Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Mamedyarov won in Round 4 and is now tied for the lead with Ding. Radjabov and Svidler are only half a point behind the leaders.
With a victory on Monday in Round 4 of the Moscow Grand Prix, Shakhriyar Memdyarov of Azerbaijan moved to the top of the leaderboard. He shares the lead with Ding Liren of China, the sole leader after Round 3. They each have 3 points.
There were two other decisive results in Round 4: Teimour Radjabov, a compatriot of Mamedyarov’s, beat Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain, while Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia defeated Michael Adams of England. Radjabov’s win moved him into a tie for second with Peter Svidler of Russia, each with 2.5 points.
The Moscow Grand Prix is the second in a series of four tournaments. 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.)
A remarkable feature of the three decisive games on Monday was that all of them were won with Black.
Mamedyarov’s victory over Salem Saleh of United Arab Emirates was the most consequential for the standings. It also move Mamedyarov’s rating over 2800 for the first time.
A R Saleh Salem vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 4.2 |15 May 2017 |ECO: E60 |0-1
1. d4Nf62. c4g63. g3c64. Bg2d55. Qa4dxc46. Qxc4Bg77. Nf3O-O8. O-OBf59. Nc3Nbd710. e3Qc711. Nh4Nb612. Qc5Be613. b3a514. Ba3Nfd715. Qxe7Rfe816. Qg5a417. Rfc1axb318. axb3h619. Qf4Qd820. Nf3Nf621. Ne5Bxb322. g4Nbd523. Nxd5Bxd524. h3Nh725. e4Be626. Bb2Rxa127. Bxa1Nf628. Rd1Qa529. Bf3Qa430. Kg2Rd831. h4Nxe432. Re1Nf633. Nxg6fxg634. Rxe6Qxa135. g5hxg536. hxg5Nh537. Bxh5gxh538. Re7Rf839. Rxg7+Kxg740. Qe5+Kg641. Qd6+Kxg542. Qg3+Kh643. Qd6+Kg744. Qg3+Kf745. Qf4+Ke646. Qe5+Kd747. Qg7+Kc848. Qxf8+Kc749. Qe7+Kb650. Qc5+Ka651. f4Qa2+52. Kg3Qe253. f5Qg4+54. Kh2Qf4+55. Kg2Qe4+56. Kh2Qf357. Qe5h458. f6b5White is down a pawn, but his pawn on f6 pawn is dangerous enough to secure a draw. Still, precision is required and Saleh lost his way. 59. Qg5?
( 59. Qe6!This would have held the draw. The f-pawn is very fast and Black will have to force a perpetual check. Note that after: 59... h3White has 60. Qc8+Ka561. Qa8+Kb462. Qf8+Kc463. Qg7!When Qg2, mate, has been prevented and Black has to force a perpetual before White can promote his f-pawn. )
59... b4!Now Black's b-pawn is as advanced as White's f-pawn. 60. Qg7Qf2+61. Kh3Qe3+62. Kg2Qe4+63. Kh2Qxd4!Black wins another pawn and prevents f7. 64. Kh3b3!65. Qf7b2!It's strange, but over the last several moves, the Black b-pawn has advanced from b5 to b2, and White's pawn is still on f6! 66. Qa2+Kb667. Qb3+Kc768. f7Qf469. f8=RQxf870. Qxb2Qf4Black has two extra pawns and White has no perpetual check. White is lost. 71. Kg2c5
Francisco Vallejo's speculative attack in Round 4 was successfully rebuffed by Teimour Radjabov.
Radjabov had to defend against a speculative attack to join his compatriot in the winner’s circle.
Francisco Vallejo Pons vs. Teimour Radjabov
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 4.7 |15 May 2017 |ECO: B31 |0-1
1. e4c52. Nf3Nc63. Bb5g64. Bxc6dxc65. d3Bg76. h3Nf67. Nc3O-O8. Bf4Nh59. Be3Qd610. Qd2e511. O-O-Ob512. Ne2b413. g4Nf614. Ng3a515. c4a416. Rhg1Kh817. Bh6Ne818. Bxg7+Kxg719. Nf5+?!White's position was difficult, but it was still reasonably solid. I can't imagine Vallejo thought he had enough compensation for his piece sacrifice.
( 19. Ne2White is a bit worse but he can fight and has a reasonable possibility of drawing. )
19... gxf520. gxf5+Kh821. Qg5Ra7!A strong defensive move. Black prepares f6 and will defend laterally along his second rank. 22. Rg4f623. Qh6Rff7!Another good move. Black can contest the g-file and force some trades. 24. Rdg1Rg725. Rxg7Nxg7!
( 25... Rxg7?This is tempting, trying to trade another pair of rooks, but Black would regret it after: 26. Rxg7Nxg727. Ng5When he cannot defend h7. )
26. Ng5Ne8!That rook on a7 proves mighty useful! Now the knight on g5 can be taken. 27. Nf3Ba6!28. Rg6Rf7!29. Ng5It looks like something has gone wrong as Nxf7 is a tough threat to meet, but Radjabov had anticipated this problem. 29... Bxc4!Well spotted. 30. f4
( 30. Nxf7+Bxf7And Black has a decisive edge. )
( 30. dxc4Rd7And Black will mate White. )
30... exf4!31. e5Qe7!Radjabov plays accurately to the end. 32. Nxf7+Bxf733. Rg1Bxa234. e6f335. Qf4Bd5The rest requires no comment. 36. Qb8c437. Kd2c3+38. bxc3bxc3+39. Kc2a340. Rg4a241. Qg3a1=N+42. Kd1c2+43. Kd2c1=Q+44. Kxc1Qc5+45. Kd2Nb3+
All four games that Ian Nepomniachtchi has played in Moscow have been won by Black. Unfortunately for Nepomniachtchi, he has has played White twice.
