Sharjah GP Rd4: Mamedyarov joins MVL in lead

by Albert Silver
2/22/2017 – With breathtaking verve, Mamedyarov went all out against Adams, and scored a powerful win to join MVL in the lead. Most games drew, some with little or no effort to fight, though not all such as Eljanov vs Hou Yifan that went the distance. Li Chao was the other winner of the day, defeating Tomashevsky. Enjoy the illustrated report with analysis by Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

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The time control in the GP tournaments is 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 first leg, in Sharjah, will be held February 18 - 27 (with a rest day on the 23rd) at the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club. The first prize is €20,000; the total prize fund is is €130,000. 

2017 Sharjah GP Participants

All photos by Max Avdeev

The round was one of disappointment, cautiousness, victory, and guts. In other words, there was a bit of everything. Mostly, unfortunately, one thing that stood out was how much rules such as the Sofia rule were still much needed. WHile some games ended in decisive results, and some that did not were fought all the way to the end, there were also a few very short lifeless draws in which little or no effort was made to make a game of it. Fortunately, this was not a widespread case, but the point of rules that prevent such quick draws at least ensures the audience and sponsors feel their time and investment are well spent.

The top board was the main draw of the round with Hikaru Nakamura fresh from a win to place him in the pack behind the leader MVL, facing the leader himself. Unfortunately after 18 moves, with all the pieces still on the board minus the queens, the players called it a day. Disappointing.

This was hardly the case of Hou Yifan's game against Pavel Eljanov, which was by far the longest game of the day, and fought to the very end, in spite of no swings to speak of.

P. Eljanov vs Hou Yifan

 

Michael Adams faced a ferocious...

... Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and succumbed to the storm.

Annotating the thrilling game is Tiger Hillarp Persson who explains that the choice was easy as he is a big fan of the Azeri player.

