Mamedyarov, Ding Continue to Lead Moscow Grand Prix
BySamuel ShanklandMay 17 — 1:00 PM
Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
The co-leaders drew to stay tied for first, but there were three other decisive games in Round 5.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Ding Liren of China played a very brief draw in Round 5 of the Moscow Grand Prix. That preserved their position in the tournament and they remain co-leaders, each now has 3.5 points.
There were three other games that were decisive. Alexander Grischuk of Russia beat Hou Yifan of China, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France beat Salem Saleh of United Arab Emirates, and Pentala Harikrishna of India defeated Michael Adams of England.
The wins by Grischuk and Vachier-Lagrave moved them into a tie for third place with Peter Svidler of Russia and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, who faced each other and drew. All four players have 3 points apiece.
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.)
The game between Mamedyarov and Ding was the first to finish. I think Ding was a little premature in accepting a draw.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Ding Liren
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 5.1 |16 May 2017 |ECO: E21 |1/2-1/2
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nc3Bb44. Nf3O-O5. Qc2d56. Bg5h67. Bxf6Qxf68. a3Bxc3+9. Qxc3c610. e3Nd711. Rd1dxc412. Bxc4b613. O-OBb714. e4Rfd815. e5?!The game was agreed drawn, but I think the last move by White was dubious. If Black had continued:
( 15. Rfe1A more patient move like this was fine for White. )
15... Qe7White does not have a great way to deal with the threat of c5. The computer recommends: 16. Qe3c517. d5But after
( 17. Be2Rac8Looks a little unpleasant for White. )
17... exd518. Bxd5Bxd519. Rxd5Nf8!White looks a little uncoordinated. It's not a big edge for Black and I do think White should be able to draw, but Black definitely could have tried to play on.
Grischuk moved to a score of plus 1 with his win over Hou:
Yifan Hou vs. Alexander Grischuk
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 5.6 |16 May 2017 |ECO: B91 |0-1
1. e4c52. Nf3d63. d4cxd44. Nxd4Nf65. Nc3a66. g3e57. Nb3Be78. Bg2O-O9. O-Ob510. a4b411. Nd5Nxd512. Qxd5Ra713. Be3Be614. Qd3Ra815. f4Qc716. Nd2a517. Rf2f618. f5Bf719. Rc1Na620. c4bxc321. Qxc3Qb822. Rff1Nb423. Qc7Qe824. Qb7White has extended her kingside structure with the advance f4-f5. That makes the counterattack by d5 very effective as it undermines White's kingside. 24... Rb8!Black drives the White queen away from the defense of d5. 25. Qa7Ra8
( 25... d5This was possible immediately, but there is no harm in repeating moves one time. )
26. Qb7Rb827. Qa7d5!Black does not worry about the a5 pawn. 28. exd5
( 28. Qxa5?d429. Bf2Nd3And White is losing. )
28... Nxd529. Bc5
( 29. Bxd5Bxd530. Qxa5Ba8White is up a pawn, but she has loads of problems to solve. The pawn on b2 is hard to defend and the Black light-squared bishop is a monster. One possible continuation: 31. Rc2Bb432. Qa6Kh8!Black threatens Qd7-d5; the position is a nightmare for White. ... )
29... Ra8!30. Qb7Rb831. Qa7Ra8
( 31... Bxc5+32. Qxc5Is not as good for Black as the game continuation. )
32. Qb7Bxc5+!Black plays this move because White cannot recapture with her queen. 33. Rxc5Rb8!Unpinning the rook.
( 33... Ne3?34. Qxa8!Black needs to move the rook from a8 before he can continue. )
( 34. Qa7Ne3Was also dead lost for White after: 35. Rf2Nxg236. Rxg2Qxa4 )
The game between Vachier-Lagrave and Saleh ended rather abruptly, but Black was in trouble:
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. A R Saleh Salem
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 5.3 |16 May 2017 |ECO: B10 |1-0
1. e4c62. Nf3d53. Nc3dxe44. Nxe4Nf65. Qe2Nxe46. Qxe4Qd57. Qh4Qe6+8. Be2Qg49. Qg3Qxg310. hxg3Bf511. b3a512. Bb2h613. O-O-Oa414. Nd4Bc815. Rde1axb316. axb3Nd717. Nf5Nf618. g4Be619. f4Rg820. Ne3g621. f5gxf522. gxf5Bd723. Bf3Kd824. Bd4Bg725. Kb2Ne826. Bxg7Nxg727. f6exf628. Rxh6Ne829. d4Kc7Black is clearly worse. Vachier-Lagrave presses his advantage by advancing with his superior pawn majority. 30. d5!Rg531. Rd1!Ra632. b4Black's position is difficult and might be beyond salvaging, but he could have offered more resistance. 32... Nd6?I don't understand this move. Did Black just blunder the f6 pawn?
( 32... b5Black would have better chances to fight. )
33. Rxf6cxd534. Rxd5Rxd5
( 34... Rg6Was more resilient, but Black should still lose. )
35. Bxd5!Black is definitely lost, but he can't have expected his next move to work. 35... Nc4+?36. Bxc4The rook on f6 is undefended. Saleh resigned instead of continuing with 36... Rxf637. Nd5+When White wins the Black rook and remains a piece ahead.
Adams lost his third game in a row, this time Harikrishna:
Pentala Harikrishna vs. Michael Adams
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 5.8 |16 May 2017 |ECO: D35 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nc3d54. cxd5exd55. Bg5c66. e3h67. Bh4Be78. Bd3Nbd79. f3O-O10. Nge2b511. O-ONb612. Bf2a513. Ng3b414. Nce2c515. dxc5Bxc516. Rc1Nbd717. Nd4Qb618. Re1Re819. Bb1a420. Qc2Ra521. Nge2Nf822. Nf4Bd723. Nd3Bd624. Bg3Bxg325. hxg3Rc826. Qd2Rb827. g4Ne628. Ne5Rc529. Nxe6Rxc130. Rxc1Qxe631. Qd4Qd6Black has a very difficult position, but it's still reasonably solid and it is difficult for White to break down Black's defenses. I really like how Harikrishna begins to regroup his pieces. 32. Nd3!Ne8
( 32... Qg3The suggestion of the computer, but: 33. Qf4!Qxf434. exf4!Looks horrendous for Black. )
33. Rc5!Black now has to lose material as both b4 and d5 are attacked. 33... Rb534. Rxb5Bxb535. Qxb4White wins a pawn. 35... Qa6
( 35... Qc636. Qc5Would be even worse for Black. )
36. Nc5Qc637. Bf5Nf638. b3!Brave but strong. White creates a passed a-pawn; he is not afraid of any invasion on the c-file. 38... axb339. Nxb3!This looks risky but both c2 and c1 are firmly covered. 39... g640. Bb1Nd741. Kf2Bc442. Na5!A player who is ahead in material should trade pieces. 42... Qc743. Nxc4dxc444. a4White's a-pawn is far more dangerous than Black's c-pawn. 44... Nb6
( 44... c345. Bc2And the c3 pawn will likely soon be captured. )
45. Bc2Nd546. Qd2Qc6?Black was already losing, but his last move made his situation worse. 47. Be4!c348. Qd1!And Black must lose more material. 48... Qb749. Kg1!White can play Bxd5 on his next move.
( 49. Bxd5?Qb2+Gaining a tempo. 50. Kg3c2And Black escapes )
49... c250. Qxc2Without his c-pawn, Black has no hope of surviving. 50... Qb451. Qb1
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.