Akobian, Ivanov Tie For First In Cali
By GM Eugene Perelshteyn   
September 20, 2007
Alexander Ivanov. Photo: Monroi.com
Chess Life invited GM Eugene Perelshteyn to annotate a game each from our two winners:

Dutch Defense (A80)
GM Varuzhan Akobian, USA (FIDE 2570)
GM Kevin Spraggett, CAN (FIDE 2585)
Campeonato Continental Absolut Cali COL (5), 07.14.2007

In this well-played game Akobian beats a top seed, taking the lead in the tournament for the first time.

1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bg5 d5 4. Bxf6 exf6

The kingside pawn structure is fixed, and Black’s two bishops are not a trump. White’s plan is to keep the position closed by putting his pawns on dark squares, whereas Black needs to strive for an open game.

5. e3 Be6 6. Qf3 Nc6?!

Black’s position is better coordinated after ... c7-c6 and ... Nd7.

7. Bb5 Qd6 8. Nge2 0-0-0?!

Black underestimates White’s attacking chances. It’s better to keep the king in the center and wait until White castles first.

9. a3!

White prepares b2-b4 with a powerful initiative versus the Black king, while it’s unclear where Black can find counterplay as both bishops are locked in.

9. ... Kb8 10. Na4

Heading to c5.

10. ... Ne7 11. Nc5 Bc8 12. g3 h5 13. h4 g6 14. b4

White is taking over the initiative, while Black can only passively wait. Notice how both of Black’s bishops are restricted.

14. ... Bh6 15. c3

Akobian is in no rush, he is now getting ready to storm with the a-pawn.

15. ... Ka8 16. a4 a6 17. Bd3 Rhe8 18. Kd2

The king feels safe in the center, as Black has no way of opening up the position.

18. ... Ka7 19. a5 c6 20. Nf4 Rh8 21. Kc2 Rdg8 22. Qe2 Re8 23. Rab1 Rh7 24. Rb2 g5?

Passive defense is no fun and Spraggett attempts to create counterplay. However, as usually happens, it only helps White—who already has a devilish plan in place:

25. Nxh5

The knight on h5 is a deflection of Black’s forces; the main thrust is directed at the kingside.

25. ... Reh8 26. Rhb1

Why are almost all of White’s pieces eyeing the b5 square?

26. ... Bf8 27. b5!!

This is the reason. Black’s army is in disarray, so it’s time for White to open lines around the enemy king.

27. ... cxb5 28. Bxb5

A natural piece sacrifice to continue the attack.

28. ... axb5 29. Rxb5 Ng8

Just by looking at the position, it’s clear that Black’s extra piece is not much of a help.

30. Rb6 Qc7 31. Qb5 Bxc5 32. dxc5 f4 33. a6! Bf5+

If 33. ... bxa6, then 34. Ra1 with an advantage for White.

34. Kc1 Bxb1 35. Rxb7+ Qxb7 36. axb7 Rxb7 37. Qa5+ Kb8 38. Qd8+ Ka7 39. c6!

Black’s position is hopeless because his forces have no coordination.

39. ... Rb5 40. Qd7+ Kb6 41. c7 Ne7 42. Qxe7

Even faster is 42. Qd8!.

42. ... Be4 43. exf4 Rb1+ 44. Kd2 Ra8 45. c8=N+ Rxc8 46. Qxf6+ Kb5 47. Qg7!

If 47. hxg5, then 47. ... Ra8 and all of a sudden White’s king feels uncomfortable.

47. ... Ka6 48. fxg5

Black could have resigned, but decided to prolong the game—probably the players were in mutual time trouble.

48. ... Rb2+ 49. Ke3 Rc2 50. Nf6 R8xc3+ 51. Kd4 Rc4+ 52. Ke5 Rxf2 53. Qg8 Rf5+ 54. Kd6 Kb5 55. Qb8+ Ka4 56. Qb2 Rc2 57. Qb6 Rc4 58. g4 Rf3 59. h5 Rb4 60. Qa6+ Kb3 61. h6 Bd3 62. Qa8 Rb6+ 63. Ke5 Rf1 64. h7 Re1+ 65. Kf4 Rb4+ 66. Kg3 Re3+ 67. Kf2 Rh3 68. Qxd5+ Ka4 69. Kg2 Rxh7, Black resigned.

