Baku 01: Caruana, Gelfand strike first

by Alejandro Ramirez
10/2/2014 – The tournament has started with some exciting games, even if some of the most important variations in plenty of games were not executed on the board. Two decisive games kicked things off: Gelfand overwhelmed Andreikin by following a new trend in the QID that the Russian wasn't familiar with while Caruana took advantage of an overpress by Karjakin. Round one analysis and impressions.

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The first stage of the 2014-2015 FIDE Grand Prix is taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan. The tournament will run from October 1st to October 15, 2014. Some of the strongest players in the world will compete in a Round Robin event. The winner and runner-up of the Grand Prix series will earn their spot at the 2016 Candidate's Tournament.

Round One

Round 01 – October 02, 2014 - 15:00
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2764
Radjabov, Teimur 2726
Karjakin, Sergey 2767
Caruana, Fabiano 2844
Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2701
Grischuk, Alexander 2797
Gelfand, Boris 2748
Andreikin, Dmitry 2722
Nakamura, Hikaru 2764
Svidler, Peter 2732
Dominguez, Leinier 2751
Kasimdzhanov, Rustam 2706

Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar ½-½ Radjabov, Teimur
edit: As was pointed out by many of our readers, this game was simply following a theoretically well known variation, that while flashy it lead to a known draw.

The Azeris simply repeated a well known draw to cirumvent the 30-move rule

Karjakin, Sergey 0-1 Caruana, Fabiano
Things simply seem to keep going in Caruana's way. Karjakin obtained a small edge from the Carlsbad structure and certainly he was better at a point. However a couple of inaccurate moves let it slip away. After an exchange sacrifice from Karjakin, White had compensation, but it was now double edged. Many commentators might point to the obvious 35.a4?? as the turning point of the game, but thanks to some spectacular Komodo 8 analysis by Albert Silver (which you can find in the game annotations) it was clear that Karjakin was lost even before that!

Karjakin overpressed, and although he blundered he might
have already been in too difficult of a situation

Tomashevsky, Evgeny ½-½ Grischuk, Alexander
Tomashevsky repeated some Grunfeld variation he played last year in the European Team Championship, but obviously Grischuk knew it, prepared a novelty and equalized easily. Not the best effort from Tomashevsky.

Grischuk was not as surprised of Tomashevsky's opening as he looks

Gelfand, Boris 1-0 Andreikin, Dmitry
Like Tomashevsky, Andreikin's opening was far from impressive. Gelfand followed a new trend in the Queen's Indian Defense that involves an earlier pawn sacrifice on d5. This had been successfully essayed a few times and surely any top player in the World that employs the QID (in particular if they play this line) should be familiar with it. Andreikin wasn't and his kingside fell apart before move 25.

Andreikin was theoretically crushed, not something that happens to him often

Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Svidler, Peter
The American was unable to make any headway into Svidler's solid Ruy Lopez. If anything it was Black that was better in the middlegame, but it seemed as if Svidler was happy with keeping his solid position equal and finishing with a draw.

Nakamura will fight hard to regain his place in the top five in the World

Dominguez Perez, Leinier ½-½ Kasimdzhanov, Rustam
Perhaps the most difficult game to explain. Dominguez's opening was bad and left his pieces in awkward positions, but Kasimdzhanov didn't capitalize in the most aggressive form, letting the Cuban back in the game with approximate equality. The Uzbek player horribly blundered... but the Cuban player didn't spot it! The game ended in a strange draw as there was still plenty of life left in the position.

A baffling first round game between Dominguez and Kasimdzhanov

The full pairing schedule will be published once FIDE releases it on their official website

Round One Games

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Photos by Maria Emelianova


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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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