Sunday, 24 October 2010

Taking out the backmarkers

Back in the old days, when the top chess tournaments were huge affairs consisting of 16 or more player round robins, cleaning up the back markers was a vital part of winning the event. In part this was because the field often consisted of a 3 or four leading contenders, a solid middle, and 3 or 4 player who were there as a favour to the organisers. And if you didn't beat the bottom four, then you could be sure some one else would.
These days the top tournaments are more of a cosy little club, with the 2750+ players meeting 3 or 4 times a year, and no real cannon fodder at the bottom. However the strategy of pounding on the back markers hasn't really gone away, as shown by the current tournament in Nanjing.
At the halfway point Carlsen is well and truly in form, score 4/5, with wins over Bacrot, Yue, and Topalov. However the suprising second is Etienne Bacrot, who before the event might well have been the main target for the other 5 players. After starting with 0.5/2, he has won his last 3 games to be half a point behind Carlsen. Anand is sitting on 50% while the other 3 players are in negative territory.
The second half of the tournament may become a real struggle for Topalov and Yue, as the other 4 players look at picking up vital points from the stragglers.

Carlsen,Magnus - Topalov,Veselin [C84]
Pearl Spring, 24.10.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Re1 Bd7 12.c3 Ra8 13.Rxa8 Qxa8 14.d4 h6 15.Nf1 Re8 16.Ng3 Qc8 17.Nh4 Bf8 18.Ng6 Na5 19.Nxf8 Rxf8 20.Bc2 Re8 21.f4 Bg4 22.Qd3 exf4 23.Bxf4 Nc4 24.Bc1 c5 25.Rf1 cxd4 26.cxd4 Qd8 27.h3 Be6 28.b3 Qa5 29.Kh2 Nh7 30.e5 g6 31.d5 Nxe5 (D)
[32.dxe6 Nxd3 33.exf7+ Kf8 34.Bxh6+ Ke7 35.fxe8Q+ Kxe8 36.Bxd3] 1-0


Anonymous said...

how many club players would resign after the line you give, ending in Bxd3 Is Q+N vs R+B+B+N a clear win? will have to check it out on the board...- Peter

Shaun Press said...

While plenty of club players might play on with rook and three v queen and 1, the knight on h7 is also going shortly. Of course even this may not be enough for 'some' club players to resign, butI'm sure most GM's would, at least against other GM's.
BTW The line I gave at the end wasn't the best line, just the most interesting. Another choice was to play Rxe6 and give up the piece, but I guess Topalov decided this was just as hopeless.