Image by Georgios Souleidis / Grenke Chess Classic
With his fourth consecutive victory, Levon Aronian won the tournament with a round to spare.
Friday, Levon Aronian beat Hou Yifan Friday in Round 6 of the Grenke Chess Classic. It was Aronian’s fourth straight win the event and after all the rest of the games ended in draws, it clinched first place in the tournament with a round to spare.
Aronian, who is from Armenia, now has 5 points, while his nearest rivals, Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion from Norway, and Fabiano Caruana of the United States, each have 3.5 points.
Georgios Souleidis / Grenke Chess Classic
Levon Aronian has been in playing superbly the last few rounds.
Against Hou, Aronian sacrificed a pawn to gain the bishop pair and activity for his pieces. When Hou was unable to hold on to her extra material, it left Aronian with a large advantage and he soon converted it into a win.
25. Rac1White is down a pawn, but the activity of his pieces and his bishop pair give him with more than enough compensation. But with accurate play, Black should be hold to hold a draw. 25... Be6?This is complacent.
( 25... Ne3!This should equalize. The point is that Black can follow up with f5, pushing the strong bishop on e4 off his perch. 26. Re1f5!27. Bd3f4And the strong knight on e3 should secure Black a decent enough position. )
26. Bxb7Ra727. Be4White has restored material equality and has an active bishop pair on an open board. That was enough of an advantage for Aronian. 27... a528. Rd4Ne529. Bg3f630. a3Rd731. Bxe5!The art of good technique is knowing how to exchange one advantage for another. Aronian cedes the bishop pair for some activity that will net him a pawn.
( 31. Rxd7Nxd7Black is definitely worse, but can struggle on. )
31... fxe532. Rxd7Bxd733. Rc7!Forcing and strong. The bishop lacks a good square. 33... Bb5Alternatives were not any better.
( 33... Ba434. Ra7Since Black cannot advance a4, the a-pawn will be lost. )
( 33... Be634. Rc5Black must lose either the pawn on e5 or a5. )
( 33... Bc834. Ra7Wins the a-pawn. )
( 33... Re734. Bf5 )
( 33... Rd834. Rc5 )
34. Rc5Black cannot avoid the loss of a pawn. After that, she was unable to put up much resistance. 34... Rb835. Rxe5a436. h4Kf737. Rc5Be838. Bc2Rb239. Rc4Ra240. Bxa4Ra1+41. Kh2Bxa442. Rxa4
After starting the tournament with 2.5 points in her first three games, Hou has fallen back to a score of 50 percent.
Georgios Souleidis / Grenke Chess Classic
Neither Arkadij Naiditsch, left, nor Magnus Carlsen ever managed to take control in their game, which ended in a draw.
Though the rest of the games in the round were drawn, they were hard-fought. Carlsen had a tense position against Arkadij Naiditsch of Azerbaijan, but both players navigated the complications well and neither player ever gained a significant edge.
1. d4Nf62. Bf4g63. Nc3d54. e3Bg75. h4h56. Be2O-O7. Nf3c58. dxc5Qa59. O-OQxc510. Nb5a611. Nc7Ra712. Nb5axb513. Bxb8Ra814. Be5b415. Bd4Qa516. c3Bg417. Qb3bxc318. Bxc3Qc719. Rac1Qd820. Rfd1e6Naiditch finds a forcing continuation, but not too much comes
of it. 21. Bb4Re8
( 21... Bxf3The engine prefers this move, the point being that after: 22. gxf3Ne8!Black is happy to give up the exchange as he will win the pawn on h4. )
22. Bb5!Energetic. White applies the maximum amount of pressure to Black's position. 22... Nd723. e4!More forceful play. Black now has to be very precise to hold on, but Carlsen was up to the task. 23... Bxf3!24. Qxf3
( 24. gxf3Qxh425. Bxd7Red8And White cannot keep his extra material because the attack is too strong after: 26. Bb5Bh6 )
24... Ne5!Black gains a critical tempo to bring the passively placed knight on d7 to the more active square c6. 25. Qh3
( 25. Qb3The engine prefers this move, but after: 25... Nc626. exd5exd527. Rxc6bxc628. Bxc6Qxh429. Bxa8Rxa830. Qxd5Rb8I think Black should hold without much trouble. )
25... Nc6!26. exd5exd527. Rxc6Very forcing. The next sequence of moves left neither player with any real chance to deviate. 27... bxc628. Bxc6Rxa229. Bxd5!
( 29. Bxe8Qxe8Is better for Black. )
29... Kh7!Not fearing for the rook on a2 and getting out of the way of any discovered attacks.
( 29... Rxb230. Bxf7+ )
( 30. Bb3Qb631. Bxa2Qxb4Is just a draw 32. Bxf7?Re1+33. Rxe1Qxe1+34. Kh2Qxf2And White has to play precisely as both Qxf7 and Be5+ are serious threats. )
30... Rxb231. Bxf7Rxb4Not the only move but it is enough.
( 31... Qxh432. Bxe8Qxb433. g3Qe7 )
32. Rxd8Rxd833. g3Rb6The engine prefers White, but Black has a fortress and cannot lose. 34. Bxg6+Rxg635. Qxh5+Rh636. Qf5+Kh837. Kg2Rf638. Qh5+Kg839. Qe2Rdf840. Qc2Rxf2+41. Qxf2Rxf2+42. Kxf2
( 47. Rf7This also holds but it is not as easy because: 47... Kh5Cannot be met by g3. 48. g3Kg6!49. Rf8Re2+50. Kh1h3And Black would eventually win. )
47... Kh548. g3!Well calculated. White forces a pair of pawns off the board to ease his defense 48... Re2+49. Kg1h350. Rh8+!The point of Rf8. Without this check, White would be losing. 50... Kg451. Nh2+Kxg352. Nf1+Kg453. Nh2+Black is unable to escape the checks and consolidate. He tried: 53... Kf4But once he was left with just one pawn there was no longer a way to make progress. 54. Rxh3g455. Nxg4Not necessary, but it is sufficient to hold a draw. Rook and knight vs rook is a very easy draw for a strong player and Blbaum had no problems defending the position. 55... Kxg456. Rh8Nf257. Kf1Rc258. Ke1Kf359. Rf8+Ke360. Re8+Ne461. Kd1Rh262. Kc1Kd463. Rd8+Kc464. Rc8+Nc565. Kd1Rg266. Ke1Kd467. Rd8+Ke368. Re8+Ne469. Kd1Rg670. Kc2Rc6+71. Kb3Kd372. Rd8+Nd673. Rh8Rb6+74. Ka4Nc475. Rh3+Kd476. Rh4+Kd577. Rd4+Kc578. Rd5+Kc679. Rc5+Kxc5
While first place has been decided, there is still a lot to play for and Aronian will have a tough game with Black against Caruana in the finale. I remember one year in Wijk Aan Zee, Aronian completely dominated the field and clinched first with a round to go, only to get demolished by the Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, who was the bottom seed, in the last round. I’m sure he is not eager to repeat that experience and will not celebrate too soon.
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.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players