S. Mamedyarov vs M. Adams (annotated by Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

[Event "Sharjah Grand Prix"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.21"] [Round "4"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Adams, Michael"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D35"] [Annotator "Tiger Hillarp"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2016.11.19"] [EventCountry "UAE"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 {With two wins to chose between today, I arrived at the conundrum of seeming to either favour the a3-Queens Indian, or being a great fan of Mamedyarov. In the end I decided that the latter makes more sense, especially if he continues to play like this.} e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 (4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bf4 {is the other variation that gives White some chances for an advantage.} ) (4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nf3 h6 $1 6. Bh4 (6. Bxf6 Bxf6 {leads to well researched positions where Black should be able to equalize.}) 6... O-O 7. e3 Ne4 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Rc1 c6 {has a terribly solid reputation.}) 4... exd5 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 h6 {This move, which is rather uncommon, comes with a clear plan: to force the bishop to h4 and then exchange it with Be7/Nh5. After the exchange Black hopes to have won a tempo if White plays Qc2/Bd3, since there is no need to defende the h-pawn.} (6... Bf5 7. Qf3 Bg6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Qxf6 gxf6 {is another tabiya. White continues to score well from this position, but it's still unclear whether Black is actually worse.}) ({Playing "normally" with} 6... Be7 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Nge2 {and now something else than exchanging the bishops, like} Nf8 { has been tried by Mamedyarov from the Black side. However, these line have worse reputation that the early exchange of the dark squared bishops. After something like} 9. O-O Ne6 10. Bh4 O-O {the game revolves around moves like e3-e4, b2-b4 and c6-c5 and White seems to have greater freedom to lead the game in one or another directions.}) 7. Bh4 Be7 8. Bd3 ({Unless we consider Ne4 to be a threat, there seem to be little reason to favour} 8. Qc2 {, over Bd3. A recent game went} Nbd7 9. Bd3 Nh5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O-O Nb6 12. h3 Be6 13. Nf3 Nf6 14. Kb1 O-O-O 15. Nd2 Kb8 16. Nb3 Rhe8 17. f3 Nfd7 18. Rhe1 Rc8 19. Rc1 {when Black was on a steady route to equality, in Tomashevsky,E (2725) -Adams,M (2740) 78th Tata Steel GpA 2016.}) 8... Nbd7 9. Nge2 Nh5 ({The only reason I can see for playing Qc2 before Bd3Nge2, is that Black has the option of playing} 9... Ne4 $5 {So, the question is how the position after} 10. Bxe7 Nxc3 (10... Qxe7 $6 11. Bxe4 dxe4 12. Ng3 Nf6 13. Qc2 $16) 11. Bxd8 Nxd1 12. Rxd1 Kxd8 13. f3 {is to be evaluated. White has a clear plan in e3-e4 (and possibly g4/h4), whereas Black is somewhat passive. White ought to have a small advantage.}) (9... O-O $6 10. f3 Nh5 11. Bf2 {gives White the extra option of 0-0-0 followed by a pawn storm on the kingside.}) 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Qd2 $1 {This set-up, which aims to play f3 quickly, has been on my radar for quite some time and I even had the chance to play it before anyone else did. (See move 12)} Nb6 ({After} 11... O-O {my intention was to play} 12. f3 (12. O-O-O $6 b5 13. Kb1 Nhf6 {and Black is faster to create threats since it is hard to get g4 and h4 in:} 14. f3 Re8 $1 15. e4 b4 $15) (12. O-O Re8 13. Rae1 Nf8 {and I fail to see a great continuation for White.} 14. Nc1 Ne6 15. f3 b6 16. N1e2 {seems to slow.}) 12... Re8 13. Kf2 $5 {, but I don't know what Mamedyarov was planning.}) 12. f3 {Had White's queen been on c2, this move would not have been possible.} (12. O-O O-O 13. f3 Be6 14. b3 Rac8 15. Rac1 c5 16. dxc5 Rxc5 17. Nd4 {left me with a typical advantage, in Hillarp Persson,T (2520)-Merriman,J (2250) London Classic Open 2015.}) 12... Bd7 13. O-O $1 { This move gives Black little choice but to evacuate the king to g8.} (13. O-O-O O-O-O 14. Rhe1 {can also be considered, but the e3-e4 idea seem stronger with Black's king on the kingside.}) 13... O-O ({Not} 13... O-O-O $6 14. a4 $1 { and Black's king is in trouble.