FIDE Grand Prix - Geneva: Tense round leads to showdown

7/15/2017 – Round eight of the FIDE Grand Prix in Geneva was both fascinating and intense. While leader Teimour Radjabov drew quickly and quietly against Alexander Raizantsev, Alexander Grischuk put up a huge fight against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and in spite of a huge advantage, was unable to close the deal. Ian Nepomniachtchi took advantage and joined Grischuk in second after beating Levon Aronian.

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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 eight

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

Photos by Valera Belobeev for World Chess

With Teimour Radjabov taking no risks, understandably, against Alexander Raizantsev, the 22 move draw came as no surprise. The real question lay in the game of the players right behind him who had but two rounds to try to catch up with him, or even surpass him. The first and foremost game was that between Alexander Grischuk and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Neither player would be really satisfied with a draw and the battle that ensued was both thrilling and to a high standard. Grischuk came out of the opening much better, overall showing how well-prepared he came to the event with so many excellent ideas, and he built a tremendous advantage if just short of winning. The Azeri player struck back in a moment of inattention by White, and he sacrificed the exchange brilliantly, obtaining a surprising amount of compensation as acknowledged by Grischuk in the post-game interview. It was not quite enough to turn the tables around, though it did re-establish the balance, and after 59 moves they shook hands.

 

Alexander Grischuk analyses what he saw in his game

Alexander Grischuk - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (annotated by GM Aleksandr Lenderman)

