The sixth round featured games between numbers one and two on the leaderboard in all three groups. Anastasia Nazarova, as white, had had problems typical of a Sicilian gone wrong – bad harmony between pieces, worse pawn structure – when she let her rook be trapped in the middle of the board. The ensuing loss of the exchange would have been hopeless, so she tried a desperado attack. Her opponent Mai Narva was on the alert and they now share the lead with 5/6.
After the following game, Keinänen is two points ahead with three to play, and faces the nearest pursuer, Ilja Semjonovs, in the seventh round at 10 am on saturday the 17th.
Marat Askerov – Toivo Keinänen
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 b5
A relatively new way of treating what can be called the main line of the open Catalan.
Ancient wisdom would have it that you cannot allow such holes on your queenside, at least not without hitting a knight on c3. The c4-pawn will obviously be lost, a recent game Ding Liren – Magnus Carlsen went 9.Nfd2 Nd5 10.Nxc4. But black gets active piece play; particularly the bishop on c8 is often the problem in the traditional lines, nothing of the sort in this game.
9.Bg5 Ba6 10.Nbd2
10…b3 11.Qc1 Nc6 12.Nxc4 Nb4 13.Nfe5 Rc8 14.Na5 c5
15.Nac6 Nxc6 16.Nxc6 Qd7 17.Nxe7+ Qxe7 18.d5
The entire sequence 10-17 was very natural, though there were alternatives. It already feels a little awkward for white, but no real damage has been done. After for instance 18.dxc5 Bxe2 19.Re1 Rxc5 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Qe3 black can’t really expect to win. It’s not easy to give a pawn so early with white…
18…exd5 19.Bxd5 c4 20.Re1 h6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6
But this simply very annoying. It’s now essential to prevent c4-c3 with the less-than-aesthetic 22.Rb1. The next move also crucially opens the line c2-f2.
22.e4 c3 23.e5
The main problem is 23.bxc3 Rxc3 24.Qb2 Rxg3+. If the queen goes elsewhere on move 24, the passer on b3 is too strong.
23…Qb6 24.e6 cxb2 25.exf7+ Kh8
26.Qxb2 Rc2 27.Qxc2 bxc2 28.Re8 Qc5 29.Rae1 g5 30.Bb3 Bd3 31.Rxf8+ Qxf8 0-1
In the seniors, the next pair were a full point ahead.
Kalle Peebo – Yrjö Rantanen
1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. g3 g6 5. d4 cxd4 6.Qxd4
White changes course after seeing g6, but the white pieces don’t play very well together in what follows.
6… Nf6 7. e5 Nc6 8. Qa4 Ng4 9. exd6
After 20 minutes’ thought. He will have considered 9…Qb6 10.Nd1, when 10…Qb4+ 11.Qxb4 Nxb4 12.Nd4 e5 13.a3 exd4 14.axb4 Bxd6 is a forced possibility, and black must be doing well.
10. Bg2 Qe6+
I think this enticed Yrjö, but firstly there is now 11.Kf1!?, typical of these g3-Sicilians…
11.Ne2 Bd712. h3 Nge5 13. Qb3
…and after the engines’ 13.Ng5 Qc4 – other queen moves don’t convince either – 14.Qxc4 Nxc4 15.b3 Bg7 16.c3 white has everything in order.
13…Qxb3 14. axb3 Nxf3+ 15. Bxf3 Nb4
16. Be4 O-O-O 17. c3
17.Bd2 Bc6 18.Bxb4 Bxe4 19.0-0 Bg7 would be a better version, but black has an obvious advantage.
17.Bc6 18. cxb4 Bxe4 19. Rg1
It may have been possible to castle, but of course white was concerned about 19.0-0 Bd3 20.Re1 Bxe2 21.Rxe2 Rd1+ 22.Kg2. However 22…Bh6 23.Bxh6 Rxa1 24.Rxe7 must be an easy draw – of course black doesn’t need to play 22…Bh6 (or 19…Bd3 for that matter).
19…Bg7 20.Nc3 Bc2
Surely 20…Bf3 wuold have ended the game quickly, but this is more than sufficient.
and black converted his advantage in a leisurely manner, deciding the game with a typical exchange sacrifice:
42… R6xd4 43.cxd4 Rxd4 44.Rb2 Bd5 45.Ree2 Rxb4
and the passed pawns forced white to resign on the 57thmove (0-1).