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

Round Five - Game #1

"Absolutely amazing" is all one can say after the four games in 5th round. All games featured chess combat in the purest forms. While Veselin Topalov and Michael Adams won beautiful games and appear on a collision course to meet in the Finals, the main story was Leinier Dominguez' win over teenage phenom Teimour Radjabov.

Dominguez-Radjabov had to be one of the strangest games in the tournament in that it involved pure tactics from start to finish. Imagine a professional boxing match where both fighters go "full-steam" for 12 rounds. What is clear is that the chess world will now pay more attention to Cuba's #1. He has played impressive chess and is fearless.

Dominguez avoided the Sveshnikov and opted for  the Rossolimo.  Immediately, it was apparent that the "other Beast from Baku" was in a combative mood. The game was no more than eight moves old when the Cuban maestro banged out 9.Ng5?! While many frowned at the move, the maze of tactics and what would follow was pure chess combat!!

Going blow for blow after 9…h6 10.Nxf7 Rh7 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.c3 Nf4!?
(12…Nb6!) it appeared that black would be up a clear piece and a quick win. Dominguez fought back with 16.d4! and had established three menacing central pawns as compensation. In addition, black's king was exposed, pawn structure was bad and pieces uncoordinated.

Cuba's Leinier Dominguez
Cuba Cuba Cuba

Fritz certainly liked white's position and Dominguez (in severe time pressure) worked to get his pawn mass rolling. He finally broke the blockade by trading queens and playing 37.b4! After 37…cxb4 38.Rc6 Bb8 39.d6, black tried to stir counterplay by advancing the passed h-pawn, but was stopped cold with 43.Rc8! After a few more moves, Radjabov resigned.

Kasimdzhanov-Grischuk featured an energetic win by the Uzbek who suddenly has won four games in a row! He is poised to join the "Final Four" if he holds. This game was an Exchange Ruy Lopez, an opening which gave Bobby Fischer so much success. Kasimdzhanov got a lead in development and tightened the vice on black's position.

The entire mid-game Grischuk was seeking to break out of the bind so his two bishops  could run free. Finally, Grischuk got his chance, but his Bg8-b3-c2?? maneuver was hit by
47.Ne6+! attacking the bishop on c5 (diagram). If 47…Kb6 then 48.Rb8+. So Grischuk played 47… Rxe6, but his "knightmare" would end when the last galloping horse later snared the c5-bishop.

After 46…Bb3-c2, white played 47.Ne6+!

After 46…Bb3-c2, white played 47.Ne6+!

Topalov-Akopian was an example of pure technique from start to finish. With his performance, it is hard to see how any player in the field will be able to stop him. Out of a QGA, the queens came off quickly and after some very exciting middlegame play, it was Topalov's bishop versus Akopian's knight. In this battle, the bishop raked the entire board and combined with the advanced white king to begin a slow squeeze. The key moment came when black could no longer protect both sides of the board and eventually ran out of moves.

Adams-Kharlov featured an opening Adams can claim some ownership to. The "English Attack" is still considered a potent weapon against the Sicilian and Mickey Adams used it with great effect.  The queens came off the board fairly early and Adams owned an imposing pawn infantry on the kingside (e4, f4, g4, h4). As in previous rounds, the Englishman played logical moves and continued to improve his position while exploiting weaknesses. Kharlov attempted to get counterplay and got doubled rooks on white's 2nd rank, but Adams ended the game neatly with an "defend and attack" move of 54.Re2!


GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) - GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE), 1-0
GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) - GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS), 1-0
GM Veselin Topalov (BUL) - GM Andrei Kharlov (RUS), 1-0
GM Michael Adams (ENG) - GM Vladimir Akopian (ARM), 1-0

Round Five - Game #2

There have been many criticizing this format for a number of reasons. Some cite the politics involved while others talk about the blitz tiebreakers. While these issues continue to be debated, what cannot not be debated is the amazing battles taking place in Tripoli, Libya in round five!! Veselin Topalov is on 9½-½ and many are wondering whether he can be stopped. Given his spectacular win against Kharlov, not many are betting against him.

Adams held off Akopian's attack to advance and many predict he will meet Topalov in the Finals.  Kasimdzhanov made chess fans around the world believers after taking Grischuk twice in the rapid tiebreaks for a 3-1 victory. If this round had an award for the most exciting match, it would again go to Dominguez-Radjabov, a thrilling 7-game brawl that saw full-contact chess combat. Radjabov wore his "Terminator" sunglasses to send a subtle message.

