Mamedyarov Loses, but Retains Lead in Gashimov Memorial
BySamuel ShanklandApr 30 — 10:00 AM
Image by Shamkir Chess
His lead has been shaved to half a point heading into the last round on Sunday.
After Shakhriyar Mamedyarov lost in the penultimate round, the Gashimov Memorial will be decided in the last round.
Mamedyarov, who is from Azerbaijan, where the tournament is being held, has led since Round 3. He retained the lead after his loss because his closest rivals, Wesley So of the United States and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, only drew in Round 8, so they closed the gap with Mamedyarov, but they did not catch him. Mamedyarov has 5 points, So and Topalov have 4.5 points apiece.
Mamedyarov, who had Black, was quickly demolished by Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland.
1. Nf3Nf62. c4g63. Nc3d54. cxd5Nxd55. Qb3Nb66. d4Bg77. e4Bg48. Bb5+c69. Ng5O-O10. Be2Bxe211. Nxe2Na612. Qh3h613. Nf3This is a very sharp position but is still well-known and has been played before. Mamedyarov
chose the most common move: 13... h5
( 13... Qd7It has to be said that the computer evaluates this move more highly. )
14. Rg1!Very energetic, and obviously not very subtle! White wants it all. 14... Nb4?15. g4!Not fearing the loss of the rook. I have to wonder if Mamedyarov was caught by surprise in the opening and forgot or confused his preparation. 15... Qd7
( 15... Nc2+16. Kf1Nxa117. gxh5And Black will be mated. )
( 16... Bf617. Bg5Was also very dangerous for Black. )
17. Kf1Nxd418. Nexd4Bxd419. gxh5One look at this position is enough to realize the kind of trouble Black's king is in. 19... Bf620. Bg5!A pawn on the queenside is totally unimportant in a position like this one. White just needs more firepower against the Black king. 20... Bxb221. Re1!Wojtaszek was still playing very quickly at this point, and may have still been in his preparation. Black is dead lost. 21... Qd3+22. Kg2f623. Bh6!g524. Nxg5!Well calculated. 24... Rf7
Vladimir Kramnik, left, put together a mating attack that Michael Adams could not handle.
There were two other decisive results in Round 8. One of them was a win by Vladimir Kramnik of Russia over Michael Adams of England. Kramnik once again played 1.e4, which had been a very atypical move for him for a long time (though he has been playing it regularly in recent months), and he won a very nice game.
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bc4Bc54. O-ONf65. d3d66. c3h67. Re1O-O8. Nbd2a69. Nf1Re810. a4Ba711. b4Be612. Bxe6Rxe613. Be3Qd714. b5Ne715. bxa6bxa616. Bxa7Rxa717. Qb3c618. Rab1Ng619. g3a520. Ne3Re821. Nc4Kh722. Qc2Qe623. Ne3d524. Kg2Kg825. h4Rd7This position looks pretty balanced, but Black is actually under a lot of pressure. The knight on g6 is badly misplaced and White has control of the only open file. 26. c4!Creating more tension in the center. 26... Red8?
( 26... dxe4This would be my choice, though after: 27. dxe4White would still be slightly better. )
( 26... d4The computer suggests this move, but it looks ridiculous to me. Black closes the d-file and leaves White in total control of the only open line. 27. Nf5 )
27. cxd5!Loosening Black's control over b5. 27... cxd528. Rb5!And Black would not be able to avoid material losses. White's activity is too great and the Black pawns are too vulnerable. 28... Ne729. Rc5!Positional domination -- Black cannot get a knight to c6 and now has nothing to do but wait.
( 29. Rxa5dxe430. dxe4Nc6And being able to play Nd4 would give Black some counterplay. )
29... Rd630. Rc1
( 30. Nxe5!?This is the computer's choice, but I see no reason to criticize Kramnik's play. 30... Qxe531. Nc4 )
30... Ra6A very sad move for Black to have to make. 31. Qb2!Putting more pressure on the vulnerable center pawns. 31... Ng632. Qb7Ne733. Nf5!Rd7
( 33... Nxf534. exf5And Black loses a lot of material. For example: 34... Qd635. Nxe5! )
After starting so well -- with straight victories -- the Gashimov Memorial has become a disappointment for Pavel Eljanov, as he has lost three times.
The other decisive result was the victory of Sergey Karjakin of Russia over Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine. What looked to me to be a very interesting technical endgame reached an abrupt conclusion when Eljanov made a bad decision:
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bb5Nf64. O-ONxe45. Re1Nd66. Nxe5Be77. Bf1Nxe58. Rxe5O-O9. d4Ne810. d5Bc511. Re1d612. Nc3Bf513. Bd3Qh414. g3Qh315. Ne4Bxe416. Rxe4Bxf2+17. Kxf2Qxh2+18. Kf3Qh5+19. g4Qh3+20. Ke2Qg2+21. Ke1Nf622. Qe2Qg3+23. Qf2Nxe424. Qxg3Nxg325. Kf2Rfe826. Kxg3Re527. Bc4Re128. b3f629. Bb2Rxa130. Bxa1Kf731. Bd4a632. a4Rh833. Be2Re834. Kf2Ke735. a5Rf836. Kg3Kd737. b4Re838. Bd3Ke739. Bxh7Kd840. g5fxg541. Bxg7Re3+42. Kg4Ra343. Bd4c544. dxc6bxc645. Bb6+Kc846. Be4Ra447. c3If Black can trade off two pairs of pawns, he may be able to hold. Eljanov's next move fails to accomplish that. 47... c5?This move looks very natural, trying to orchestrate trades, but fails:
( 47... Ra3!This may have held. White can definitely play on after: 48. Bxc6Rxc349. Bd5Black has a reasonably solid position and a passed pawn, and can try to hold off any advances. It's unclear whether Black is losing. )
48. Bc2!Ra349. bxc5!dxc5
( 49... Rxc350. Bf5+Kb751. cxd6 )
50. c4!Black was only able to trade off one pair of pawns. With two white pawns left on the board, Black cannot surivive. 50... Ra251. Bf5+Kb752. Be4+Kc853. Bc6Rc254. Bd5Ra255. Kxg5Kd756. Bb7Rb257. Bxa6Kc658. Kf6
In the final round, Mamedyarov has White against Topalov, while So has Black against Pentala Harikrishna of India.
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.
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