Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ding Liren continue to lead, but there are now seven players trailing them by only half a point.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Ding Liren of China each drew their games on Friday in Round 7 of the Moscow Grand Prix and they continue to lead the tournament. Each now has 4.5 points.
But Anish Giri of the Netherlands beat Salem Saleh of the United Arab Emirates, putting him in the pack of seven players who trail the leaders by only half a point. With two rounds to go, the tournament is far from decided.
Hou Yifan of China also won on Friday, beating Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway after Hammer erred in the endgame.
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.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Ding Liren had a hard fight to draw against Hikaru Nakamura.
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.)
Hou played a fine game against Hammer, but it always pains me to see my friends lose.
Yifan Hou vs. Jon Ludvig Hammer
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 7.7 |19 May 2017 |ECO: E06 |1-0
1. Nf3d52. d4Nf63. c4e64. g3Be75. Bg2O-O6. O-Odxc47. Qa4a68. Qxc4b59. Qc2Bb710. Bd2Be411. Qc1c612. Rd1Nbd713. Nc3Bg614. a3c515. Be3Qc716. Ne5cxd417. Nxg6hxg618. Bxa8dxe319. Nd5exf2+20. Kf1Qc521. b4Qxc122. Nxe7+Kh723. Raxc1Rxa824. Kxf2a525. Rd4g526. h4g427. Rc8Ra628. Rc7axb429. axb4Ne530. Rc5Nc431. Rxb5Nd632. Ra5Rb633. Kg2g634. Rc5Nb535. Rdc4Kg736. Nc8Rb837. Rc6Na338. Rc3Nb539. R3c4Na340. Rc3Nb541. Rc1Nd542. Kf2Na343. Ra1Nb544. Rc5f545. Kf1Kf646. Ra6Nbc747. Rac6Rxc848. Rxd5Nxd549. Rxc8Nxb450. Kf2Nd551. Ke1Ne352. Rb8Ke553. Rb5+Kf654. Rb3Nc455. Rb4Nd656. Kd2Ke557. Kd3Kd558. Ra4Ke559. Ra5+Kf660. Kd4Ne461. Ra3Nf262. Rb3Ne463. Re3Nd264. Rd3Nf165. Ra3Black had a lousy position for a very long time, but defended resourcefully and finally has a draw within grasp. But he still needed to play precisely and sensibly. 65... f4?There was no need for drastic action
( 65... Nd2Black has a fortress. )
66. gxf4Kf567. Ra1!Nd2
( 67... Ng368. e3Also wins for White as Black cannot set the g-pawn in motion. )
( 67... Nh268. Ke3! )
68. Kd3!Nb369. Rb1Nc5+70. Ke3White has consolidated her position and retained the extra pawn that Black gave up by playing f4. In fact, the computer gives White a +7 score. 70... e571. Rb5Nd772. fxe5Nf873. e6+Kf674. Kf4Nxe6+75. Kxg4Nd476. Rb6+Kf777. e4Kg778. e5Kf779. Rf6+Kg780. Kg5
Salem Saleh could not solve the problems posed by Anish Giri in the endgame.
The other decisive game was Giri’s win over Saleh. The rook ending was probably not salvageable, but Saleh put up less resistance than he could have:
Anish Giri vs. A R Saleh Salem
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 7.5 |19 May 2017 |ECO: B12 |1-0
1. e4c62. d4d53. e5Bf54. Nd2e65. Nb3c56. dxc5Bxc57. Nxc5Qa5+8. c3Qxc59. Be3Qc710. f4Ne711. Be2O-O12. Nf3Nbc613. O-ONa514. Bf2a615. Rc1Rac816. b3Nac617. Qd2Rfd818. b4Be419. a4Nf520. g4Nfe721. Ng5Bg622. Bc5Rd723. Nf3Na524. Nd4Nc425. Bxc4dxc426. Bxe7Rxe727. f5exf528. gxf5Bh529. Qg5g630. e6f631. Qxf6Rg732. Rc2Bg433. Qh4Bxf534. Rg2Re835. Re1a536. bxa5Qxa537. Nxf5Qxf538. Qxc4Rge739. Rf2Qa540. Rf7Qb6+41. Kg2Qc6+42. Qxc6bxc643. Rxe7Rxe744. Kf3Kf845. a5Ra746. Re5Ke747. Ke4Rb748. Kd3Rb149. Kc2Ra1?!I think this is a step in the wrong direction. The rook belongs in front of the pawn.