[Event "Geneva Grand Prix"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.07.14"] [Round "8"] [White "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C95"] [Annotator "Alexander Lenderman"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] {Welcome everyone! This is GM Aleksandr Lenderman and I'll be presenting to you round 8 game of the day at Geneva Grand Prix. Today there were many very interesting games, but in the end I chose the draw between Grischuk and Mamedyarov on one of the top boards, since not only it was very critical for the standings, but also it was truly a great battle between two fighting players.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 {Mamedyarov decides not to threaten playing the Marshall with 0-0 and commits to a slower Ruy Lopez.} (7... O-O 8. c3 (8. a4 {White can also play the popular slower line a4.}) 8... d5 {Would be the Marshall Gambit, the top guest at the top level, especially by Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, and Peter Svidler.}) 8. c3 (8. a4 Bd7 {Sometimes on a4, Black has the option of Bd7 right away.} (8... Bg4 {Or this.})) 8... O-O 9. h3 Nb8 {The other popular line, the Breyer, which is very solid for Black and avoids very concrete lines.} 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 g6 15. a4 (15. b3 $5 { This is also an alternative in this still, very theoretical position, and interestingly enough, this move was featured by the exact same players back in 2006.} d5 (15... Bg7 {Of course Black doesn't have to play the concrete d5 move, and can play a solid move Bg7.}) 16. Bg5 $1 h6 17. Bh4 $1 g5 18. Nxg5 hxg5 19. Bxg5 exd4 $1 20. e5 $1 Rxe5 21. Rxe5 Nxe5 22. cxd4 Nc6 $1 23. Qd3 $1 { 1/2 (34) Grischuk,A (2710)-Mamedyarov,S (2728) Moscow 2006 CBM 116 [Lukacs/ Hazai] Here White has a very strong attack, but in the end this battle in 2006 ended also as a draw.} (23. Nh5 $1 {is still the main line, but the consequences are unclear.})) 15... c6 (15... c5 $5 {was played by Kamsky against Grischuk} 16. d5 c4 17. Bg5 h6 18. Be3 Nc5 19. Qd2 h5 {0-1 (101) Grischuk,A (2748)-Kamsky,G (2720) Nalchik 2009 CBM 130 [Marin,M] And after a complex battle White ended up actually losing, but his opening seems decent enough here.}) 16. Bg5 h6 17. Be3 Qc7 18. Bd3 {Grischuk is the first one to deviate, both from his own game against Mamedyarov, and in general Mamedyarov's previous opponents.} (18. Qd2 {is an interesting alternative, played by Navara, also against Mamedyarov.} Kh7 19. Bb3 exd4 (19... Re7 $5) 20. cxd4 Nxe4 21. Nxe4 Rxe4 22. Bxh6 $2 {This was a basque game, so that explains this blunder.} (22. Bxf7 $16) 22... Bxh6 23. Ng5+ Bxg5 24. Qxg5 Qd8 $19 { Though after futher adventures White actually won this game.} 25. Qg3 Rxe1+ 26. Rxe1 d5 27. Qd6 Nf8 28. Qe7 Qd7 29. Qh4+ Kg7 30. Re7 Qd8 31. Qg5 Bc8 32. Rxf7+ {1-0 (32) Navara,D (2734)-Mamedyarov,S (2747) Huai'an CHN 2016}) 18... Bg7 19. Qc1 Kh7 20. b4 $146 {The logical and consistent approach and according to my database this is a novelty. The other game I saw White didn't play very logically and let Black get control of the center and quickly control of the game.} (20. b3 Rac8 21. Ra2 Re7 22. Nh2 $6 d5 $15 {0-1 (42) Muller,A (2095) -Donaldson Akhmilovskaya,E (2410) Elista 1998 Black got control and won the game later.}) 20... Rac8 (20... Rad8 {Might be an alternative but in general I think these kinds of positions are easier to play for White than Black.}) 21. Qd2 exd4 $5 {Black decides to change the course of action and tries to create counterplay.} 22. cxd4 Nb6 23. axb5 {Not the engine's top choice, but a logical idea trying to either get d5 and the d4 square for one of his pieces, or opening the a-file.} (23. Bf4 $1 {Komodo prefers this.} Nxa4 $2 (23... bxa4 24. e5 {Leads to similar problems as after Nxa4.}) (23... Qd7 {To try to defend against e5.} 24. a5 Nc4 25. Qa2 Re6 26. Rad1 $16 {Seems very difficult for Black, but maybe it's not so trivial to break through right away.}) 24. e5 {Is just bad for Black.} dxe5 (24... Nd5 25. exd6 Qd7 26. Nh5 $18 {Here also White has a decisive attack. Black's pieces are misplaced and not defending the king.}) 25. Nxe5 $18 {White is crashing through here.}) 23... cxb5 (23... axb5 24. Bf4 $16 {Seems inferior for Black.}) 24. d5 Nfd7 (24... Nc4 $5 25. Bxc4 bxc4 $1 {Might've been a better way for Black to create counterplay.} 26. Bd4 c3 27. Qc2 (27. Qf4 Qe7) 27... Qc4) 25. Bd4 Ne5 (25... Qd8 {Would be also a solid alternative where White is better thanks to the space and more active pieces but Black still has some counterplay on the c-file.}) 26. Nxe5 dxe5 27. Rac1 Qd6 28. Bc5 Qf6 29. Nf1 Nd7 30. Rc2 Rc7 31. Qe3 Rec8 32. Nd2 Qf4 33. d6 $6 {Up to here Grischuk played Brilliantly, but here maybe he got a bit materialistic and carried away with the tempting option. However, this move looks like it spoils his advantage.