Gashimov Memorial 2017: A day off

4/29/2017 – Officially the day off was after round five, but round seven was also a day when not much happened. To be fair to the players, it wasn't all about quiet nothings happening at the board as was the case between Eljanov and So, who played a more interesting game. On the other hand, Topalov could not break from the theory cage Radjabov set up that killed the action before it had a chance to happen. Report and analysis by Alex Yermolinsky.

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Gashimov Memorial 2017: A day off

By Alex Yermolinsky

Now in its 4th edition, the Gashimov Memorial brings an attractive lineup of top players such as Wesley So, winner of pretty much anything he entered in the last many months, then Vladimir Kramnik who has been sitting pretty with his 2811 Elo since the London Classic, Sergey Karjakin, and of course last year’s winner, local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.  

Vugar Gashimov (1986 - 2014)

Participants

Player
Rating
Wesley So 2822
Vladimir Kramnik 2811
Sergey Karjakin 2783
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2772
Michael Adams 2761
Pentala Harikrishna 2758
Pavel Eljanov 2751
Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2745
Veselin Topalov 2741
Teimour Radjabov 2710

Well, I waited for my turn to write a report on this event, and ended up getting the day when all five games were draws.

The game between Harikrishna and Wojtaszek was a long, drawn out (pun intended) affair that revolved around Black's isolated queen pawn. In the end Radoslaw sacked the exchange to get three white pawns, which made the outcome inevitable.

The two Russian players, Karjakin and Kramnik, got the same structure, but in their case it was rather Black who tried to make something happen, as his pieces were more active. White defended accurately, and the expected result was made official on Move 48.

The leader, Mamedyarov, had white against one of his close pursuers, Adams. I guess, under different circumstances, it could have been a tenser battle, but Shak was coming off a great win over Kramnik, which gave him a full point lead, and, therefore, was not in the mood to rock the boat. His advantage of a better pawn structure turned insufficient as pieces were vacuumed off the board.

Michael Adams and Radoslaw Wojtaszek walking to the venue

Now to the games I chose to annotate. I was wondering if So could keep his momentum after two straight wins. Eljanov has a tendency to start tournaments well, only to fade away toward the end. It didn't turn out to be this way, but the game didn't disappoint.

