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.

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. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. a4 d6 7. c3 a5 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Kg7!? I like this move.
10... g4 11. Bh4 Is much more dangerous for Black.  )
11. Re1 g4 12. Bh4 Ne7!? 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... gxf3 13. Qxf3 This 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. Bxf6+
13. d4 exd4 14. cxd4 Bb4 Is also fine for Black after:
15. e5 dxe5 16. dxe5 Nh7 17. Nfd2 Ng5  )
13... Kxf6 14. d4 Bb6 15. Nh4 Kg7 The 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. g3 exd4 17. cxd4 Nc6 Was also very unpleasant for White.  )
16... exd4! 17. cxd4 Nc6! The White d-pawn is under fire.
18. Nf5+ Bxf5 19. exf5 h5! Black protects the pawn on g4 before proceeding.
19... Bxd4 20. Qxg4+ Was also fine for Black but not as good.  )
20. Nc2 Qf6! Increasing the pressure on d4.
21. Re4
21. d5 Ne5 Would be a strategic disaster for White.  )
21... Qxf5 There goes a pawn!
22. Bd3 Qg5 23. g3 f5 24. Rf4 Rae8 25. h4 gxh3 26. Qf3 d5 27. Rd1?
27. Rh4! This move would have given White better chances to resist.  )
27... Re4! A strong exchange sacrifice
28. Bxe4 fxe4 29. Qe3 Rxf4 30. Qxf4 Qxf4 31. gxf4 Ne7?!
31... Kf6 Was simpler and stronger.  )
32. Kh2?! Both players were in some time pressure at this point, lowering the quality of their play.
32. f3! And White would be close to equalizing after she played Kf2 on the next move.  )
32... Ng6 33. f5?! Too slow. White cannot hang onto this pawn.
33. f3! Again, this move offered White her best chances.  )
33... Nf4 34. f3? Too late
34. b4! This was the absolute last chance to fight for salvation. White needs open lines for her rook.  )
34... c6! Black reroutes the bishop to c7, which is decisive.
35. fxe4 dxe4 36. Re1 Bc7! Well calculated.
37. Rg1+
37. Rxe4 Nd3+! And White loses her rook after:
38. Kg1 h2+ 39. Kg2 h1=Q+! 40. Kxh1 Nf2+  )
37... Kf7 38. Rf1 Kf6 39. Kg3 Kxf5 White is lost. Black's pieces are too active and the passed pawns are very strong. Furthermore, the White rook is very passive.
40. Ne3+ Kg5 41. Nc4 h4+ 42. Kf2
42. Kh2 Nd5+! 43. Kxh3 Bg3! And Black will win material after he plays Nf4.
44. Kg2 b5 Followed by Ne3.  )
42... Nd3+ 43. Ke2 Bf4! Ding plays accurately to the end.
43... h2 44. Nd2 Black is definitely still winning, but there was no reason to allow Nd2.  )
44. Nxa5 h2 45. Nxb7 Nc1+ 46. Kf2 e3+ 47. Kg2 e2 48. Re1 Bd2 49. Rh1 Nb3 50. Kxh2 e1=Q 51. Rxe1 Bxe1 Hou had seen enough.

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. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. e3 Bb7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. O-O d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. a3 Bd6 10. b4 Nbd7 11. Qb3 a6 12. a4 Qe7 13. Rb1 c6 14. a5 Rfb8 15. axb6 Bc8 16. Qc2 Nxb6 17. e4! White blasts open the position and Black is run over.
17... dxe4 18. Nxe4 Nxe4 19. Bxe4 h6
19... g6 This was a better move, but Black would still have been in big trouble after:
20. Re1! Be6 21. Bxc6 Rc8 22. Qe4 And White has an extra pawn.  )
20. Re1! Qc7
20... Be6 21. Bxc6 Was even worse for Black.
21... Qc7 22. Rxe6! fxe6 23. Bxh6! gxh6 24. Qg6+ Kh8 25. Bxa8 Black is in big trouble.  )
21. Bh7+! Energetic and strong. White forces the king to f8.
21... Kf8
21... Kh8 22. Re8+  )
22. Ne5! Nd5
22... Be6 Black needed to play this move, though he would not get much relief after:
23. Ng6+! Ke8 24. g3 And White threaten Nf4.  )
23. Nxf7! Qxf7 24. Bg6 The queen cannot move.
24... Bf5 A sad necessity for Black.
24... Qd7 25. Re8+ Qxe8 26. Bxe8 Kxe8 27. Qxc6+  )
24... Nxb4 25. Rxb4  )
25. Bxf5 Nxb4 26. Qe4 Material is now equal, but one look at Black's king is enough to know that White is winning. He threatens Be6.
26... Nd5
26... Re8 27. Be6 a5 28. Rb3 And Rf3 will be decisive.  )
27. Be6 Qf6 28. Rxb8+ Rxb8 29. Qh7 g5 30. Qg8+