} (33. Nb3 {Seems to offer very good winning chances for White.} Qxe3 (33... Bf8 34. Rec1 Qxe3 35. fxe3) 34. fxe3 Bf8 35. Rec1 Kg8 36. d6 Nxc5 $8 (36... Rc6 37. Na5 $18) 37. bxc5 (37. Nxc5 $5 Bxd6 38. Nxb7 Rxc2 39. Rxc2 Rxc2 40. Bxc2 Bxb4 41. Nd8 $16 {Looks like very good winning chances for White.}) 37... Rd7 38. g4 $16 {With long lasting pressure. Black is in for a very unpleasant defence.}) 33... Nxc5 $1 {Could it be that Grischuk missed this?} (33... Rc6 34. Nb3 $16 {Was maybe what Grischuk expected in likely mutual time pressure.}) 34. dxc7 Qxe3 35. Rxe3 Ne6 $1 { The only move but sufficient. Maybe this was the move Grischuk missed from afar.} 36. Nb3 (36. Nf3 {Might've been a better unconventional try, to at least not let Black play Bf8 very quickly.} f6 37. Re1 Bf8 38. Rb1 {And at least White is in time to defend the key b4 pawn.}) 36... Bf8 37. Be2 (37. Na5 $5 Ba8 38. Nc6 {Was also a very interesting practical try, since here Black actually has to find a very difficult computer move to hold the balance.} Kg7 $3 {The point of this move is to improve the king position and wait to see what White does. If he takes the e5 pawn, then he wants to be able to take the b4 pawn without the f7 pawn hanging. This would hold the balance.} (38... f6 $2 {Is very natural but it actually loses for Black.} 39. Nd8 $3 Nxd8 (39... Nxc7 40. Ne6 Bd6 41. Be2 $18 {Is also easily winning for White.} Bb7 42. Nxc7 Rxc7 43. Rxc7+ Bxc7 44. Rd3 Bc6 45. Rc3 $18) (39... Nd4 40. Ra2 Rxc7 41. Rxa6 $18 { Is a more prosaic win.}) 40. cxd8=Q Rxd8 41. Rc7+ $18 {White is winning here since he penetrated, and White will win some pawns and Black's pieces are very passive.} Kg8 42. Bc2 $1 Bxb4 43. Rd3 $1 $18) (38... Bd6 39. Nb8 $1 Bb7 (39... Nd4 40. Ra2) 40. Nxa6 $1 Bxa6 41. Rc6 Bxb4 42. Rxa6 Bc5 43. Re1 {With some winning chances for White and no risk.} Nd4 44. Kf1 Rxc7 45. Rb1 b4 46. Bc4 $14 ) (38... Bxc6 39. Rxc6 Bxb4 40. Rxa6 $14) (38... Rxc7 39. Nxe5) 39. Nxe5 (39. Re1 Rxc7 40. Rec1 Rd7 {Is also close to equal.}) 39... Bxb4 $11) 37... Bxb4 38. Bg4 Rxc7 39. Rxc7 Nxc7 40. Rd3 Ne8 $6 {Last move before time control, probably a bit inaccurate, as it makes the draw slightly more difficult.} (40... h5 $1 41. Rd7 hxg4 42. Rxf7+ Kh6 43. f3 $3 {Would probably secure equality though.} ( 43. Rxc7 Bxe4 44. hxg4 Bd3 $1 {Here Black is the only one with winning chances. }) 43... Bxe4 44. fxe4 Ne8 45. hxg4 Nd6 46. Rd7 Kg5 $11 {With a balanced endgame.}) 41. Rd7 Nd6 42. f4 $1 {Last winning attempt for White.} Bc8 43. Rc7 (43. Ra7 $5 {Might've offer White slightly more practical chances.} Bxg4 44. hxg4 Bc3 (44... Nxe4 45. fxe5 $16) (44... Kg8 45. fxe5 Nxe4 46. Rxa6) 45. fxe5 Bxe5 46. Kf1 $1 (46. Rxa6 Nxe4 $11) 46... Kg7 47. Nd2 {Might still offer White very slight winning chances.}) 43... Bxg4 44. hxg4 Kg8 $1 {This resource wouldn't be as effective after 43)Ra7} 45. fxe5 Nxe4 46. Rc8+ Kg7 47. Ra8 Bc3 48. Kf1 Bxe5 {Now this is a simple draw for Black.} 49. Ke2 (49. Re8 $6 Kf6) 49... 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 {And a draw by 3-fold repetition. Great battle by two great fighters. There were some inaccuracies in time pressure but it's much easier for me sitting next to my Stockfish figuring these details out than working these details out at the board under heavy time pressure and in general with big stakes on the line.} 1/2-1/2

It was the one result niether player wanted

The other big game of the round was that between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Levon Aronian. One can only congratulate Nepo on his stamina, since not only has he been playing non-stop for over a month now, but also at a very high standard, and the result is that he is just over 2751 Elo and in the top 15 players. The game against Levon was not a smooth one to be fair, and the Armenian player came with serious ambitions as could be seen by the line he chose and the follow-up. It was a position that an engine might give a digital yawn, but a human player would certainly be trepidatious about. Eventually time trouble reared its ugly head, and he missed a beautiful continuation that might have changed everything.

Ian Nepomniachtchi looks uncomfortably at 18...Be3!

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Levon Aronian

 

 

Ian Nepomniachtchi shares the tale of the game with WGM Anna Burtasova

The final round will be decisive in many ways, and expect exciting fights to the end. Ian Nepomniachtchi will have white against Teimour Radjabov and will likely try hard to wrest the full point from the Azeri to take sole first.

Things are certainly heating up and the last two rounds will be cataclysmic. Don’t miss out on the action, and remember you can follow the games live in the Live Games section.

Standings after eight rounds

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

Links

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