Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
In a clash of co-leaders, Ding beat Hou Yifan, his compatriot, in Round 3 to take control of the tournament. There were four other decisive results on a busy day.
Ding Liren of China is the new leader of the Moscow Grand Prix after beating Hou Yifan, his compatriot, in Round 3 on Sunday.
Ding now has 2.5 points, followed by Peter Svidler of Russia, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Salem Saleh of United Arab Emirates, who have 2 points apiece.
The Moscow Grand Prix is the second of four in the series. The top two finishers will qualify for the Candidates tournament next year to select a challenger for the World Championship. Twenty-four of the top players in the world are competing in the Grand Prix, with 18 playing in each tournament. (Each player competes in three of the four competitions.)
The series is sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, the global cybersecurity company, PhosAgro, a giant Russian fertilizer company, and EG Capital Advisors, a global financial management company. Each tournament has a prize fund of 130,000 euros.
The Moscow tournament is being held in the Telegraph building in central Moscow, a landmark building that is steps from the Kremlin. The Telegraph was also the site of the 2016 Candidates tournament.
After two relatively quiet rounds to start the tournament, with only three decisive games, there were five on Sunday. In addition to Ding’s victory, Svidler beat Pentala Harikrishna of India, Mamedyarov defeated Michael Adams of England, Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway downed Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia, and Saleh beat Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Ding Liren seemed to have prepared something extra special for his Round 3 game.
The most critical victory for the standings was Ding’s win over Hou:
Yifan Hou vs. Ding Liren
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 3.1 |14 May 2017 |ECO: C50 |0-1
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bc4Nf64. d3Bc55. O-OO-O6. a4d67. c3a58. Bg5h69. Bh4g510. Bg3Kg7!?I like this move.
( 10... g411. Bh4Is much more dangerous for Black. )
11. Re1g412. Bh4Ne7!?I'm guessing this was Ding's pre-game preparation. If so, it's very impressive. The king will be forced up to f6, but it will only be temporary.
( 12... gxf313. Qxf3This kind of position is very dangerous for Black. He will have a hard time breaking the pin and White can maneuver Nd2-f1-g3. )
( 13. d4exd414. cxd4Bb4Is also fine for Black after: 15. e5dxe516. dxe5Nh717. Nfd2Ng5 )
13... Kxf614. d4Bb615. Nh4Kg7The dust has settled and Black already has a great position, and after only 15 moves. His dark-squared bishop will be a monster and once he plays Nc6, the White d-pawn will be under tremendous pressure. 16. Na3
( 16. g3exd417. cxd4Nc6Was also very unpleasant for White. )
16... exd4!17. cxd4Nc6!The White d-pawn is under fire. 18. Nf5+Bxf519. exf5h5!Black protects the pawn on g4 before proceeding.
( 19... Bxd420. Qxg4+Was also fine for Black but not as good. )
20. Nc2Qf6!Increasing the pressure on d4. 21. Re4
( 21. d5Ne5Would be a strategic disaster for White. )
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been on a tear lately and has risen to No. 5 in the live rankings.
Mamedyarov, who has been on a hot streak lately that has put him at No. 5 in the world, according to the Live Ratings Web site, manhandled Adams.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Michael Adams
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 3.5 |14 May 2017 |ECO: E21 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nc3Bb44. Nf3b65. e3Bb76. Bd3O-O7. O-Od58. cxd5exd59. a3Bd610. b4Nbd711. Qb3a612. a4Qe713. Rb1c614. a5Rfb815. axb6Bc816. Qc2Nxb617. e4!White blasts open the position and Black is run over. 17... dxe418. Nxe4Nxe419. Bxe4h6
( 19... g6This was a better move, but Black would still have been in big trouble after: 20. Re1!Be621. Bxc6Rc822. Qe4And White has an extra pawn. )
( 20... Be621. Bxc6Was even worse for Black. 21... Qc722. Rxe6!fxe623. Bxh6!gxh624. Qg6+Kh825. Bxa8Black is in big trouble. )
21. Bh7+!Energetic and strong. White forces the king to f8. 21... Kf8
( 21... Kh822. Re8+ )
( 22... Be6Black needed to play this move, though he would not get much relief after: 23. Ng6+!Ke824. g3And White threaten Nf4. )
23. Nxf7!Qxf724. Bg6The queen cannot move. 24... Bf5A sad necessity for Black.
( 24... Qd725. Re8+Qxe826. Bxe8Kxe827. Qxc6+ )
( 24... Nxb425. Rxb4 )
25. Bxf5Nxb426. Qe4Material is now equal, but one look at Black's king is enough to know that White is winning. He threatens Be6. 26... Nd5
( 26... Re827. Be6a528. Rb3And Rf3 will be decisive. )
Peter Svidler played brilliantly to subdue Pentala Harikrishna.
