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Ding Liren vs Alexander Onischuk
Istanbul Olympiad (2012), Istanbul TUR, rd 10, Sep-07
Queen's Gambit Declined: Harrwitz Attack. Fianchetto Defense (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-07-12  kellmano: Surely Ding should not have won this. Could turn out to be the turning point of the Olympiad
Sep-07-12  zealouspawn: gut-wrenching loss... the commentator couldn't believe this happened. This game was the difference between a USA loss and a draw with China...
Sep-07-12  me to play: Yeah, 55...gxf5 probably draws fairly easily. Chess is such an amazing and also frustrating game.
Sep-07-12  me to play: Oops...I meant fxg5
Sep-07-12  beckerqueiroz: me to play, even though I'm not much good at rook endings, it would seem to me that Black's position is already a bit complicated. If 55...fxg5 56.Rd6+ and next hxg5 (if 56...Kf5 57.Rd5+) and the two connected pawns are very strong, while the solitary h-pawn is doomed.
Sep-07-12  notyetagm: Ding Liren vs Onischuk, 2012

NM Monokroussos points out that Onischuk missed *several* rather straightforward drawing continuations.

<Not so easy come, easy go for the Americans. Boards 1, 2 and 4 were drawn in their match with China, and all that remained was Alexander Onischuk trying to hold against Ding Liren. He was a pawn down in a rook ending, with all the pawns on one side, and with plenty of time on the clock. Normally, the draw should have been routine. <<<Instead, after 54.g4, Onischuk rejected the obvious and sufficient 54...hxg4 for 54...Ra1.>>> In fact this wasn't so bad, but it was the first step in a terrible direction. Onischuk may have missed White's next move, 55.g5, but this was only a trick. <<<First off, the passive 55...Ra6 should be enough to hold the draw, but the best move was the obvious 55...fxg5!>>> After 56.Rd6+ Kf5 57.Rd5+ Kg6 58.Rxg5+ (58.hxg5 h4 59.f4 h3 draws immediately) Kh6 Black has a tenable ending - in fact, it's drawn even without Black's h-pawn. <<<Unfortunately, Onischuk rejected both 55...fxg5 and even 55...Ra6, uncorked the horrid 55...Rh1??, and was immediately and manifestly lost after 56.Rd6.>>>>

Onischuk must be sick over this loss from a drawn position which cost his team a shot at the gold medal.

Sep-07-12  notyetagm: <zealouspawn: gut-wrenching loss... <<<the commentator couldn't believe this happened.>>> This game was the difference between a USA loss and a draw with China...>

Yes, and Nakamura was apparently furious that Onischuk had blown this drawn endgame.

Naka's tweet: <GMHikaru The cruel and harsh reality of playing in a team chess event is that you are only as good as your teammates.>

Sep-07-12  Fish55: This was not only a draw, it was a draw that any solid club player could hold.
Sep-07-12  parisattack: The Carlsen Technique - If there is any life at all in the position keep playing, make the best moves you can find. You never know...
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I can see why Nakamura was upset, but his tweet was really tacky. He's had the occasional brain fart himself, as we all do.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I don’t know very much about Alexander Onischuk ‘s playing style. Having lived the first 25 years or so of his life in the Soviet Union/former Soviet Union, one would think he received good training in the fundamentals. Nevertheless, Onischuk vs L Dominguez, 2008 is another striking example of his throwing away half a point in a drawn endgame.

In any case, I feel very sorry for him. He certainly must have felt quite badly enough before the tactless comment by his first board.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Nakamura's tweet is getting some heavy condemnation, but I for one don't think the message was entirely unjustified. It wasn't so much Onischuk's misplaying an ending that a class B player should hold without any trouble. It was Onischuk's demeanor as this R+3P vs R+2P ending was being played out. In the live video, Ding Liren can be seen studying the clearly drawn position, trying to find a winning trick. Meanwhile, Onischuk is barely looking at the board, his face displaying a mix of boredom and contempt, sending the unspoken message, "Give it up, Kid. I can't believe you are wasting both our times with this ridiculously drawn position."

Even if endgames aren't the strongest point of Onischuk's game, of course he knew how to hold this position. In actuality, Onischuk fell into a psychological trap of his own creation. By playing quickly and looking bored, he gave Ding Liren a glimmer of hope and a reason to keep playing - his opponent wasn't paying attention, maybe a trap could be set. Instead, Onischuk should have been studying the position with the same effort Ding Liren was showing, which would have sent a different message: "Ding, you may as well agree to a draw now, because I am not going to miss anything."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <OBIT>: I have not watched the video you mention. I would just comment that one can sometimes misread another's attitude, etc. from demeanor, especially when obseved in a video (as opposed to in person observation).

If Onischuk was really as contemptuous as you describe of Ding's playing on in a theoretically drawn position, that is astonishing. Even theoretically drawn rook endgames often contain subtleties and tricks than can easily trip up even a strong GM, especially one who fails to maintain a vigilant attitude. Onischuk certainly should have been aware of this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: < Even theoretically drawn rook endgames often contain subtleties and tricks than can easily trip up even a strong GM> yes, here's the ending that should have taught everybody that point:

Piket vs Kasparov, 2000

<Onischuk's misplaying an ending that a class B player should hold without any trouble.> dunno about that, I imagine an Elo of 2143 makes me a class B player? In the unlikely event I survived to this ending against Ding Liren I'd assume I'd need to strain every nerve to hold it. If Onischuk really took it easy I sympathise with Nakamura. His tremendous win against Kramnik should have set up a great result for the US in this Olympiad: if someone fell asleep on the job he has every right to throw a tantrum.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <pawn to QB4: *** <Onischuk's misplaying an ending that a class B player should hold without any trouble.> dunno about that, I imagine an Elo of 2143 makes me a class B player?>

Actually, if the reference is to the USCF (United States Chess Federation) scale, Class B comprises the rating range 1600-1799 (USCF). USCF ratings are roughly comparable to FIDE Elo, which illustrates how extravagant the quoted claim really was.

