In one of them, Arkadij Naiditsch, who plays for Azerbaijan, looked like he had walked into a rather basic tactic against Hou Yifan of China, but it turned out not to be enough to change the balance of the game:
1. e4e62. d4d53. Nc3Nf64. e5Nfd75. f4c56. Nf3a67. Be3Qb68. Rb1Nc69. Qd2Qc710. Be2cxd411. Nxd4Bc512. O-ONxd413. Bxd4Bxd4+14. Qxd4Qc515. Qxc5Nxc516. Kf2Bd717. Bd3Ke718. Ke3Bb519. Bxb5axb520. a3Ra521. Rf3Rc8?!I'm not sure if this was a sacrifice or a blunder. Even though Black's position is almost certainly survivable after b4, there was no need to walk into this.
( 21... Nd7 )
22. b4!Rxa323. Kd4!And Black must lose material as both bxc5 and Nxd5+ are serious threats 23... Ra4!
( 23... Nd724. Nxd5+ )
24. Nxa4Nxa4The dust has cleared and Black is down an exchange for a pawn, but he has a very solid position and more active pieces. Hou never really managed to create winning chances. 25. Kd3g626. Kd2h527. g3Rc428. h3
( 28. c3It was better not to allow Rd4+, but it still would have been very hard for White to find a plan. )
28... Kd729. g4
( 29. c3Again, Rd4+ should not be allowed. )
29... Rd4+30. Kc1hxg431. hxg4Kc632. Rbb3Re433. Rf1g5!The simplest solution; Black starts liquidating pawns. 34. fxg5Rxg435. Rxf7Rxg536. Rh3Rxe537. Rhh7Re438. c3Kd6The rest was not too interesting. White does not have enough pawns left to play for a win as Black will easily exchange off the last two. 39. Rd7+Ke540. Rh5+Kf641. Rh6+Kf542. Rh3b643. Rf7+Ke544. Rf2Rc445. Re2+Kd646. Kd2d447. cxd4Rxb448. Rh4Rb2+49. Kd3Rb3+50. Kc2Rc3+51. Kd2Rc652. Rh6Kd553. Re5+Kxd454. Rhxe6Rxe655. Rxe6
Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian World Champion, would have salvaged a decent, although still disappointing result (by his standards) if he had managed to beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France. Carlsen achieved a pleasant position out of the opening, but then made a decision I did not really understand:
1. e4c52. Nf3d63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Nf65. Nc3a66. Be2e57. Nb3Be78. Be3Be69. Qd3Nbd710. Nd5O-O11. O-OBxd512. exd5Ne813. a4Bg514. a5Bxe315. Qxe3Nef616. c4Rb817. Rfb1Qc718. Nd2b619. Nb3Nc520. axb6Rxb621. Nxc5?!I don't understand this move at all. It leaves White with a bad bishop and Black has the potential to blockade the pawn on d6 with his knight.
( 21. Na5This move looked thematic and strong. White could follow with b4 and eventually White would be able to play c5. It looks to me as if White would have an advantage. )
21... dxc522. b4Rfb823. Rd1Rxb424. Rxa6The computer evaluate this position as better for White, but I have a hard time believing it. The pawn on d5 can be blockaded and White's light-squared bishop will be very poor compared to the Black knight. 24... Rb3!25. Qg5
( 25. Rd3Rb1+ )
( 25... Ne4This should also hold pretty easily. )
26. Qf5Qc8The simplest solution.
( 26... R3b6Is the computer's suggestion, but I prefer Vachier-Lagrave's choice. )
27. Qxc8+Rxc828. Rc6Rbb8!
( 28... Rxc6?29. dxc6And the pawn will promote. )
29. Bd3e430. Bc2Rxc631. dxc6Rc832. Ba4Kf8Black is absolutely fine as White has no points of entry. 33. Bb5Ke734. Ra1Ng4!Another good move. Black will soon play Ne5 and it will be hard for White to hold onto the pawn on c6. 35. Ra7+Ke636. f3exf337. gxf3Ne538. f4Nf3+
( 38... Nxc6This move was also possible. 39. Ra6Kd740. f5g541. fxg6fxg642. Kg2Kd6 )
39. Kf2Nd440. Ke3g6!A final accurate move. Black will shut down the kingside and center and only then take the pawn on c6. 41. Ke4Nxc6!42. Ra6f5+43. Kf3Kd644. h4h5Neither player can make progress. The rest of the game was unnecessary. 45. Ke3Rc746. Kd2Rc847. Kc3Rc748. Kb3Rc849. Ka4Rc750. Rb6Rc851. Ba6Rb852. Bb7Ke753. Rxc6Rxb754. Rxc5Rb155. Rd5Rh156. c5Rxh457. c6Rxf4+58. Kb3Rf159. Kb2Rf2+
It was a topsy-turvy final game between Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian.
