He has won both his games to start the tournament and has a half point lead.
It is still early, but Pavel Eljanov is the sole leader of the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. Eljanov has won both his games and is the only player with a perfect score. Saturday, in Round 2, he beat Pentala Harikrishna of India.
Eljanov was not the only player with a decisive result. Veselin Topalov of Bulagiar, the former World Champion, seems to have overcome his recent slump and is playing well again. In Round 2, he beat Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland with some brilliant fireworks. Topalov is now tied for second with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of the host country, who won in Round 1. Each player has 1.5 points.
All the other games in Round 2 were drawn, but Vladimir Kramnik of Russia came close to winning as he showed some very instructive technique against Teimour Radjabov, the other representative of the host country in the tournament.
Veselin Topalov beat Radoslaw Wojtaszek with a nice attack.
Topalov used a subtle idea in the opening to get Wojtaszek away from his preparation. Wojtaszek was still doing fine until he missed some concrete tactics:
1. d4d52. c4c63. Nf3Nf64. e3Bf55. Nc3e66. Nh4Bg67. Nxg6hxg68. Bd3c5This kind of plan has been seen before, but it is still unexpected to see Black move the c-pawn again. Clearly, Wojtaszek was not prepared for it. 9. Qb3Qd710. cxd5exd511. dxc5Nc612. Bd2Bxc5One benefit of Black's setup is that the open h-file makes it difficult for White to castle kingside. But what else is he supposed to do? 13. Rc1
( 13. O-ONg4!?Among other possible moves. 14. h3Qd6Is a bit dangerous for White. )
13... Rd814. Na4Bd615. Nc5Bxc516. Rxc5d4!?White is still okay at this point, but he needed to play very precisely and he did not manage to do that. 17. Bb5?!
( 17. e4!Wojtaskzek was probably afraid of: 17... Qe7It looks as if White will lose the e-pawn, but he has the counterattack: 18. Rb5!And Black is forced to defend the pawn on b7, after which White can castle kingside and his e-pawn will be safe. 18... b619. O-O )
17... O-O18. Bxc6bxc619. f3An ugly move, but it isn't obvious if Black can exploit it.
21. Kf2Black seems to have many pleasant ways to continue, but Topalov comes up with an ingenious and aesthetically brilliant idea: 21... Rb822. Qa3Rxb2!!23. Qxb2The key line is:
( 23. Qxe7Rxc2!24. Qe4Rxd2+25. Kg3Nxe3And Black's initiative is just too strong: 26. Qxc6Rxg2+27. Kh3Rd8Black will be able to push the d-pawn and also can threaten to play Rd5, etc. 28. Re1Rxa229. Rb1d3 )
23... dxe3+24. Bxe3Qxe3+25. Kg3?Wojtaszek either overlooked Black's 26th move, or perhaps he just wasn't able to calculate it till the end to realize how dangerous it was for him.
( 25. Kf1!Nf426. Qc1Qe5White's rook on h1 won't enter the game for a while, and Blacks initiative looks intimidating, but White would be able to hang on. )
25... Qf4+26. Kf2Rb8!Now White's position collapses, though Black still needs to play precisely. 27. Qc1Qd4+28. Kg3Ne3The threat of Nf5, mate, is decisive. 29. Rc5Rb230. Rg1Rxa2Black has just too great an initiative. 31. h3Qd6+32. f4Qd333. Kh2Qe434. Rg5Rc2
Pavel Eljanov beat Pentala Harikrishna in Round 2.
