FIDE Grand Prix - Geneva: Teimour Radjabov is early leader

by Albert Silver
7/9/2017 – After two very strong rounds of fighting chess, and a wealth of results, it was inevitable that at some point the games would align for a tepid day, and that day was round three. Of the nine games, only two ended in a decisive result, though one player will really be kicking himself: Pentala Harikrishna, as he squandered an utterly won game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Report with analysis by GM Krikor Mekhitarian.

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The Grand Prix is being organized by Agon Limited, the commercial partner of the World Chess Federation, the game’s governing body. Agon has the exclusive commercial rights to organize the cycle of the World Championship.

Each Grand Prix has a prize fund of 130,000 euros, and the Geneva Grand Prix is supported by EG Capital Advisors, Kaspersky Lab and S.T. Dupont.

Twenty-four of the world’s best players are competing in the Grand Prix, with 18 of them participating in each of the tournaments. They will play a nine round swiss open played at 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The tournament runs from June 6-15, with a rest day on June 11 after round five. Each round starts at 2 pm local time (8 am New York time).

Round three

Bo.
No.
 
Name
Rtg
Pts.
Result
Pts.
 
Name
Rtg
No.
1
1
GM
Aronian Levon
2809
½ - ½
2
GM
Radjabov Teimour
2724
12
2
8
GM
Harikrishna Pentala
2737
½ - ½
GM
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
2800
2
3
9
GM
Adams Michael
2736
½ - ½
GM
Grischuk Alexander
2761
4
4
3
GM
Giri Anish
2775
1
½ - ½
1
GM
Li Chao B
2735
10
5
5
GM
Svidler Peter
2749
1
½ - ½
1
GM
Gelfand Boris
2728
11
6
7
GM
Eljanov Pavel
2739
1
1 - 0
1
GM
Nepomniachtchi Ian
2742
6
7
13
GM
Inarkiev Ernesto
2707
½
½ - ½
½
GM
Hou Yifan
2666
16
8
15
GM
Rapport Richard
2694
½
0 - 1
½
GM
Jakovenko Dmitry
2703
14
9
17
GM
Riazantsev Alexander
2654
½
½ - ½
0
GM
Salem A.R. Saleh
2638
18

Photos by FIDE

The board that appeared the most intriguing was Levon Aronian against leader Teimor Radjabov. There was more to it than the mere sporting aspect, as both players had made declarations on social media in favor of their country’s history regarding the famous Armenia-Azerbaijan war. Still, if the sporting conditions and 100-year-old smacktalk promised plenty of action, the game was a fairly short one. A Bogo-Indian was the choice of Radjabov, and after aggressive maneuvers on the king-side, they shook hands. A pity since Black clearly could hope for more and continue.

Pavel Eljanov has certainly had the bloodiest acoun t of the players so far with three decisive games, with two in his favor. In round three, he met Ian Nepomniachtchi and it was a fascinating struggle.

Pavel Eljanov has had three decsive results so far, with two wins and one loss

Pavel Eljanov - Ian Nepomniachtchi (annotated by Krikor Mekhitarian)

