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

Round Three - Game #1

There were a few exciting encounters in round three of the FIDE Knockout tournament, but the story of this tournament is quickly becoming the performance of 16-year old Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamara who is on a winning rampage.

It appears that his opponents have not figured out his style and in such a short match, it can be costly. Playing
GM Alexander Lastin, Nakamura got a good position out of the Queen's Gambit Meran. The Russian then overextended his queenside and Nakamura immediately launched an attack on the exposed king.

Lastin was able to hold the position together, but ended up a pawn down with another yet to be lost. Smelling blood, Nakamura kept throwing hammerblows like
29.Nd6! forcing a better ending.  The last blow would be 44.Rdd4! which put the Russian in virtual zugzwang. After simplification, Lastin resigned before Nakamura would prove to win by a kingside pawn phalanx.

GM Hikaru Nakamura

GM Hikaru Nakamura

In Dominguez-Tkachiev,  this game featured amazing piece play as it appeared that both sets of pawns barely moved. Dominguez' long-range attacking moves including a geometric queen maneuver (Qd1-h5-h3-b3-b7) which penetrated black's weakened kingside and secured the win. At age 20, Cuba's Dominguez is one of the brightest stars of is certainly on a mission. A nice geometric maneuver was also seen in Kharlov-Leitao ending in a mating net.

Adams-Hamdouchi was an exciting encounter that featured a dynamic Sicilian. Hamdouchi tried to conjure up complications right from the start after 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4.0-0 Bd7 5.Re1 Nf6 6.h3 a6 7.Bf1 g5!? Adams ignored the pawn for the time being and decided to play logical moves and improve his position. This proved to be wise as Hamdouchi tried too hard to complicate the game and his position fell into disrepair.

Another match that had the attention of the chess world was
Bacrot-Radjabov, two former child prodigies. There was nothing remarkable about the first game and it ended in an uneventful draw.  To be truthful, Veselin Topalov looks unstoppable at this point. His play since getting off the delayed plane from Bulgaria has been like that of a killing machine. He has dismantled opponents one-by-one and Sergei Movsesian was just the latest… another kingside attack, another victim.

Zoltan Almasi is just one of the many talented players out of Hungary and this performance in game 1 against Ye Jiangchuan was nothing less than a lesson on attacking the enemy king.

Ye never got his queenside initiative and Almasi played 
23.Rf1-f5! (diagram) 23…Rfe8 24.Rh5 Bf8 25.Rg1. With several pieces aimed at his king, Ye attempted to quell the attack by sacrificing a piece for two pawns with 25…Ng7 26.fxg7 Bxg7, but white's attack never ceased and Ye resigned in a hopeless position.

This could very well be one of the most exciting matches of the round, but the Chinese Dragon will have to fight back in game 2… and he certainly will!

After 23.Rf5! Rfe8 24.Rh5 Bf8 25.Rg1 Ye, opted for 25…Ng7 26.fxg7 Bxg7, but white’s attack was still too strong.

(after 23.Rf1-f5!)

Selected Games

GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA) - GM Alexander Lastin (RUS), 1-0
GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) - GM Vladislav Tkachiev (FRA), 1-0
GM Veselin Topalov (BUL) - GM Sergei Movsesian (SVK), 1-0
GM Andrei Kharlov (RUS) - GM Rafael Leitao (BRA), 1-0
GM Zoltan Almasi (HUN) - GM Ye Jiangchuan (CHN), 1-0

Round Three - Game #2

As expected Topalov and Adams advanced after drawing their games. Topalov cooled off after five consecutive wins. He will save his energy for stronger opposition in the round of 16. Adams had to beat off an attack from Morocco's Hamdouchi, but held and ended a nice run by Africa's highest-rated player.

Lastin -Nakamura was interesting. Nakamura opted for a complicated Slav when a much more quiet system seemed appropriate for a draw. The game was tense throughout as Lastin made the first lunge with 8.Ng5 and 9.Qh5.  Lastin later sacrificed a central pawn to gain time in developing an attack formation. As white bore into black's camp, the black queen had to scurry back from her feast of white pawns to help her king. Nakamura hunkered down anticipating the assault. Lastin threw a pawn storm at the black king and sacked a rook with 38.Rxf7+. The move sequence would only be good for a draw and Nakamura would advance to the "Sweet Sixteen."  Internet Chess Club members were definitely pro-Nakamura.

