Moscow Grand Prix R06: Two is company, eight is a crowd

by Alex Yermolinsky
5/18/2017 – Since the leaders failed to reassert their authority, even the new ones, this opened the way for more to close in and try to stake their claims. It was not for lack of trying as Ding Liren failed to convert a winning advantage against MVL. In the meantime, veteran Gelfand beat Harikrishna in his vintage style, while Nakamura played a fine piece of preparation changing Nepomniachtchi's Najdorf into a Classical Sicilian. Some fantastic analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky.

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Photos by Max Avdeev

The start of the final stretch saw a bit of everything. While the “old friends meet again” Grischuk-Svidler and Radjabov-Mamedyarov ended as predictable quick draws, some of the older participants felt rejuvenated after the rest day and went on to open their respective scorelines.

Boris Gelfand seems to have mastered his power over Father Time. Decades roll by, and Boris still wins in his trademark style: an ambitious, yet classical handling of the opening, followed by a quick tactical explosion, to be converted into a win in the endgame. This time the victim was the unfortunate Pentala Harikrishna.

Frankly, it's not hard to see Boris continuing in this way to qualify for the Candidates once again!

Mickey Adams no longer has such ambitions, but it was nice to finally win a game and escape the bottom of the standings

Two of the pre-tournament (and pre-cycle) favorites, Hikaru Nakamura and Ian Nepomniaschi (my own phonetic spelling of his name), locked horns in a desperate battle to stay relevant in the race.

Hikaru Nakamura needed to make a move if he had any hope of staying relevant, and he timed it to perfection with this win over Ian Nepomniachtchi. He stays in contention, but more is needed.

Hikaru Nakamura vs Ian Nepomniachtchi (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

 

Preparation was a big factor today, but of the computer-generated kind. Nakamura based his decisions on a careful study of Nepo's opening preferences, and it must be said that getting him out of the Najdorf into the Classical Sicilian was a stroke of genius.

Ian Nepomniachtchi's fighting spirit is not in doubt after only one draw in six games, the fewest of any player, but fewer losses would be helpful

The main ticket was the battle between two players from the leading group.

Ding Liren vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (annotated by Alex Yermolinsky)

 

A disappointing miss for Ding. Had he won this game he would have been a sole leader with just three more games to go. The second miss after his brush with victory against Svidler.

No less important than winning games in a tournament is not losing games, perfectly demonstrated by MVL's defensive skils, and the combination of the two is the perfect recipe for success

Perhaps, it would be appropriate to talk about the entire Grand Prix cycle to figure out where we stand.

2017 FIDE Grand Prix standings

 
Player
Feb 2017 Elo
Sharjah
Moscow
Geneva
Palma
Total
1
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA)
2796
140
 
 
 
140
1
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE)
2766
140
 
 
 
140
1
Alexander Grischuk (RUS)
2742
140
 
 
 
140
4
Hikaru Nakamura (USA)
2785
70
 
 
 
70
4
Ding Liren (CHN)
2760
70
 
 
 
70
4
Michael Adams (ENG)
2751
70
 
 
 
70
4
Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS)
2749
70
 
 
 
70
4
Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS)
2709
70
 
 
 
70
9
Pavel Eljanov (UKR)
2759
25
 
 
 
25
9
Li Chao (CHN)
2720
25
 
 
 
25
9
Francisco Vallejo Pons (ESP)
2709
25
 
 
 
25
9
Richard Rapport (HUN)
2692
25
 
 
 
25
13
Levon Aronian (ARM)
2785
7
 
 
 
7
13
Hou Yifan (CHN)
2651
7
 
 
 
7
15
Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)
2711
3
 
 
 
3
15
Salem Saleh (UAE)
2656
3
 
 
 
3
15
Jon Ludvig Hammer (NOR)
2628
3
 
 
 
3
18
Alexander Riazantsev (RUS)
2671
1
 
 
 
1
19
Anish Giri (NED)
2769
 
 
 
 
0
20
Pentala Harikrishna (IND)
2758
 
 
 
 
0
21
Peter Svidler (RUS)
2748
 
 
 
 
0
22
Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS)
2723
 
 
 
 
0
23
Boris Gelfand (ISR)
2720
 
 
 
 
0
24
Teimour Radjabov (AZE)
2710
 
 
 
 
0

As seen from the table above, every player will have three chances, and all of those will count for the final tally. There will be no “throw away” worst result, so, for example, Aronian's position after his disastrous showing in Sharjah looks very precarious. Levon needs to finish in the top three in both of his remaining events, and even so that would not guarantee him a top two finish. See for yourself.

