Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri continued their torrid pace in the Gashimov Memorial by dispatching their opponents in Round 5.
Nothing and no one are slowing down Fabiano Caruana and Anish Giri as they make their way through the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. Round 5 was more of the same as Caruana, of the United States, and Giri, of the Netherlands, won again to remain well in front of the rest of the field. Caruana has 4.5 points and Giri has 4.
They both almost made it look easy.
Caruana was the the first to finish and it came from a nice attacking effort against Teimour Radjabov, one of the four representatives of the host country in the tournament.
Caruana, Fabiano vs. Radjabov, Teimour
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round 5 |30 May 2016 |1-0
16. g4!Natural and strong. White is getting his attack in motion. 16... a3?I don't understand this move. In addition to having a dangerous attack, White will now be up a pawn as well.
( 16... b4White is definitely better but this would have at least created some counterplay. 17. Nb1b3 )
17. b4!Winning the pawn on c5. 17... Nd718. Nxd7Bxd719. e5!Ne4 is going to hurt 19... f520. Ne2Bg721. Bxg7Kxg722. h4!?Going for the throat. This is certainly not a bad move and Caruana wins quite convincingly, but I probably would have taken a more pragmatic route
( 22. Qxc5This should be entirely hopeless for Black -- he is down a pawn and has a lousy bishop. )
22... fxg423. h5gxh524. Ng3The attack basically plays itself. Black is will be crushed. 24... Kh825. Nxh5Re726. Nf6Be827. f5exf528. Rxf5Qc729. Rg5!Caruana never slows down
( 29. Qxc5Bf7This would offer Black some vague hope of survival...but not much. )
29... Rg730. Rh1Bg631. Rxg4
( 31. Qxc5I always want to take this pawn. This time I might actually be right, but Caruana's choice is also fine. )
31... Qf732. Kb1cxb433. Qd4Bf534. e6!One final tactic to finish the game 34... Rxg4
( 34... Bxe6Does not help 35. Rxh7+Rxh736. Nxh7+Kxh737. Qe4+Kh638. Qe3+Kh739. Qh3+ )
Giri followed shortly thereafter by quickly seizing the initiative in the endgame after his opponent, Eltaj Safarli, another player from Azerbaijan, erred by allowing a misplaced knight of Giri’s back into the game.
Safarli, Eltaj vs. Giri, Anish
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round 5 |30 May 2016 |0-1
23. Qxd7?This allows the lousy knight on b6 a clear route back into the game
( 23. Nh4! )
23... Nbxd7!The knight will head to e5. White's position is becoming unpleasant 24. Nd2
( 24. Nh4This looks more natural to me, but I'd still prefer to play Black. )
24... Ne525. Bc2Bd7!26. f3White tries to undermine the important pawn on e4, but a one-two punch of tactical tricks makes it possible for Black to preserve it and not move it. 26... Rad8!Black's pieces are continuously developing with tempo. The knight on d2 is indirectly attacked. 27. Rad1
( 27. fxe4?Bxb528. axb5Rxd2 )
27... Rg8!Again developing a piece and creating a threat. 28. Kh2
( 28. fxe4?Bxb529. cxb5Rxd2!30. Rxd2Nf3+ )
28... Be8!And the pawn on e4 still cannot be taken! 29. Nc7
( 29. fxe4?Bh5 )
29... Bh530. Ne6Rde831. Nc7Re732. Nd5Nxd533. cxd5exf3!The final finesse. Black
temporarily sacrifices a piece, but it was not too hard to calculate. 34. d6Reg7!35. g4Nxg4+!36. hxg4Rxg4The threat of Rh4 mate is not easy to deal with 37. Nxf3
While the victories by Caruana and Giri were the most notable, two of the other three games also ended decisively. Sergy Karjakin of Russian improved to a score of +1 by grinding down Hou Yifan of China in an endgame I don’t think she should have lost. Karjakin trails Caruana by 1.5 points and Giri by a point, but he has yet to play either of them so he could really shake up the standings if he beats them.
Shamkir Chess 2016
Pentala Harikrishna and Pavel Eljanov during Round 5.
My two favorite players in the tournament faced each other in Round 5 and I had mixed feelings. I was delighted to see Pentala Harikrishna of India come back and win after two really disheartening losses in a row. But I felt badly for his opponent, Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, who is having a brutally difficult event — he has now lost three games. The latest came when he erred while under huge pressure, clearly underestimating the power of the White queen:
Harikrishna, Pentala vs. Eljanov, Pavel
Gashimov Memorial |Shamkir, Azerbaijan |Round 5 |30 May 2016 |1-0
exd4?the White queen will be too strong
( 26... Qb4Several other moves also maintain equality, but this one looks the most natural to me as it prepares to bring the queen back to the defense. Note that 27. dxe5?Fails to 27... Qc5+ )
27. Bxh6!Qxf1+28. Kxf1Nfxh6+29. Kg1For the moment, Black is up material, but he is unable to prevent Rxh6+, and then his king is so exposed that it will be easy for the White queen to harvest all the Black pawns. 29... Rab830. Rxh6+Nxh631. Qxh6+Kg832. Qg6+Kh833. h3!Keeping the king nice and cozy. Rb1 was a serious threat 33... d334. Qh6+Kg835. Qxa6!Simple and strong. The pawns start dropping one by one. 35... dxc236. Qxc4+Kh837. Qc3+Kg838. Qxc2Rfc839. Qc6Kf740. a4Ke741. a5I was a little surprised to see Eljanov resign here, but his position is definitely completely lost.
Tuesday is a rest day in Shamkir. In Round 6 on Wednesday, Eljanov will have the task of trying to slow down Giri while playing Black, while Safarli will at least have White against Caruana.
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.
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