}) 14. g4 $5 {[#] This move would make less sense if there was not a pawn on h6. Here it is quite principled and challenging. I am a bit puzzled and disappointed not to find it in my own preparations.} ({My preparation, from a few years back, goes} 14. Rae1 f5 15. Nf4 $1 ({The "!" is from my old file, but perhaps} 15. b3 {is stronger.}) 15... Nxf4 16. exf4 Qf6 17. Re5 {"with an initiative for White".}) 14... Nf6 15. Ng3 ({It is also promising to play} 15. Nf4 {, with similar ideas as in the game. One possibility is} Ne8 16. Rae1 Nd6 17. e4 Qg5 18. Re2 dxe4 19. fxe4 $1 { and with Rg2/Qf2/h4 coming, Black is already in trouble.}) 15... Ne8 16. Rae1 Nd6 17. e4 $1 {A surprising and strong idea. White is even prepared to give up the g4-pawn in order to get a mobile center and some files. I'm happy I was not the one who had to face this, unprepared, over the board.} dxe4 18. fxe4 Ndc4 $1 ({Adams' move is possibly the strongest. After} 18... Bxg4 19. e5 $1 Ndc4 20. Qg2 {White has a big attack with moves like Qe4 and Bf5.}) ({The engine is a fan of} 18... Rad8 19. e5 Nb5 {and indeed, that is a clear case of not passing the Turing Test. I would not take every chance to steer clear of something like} 20. Qg2 Qg5 (20... Qb4 21. Nxb5 cxb5 22. Qe4 g6 23. Rf6 $40) 21. Nxb5 cxb5 22. Nf5 Bxf5 23. Rxf5 Qe7 24. Re4 {The engine assures that Black is only somewhat worse, but my gut is not convinced.}) 19. Qc1 $1 Bxg4 20. b3 Rad8 $5 {Adams decides to change the course of the game and it is a respectable decision.} ({The alternatives look shaky:} 20... Na5 $6 21. Rf4 Qd7 22. Kh1 {and with Rg1 coming down the aisle, Black should do his best to cancel this wedding.}) ({And after} 20... Na3 21. e5 {White has a huge initiative.}) 21. Nf5 ({White has plenty of ways to keep some advantage, but the ruined pawn structure will cut down White's winning chances. Perhaps the best way to continue is} 21. bxc4 Rxd4 22. Be2 Bh3 23. Rf2 {, followed by Bf1 and Nf5. In this way Black doesn't get to exchange a pair of rooks under favourable circumstances.}) 21... Bxf5 22. exf5 Qf6 23. Bxc4 Nxc4 24. bxc4 Qxd4+ 25. Kh1 Rfe8 26. f6 $1 Rxe1 27. Qxe1 Qxc4 28. fxg7 (28. Rg1 $6 g5 { and White is unable to activate the knight without inviting simplifications (which will favour Black).}) 28... Rd6 {White has a clear advantage, but where the technical obstacles are quite big. White's king is vulnerable to checks and Black has a pawn majority on the queenside that can be put in motion. White can probably not avoid the exchange of rooks, but it is important to do it at a good moment.} 29. Rg1 $6 (29. Qe8+ Kxg7 30. Qe5+ (30. Rf3 Rf6 31. Qe5 Qe6 32. Rg3+ Kh7 33. Qb8 Rg6 34. Rxg6 Kxg6 35. Qxa7 {is a more forcing way to get something similar to what happens in the game.}) 30... Kh7 31. Qf5+ Rg6 32. Qxf7+ Qxf7 33. Rxf7+ Rg7 34. Rxg7+ Kxg7 35. Kg2 Kf6 36. Kf3 Ke5 37. Ke3 { and I'm not sure whether White's advantage is enough for a win. It should be.}) 29... Rg6 30. Qe5 (30. Rxg6 fxg6 31. Kg2 Kxg7 32. Qe7+ Qf7 33. Qe3 $14) 30... Qe6 ({Here Adams had a chance to draw the game with} 30... Qd3 $1 {, with the idea that} 31. Rxg6 Qf1+ 32. Rg1 Qf3+ {is a direct draw. Chess is a very difficult game, especially when you are short on time and even more so when you believe you are worse.}) 31. Qb8+ $1 Kxg7 32. Qxa7 $1 {This little pawn makes all the difference in the endgame to come. Now Black's queenside pawns are much more prone to become weak.} Qc4 33. Qe3 b5 34. a3 {White doesn't have to keep the a-pawn since the h-pawn is all that is needed to win a knight vs no-knight endgame.} c5 35. Ne4 $5 (35. Qe5+ Kh7 36. Re1 Qd3 37. Qe3 Qxe3 38. Rxe3 Rb6 39. Kg2 {and winning becomes a matter of (advanced) technique. Mamedyarov's way is a better human route.}) 35... f5 $2 {A miscalculation in time trouble.} ({Adams' last chance to fight back was} 35... b4 $1 {, when} 36. axb4 (36. a4 $5) 36... cxb4 {gives us a position that is very, very hard to win for White.} 37. Rc1 Qd5 $1 38. Qf3 b3 39. Rb1 Rb6 40. Rd1 Qc6 41. Rg1+ Kf8 42. Qd3 Rb8 43. Qd4 Re8 {and Black hangs on.}) 36. Rxg6+ Kxg6 37. Nxc5 Qd5+ ({ Perhaps Adams missed that} 37... Qf1+ 38. Qg1+ {is check.}) 38. Kg1 Qd1+ 39. Kg2 Qd5+ 40. Kh3 {The rest is easy.} Qd1 41. Qe8+ Kf6 (41... Kg5 42. Ne6+ $1 Kf6 43. Qd8+ Qxd8 44. Nxd8 Ke5 45. Kg3 Ke4 46. Nf7 Ke3 47. Nxh6 f4+ 48. Kg2 $18 ) 42. Nd7+ Kg5 43. Qg8+ {and facing Qg3+/Nf6+, followed by Qd6+ and Qxd1, it was time to resign.} 1-0