Wesley So and Pavel Eljanov posted a genuine game with an interesting fight

Pavel Eljanov vs Wesley So (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "4th Shamkir Chess 2017"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2017.04.28"] [Round "7"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2751"] [BlackElo "2822"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 {Even Pavel Eljanov, the classically trained 1.d4 player, cannot resist the modern fashion.} Bg4 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Nd7 5. h3 Bh5 6. d4 e6 7. c4 Be7 $5 {Wesley employs a fancy move order} ({designed to avoid} 7... Ngf6 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Qb3 Qb6 10. Qe3+ Be7 11. Nh4 Bg6 12. Nc3 {as played with White by Vachier-Lagrave.}) 8. Nc3 ({Now} 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Qb3 Qb6 10. Qe3 {offers Black an attractive option in} O-O-O 11. Nc3 Bd6) 8... dxc4 {Normally Black doesn't mix early development of his LSB with this typical Slav pawn grab. Wesley So has no such inhibitions.} ({Otherwise White might try some thing like } 8... Ngf6 9. cxd5 exd5 10. Ne5 Bg6 11. f4) 9. b3 $1 {Pavel Eljanov doesn't mind turning it into a real gambit. The same approach (in similar positions) has recently been tried by Mamedyarov and Nakamura.} ({Perhaps, White doesn't have a better choice. A standard Catalan reaction would be} 9. Ne5 {but after} Nxe5 10. dxe5 Qxd1 11. Rxd1 {Black can choose the dynamic} f6 $5 12. Bf4 fxe5 13. Bxe5 Nf6) ({I guess, one might consider} 9. a4 {but} a5 10. e4 Ngf6 11. Qe2 O-O 12. Qxc4 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 e5 {must be OK for Black.}) 9... cxb3 10. Qxb3 Ngf6 $5 {A remarkable decision. Wesley immediately gives back the pawn in order to facilitate his development.} (10... Qb6 11. Qa4 Bg6 12. e4 Ngf6 13. Rb1 Qc7 14. Bf4 Qc8 15. Nh4 {is exactly what White would like to see: Black is on the back foot, cramped and under the threat of d4-d5.}) 11. Qxb7 O-O 12. Bf4 Qa5 13. g4 $5 ({The knight is awkward to protect:} 13. Rfc1 Ba3 14. Rc2 Bg6 $17) ({while} 13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Qxd7 Bf6 {gives Black active play.}) 13... Bg6 14. g5 Nh5 15. Bd2 (15. Qxd7 Nxf4 16. Qxe7 Qxc3 {heavily favors Black.}) 15... Rfd8 16. Qxc6 Rac8 17. Qb5 Qxb5 18. Nxb5 a6 19. Na7 $5 {I like Pavel's spirit.} ({He didn't fancy going back:} 19. Nc3 Ba3 20. Rad1 Bc2 21. Rde1 {Here despite White's material advantage his game is really awkward.}) 19... Rc7 20. Ba5 Rxa7 21. Bxd8 Bxd8 22. Rfc1 {[#] How to evalaute this position? Many factors come into play: White's control over the c-file, Black's back rank, White's somewhat overextended kingside, and an offside Nh5. My best guess is that they all cancel each other out, and the game is roughly balanced. The remaining play seems to confirm it.} Kf8 23. e3 {Naturall Black's Nh5-f4 had to be stopped.} Be4 24. Rc8 Ke7 25. Nd2 Bxg2 26. Kxg2 f6 27. h4 g6 28. Ne4 ({One suggestion I can make for White is to choose a different route for the knight.} 28. Nc4 { hoping for} Ng7 $2 (28... f5 {is a better try. After} 29. Rb1 Ng7 30. f4 Ne8 31. Kf3 Rc7 32. Rxc7 Bxc7 33. Rb7 Nb8 {Black seems to be defending his a-pawn, but White can go on by opening the h-file:} 34. h5 Kd7 35. hxg6 hxg6 36. Rb1 { etc.}) 29. gxf6+ Nxf6 30. Ne5 $1 Rc7 31. Nc6+ Kd7 32. Rxd8+ Kxc6 33. Rc1+ Kb7 34. Rxc7+ Kxc7 35. Ra8 Kb7 36. Rf8 {This looks really good for White.}) 28... f5 29. Nc5 Nxc5 {I wonder if there was a real need for Black to do this.} ( 29... Ng7) 30. dxc5 Rc7 31. Ra8 $1 {This goes against the common wisdom of always trading a pair of rooks to get to the pure form of R vs 2 pieces.} ({ Problem with} 31. Rxc7+ {though, is that White cannot bring his king over to help the c-pawn.} Bxc7 32. Rd1 Ng7 33. f4 a5 34. Kf3 Nh5 35. Ke2 $5 Ng3+ 36. Kf3 (36. Kd3 $2 Kd7 {if White loses the c-pawn it'll be Black trying for a win. }) 36... Nh5 (36... Ne4 {no need for} 37. c6 Nc5 38. h5) 37. Rd2 Ng7 $11 { etc. Neither side can make progress.}) 31... Rxc5 32. Rd1 $6 {An unfortunate move that cost Pavel his remaining chances.} (32. Rxa6 e5 33. a4 Ba5 34. Rb1 Bc7 35. Rb5 Rc2 {Most likely Black is in time with his counterplay against the white king.}) 32... Bc7 33. Rh8 Be5 $1 34. Rhd8 (34. Rxh7+ Bg7 {leaves the rook arrested.}) 34... Rc7 35. Ra8 f4 36. e4 Rc3 37. f3 Ng3 38. Rxa6 Rc2+ 39. Kh3 Rc3 40. Kg2 (40. Rb1 {only looks attractive. In fact the black king is safe, and once he gets his knight to a better square, it's going to be White worrying about the outcome.} Bc7 41. Kg2 Rc2+ 42. Kh3 Ne2) 40... Rc2+ 41. Kh3 Rc3 ({On the other hand Black will risk losing if he attempts to keep the game going:} 41... Ne2 42. Ra7+ Bc7 43. a4 e5 44. a5 Nd4 45. a6 Kd6 46. Ra1) 1/2-1/2

Radjabov-Topalov had a promise, as it started off as a Fischer-Sozin Attack. However, as the action unfolded, it began to resemble something I had seen before. Then I started to have a bad feeling about this....

