Dutch GM Jan Werle took first place in Lodi (Italy), where the third International chess festival was held in June 8 to 10. Werle scored 4.5 points out of 5, winning on tie break over Ukrainian GM and Elo-favourite Sergey Fedorchuk; eight players finished on 4: Croatian GM Mladen Palac, Belgian GM Vadim Malakhatko, Slovakian WGM Regina Pokorna, Filipino IM Roland Salvador, Italian IM Sabino Brunello, Croatian GM Robert Zelcic, Bulgarian GM Aleksander Delchev and Serbian GM Mirlojub Lazic. It was a very strong tournament indeed and it's just a pity that it is so short. I've already written about Karjakin's simul in yesterday's post: it's not clear why the young Ukrainian GM didn't take part in the main event, as previously announced by the organizers, but the festival was a great success anyway. Official site: http://www.lenuvole.org/. You can find a photo-gallery of the "simultaneous exhibition under the stars" on Messaggero Scacchi, at www.messaggeroscacchi.it/dblog/articolo.asp?articolo=68.
Great fight today in Elista, where round 5 of the world candidate matches was played. Main news of the day come from the Russian derby: Sergey Rublevsky stroke back to level the duel against compatriot Alexander Grischuk, after a tough battle of 66 moves. But the longest game of the day, as usual :-), was between Shirov and Aronian: the Spanish GM probably had a winning position at some point, but the Armenian defended actively and a draw was finally agreed on move 84. Hungarian GM Peter Leko also missed a good chance to beat his opponent, Russian Evgeny Bareev, and a totally drawn position was reached on move 52; Leko is half a point from winning the match now. Last but not least, Gata Kamsky sacrificed the exchange against Boris Gelfand, but didn't get more than a draw from his position (and had to defend correctly not to lose another game). Gelfand, as well as Aronian, lead 2.5-1.5. Official site of the event: http://globalchess.eu/main.php. You can find a WCM section on my Italian site, www.messaggeroscacchi.it (direct link: www.messaggeroscacchi.it/mondo/candidati07.html).
The 3rd European Union championship will start on June 15 in Arvier (Aosta Valley, Italy). Top seed players (last update of players list on May 31) are Bulgarian GM Aleksander Delchev (2600), German GM Thomas Luther (2586), Serbian GM Nikola Sedlak (2575), Swedish GM Evgenij Agrest (2561), Italian GM Michele Godena (2558), Croatian GM Nenad Sulava (2549), Irish GM Alexander Baburin (2545), Lithuanian GM Sarunas Sulskis (2528), Italian IM Fabiano Caruana (2523) and French GM Eric Prié (2513). I don't think EU championship will make sense for a long time: EU countries are growing in number and in a few years EU and Europe should include the same and identical territories... Official site: http://www.scacchivda.com/.
And now here is the decisive last round game between Jan Werle and Milan Mrdja in Lodi: the winner would have taken the first place...
Werle,J. (2556) - Mrdja,M. (2367) [A70], Lodi 10.6.2007
1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c5 4.d5 Nf6 5.e4 d6 6.Nf3 0–0 7.Bd3 e6 8.h3 exd5 9.cxd5 b6
Mrdja's style! This move is not uncommon, but 9...b5!? and; 9...Na6 are more popular alternatives.
10.0–0 Ba6 11.Bf4 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Ne8
12...a6 is the most common continuation, but Black has lost many games after White's 13.a4
This looks to be a novelty. 13.Rfe1 is more common: 13...Nd7 (or 13...f6 14.Bh2 Nd7 15.Qc2 Qe7 16.Nd2 Nc7 17.a4 Rfb8 18.Nb5 Ne8 19.Nc4 Ne5 20.f4 Nxc4 21.Qxc4 a6 22.Nc3 and White is slightly better, Barbero-Saeed, Novi Sad 1990) 14.Rad1 f6 15.h4 Ne5 16.Bxe5 fxe5 17.Ng5 Qe7 18.Qh3 Nc7 19.Ne6 Rf6 20.Re3 Bh6 21.Rg3 and White has a strong initiative, Richter-Konietzka, Berlin 1998.
13...Nd7 14.Nc4 Qe7 15.Rad1 f6 16.Rfe1 Ne5 17.Qe2 Nc7
Black's position is solid, but White has a more active play.
18.Bh2 Nxc4 19.Qxc4 Qd7 20.a4 a6 21.b3 b5 22.Qd3 Rad8 23.Kh1 Rfe8
Black has now nothing to be afraid of. That is probably the reason why Werle pushes for a win and plays a risky move...
24.g4 was a safer way for trying to get the initiative.
Mrdja misses a good chance to get a full equality. 24...f5 was stronger, e.g.: 25.e5 dxe5 26.fxe5 b4 27.Na2 Qxd5 (27...Nxd5!? 28.Qxa6 Qf7 29.Qc4 Bf8=) 28.Qc2 Qb7 29.Qxc5 Rxd1 30.Rxd1 Bf8 31.Qc4+ Ne6 and Black is ok.
25.f5 g5 26.Ra1 Ra8 27.Re2 Bf8 28.Rea2
After 24...Kh8?! White is improving his position move by move.
28...b4 29.Nb1 a5 30.Nd2 Na6?
The immediate 30...Ra6 was clearly better: the text move loses two tempos!
31.Nc4 Qc7 32.Re2 Nb8 33.Qg3 Ra6
This is why 30...Na6 was a bad mistake!
34.h4 h6 35.Qg4 Qf7 36.hxg5 hxg5 37.Rd1 Nd7 38.Rd3
The "h" file is open and White is now ready to use it. Black has a too passive position and a good defence is very hard to find.
38...Kg8 39.Rh3 Rd8 40.Rh5 Nb6?
The decisive mistake. 40...Qg7 was the only way to put up a resistance.
The first blow!
41...Nxd5 was not better, e.g.: 42.Nxd6 Bxd6 43.exd6 Qg7 44.Qf3 Qf7 45.Qh3 Qg7 46.Rh6+-; 41...Nxc4 42.exf6 Qxf6 43.Rxg5+ Bg7 44.bxc4 was also hopeless for Black.
The second blow!
The third blow! 43.Ng6 would have won anyway, but the text move is far more brilliant.
The fourth and final blow.
The rook can't be taken: 44...Kxh8 45.Qh5+ Bh6 (45...Kg8 46.Qf7+ Kh8 47.Ng6#) 46.Qxh6+ Kg8 47.Qg6+ Kh8 48.Nf7#
Black can't avoid mate, so he resigns. E.g.:45.Qh3 Qe1+ 46.Bg1 Qh4 (46...fxe5 47.Qh6+ Kf7 48.Qg6+ Ke7 49.Qe6#) 47.Rxh4 fxe5 (47...gxh4 48.Qg4+ Kh7 49.Qg6+ Kh8 50.Nf7#) 48.Rh7+ Kf6 49.Qh5 e4 50.Bh2 etc. A brilliant final combination by Werle.