Grischuk played a lightning draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi in 19 moves

Rapport drew with Salem and put a stop to the rot

There are few things worse than forgetting one's preparation...

Li Chao came prepared to the teeth, and surprised Tomashevsky and his Queen's Indian with an early 8.h4!?

Li Chao vs E. Tomashevsky

[Event "FIDE World Chess Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Sharjah"] [Date "2017.02.21"] [Round "4"] [White "Li, Chao b"] [Black "Tomashevsky, Evgeny"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2720"] [BlackElo "2711"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] 1. d4 {(00)} Nf6 {(07)} 2. c4 {(00)} e6 {( 00:07)} 3. Nf3 {(00)} b6 {(09)} 4. a3 {(12)} Bb7 {(46)} 5. Nc3 {(17)} d5 {(08)} 6. cxd5 {( 00:12)} Nxd5 {(07)} 7. e3 {(11)} g6 {(02:22)} 8. h4 {(25)} Bg7 {(05:51) Clearly 8... h4 caught Tomashevsky by surprise, and he spend 6 minutes here and then 34 a couple of moves later. This still follows several notable games, with names such as Wang Hao, Wang Yue, Morozevich and more. h4 is very much a fighting move, so he knew without question that the quick draws on some of the boards around him were not going be his tale of the day.} 9. h5 {(32)} Nd7 {(01:32)} 10. Bd3 { (48)} Nxc3 {(34:10) 34 minutes spent on this move, though still following two significant games in the databases.} 11. bxc3 {(35)} e5 {(07)} 12. e4 {(53)} Qe7 {(34)} 13. h6 {(00:21) This is the novelty, and also the top enigne choice. Since White played quikcly up til now and continues to do so, it is probably safe to say this is all well into Li Chao's preparation. The novelty is quite interesting, and not nly attacks the dark squares, but really disrupts Black's piece coordination. Placing his bishop on f6 was probably the last thing he had planned here.} (13. O-O O-O 14. Re1 Rfe8 15. a4 a6 16. Bc4 c6 17. h6 Bf6 18. Ba3 c5 19. dxc5 Nxc5 20. Bxc5 Qxc5 21. Qb3 Re7 22. Rab1 Bc6 23. Red1 Rb8 24. Bd5 Be8 25. c4 Rc7 26. Ra1 Kf8 27. Qb2 a5 28. Rd3 Kg8 29. Rb3 Ra7 30. Ne1 Qd4 31. Qa2 Be7 32. Nf3 Qc5 33. Nxe5 Bg5 34. Ng4 Qd4 35. c5 Kf8 36. c6 f5 37. Rf3 Bf7 38. Ne3 fxe4 39. Rd1 Qc5 40. Bxe4 Bxh6 41. Rd7 Rxd7 42. cxd7 Qc1+ 43. Kh2 {1-0 (43) Andreikin,D (2706)-Karjakin,S (2762) Nizhnij Novgorod 2013}) 13... Bf6 {(34)} 14. O-O {(11)} O-O {(01:27)} 15. Re1 {(14)} Rfd8 {(06:43)} 16. Be3 {(13:16)} Rac8 {(06:23)} 17. Qe2 {(15:04)} Re8 {(10:58)} 18. Qa2 {(15:55)} c6 {(15:35)} 19. a4 {(04:51)} Rc7 {(09]} 20. Rad1 {(01:07)} Bc8 {(06)} 21. Bc4 {(05:25)} Rf8 {(03:17)} 22. Bc1 {(06:58)} ({The immediate punch} 22. d5 { was possible already and very strong.} Qd8 (22... cxd5 23. exd5 Qd6 24. Nd2) 23. d6 Rb7 24. Rb1 {Keeping Black's pieces in check by preventing the ...b5 break. Black's postion is best described as awful with the pieces and pawns in disarray.}) 22... Bh8 {(06:37)} 23. Bb3 {(11:38)} a6 {(04:00)} 24. Bc4 {(01:42) } Bf6 {(02:16)} 25. d5 {(07:59)} cxd5 {(02:40)} 26. Ba3 {(25)} Nc5 {(00:49)} 27. exd5 {(06)} Qd6 {(04:00)} 28. Nd2 $1 {(00:21)} Bf5 {(23) Black is more or less forced to abandon the a6 pawn.} ({After a move such as} 28... Qd8 29. d6 Rb7 (29... Rd7 30. Bxc5 bxc5 31. Ne4 Bg5 32. Bd5 Bxh6 33. Bc6 Bg7 34. Qd5 $18) 30. Bxc5 bxc5 31. Ne4 Bf5 32. Qd2 Bxe4 33. Rxe4 a5 34. Qd5) 29. Bxa6 {(45)} Ra8 {(01:33)} 30. Bb5 {(58)} Qd8 {(04)} 31. Bc6 {(06:42)} (31. d6 $1 Qxd6 32. Nc4 Qe6 33. Rd6 Qe7) 31... Nxa4 {(01:26)} 32. Bxa8 {(22)} ({Stronger was} 32. Qb3 Ra6 33. Nc4 Nc5 34. Bxc5 bxc5 35. Nxe5 Qf8 36. Nxg6 $1 Qxh6 (36... hxg6 37. Re8 ) 37. d6) 32... Nxc3 {(12)} 33. Qb3 {(00:04)} Qxa8 {(01:09)} 34. d6 {(05:35)} Rc6 {( 01)} 35. Ra1 {(02:51)} Qc8 {(19)} 36. Bb4 {(52)} Be6 {(57)} 37. Qa3 { (01:04)} e4 {(41)} 38. Qa8 {( 01:13)} Ne2+ {(36)} 39. Kf1 {(01:20)} (39. Rxe2 $4 {would be a blunder after} Bxa1 40. Qxc8+ (40. Qxa1 $2 Rc1+) 40... Rxc8 41. Nxe4 Rc4 42. Re1 Bb2 $11) 39... e3 {(26)} 40. Ne4 {(00)} 1-0

