2016 Shamkir Rd1: A lukewarm start

by Alejandro Ramirez
5/26/2016 – It wasn't the most thrilling start with three draws in which there were never any doubts as to the result. It wasn't all dull though, with a rollercoaster game between Safarli and Eljanov that saw the Ukrainian dead won, then blew it to be lost, and by the time control it was equal and drew. Caruana pressed an advantage against Harikrishna for a long time, but drew. Round one report.

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Third Shamkir Tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov

The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the May 26 to June 4, 2016, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament features ten world-class players: Fabiano Caruana (2795), Anish Giri (2790), Sergey Karjakin (2779), Pavel Eljanov (2750), Pentala Harikrishna (2763), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2726), Eltaj Safarli (2664), Hou Yifan (2663) and Rauf Mamedov (2650). The time control is 120/40 moves + 60/20 moves + 15 minutes + 30 seconds/move at 61st move.

All games start at 3 p.m. local time = 1 p.m. in Europe (CEST), one hour earlier in Britain, and 2 p.m. in Moscow. You can find the starting time at your location here. Today's pairings:

Round 1 – May 26, 2016
Rauf Mamedov
½ - ½
Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov
½ - ½
Hou Yifan
Eltaj Safarli
½ - ½
Pavel Eljanov
Fabiano Caruana
½ - ½
Pentala Harikrishna
Shak Mamedyarov
½ - ½
Sergey Karjakin

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Round One

Definitely not the start that the fans were expecting, but there were some fighting games in Shamkir. The most interesting one, bar none, was the game between Safarli-Eljanov

The playing stage for round one

Safarli, Eltaj ½-½ Eljanov, Pavel

Miss of the day, no doubt

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2016.05.26"] [Round "1"] [White "Safarli, E."] [Black "Eljanov, P."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A13"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2765"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] {Without a doubt this was the game of the day - if for no other reason than because how topsy-turvy this encounter was. Eljanov outplayed Safarli decisively, but was unable to finish him off.} 1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 dxc4 4. Bg2 a6 5. Qc2 Bd6 6. Qxc4 Nf6 7. O-O b5 8. Qb3 {White's opening is rather unimpressive. Black will eventually play c5 and solve all of his opening problems. It would seem that a counterattack on the b5 pawn is White's idea, but that pawn is surprisingly safe.} Bb7 9. a4 Nbd7 {When Black can ignore a move like a4 and simply continue development, it is clear that White has no chance at an advantage.} 10. axb5 Bd5 (10... axb5 11. Rxa8 Qxa8 {was also possible, surprisingly.} 12. Qxb5 O-O 13. Qb3 Rb8 {and Black's initiative should not be underestimated. That being said, there is no reason to go for this.}) 11. Qc2 (11. Qd3 Be4 12. Qb3 Bd5 {Would be one way of making a draw.}) 11... axb5 12. Rxa8 Qxa8 13. Na3 $6 {The knight is rather misplaced here. If White could force Black to play b4 and then hop to c4, then I will be all for putting the knight on a3, but as it stands it is just misplaced.} Qb7 14. d3 c5 15. Bg5 O-O $15 {Already Black has the freer play.} 16. Rc1 Rc8 17. Nb1 { Admitting the mistake. At least the Knight is back into action.} h6 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. Nc3 Bc6 20. Qb3 Be7 21. Ra1 Ne8 22. Ne1 Bxg2 23. Nxg2 Nd6 {Black's advantage lies in his more active pieces and his space advantage on the queenside. The bishop once it comes to f6 will clearly be the strongest minor piece.} 24. Ne3 Bg5 25. Nf1 b4 26. Nb1 $2 {A bit too passive.} (26. Nd1 c4 27. dxc4 Nxc4 28. h4 {allows White to play Nfe3 next move and keep fighting on.}) 26... c4 $1 27. dxc4 Nxc4 {It is clear that Black's pieces are better than White's.} 28. e3 $2 Nxe3 $1 {Beautifully punishing the opponent's backwards pieces.} 29. fxe3 Rc1 30. Kf2 Qh1 $2 {Unfortunately this is just a big oversight.} (30... Qe4 $1 {Regains the piece with a winning position. For example:} 31. Nfd2 (31. Nbd2 Qf5+ {and Rxa1.}) (31. Qa2 Qf5+ 32. Ke2 Qxf1+) 31... Qh1 {is no devastating, with mate threats.} 32. Qd3 Qxh2+ 33. Kf3 Qh1+ 34. Kf2 Qg1+ 35. Kf3 f5 $1 {A key move that is hard to see, but now White has no defense.}) 31. Qd3 {All of White's pieces are protected for now.} f5 $6 ( 31... e5 {with the threat of e4 keeps the initiative going.}) 32. h4 Be7 $6 { too passive, but the saving alternative was a bit crazy.} (32... f4 $1 33. exf4 (33. hxg5 Rxf1+ 34. Qxf1 fxg3+ 35. Ke2 g2 {and now it is White that has to go on the counterattack or lose.} 36. Ra8+ Kh7 37. Qf7 g1=N+ $1 38. Kd2 Qxa8 { with, surprisingly, equality.}) 33... Bf6 {with the threat of Bd4+.}) (32... Bxh4 33. gxh4 h5 $1 {is not human.}) 33. Ra5 f4 34. exf4 Qc6 (34... Bc5+ 35. Rxc5 Rxc5 36. Nbd2 {is pretty hopeless for Black. The knights will dominate the rook.}) 35. Re5 (35. Ne3 $1) 35... Bc5+ 36. Rxc5 Qxc5+ 37. Ne3 b3 38. Nd2 Rc2 $1 {Tricky to the end!} 39. Kf3 $6 (39. Ke2 Rxb2 40. Nd1 {still is bad for Black, though with all the pawns on the same side and the weak king there might be some hope of saving the position.}) 39... Rxb2 40. Qd8+ Kh7 41. Qd3+ Kh8 42. Qd8+ (42. Nxb3 Qc6+ 43. Kg4 h5+ 44. Kxh5 Qf3+ 45. g4 Qxf4 {and even though White can still hold here, it looks like he is playing for the loss.}) 42... Kh7 43. Qd3+ {Safarli forces the draw, but his advantage doesn't exist anymore anyway. He cannot win the b3 pawn unscathed.} 1/2-1/2

