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Who Won Recently? Ascending Alexander

Nov 19, 2014
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Amidst the 2014 World Chess Championship that's currently taking place, the Tashir International "Super-tournament" concluded last week in Moscow.




The special event was organized in memory of the 9th World Champion Tigran Petrosian which invited super-GMs from Russia, Armenia (ofcourse!), Israel, China, and Hungary. The event was also visited by Russia's well-known personalities, artists, and politicians.



In the end, it was the grandmaster from Moscow, Russia Alexander "Sasha" Grischuk that emerged victorious in this strong event with a performance rating of 2966!


In this blog, I will feature two of his victories in the first half of the event that made a strong statement to his fellow competitors and to the whole chess world that his time has come!

Gelfand, B. - Grischuk, A.

Petrosian Memorial 2014 2014.11.05



1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Rc1 Be6

a modern treatment of the Grunfeld Defense. With this move, Black forces White to show his hand in the center- to open or close the pawn structure.

7.c5 ( 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5! with active play on the queenside and on the center. A recent GM game showed that Black has equal chances in the ensuing positions. 9.a3 Qa5+ 10.Qd2 Qxd2+ 11.Kxd2 c6 12.Bc4 Bxc4 13.Rxc4 Nd7 14.Nf3 Rfd8 15.Ke2 Nb6 16.Rc2 Rd5 17.g4 Rb5 18.Be5 Nd7 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.h3 Re8 1/2-1/2 20 Pelletier,Y 2577-Vachier Lagrave,M 2758 Saint Quentin 2014)

7... c6 8.Bd3 ( Last year, Grishcuk faced 8.b4 against the creative Ivanchuk8... Nbd7 9.Bd3 but Black obtain good play in the center and kingside just like in the main game9... Nh5! 10.Nge2 f6 11.h4 Bf7 12.Bh2 f5 13.f4 Nhf6 14.Bg3 Ng4 15.Qd2 Ndf6 16.Nd1 Ne4 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.a4 b6 19.h5 gxh5 20.Bh4 Bf6 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 22.Nf2 Kh8 23.O-O Rg8 24.b5 Rc8 25.cxb6 Qxb6 26.a5 Qb7 27.bxc6 Rxc6 28.Rxc6 Qxc6 29.Rc1 Qa6 30.Rc5 Bc4 31.Nc3 Bf1 0-1 31 Ivanchuk,V 2731 -Grischuk,A 2785 Elancourt 2013. This shows that Grishcuk has good memories with this Grunfeld line and middlegame structures.)

8... Bc8!?

Black's development looks ridiculous, but the point is that c5 is not a desirable more and neither is Rc1. He now has a relatively clear plan of breaking on e5 with Nfd7 or, if he chooses to, play b6 and a5 to break open the queenside.

9.h3 ( If 9.Nf3 Grischuk would've probably continued with9... Nh5! gaining the B pair or going for f7-f6 and e7-e5. 10.O-O Nxf4 11.exf4 Bg4)

9... Nfd7! ( Now going to h5 would be pointless9... Nh5 10.Bh2 Nd7 11.Nf3 and Black didn't accomplish much, because if he proceeds similar to the main game with11... e5? (11... f5 (11... f6?? 12.g4 and the h5-N is trapped.) 12.Be2! once again underlines the misplacement of the N on h5.) 12.dxe5 Nxc5 13.g4 Black simply loses material.)

10.Nf3 e5

BD_10663_241_0.pngDiagram #1

Now this break works, allowing his pieces to gain freedom from White's central grip.

11.dxe5 ( 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Bxe5 13.dxe5 Nd7 Black wins back the pawn and obtains equal chances in a middlegame where he can either create play on the center or kingside. 14.O-O Nxe5 Diagram)

11... Nxc5 Black has won back the pawn, and has obtained a positionally promising middlegame. He could now follow up with putting pressure on White's e5P or undermining it with his pieces or f7-f6.

12.Bb1 Nbd7 13.b4

BD_10663_241_1.pngDiagram #2

It's often a good idea to kick out a piece standing on a good square, especially when it's unstable.

13... Ne6 14.O-O ( White cannot afford to retreat because it will give Black time will develop an initiative 14.Bh2 Re8 15.O-O Nc7)

14... Nxf4 15.exf4 Nb6

BD_10663_241_2.pngDiagram #3

Allowing the other bishop to come out, and eyeing the juicy c4-square.