[Event "FIDE GP"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.08"] [Round "3"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B92"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2742"] [Annotator "Mekhitarian, Krikor"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2017.07.06"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceDate "2017.07.08"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.07.08"] {3rd round of the Geneva FIDE GP and Radjabov is the only player at 2/2, while everybody else is trying to catch him!} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 $5 {A move that has a positional reputation, but may create complicated and agressive positions, as we will see in the game!} e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be3 Be6 9. Nd5 Nbd7 {threatening to take on e4} (9... Nxd5 $5 { keeping the bishop is another way to play this} 10. exd5 Bf5 11. Qd2 { important to avoid Bg5 once for all} (11. a4 {was played in the oldest game I found with this quick Nd5 idea: back in 1945!} Nd7 12. a5 Bg5 $1 {and Black is already confortable, the e3 bishop is an important piece} 13. Bg4 Bxe3 14. Bxf5 Ba7 $1 15. Qg4 g6 16. Bxd7+ Qxd7 17. Qxd7+ Kxd7 18. c4 Rhc8 19. Nd2 f5 $15 { and black is simply better: 0-1 (43) Stulik,V-Opocensky,K Prague 1945}) 11... O-O 12. O-O Bg6 13. a4 $1 (13. Rac1 $6 {I played this move in a game, but didn't get any advantage} a5 $1 14. a4 Nd7 15. Bb5 f5 16. f4 (16. f3 $5 { was better}) 16... Nf6 17. g3 Ng4 18. c3 Bf6 (18... Be8 $1 $15 {would be very annoying, threatening to take and play a4. If I take on e8, then I have problems controlling the queen-side properly (Rxe8! and Qc7 with Qc4 ideas)}) 19. Rce1 h5 20. Qe2 Nxe3 21. Qxe3 h4 22. Nd2 $11 {1/2-1/2 (36) Mekhitarian,K (2550)-Oparin,G (2617) Abu Dhabi 2016}) 13... Nd7 14. a5 h6 15. c4 Rc8 16. Rac1 {and White had great play on the queen-side in this game} e4 $6 (16... Re8 { should be better}) 17. Qb4 Qc7 18. Rfd1 Nc5 19. Bf4 Bg5 20. Bxg5 hxg5 21. Nxc5 dxc5 22. Qd2 $16 {following with either b4 or Rc3-Rb3-Rb6, ½-½ (45) Di Berardino,D (2494)-Leitao,R (2636) Joao Pessoa 2013}) (9... Nxe4 $2 {is simply bad} 10. Bb6 Qc8 11. Nc7+ Kf8 12. Nxa8 Nd7 13. Be3 $16) 10. Qd3 O-O (10... Bxd5 11. exd5 O-O 12. g4 $1 {The idea seen in Eljanov's game was found and tried for the first time by Alexander Khalifman in the round of 16 of the FIDE World Championship back in 1999, against one of the world's best Najdorf specialists - Boris Gelfand. Khalifman used it with success and went on to win the tournament!} Nc5 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. O-O-O e4 15. Qd2 Bd6 16. g5 Nd7 17. h4 Ne5 18. h5 {and the scary pawn avalanche comes with deadly effects} Rc8 $2 ( 18... f5 $1 {was the only chance to survive} 19. gxf6 Qxf6 20. Rhg1 $16) 19. Rh4 $1 c4 {Gelfand tries a direct counterplay by sacrificing two pawns, but White takes the material and remains well defended} 20. Rxe4 c3 21. bxc3 Qa5 22. Kb1 Rxc3 23. Bd4 $18 {1-0 (39) Khalifman,A (2628)-Gelfand,B (2713) Las Vegas 1999}) 11. a4 $5 {a flexible