Saturday, January 31, 2009

Corus 2009. Group C. Round 12.

The great matchup occurred today between the two leaders of Group C, and Wesley So defeated Hillarp Persson to secure first place with nine points. A. Giri is in second place with eight points, and Hillarp Persson in third with 7.5 points. With one round to go, Wesley So needs only a draw to secure sole first place. If So loses to D. Howell in the last round and Giri wins, then So and Giri will have the same number of points in first place. I reckon a tie-breaker will sort that one out. Giri has to play Gupta for the last round, and that's not an easy assignment. If there is a tie-breaker, I think So's only loss to F. Holzke will cost him because Holzke has not performed well---four losses. Giri's only loss was to Hillarp Persson. We will see.

The first game-losing sign for Hillarp Persson came when no good square could be found for his queen. HP had already lost a valuable pawn to the bishop on f4. In the position above, HP played 20. Nb3. Fritz at this point was recommending two king moves : Kf1 or Kd1. That's because it anticipated a possible check on D4 by the knight, and also a discovered check on the E file. So, the sharp player that he is, played 20...Rfc8. This further threatened the white queen. With a rook on c8, Fritz estimated a -+ 3.95 advantage for black. Again, the computer recommended a king move for white, 21. Kf1. But play continued with 21. de5 Be5 Now, the white queen is boxed in. The bloodbath began with 22. Qc5 Nd4+ 23. Qd4 Bd4 24. Nd4 Ne4 25. Rag1 g6 26. Be4 de4 27. h4 Rc4 28. Bc3.

Now, here's a great lesson for all of us. Black converted his advantage in material into a positional advantage, one that gave him open lines of attack. So played 28... Rc3 29. bc3 Qc7 hitting on two pawns 30. Kf1 Qa5 31. h5 Qa1+ 32. Kg2 Qc3 and So won in seven more moves.


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