2004 FIDE World Chess Championships
June 18th-July 13th
Tripoli, Libya

Round Two - Game #1

The field is whittling down as 64 players remain. Top-seed Veselin Topalov handily won his first game (against Bulgarian Aleksander Delchev) which ended in a devastating mating attack. The upsets occurring in this round were a bit minor since players were more equal in strength. However, disaster struck when GM Nigel Short tossed a rook in a winning position to Poland's Michal Krasenkow. Short mentioned in an interview that nothing in this format is a given. Certainly, he will put the heat on in game two. Ivan Sokolov and Zurab Azmaiparashvili, were upset in the first game of this round as they were in the first game of the last round.  Both will be pressing for a win, but face formidable opposition in Andrei Kharlov (2593) and Alexander Lastin (2622).

One of the more intriguing games happened to be the longest. Hikaru Nakamura is rapidly developing a reputation for his stubborn approach to chess. He routinely squeezes wins out of positions which seemingly have no life. The American phenom played 102 moves in an exciting brawl against Belarusan Aleksej Aleksandrov.

While the game was exciting throughout, it was perhaps the ending that was more intriguing as it featured two advanced black pawns trying to reach the "promised land." (diagram #1) Black sacrificed a piece to get the pawns rolling, but was tactically rebuffed by the white knight moves 91.Ng3! (diagram #2) and 97.Nh1! Nakamura continued to harass the king and weaved a diabolical mating net (diagram #3).

GM Hikaru Nakamura

GM Hikaru Nakamura
(Photo by Daaim Shabazz)
Black sacs a piece with 87…Bf3!? to win the h-pawn and get his pawns rolling.
On 91.Ng3! if 91...h1(Q)? loses to 92.Nxh1 Kxh1 93.Kg3! when mate is unstoppable. After 101…g2 102.Rd1-d6! Black resigned before 102...Kh5 103.Ng4! g1(Q) 104.Rh6 mate.

Black sacs a piece with 87…Be2-f3!? to win the h-pawn and get his pawns rolling.

On 91.Ne2-g3! if 91...h1(Q)? loses to 92.Nxh1 Kxh1 93.Kg3! when mate is unstoppable.

After 101…g2 102.Rd1-d6! Black resigned before 102...Kh5 103.Ng4! g1(Q) 104.Rh6 mate.

The only other "upset" was the former World Junior champion Peter Acs' win over Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia. This game started quietly and exploded in the middlegame… pieces zipping across the board and tactical cannons blazing. This was perhaps the most exciting game of the round and of course, it ended in a violent mating attack.

Selected Games

GM Aleksander Delchev (BUL) - GM Veselin Topalov (BUL), 0-1
GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS) - GM Vasillos Kotronias (CYP), 1-0
GM Alexij Dreev (RUS) - GM Ruben Felgaer (ARG), 1-0
GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA) - GM Aleksej Aleksandrov (BLR), 1-0
GM Peter Acs (HUN) - GM Sergei Movsesian (SVK), 1-0

Round Two - Game #2

What an eventual round! Perhaps the biggest story of the round was Nigel Short's early exit from the tournament. After a catastrophic blunder in game 1, the Englishman created the type of imbalances needed to go for a win in game 2. In fact, Short appeared to have better than equal chances at the latter stages, but Krasenkow held and will advance to round three. Nakamura has become the youngest player in the tournament and strengthened his fan base by outplaying Aleksandrov for the second time. With energetic play, the young phenom pressed fearlessly for a win and totally dominated. However, he took an "honor draw" by forcing a perpetual check.

The top seeds are cruising along
as Topalov beat his compatriot Delchev after applying pressure and Grischuk crushed Kotronias from the black side of a Marshall Gambit. Michael Adams went on an attacking spree and used an incisive bishop maneuver (Bd3-c2-b3-d5-f7-g6) to help snare the win. The most exciting game of the round was not decisive and featured an interesting matchup. Ye Jiangchuan is the Chinese national coach and of course, an elite player. Known for his vicious attacking style, he would play black against one of his students in the 21-year old Ni Hua.

This game started off as a Taimanov Sicilian and featured dynamic play throughout.  Ni offered a busted king's position for the two bishops, but Ye would not enter this debate. However, Ye equalized and began to push for the initiative and attack. After positioning his pieces in their optimal position, Ye launched an enterprising piece sacrifice with 28…Nc3+!?

Ni took the bait. Soon his king had to run with Ye's pieces in hot pursuit. With black pieces exerting their force, Ni played a counterattacking move and was offered a three-fold repetition after 38…g6. He spurned the offer and tried to win after 40.g4!? Ye decided to take a draw with a bit of flash.  Both would take their chances in the tiebreaks where both are deadly. Ni won a grueling 7-game match in round 1.