move, that is almost alway useful in this variation} (11. O-O {is the most common move here} Bxd5 12. exd5 Ne8 (12... Rc8 $5 {threatening Nb6} 13. c4 Ne8 14. Rac1 (14. g3 $5 Bg5 15. f4 exf4 16. gxf4 $13 {with an unclear position}) 14... b6 15. Kh1 (15. Bg4 $5) 15... Bg5 16. Qd2 Bxe3 17. Qxe3 a5 18. Nd2 f5 $15 {and Black got a perfectly fine position: 0-1 (52) Dastan,B (2519)-Saric,I (2618) Minsk 2017}) (12... Nb6 $6 13. c4 a5 14. a4 $1 Nfd7 15. Bd2 $1 {hitting a5} Nc5 16. Nxc5 dxc5 17. Bc3 Bd6 18. b3 $16 { and White has a clear plan to play Rae1, Bd1-Bc2, with amazing prospects on the kingside}) 13. a4 Bg5 14. a5 Bxe3 15. Qxe3 Nef6 16. c4 Rb8 17. Rfb1 Qc7 18. Nd2 $36 {with good potential on the queenside: 1/2-1/2 (59) Carlsen,M (2838)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2803) Karlsruhe 2017}) 11... Bxd5 (11... Nxd5 $5 { has to be tried in future encounters} 12. exd5 e4 $1 {forced and good} 13. Qd2 {looks more logical} (13. Qxe4 Nf6 14. Qd3 Bxd5 15. O-O $13 {White has a better structure, but Black has good activity, the position should be balanced} ) 13... Bf5 14. g4 Bg6 15. h4 h6 {with a very complex position} (15... Bxh4 $2 16. g5 $18) 16. O-O-O (16. g5 $5 h5 17. O-O-O $13) 16... Bxh4 17. Rh3 $40) 12. exd5 Nc5 $6 {a typical move changing the structure, that also stops White to expand the queenside. In the other hand, white obtains a strong passed pawn on d5, and a perfect scenario to play with c4 and g4!, castling queen-side} ({ a similar precedent was:} 12... Rc8 13. a5 Nc5 14. Nxc5 dxc5 15. c4 e4 16. Qc2 Bd6 17. O-O (17. g4 $5 {would be also possible here, like Eljanov played}) 17... Qc7 18. g3 Rce8 19. Rfc1 Nd7 20. b4 f5 $36 {and Black already has a strong initiative: 0-1 (25) Castrillon Gomez,M (2210)-Vazquez,G (2443) Medellin 2017}) (12... Ne8 $1 {preparing f5, has never been tried before, and should be a good move.}) 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. c4 Qc7 15. Qc2 Rae8 $6 (15... e4 { perhaps should be better, because if White plays the same g4 now, then Black may decide where to place the a8-rook}) 16. g4 $1 $16 {a good moment to play this move, because Black already removed the rook from a8, meaning White will have more freedom do castle queen-side. Also, Black will never be able to expand with f5 anymore, as it usually happens in this pawn structure. White definitely won the opening battle here and has a good advantage} e4 {this had to be played sooner or later} 17. O-O-O Bd6 18. g5 Nd7 19. Kb1 Ne5 20. h4 $1 ( 20. Qxe4 $6 {there is no need to take this pawn, as it helps Black} Nc6 $5 $44 {followed by Nb4. White would also have an advantage here, but black has time to breathe now}) 20... Nf3 21. Rh3 $6 (21. h5 $1 {would be very strong, the problem is that Black only starts the counterplay on the queen-side after white decides to take on f3 (something he will do whenever he wants)} Qd7 ( 21... f6 {is the computer's suggestion, and does not solve all the problems} 22. Bxf3 exf3 23. h6 g6 24. gxf6 Rxf6 25. Rhe1 $16 {and Black has problems defending his king, and