What a fabulous chess day in Amsterdam! by Yuri Garrett
For all those who lament the return of the "nostalgic" envelope (and, although the press is less eager to point this out, of the generous 5-hour time control) enter round 5 of the ACP Golden Classic and its three wildly interesting games.
While Vasil Ivanchuk took his rest day, Gata Kamsky was confronted with the task of overcoming Krishnan Sasikiran with the Black pieces if he wanted to catch him on top of the standings. The former World-Champion finalist was very cautious in the opening phase and spent quite some time in obtaining the unbalanced position he was looking for in a Nimzo-Indian. Both sides castled (late) on the queenside with a rather explosive pawn structure both in the center and on the kingside. Sasikiran's 20th move was far from precise and Black immediately got the upper hand with some power play in the centre and on the queenside.
All his pieces got into action while White was left on the defensive side. Sasikiran's second mistake (32.Qe7) was mercilessly punished by Gata, who immediately played the Zwischenzug 32...Qd3+ which netted him two minor pieces for the rook, with a very strong attack to follow. Eventually Sasikiran was forced to give away another exchange and, although he got a couple pawns in the process, he was never even in sight of equalizing. Both parties reached move 40 around the end of the session, and it was Kamsky who had to adjourn the game on move 41. Gata took all the time he felt he needed before he played the ultra-precise 41.Nc3 on the board, leaving no suspense as to the sealed move. It appears that White has almost no chance to save the game, so it is unclear whether the game will ever be resumed at all. In both cases, Kamsky will join Ivanchuk in the lead of the tournament.
The other adjourned game of the day was a very complex and interesting Najdorf Sicilian between Baadur Jobava and Liem Le Quang. White emerged with some advantage from the opening, thanks to his centralized pieces and the weak e6 pawn, but on move 26 could not resist the temptation to sacrifice some material: "I was considering some normal move like 26.Bd2, but once you see Bxh6 how can you refrain from playing it?" And play it he did, obtaining as a result an inferior position in which his opponent played more or less like a machine...
Le Quang, once again, revealed his forced move (41...Ke5) at the time of sealing, however this time he was rather grateful for the opportunity to take a break and have the chance of analyzing the game at home - without having to crunch all of his opponent's tactical resources over the board. The adjourned position, which according to the engines favours Black, is still ripe with play and Black's exposed king and the fast-running 'h' pawn could well give White more chances that one might expect. Will Jobava find his way to a perpetual? Will he trick his opponent and unexpectedly win the game? Or will Le Quang display steel nerves and carry the point back home? Stay tuned!<br><br>
The only finished game of the day was an amazing combat between Anna Muzychuk and Emil Sutovsky. Anna countered Emil's Caro-Kann with the ultra sharp h4 line of the Advance Caro-Kann, and sure had to remember quite some analyses when Sutovsky continued with the rather unusual ...h6-...Be4 combo. In the chaotic play that followed, White managed to move only his pawns and the light-squared bishop for no less than 14 moves (a remark by GM Ivan Sokolov), while Black lost his right to castle, exposed his king and sacrificed a pawn in the process. By move 16, White had all her remaining pieces but one on the first rank and Black's development could be easily dubbed as "original".
White played her only trump, i.e. a pawn attack on the king, which however never came near to winning the game and Sutovsky (who was ready to give away his queen in one of the main lines) seemed set to a remarkable victory... If only Anna had not found the fabulous 22.Nd2!!, an almost magical knight development (!) which practically keeps the balance! After some precise, yet wild play from both sides, the game ended rather justly in a repetition after 31 moves. A breathtaking exchange of blows!
The total adjourned games is now four, and all games are to be played out on Saturday.