Round 3 of the tournament was just as eventful as Round 2, with three decisive games. Fabiano Caruana is now the sole leader.
The fast pace continued in Round 3 of the Gashimov Memorial tournament in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. Just as in Round 2, there were three decisive results in Round 3. The most important was the victory of Fabiano Caruana of the United States over Hou Yifan of China. With the win, Caruana assumed sole possession of first place, with 2.5 points.
The victories in Round 3 were achieved in very different ways than those in Round 2. In Round 2, two of the losses were because players in uncomfortable, but objectively equal positions strangely avoided repetitions and immediately blundered. In Round 3, two of the victories were essentially opening massacres.
Shamkir Chess 2016
Pentala Harikrishna during Round 3.
The most notable one was in the game between Sergey Karjakin of Russia and Pentala Harikrishna of India. It looked as if Harikrishna had outprepared his opponent, but he was completely lost just a couple moves after his opening preparation ended.
Karjakin, Sergey vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round 3 |28 May 2016 |1-0
c5!?This is a very unusual move in a reasonably well-known position. It looks bizarre and almost nonsensical to me because it stops the Black knight from going to c5 and doesn't seem to accomplish anything important, but I know better than to question or condemn Harikrishna's choices -- he is a pretty smart guy. 10. Bd3Nf611. Rhe1Be6Up until now, Black was playing quickly, suggesting he was still following his home preparation. The computer thinks he is absolutely fine, but I have other opinions. 12. Bg5!The start of Black's problems.
White has the simple plan of Qf4-h4, and it's absurdly strong. The longer the computer thinks, the more it realizes Black is in trouble. 12... h6?A poor reaction, but in my opinion Black's position was very difficult.
( 12... d5!This is the computer's suggestion, but it's not too hard for a human to bust. 13. Qf4!Re814. c4d415. Qg3!This looks very difficult for Black but the game would continue. ... )
( 12... c4Doesn't help much: 13. Bf1The attack is over, but Black's pawns are terribly weak and White will soon play Nd4. )
( 13... gxh614. Qxh6Promptly leads to checkmate )
14. Bxg7!cxd3Black has no choice but to enter a lost ending.
( 14... Kxg715. Qg5+Kh816. Qh6+Kg817. Ng5!cxd318. Rxd3Black will soon be checkmated. )
15. Qg5!Commencing a forced sequence of moves that will lead to a position in which White is totally winning. 15... Ne416. Qh6Bg5+17. Nxg5Qxg5+18. Qxg5Nxg519. Bxf8dxc220. Rxd6Kxf821. h4Nh722. Kxc2The dust clears and Black is down loads of material. Karjakin won without too much trouble
The first game to finish was Caruana’s victory over Hou. Hou seemed to have some trouble recalling her preparation, and started to falter in a reasonably well-known position. While it became unpleasant pretty fast, I think she could have put up a lot more resistance.
Caruana, Fabiano vs. Hou Yifan
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round 3 |28 May 2016 |ECO: C83 |1-0
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bb5a64. Ba4Nf65. O-ONxe46. d4b57. Bb3d58. dxe5Be69. Nbd2Nc510. c3Be711. Bc2d412. Nb3d313. Bb1Nxb314. axb3Bf515. Re1O-O16. Be3Qd517. Bd4Hou started thinking in this deeply position, which has been analyzed quite a lot, suggesting she might have forgotten her analysis. 17... Rfd8
( 17... d2Victor Mikhalevski recommends this move in his book on the Open Ruy, and I thought his analysis was pretty convincing about how Black can equalize. It would be interesting to know what Caruana had in mind if Hou had played that move. 18. Qxd2Bxb119. Raxb1Qxb3 )
18. h4Bg6Hou spent almost half an hour on this move. 19. b4d220. Qxd2Bxb121. Raxb1Bxb422. Qf4Material is balanced but it would be foolish to call this
position equal. Black's queenside majority will not matter for a while, her kingside could be opened up, and White's pieces are nicely centralized. 22... Be7?
( 22... Nxd4!This looks much more natural to me 23. Nxd4Bc524. Nf5Bf8White has some pressure but it's nothing special. )
23. e6!Now the kingside becomes a major problem for Black. 23... fxe624. Qg4Nxd425. Nxd4Bf626. Nxe6Rd727. Re3The knight on e6 shuts down the e-file and controls the d8 square. As a result, black's rooks have a hard time getting involved in the defense. 27... h5?Panicking but the position was already very bad
( 27... Re728. Rbe1Black faces a long and difficult defense )
28. Qg6Rf729. Rbe1Black can already resign. The rest requires no comment. 29... Rc830. Nf4Qd731. Qxh5Re732. Nd5Rf733. Rd1Qc634. Nf4Rd735. Re8+
The final decisive game was one I thought would have a decisive result because both players — Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine — had gotten off to such a bad start.
Shamkir Chess 2016
Pavel Eljanov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov during Round 3.
Mamedyarov played an unusual opening and for a long time I did not like his position. But ultimately his piece activity proved to be too much. I particularly liked the way he handled himself right after time control — the extra time he received clearly helped him navigate the murky waters in a very complicated endgame, and his play was flawless.
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar vs. Eljanov, Pavel
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round ? |28 May 2016 |1-0
41. f5!White ensures he will get a passed h-pawn 41... hxg442. h5!Nd643. h6Rc8?!
( 43... g3This was the last chance to resist, but Black would still be struggling 44. h7Rc845. Rxb6Rh846. f6+Kxf647. Rbxd6Rxd648. Rxd6Rxh7White retains excellent winning chances )
( 44. f6+!?According to the engine, this was even more efficient, but I like Mamedyarov's move. 44... Kxf645. Nxg4+Ke746. Rxb6 )
44... Nb745. Rxd7+Kxd746. Nxg4Nc5+47. Kd4Kd648. Ne5!One last accurate move seals the game. The pawn on f7 is a major problem for Black. 48... f649. Ng6e5+50. Ke3Rc751. Rd1+!Accurate to the end
( 51. Rh1Rh752. Nf8Rh853. h7Rxf854. h8=QRxh855. Rxh8This should win, but Black has far more chances to save the game. )
51... Kc652. Rd8Nb753. Rc8!The last finesse 53... Rxc854. Ne7+Kc555. Nxc8Nd856. h7Nf757. Ne7Kc458. Ng8Kxc359. Nxf6Black resigned before waiting for Ng4-xe5
Thoguh Caruana has the lead, Anish Giri of the Netherlands is only half a point behind him. With six rounds to play, the tournament is still wide open.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 7 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
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.
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