Image by Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
With a victory in the final round, Ding Liren won the second Grand Prix. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew his last game and finished in second.
With a win in the final round on Sunday, Ding Liren of China clinched the Moscow Grand Prix. Ding finished with 6 points, a half point ahead of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan. Ding and Mamedyarov had led the tournament since Round 4.
Ding won 20,000 euros and Mamedyarov earned 15,000 euros. The total prize fund was 130,000 euros.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Boris Gelfand lost to Ding Liren in the last round, despite playing White.
Ding beat Boris Gelfand of Israel and he did it with the Black pieces.
Boris Gelfand vs. Ding Liren
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 9.1 |21 May 2017 |ECO: E01 |0-1
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. g3d54. Bg2Bb4+5. Bd2Be76. Nf3O-O7. O-ONbd78. a4a59. Qc2c610. Na3Ne411. Bf4g5!The praise is more for the spirit of the move than its objective. Black has other good options, but I really like that Ding was clearly willing to take risks in a game where a draw would likely have been enough to tie for first.
( 11... b6Chances would be equal. )
12. Be3f5Very ambitious.
( 12... Nd6This is also a typical idea, aiming for Nf5, but I like the move played by Ding even more. )
13. Rad1Bf614. Nb1This is not a good sign for White. He is not worse, but playing Nb1-a3-b1 in the first 14 moves does not inspire confidence. 14... Qe715. Nc3b616. Ne5?!I think this is trying for too much. Center pawns are very valuable.
( 16. b3I'd prefer to play solidly. After: 16... Ba6The computer evaluates the position as equal, though I think most people would prefer to play Black. )
16... Nxe517. dxe5Bxe518. Bxb6
( 18. Nxe4fxe419. c5The computer suggests this move and says the position as equal, but I am skeptical of that evaluation. After: 19... bxc520. Bxc5Bd621. Bxd6Qxd622. Qxe4e5I think Black has a chance to gain an advantage. )
18... Qb4Not necessarily the best move, but definitely the simplest. I like it.
( 18... Ra6!?This move may have been even stronger. 19. Bd4Bxd420. Rxd4e521. Rdd1Nxc322. bxc3dxc4Black should be better. )
19. Nxe4fxe4White will lose the pawn on b2. 20. cxd5?White will not gain enough compensation for this sacrifice.
( 20. Be3This move was best, but after: 20... Qxb221. Qxb2Bxb222. Bxg5Ba623. cxd5cxd5Black is a little better. )
20... Qxb621. Qxe4Qxb222. dxc6
( 22. dxe6Might be more resilient, but after: 22... Bxe623. Qe3g424. Bxc6Rab8I think Black should win. )
22... Bc7!Simple and strong. The White pawn on c6 is blockaded and Black is ready to bring the queen back to f6 to consolidate his position. He has a clear edge. 23. Rd7Desperation, though White was probably doomed to lose. 23... Bxd724. cxd7Qf625. Bh3Rab826. Qxe6+Qxe627. Bxe6+Kg7The pawn on d7 looks impressive, but it will never reach d8. Ding simply plays around it and hits the weaknesses in White's position with his extra rook. 28. Rc1Kf629. Bg4Bd830. Rc6+Kg731. Bh5Rb232. Rc8Rd233. Be8Bb6!34. Rb8Rf635. e3g4!White resigned rather then waiting for Rdxf2 followed by Rf1+ and R6f2#
Mamedyarov’s game against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France was much quieter and the players drew in a symmetrical position after 26 moves.
Max Avdeev for World Chess by Agon Limited
Hou Yifan beat Ernesto Inarkiev in the last round. She wound up tied for third.
The only other decisive win of the round was Ding’s compatriot, Hou Yifan, who beat Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia. Hou was got lucky as Inarkiev had a nice position and completely imploded in just two careless moves.
Ernesto Inarkiev vs. Yifan Hou
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 9.7 |21 May 2017 |ECO: C50 |0-1
1. e4e52. Nf3Nc63. Bc4Bc54. O-ONf65. d3d66. c3a67. Re1O-O8. Bb3h69. Nbd2Ng410. Re2Kh811. h3f512. exf5Nxf213. Rxf2Bxf2+14. Kxf2Bxf515. Qe2d516. Kg1Qd617. Bc2Rf718. b4a519. Bb2axb420. cxb4Nxb421. Nxe5Re722. Ndf3Kg823. Qd2Nxc224. Qxc2c525. Qb3Kh7Both sides have made some inaccuracies in a complex game, but for the most part it had been well played up to this point. White has a slight edge with two pieces for the rook. 26. Kh1?I have no idea what Inarkiev was thinking.