Round 4 on 2017/02/21 at 15:00

Bo No Ti. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Ti Name Rtg No
1 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2785 2 ½ - ½ GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 1
2 4 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2766 2 1 - 0 2 GM Adams Michael 2751 7
3 2 GM Aronian Levon 2785 ½ - ½ GM Riazantsev Alexander 2671 15
4 12 GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 ½ - ½ GM Ding Liren 2760 5
5 6 GM Eljanov Pavel 2759 ½ - ½ GM Hou Yifan 2651 17
6 8 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 ½ - ½ GM Grischuk Alexander 2742 9
7 18 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 ½ - ½ GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 13
8 10 GM Li Chao B 2720 1 1 - 0 1 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 11
9 14 GM Rapport Richard 2692 1 ½ - ½ ½ GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 16

Round four games (with times per move)

Standings after four rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts
1 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2796 3,0
2 4 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2766 3,0
3 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2785 2,5
4 5 GM Ding Liren CHN 2760 2,0
5 7 GM Adams Michael ENG 2751 2,0
6 10 GM Li Chao B CHN 2720 2,0
7 15 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2671 2,0
8 12 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2709 2,0
  18 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2628 2,0
10 13 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2709 2,0
11 9 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2742 2,0
12 17 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2651 2,0
13 2 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2785 2,0
14 6 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2759 2,0
15 8 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2749 2,0
16 14 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2692 1,5
17 11 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2711 1,0
18 16 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2656 1,0

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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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weerogue weerogue 2/22/2017 02:15
Thanks for this!
Also - nice to see the Standings have been added!
(Even better are the cross-tables, but I'm sure that everything is 'in hand' - looking forward to seeing them soon.)
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