...Ng4 where, initially, the players moved quite fast. We enter the game after 21.f4...

Naka - Gelfand

...where Black played the strong 21...Rfc8! and, as Boris showed in the press conference, taking the piece is not possible: 22.fxe5 dxe5 23.Be3 Rxc3! 24.bxc3 Qxa3+ 25.Kd2 Qxc3+ 26.Ke2 Bc4+ mating. The players agreed 22.f5 had to be played because in the game Gelfand's attack soon got gigantic proportions; 22.Qg3 Nd7! 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.f5:

Naka - Gelfand1

Here 24...Ne5! may have been even more convincing, the point being 25.fxe6 Rxc3! 26.bxc3 Rxc3 27.Bd3 Rxa3 with a mating attack. But also after the game continuation 24...Rxc3 25.bxc3 Qxa3+ 26.Kd2 Nf6! Black kept a huge initiative.


In mutual time trouble (both players were under a minute) Gelfand delivered the final blow with:

Naka - Gelfand2

38...Rd7! 39.Qe3 Ng3+ 40.Qxg3 Qxg3 41.Rxd7 Qe5+
 and White resigned. Wherever the king goes, one of White's rooks will fall with check.


Gelfand does not feel that having a good tournament position could put any additional pressure on his shoulders. "There is no pressure on the guy who is winning and then leading the tournament - more pressure is on the guy who keeps on losing!" he explained. Gelfand intends to approach the last round with calm and ambition.

Fabiano Caruana - Evgeny Tomashevsky

When overviewing the round a priori, Caruana’s task looked rather difficult for today's game: he was facing the most solid player in the tournament, Tomashevsky, who had drawn all his games so far! Caruana confessed that the Caro Kann defence came as a surprise. And yet, it was a good day for Fabiano.


The Italian beat the 'unbeatable' Tomashevsky in rather straightforward fashion. Having landed in a somewhat passive position after the opening -the Advance Variation of the Caro Kann- Tomashevsky decided to sacrifice a pawn. It was a pawn he was not to see back for the rest of the game! Evgeny continued to defend stubbornly though, untill move 27...Bc5:

Caruana - Toma

Here Caruana struck with 28.Nxc5 Qxc5 29.Nxe6! fxe6 30.Bxe6+ Kh8 31.Bxf5 Bxf5 32.Qxh5+ Bh7 33.Qe8+ Bg8 34.e6! and the e-pawn proved unstoppable. Caruana is now sharing the lead with Gelfand, which promises an amazing thriller tomorrow!

These two crucial games also had a secondary, but rather symbolic, effect: after ten rounds, there is no undefeated player anymore!

Laurent Fressinet - Etienne Bacrot

The other decisive game Fressinet – Bacrot ended rather quickly.

28    22

After a somewhat modest start of the tournament, Etienne Bacrot has found the way up in the second half of the event. In the French derby against Fressinet he played the sharp Kings-Indian. Not wanting to make a draw with the White pieces, Fressinet tried to find a critical continuation over the board but this backfired. Bacrot explained that 15.exf5 was not a good move, which his opponent could only agree with. White did not find the right plan in the position and soon found himself in insurmountable trouble. 'A disaster, what can I say?' is how Fressinet described the game.

Fressinet could not dissimulate his dissapointment of losing so quickly, but what could he do when getting such an unpleasant opening surprise like 12...h6? Once again, Bacrot’s opening preparation was impressive, helping him to reach +2 in the tournament and his highest rating ever...

Alexander Grischuk - Leinier Dominguez

Grischuk started his game with Dominguez without any (even purely hypotetic) chance to qualify for the Candidates. This did not alter his ambitious approach a single bit though!


Trying to get the game into new territory, Grischuk answered the Petroff defence with 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d3 Nf6 6.d4 d5 which makes the game suddenly transpose into the Exchange French. The game developed fairly equal but in the press conference Grischuk pointed out one interesting moment:

Grischuk - Dom

Instead of going 16.Bh7+ Kh8 17.Bf5 Bxf5 18.Qxf5 Ne6 19.Nd4 Bc5! as was played in the game, Alexander felt he should have tried 16.Bf5 immediately, as now 16...Bxf5 17.Qxf5 Ne6 18.Nd4 can not be met with 18...Bc5 because White will take on e6 with check. The players looked at 18...Qc8 19.Qc2 where Grischuk said 'it's probably nothing special, but I'd rather be White'. The players repeated the moves some 10 moves later, when the position was completely balanced.


When everybody thought the press conference was over, Grischuk jokingly reproached to his opponent: „What happened with you? You used to be such a romantic fighter, playing the Grunfeld and the Najdorf... Why did you have to switch now?” Dominguez could not retain a smile and explained: „We all have to change once in a while...”
Vassily Ivanchuk - Anish Giri

The relatively short draw in Ivanchuk – Giri seemed to make both players happy. They were tired already and there was not much left to play for in the tournament. Giri confessed his disappointment with respect to the tournament, which explains why he resorted to the solid Petroff.

10    41

Anish has proven before that it is difficult to break his Petroff-defence and he did so again! When Ivanchuk realised he did not get anything out of the opening, the pieces were soon exchanged and there was nothing left playing for.

Ruslan Ponomariov - Wang Hao

In the second Caro-Kann game of the day, Ponomariov and Wang Hao had a very interesting strategic struggle. When the tournament commentator, Sergey Tiviakov, expressed he did not understand anything of the game, Ruslan replied he had 'felt the same!'


Wang remains faithfull to his favourite rook pawn moves. This method seems to put pressure on his opponents, allowing him to find unexpected resources.

The players spent most of their time in the press conference on the move:

Pono - Wang

35...f6!? when it is not at all easy for White. A joint analysis showed 36.exf6 Qxf6 followed by g6-g5 with a big advantage for Black, 36.Kg2 Nf5! which also looks bad, 36.Rh1 fxe5 37.dxe5 Qf5! threatening both Qe4 and g6-g5, but White's best is probably 36.Qc7, though 36...fxe5! 37.dxe5 (37.Qxe5 Qxe5! and 38...g5 winning a piece) 37...Nf5 38.Rg1 Ng7! followed by Qf5, still gives Black the better chances. In the game, Ponomariov managed to equalize after 35...Nf5 36.Qe1, and the game ended in a draw shortly after.


Despite not having won a single game yet, Ponomariov showed himself amused with the perspective of his last round game: "I could decide between Mamedyarov and Caruana as a qualifier for the Candidates..." Indeed, if he wins (or at least holds) Gelfand with Black, Caruana may well qualify...

The last round will start without anything important being settled yet: the tournament winner, the last qualifier... The main focus will be on Caruana and Gelfand, but let us hope that players from the 'neutral' area of the classification will also play with ambition their parts in the general show...

Get ready for the last round, tomorrow at 14.00 CET - one hour earlier than usual!

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