Thursday, February 26, 2009


IM Pavel Ponkratov - GM Wesley So

Round 2
Aeroflot 2009

One more time the Aeroflot game chosen by the voting in the forum is to feature the young Filipino talent GM Wesley So. He will play against one of the highest rated international masters Pavel Ponkratov. Ponkratov toppled yesterday the imprecise play of GM Li Chao B and today will surely go for a win again seeking his GM norm. Ponkratov is young, yet very experience player, who has participated in the Russian team championships, the world youth championship, and many strong opens. His last tournament was the Moscow Open, where he scored 6,5/9 and finished 14th with TPR 2700, showing that he is currently in top form and that his rating does not reflect his strength. Talking about his opponent today, GM Wesley So's rating is also higher as he has virtually crossed the 2650 mark. Winning today will send Wesley So in the virtual top 100 of the world. It is clear, a good chess battle with fighting chess expects us today at Aeroflot.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 weakening Black's control over the d5-square

7... a6 forces White's knight back

8.Na3 b5 8...b5 was Sveshnikov's innovation, controlling c4 and threatening ...b4 forking White's knights, there are deep theoretical books on the continuations after that move

9.Nd5 Be7 moves are flying in the opening of the game, both players seem comfortable and respond immediately. Today we see Sicilian defence, Pelikan and Sveshnikov variation, as already mentioned. It was was pioneered by Evgeny Sveshnikov and Gennadi Timoshchenko in the 1970s. In this variation the move 9. Nd5 by white leads to a quiter variation and the standart continuation for black is 9...Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6

10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4 c3 was another alternative where white prepares to bring the knight on a3 back into play with the manoeuvre Na3-c2-e3

11... b4 12.Nc2 O-O 13.Qf3 Taking the pawn 13.Ncxb4 Nxb4 14.Nxb4 Qb6 15.Qd2 Rb8 16.Nd3 would lead to unclear play despite the material advantage, as black could have sharp game with active pieces.

13... Bg5 Wesley So has calculated the Ncxb4 move mentioned above and invites white to play it. Better for them will be Bd3.

14.h4 Bh6 15.g4 Bf4 Wesley So preffers to play with a pawn less for a while, but having an active position, rather than playing f6 and defending.

16.Nxf4 Qa5 or exf4 are possible continuations. The first result of the day is fact as Vaganian and Aleksandrov sign the draw.

16... exf4 Qxf4 seems forced, although it leads to an equal game with dangerous black activity. IM Ponkratov realizes this and is looking for alternatives.

17.Qxf4 Ne5 Lysyj - Vitiugov draw

18.Be2 18... Bxg4! if 19.Bxg4, then Wesley So wins the queen with 19... Nd3. White's idea with this move is give the pawn back for an open g file.

18... Bxg4 19.Ne3 Be6 20.h5 White is following the plan mentioned above, with open g file and kingside advance.

20... f6 Rg1 and Qg3 are in white's ideas

21.Rg1 Rc8 can be counterplay for black, Qe7 or Ra7 are the defensive plans. Do not forget at the same time you can follow live Kamsky - Topalov where an interesting opening choice is being made. Note: the move transmission from Aeroflot is down.

21... Qe7 22.Qh4 moves reported by our users, not confirmed by official site

22... Rae8 Inaccuracy by Wesley So, allowing f4

23.f4 a possible line leading to winning continuation for Ponkratov is 23... Nf7 24.f5 Bc8 25.Nd5 Qe5 26.Nxf6+ and if 23... Qa7 24.c5 Qxc5 25.Qg3 Re7 26.fxe5

23... Nc6 24.O-O-O b3 25.axb3 Rb8 26.Rg3 Rxb3 White is material up and will double the rooks on the g file

27.Rdg1 Kh8 28.Rxg7 Qxg7 29.Rxg7 Kxg7 Very superior position for white, black has no chances for a draw.. except if we do not witness a blunder like yesterday.

30.Qg3 Kh8 31.f5 Rg8 32.Qh4 Rg5 33.fxe6 Very interesting game, where Wesley So tried again his specialty, unconventional traps in the middlegame. This time Ponkratov refused to enter in the complications and followed a steady plan on the open g file to reach the final victory. See you again tomorrow with the live commentary from Aeroflot on! 1-0

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