For the first time during the Gashimov Memorial, all the games were drawn. Mamedyarov still leads by a point.

There were no decisive games in Round 7 of the Gashimov Memorial in Shamki, Azerbiajan, so the standings remained the same. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, one of the two local players in the tournament, continues to lead, now with five points, followed by Wesley So of the United States, Michael Adams of England, and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, who each have four points.

Though there were no decisive games, there were some interesting moments. For example, in the game between Teimour Radjabov, the other player from Azerbaijan in the field, and Topalov, there was a very tense tactical sequence, though it ultimately led to equality.

Teimour Radjabov vs. Veselin Topalov
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 7 | 28 Apr 2017 | ECO: B87 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. Bg5 Be7 9. Qf3 Qc7 10. e5 Bb7 11. exd6 Bxd6 12. Qe3 Bc5 13. O-O-O Nc6 The position is very sharp and unclear, but now some exchanges make things simpler and clearer.
14. Bxf6
14. Qxe6+ Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine tried this ridiculous move once, but it's more flashy than good.
14... fxe6 15. Nxe6 Qe7 16. Rhe1 Qxe6 17. Rxe6+ Ne7 And Black is fine.  )
14... gxf6 15. Nd5 Qe5! Giving up an exchange. Black will be fine in the ending.
15... Qd8 16. Qf4 This position looks very dangerous for Black.  )
16. Qxe5 Nxe5 17. Nc7+ Ke7 18. Nxa8 Bxg2! The point. Black grabs a pawn before capturing the knight.
18... Bxa8 19. Rhe1  )
19. Rhe1
19. Nc7 Bxh1 And Black restores the material balance.
20. Rxh1 Bxd4  )
19... Bxd4! The most direct route to equality.
19... Bxa8 It was possible to keep the position more unbalanced, but Topalov's choice is simpler.  )
20. Rxd4 Nf3 It looks like Black will win a pawn, except:
21. Rxe6+! fxe6 22. Rg4! Rxa8 23. Rxg2 Kf7 After all the fireworks, a very sterile, equal position has arisen. The logical result is a draw.
24. Rg3 Nd4 25. Rh3 Kg6 26. Rg3+ Kf7 27. Rh3 Kg6 28. Rg3+ Kf7

The game between Sergey Karjakin and Vladimir Kramnik, both of Russia, settled down soon after they exchanged all their central pawns.

Sergey Karjakin vs. Vladimir Kramnik
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 7 | 28 Apr 2017 | ECO: C50 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 h6 7. c3 a5 8. h3 d6 9. Re1 Ba7 10. Nbd2 Ne7 11. Nf1 Ng6 12. Ng3 c6 13. d4 This is a strategically desirable break to achieve, but it also allows Black to solve all of his problems.
13... exd4! 14. Nxd4
14. cxd4 d5 Is also fine for Black.  )
14... Re8 15. Bd2
15. Be3 Nxe4 16. Nxe4 d5 And chances would also be equal.  )
15... d5! Black liquidates the entire center and no longer has any problems.
16. exd5 Rxe1+ 17. Bxe1 Nxd5 18. Nb5 Bb6 19. Bxd5 Qxd5 More exchanges.
20. Qxd5 cxd5 21. Ne2 Bd7 22. Nbd4 The Black bishop pair balances out his isolated queen pawn. Chances remained equal the rest of the way.
22... Re8 23. Kf1 Ne5 24. Bd2 Nc4 25. Bc1 g5 26. b3 Nd6 27. Ba3 Ne4 28. Rd1 f5 29. f3 Nf6 30. Ng3 Bxd4 31. Rxd4 f4 32. Ne2 b5 33. axb5 Bxb5 34. c4 Ba6 35. Nc3 a4 36. Kf2 axb3 37. cxd5 Rc8 38. Bb2 Nd7 39. d6 Rc6 40. g3 fxg3+ 41. Kxg3 Kf7 42. f4 Kg6 43. fxg5 hxg5 44. h4 gxh4+ 45. Kxh4 Rc4 46. Rxc4 Bxc4 47. Ne4 Kf5 48. Nd2 Bd5

The game that looked like it would might produce a decisive result was the one involving Pentala Harikrishan of India and Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland. Wojtaszek lost a pawn, but he gained enough active counterplay to hold a draw without much trouble.

Pentala Harikrishna vs. Radoslaw Wojtaszek
Gashimov Memorial | Shamkir AZE | Round 7 | 28 Apr 2017 | ECO: E53 | 1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Bd3 c5 6. Nf3 d5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. dxc5 Nbd7 9. O-O Nxc5 10. Ne2 Bg4 11. Nfd4 Nxd3 12. Qxd3 Bxe2 13. Nxe2 Bd6 14. Bd2 Be5 15. Bc3 Qd6 16. Bxe5 Qxe5 17. Qd4 Qxd4 18. Nxd4 Rfc8 19. Rac1 Kf8 20. f3 h5 21. Rfd1 a6 22. Kf2 g6 23. Ne2 Ke7 24. Nc3 b5 25. Rd4 Rc5 26. Rcd1 Rac8 27. Ke1 Ke6 28. a4 bxa4 29. Rxa4 a5 30. Ne2 Ke7 31. Nd4 Nd7! A good decision. Black cannot save the pawn on a5, so he looks for active counterplay.
32. Rda1 Ne5!
32... Ra8? Passive and poor.
33. b4 And White has a sizeable edge.  )
33. Rxa5 Nd3+ 34. Ke2 Nxb2 Black managed to trade off a pair of pawns and now only has one weakness on d5. Even if the pawn had been captured I think his position would still be defensible, but White never got that far, or even close.
35. Ra7+ R8c7 36. R1a5 Rxa7 37. Rxc5 Rd7 38. f4 Na4 39. Ra5 Nb6 40. Nc6+ Kd6 41. Ne5
41. Nb4 This would have been a better try for an advantage, but I still cannot imagine Black losing.
41... Ke6 42. Rb5 Nc4 43. Kd3 Nd6 44. Rxd5 f5  )
41... Rc7! 42. Ra6 Kc5 43. Kd3 Nc4 Black has nothing left to worry about.
44. Ra8 Kd6 45. Rd8+ Ke6 46. Nf3 Nb2+ 47. Kd2 Nc4+ 48. Ke2 Re7 49. Nd4+ Kf6 50. Nc2 Rb7 51. Kd3 Rb3+ 52. Kd4 Rb2 53. Kc3 Rxc2+ 54. Kxc2 Nxe3+ 55. Kd2 Nxg2 56. Rxd5

With only two rounds to go, Mamedyarov is in very good position. Saturday, in Round 8, he will face Wojtaszek with the Black pieces.


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.