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Ponomariov, Robson Score Round-One Victories Print E-mail
By Ken West   
May 18, 2011
Grandmaster Ruslan Ponomariov uncorked Nf3 on the fifth move against Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura’s King’s Indian Defense and went on to win the first game of their international match Tuesday at the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.



“This is what happens when you take three and a half months off classical chess,” Nakamura said during post-game comments with International Master John Donaldson and Women’s Grandmaster Jen Shahade.

In the other game, Grandmaster Ray Robson won on the black side against Grandmaster Ben Finegold, the club’s resident GM. Finegold played 2.c3, the Alapin, or closed Sicilian.



Nakamura said he knew he would “get something tactical” from Ponomariov, who played 13. g4.  Donaldson said the young Ukrainian also usually plays 5. f3, the Saemisch variation against the King’s Indian. Nakamura said his Nf6 on move 21 was a major mistake.

“Just about everything wins here for white,” he said.

The former world champion then traded his knight on b3 for Nakamura’s knight on d4. After Nakamura recaptured with his e pawn, Ponomariov got the e5 pawn push. Nakamura had to give up his knight for two pawns because of the pin of his pawn on d4.

Nakamura resigned after Ponomariov’s 93rd move as the young Ukrainian was weaving the knight/bishop mate.

Ponomariov said his move 49. Bd5 was a mistake, saying he is still fighting jet lag. Nakamura said he had technical drawing chances in the end game if he could have exchanged his dark-squared bishop for Ponomariov’s knight.

The Finegold-Robson game ended with mate on the board.

“At time control, I thought maybe it’s a draw,” Finegold said.

However, after 42. d5, the St. Louis grandmaster said he was losing.

Robson said he didn’t look at any lines against the closed Sicilian “and not even e4 a lot.”

The young grandmaster said he thought he was winning after 43. Bc5.

Live commentary by IM John Donaldson and WGM Jennifer Shahade can be found at livestream.com/uschess. Rounds and commentary are open to club members, and memberships start at just $5/month for students or $12/month for adults.


Fully Annotated Games by IM John Donaldson:


Ponomariov(2751) - Nakamura (2774)
Match St.Louis (1), 17.05.2011
[Donaldson,John]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3
The text is a sign that Ruslan and his second Ivan Salgado Lopez have prepared some surprises for this match as the last year Ponomariov played the Saemisch 5.f3 extensively.
5...0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1
Previous to this game when reaching this position Ruslan played 9.b4
9...Nd7 10.Be3 f5 11.f3 f4 12.Bf2 g5 13.g4 
g4pono.jpg
 13.Nd3 preparing c4-c5 is more commonly seen. The text aims to stop Black's kingside play with ...g4.
13...h5 14.h3Rf6 15.Kg2 Rh6 16.Nd3
White aims for an immediate c5. 16.Rh1 Ng6 17.Nd3 Bf8 18.b4 Nf6 19.c5 =, Doettling-Uhlmann,Schwerin 1999.
16...c517.dxc6 Nxc6
17...bxc6 was also quite interesting but Hikaru characteristically prefers to create dynamic imbalances in the position.
18.c5 dxc519.Nxc5 Nd4
After thegame Hikaru suggested  19...Nxc5 20.Qxd8+ Nxd8 21.Bxc5 Bf8 although better for White was tenable.
20.Bc4+?!
Hikaru thought this was strong but Ruslan believed it a waste of time preferring the immediate [20.Nb3]
20...Kh721.Nb3 Nf6?
The key position in the game. 21...Nb6 was critical here and the two contestants had diametrically opposed opinions of its worth. After the game Hikaru dismissed it on account of 22.Bd5?? (22.Be2 RP) 22...Nxd5 (22...hxg423.hxg4 Bxg4! 24.fxg4 f3+! 25.Kg3 Qf6 26.Be3 Rh3+ 27.Kxh3 Qh6+ 28.Kg3 Qh4# -Ponomariov.) 23.exd5 with a latter Qd3+ and Ne4 promising White a strategically winning position.
22.Nxd4 exd4 23.e5! 
e5Pono.jpg
 Now both players agreed that White is winning.
23...hxg4 24.hxg4 Nxg4
24...Nd7 25.Qd3+ Kh8 26.Rh1 dxc3 27.Rxh6+ Bxh6 28.Qg6 Qf8 29.Rh1 is decisive and illustrative of how exposed Black's king has become.
25.fxg4 Bxe5
Around about here both players agreed that White had faster ways to win but Ruslan's choices get the job done despite strong efforts by Hikaru to resist.
26.Rh1 Qd7 27.Ne4 Rxh1 28.Qxh1+ Kg7 29.Qh5 Qxg4+ 30.Qxg4 Bxg4 31.Nxg5 d3 32.Bxd3 Rd8 33.Be2 Bf5 34.Rd1 Rxd1 35.Bxd1 Bxb2 36.Bxa7 Kf6 37.Nf3 Bd3 38.Kf2 Bc1 39.Bb3 Be4 40.Ke2 Ke7 41.Bb8 Be3 42.Be5 Kd7 43.Ng5 Bc6 44.Bc4 Bc1 45.Nf3 Be3 46.Bc3 Kd6 47.Bb4+ Kc7 48.Ne5 Be8 49.Bd5 Bh5+ 50.Kd3 Bc1 51.Bc5 b5 52.Ke4 Bd2 53.Nf3 Bg6+ 54.Ke5 Be3 55.Bxe3 fxe3 56.Kd4 e2 57.Ke3 Kd6 58.Bg8 Kc5 59.Kxe2 Bh5 60.Ke3 Kb4 61.Nd4 Bg6 62.Kd2 Kc5 63.Nc2 Bf5 64.Kc3 Be4 65.a3 Kb6 66.Nd4 Ka5 67.Bb3 Bg268.Bc2 Bf1 69.Nb3+ Ka4 70.Nd2+ Kxa3 71.Bb3 Bd3 72.Kxd3 Kb2 73.Be6 Kc1 74.Nb3+ Kb2 75.Kd2 b4 76.Kd3 Ka3 77.Kc4 Ka4 78.Bf5 Ka3 79.Nc5 Kb2 80.Kxb4 Ka2 81.Kc3Ka1 82.Nb3+ Ka2 83.Be4 Ka3 84.Bb1 Ka4 85.Nd4 Ka5 86.Kc4 Kb6 87.Nb5 Kb7 88.Bf5 Kc6 89.Bc8 Kb6 90.Bd7 Kb7 91.Kc5 Ka6 92.Nd6 Ka5 93.Nb7+ 
finalpono.jpg
1-0

