Yerevan, Armenia
8-16 January

Memorial A. Margaryan. Tournament "A". 7th round


Grebnev or Agasarov: everything will be decided in the 8th round!


Nevertheless, Grebnev caught up with Agasarov! While Benik was struggling for a point with Sorensen, Alexey surprisingly easily dealt with Shahinyan, with whom he shared the second place before. After this, the two main contenders for victory reached 5 points out of 7, and the fate of the tournament should be decided in their face-to-face meeting in the 8th round.


In the first five rounds, Agasarov played such energy-consuming chess that it did not surprise anyone that in the second half of the tournament, he somewhat slowed down. His second consecutive draw should not upset him because when you are 15, sometimes it's better not to rush than to focus all your energy on one separate game but not solve the general task. And a grandmaster's point in the memorial "costs" 6.5 points (or "+4").


Now, for Benik, everything or almost everything will be decided in the game with Grebnev, and in the case of a draw, the final round will certainly not become an empty formality.


The day before, Grebnev painfully missed the victory over Movahed – in the 7th round, Alexey received compensation for that slip in the game with Shahinyan. The success of the Russian was predetermined by the opponent's extremely unsuccessful choice of the opening variation. David got a very poor version of the Modern Benoni: literally all his pieces were passive and cramped, and the standard counterplay in the center and on the queen's flank was not even visible. The white pieces calmly increased the pressure, practically tying up the opponent, and the queen exchange finally freed their hands.


After 26.Qxc3 Nxc3 there was no need to come up with anything: 27.Rc4! and under the threat of losing a piece, black was forced to give up material – 27...Rxb6, and after 28.Bxb6 f5 29.e5! – to resign. Further material losses were inevitable...


In the third position after defeating Shuvalova, Davtyan emerged. A hat-trick in the last three rounds became a worthy reward for Arsen's combative and spirited style of play. If not for the frustrating loss in the 1st round and missed chances at the start in other games, he could and should have joined the battle for victory in the tournament and the coveted point. He has all the necessary qualities!


For example, against the only girl, he behaved far from gentlemanly. Polina, playing with the black pieces, boldly acted in the spirit of the Marshall Attack, offering a pawn sacrifice but received an unexpected counterargument, momentarily losing the thread:


That's where Davtyan confused her with a series of subtle moves: 15.Ng4! Nxg4 16.Qxg4 g6 17.Qh3. After this, it turned out that black couldn't simply defend the e4 pawn. In the case of 17...f5 there follows 18.f3! exf3 19.Nxf3, and around the king, there are too many weak squares – white pieces immediately swarm around the king. In case of 17...Nc6, as Shuvalova played, simply 18.Bxe4! Nxd4 19.Bxb7, and White has a healthy extra pawn.


Black defended selflessly, but they couldn't find solutions against the extra passed pawn. The main question: will Davtyan's streak continue?


The encounter between Ivanov and Mohaved turned out to be very sharp and substantive. Almost for the first time, the St. Petersburg grandmaster found himself in the role of the defender. His ultra-sharp interpretation of the Nimzowitsch Defense almost left him with nothing: White gave up two pawns, getting practically nothing in return:

Here, it would have been better for the Iranian, without distracting himself with the white king, to continue with pown gains: 28...Nh2 29.Rd8 Qf2+ 30.Kb3 Rxd8 31.Qxd8+ Kh7, and the opponent has no threats. Instead, the black pieces rushed into the "decisive attack" – 28...Ne1+ 29.Kb3 Rxe3+ 30.Ka2 Nd3 31.Rxb7, until it turned out that an "abort" maneuver was urgently needed. As a result of exchanges a drawn queen endgame arose. 


But it did not save the grandmaster from a fatal mistake when he had only a few moves left for salvation. Playing at the age of 62 with full intensity is not that easy. Meanwhile, Sina demonstrates some wonders of endurance and skill in the endgame: for the third day in a row, his game ends last!


Unfortunately, Babujian's sad streak continued. This time he was closer than ever to a draw – against Ohanyan, but still couldn't hold on in a heavy-piece endgame, burning out due to a weak king. Five consecutive losses and six out of seven rounds – it's painful. What can you do: modern chess, demanding tough and concrete play, is unforgiving to weakness.


Memorial A.Margaryan. Standings after the 7th round: 1-2. Agasarov and Grebnev – 5; 3-5. Davtyan, Ohanyan and Movahed – 4.5; 5. Shahinyan – 4; 7-8. Ivanov and Shuvalova – 2.5; 9. Sorensen – 2; 10. Babujian – 0.5.

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