The Moscow Open has been viewed as a warm-up for the Aeroflot Open, but this year again was pretty strong, with some 73 grandmasters in the 185-player top section.
In an event with over 800 contests, it is tricky to choose one as the crucial game, but a prime candidate is the 8th-round encounter between top-ranked Alexander Motylev and 46th-seeded Konstantin Chernyshov. Motylev with White gained a substantial advantage. A knight on c2 was attacked by a pawn at b3. Motylev could easily maintain his advantage by putting the knight on e1 or a3, or he could even let it be captured on c2. However, he chose to play the knight to a1, attacking the b3-pawn. Black defended the pawn, leaving the knight shut out of play. Motylev had thought that his opponent needed to attend to other matters instead of defending the pawn. In any event, the game continued without either player gaining a decisive upper hand until Motylev showed remorse for his actions by sacrificing the knight for the pawn at b3. Chernyshov later converted his material advantage. He went on to take first place on tiebreak (greater number of victories) over Evgeny Bareev, Le Quang Liem (age 18), and Ernesto Inarkiev.
Farrukh Amonatov of Tajikistan had White against Artur Gabrielian of Russia.
1.e2-e4 e7-e6 2.d2-d4 d7-d5 3.Nb1-c3 Bf8-b4
The Winawer Variation of the French Defence.
4.e4-e5 c7-c5 5.a2-a3 Bb4xc3+ 6.b2xc3 Ng8-e7 7.Qd1-g4
This aggressive attempt to exploit the absence of a dark-square bishop is still the most popular, ahead of the more strategic 7.Ng1-f3 or 7.a3-a4. The unusual 7.h2-h4 scores well.
The main line is still 8.Qg4xg7 Rh8-g8 9.Qg7xh7 c5xd4 10.Ng1-e2 Nb8-c6 11.f2-f4 Bc8-d7 12.Qh7-d3 d4xc3 when White has tried every reasonable move. In about 1,000 master games a year, White scores about 55 per cent from this position.
8...c5-c4 9.Bd3-e2 Ne7-f5 10.Ng1-h3 Nb8-c6 11.Nh3-f4 Bc8-d7 12.Nf4-h5 O-O-O
This seems to be a new position, even though the transfer of the knight to h5 is popular in the Winawer.
13.O-O Rh8-g8 14.Qg4-f4 Qc7-a5 15.Qf4-d2 Rd8-f8 16.Be2-g4 Nc6-e7 17.a3-a4 f7-f6 18.Bc1-a3 f6xe5 19.Bg4xf5 Rf8xf5 20.Nh5-g3 Rf5-f7 21.Ba3xe7 Rf7xe7 22.d4xe5 Re7-f7 23.Ng3-e2 Rf7-f5 24.Qd2-e3 Rg8-f8 25.Ne2-d4 Rf5-f4
A good knight against a bad bishop gives White the advantage, but the game is far from over.
26.f2-f3 g7-g5 27.h2-h3 h7-h6 28.Rf1-b1 Qa5-c5 29.a4-a5 h6-h5 30.Rb1-f1 a7-a6 31.g2-g3 Rf4-f7 32.Kg1-g2 Rf8-g8 33.f3-f4
In general, it is better to advance on the queenside. One cute finish is 33.Rf1-b1 Kc8-b8 34.Rb1-b6 Kb8-a8 35.Ra1-b1 Bd7-c8? 36.Nd4-c6! and White wins because of the threat 37.Rb6xa6+ b7xa6 38.Rb1-b8 mate.
33...g5xf4 34.Rf1xf4 Rf7-g7 35.Rf4-f3 Rg7-g5 36.Qe3-f4 Qc5-c7 37.Rf3-e3 Kc8-b8 38.Qf4-f6 Kb8-a8 39.h3-h4 Rg5-g6 40.Qf6-e7 Rg6-g7 41.Qe7-f6 Rg7-g6 42.Qf6-e7 Rg6-g7 43.Qe7-f6 Rg7-g6
Black could have claimed a draw before making this move, by writing it on the score sheet and claiming a draw by three-fold repetition, as the exact same position would exist after moves 39, 41, and, virtually, 43. White belatedly decides to vary.
44.Qf6-f7 Qc7-d8 45.Kg2-h2 Rg8-g7 46.Qf7-f2 Qd8-c7 47.Re3-f3
White begins a dubious reorganization.
47...Bd7-c8 48.Qf2-e3?! Rg6-g4 49.Qe3-f2?! Qc7xe5 50.Ra1-e1 Rg4xh4+ 51.Kh2-g2 Rh4-e4 52.Rf3-f8 Rg7-c7 53.Re1-f1 h5-h4 54.Rf8-g8 h4xg3 55.Qf2-f8 Re4-h4??
Diagram: Black blunders. Instead, 55...Ka8-b8 should win easily. Now White gets the tactical resolution that he has been craving. At such a high level of play, it would be rare indeed for Black to allow such a combination.
56.Qf8xc8+! Rc7xc8 57.Rg8xc8+ Qe5-b8
Or 57...Ka8-a7 58.Nd4-c6+! b7xc6 59.Rf1-f7+ mates.
58.Rc8xb8+ Ka8xb8 59.Rf1-f8+ Kb8-a7
Two or three pawns can often fight against a knight, but not here.
60.Kg2xg3 Rh4-h1 61.Rf8-f7 Ka7-b8 62.Nd4xe6 Rh1-a1 63.Kg3-f2 Ra1xa5 64.Kf2-e3 Ra5-b5 65.Ke3-d4 a6-a5 66.Rf7-f8+ Kb8-a7 67.Ne6-c7
Black resigned. If 67...Rb5-b1, 68.Kd4-c5 b7-b5 69.Kc5-c6 seals Black's fate.
Canadian Leonid Gerzhoy made a respectable 50-per-cent score and gained rating points.
Young players Artiom Samsonkin and Nikolay Noritsyn tied for first place in the Guelph (Ontario) Winter Pro-Am. Nikita Gusev, 15, who finished third, had the best performance rating (2660) in the tournament, thanks to a win over top-ranked Bator Sambuev, who also lost to Yuriy Kryvoshlyk. Roman Sapozhnikov also tied for third place.
Arnaud Rainfray won the Carnaval tournament at Quebec City, half a point ahead of Nikita Kraiouchkine.
Next weekend sees the Hamilton Winter Open, the RA Spring Open in Ottawa, and the March of Kings tournament in Calgary. The UPEI Spring Active runs Saturday in Charlottetown.