After five rounds, the French grandmaster leads his nearest rival by a full point.
After five rounds of the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, the No. 2-ranked player in the world on the Live Ratings list, leads his nearest rival by a full point.
Round 5 was a pivotal one, full of sharp and interesting games. First and foremost, Evgeny Najer of Russia went down hard against Vachier-Lagrave when he made a disastrous oversight that was partly a result of being in a highly analyzed position that had one critical difference:
Qe5This is a pretty normal theoretical position with the exception that the pawn on c4 is normally on c2. This kills any hope White might have for an advantage, but he is certainly not worse, that is until his next move. 27. Rd3??
( 27. Qxe5 )
( 27. Ke2!And White should be fine. the computer even gives him a slight edge at high search depths, but the game should most likely end in a draw. )
27... Nc5And White must lose material. The game did not last much longer 28. O-O
Fabiano Caruana, left, and Vladimir Kramnik during Round 5.
The most interesting game of the day once again involved Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who played 1. e4 for the second time this tournament. After his game earlier in the tournament with Rainer Buhmann of Germany, I assumed that he had played 1. e4 as a surprise weapon against a weaker player without a particularly flexible repertoire. But in Round 5, he was willing to go into a Open Sicilian against Fabiano Caruana of the United States, who is No. 3 in the world. Early on and for most of the game, Kramnik played inspired chess and got the best of the complications:
Bc620. e5!White is in no mood to mess around 20... Qb7
( 20... d521. f5 )
21. f5!Opening more lines
( 21. exd6?a5!And Black's attack would be very dangerous )
21... b4Black did not have time to prepare this advance by first playing a5.
( 21... a522. fxe6b423. exf7+ )
22. axb4Qxb423. b3exf524. Kb2!Calm and cool. White will win his pawn back and have a better pawn structure. 24... g625. Bg2!Gaining the d5 square 25... Bxg226. Qxg2Rdc827. Nd5Qe4Not ideal,
but Black had no choice.
( 27... Qb728. Nf6+!Nxf629. Qxb7Rxb730. exf6Black should not survive this )
Kramnik would up with an edge in a rook endgame, but it needed some precision to win and Kramnik ultimately faltered a little, and the win slipped away. It was unfortunate as I really enjoyed watching Kramnik play 1. e4, and I wish he had won both of the games in which he played the move as sort of a karmic reward for branching out and playing well in highly complicated positions.
The other games in Round 5 were less interesting. The game between Leinier Dominguez Perez of Cuba and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu of Germany produced some fireworks in a theoretically complicated variation of the Caro-Kann Defense. But after a series of exchanges, the game ended in an uneventful draw.
In the other game, Buhmann was blown off the board by Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine. Buhmann, who had White, already had a difficult position on Move 23. One more error was all it took to render his position completely hopeless:
( 23. axb6axb624. Rxa8Rxa825. Bf1This is not pretty but White would preserve some chances to save the game. )
23... Rad8!24. axb6axb625. Nf5Bxf526. gxf5Nb5Black's knights are running circles around the White bishops, and Black is up a pawn. The rest was pretty futile for White. 27. Be5Rfe828. f4f629. c4fxe530. Bxd5+Rxd531. Qxd5+Qxd532. cxd5Nc333. Rxb6Nxd534. Rd6Nxf435. Ra1e436. Rc6e3
With only two rounds to play, and barring a collapse, Vachier-Lagrave seems likely to win the tournament.
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.
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