Sun-Herald, June 3
After a dramatic last round win against his World Championship conqueror, Garry Kasparov captured first place at the elite Grandmaster tournament in Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan.
Vladimir Kramnik, the BGN World Champion, had led the tournament from the start but, with a slender half point lead going into the final round, everything hung on his match-up with Kasparov on Friday.
In front of a capacity crowd at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Astana, Kramnik cracked under the pressure, mislaying a piece in a difficult but perhaps tenable endgame and handing first prize to his opponent.
The final round was a fitting finish to a tournament which included almost everything except the participation of FIDEWorld Champion Viswanathan Anand.
Held to celebrate 10 years of Kazakh independence, the event featured rowdy crowds, a visit from the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, a power blackout, a continuation of the feud between Kasparov and Alexey Shirov, and a temper tantrum from the local star Darmen Sadvakasov.
Sadvakasov sent his chair flying and stormed off the stage after losing his third round game on time to Boris Gelfand.
However the 22-year-old returned to apologise and later redeemed himself with two gutsy draws against Kasparov.
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1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.a4 Nc6 8.Qe2 Qc7
8...cxd4 9.Rd1 is the classic main line.
9.Rd1!? Bd6 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.b3 0-0 12.Bb2 e5
White's subtle move order, delaying Nc3, obliges Black to play this committal advance.
13.Nc3!? e4 14.Ng5 Bd6?
Played after 40 minutes thought. Sadvakasov may not have liked 14....Bg4!? (normally prevented by 13.h3) 15.Nd5! but the text move is far worse.
15.Nd5! Nxd5 16.Rxd5 Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Be5 18.Qh5! Bf5
On 18...h6, 19.Nxf7! wins at least a pawn.
19.Nxf7!! Rxf7 20.Qxf5! g6
20...Rxf5 allows 21.Rd8 checkmate, while 20...Bxb2 21.Rd7! is also hopeless.
Astana Final scores: 1st Kasparov (Rus) 7/10; 2nd Kramnik (Rus) 6.5; 3rd Gelfand (Isr) 5.5; 4th eq. Morozevich (Rus), Shirov (Spa) 4.5; 6th Sadvakasov (Kaz) 2.