Caruana, Fabiano ½-½ Harikrishna, Pentala
Caruana essayed the vogue 7.Qf3 move against the Paulsen/Tajmanov Sicilian. Harirkishna replied in turn with an interesting new idea of trading knights on d4 and pushing an early e5. The game was close to becoming a Sicilian bloodfest, with both sides attacking on opposite flanks and the first person to push through winning, but unfortunately a timely queen trade left Caruana with a very tiny advantage in an endgame, which fizzled out into a draw.

This game was almost, almost very interesting, but then the queens came off

Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar ½-½ Karjakin, Sergey
Karjakin came to the board and simply repeated his preparation against Mamedyarov to get a very comfortable draw. Mamedyarov's knight went all the way to b8 (!) but it was never in any real danger of getting caught. After the trade of several pieces a draw became inevitable.

Karjakin's preparation is one of his strongest suits,
and sometimes he can kill a game before it even begins

Mamedov, Rauf ½-½ Giri, Anish
If you are wondering why the 2.c3 Sicilian is never seen at the top level, well, this game and several others might convince you as to why. There are several variations that black can choose to make the game rather dull and drawish. Giri's choice forced an early trade of queens and eliminated most of White's initiative. In the ensuing rook endgame perhaps Giri was the one doing a bit of pressing, but the draw was never in question.

Giri showed why the 2.c3 Sicilian is not popular

Mamedov tried to surprise his opponent, but it was to no avail

Radjabov, Teimour ½-½ Hou Yifan
Even though the style of position is well known - that is to say a Catalan type situation in which the central pawns are traded - I cannot seem to find any instance of this particular variation being played in my database. Yifan perfectly understood how to force the equalization, however, and a very creative and precise rook swing starting with the bizarre looking 20...Rg8! meant that White's small initiative was reduced to nothing.

Radjabov is known for squeezing his opponent's with minimal, but safe, advantages. Today that paid no dividends.