In Ni-Ye, after 40.g4!? The game comes to a flashy end with 40…Qxf4+ 41.Qf2 Rxe1+ 42.Kxe1 Qc1+ 43.Ke2 Qd2+ 44.Kf1 Qd1+ 45.Qe1 Qf3+ 46.Qf2 Qd1+.

On the brink of elimination for the second straight round, Azmaiparashvili was losing again, but continued to plug away while Alexander Lastin began to lose his way… ultimately stumbling into a mating net. In yet another exciting game Hamdouchi went for Sergey Kudrin's jugular with a Sveshnikov Sicilian and almost broke through. Kudrin's active and alert play saved the point. Hamdouchi has played well thus far and may have a slight edge in the rapids. In all, there are fifteen (!) tiebreaks to be played. The biggest matchups to be determined are Ivanchuk-Harikrishna, Ye-Ni, Filippov-Van Wely, Nielsen-Radjabov and for the honor of Africa, Hamdouchi-Kudrin. See video clip (Real Player).

Selected Games

GM Michael Adams (ENG) - GM Karen Asrian (ARM), 1-0
GM Vasillos Kotronias (CYP) - GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS), 0-1
GM Ni Hua (CHN) - GM Ye Jiangchuan (CHN), ½-½
GM Vladislav Tkachiev (FRA) - GM Alexander Graf (GER), 1-0
GM Sergey  Kudrin (USA) - GM Hichem Hamdouchi (MAR), ½-½


In this round's tiebreak, very exciting games were played in a number of matches. Three matches subsisted on a diet of draws until the final game. They were: Radjabov-Nielsen, Dominguez-Malakhov and Mamedyarov-Lputian.   In all cases, the first player listed prevailed.  Despite Harikrishna falling, the youth movement is alive and well!

One could not help but to grin at the pairing of  Zvjaginsev-Wojtkiewicz, but one of the most blistering matches on the card was Filippov-Van Wely. Each game was decisive and featured plenty of fighting chess. Filippov played one of the nicest attacking sequences in the tournament in the first tiebreak game.  In this English Opening, Filippov made his intentions known with 15.g4!?

As the game unfolded, Filippov started his stealthy assault by launching the missile
27.Bh3-e6! All of a sudden, there were mate threats all over the place and the attack was unstoppable. Shaken but undeterred, the Dutch attacker tried to regroup, but moves later was hit by two more missiles… 31.Rb8! and 33.Bxf7+! (pow!) leading to mate in all variations. Nice way to close out a strong opponent!

In Filippov-Van Wely, after 27.Bh3-e6! (threatening 28.Qxg6+) Kf8 28.Bd5 Re8 29.Kg2 Bxh2 30.Rb1 Qd2, white played 31.Rb8! Van Wely tried 31…Be5, but was hit by 32.Rxe8+ Kxe8 33.Bxf7+! for a picturesque mating attack.

The two remaining Chinese players Ye Jiangchuan and Ni Hua are both phenomenal at fast time controls and the fire was certainly being spewed between these two Dragons! After trading wins in the two rapids and the two blitz games, fatigue may have caught up with Ni Hua as he played a 7-game match last night with Kazakhstan's Evgeny Vladimirov. Ye, the Chinese national trainer showed his experience. In a wild variation in the Petroff, Ye fished Ni's black King out in the open and through a series of tactics and threats, snared a piece.

In other news,
Hamdouchi continued holding the African banner by ousting Kudrin in a thrilling 7-game match. The Moroccan GM has played well in this tournament and has perhaps rebounded from a stretch of poor results. He will get a tough pairing in round 3 against Michael Adams, but hopefully he will be up to the task. Other matches of note are Bacrot-Rajdabov, Dominguez-Tkachiev, Almasi-Ye and of course, Nakamura-LastinNakamura could defeat Lastin who looked shaky in his match with Azmaiparashvili.

Selected Games

GM Valerij Filippov (RUS) - GM Loek Van Wely (NED), 1-0 (1st rapid)
GM Hichem Hamdouchi (MAR) - GM Sergey Kudrin (USA), ½-½ (1st rapid)
GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) - GM Pentyala Harikrishna (IND), 1-0 (2nd rapid)
GM Vadim Zvjaginsev (RUS) - GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz (USA), 1-0 (2nd rapid)
GM Sergei Movsesian (SVK) - GM Peter Acs (HUN), 1-0 (1st blitz)

2nd Round Games (PGN format)

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 June 2004