The first games of the Round 3 of the World Chess Cup were played on Saturday, September 3 in Khanty-Mansiysk. At this stage the strongest players begin to meet each other. All the remaining participants undoubtedly belong to the world chess elite.
In two games Black faced 1.e4 and selected the super-solid Berlin Defense, which was nicknamed “The Berlin Wall” after the Kramnik-Kasparov match in London, 2000.
The majority of games in this variation indeed ends in a draw, but today the wall was breached: the highest rated player Sergey Karjakin (Russia) fell under pressure of Judit Polgar (Hungary), and Igor Lysyj (Russia) lost to Leinier Dominguez (Cuba). Polgar played an inspired game – carried out the standard e5-e6 break, invaded Black’s queenside with her bishop, and literally traded down the opponent’s soldiers.
The game between Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 2757, #9 in the world) and Alexander Morozevich (Russia, 2737, #17) was also in the spotlight today. Grischuk, playing White, decided to counter Morozevich’s pet French Defense by the old-fashioned gambit variation, where White sacrifices a pawn for the initiative.
Black fell behind in development, and his queen got stuck on the kingside. In order to castle and connect his pieces, Morozevich sacrificed two pawns, but the compensation appeared insufficient, and Grischuk converted his advantage after very sharp and nervous struggle spiced up by mutual time trouble.
Gata Kamsky (USA) won as White against Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia), while local player Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia) also utilized the White pieces, defeating Baadur Jobava (Georgia). The only win with Black was achieved by Emil Sutovsky (Israel), who defeated Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine). The achievement of the Israeli grandmaster is highly remarkable, as earlier Sutovsky mentioned that he never ever won against Ivanchuk, losing six times and making six draws.
The Ukrainian grandmaster Alexander Moiseenko put up a heroic resistance and saved half a point against David Navara (Czech Republic). A very tense game between good friends – Ruslan Ponomariov and Zakhar Efimenko (both from Ukraine) – also ended in a draw. Two games ended quickly and without much fight – Vladimir Potkin (Russia) drew with Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), and Etienne Bacrot split the point with Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan).
The return games of the Round 3 will be played on Sunday, September 4.