Nepomniatchi once again bounced back from a loss (this time in Round 3) with a victory. All four of his games in the tournament have ended decisively and all four have been won with Black.
Michael Adams vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 4.8 |15 May 2017 |ECO: B91 |0-1
1. e4c52. Nf3d63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Nf65. Nc3a66. g3e57. Nde2Be78. Bg2O-O9. O-Ob510. Nd5Nxd511. Qxd5Ra712. Be3Be613. Qd3Rb714. b3Nd715. Nc3Nf616. a4Qd717. axb5axb518. Ra6Rc819. Rfa1b420. Na4Qc721. Ra2Nd722. Qf1Rcb823. Qd1h624. h4Bf825. Bf3?!I don't understand the point of this move.
( 25. Nb2!White should have improved his worst placed piece. )
25... Nf626. Bg2Bg2-f3-g2 is not very impressive
( 26. Nb2Once again, this move was better. )
26... Bd7!27. Nb2Bc6!White has a difficult time defending his pawn on e4. 28. Nc4
( 28. Qd3Bb5 )
( 28. f3d5 )
28... Bxe4!Black is up a pawn and with a couple accurate moves he easily consolidates his advantage. 29. Ba7
( 29. Nxd6Rd8And Black is winning. )
( 29. Qe2The computer suggests this move, but after: 29... Bxg230. Kxg2d5Black is in control. )
29... Re8!30. Bb6
( 30. Nxd6Bxd631. Qxd6Rxa7! )
30... Qd731. Na5Bxg232. Kxg2Rbb8It's funny, even in middlegames arising from a Najdorf Sicilian that seem fairly placid, and in which both sides have castled kingside, a couple of small mistakes is all it takes to change the game. Black is up a pawn and has a decisive edge. 33. Ra7Qb534. Bc7Ra835. Nc4Rxa736. Rxa7Qc537. Qa1Ng438. Bb6Qc6+39. f3e4!A flashy way for Black to convert his advantage. 40. fxg4e3+41. Kh2e242. Qe1d543. Be3dxc444. Qxe2Qe6!The rest requires no comment. 45. Qf2Qxe346. Qxf7+Kh847. bxc4Qe2+48. Kh3Qd149. g5h5
Jon Ludvig Hammer almost won his second consecutive game as he had Anish Giri of the Netherlands in bad shape. But Giri proved to be too slippery.
Jon Ludvig Hammer vs. Anish Giri
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 4.5 |15 May 2017 |ECO: A20 |1/2-1/2
1. c4e52. g3c63. Nf3e44. Nd4d55. cxd5Qxd56. Nc2Nf67. Nc3Qe58. Bg2Na69. O-OBe710. d4exd311. Qxd3O-O12. Qe3Bd613. Rd1Re814. Qd4Bc715. Bf4Qh516. Bxc7Nxc717. f3Ne618. Qf2Ng519. g4Qg620. Ne3h521. h4Ne622. g5Nf423. Rd4N6d524. Ncxd5Nxd525. Nxd5cxd526. Rxd5Be627. Rd2Rad828. e4f529. Rxd8Rxd830. Qxa7Qf731. Qa5Qd732. Qe5fxe4White is up two pawns and should win easily if he can consolidate his advantage. But his rook on a1 is still not developed and his king is a little exposed. 33. fxe4?!This loosens the White king's protection even more
( 33. Qxe4Looks more natural to me. After that, I think that White should win. )
33... Bh3!Black threatens Qg4 and it is not an easy threat for White to meet. 34. Qd5+?This forces a trade of queens, but in a simplified rook ending with only one extra pawn, White's winning chances would not have been all that great.
( 34. Bf3!This was the best move, but after: 34... Qd235. Qh2Qd4+36. Qf2Qe5White would have had a lot of work to do. Black's pieces are very active. )
34... Qxd535. exd5Bxg236. Kxg2Rxd537. Rf1Rd4
( 37... Rd3This was even easier but Giri's move was good enough. )
38. Kg3Rg4+39. Kh3Kh740. Rf7Rb441. b3Kg642. Rc7Rd4!Forcing an exchange of a pair of pawns, which improves Black's drawing chances. 43. Rxb7Rd3+44. Kg2Rd2+45. Kf3Rxa2It's now a pretty easy technical draw. The b-pawn can't go anywhere without the White king's support, but the king cannot leave the defense of the kingside pawns. 46. Rb4Kf547. Ke3Rg248. Kd3Rg3+49. Kc2Ke550. Rc4Kd551. Kb2Rh352. Ka3Rg353. Ka4Rh354. Rb4Ke655. Kb5Kd556. Ka5Kd657. Rb7Rxh458. Rxg7Rh159. g6h460. Rh7Ke661. Rc7h362. g7Rg163. Rc3h264. Rh3Rxg765. Rxh2Kd766. Rc2Rg867. b4Ra8+68. Kb5Rb8+69. Ka4Ra8+70. Kb3Rc871. Rxc8Kxc872. Kc4Kb873. Kd5Kb774. Kc5Kc775. b5Kb776. b6Kb877. Kc6Kc878. b7+Kb879. Kb6
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.