Not what Topalov had hoped for...

Teimour Radjabov vs Veselin Topalov (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "4th Shamkir Chess 2017"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2017.04.28"] [Round "7"] [White "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B87"] [WhiteElo "2710"] [BlackElo "2741"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "56"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 {The Fischer-Sozin Attack is not seen a lot these days.} e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. Bg5 $5 {A bit of fresh air, although it has been studied and played before.} ({There's just too much theory in} 8. O-O) 8... Be7 (8... b4 9. Na4 Nbd7 10. f4 Qa5 {is one interesting, albeit much riskier, line}) 9. Qf3 Qc7 10. e5 Bb7 11. exd6 Bxd6 12. Qe3 Bc5 13. O-O-O Nc6 {[#] The key position.} 14. Bxf6 (14. Qxe6+ $3 { was the bombshell of 2008, courtesy of Vassily Ivanchuk.} fxe6 15. Nxe6 { Here his opponent, Sergey Karjakin chose} Qe5 {which is OK} ({later} 15... Bd6 {was found more reliable:} 16. Rhe1 Kd7 17. Nxc7 Kxc7 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Nd5+ Kb8 20. Nb6 Bf4+ 21. Kb1 Ra7 22. Nd7+ Ka8 23. Nb6+ {was Karjakin-Gashimov, 2010.}) 16. Nxg7+ Kf8 17. Ne6+ Kf7 (17... Ke7 18. Rhe1 Bxf2 19. Rxe5 Nxe5 20. Ng7 Nc4 $11) 18. Rhe1 {but made a terrible mistake here} Qxe1 $4 ({still} 18... Bxf2 {was the move.}) 19. Nxc5+ Kg6 20. Rxe1 Kxg5 21. Nxb7) 14... gxf6 15. Nd5 Qe5 16. Qxe5 Nxe5 17. Nc7+ Ke7 18. Nxa8 Bxg2 {Guess what? This *whole* thing is known to theory.} 19. Rhe1 $1 {A novelty and the improvement.} ({On the previosly played} 19. Rhg1 Bxa8 20. Rg7 $15 {Fernandez Cardoso-Hernandez Carmenates, 2011}) 19... Bxd4 20. Rxd4 Nf3 21. Rxe6+ fxe6 22. Rg4 Rxa8 23. Rxg2 Kf7 24. Rg3 Nd4 25. Rh3 Kg6 26. Rg3+ Kf7 27. Rh3 Kg6 28. Rg3+ Kf7 {It is not the first game of Radjabov's in this tournament that followed a theoretical path to a forced draw.} 1/2-1/2

Nothing to see... move along, move along.

I can only hope I will be luckier with the games of Round 8 to be played tomorrow.

Standings after seven rounds

(click for high-res)

Photos from official site

Links

You can use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.


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AlexYermo AlexYermo 4/30/2017 12:45
Thanks for the correction. I have a habit of not checking a correspondence database.
In this case, "novelty" was used rather in a facetious way. The computer shows this whole line to the end in a matter of seconds.
Karbuncle Karbuncle 4/29/2017 05:27
I can understand where fxmbs is coming from. Often times there will be a Top GM win, and the resulting articles act like the new move was some sort of brilliant home preparation, when it actually was just taken from CC archives. We CC players get no respect, yet deliver the opening theory years in advance.
KevinC KevinC 4/29/2017 04:15
@fxmbs In the Informant series, there used to be two symbols: N and TN, with N meaning not common, but TN meaning first time played. I sense that N today is used as it was in Informant, meaning not very common, or at least, not played at the highest levels.
fxmbs fxmbs 4/29/2017 02:34
Hm...interesting how moves are evaluated/asserted as novelties :-)
Just for the record, 19.Rhe1 was played already in a correspondence game between msanyo (2513) vs. doutorzinho (2410) game dated back in 2009, therefor even before the mentioned "old" 19.Rhg1 from 2011.
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