16.Qd4 f6!

BD_10663_241_3.pngDiagram #4

It's always good to open up the game when one has the B pair, coincidentally this move is a good way to pressure White's center and kingside!

17.b5 creating counterplay on the queenside to distract Black from his plan

17... Nc4 ( there was also nothing wrong with defining the central situation right away17... fxe5!? and now if 18.fxe5 Diagram How should Black exploit his better placed pieces over White's uncoordinated army? ( a better reply is 18.Nxe518... Nc4 which could transpose into the main game after 19.Bd3)18... Rxf3!! 19.gxf3 Qg5+ 20.Kh1 ( 20.Kh2 Bxe5+)20... Bxh3 21.Rg1 Qh5 -+ with a winning attack!)

18.bxc6 bxc6 19.Bd3 fxe5 20.Nxe5 Bxe5!

A good decision by Grischuk who accurately calculated and compared the ramifications of the two captures.

( Nxe5 seems natural and effective way to gain an advantage 21.fxe5 Qb6 ( Qe7 22.f4) 22.Ne2! and Grishuk was probably convinced that this isn't the way to go because White has achieved some counterplay on the c-file. ( 22.Qxb6 axb6 23.f4 g5! )22... Bd7 23.f4! )

21.fxe5 Nd2 22.Rfd1 Qg5

BD_10663_241_4.pngDiagram #5

This is the position arising by force, that Grischuk foresaw before playing Bxe5. He correctly assessed that White has difficult problems to solve on his weakened kingside.

23.Qe3 ( If White sidesteps the pin with the natural 23.Kh1 Diagram Black can slowly bring his pieces closer to invade the enemy castle using tactics:23... Nf3!! still works! 24.gxf3? ( 24.Qe3 transposes back to the game)24... Rxf3 and "Everybody's at the party!" 25.Bf1 Bxh3 26.Ne2 ( 26.Bxh3 Rxh3#)26... Bxf1 27.Rxf1 Rh3#)

23... Nf3+ 24.Kh1 Qxe3 25.fxe3 Nxe5

after some fireworks on the kingside, Black transformed his attack into a superior endgame position.


Down a pawn in an ending, White uses a defensive technique of trading as many pawns as he can to increase his drawing chances. The central push also attempts to create pressure on Black d & c pawns while Black is yet to complete development.

26... d4!

Grischuk realizes what his opponent is doing trading pawns and makes it difficult for him to achieve it!

27.Na4 ( 27.Ne2 attacks the dP but unfortunately fails to a forcing sequence from Black27... Nxd3 28.Rxd3 Ba6! 29.Rd2 Rf2 30.Re1 d3 -+ )

27... Rb8 the other rook has awoken

28.Bc4+ Kg7! While bishops are generally superior over knights in open positions, Grishuk understands that his knight is more useful or more powerful in this position so much so that he is even willing to give back material for it!

( Nxc4? 29.Rxc4 Be6 30.Rxc6 Rb4 ( Bxa2 31.Rxd4) 31.Rxe6 Rxa4 = and in both lines only White achieved something to further his cause.)

29.Rxd4 Rb4!

BD_10663_241_5.pngDiagram #6

30.Nc5 Rf2

BD_10663_241_6.pngDiagram #7

By giving back the pawn, Black has gained time to drastically improve his pieces--just compare his pieces now to when they were on move 26! This shows Grischuk's great understanding of dynamics of the game long-term vs. short-term advantages.

31.a3 Rbb2 32.Na4

the best White can do is to harrass the Black pieces away

32... Bxh3! A nice blow. Grischuk shows who's harrassing who!

33.Nxb2 ( 33.gxh3 Rh2+ 34.Kg1 Nf3+ 35.Kf1 Rbf2#)

33... Bxg2+ 34.Kh2 Rxb2

for an exchange Black has gained a strong attack on the exposed White king and two kingside passed pawns.

35.Kg3 g5 including another soldier in the attack and creating a mating net

36.Rcd1 h5 And here comes another one!

37.R4d2 Rxd2 38.Rxd2 Bxe4 Black has a technically winning ending

39.Re2 h4+ 40.Kf2 Ng4+ 41.Kg1 Nf6?!

This was the only inaccuracy Grichuk made, but it doesn't throw away his winning chances.