Maybe Onischuk made the mistake during the game of assuming the ending was a routine draw requiring only Class B technique. If so, shame on him.

Sep-08-12  zealouspawn: I was watching the video.. and he did indeed look bored and uninterested in calculation. If that was ACTUALLY the case, that would be the only thing that justifies Naka's tweet.

Of course, how a GM "looks" while they are at the board can be deceiving. Before passing judgement, consider that many GMs (Ivanchuk, for instance), analyze a lot while not looking at the board and its hard to tell for sure what someone is really thinking.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Now, guys, let's not insult the class B players. In this ending, most 1700 rated players know the basic technique is to get their king in front of the pawn and keep the rook active, so that if the opposing king tries to come forward the rook can check the king away. That knowledge, plus the ability to calculate a few moves deep when their opponent make the inevitable offer of a pawn exchange, should be enough to draw this. Surely most class B players can handle it. Of course, that is no excuse for Onischuk to take the position too lightly.

The video to which I was referring was the live feed during the game, and even the Russian GM commenting on the game made some remarks about how Onischuk was barely looking at the board. It appears the video is still available but the server is offline, so I don't think there is a way to view it at the moment. Hopefully they won't remove the video too quickly - from a psychological standpoint, it's interesting to watch.

Sep-08-12  Eyal: <Hopefully they won't remove the video too quickly>

All the videos of the Olympiad, btw, are stored on the archive of <chesstv> (just like their broadcasts of the Anand-Gelfand match or the recent Tal Memorial) - A direct link to the video of round 10 is (though at the moment, indeed, it isn't working).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <notyetagm> cites NM Monokroussos criticizing Onischuk for not playing the “obvious and sufficient” <54. … hxg4>. Nevertheless, after the following plausible continuation:

[<54...hxg4 55.fxg4 Rb5 56.Kf4 Ra5 57.h5+ Kg7 58.Rd7+ Kh6 59.Rf7 Ra4+ 60.Kf5 Ra5+ 61.Kxf6 Ra4 62.Kf5>]

… the following position would result:

click for larger view

Here, it appears that the only drawing moves are the stalemate ideas with the “crazy” Rook sacrifices <62. … Rxg4> or <62. … Rf4+>.

Not so easy to analyze eight moves ahead, even for a GM, much less a Class B player.

Sep-10-12  gilbav: Well put, <Peligroso Patzer>.
Sep-10-12  gilbav: And I think the variation mentioned by <beckerqueiroz> makes a lot of sense. And while it is true that 55...fxg5 56.Rd6+ Kf5 57.Rd5+ Kg6 58.hxg5 h4 59.f4 h3 leads to a draw (as Monokroussos said), I know it's a draw only because the engine tells me so, not because everything is so bloody "obvious". We are surrounded by engines and commentators, and time and again I discover that this misleads me into imagining that things are more obvious than they truly are.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: <Peligroso Patzer> <gilbav> Well, no... I'd dispute the claim that the defender has to be able to see eight moves ahead, since the first several moves can be played on instinct. After thinking for a minute or so, let's say our hypothetical class B player does decide on 54...hxg4. After 55. fxg4, our HCB continues with 55...Rb5 ("I need to keep the White king cut off.") 56. Kf4 Ra5 57. h5+ Kh6 (or he may play 57...Kg7, doesn't matter - everything leads to the same position) 58. Rd7 Ra6 ("I need to protect my f-pawn.") 59. Rf7 Rb6 60. Kf5. Now our HCB has a small dilemma. Rxf6+ obviously wins, so the only move has to be 60...Rb5+.

It's after 61. Kxf6 that we reach the criticial moment for our HCB. If he plays 61...Rb6+ he actually loses. However, if he can visualize the stalemate, he only needs to see two moves ahead: 61...Rb4! 62. Kf5 ("If he plays 62. g5+, I can take his h-pawn. I think that's a draw.") 62...Rf4+! (or 62...Rxg4!) and draws.

Granted, our HCB made most of his moves on "general principles" - that's chess-speak for "logical guesses" - but in this endgame that's all you need to draw it after 54...hxg4. In fact, the logical guess approach works just as well after Onischuk's 54...Ra1. The only difference is, after 55. g5 look at 55...fxg5 first (it's the most forcing move), and if you don't see a reason not to play it, play it!

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: If in fact Onischuk was being flippant about Ding Liren's attempts to win the ending, and wasn't analyzing seriously, then Naka's remarks were justified. If you want to have that attitude in your own games, go right ahead, but not in a team event. Has anyone figured out what the U.S.'s finish would have been if not for this debacle?
Sep-10-12  Eyal: <Has anyone figured out what the U.S.'s finish would have been if not for this debacle?>

With 16 instead of 15 points after round 10 they would probably get paired with Armenia, which would have made for a very interesting final round...

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