( 26. d4!This move was necessary to support the knight on e5 and to force more Black pawns onto light squares. After: 26... c427. Qd1Black's passed c-pawn gives her some counterplay and the computer evaluates chances as equal, but I prefer White's position. )
26... d4!Simple positional chess. Black blunts the bishop on b2, puts more pressure on the knight on e5, which has now lost a defender, and fixes the pawn on d3 as a permanent weakness. It baffles me that Inarkiev allowed this move. 27. Bc1?White's position was already lousy, but this move immediately loses material. 27... Rxe5!28. Bf4
( 28. Nxe5Qxe5Black is up a pawn and has a large strategic advantage. )
28... Qd5!White cannot take the rook on e5. Black is up an exchange and a pawn. The rest was easy. 29. Rb1
It was Hou’s third victory of the tournament and put her into a seven-way tie for third.
The other games were draws, but both Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler of Russia had some chances to catch up with Mamedyarov to share second. But playing Anish Giri of the Netherlands and Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, respectively, neither Grischuk nor Svidler could make much headway.
Anish Giri vs. Alexander Grischuk
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 9.4 |21 May 2017 |ECO: A21 |1/2-1/2
1. c4e52. Nc3Bb43. Nd5Bc54. e3Nf65. b4Nxd56. bxc5Nf67. Nf3Qe78. Be2e49. Nd4Na610. g4Nxc511. Nf5Qf812. g5d613. Ng3Nfd714. Qc2Qe715. Bb2Ne516. Nxe4Bf517. f3Nxf3+18. Bxf3Bxe419. Bxe4Qxe420. Qxe4+Nxe421. Rg1O-O22. Bd4f623. gxf6Nxf624. Ke2b625. a4a526. Raf1Nh527. e4Rxf1I don't like this move. It makes sense for Black to try to trade pieces because he is up a pawn, but winning this bishop vs. knight ending is not easy because all the pawns that are fixed are on dark squares, helping White.
( 27... g6This move looks better to me, preparing to bring the knight to g7. If White exchanges rooks, it works out differently: 28. Rxf8+This is not forced but what else can White do? ...Rxf829. Rf1Rxf130. Kxf1Kf731. e5Ke632. exd6Kxd6And now the White king is far enough away from the action that Nf4-e6-c5 will be very hard to prevent. )
28. Rxf1Rf829. Rxf8+Kxf830. e5!A very strong move. Giri trades pawns -- a good thing to do, in general, when down material -- and also gains some scope for his bishop to attack the queenside pawns, which are conveniently fixed on dark squares. 30... Ke731. Kf3dxe532. Bxe5Kd733. d4Nf634. Kf4I think this position should end in a draw. The pawn on c7 requires enough attention that Black cannot really hope to advance his kingside majority. 34... Ne835. Ke4Nd6+36. Kd3g6
( 36... g5The computer prefers this move, but I don't think it would be enough to win. )
37. Bf4Nf538. Bd2Nd639. c5!Trading more pawns. 39... Nb740. Be3bxc541. dxc5Kc642. Kc4Nd843. Bd2Nb744. Be3The permanent weakness on a5 gives White enough counterplay to save the game. Black tried his last idea, but it proved insufficient to create winning chances. 44... g545. Bxg5Nxc546. Bd2Nxa447. Bxa5Material is so reduced that there are basically no longer any winning chances. 47... Nb6+48. Kd4Kd649. Ke4Ke650. Kd4Kf551. Kc5Kg452. Kc6Kh353. Kxc7Nc454. Bc3Kxh255. Kc6Ne356. Bd2Ng457. Kd5h558. Bg5
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow |Moscow RUS |Round 9.3 |21 May 2017 |ECO: E60 |1/2-1/2
1. d4Nf62. c4g63. Nf3Bg74. e3O-O5. Be2c56. d5d67. Nc3e68. O-ORe89. e4exd510. exd5Ne411. Nxe4Rxe412. Bd3Re813. Bg5Bf614. Qd2Nd715. Rfe1Ne516. h4Nxf3+17. gxf3Bd718. Rxe8+Bxe819. Qf4Bxg520. hxg5h621. gxh6Qe722. a3a523. Rc1Bd724. Rc3Re825. Kg2Qd826. Rb3Bc827. Bc2Re528. Re3Rh529. Ba4Bd730. Bxd7Qxd731. Kf1Qd832. Ke2Rh433. h7+Kg734. h8=B+Rxh835. Re4A draw was agreed in this position, but White is actually under a lot of pressure and Svidler definitely should have played on. The doubled White f-pawns will be a long-term weakness, his king is open, and the b2 pawn could be a target as well. For example: 35... Rh1!Preparing to invade with Rb1 36. Qd2
( 36. b3Rb1 )
( 36. Kd2Defending b2 with the king makes some sense, but after 36... a437. Kc2Qf6!Black trades queens and can start to target the f-pawns. 38. Qxf6+Kxf639. b3Rh240. Re2Rh441. Kc3axb342. Kxb3Rf4 )
36... a4!And White handling the Black threat of Qf6 followed by Rb1. 37. Qc3+Qf6Black has excellent winning chances.
The Moscow Grand Prix was 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.
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.