(The most efficient way to victory was: h3! 42.Rxe4 h2+ 43.Kg2 h1=Q+ 44.Kxh1 Nf2+ fork motif 45.Kg2 Nxe4 -+ with a winning minor piece ending.)

42.Be6 Kg6 43.Re1 Bf3 escorting the pawns to further advance

44.Re5 g4 45.Bf5+ Kh6 46.Bd3 Bd5 White resisted a little more, but Grischuk eventually broke it down to earn a well-deserved win

47.Bf1 g3 48.Bh3 Ne4 49.Be6 Nf2! simplifying into a clearer winning endgame

50.Bxd5 cxd5 51.Kg2 ( If 51.Rxd5 h3 -+ White cannot stop the hP.) d4 52.Rd5 d3 53.a4 a5 54.Kf3 Kg6 55.Rd8 Kf7 56.Rd4 Kf8 57.Rd5 Ke8 58.Rd4 Ke7 59.Rd5 Kf6 60.Rd6+ Kf5

Grishuck has made the time control, and now has more time to work out the winning plan.

61.Rd4 Ke6 62.Rd8 Ke5 63.Rd7 h3! now we see more forking motifs

64.Kxg3 Ne4+ 65.Kf3 ( 65.Kxh3 ( 65.Kh2 d2 -+ )65... d2 66.Kg2 Nd6)

65... h2 66.Kg2 d2 White cannot stop the N-blocking idea on the d-file, so Gelfand resigns. With this win, Grishuk took a commanding lead of this strong event and crossed the live-rating barrier of 2800.

The second game I'd like to examine is Sasha's superb win in round 3 against the formidable  & creative Alexander Morozevich.

Grischuk, A. - Morozevich, A.

Petrosian Memorial 2014 2014.11.06



1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 the solid Chebanenko Slav.

5.Qc2!? A rare line recently played in the top-level. More popular moves here are 5. c5, 5. e3, 5. a4 and 5. g3.

5... g6 Black goes for a solid system with a fianchetto which resembles the Schlecter Variation of the Slav.

(5... dxc4 was played by Karjakin last year, and could be a more testing approach against Qc2 6.e4 b5 7.Be2 e6 8.Rg1 Bb7 9.g4 c5 10.g5 cxd4 11.gxf6 gxf6 12.Nxd4 Qxd4 13.Be3 Qd6 14.e5 Qxe5 15.O-O-O Nd7 16.Rxd7 Kxd7 17.Rd1+ Ke8 18.Qd2 Qc7 19.Bb6 Qe7 20.Qe3 f5 21.Bh5 Rg8 22.f4 Rc8 23.Ba5 Bh6 24.a3 Be4 25.Nxe4 fxe4 26.Qxe4 c3 27.Qd4 cxb2+ 28.Kd2 Qd7 29.Qxd7+ Kxd7 30.Ke3+ Ke8 31.Bf3 Rc1 0-1 31 Williams,S 2463-Karjakin,S 2762 Rhodes GRE 2013)

6.e4 this quick central break is the main idea behind placing the Q on c2.

6... dxe4 7.Nxe4 Bg7 ( Bf5 is not worrisome due to 8.Nxf6+ exf6 9.Qb3 and light-squared B is already being missed on the queenside9... b5 10.Be2 Bg7 ( Bd6 11.Bh6) 11.Qe3+! and White is on top.)

8.Be2 N

( previously played is only 8.Bd3 Nxe4 9.Bxe4 Bg4 = in which Black gained counterplay to reach a balanced middlegame; 31 Doss,J 2344-Rios,E 2160 Dallas 2001.)

8... O-O 9.O-O Bf5 10.Nxf6+ Bxf6 11.Qb3 Qc7

a natural way to react considering there's no more Qb6 possibility. However, Black a more active way of responding:

( Nd7 12.Qxb7 c5! opening up the position is a logical way to exploit White's lag in development & gain compensation for the pawn. 13.d5 ( 13.Rd1 Rb8 14.Qxa6 Ra8 15.Qc6 Qb8! )13... Qb8)


BD_10663_241_7.pngDiagram #8

Making it difficult for Black to complete development.

12... c5 Changing the structure of the game in the hopes of disturbing White's rhythm.