Aronian had Black against Fabiano Caruana of the United States. That game seemed to be heading toward a peaceful resolution, when Caruana blundered a piece. But then Aronian began making mistakes and finally let Caruana off the hook.
Rd522. Nxe6?A bad miscalculation. The knight will be trapped.
( 22. Nd3This move was better after which anything other than a draw would be shocking. )
22... Rc8!The knight cannot escape to c5. 23. b3White prepares c4 to win back control of the c5 square, but after
( 23. Rad1This saves the knight but after 23... Rxd124. Rxd1Nxa4Black is up a pawn and White has no compensation. )
23... c5!The knight now is simply trapped.
( 23... Kf7?24. c4And the knight will escape. )
( 24. f4This does not work either 24... exf425. Nxf4Bxa126. Nxd5Bd4+27. Ne3Re828. Bf2Nd5! )
24... Rd625. Nxg7Kxg726. Bxe5Rd3Black is up a piece and absolutely winning, but he has to be at least somewhat careful. If the clocks are correct, Aronian started playing extremely at this point. 27. Bxf6+Kxf628. Re4Rc7
( 28... Rxb3There was nothing wrong with grabbing this pawn. )
34. Rh8+Ke735. h4Now the h-pawn gives White some counterplay. He is still losing but it's not as simple as it was before. 35... Nc3?!
( 35... Nb6This would be my choice, bringing the knight back to the defense as soon as possible. After: 36. h5Nd737. h6Nf6Black should win easily. )
36. h5a437. h6a338. h7Aronian spent some time on Nc3 and likely realized that after: 38... a239. Re8+Kxe840. h8=Q+Kd7White has no checks and cannot stop a1/Q. However, after the quiet: 41. Kh2a1=Q42. Rg8!Things are far from simple. Black has no checks and his king is about to be harassed. He is still winning but accuracy is needed, and even after a 50-minute think, Aronian did not find the right path. 42... Qa5?
( 42... Qe1!This was the easiest win. The point is that 43. Rd8+Kc744. Rc8+Kd645. Qd8+Rd746. Qf6+Can be met with: 46... Qe647. Qf4+Qe5 )
43. Qh3+!Kc744. Qg3+Kd745. Qd3+Caruana actually declines a repetition of position. Aronian now has to find the best moves in order to not lose, but he managed to do that. 45... Ke7!
( 45... Ke6?46. Re8+Re747. Qe3+ )
( 45... Kc746. Qd8+ )
( 45... Kc646. Rg6+Kc747. Qd6+Kc848. Rg8+ )
( 46... Kd7?47. Qe8+Kd648. Qxf7And White wins. )
47. Rg6+Kc7!48. Qe5+Kc8!
( 48... Kd849. Qd6+Kc850. Rg8+ )
( 49. Qe8+?Qd850. Qxf7Qh4+ )
( 49... Kd750. Qe8+ )
50. Qxc5+Rc751. Rxd8+Kxd852. Qf8+Kd7Black's king has finally escaped, but he has lost his material advantage. The White kingside pawns are very dangerous and it is now White who is playing for a win, though against the best defense he should not succeed. 53. g4Rb254. Qf3Ke855. Qxc3Rxf2+56. Kg3Rff7Black has a fortress. The rooks will remain on the 7th rank for the rest of the game, meaning the White g-pawn will never advance and the White king also cannot do much to strengthen White' position. 57. g5Rg758. Kg4Kf859. Qf6+Kg860. g6Rxg6+Unnecessary but the easiest way to draw. 61. Qxg6+
Missing a sure win was likely a hard pill for Aronian to swallow, but in some ways he received the score he deserved as he really should have lost to Carlsen in Round 2. In the end, Aronian finished with 5.5 points, 1.5 points ahead of Carlsen and Caruana.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 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 was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, 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