Before the final round of the Geneva Grand Prix, it’s not clear who is going to capture the coveted nomination to the Candidates Tournament. Dramatic 9th round of the tournament is taking place today.

Alexander Grischuk could not catch Radjabov as his game with Shakhryar Mamedyarov was drawn after a lot of excitement. Grischuk held the advantage for most of the game, but Mamedyarov found a fantastic exchange sacrifice that granted him excellent counterplay.

Grischuk, Alexander vs. Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar
FIDE Grand Prix | Geneva | Round 8.1 | 14 Jul 2017 | ECO: C95 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. a4 c6 16. Bg5 h6 17. Be3 Qc7 18. Bd3 Bg7 19. Qc1 Kh7 20. b4 Rac8 21. Qd2 exd4 22. cxd4 Nb6 23. axb5 cxb5 24. d5 Nfd7 25. Bd4 Ne5 26. Nxe5 dxe5 27. Rac1 Qd6 28. Bc5 Qf6 29. Nf1 Nd7 30. Rc2 Rc7 31. Qe3 Rec8 32. Nd2 Qf4 33. d6 Nxc5 34. dxc7 Qxe3 35. Rxe3 Ne6 36. Nb3 Bf8 37. Be2 Bxb4 38. Bg4 Rxc7 39. Rxc7 Nxc7 40. Rd3 Ne8 41. Rd7 Nd6 42. f4 Bc8 43. Rc7 Bxg4 44. hxg4 Kg8 45. fxe5 Nxe4 46. Rc8+ Kg7 47. Ra8 Bc3 48. Kf1 Bxe5 49. Ke2 Kf6 50. Rxa6+ Kg5 51. Kf3 Nf6 52. Ra7 Nxg4 53. Rxf7 Bc3 54. Rb7 Ne5+ 55. Ke4 b4 56. Nd4 Nc4 57. Kd3 Ne5+ 58. Ke4 Nc4 59. Kd3

Pentala Harikrishna dropped from the shared second place after a loss to Li Chao. Black sacrificed a pawn in the Ragozin defence and his compensation was sufficient, but white rejected a draw offer and found a way to bring his forces into play.

Black slipped with 22…Bd5 and white stabilized his advantage. Li Chao pointed that 22…Bc6 was more challenging. It took a long time to convert into victory, but Chinese never allowed a shadow of doubt.

Chao, Li vs. Harikrishna, Pentala
FIDE Grand Prix | Geneva | Round 8.1 | 14 Jul 2017 | ECO: D30 | 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Bg5 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 O-O 8. Qb3 c5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. dxc5 Bxc3+ 11. Qxc3 Qxc3+ 12. bxc3 Nd7 13. Rd1 Nxc5 14. Rxd5 b6 15. Rd4 Ne6 16. Rd6 Bb7 17. Nd4 Nxd4 18. Rxd4 Rac8 19. Kd2 Rc5 20. Rg1 Rfc8 21. Bd3 Kf8 22. Rd7 Bd5 23. Rxa7 Rxc3 24. e4 Be6 25. Rb1 R3c7 26. Rxc7 Rxc7 27. a4 Bd7 28. Bc2 Rc6 29. f4 Ke7 30. Rb4 h5 31. g3 Kd8 32. Bb3 f6 33. h4 Kc7 34. Kd3 f5 35. e5 Rg6 36. Kd4 Rxg3 37. e6 Be8 38. Ke5 Rc3 39. Kxf5 Rc5+ 40. Ke4 Bc6+ 41. Kd3 Rc1 42. Bc2 g6 43. Kd2 Rg1 44. e7 Be8 45. Re4 Rg2+ 46. Kc3 Rg3+ 47. Bd3 Kd6 48. Kd4 Bxa4 49. e8=Q Bxe8 50. Rxe8 Rg4 51. Ke3 Rg3+ 52. Ke2 Kd5 53. Rg8 Rg4 54. Kf3 Rxh4 55. Be4+ Kd4 56. Rd8+ Kc3 57. Bxg6 Rh1 58. f5 Rf1+ 59. Ke2 Rf4 60. Rd3+

Levon Aronian went all guns blazing with black pieces against Ian Nepomniachtchi and succeeded in creating just enough of chaos on the chessboard.

White kept his cool and defended with precision, aside from the moment when he allowed 24…Nxg2 25.Kxg2 Qxh3+, but black likely rejected this line due to massive simplification.

In the resulting position white had two pawns for the exchange, but his pieces were perfectly coordinated to support the phalanx and soon black had to admit the defeat.

Richard Rapport played a solid opening, which soon resembled the French defence, but it didn’t take long before he started seeking complications.

Michael Adams accepted the challenge and efficiently exposed white’s structural defects. Black collected one pawn and after the time control he won another. White gave up on move 53.

In the longest game of the day Anish Giri demonstrated a brilliant endgame technique to score against Hou Yifan.

Black actually entered the ending being pawn down with pair of bishops as a compensation. But after the wonderful 29…f5, the poor coordination of white pieces was exposed. After a handful of moves it was black who was pawn up. 

The resulting position with all rooks on the board was very difficult but Giri provided a lecture that will be quoted in all endgame manuals.

The remaining five games were drawn.

Round 9 pairings:

GM Nepomniachtchi Ian – GM Radjabov Teimour 
GM Giri Anish – GM Grischuk Alexander 
GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar – GM Li Chao B
GM Riazantsev Alexander – GM Adams Michael
GM Harikrishna Pentala – GM Jakovenko Dmitry
GM Inarkiev Ernesto – GM Gelfand Boris
GM Svidler Peter  – GM Hou Yifan
GM Eljanov Pavel – GM Rapport Richard 
GM Aronian Levon  – GM Salem A. R. Saleh