Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave continue to lead, but the group just behind them includes five players after Ian Nepomniachtchi won in Round 6.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, the two leaders of the Grand Prix in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, drew their games in Round 6 on Friday, which was enough to keep them in the lead. But the group chasing them grew as Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia won.
There are now five players – Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Jakovenko, who are also Russian, Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, and Michael Adams of England – who each have 3.5 points and are half a point behind the leaders.
The Sharjah Grand Prix is the first in a series of four tournaments that will be held throughout the year. The other locations are Moscow, Geneva and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The series includes 24 of the world’s best players, 18 in each tournament, who are competing for one of two slots in the Candidates tournament next year to select a challenger for the World Championship.
Each Grand Prix has a prize fund of 130,000 euros, with 20,000 for first place. The series is being organized by Agon, the company that holds the commercial rights to the World Championship cycle, under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE, which is the game’s governing body.
Nepomniachtchi’s victory, his first of the tournament, was over Li Chao b of China. It was a short, brutal game. Nepomniachtchi had White and opened with 1. e4 and Li chose the Petroff Defense. The Petroff has a justified reputation for producing a lot of draws, but when something goes wrong, it can unravel quickly. The players followed known ideas until move 12, when Nepomniachtchi played a new move that seemed to help Li as it drove his queen to a square where she wanted to go. But Nepomniachtchi was clearly well prepared as he continued to move quickly and, three moves later, he sacrificed a bishop, ripping open Li’s kingside defense. Li, clearly caught off-guard, responded well at first, but he quickly went wrong. Nepomniachtchi’s attack proceeded fast and furious, not even slowed when Li managed to exchange queens. Facing mate, Li resigned after only 29 moves.
There was one other decisive game on the day: A victory by Richard Rapport of Hungary over Alexander Riazantsev of Russia. It was Rapport’s second win of the tournament and, coupled with two losses, brought him back to even score at three points. For Riazantsev, it was his second consecutive loss, coming one round after he lost in just 19 moves to Jakovenko. This time, he lasted 78 moves, most of it in a long endgame where he was always on the defensive. That is almost a worse way to lose – to have expended all that time and energy and still come up short.
Though it ended in a draw, there was a remarkable game on Friday between Nakamura and Grischuk. It was a wild game arising out of the Sicilian Defense in which neither king was able to castle and spent the entire game exposed and constantly on the run. At one point, Nakamura, who had White, had exchanged both his rooks for three pieces. Grischuk then sacrificed one of his rooks for one of Nakamura’s pieces, but Nakamura then sacrificed one of his pieces so that his king could find shelter. That proved to be a smart decision as he was able to begin to push his kingside pawns, supported by his remaining bishop, which had taken up a commanding post on e5. Grischuk was definitely in trouble, but Nakamura misplayed the position, giving up a pawn in the evidently mistaken belief that his other pawns could then move forward more easily. In the end, neither player could escape a possible perpetual check and the game was drawn.
Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of WorldChess.com. He is a FIDE master as well.
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