Tkachiev-Dominguez was an exciting encounter, but the Cuban maestro was simply too much for the Frenchman. Dominguez, who's compatriot Lazaro Bruzon was  eliminated earlier in the tournament, has played in a very energetic fashion  and showed a keen tactical eye in mowing down Tkachiev. Dominguez is the only remaining non-Western player left in the field as both Ye Jiangchuan and Hamdouchi were eliminated.

In the second game,
Zdenko Kozul of Croatia was caught in an opening disaster that left him a rook down… with compensation being a formidable army of pawns. (diagram) As Sergei Rublevsky tried to unravel his position and free his extra rook, he dropped two queenside pawns and all of a sudden, Kozul had an unstoppable pawn avalanche on the queenside! Amazingly, black resigned and the "Croatian Sensation" advanced!

In Kozul-Rublevsky, after 24...Qe7. Black is a clear rook ahead, but manage to lose the game.

In Kozul-Rublevsky, after 24...Qe7, black is a clear rook ahead, but manage to lose the game amidst complications.

Veteran Alexander Beliavsky moved on to the round of 16 as did Andrei Kharlov and Michel Krasenkow (who famously upset Nigel Short last round). There were a total of six matches yet to be decided. They are: Aronian-Smirnov, Filippov-Grischuk, Ivanchuk-Kasimdzhanov, Mamedyarov-Nisipeanu, Sakaev-Dreev and  Bacrot-Radjabov(!).

Selected Games

GM Alexander Lastin (RUS) - GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA), ½-½
GM Vladislav Tkachiev (FRA) - GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB), 0-1
GM Michal Krasenkow (POL) - GM Sergei Zvjaginsev (RUS), 1-0
GM Alexander Beliavsky (SVK) - GM Ashot Anastasian (ARM), 1-0
GM Zdenko Kozul (CRO) - GM Sergei Rublevsky (RUS), 1-0


While the playoffs were interesting, there were not many "upsets." Alexander Grischuk demonstrated his power in the blitz tiebreaks, winning both over Valerij Filippov. Except for Rustem Kasimdhzanov's victory over Vasilly Ivanchuk and  Pavel Smirnov's sudden-death victory over Armenia's Lev Aronian, the favorites advanced. In the Smirov-Aronian finalé, the game started with the Open variation of the Ruy Lopez, but Aronian got the worse of it and summarily dropped a pawn. Surprisingly, his king started a march up the board much like the goalie moving forward in stoppage time in soccer. Aronian only had to draw to advance, but in the time scramble, blundered an exchange and the former World Junior Champion was eliminated.

in the Sakaev-Dreev second rapid, the two gladiators slugged it out with Sakaev breaking on top after four straight draws (including a very humorous 86-move draw). In the second blitz game, it appeared as if the tournament was over for Dreev, but Sakaev fell into time pressure and blundered away a won position. Dreev won the sudden death game handily and will advance.   

Probably the most intensely-watch match had to be
Bacrot-Radjabov and they saved the best for last! The two former prodigies slugged it out it a fast-paced, all-out brawl! In an intense King's Indian, Radjabov gained the initiative and charged ahead with 27…Nf3! and after a long tactical skirmish the other "Beast from Baku" played the crushing 34…Rxg2! (diagram) Bacrot resigned a few moves later.

Radjabov earlier played 27…Nd4-f3! and after a long tactical squirmish fot the above position and played 34…Rxg2! Bacrot resigned a few moves later.

(after 34…Rf2xg2!)

Selected Games

GM Rustam Kasimdhzanov (UZB) - GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR), ½-½ (1st rapid)
GM Alexij Dreev (RUS) - GM Konstantin  Sakaev (RUS), ½-½ (2nd rapid)
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) - GM Peter-Heine Nielsen (ROM), 0-1 (2nd rapid)
GM Etienne Bacrot (FRA) - GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE), 0-1 (2nd rapid)
GM Pavel Smirnov (RUS) - GM Lev Aronian (ARM), 1-0 (sudden death)

3rd Round Games (PGN format)

Posted by The Chess Drum: 24 June 2004