Round 5: Leinier Dominguez going strong
Leinier Dominguez continued the winning row in Thessaloniki Grand Prix as he defeated the former World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov with black pieces in the 5th round. After the third consecutive victory Dominguez is leading the race with 3,5 points.
For some time it looked like Caruana and Morozevich will join in the shared lead, but they couldn't convert their games into full points.
Results, pairings, standings and photo gallery are updated.
Download the 5th round report in Greek (PDF).
Ivanchuk - Kamsky
The game finished rather quickly, after only 30 minutes of play. Ivanchuk had a poor start, but Kamsky was cautious because the Ukrainian is very unpredictable and no one knows when he could shine.
Thus black chose to be solid and defended with the Caro-Kan. Ivanchuk surprised him with a quiet line, that can be poisonous if black neglects the danger, but the American champion knew the way to equality.
Kamsky said he felt relief when he realised that Ivanchuk "might not kill him". He added that he was happy after 14.Bxf6 because he knew the game will be drawn.
When asked if he knows why is Ivanchuk in bad form, Kamsky didn't want to speculate but he recollected an earlier tournament in Linares: "When I saw Ivanchuk beating Kasparov, I thought the guy will be the next World Champion."
Svidler - Topalov
The play started with the Queen's Gambit Declined and Svidler opted for the popular line with 5. Bf4.
The position quickly sharpened up as black grabbed a pawn but white pushed his own all the way to c7. Topalov wanted to cover the c-file with Nc5, but he discarded the idea because he "would simply be a piece down".
Disappointed about the miscalculation, black decided to trade some pieces and retain two pawns for the exchange. After 23...Nf8 it looked like there could be some trouble on the back-rank (Topalov suggested 23...Bf8 as better option).
Svidler thought he would win after 26.Ne5, but he "didn't see that the Knight is coming out that fast". This changed his mood and he went to look how to make a draw. He said he was very worried about 30...Rc5+ and Topalov agreed that this might have been good attempt to keep the action going - "I don't even know why I didn't play it".
The position simplified as many pawns went off (It was very important to keep the h-pawn alive - Svidler) and the draw was signed after the repetition.
Topalov said at the press conference that he was mainly preparing for 1.e4. Svidler replied - "He did seem to know what I was aiming for, but that's just the general feeling you get when you play Topalov".
Kasimdzhanov - Dominguez
This was another game where Gruenfeld Indian defence was expected, but Dominguez deviated and used the Bogo Indian, the same line that was recently played by Magnus Carlsen.
The Cuban said he wanted to be solid. He got an interesting position with Carlsbad pawn structure, where black is doing more of less okay. He also suggested 18.Nf3 Bg4 19.Rc1 as possibly better way to fight for the advantage.
The resulting double Rooks endgame was seemingly harmless, but probably somewhat easier for black to handle, due to the composition of pawns. "Of course, with correct play it should be a draw", Dominguez explained.
He was proud of finding 28...Kf8, which was a clever way to eliminate the problems with the 7th rank. If 29.Rd7 black checks twice and picks the b2-pawn, at the same time protecting the b7-pawn.
After 30...a5 the point is that every possible pawn endgame is winning for black.
Kasimdzhanov's King was cut on the back rank and he tried to dig in with his Rook on the third rank (g3). That's why 33.e4 was played, but the precise 33...Re2 put white into zugzwang.
On the rest day Dominguez went to sightseeing tour, saying that this was a good way to relax from chess.
Ponomariov - Grischuk
Grischuk defended with the super-solid Berlin Ruy Lopez and Ponomariov responded with the principled 4.0-0 instead of the popular 4.d3.
The famous Berlin endgame emerged on the board and the maneuvering sequence started. Grischuk gave up on kingside pawn-breaks and instead fixed the structure with g6-h5.
The timely b6-b5 break provided black with a target to direct the counterplay. After some exchanges there was an endgame with the opposite-colored Bishops and extra pawn for white.
Grischuk wasn't sure if it was a draw or not and was happy when Ruslan repeated the position. He suggested a possible plan for white to play for a win, but the position should be analysed in depth.
Ponomariov said that he should have played better in Grischuk's time trouble.
Nakamura - Caruana
Caruana remained faithful to his repertoire and started with the Gruenfeld Indian defence, while Nakamura countered with the modern Qb3-Qa3 setup.
The play developed at a slow pace as both players tried to improve the positioning of their pieces. Nakamura suggested 26...Bb8 with a direct threat of Qd6 and g6-g5.
After a couple of white's inaccuracies, black assumed the initiative and started pressing down the e-file. Nakamura admitted he totally forgot about the tricky 38...Nf8.
The heavy pieces went off, although Caruana wasn't sure if trading the Rooks was a good idea, and there was an interesting Bishops endgame.
Black was pressing for a win with an extra pawn, but white defended persistently. It is still unclear if the endgame is drawn or winning for black, and only deeper analysis can give the verdict.
Draw was eventually signed on move 84.
Bacrot - Morozevich
Another Gruenfeld Indian defence and another fashionable line with Qa4-Qb3 maneuver. Bacrot started pushing for space from the very beginning and Morozevich was surprised with 11.a4. Still he believes he found a good way to answer white's advance.
Black started to counter-attack the structure and with f7-f5 trust in the air Bacrot went for the committal 21.g4. White pawns collapsed but in return he amassed heavy pieces to endanger the enemy King.
The Russian responded with exchange sacrifice getting an excellent compensation in return. He saw no direct checkmate on his King and felt confident to continue playing for two results.
Morozevich ignored the opportunity to repeat the moves and kept playing for a win. But Bacrot skillfully annulled the threats, and after black's error even had a chance to pose serious problems. He missed it though, and the game was later drawn.
Report by Goran Urosevic