Though I really like the aggressive spirit with which Harikrishna played, his attack was not, objectively, sound, and Svidler calmly rebuffed it.
Pentala Harikrishna vs. Peter Svidler
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 3.6 |14 May 2017 |ECO: D85 |0-1
1. d4Nf62. c4g63. Nc3d54. cxd5Nxd55. e4Nxc36. bxc3Bg77. Be3c58. Rc1O-O9. Nf3Qa510. Qd2Rd811. d5e612. d6I am not sure if this move was part of Harikrishna's pre-game preparation, but it looks pretty dubious.
( 12. Bg5And )
( 12. Be2Are White's main options. )
12... Qa4!Black counterattacks the center. The e-pawn is not easy to defend. 13. h4Ambitious, but probably unsound.
( 13. Bd3Rxd6 )
( 13. c4b6!And Black will follow up with Bb7. )
( 13. e5Nd714. Bg5Rf815. Qf4Qxf416. Bxf4f6Black is fine. )
13... Qxe4!14. h5Qd5!15. Qc2Rxd6It's hard to imagine White has enough compensation for his two-pawn material deficit. His pieces are not really ready for a kingside attack and his own king is not that safe. 16. hxg6hxg617. Ng5Nc6!Truly in the spirit of the Grunfeld Defense. Black does not bother with material and instead develops his pieces. 18. Ne4Rd719. Bg5White threatens Nf6, but Svidler was ready:
( 19. Nxc5This wins a pawn, but it loses a lot of time. I'm sure Svidler was not worried about this possibility. 19... Rc7Black is still up a pawn and has a clear advantage. )
19... Bxc3+!20. Qxc3
( 20. Ke2Nd4+ )
( 20. Nxc3Qxg5 )
20... Qxe4+And it turns out that White's king is in more danger than Black's! 21. Be3
( 21. Be2Nd4 )
( 21. Qe3The computer recommends this move, but after: 21... Qxe3+22. fxe3Kg7Black should win the ending. )
21... e5!22. Qxc5Nd4!Energetic play. Black wants to break through in the center to attack the White king. 23. Bb5Qxg2!Very well calculated. 24. Rh8+Kxh825. Qf8+Kh726. Bxd7Qf3!The point. Black defends f7 with a gain of tempo. 27. Qh6+
( 27. Bxd4Bxd7!28. Qxa8Bg4And White will be mated 29. Kd2 )
27... Kg828. Bxd4Bxd729. Bxe5Qe4+!30. Qe3The dust has settled and Black is up two pawns and also has the safer king. 30... Qh1+31. Kd2Qd5+32. Qd4Qxa2+!White loses a third pawn. 33. Rc2Qa5+34. Kc1Re8!Bringing the last piece into the attack. 35. f4Bf536. Rc7f637. Qc4+Be638. Qc3Qa439. Bd6Bf540. Kd2Qa2+
Despite his perplexed expression, Salem Saleh managed to figure things out against Ian Nepomniachtchi and win their game.
Another player who impressed me with his coolness under pressure was Saleh. He navigated the complications against Nepomniatchi, walking his king through danger, even though he did not have much time on his clock.
Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. A R Saleh Salem
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 3.7 |14 May 2017 |ECO: A07 |0-1
( 46. Qg4Qxg447. Nxg4And the game will likely soon end in a draw. )
46... Ne5!Well spotted. 47. Rh3
( 47. fxe5Rxf348. Qd7+Rf7White is out of checks and out of luck. )
( 47. Bh3The computer recommends this move, but it's not good enough. 47... Nxf348. Nxf3Qxf4White is dead lost. )
47... Qxf448. Qe8It looks as if Black's king is in some danger, but with nerves of steel, Saleh finds the correct path. 48... Qe4+!49. Nf3Rxf3!50. Qh8+As terrifying as this position looks for Black, he actually escapes the checks and obtains a decisive material edge. Still, he has to play extremely precisely as one bad move could turn a win into a loss. 50... Kf7
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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