Crowded Leaderboard in Qatar Finally Includes Carlsen
ByParimarjan NegiDec 23 — 10:38 PM
Image by Katerina Savina
After a draw in Round 4 between the co-leaders in Round 3, three other players, including the World Champion, have joined the lead pack.
Magnus Carlsen of Norway did not get off to a very good start at the Qatar Masters Open, his first open tournament in eight years. He drew his first game against an international master. And then he really struggled to win his second game. But he seems to be adjusting, and in Round 4, he won his third game in a row and joined the tournament leaders.
He played ferociously in Round 4 — the kind of game that we aren’t too used to seeing from him — to overpower 17-year-old Polish grandmaster Jan Duda.
This was the second Sicilian Defense in a row from Carlsen, representing a shift in strategy towards more dynamic openings when he is playing Black because he playing in a Swiss tournament. A particularly interesting moment occurred when Carlsen seemingly dropped his pawn on f7:
The two co-leaders after Round 3, Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Li Chao b of China, who both won their first three games, drew against each other in Round 4. The game was relatively tame as Li Chao tried playing Giri’s pet g3 Grunfeld line against Giri, but he was unable to put the Dutch star in any danger, and they soonn signed the peace treaty.
The third board, featuring America’s No. 3-ranked player, Wesley So, against the experienced Armenian, Vladimir Akopian, appeared to be headed in a similar direction, but So created some incredible tricks in an ending with opposite-colored bishops. Such endings are usually drawn and even computers failed to understand So’s ideas. In the end, Akopian did miss a drawing chance, but it was by no means easy. The game is an excellent study in endgame technique:
The next few boards saw rather tame draws, with unambitious White players never really creating any interesting possibilities in their games. On the last board featuring players with 2.5 points before the round began, Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, the former Women’s World Champion, mysteriously sacrificed a pawn:
The players who had 2 points after Round 3 were a lot more combative in their efforts to try to join the leaders.
The American Daniel Naroditsky, who, like me,is studying at Stanford University, faced Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, the former World Champion. After the game was over, Naroditsky put my suffering at Stanford classes in perspective with a very justified Facebook update:
Naroditsky actually fought very well with Black, but the apparently simple position had a lot of subtleties, and Kramnik found interesting ways to keep the pressure. The turning point occurred when Naroditsky missed an unexpected move: Bd8!!
In another exciting game, the usually super solid Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia played the extremely aggressive g4 in the opening against Salem A.R. Saleh, an unpredictable grandmaster from the United Arab Emirates.
Tomashevsky’s idea was justified for White, but this may not have been the best opponent to try it against. Saleh excels in wild positions and in this game he created impressive counterplay. But at the very end, probably in a mutual time scramble, Saleh made an error. He was saved by some desperate tactics, and a horrid blunder by Tomashevsky:
India’s Pentala Harikrishna came very close to winning as well, but Nils Grandelius of Sweden held on impressively. The question in the following game is did Grandelius create a fortress?
Hou Yifan of China, the top-ranked woman in the world, conducted an impressive attack with White — sacrificing two pieces — showing that she is on top of her game in the tournament.
Wei Yi, Hou’s compatriot, couldn’t pull of his attack as nicely. Initially, he seemed to be on his way to crushing the Indian youngster N. Vignesh, but Black put up an impressive defense, and even turned the tables when the Chinese wunderkind made a terrible blunder:
The most impressive of the attack of the day was the one by Stefan Bromberger, a German grandmaster, against Johan-Sebastian Christiansen, a young international master from Norway. After being on the receiving end of some fearless play by Zhansaya Abdumallik of Kazakhstan a couple of days earlier, Bromberger showed that he an give as good as he gets, starting with the pawn sacrifice g5!?:
Round 5 sets up some nice match-ups as Carlsen will finally take on someone his own size — in this case, Li Chao — while the second board, will feature a battle between two of the most consistent players among the world’s elite, Giri and So. It should be an interesting day.
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 80 in the world, he is currently a sophmore at Stanford University.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players