Thursday 18 December 1997
Gelfand - Tkachiev
Azmaiparashvili - Krasenkov
Anand - Almasi
van Wely - Georgiev
Zvyagintsev - Dreyev
Rublevsky - Short
Shirov - Akopyan
Adams - Svidler
Short should stand a good chance against Rublevsky, a 23-year-old Russian whose current rating matches Short's, but who lacks experience at the highest level. The Adams-Svidler encounter, however, looks the most promising battle of the round. These two have produced some of the best chess of the event so far. Here is the game that gave Svidler his place among the last 16:
White: Peter Svidler
Black: Vladimir Epishin
1 e4 e6 23 Rc3 Rc8
2 d4 d5 24 Rfc1 Rc6
3 e5 Bf5 25 b4 Qb6
4 Nf3 e6 26 Qf4 Qc7
5 Be2 c5 27 a4 Ng6
6 Be3 cxd4 28 Qd2 Qxe5
7 Nxd4 Ne7 29 b5 axb5
8 Bg5 Qa5+ 30 axb5 Rb6
9 Nc3 Bg6 31 Nd3 Qd6
10 0-0 a6 32 Rc8+ Kd7
11 h4 h5 33 R1c7+ Qxc7
12 Bd3 Bxd3 34 Rxc7+ Kxc7
13 cxd3 Nbc6 35 Qc3+ Kd7
14 Nf3 Ng6 36 Nc5+ Kd6
15 d4 Be7 37 Nxb7+ Kd7
16 Bxe7 Ngxe7 38 Qc5 Rxb7
17 a3 Nf5 39 Qc6+ Ke7
18 g3 Qb6 40 Qxb7+ Kf6
19 Na4 Qa7 41 b6 d4
20 Nc5 Nfxd4 42 Qc7 d3
21 Rc1 Nxf3+ 43 Kf1 Ne5
22 Qxf3 Ne7 44 b7 resigns
Borrowing an opening idea from Nigel Short's repertoire, Svidler produced a novel interpretation with 12.Bd3 - apparently helping Black by exchanging his bad bishop - then recapturing with the c-pawn.
The idea was to discourage Black from castling K-side, where White has a ready-made attack thanks to the black pawn which had been lured to h5, but without castling Black could not get his rook into play to contest the c-file. The price White had to play for this, however, was to leave himself with a pawn on d4 that needed defending.
Svidler solved that problem by sacrificing it, then offering the e-pawn as well. The basic idea is well known from the Milner-Barry Gambit in the French Defence, but transplanting it to a Caro-Kann is highly unusual.
After 22...Nxe5 23.Qe2 Black would have faced the prospect of a powerful knight sacrifice on e6. As he played, he stayed just one pawn ahead and looked safe enough until 27.a4! increased the pressure. This time, he did take the e-pawn, but after 29.b5, his rook was forced away from c6 and the white rooks broke through down the open file. Black gave up his queen for two rooks, but the position of the rook on b6 proved fatal and Svidler won it with a neat combination.
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