Eljanov’s win was very different. Harikrishna was probably better prepared in the opening, and got an early initiative after the players castled on opposite sides. But Harikrishna opted to trade queens, dissipating his initiative:
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nc3Bb44. e3O-O5. Bd3c56. Nf3b67. d5exd58. cxd5Nxd5!?Isn't the most common move but I think both players had probably looked at it before the game. 9. Bxh7+Kxh710. Qxd5Bxc3+11. bxc3Qf612. Bb2Nc613. O-O-O!A nice and unexpected idea! White is ready to commence operations on the kingside, while it is hard for Black to exploit the weaknesses on White's queenside. 13... Kg814. h4Ba615. h5Qh616. Nh4Qe617. Qxe6?An inexplicable decision. White helps Black improve his pawn structure and ruins his initiative. He probably overlooked Eljanov's move after dxe6 and h6, but even then, it is hard to justify going into this endgame.
( 17. h6!Was perhaps the strongest move. It would lead to a similar continuation as in the game, but White would not have helped Black improve his pawn structure. Black might have then tried to force White to take on e6 by playing: 17... Bc4!But White would not have different possibilities, including the very strong: 18. Qg5!Qxh619. Qg3The open files guarantee White a dangerous initiative on the kingside. )
( 17. Qg5!?Was also a perfectly acceptable continuation. White would retain the initiative and Black doesn't yet have threats on the queenside. 17... f618. Qg3 )
17... dxe618. h6Bc4!A nice practical move. Black had other options, but, by blocking the a1-h8 diagonal, he insures that White will not be able to retake the initiative. Chances are now about equal, but Eljanov is now dictating the pace.
( 18... g619. c4!Would have been great for White. )
( 18... gxh619. c4Would also have given
White quite a bit of play on the kingside. )
Kg645. Bd4?If Harikrishna had calculated that he could force Black to capture on c2 wih the bishop, then he would have done it as it is much easier to block the pawn on b3. But after
( 45. Rc4!He was obviously afraid that Black would play: 45... Kf5It does not appear that Rc4 has helped White, but after: 46. Bh8!bxc247. Rc5+!Makes a huge
Difference. Black is not able to retain his extra pawn: 47... Kg448. Re5!Bd549. e4Bc450. Rc5And White should be able to draw. )
45... bxc2All wasn't lost even now - Black needs a few moves to move his rook on a2 to the first rank in order to support the pawn on c2. With accurate play, White could have created threats with his own rook on the kingside. 46. Rg8+
( 46. Rf8Followed by Rf6+ and Rxe6 would give White counterplay. And if Black tries Bf5 to protect the pawn, White can play e4, forcing an exchange of pawns and reducing the position to a drawn endgame. 46... Kg5Would be similar to the game. But perhaps White should have played Bf6+ now. The reason will be evident later. )
46... Kh547. Rh8+Kg448. Rg8+?!After this the rook is unable to pose many problems for Black.
( 48. Bf6!And Rh4 is a very serious threat. It is not easy to keep the bishop on e4 and if the bishop leaves that square, then White can threaten to play e4, cutting the defense of the pawn. 48... Ra449. Rh4+Kg350. Rf4Rb451. Bb2!An important defensive idea. But this was line wasn't easy to find and White would still have had to fight for a draw. )
48... Kf349. Rf8+Bf5Now the Black rook can maneuver to the first rank and there is little White can do to stop it. 50. Kc1Ra451. Rb8Ra352. Rf8Ke253. Rh8Rb354. Rh2+Kf1
Watching the competition: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, left, and Sergey Karjakin.
Mamedyarov made a short draw against Sergey Karjakin of Russia, with the two players following a well-known variation that leads to a perpetual check. (The two are friends and Mamedyarov even helped Karjakin in his preparation for the World Championship last year.)