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. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Be3 c5 8. Rc1 O-O 9. Nf3 Qa5 10. Qd2 Rd8 11. d5 e6 12. d6 I am not sure if this move was part of Harikrishna's pre-game preparation, but it looks pretty dubious.
12. Bg5 And  )
12. Be2 Are White's main options.  )
12... Qa4! Black counterattacks the center. The e-pawn is not easy to defend.
13. h4 Ambitious, but probably unsound.
13. Bd3 Rxd6  )
13. c4 b6! And Black will follow up with Bb7.  )
13. e5 Nd7 14. Bg5 Rf8 15. Qf4 Qxf4 16. Bxf4 f6 Black is fine.  )
13... Qxe4! 14. h5 Qd5! 15. Qc2 Rxd6 It'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. hxg6 hxg6 17. Ng5 Nc6! Truly in the spirit of the Grunfeld Defense. Black does not bother with material and instead develops his pieces.
18. Ne4 Rd7 19. Bg5 White threatens Nf6, but Svidler was ready:
19. Nxc5 This wins a pawn, but it loses a lot of time. I'm sure Svidler was not worried about this possibility.
19... Rc7 Black is still up a pawn and has a clear advantage.  )
19... Bxc3+! 20. Qxc3
20. Ke2 Nd4+  )
20. Nxc3 Qxg5  )
20... Qxe4+ And it turns out that White's king is in more danger than Black's!
21. Be3
21. Be2 Nd4  )
21. Qe3 The computer recommends this move, but after:
21... Qxe3+ 22. fxe3 Kg7 Black should win the ending.  )
21... e5! 22. Qxc5 Nd4! Energetic play. Black wants to break through in the center to attack the White king.
23. Bb5 Qxg2! Very well calculated.
24. Rh8+ Kxh8 25. Qf8+ Kh7 26. Bxd7 Qf3! The point. Black defends f7 with a gain of tempo.
27. Qh6+
27. Bxd4 Bxd7! 28. Qxa8 Bg4 And White will be mated
29. Kd2  )
27... Kg8 28. Bxd4 Bxd7 29. Bxe5 Qe4+! 30. Qe3 The dust has settled and Black is up two pawns and also has the safer king.
30... Qh1+ 31. Kd2 Qd5+ 32. Qd4 Qxa2+! White loses a third pawn.
33. Rc2 Qa5+ 34. Kc1 Re8! Bringing the last piece into the attack.
35. f4 Bf5 36. Rc7 f6 37. Qc4+ Be6 38. Qc3 Qa4 39. Bd6 Bf5 40. Kd2 Qa2+

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
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Bg4 3. Bg2 c6 4. c4 e6 5. O-O Nf6 6. b3 Nbd7 7. Bb2 Bd6 8. d3 O-O 9. Nbd2 Qe7 10. h3 Bh5 11. a3 a5 12. Qc2 Rfc8 13. e4 dxe4 14. dxe4 e5 15. Nh4 Bc5 16. Kh1 Bg6 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Nf3 Rd8 19. Rfe1 Nh7 20. h4 g5 21. Qe2 Qf6 22. Rf1 gxh4 23. Nxh4 Ndf8 24. Nf5 Ne6 25. Rad1 Nd4 26. Bxd4 exd4 27. f4 d3 28. Rxd3 Rxd3 29. Qxd3 Rd8 30. Qe2 g6 31. Nh6+ Kg7 32. e5 Qe7 33. Ng4 f5 34. Nh2 Nf8 35. g4 Qh4 36. b4 axb4 37. axb4 Bd4 38. e6 Re8 39. gxf5 gxf5 40. e7 Rxe7 41. Qd3 Be3 42. Rf3 Bf2 43. Bf1 Ng6 44. Qc2 Bd4 45. Qxf5 Rf7 46. Qe6?
46. Qg4 Qxg4 47. Nxg4 And the game will likely soon end in a draw.  )
46... Ne5! Well spotted.
47. Rh3
47. fxe5 Rxf3 48. Qd7+ Rf7 White is out of checks and out of luck.  )
47. Bh3 The computer recommends this move, but it's not good enough.
47... Nxf3 48. Nxf3 Qxf4 White is dead lost.  )
47... Qxf4 48. Qe8 It looks as if Black's king is in some danger, but with nerves of steel, Saleh finds the correct path.
48... Qe4+! 49. Nf3 Rxf3! 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
50... Kg6? 51. Qh7+  )
51. Rh7+ Ke6!
51... Kg6? 52. Rg7+! Kf5 53. Qf8+ Ke6 54. Re7+ Kd6 55. Qd8+ And White delivers checkmate.  )
52. Qc8+
52. Qe8+ Kf5! The only good move.
...   )
52... Kf6 53. Qf8+ Kg5!
53... Ke6 54. Re7+  )
54. Qh6+
54. Qg7+ Ng6 55. Qh6+ Kf5 56. Rf7+ Kg4 No more checks  )
54... Kf5!
54... Kg4? 55. Rg7+ Kf5 56. Rg5+ Kf4 57. Rg6+ Kf5 58. Qg5#  )
55. Qf8+
55. Qh5+ Also fails
55... Kf6 56. Rh6+ Kg7 57. Qg5+ Ng6  )
55... Kg4 White resigned because after:
56. Rg7+ Ng6 White has no more checks.


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.