Now… in perhaps one of the most thrilling games in the tournament, Kharlov-Topalov, Topalov only needed a draw to clinch, but plowed ahead with a speculative piece sacrifice, 22…Nxg4!? Players at the ICC had already marked this as 1-0 when Topalov sacrificed the exchange with 29…Rxe4! Unbelievable!

Topalov kept the pressure and after 44.fxg5 Bf3 45.Rh2 Bxh2+ 46.Rxh2
Rf4!! his plan was starting to come to light. After 47.Bxf4 Qxf4, but the black pawns started marching up the board and Topalov finished the game with a beautiful combination. This game will be the subject of analysis for quite some time. Truly a masterful performance!

Final Position: Kharlov-Topalov

Final Position: Kharlov-Topalov, 0-1

In Radjabov-Dominguez, the two combatants entered a sharp Najdorf, but the Cuban played  8…Qa5!? Instead of either 8…Qc7 or 8…Qb6. This was last seen in Luther-Quesada, in the 2003 Carlos Torre Memorial. Quesada, also of Cuba, lost but it was suspected that Dominguez was familiar with the game. In the middlegame, Radjabov pushed forward with 14.Ne4 Nxe5 15.Nd6+ Ke7 16.Qb3 Qa4 17.Qb6! Black was suddenly lost. Black's queen was trapped and Dominguez was facing certain material losses. He sacrificed an exchange, but soon resigned a hopeless position.

Grischuk-Kasimdzhanov was a wild encounter as the young Russian went right after the win. In a very complicated middlegame, Grischuk fought hard to keep the position dynamic and coveted his bishop pair going into the endgame. Unlike their previous encounter, the two bishops sliced across the board and dominated the two knights. In severe time-pressure, Kasimdzhanov was unable to contain the powerful bishops, nor stop the strong e-pawn and resigned.


GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE) - GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB), 1-0
GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS) - GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB), 1-0
GM Andrei Kharlov (RUS) - GM Veselin Topalov (BUL), 0-1
GM Vladimir Akopian (ARM) - GM Michael Adams (ENG), ½-½


Both tiebreaks were reminiscent of gladiator battles with both sets of combatants fighting to the end. The first Kasimdzhanov-Grischuk game was a positional Ruy Lopez with the first set of pawns being traded on move 22. Pieces suddenly vanished from the board and the ending became tactical… white  a pawn up. Kasimdzhanov sacked his extra pawn as his rook zipped around the board ultimately winning Grischuk's remaining pawns. In the second rapid tiebreak,  Grischuk played h3 and g4 instead of the h4-h5 idea (game #1). However, the game took on a position tone… pieces prodding and probing for 30 moves. Finally, the game exploded and another tactical ending occurred… Grischuk two pawns up. However, Kasimdzhanov never gave up and kept creating tactical threats on Grischuk's exposed king. Grischuk fell into a maze of traps and lost a rook from a discovered check.

Dominguez-Radjabov was one of the most exciting tiebreak matches of the tournament. Granted, all the games were drawn and there were a number of errors made, but the battles were brutal! Here's a synopsis… Rapid #1 - Radjabov sacrificed a piece early and appeared to have little compensation, but in a time scramble Dominguez hung a piece and the game was drawn. Rapid #2 - Grandmaster Draw. Blitz #1 - Radjabov outplayed the Cuban master, but Dominguez got counterplay and Radjabov had to force a draw. Blitz #2 - A Najdorf with 6.Bg5 that exploded immediately, but by the endgame, Radjabov was a pawn up (again). He tried to win with 82…b4! and actually netted a piece but the game ended in an unwinnable B+N+K vs. N+K. Sudden Death - Dominguez made a mistake and went into Radjabov's Sveshnikov Sicilian allowing his opponent to make instant replies. The game was a tactical slugfest and ended up in a frantic rook ending. In the end, the Cuban could not force a win and conceded the match. What a valiant effort by the Cuban… he has certainly won a number of new fans!

Tiebreak Games

GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov (UZB) vs. GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) vs. GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE)

5th Round Games (PGN format)

Posted by The Chess Drum: 29 June 2004