at the same time watching the passed 'd' pawn, Bg5 is coming next}) 22. a5 {another problem is that Black can't even play Rb8 for b6, because e4 is hanging} Qc7 23. Bxf3 exf3 24. Bd2 $1 Re2 $2 25. h6 g6 26. Qc3 $18 {followed by Qxf3}) 21... Qd7 $1 {I guess Eljanov missed this. In any case, he is still better} 22. Rhh1 Qe7 (22... f5 23. gxf6 Rxf6 24. h5 $16 {also looks good for white}) 23. Bxf3 exf3 24. h5 b5 $1 {counterplay gets there in time} 25. cxb5 axb5 26. axb5 Qd7 (26... Rb8 $5 $132) 27. Qd3 (27. Rh4 $5 Qxb5 28. h6 g6 29. Bf4 {not an easy move! now Qc3 is real threat, because Be5 is no longer possible} Bxf4 30. Rxf4 f6 $1 31. Rxf3 (31. Rxf6 $2 Rxf6 32. gxf6 Kf7 $3 {and Black has very strong counterplay with Re2 next} (32... Re2 $4 33. f7+ $1 Kxf7 34. Qc3 $18 {with a decisive attack})) 31... Re2 32. Rb3 $1 Rxc2 33. Rxb5 Rxf2 34. gxf6 $16 {should be good for White, but black is fighting}) 27... Rb8 28. h6 g6 (28... Qxb5 $2 29. Qc3 $1 $16) 29. Bd2 Rxb5 30. Bc3 Rb3 31. Rhe1 { preparing Qxf3} (31. Qxf3 $2 Be5 $1 $36 {and Black grabs the initiative}) 31... Qg4 {forced} 32. Re4 Qxg5 (32... Qf5 $5 33. Kc2 Rfb8) 33. Qxf3 Be5 $2 (33... Qxh6 $1 {was necessary} 34. Qf6 Rxc3 {and black is totally in the game, with decent compensation} 35. Qxc3 Qh5 $44 {followed by Qf5}) 34. Rxe5 Qxe5 35. d6 $2 (35. Bxe5 $1 {was winning on the spot} Rxf3 36. Bc7 $18 {followed by d6, should be a very sad endgame for Black}) 35... f6 $1 36. d7 Rxc3 37. Qxc3 Qe7 $2 {probably in severe time-trouble, Ian throws away a study-like defense to draw this very difficult game. In the post-game interview Eljanov said that after 34.Rxe5 Qxe5 35.d6, it was already hopeless for Black, meaning he also did not realize that Black is not losing the rook endgame, which is totally understandable.} (37... Qxc3 $1 38. bxc3 Rd8 {it was very hard to understand that black does not lose this position, with an outside passed pawn for White (since c5 will fall in a few moves)} 39. Kb2 Kf7 40. Kb3 Ke6 41. Kc4 Rxd7 42. Rxd7 Kxd7 43. Kxc5 g5 44. Kd5 (44. Kb6 g4 45. c4 f5 46. Kb7 Kd6 47. Kb6 Kd7 $11 ) (44. f3 Kc7 $1 (44... Ke6 $1 {is also enough}) (44... f5 $2 45. Kd5 g4 46. fxg4 fxg4 47. Ke4 Kc6 48. Kf4 Kc5 49. Kxg4 Kc4 50. Kf5 Kxc3 51. Kf6 Kd4 52. Kg7 Ke5 53. Kxh7 Kf6 {and Black loses by one tempo} 54. Kg8 $18) 45. Kd5 Kd7 46. c4 f5 {now the advance is well-timed, because White already pushed his pawn and Black will be able to grab it and come back in time to the king-side} 47. Ke5 g4 48. fxg4 fxg4 49. Kf4 Kd6 50. Kxg4 Kc5 51. Kf5 Kxc4 52. Kf6 Kd5 53. Kf7 Ke5 54. Kg7 Ke6 55. Kxh7 Kf7 $11) 44... g4 45. Ke4 Ke6 46. c4 f5+ 47. Kf4 Kf6 $1 { provoking the c-pawn} 48. c5 Ke6 49. c6 Kd6 50. Kxf5 Kxc6 51. Kxg4 (51. Kf6 Kd6 52. Kg7 Ke6 53. Kxh7 Kf7 $11) 51... Kd6 52. Kf5 Ke7 $11) 38. Qb3+ Kh8 39. Qd5 $18 {now it's all over} Rd8 40. Rd3 {and Black resigned, because of the Re3 threat. Eljanov moves to 2nd place with 2/3, and Radjabov keeps the sole lead in Geneva with 2,5/3!} (40. Rd3 g5 (40... Qe1+ 41. Ka2 Qa5+ 42. Ra3 $18) 41. Re3 Qxd7 42. Qxd7 Rxd7 43. Re8#) 1-0