Place
Single GP event
GP points
1
€20,000
170
2
€15,000
140
3
€12,000
110
4
€11,000
90
5
€10,000
80
6
€9,000
70
7
€8,000
60
8
€7,000
50
9
€6,000
40
10
€5,000
30
11
€4,250
20
12
€4,000
10
13
€3,750
8
14
€3,500
6
15
€3,250
4
16
€3,000
3
17
€2,750
2
18
€2,500
1

Forget about the money, we're only interested in the points awarded. Since about half of the 24 players involved in this year's cycle are either not good enough or don't seem to be interested in trying, we have about 12 left to compete for the top two spots in the overall standings. I'd say any player who came from Sharjah with less than 70 points is at best a long shot to make it, even if his name is Levon Aronian.

In this tough field, it'll probably take around 300 points total. This is why Nakamura and Ding need to finish at least in a first place tie in Moscow, while Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave and Grischuk, might be OK with finishing around fourth through sixth places. Players like Giri, Radjabov, Gelfand and Svidler absolutely have to stay on a plus score in order to build up points.

In Sharjah, Alexander Grischuk was the surprise winner at the end, after a thoroughly lackadaisical event by all. Can lightning strike twice?

We'll see how it plays out. I can't wait for the next round to begin!

Standings after six rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts rtg+/-
1 4 GM Ding Liren CHN 2773 4,0 6,9
  5 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2772 4,0 5,3
3 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795 3,5 -1,6
  2 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2786 3,5 -0,3
  6 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2755 3,5 2,0
  8 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2750 3,5 1,4
  12 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2724 3,5 7,9
  13 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2710 3,5 9,0
9 3 GM Giri Anish NED 2785 3,0 -5,7
  15 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696 3,0 3,4
  18 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2621 3,0 9,3
12 7 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2751 2,5 -9,8
  9 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2750 2,5 -7,9
  14 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2710 2,5 -3,5
  16 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2652 2,5 2,7
  17 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2633 2,5 4,2
17 10 GM Adams Michael ENG 2747 2,0 -8,7
18 11 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2727 1,5 -14,6

Pairings for round seven

Bo. No.   Name FED Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name FED Rtg No.
1 2 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2786   4 GM Ding Liren CHN 2773 4
2 5 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2772 4   GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2750 8
3 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795   GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2710 13
4 6 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2755   GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2724 12
5 3 GM Giri Anish NED 2785 3   GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2633 17
6 9 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2750   3 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696 15
7 16 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2652   3 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2621 18
8 14 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2710   2 GM Adams Michael ENG 2747 10
9 11 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2727   GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2751 7

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Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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drcloak drcloak 5/20/2017 03:46
@chessisamazing

It is a rather dirty tactic. It is also known as 'Click Bait'.
chessisamazing chessisamazing 5/19/2017 04:55
I've been seeing a trend in Chessbase. They sensationalize a piece of news in the headlines, and when you open the article, you find that they totally forgot about that particular game. In this instance, they sensationalized Gelfand vs. Hari, and then they forgot to list that game. As usual, I had to go to another website to see that particular game. I've seen this happen 99% of the times in the past. They sensationalize a game, for eg., Carlsen strikes back with a bang!!!! And when you open the article, they haven't listed only his game but all the other games, and we have to go to other websites to find it. Chessbase, please take a note of this. It's very frustrating (unless I'm missing something in this article and their game is in fact listed; in which case, my apologies)
geraldsky geraldsky 5/19/2017 04:35
Giri now has six draws
drawattack drawattack 5/19/2017 04:11
Is it possible, if you please, to present at each report a little table with the round results, as Chessbase always did until some time ago?

Thank you so much!
truthadjustr truthadjustr 5/19/2017 03:05
i like Naka's win today. Seems that, Naka and Anish are stagnating and needed some re-invigoration.
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