Round 6 of the Qatar Masters Open was relatively uneventful. Magnus Carlsen remains the sole leader, but there are now 13 players just a half-point behind him.
After a rest day, the Qatar Masters Open resumed on Saturday. But their seemed to be some residual effect from the day off as there was some sluggishness among the top players, judging by their games and the results. Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the World Champion, was still in the lead at the end of the day after a draw with Wesley So, who plays for the United States. But the chasing pack grew — there are now 13 players who trail Carlsen by just half a point, including India’s Pentala Harikrishna and Dmitri Jakovenko and Sjugirov Sanan, who are both Russian.
Most of the top boards in Round 6 were evenly matched, and generally none of the players tried too hard, with one notable exception — Anish Giri of the Netherlands.
On the top board, Carlsen, who had played a couple of Sicilian Defenses, went back to the solid 1…e5 lines. So, who was born in the Philippines but switched to playing for the United States in 2014, shuffled his pieces around for a while, but never had more than slightest suggestion of an edge.
The same was true of the matchup between Vladimir Kramnik, the former World Champion from Russia, who had White, and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, the top player from Azerbaian. ‘Shak’ has played some of the most powerful games in the tournament, but with Black, he usually takes a much more sedate approach to the game, and Round 6 was no different.
On the other hand, Giri, who also had Black, continued to play the ambitious Najdorf Variation in the Sicilian Defense. With some really creative moves, he outplayed the Indian grandmaster Surya Shekhar Ganguly. But Giri missed multiple nice opportunities to increase his advantage, and eventually allowed Ganguly to escape with a draw:
In an all Chinese matchup, an extra pawn for Li Chao b wasn’t quite enough to overcome his lower-ranked countryman Yu Yangyi:
Pentala Harikrishna, India’s main hope to replace Vishwanathan Anand in the elite, took his chances to sneak past Vladimir Fedoseev, perhaps Russia’s top young talent:
The form of Wei Yi, the rising star from China, has been a concern for many of his fans, but today he showed dazzling technique against the German grandmaster Stefan Bromberger. Wei made a very impressive king march to h5. The question is: could Bromberger still have saved the game?
Another Chinese star, and the world’s best female player, Hou Yifan, had to play very precisely in the endgame to hold off Indian talent N.R. Vignesh. With the draw, Vignesh remained undefeated, with a cumulative score of 4 points out of 6 against a really impressive lineup consisting of only grandmasters rated over 2600!
The dream run of India’s other young international master, Shardul Gagare, was finally put to a stop in the match with his older countryman, Krishnan Sasikiran. Shardul was doing great through much of the game, but as in other games, he seemed to hesitate to go all in, and the very experienced Sasikiran didn’t miss the one chance he got to turn the tables:
After his loss to Yu Yangyi in Round 5, Xu Yinglun recovered nicely to annihilate Kacper Piorun of Poland, the World Problem Solving Champion. To be fair though, Piorun didn’t put up much resistance after mysteriously dropping a pawn right after the opening:
Ni Hua, the Chinese “veteran” (at least compared to all the very young Chinese grandmasters), was handed a free point by India’s Dronavalli Harika in Round 3. In Round 6, Vidit Gujarathi, another Indian grandmaster, gifted him another point, when Gujarathi collapsed in the following drawish endgame:
In the longest game of the day, Mateusz Bartel of Poland showed that he knew classic defensive techniques to hold off David Howell of England in a rook and bishop vs. Rook endgame. Particularly didactic was the following defensive idea:
Daniel Naroditsky, my fellow Stanford student, played a study-like final move in his game against Raja Harshit of India that is worth mentioning:
Hopefully, the top players will be more willing to take their gloves off in Round 7. The most exciting matchup could be Carlsen’s game against Giri, who is the only player in the elite to still have a positive score against him.
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