Pentala Harikrishna came within a whisker of winning his game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, but the wily Azeri began to pile tactics on the position and notably near the Indian’s king to complicate affairs. His intent was a success as White began to miss moves until the dead lost position concluded in a draw.

Pentala Harikrishna

Pentala Harikrishna - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.08"] [Round "3"] [White "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2737"] [BlackElo "2800"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. O-O d6 7. a4 {5} Ba7 8. Re1 O-O 9. h3 b5 (9... Ne7 10. d4 Ng6 11. Nbd2 c6 12. Bd3 Re8 13. Bc2 h6 14. Nf1 exd4 15. cxd4 {1-0 (40) Kramnik,V (2808)-Carlsen,M (2832) Stavanger 2017}) 10. Ba2 $146 (10. Bb3 b4 11. a5 Rb8 12. Nbd2 Be6 13. Bc4 Qc8 14. Bxe6 Qxe6 15. Nc4 Rb5 16. Be3 Bxe3 17. Nxe3 bxc3 18. bxc3 Rxa5 19. Rxa5 Nxa5 20. Qa4 { 1/2-1/2 (20) Shankland,S (2676)-Tari,A (2593) Khanty-Mansiysk 2017}) 10... b4 11. Bg5 Rb8 12. Nbd2 h6 13. Bh4 Be6 14. Bc4 g5 15. Bg3 Na5 16. Bxe6 fxe6 17. d4 bxc3 18. bxc3 Nh5 19. Bh2 exd4 20. cxd4 Nc6 21. Rc1 Qd7 22. Re3 Rb7 23. Nb3 e5 24. Nxe5 dxe5 25. Qxh5 {It is quite clear here that Black is in a world of pain. His king is wide open, Qg6+ is threatened, Rec3 is threatened, and e5 is under pressure as well.} Kh7 26. Rec3 $1 Nxd4 27. Bxe5 ({The best move was} 27. Na5 $1 {as per the computer, but one would need to be very confident no oversight had been made in the main line after} Ne2+ 28. Qxe2 {Forced since both Kh1 and Kf1 lose for White.} Rxf2 29. Qc4 $1 {Probably the move Harikrishna missed, and White is winning.} (29. Qxf2 Bxf2+ 30. Kxf2 Rb2+ 31. Kg1 Qd2 32. Rxc7+ Kg8 {with a draw.})) 27... Rxf2 $2 (27... Nxb3 28. Rc6 $1 $18 ) (27... Ne6 28. Rf3 Qe8) 28. Kh2 $2 ({Not} 28. Kxf2 $2 Nxb3+ 29. Kg3 Nxc1 30. Rc6 $1 Rb3+ 31. Kh2 Rxh3+ $1 32. Qxh3 (32. gxh3 Qd2+ 33. Kg3 Qe1+ 34. Kf3 Qe3+ 35. Kg4 Qxe4+ 36. Kg3 Ne2+ $19) 32... Qxc6 $11) (28. Nc5 $18 {is the winner, cutting off the bishop and thus the threats.} Qf7 (28... Bxc5 29. Rxc5) 29. Qxf7+ Rxf7 30. Bxd4) 28... Ne6 $16 {Keeping tight control over c7.} ({But not} 28... Nxb3 $2 29. Rc6 $18) 29. Rd1 Qe7 ({Avoiding the trap} 29... Qxa4 $2 30. Rf3 $18 Rxf3 31. Qxf3 Qe8 32. Qf5+ Kg8 33. Qf6) 30. Qg4 Qf7 $11 {The danger is mostly past, and Black has now balanced the game with threats of his own.} 31. Rc6 h5 32. Qg3 $1 (32. Qxe6 {[#] leads to mate after} Rxg2+ $3 33. Kh1 Rh2+ $3 34. Kxh2 Qf2+ 35. Kh1 Qf3+ 36. Kh2 Qe2+ 37. Kh1 Qxd1+ 38. Kg2 Qg1+ 39. Kf3 Qf2# ) 32... Rf1 33. Qd3 Rxd1 34. Qxd1 1/2-1/2

The final decisive game of the day was between Richard Rapport and Dmitry Jakovenko, in which the creative talents of Rapport were not up to the task of destabilizing the positon and the Russian out played his opponent, capping it off after nearly seven hours.

Standings after three rounds

Rk
SNo
 
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
1 12 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2724 2,5
2 1 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2809 2,0
  2 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2800 2,0
  4 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2761 2,0
  7 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2739 2,0
  8 GM Harikrishna Pentala IND 2737 2,0
  9 GM Adams Michael ENG 2736 2,0
8 3 GM Giri Anish NED 2775 1,5
  5 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2749 1,5
  10 GM Li Chao B CHN 2735 1,5
  11 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2728 1,5
  14 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2703 1,5
13 6 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2742 1,0
  13 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2707 1,0
  16 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2666 1,0
  17 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2654 1,0
17 15 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2694 0,5
  18 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2638 0,5

Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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