( 49... Rb8I don't see a clear plan for White. It's very hard to get the a-pawn mobilized with the king cut off along the b-file. 50. c4h651. Kc3g552. Kd4White would probably still win in this position, but it would be much more difficult than in the game. )
50. Kb2Ra451. Kb3Ra152. Kb2Ra453. Kb3Ra154. c4!The start of a clever plan. White will play Kb4 and then Re3-a3 to support the advance of the a-pawn. This is why I would rather have the rook on b8. 54... h655. Kb4g556. Re3!c5+This prevents Ra3 but also allows the White king to invade.
( 56... h557. Ra3 )
57. Kb5!Black is unable to stop the a-pawn 57... g458. h3gxh359. Rxh3Kxe660. Rxh6+Kd761. a6Kc762. Rh8Kd663. a7Rxa764. Rh6+Ke565. Kxc5Ra866. Kb6
Ernesto Inarkiev, left, had a good position against Ian Nepomniachtchi, but he decided not to take any chances and drew.
Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia might have had a chance to get a decent middlegame against Ian Nepomniatchi, a compatriot, but it looked as if Inarkiev misassessed the position, or perhaps he was not in a mood to take chances:
Ernesto Inarkiev vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 7.9 |19 May 2017 |ECO: D80 |1/2-1/2
1. d4Nf62. c4g63. Nc3d54. Bg5Bg75. Bxf6Bxf66. cxd5c57. Nf3cxd48. Nxd4Qb69. Nb3O-O10. Qd2Rd811. Rd1Na612. e4Bg413. Be2Bxe214. Qxe2Nb415. e5Bg7White is up a pawn, but he is a little behind on development and the threat of Nxa2 is pretty annoying. White forced a draw at this point, but I think he could have tried: 16. Nc1
( 16. f4Nxa217. Nxa2Qxb318. Nc3The computer evaluates chances as about equal, but the position looks a little unpleasant for Black -- I hate having a bishop with little scope. )
16... Qa5!17. Nb3?!Acquiescing to a draw.
( 17. Qe4!This move was better. With one more tempo, White can play a3 and he will have a huge advantage. That forces Black to immediately open the center to gain counterplay. 17... e618. dxe6!Rxd1+19. Kxd1fxe620. f4Rd8+21. Ke2I do not believe Black ha enough compensation for his one-pawn deficit. )
The ceremonial first move for the round was made in the game between Peter Svidler and Boris Gelfand by Andrey Guryev Jr., chief executive of PhosAgro, one of the principal sponsors of the Grand Prix.
Peter Svidler of Russia tried mixing things up with an enterprising pawn sacrifice against Boris Gelfand of Israel, but it was not enough for an advantage:
Peter Svidler vs. Boris Gelfand
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 7.4 |19 May 2017 |ECO: D45 |1/2-1/2
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nf3d54. Nc3c65. e3Nbd76. Qc2Bd67. b3O-O8. Be2b69. O-OBb710. Bb2Qe711. Rad1Rad812. Rfe1Rfe813. Bf1Middlegames arising from the anti-Meran opening are very tense, but they can often simplify quickly if one side plays a pawn break. That is what happened in this game. 13... e5!?Opening the center. 14. dxe5
( 14. cxd5?This is strategically desirable but Black has a tactical respite: 14... e4!15. dxc6The only way to try to justify White's previous play, but pawn grabbing is no good: ...exf3!16. cxb7Bxh2+17. Kxh2Qd6+!18. Kh3Re5!And Black would win. )
14... Nxe515. Nd4dxc4!Black needs to play this while he still can. If he does not, White will play cxd5. 16. Nf5Qe617. Nxd6Rxd618. Rxd6Qxd619. Rd1!?In this position, White has no problem being down a pawn.
( 19. bxc4This equalizes material but Black would have a lot of play after: 19... Nfg4!When the threat of Nf3+ is hard to meet. )
( 19. Bxc4 )
19... cxb320. axb3Qb821. Ne4Nxe422. Qxe4White has a lot of activity and an impressive bishop pair for his pawn deficit, but black has a solid position and is not worse. 22... f623. Bxe5Rxe524. Bc4+Kh825. Qd4Re726. Qd8+Re827. Qd7Qc828. Qf7The threat of Rd7 forces black to make a draw here 28... Rf829. Qe7Re830. Qf7
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.