Sicilian Defense, Closed (B23)
IM Luis Ibarra Chami, MEX (FIDE 2386)
GM Alexander Ivanov, USA (FIDE 2547)
Campeonato Continental Absolut Cali COL (3), 07.12.2007

In the following game, Ivanov outplays his young opponent in a very instructive way.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bb5

This is a popular line these days. White takes ideas from the Grand Prix, but keeping his knight on g1, where it has the option of hopping to e2.

3. ... Nd4 4. Bc4 e6 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. 0-0 a6 7. d3 b5 8. Bb3 Nxb3 9. axb3 Bb7

Black has obtained the bishop pair, but his development is lagging. White, on the other hand, has to be very accurate and must keep the b7-bishop locked.

10. Ng3 d6 11. Qe2

More effective is 11. f4 followed by f4-f5.

11. ... Be7 12. f4 b4 13. Nd1 h5!

Ivanov correctly keeps his king in the center and starts the h-pawn march. After 13. ... 0-0 14. f5, White has a strong attack.

14. Ne3 h4 15. Nh1 d5

Black forces the opening of the a8-h1 diagonal, after which his b7-bishop will dominate.

16. e5 Nh5 17. f5 d4 18. Nc4 exf5 19. Nd6+ Bxd6 20. exd6+ Kf8

The king on f8 is safe here.

21. Rxf5 g6 22. Re5 Qxd6 23. Bg5 Kg7

Black is happy with his position as White has no opposition to the b7-bishop.

24. Be7 Qd7 25. Rf1 Rae8 26. Bxh4

Taking the other pawn is deadly: 26. Bxc5 h3 27. g3 Nf6 and Black’s threat of ... Qc6 can’t be stopped.

26. ... f6 27. Rxe8 Rxe8 28. Qf2 g5! 29. Bg3 Re3

Total domination. White is completely stalemated.

30. Bb8

After 30. Re1 Qe6 31. Rxe3 dxe3 32. Qe2 Nf4, White is not doing so good.

30. ... Qe6 31. Ng3 Nxg3 32. Bxg3 Re2 33. Re1 Rxf2 34. Rxe6 Rxg2+ 35. Kf1

The opposite-color bishops give White hope, however Ivanov’s technique is superb.

35. ... Bf3! 36. Bf2

With 36. Rxa6 Rxc2, the queenside pawns fall.

36. ... Rxh2 37. Rxa6 g4 38. Ra5 Rh1+ 39. Bg1 g3 40. Rxc5 Kg6 41. Rc4 Rh2!

A nice finishing touch. Now White’s rook can’t leave the c-file, while Black is threatening to play ... Rd2 and advance his king.

42. Rc8 Kf5, White resigned.

For more on GM Varuzhan Akobian, see our World Open report beginning on page 34. For more on Cali, see the reports on Chess Life Online in the July archives.

Absolute Americas Continental Chess Championships 2007

Location: Cali, Colombia
Date: July 10-20, 2007
Final Standings: 1-5: Julio Granda Zuniga, Alexander Ivanov, Varuzhan Akobian, Darcy Lima and Eduardo Iturrizaga (8). 6-13: Giovanni Vescovi, Manuel Leon Hoyos, Emilio Cordova, Pablo Lafuente, Ruben Felgaer, Everaldo Matsurra, Fernando Peralta and Boris Gulko (7½). 14-22: Sergey Kudrin, Dmitry Gurevich, Jaan Ehlvest (7). Other Americans: Robert Hungaski, (6), 35th-52nd; FM Gregory Markzon, (3½), 100-104; FM Fabio La Rota, (2½), 112th-113th.