The co-leaders drew to stay tied for first, but there were three other decisive games in Round 5.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Ding Liren of China played a very brief draw in Round 5 of the Moscow Grand Prix. That preserved their position in the tournament and they remain co-leaders, each now has 3.5 points.

There were three other games that were decisive. Alexander Grischuk of Russia beat Hou Yifan of China, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France beat Salem Saleh of United Arab Emirates, and Pentala Harikrishna of India defeated Michael Adams of England.

The wins by Grischuk and Vachier-Lagrave moved them into a tie for third place with Peter Svidler of Russia and Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan, who faced each other and drew. All four players have 3 points apiece.

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.

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.)

The game between Mamedyarov and Ding was the first to finish. I think Ding was a little premature in accepting a draw.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs. Ding Liren
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Moscow RUS | Round 5.1 | 16 May 2017 | ECO: E21 | 1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Qc2 d5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. a3 Bxc3+ 9. Qxc3 c6 10. e3 Nd7 11. Rd1 dxc4 12. Bxc4 b6 13. O-O Bb7 14. e4 Rfd8 15. e5?! The game was agreed drawn, but I think the last move by White was dubious. If Black had continued:
15. Rfe1 A more patient move like this was fine for White.  )
15... Qe7 White does not have a great way to deal with the threat of c5. The computer recommends:
16. Qe3 c5 17. d5 But after
17. Be2 Rac8 Looks a little unpleasant for White.  )
17... exd5 18. Bxd5 Bxd5 19. Rxd5 Nf8! White looks a little uncoordinated. It's not a big edge for Black and I do think White should be able to draw, but Black definitely could have tried to play on.

Grischuk moved to a score of plus 1 with his win over Hou:

Yifan Hou vs. Alexander Grischuk
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Moscow RUS | Round 5.6 | 16 May 2017 | ECO: B91 | 0-1
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. g3 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O b5 10. a4 b4 11. Nd5 Nxd5 12. Qxd5 Ra7 13. Be3 Be6 14. Qd3 Ra8 15. f4 Qc7 16. Nd2 a5 17. Rf2 f6 18. f5 Bf7 19. Rc1 Na6 20. c4 bxc3 21. Qxc3 Qb8 22. Rff1 Nb4 23. Qc7 Qe8 24. Qb7 White has extended her kingside structure with the advance f4-f5. That makes the counterattack by d5 very effective as it undermines White's kingside.
24... Rb8! Black drives the White queen away from the defense of d5.
25. Qa7 Ra8
25... d5 This was possible immediately, but there is no harm in repeating moves one time.  )
26. Qb7 Rb8 27. Qa7 d5! Black does not worry about the a5 pawn.
28. exd5
28. Qxa5? d4 29. Bf2 Nd3 And White is losing.  )
28... Nxd5 29. Bc5
29. Bxd5 Bxd5 30. Qxa5 Ba8 White is up a pawn, but she has loads of problems to solve. The pawn on b2 is hard to defend and the Black light-squared bishop is a monster. One possible continuation:
31. Rc2 Bb4 32. Qa6 Kh8! Black threatens Qd7-d5; the position is a nightmare for White.
...   )
29... Ra8! 30. Qb7 Rb8 31. Qa7 Ra8
31... Bxc5+ 32. Qxc5 Is not as good for Black as the game continuation.  )
32. Qb7 Bxc5+! Black plays this move because White cannot recapture with her queen.
33. Rxc5 Rb8! Unpinning the rook.
33... Ne3? 34. Qxa8! Black needs to move the rook from a8 before he can continue.  )
34. Qxf7+ Desperation.
34. Qa7 Ne3 Was also dead lost for White after:
35. Rf2 Nxg2 36. Rxg2 Qxa4  )
34... Rxf7 35. Bxd5 Kh8 36. Rfc1 Rd7 37. Bc6 Qd8 38. Bxd7 Qxd7 39. Ne4 h5

The game between Vachier-Lagrave and Saleh ended rather abruptly, but Black was in trouble:

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. A R Saleh Salem
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Moscow RUS | Round 5.3 | 16 May 2017 | ECO: B10 | 1-0
1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qd5 7. Qh4 Qe6+ 8. Be2 Qg4 9. Qg3 Qxg3 10. hxg3 Bf5 11. b3 a5 12. Bb2 h6 13. O-O-O a4 14. Nd4 Bc8 15. Rde1 axb3 16. axb3 Nd7 17. Nf5 Nf6 18. g4 Be6 19. f4 Rg8 20. Ne3 g6 21. f5 gxf5 22. gxf5 Bd7 23. Bf3 Kd8 24. Bd4 Bg7 25. Kb2 Ne8 26. Bxg7 Nxg7 27. f6 exf6 28. Rxh6 Ne8 29. d4 Kc7 Black is clearly worse. Vachier-Lagrave presses his advantage by advancing with his superior pawn majority.
30. d5! Rg5 31. Rd1! Ra6 32. b4 Black's position is difficult and might be beyond salvaging, but he could have offered more resistance.
32... Nd6? I don't understand this move. Did Black just blunder the f6 pawn?
32... b5 Black would have better chances to fight.  )
33. Rxf6 cxd5 34. Rxd5 Rxd5
34... Rg6 Was more resilient, but Black should still lose.  )
35. Bxd5! Black is definitely lost, but he can't have expected his next move to work.
35... Nc4+? 36. Bxc4 The rook on f6 is undefended. Saleh resigned instead of continuing with
36... Rxf6 37. Nd5+ When White wins the Black rook and remains a piece ahead.

Adams lost his third game in a row, this time Harikrishna:

Pentala Harikrishna vs. Michael Adams
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Moscow RUS | Round 5.8 | 16 May 2017 | ECO: D35 | 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. Bd3 Nbd7 9. f3 O-O 10. Nge2 b5 11. O-O Nb6 12. Bf2 a5 13. Ng3 b4 14. Nce2 c5 15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. Rc1 Nbd7 17. Nd4 Qb6 18. Re1 Re8 19. Bb1 a4 20. Qc2 Ra5 21. Nge2 Nf8 22. Nf4 Bd7 23. Nd3 Bd6 24. Bg3 Bxg3 25. hxg3 Rc8 26. Qd2 Rb8 27. g4 Ne6 28. Ne5 Rc5 29. Nxe6 Rxc1 30. Rxc1 Qxe6 31. Qd4 Qd6 Black has a very difficult position, but it's still reasonably solid and it is difficult for White to break down Black's defenses. I really like how Harikrishna begins to regroup his pieces.
32. Nd3! Ne8
32... Qg3 The suggestion of the computer, but:
33. Qf4! Qxf4 34. exf4! Looks horrendous for Black.  )
33. Rc5! Black now has to lose material as both b4 and d5 are attacked.
33... Rb5 34. Rxb5 Bxb5 35. Qxb4 White wins a pawn.
35... Qa6
35... Qc6 36. Qc5 Would be even worse for Black.  )
36. Nc5 Qc6 37. Bf5 Nf6 38. b3! Brave but strong. White creates a passed a-pawn; he is not afraid of any invasion on the c-file.
38... axb3 39. Nxb3! This looks risky but both c2 and c1 are firmly covered.
39... g6 40. Bb1 Nd7 41. Kf2 Bc4 42. Na5! A player who is ahead in material should trade pieces.
42... Qc7 43. Nxc4 dxc4 44. a4 White's a-pawn is far more dangerous than Black's c-pawn.
44... Nb6
44... c3 45. Bc2 And the c3 pawn will likely soon be captured.  )
45. Bc2 Nd5 46. Qd2 Qc6? Black was already losing, but his last move made his situation worse.
47. Be4! c3 48. Qd1! And Black must lose more material.
48... Qb7 49. Kg1! White can play Bxd5 on his next move.
49. Bxd5? Qb2+ Gaining a tempo.
50. Kg3 c2 And Black escapes  )
49... c2 50. Qxc2 Without his c-pawn, Black has no hope of surviving.
50... Qb4 51. Qb1


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.