Kramnik’s game against Radjabov was very instructive. I was particularly impressed by his plan to trade his light-squared bishop for a knight, at the cost of a pawn, in order to obtain a position with a “good” knight vs. a “bad” bishop. But Kramnik got a little impatient and let Radjabov off the hook by allowing him some counterplay:
1. d4Nf62. Nf3g63. Bg5Bg74. c3O-O5. Nbd2d56. e3Nbd77. Be2Re88. O-Oe59. Bh4c610. Bg3e411. Ne5Nxe512. Bxe5Bf813. Bg3Bd614. Bh4h615. c4Be616. Rc1Kg717. cxd5cxd518. Nb1Qb819. Kh1Nd720. Bb5!Kramnik notices that the Black light-squared-bishop will always be quite passive, so he wants to create a position in which he has a good knight vs. that bad bishop. 20... Bxh2Radjabov takes the free pawn. He might have been worried that Kramnik would now play f4, but Kramnik had something
entirely different in mind: 21. g3!?g522. Bxd7Bxd723. Kxh2gxh4Black has won a pawn, but White has the good knight against Black's passive bishop. 24. Nc3Qd625. Qh5hxg3+26. fxg3f527. Ne2In the next moves few moves, Kramnik demonstrates exquisite technique. He does not hurry in developing his strategy and slowly builds pressure on Black based on the superiority of his minor piece. 27... Rac828. Nf4b629. Rg1Rf830. Kh1Rc631. Qh4Rxc132. Rxc1Rc833. Rf1Rf834. Rf2White can play on both the sides of the board, while Black must play defensively. 34... Rf735. Rc2!Switching back to the queenside as Black cannot challenge the White rook for the c-file. 35... Rf836. Qh5!Rf7
( 36... Rc8Was no longer possible because of 37. Rxc8Bxc838. Qe8!Bd739. Nh5+Kh740. Qf7+Kh841. Nf6 )
37. a3Re738. b4Rf739. Qh4Rf840. Nh5+Kg641. Nf4+Kg742. Qh5Rf743. Kh2Re744. Qe2Be845. Qa6Black still cannot play Rc7 without losing the d-pawn. 45... Bf746. Qc8Qd7White could have avoided the exchange of queens, but I don't see how that would have helped him. 47. Qb8Qb748. Qxb7Rxb749. a4A remarkable position. White is down a pawn, but unquestionably he is the one playing for a win. The Black bishop couldn't be much worse, and White also controls the c-file. The question is: How will he improve his position? 49... Kf650. Rc6+Kg551. Kh3Rd752. a5?!Kramnik gets a bit impatient and allows Black some counterplay.
( 52. Kg2!With the threat of Nh3+ would be quite annoying. 52... h553. Kh3!White actually has a plan for improving his position: 53... Re754. Rc8Rd755. Rh8Re756. Rh7Rd7If White plays Nh5, then after Be8! An exchange of rooks is forced and the pawn on a4 will fall. 57. b5!Black is basically in zugzwang. Either Nxd5 or Nxh5 cannot be stopped. )
52... bxa553. bxa5Rb7!Finally Black has some activity! 54. a6Rb3!55. Rc7
( 55. Ng2Be856. Rc7Bb557. Rxa7Bf1! )
55... Kf656. Rxa7Rxe3Black is able to save the game thanks to his passed e-passed. 57. Rc7Ra358. a7Ra259. Rb7e360. g4fxg4+61. Kxg4h5+62. Kf3Ra363. Ng2h464. Nxe3h365. Kf4Be666. Nf1Ra467. Kg3Ra3+68. Kf4Ra469. Kf3Ra3+70. Ne3Kg571. Rg7+Kf672. Rc7Kg573. Rg7+Kf6
I think the endgame would be very instructive to analyze in depth. My analysis is somewhat hasty and it would be easy to improve the play on both sides. But, it is definitely a useful exercise to analyze it deeper without the aid of engines.
Despite his loss in Round 1 from being overly aggressive, Wesley So of the United State kept to that style in Round 2 against Michael Adams of Britain, but he was not able to make any headway.
The highlight of Round 3 may be Kramnik vs Topalov — two former World Champions who have been playing well in this event and who have a fierce rivalry based on their bitter 2006 World Championship match. Their matches are always exciting. So vs. Wojtaszek and Eljanov vs. Mamedyarov will also probably be very exciting as well.
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 80 in the world, he is a junior at Stanford University. He can be found on Twitter at @parimarjan.
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