ACP Golden Classic - round 6

Boredom is not at home in the ACP Golden Classic. In the penultimate round, the spectators could enjoy three very complex struggles that resulted in two wins by White and an interesting adjourned game.
 
Today's opening game is the first victory by the creator of this tournament, Grandmaster Emil Sutovsky. In his game against Baadur Jobava, he reacted very precisely to his opponent dubious novelty in an Maroczy Accelerated Dragon (11...Qb8). In a desperate attempt to create some counterplay, Jobava tried the honestly horrendous 13...e6, which left his dark squares hopelessly exposed, and was severely punished by his opponent, who eventually squeezed all the remaining the black pieces on the last rank. Sutovsky finished the Georgian off in a neat and direct style, always opting for the most tactical solution, so that the game - although fairly one-sided - was also fun to watch. Emil is now in an excellent position in the tournament and he will sure be battling it out in the last round to further improve his standings.
 
Vasil Ivanchuk made yet another step towards securing first place in the tournament, by outplaying Krishnan Sasikiran in a d3 Ruy Lopez. Play was balanced for some 17 moves when an inaccuracy by Black (...Qb6-c7) gave White the chance to seize the initiative. The Ukrainian again sank into deep thought and found the best-though-not-too-obvious reply (18.Nd2) and it did not take long for White to emerge with a healthy extra exchange after the liquidation of the centre. Ivanchuk then smothered Black's counterplay in the centre by sacrificing a piece for two pawns and entering a technically won R+2P vs N+B ending, which caused Sasikiran to resign on move 44. Vasil is now on +3 and is the main candidate for the final victory, although on Sunday he will have to cross his men with one of the toughest nuts to crack in this tournament, Anna Muzychuk.
 

photo: Frans Peeters
 
The last game was the clou match of the day between Gata Kamsky and Anna Muzychuk. Kamsky chose a rather rare line of the closed Ruy Lopez by playing the seldom seen combination 8.d3-9.a3, most likely to drive his opponent away from her book. Muzychuk however reacted energetically and kept the balance. Around move 20 White had somehow managed to reach what appeared to be an easier position to play, but again Black reacted as precisely as possible by closing the position (in hindsight Kamsky thought that his earlier Bg5-Bxe7 manoeuvre was not too precise).
 
Possibly this stage of the game is well illustrated by a an exchange of lines between GM Jan Smeets and Kamsky: "Gata, really you did not win this? Wasn't your c4-knight very powerful?" "Yes, but Anna's knight was even more powerful". Slowly but steadily, Black improved her position, and when Kamsky failed to realize that it was time to settle for a draw by playing 31.h4 Muzychuk actually got the upper hand by virtue of the g5-thrust that followed. In the rather dramatic time trouble that was to come, the US GM displayed steel nerves and finally got to the end of the session in what seems to be a slightly inferior position that he should be able to hold. Muzychuk spent almost 15 minutes before sealing her 42nd move, most likely in an attempt to wind a way for making things less easy for White.
 
Tomorrow at 1 pm no less than four adjournments will be played out: Le Quang-Muzychuk, Sutovsky-Sasikiran, Le Quang-Jobava and Kamsky-Muzychuk. A draw would seem to b the likely outcome in at least two of them, but nothing can be given for granted. We will now finally see how the players interacted with their computers to find the resources needed to drive the games home. Don't miss the fun!


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