He missed a chance to extend it and only drew, but his closest rivals could do no more than draw, too.

None of the players at the top of the leaderboard in the Gashimov Memorial won in Round 5 on Tuesday, so Shakhriyar Mamedyarov retained his hold on first for another day.

Mamedyarov, one of the two players from Azerbaijan, where the tournament is being held, has 3.5 points, followed by Michael Adams of England and Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine, who each have 3 points.

Though the top of the standings remained unchanged, there were two decisive games on Tuesday. One of them was a quick knockout as Sergey Karjakin of Russia destroyed Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria after it looked like Topalov forgot his preparation and mixed up his moves in the opening.

Sergey Karjakin vs. Veselin Topalov
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 5 | 25 Apr 2017 | ECO: B12 | 1-0
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. a3 Bxc5 6. Nf3 Ne7 7. Bd3 Ng6 8. O-O Nc6 9. b4 Bb6 10. Bb2 Nf4?! Black is asking for trouble -- he is too far behind in development to take such liberties.
10... O-O This move was simple and best. White would still have an edge after:
11. Re1 But Black's position is very solid.  )
11. c4! White opens the center before Black can complete his development and coordinate his pieces.
11... Nxd3
11... Bc7 The computer suggests this move, though White should still be better after:
12. Qd2 Nxd3 13. Qxd3 O-O 14. Re1  )
12. Qxd3 dxc4 13. Qxc4 Ne7
13... O-O 14. Nbd2 And White is also much better as Black has a hard time coordinating his pieces. For example:
14... Bd7 15. Qg4! Ne7 16. Ne4 And moves like Nf6 and Rad1 are hard to meet.  )
14. Nc3 Bd7 15. Qg4! Energetic, forceful and strong.
15... Bc6 The pawn on g7 is immune, but White is more interested in taking action in the center.
15... O-O 16. Rad1 Would be a disaster for Black.  )
16. Rad1
16. Qxg7? Rg8 17. Qf6 Nf5 And White will not survive.  )
16... Qc7 17. Ng5! White has plenty of other good moves but this one is by far the most convincing.
17... Qxe5 Black takes the pawn just to have something for his suffering, but this will not work out well.
17... h6 18. Nge4 O-O 19. Nd6 Is a nightmare for Black.  )
18. b5! h5
18... Bxb5 19. Nxb5 Qxb5 20. Bxg7 And White would be clearly winning.  )
18... Bd7 19. Nxf7  )
19. Qh4 Bxb5
19... Ng6 20. Qb4! Qxg5 21. bxc6 bxc6 22. Ne4 And Black is crushed.  )
20. Rfe1! Qf5 21. Nxb5 Qxb5 22. Bxg7 White is demolishing Black.
22... Nf5
22... Rg8 23. Ne4  )
23. Nxe6! The queen is immune to capture.
23... fxe6
23... Nxh4 24. Nc7#  )
24. Rxe6+ Kf7 25. Qf6+ Kg8 26. Bxh8 Now in addition to a mating attack against Black's exposed king, White is up a lot of material, too. The rest was unnecessary.
26... Bxf2+ 27. Kh1 Qa4 28. Red6 Rf8 29. Qg6+ Kxh8 30. Rd7

Karjakin and Topalov now have scores of 50 percent, with 2.5 points each.

The other decisive result also brought its two players to scores of 50 percent as the top seed, Wesley So of the United States, defeated Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. So, who had White, played really well and Kramnik had few chances.