(12... Nd7?! 13.g4 Be6 ( Be4 14.Nd2 Qf4 15.Nb1! a fascinating maneouvre that wins a piece!15... Qc7 (15... Qd6 16.Nc3 Qe6 17.Be3 g5 18.d5 Qe5 19.Rad1 +/- ) 16.Nc3 trapping the e4B.) 14.Bh6 Rfd8 15.Qe3 threatening d4-d515... Nf8 16.Rfe1 with a much better position for White.)


gaining more space is the only way to maintain & increase the advantage.

( 13.dxc5? 13... Nd7 allows Black to obtain harmony among his pieces.)

13... a5?!

when a move like this is played, something must've gone wrong... If this is the follow-up for c5 then maybe the whole c6-c5 idea isn't good.

(13... Nd7? is still not possible due to the same reason ( The best way to minimize damage might've been to prevent g2-g4 with13... h5!? ) 14.Bh6 Rfd8 15.g4 Be4 16.Nd2 +- )

14.Bh6 Re8 15.g4!

Now Grischuk gains more space on the kingside, and cramps Black's army even more.

15... Bc8 16.Rad1 Nd7 17.Rfe1

White has naturally developed all his pieces on active squares while Black is struggling to find good squares for his pieces.

17... Ra6 Creative but insufficient. Nevertheless, Black had to find a way to create counterplay.


BD_10663_241_8.pngDiagram #9

White saw that it was worth giving up a pawn to further improve his pieces

18... Rb6 19.Qe3 Bxb2 20.Bf4! 20... Qd8 21.Ng5

BD_10663_241_9.pngDiagram #10

A nice re-arrangement of pieces to increase pressure on the center and kingside. Notice that Grischuk has found a way to improve piece harmony in every single move that he made-- he is "in the zone."

21... Bd4 22.Qg3!

BD_10663_241_10.pngDiagram #11

And he doesn't stop!

22... e5 23.dxe6 fxe6 24.Bg2 improving the inactive piece in the position "worst-placed piece"

24... e5?! Black tries to shut down the powerful Q+B battery along the h2-b8 diagonal but in turn, weakens the d5-g8 diagonal opening up new possibilities for White.


BD_10663_241_11.pngDiagram #12

With about 10 min on the clock, this was a very good practical decision. Grischuk decides not spend all his time to accurately calculate an forcing winning line and to simply keep the advantages in the position and put the pressure on his opponent instead.

( During the live coverage of the game, a couple of commentators found a forcing way to win: 25.Qh4! 25... Nf6 26.Bd5+ Kg7 27.Nf7 Nxd5! ( Qc7 28.Rxd4 +- ) 28.Bxe5+! this was the key idea that Grischuk had to find otb, and it's not easy to spot it otb ( the human eye will easily be drawn to 28.Nxd8 Nxf4 which looks okay for Black as the White N will soon be caught. 29.Rb1 Rf6! )28... Bxe5 29.Nxd8 the big difference now is that the d & e-files are open for White's rooks!29... Nf4 30.g5 with a winning position.)

25... Rf6 26.Nf3

BD_10663_241_12.pngDiagram #13

Grishuck just keeps putting pressure by making threats, while Morozevich has to find accurate moves with only a few minutes on his clock.

26... Nb6?! a mistake, but Black's position was already difficult to play practically

27.Nxd4 simplest and best

27... exd4 28.Bg5 winning material and preserving pressure on Black's position.

28... Ref8 29.Qe5 Nd7 30.Bxf6 Qxf6 31.Qxf6 Nxf6 ( If Rxf6 32.Re8+ Rf8 33.Rde1 wins for White.)


BD_10663_241_13.pngDiagram #14

The position is already resignable as Black has too many weaknesses for the White pieces to attack to claim any compensation for the exchange.

32... Rf7 33.g5 winning more material

33... Nd7 34.Re8+ Rf8 35.Bd5+ Kh8 36.Rbe1

A nice move to finish off Black's resistance as it includes all pieces in the game, after which Black resigned. This win allowed Grischuk to extend his lead in the event and proves even more that he belongs in the 2800 elite-GM club. I believe that Grischuk has been playing excellent chess this year and this tournament only reveals his consistency and his potential to become a world championship challenger someday.

Congrats to Alexander Grischuk for winning 2014 Tashir Tournament and for becoming the current 3rd-highest-rated player in the world!


Photos by Eteri Kublashvili

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