Round One Games

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Standings

Schedule and results

Round 1 – May 26, 2016
Rauf Mamedov
½ - ½
Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov
½ - ½
Hou Yifan
Eltaj Safarli
½ - ½
Pavel Eljanov
Fabiano Caruana
½ - ½
Pentala Harikrishna
Shak Mamedyarov
½ - ½
Sergey Karjakin
Round 3 – May 28, 2016
Teimour Radjabov
-
Anish Giri
Eltaj Safarli
-
Rauf Mamedov
Fabiano Caruana
-
Hou Yifan
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Pavel Eljanov
Sergey Karjakin
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 5 – May 30, 2016
Eltaj Safarli
-
Anish Giri
Fabiano Caruana
-
Teimour Radjabov
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Rauf Mamedov
Sergey Karjakin
-
Hou Yifan
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Pavel Eljanov
Round 6 – June 1, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Pavel Eljanov
Hou Yifan
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Rauf Mamedov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Teimour Radjabov
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Eltaj Safarli
-
Fabiano Caruana
Round 8 – June 3, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Hou Yifan
Rauf Mamedov
-
Pavel Eljanov
Teimour Radjabov
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Eltaj Safarli
-
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
-
Shak Mamedyarov
 
Round 2 – May 27, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Sergey Karjakin
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Pavel Eljanov
-
Fabiano Caruana
Hou Yifan
-
Eltaj Safarli
Rauf Mamedov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Round 4 – May 29, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Pavel Eljanov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Hou Yifan
-
Shak Mamedyarov
Rauf Mamedov
-
Fabiano Caruana
Teimour Radjabov
-
Eltaj Safarli
May 31, 2016
Free day
Round 7 – June 2, 2016
Fabiano Caruana
-
Anish Giri
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Eltaj Safarli
Sergey Karjakin
-
Teimour Radjabov
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Rauf Mamedov
Pavel Eljanov
-
Hou Yifan
Round 9 – June 4, 2016
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
-
Fabiano Caruana
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Eltaj Safarli
Pavel Eljanov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Hou Yifan
-
Rauf Mamedov

Live commentary on Playchess

Date Round English German
26.5.2016 Round 1 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
27.5.2016 Round 2 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
28.5.2016 Round 3 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
29.5.2016 Round 4 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
30.5.2016 Round 5 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
01.6.2016 Round 6 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
02.6.2016 Round 7 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
03.6.2016 Round 8 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
04.6.2016 Round 9 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff

Links

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk 5/28/2016 12:55
@scoobeedo: chill!
At c3 not being seen at top level: it still forced a result though! Giri was playing an opponent who is more than 100 elo points lower rated, and still, from move 12 onwards, and with white having established a dev advantage and ready to take over the initiative, Giri just begins the liquidations, obviously aiming for a draw! I'm sure if Magnus was playing that game as black, he'd want more than that, and that is one more demonstration of why Giri is no World Champion material
scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/27/2016 04:25
It is so nice that Pentala Harikrishna get finally the tournament invitations that he needs.

He is a superstrong GM, reached still not his peak and plays a chess which reminds me on Indian curry. He will slowly become the leading Indian GM.

Vishy did more then enough for his country and should enjoy to watch the rise of his kids. I call every Indian chess player a kid from Anand, because he started practically as a "One Man Show" this Chess Tsunami in India.

We remember, Anand became 1988 the first Indian Chess Grandmaster. It was in the newspapers a 4 line report. Nobody was interested in this strange game. In the ELO list of the FIDE was 80 Indians included. The most players was between 2350 and 2000.

India have now 32 GM and a end of this chess boom is not to expect. In the latest ELO List of the FIDE are now 20163 Indians included. And this are only the international listed players. India have another 33400 national listed club players. And we should not forget the millions of chess players on the streets, in the parks, and so on,

What Anand did set in motion ... there exist no comparision for this, not in chess and not in any other sport. I classify Anand at the same level as Freddy Merckx, Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, Muhammed Ali and Usain Bolt.

Or better said (2015-1988=27 years). Anand is without any question a national hero of India. He is the ambassador of chess for India. The FIDE registered every year around 2090 new Indian Chess players, and this since 27 years.

Hey Vishy, this are all your kids! Wow! After all this success is it now the time to relax.
Remember, at home wait one kid who want his papa for him.

And now ... Pentala will take over. And he does this slowly, it happens at AN ANDante pace.
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