Wesley So vs. Vladimir Kramnik
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 5.2 | 25 Apr 2017 | ECO: A14 | 1-0
1. c4 e6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Qxc4 Bc6 10. Bf4 a5 11. Nc3 Nbd7 12. Qd3 Bb4 13. Rfe1 Re8 14. Qc2 Bxf3 I recommended this move for Black as an improvement over Bxc3 after Michael Adams lost a tough game to So a few months back. Clearly Kramnik came to the same conclusion.
15. Bxf3 c6 Black has a solid position, but the White central pawns and bishop pair have to count for something.
16. Red1! A very precise move. The rook will be well placed on the d-file after Black plays e5. The move also unpins the knight on c3.
16... Qe7 17. Na2 Bd6
17... e5 This move was also possible, though White should be better after:
18. dxe5 Nxe5 19. Bxe5 Qxe5 20. Nxb4 axb4 21. Qb3  )
18. Bxd6 Qxd6 19. Nc1! Another strong move. So reroutes the knight to its best square -- b3.
19... Nd5 20. e4 Nb4 21. Qc3 e5 22. Nb3 It takes a while before a computer evaluation shows that White has an edge in this position, but he definitely does. He is better prepared for the opening of the d-file, the pawn on a5 is a source of constant concern for Black, and the Black knight on b4 looks nice but is not effective.
22... Qe7 23. Bg2 exd4 24. Rxd4 Nf8?!
24... Nf6 This move was preferable, but White would still be better after:
25. Rad1 b6 26. f3  )
25. Rad1 Not a bad move, but White had a better one.
25. Rc4! This funny move, suggested by the computer, is very strong. Black has a hard time dealing with the threat of Nxa5.
25... b6 26. Nd4 c5 27. Nf5 Qe5 28. f4 Qxc3 29. bxc3! And White would clearly be better.  )
25. Nxa5? c5 White first needs to remove his rook from d4.  )
25... Red8 26. R1d2 Ne6 27. Rxd8+ Rxd8 28. Nxa5! This does not win a pawn, but White's pieces are now better coordinated than Black's, and the defense of the Black knight on b4 has been undermined.
28... Ra8 29. Nc4 Rxa4 30. Nd6! The start of a very effective plan by So as he begins to reorganize his pieces.
30... Ra1+ 31. Bf1 Na6 32. Kg2! Nac7 33. Nf5! Qe8 34. Bc4! At the end of the maneuvering, White has a substantial edge; Black is nearly lost.
34... Ra8 35. Rd6 Qf8 36. Rd7! So usually plays very accurately once he has an edge.
36... Re8 37. Qe5 b5 38. Ba2 g6 39. Ne3
39. Rxf7 This move was even better, but the move played by So is good enough.
39... Kxf7 40. Qxc7+ Kf6 41. Qxc6 gxf5 42. exf5 Kxf5 43. Bxe6+! Rxe6 44. Qf3+  )
39... Re7 40. Rxe7 Qxe7 41. Ng4 Qg5 Black looks like he has gained some breathing room, but accurate play by White will leave him in a hopeless situation.
42. Nf6+! Kh8 43. Nd7+! Qxe5
43... Kg8 44. Qd6 And Black would likely be mated after White played f4 and f5.  )
44. Nxe5 Black loses a pawn, after which he is unable to offer much resistance in the ending. So converted his advantage into a win with no trouble.
44... Nd4
44... f6 45. Nxc6  )
45. Bxf7 c5 46. f4 c4 47. Kf2 Kg7 48. Ke3 Nb3 49. g4 Nc5 50. h4 Na4 51. b3 cxb3 52. Bxb3 Nc5 53. Bd1 h6 54. Nc6 N7a6 55. Kd4 Ne6+ 56. Ke5 Nec5 57. Bc2 b4 58. Nd4 g5 59. hxg5 hxg5 60. f5 Nd7+ 61. Kd6 Nf6 62. e5 Nxg4 63. Ne6+ Kh6 64. f6 Nb8 65. Ba4 Kg6

Though the other three games were drawn, they were not without some excitement. That was particularly true of the game between Mamedyarov and Pentala Harikrishna of India. Mamedyarov, who had Black, got a very pleasant position against Harikrishna. However, accurate defense from the Indian earned him a draw.

Pentala Harikrishna vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 5 | 25 Apr 2017 | ECO: A04 | 1/2-1/2
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. d4 O-O 6. Nbd2 a5 7. c4 a4 8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. Nb1 Rd8 10. Bf4 Qa5 11. Qc1 Nc6 12. Na3 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Rxd4 14. Qxc7 Nd5 15. Qxa5 Rxa5 16. Bc1 Be6 17. Nc2 Rc4 18. Na3 Rd4 19. Nc2 Rc4 20. Na3 Rc8?! White had just repeated moves and Black was correct to avoid a draw by repetition and continue the game. But his last move was not the best one.
20... Rxc1! Forcing and strong. After
21. Raxc1 Bxb2 22. Nc4 Bxc1 23. Nxa5 Nc3! 24. Bxb7 Bxa2 White will eventually have to give up a piece for Black's a-pawn, though I'm not sure if the ending would then be winning for Black. For example:
25. Ba6 Bb2 26. Bd3 a3 27. e4 Be6 28. Nc4 Bxc4 29. Bxc4 a2 30. Bxa2 Nxa2 And Black definitely would have very good chances to win.  )
21. Bd2 Ra6 22. e4! White starts driving Black's pieces back and takes a stake in the center.
22... Nb6 23. e5! Nd5
23... Bd5 24. Bc3 Is also moderately unpleasant for White but he should be able to defend.  )
24. f4 Rb6 25. Rac1! Well calculated. Black cannot take on b2.
25... Rxc1
25... Rxb2 26. Rxc8+ Bxc8 27. Bc1! And White would win material.  )
26. Bxc1 f6 27. Rd1 Nc7 28. Rd4! The following sequence of moves left few options for either player.
28... fxe5 29. Rxa4 Rd6 30. Bf3 Bxa2 31. fxe5 Bxe5 32. Nc4 Ra6 33. Rb4 Bxc4 34. Rxc4 Black is up a pawn, but White's bishop pair on the open board gives him enough compensation. Mamedyarov pushed for a bit but never managed to create any serious winning chances.
34... b5 35. Rc2 Kg7 36. Kg2 Ne6 37. Rc6 Rxc6 38. Bxc6 Nd4 39. Bd7 Kf6 40. b4 e6 41. Be3 Nc2 42. Bd2 Nd4 43. Be3 Nf5 44. Bb6 Bc3 45. g4 Nh4+ 46. Kg3 g5 47. Bd8+ Kg6 48. Be7 Be1+ 49. Kh3 Kf7 50. Bxg5 Ng6 51. Bxb5

Wednesday is a rest day in Shamkir; the tournament will then resume Thursday with Round 6.


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.