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. 

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. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8. a4 a5 9. Qc2 c6 10. Na3 Ne4 11. Bf4 g5! 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... b6 Chances would be equal.  )
12. Be3 f5 Very ambitious.
12... Nd6 This is also a typical idea, aiming for Nf5, but I like the move played by Ding even more.  )
13. Rad1 Bf6 14. Nb1 This 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... Qe7 15. Nc3 b6 16. Ne5?! I think this is trying for too much. Center pawns are very valuable.
16. b3 I'd prefer to play solidly. After:
16... Ba6 The computer evaluates the position as equal, though I think most people would prefer to play Black.  )
16... Nxe5 17. dxe5 Bxe5 18. Bxb6
18. Nxe4 fxe4 19. c5 The computer suggests this move and says the position as equal, but I am skeptical of that evaluation. After:
19... bxc5 20. Bxc5 Bd6 21. Bxd6 Qxd6 22. Qxe4 e5 I think Black has a chance to gain an advantage.  )
18... Qb4 Not necessarily the best move, but definitely the simplest. I like it.
18... Ra6!? This move may have been even stronger.
19. Bd4 Bxd4 20. Rxd4 e5 21. Rdd1 Nxc3 22. bxc3 dxc4 Black should be better.  )
19. Nxe4 fxe4 White will lose the pawn on b2.
20. cxd5? White will not gain enough compensation for this sacrifice.
20. Be3 This move was best, but after:
20... Qxb2 21. Qxb2 Bxb2 22. Bxg5 Ba6 23. cxd5 cxd5 Black is a little better.  )
20... Qxb6 21. Qxe4 Qxb2 22. dxc6
22. dxe6 Might be more resilient, but after:
22... Bxe6 23. Qe3 g4 24. Bxc6 Rab8 I 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. Rd7 Desperation, though White was probably doomed to lose.
23... Bxd7 24. cxd7 Qf6 25. Bh3 Rab8 26. Qxe6+ Qxe6 27. Bxe6+ Kg7 The 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. Rc1 Kf6 29. Bg4 Bd8 30. Rc6+ Kg7 31. Bh5 Rb2 32. Rc8 Rd2 33. Be8 Bb6! 34. Rb8 Rf6 35. e3 g4! 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.

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. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. Re1 O-O 8. Bb3 h6 9. Nbd2 Ng4 10. Re2 Kh8 11. h3 f5 12. exf5 Nxf2 13. Rxf2 Bxf2+ 14. Kxf2 Bxf5 15. Qe2 d5 16. Kg1 Qd6 17. Bc2 Rf7 18. b4 a5 19. Bb2 axb4 20. cxb4 Nxb4 21. Nxe5 Re7 22. Ndf3 Kg8 23. Qd2 Nxc2 24. Qxc2 c5 25. Qb3 Kh7 Both 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... c4 27. Qd1 Black'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. Nxe5 Qxe5 Black 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
29. Nxe5 Qxb3 30. axb3 Rxa1+  )
29... Qxb3 30. Rxb3 Rd5 31. Ne5 Rxa2 32. Rxb7 Re2 33. g4 Be6 34. Nc4 Rd8

 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. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Nd5 Bc5 4. e3 Nf6 5. b4 Nxd5 6. bxc5 Nf6 7. Nf3 Qe7 8. Be2 e4 9. Nd4 Na6 10. g4 Nxc5 11. Nf5 Qf8 12. g5 d6 13. Ng3 Nfd7 14. Qc2 Qe7 15. Bb2 Ne5 16. Nxe4 Bf5 17. f3 Nxf3+ 18. Bxf3 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 Qxe4 20. Qxe4+ Nxe4 21. Rg1 O-O 22. Bd4 f6 23. gxf6 Nxf6 24. Ke2 b6 25. a4 a5 26. Raf1 Nh5 27. e4 Rxf1 I 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... g6 This 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?
...  Rxf8 29. Rf1 Rxf1 30. Kxf1 Kf7 31. e5 Ke6 32. exd6 Kxd6 And now the White king is far enough away from the action that Nf4-e6-c5 will be very hard to prevent.  )
28. Rxf1 Rf8 29. Rxf8+ Kxf8 30. 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... Ke7 31. Kf3 dxe5 32. Bxe5 Kd7 33. d4 Nf6 34. Kf4 I 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... Ne8 35. Ke4 Nd6+ 36. Kd3 g6
36... g5 The computer prefers this move, but I don't think it would be enough to win.  )
37. Bf4 Nf5 38. Bd2 Nd6 39. c5! Trading more pawns.
39... Nb7 40. Be3 bxc5 41. dxc5 Kc6 42. Kc4 Nd8 43. Bd2 Nb7 44. Be3 The 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... g5 45. Bxg5 Nxc5 46. Bd2 Nxa4 47. Bxa5 Material is so reduced that there are basically no longer any winning chances.
47... Nb6+ 48. Kd4 Kd6 49. Ke4 Ke6 50. Kd4 Kf5 51. Kc5 Kg4 52. Kc6 Kh3 53. Kxc7 Nc4 54. Bc3 Kxh2 55. Kc6 Ne3 56. Bd2 Ng4 57. Kd5 h5 58. Bg5
Hikaru Nakamura vs. Peter Svidler
FIDE Grand Prix Moscow | Moscow RUS | Round 9.3 | 21 May 2017 | ECO: E60 | 1/2-1/2
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. Be2 c5 6. d5 d6 7. Nc3 e6 8. O-O Re8 9. e4 exd5 10. exd5 Ne4 11. Nxe4 Rxe4 12. Bd3 Re8 13. Bg5 Bf6 14. Qd2 Nd7 15. Rfe1 Ne5 16. h4 Nxf3+ 17. gxf3 Bd7 18. Rxe8+ Bxe8 19. Qf4 Bxg5 20. hxg5 h6 21. gxh6 Qe7 22. a3 a5 23. Rc1 Bd7 24. Rc3 Re8 25. Kg2 Qd8 26. Rb3 Bc8 27. Bc2 Re5 28. Re3 Rh5 29. Ba4 Bd7 30. Bxd7 Qxd7 31. Kf1 Qd8 32. Ke2 Rh4 33. h7+ Kg7 34. h8=B+ Rxh8 35. Re4 A 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. b3 Rb1  )
36. Kd2 Defending b2 with the king makes some sense, but after
36... a4 37. Kc2 Qf6! Black trades queens and can start to target the f-pawns.
38. Qxf6+ Kxf6 39. b3 Rh2 40. Re2 Rh4 41. Kc3 axb3 42. Kxb3 Rf4  )
36... a4! And White handling the Black threat of Qf6 followed by Rb1.
37. Qc3+ Qf6 Black 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.