Finegold,Ben (2494) - Robson,Ray (2522)[B22]
Match St.Louis (1), 17.05.2011
Donaldson,John

1.e4 c5 2.c3
Ben has rarely played the Alapin Sicilian and when he has it has been via 2.Nf3 and 3.c3.
2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3 d5 8.exd6 Qxd6 9.0-0 Be6 10.Bxe6 Qxe6 11.Nxd4 Nxd4

The text is less commonly seen than 12.Nxd4. Ray has faced both moves.
12.cxd4

12.Qxd4 Rd8 13.Qe3 Qxe3 14.Bxe3 Nc4 15.Bxa7 Nxb2 16.Na3 e6 17.Nb5 Be7 18.Rfb1 Nc4µ 1-0 Shibut-Robson,Washington DC 2008
12...Qd7 13.Bf4 
13Bf4Fine.jpg
 A novelty prepared by Ben for this game. 13.Nc3 Rd8 14.Qf3 g6 15.Re1 Bg7 16.Bg5 Nc8 17.Re4 0-0 18.Rae1 Rfe8= Esserman - Robson, Miami 2008
13...e6 14.Be5 Qc6
The text intends to play...Bd6 to meet Bxg7 by ...Rg8 when g2 is under fire. 14...f6 15.Bg3 Bd6 was another possibility.
15.Qg4
15.Qh5; Ray suggested 15.Na3!? and pointed out the trap  15...Bd6 (15...Bxa3 iscritical) 16.Rc1 Qd5 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.Nb5 in the postgame press conference.
15...h5 16.Qe2 Nd5 17.Nc3?!
Afterwards both players mentioned 17.h3 f6 18.Bh2 was safer with equal play.
17...f6 18.Nxd5
18.Bg3 h4
18...Qxd5 19.Bf4 Be7 20.Rad1?!
More natural was 20.Rac1 : for example 20...Kf7 21.Rc7 Rac8 22.Rfc1 Rxc7 23.Rxc7 Rd8 24.Be3 with a better position for White than in the game.
20...Kf7 21.a3 Rac8 22.Rfe1 Rc4 23.Be3 Rhc8
Black'sposition is improving move by move and now Ray is playing for two results - a win or draw. 24.h3 g6 25.Qd3 Rc2
Another plan was 25...b5 26.Re2 a5 possibly intending ...a4 fixing White's queenside pawns.
26.Rd2 Rc1 27.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 28.Rd1 Rc4
Ray felt his best chances were in a bishop ending. Here he prefers to keep a pair of rooks on but Ben soon trades them off.
29.Qb1a6 30.Rc1 Qc6 31.Rxc4 Qxc4 32.Qd1 Qc6 33.Qd3 b5 34.Bd2 Qc4 35.Qe3
35.Qxc4bxc4 36.Kf1 Bd8 37.Ke2 Bb6 38.Bc3 Ke7 with the king soon coming to d5 is just what Ray was hoping for.
35...Qc2 36.Bc3 Qb1+ 37.Kh2 Bd6+ 38.g3 h4! 
38h4fine.jpg
 Ray is trying to open up a second front.
39.Qf3 hxg3+

39...Qf1 40.Qg2 Qe2 was an interesting alternative.
40.fxg3 Qc2+ 41.Kh1
41.Qg2 should have been given strong consideration as the bishop ending is less clear-cut after the trade of Black's h pawn for White's f pawn. Interestingly after the game while Ben was pessimistic about his chances at this point Ray was not at all certain he was winning.
41...g5
Creating airfor his king.
42.d5
Ben might have played 42.Kg1 trying to hold by sitting still.
42...e543.Qg4?
43.h4!? was the last chance. The text is an understandable attempt to get counterplay but Black's king proves to be quite safe.
43...Bc5!44.Be1
44.Qd7+ Kg645.Qe8+ Kg7 46.Qd7+ Kh6; 44.Qe6+ Kg7
44...Qd345.Kg2 Qxd5+ 46.Qf3 e4 47.Qe2 Qd4 48.h4 Qg1+ 49.Kh3 Qh1+ 50.Kg4 Kg6 51.h5+ Qxh5# 
finalfine.jpg

0-1

 
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