Caruana beats Rapport in Armageddon to win Gashimov Memorial

by André Schulz
12/24/2021 – Fabiano Caruana had a great second day of blitz at the Vugar Gashimov Tournament in Baku. The American even caught up with former leader Richard Rapport in the overall standings table. Caruana then went on to beat his Hungarian colleague in Armageddon to win the event. | Photos: Official tournament site

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Blitz in Baku

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was leading the blitz section at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial after the first half, but his half-point lead was not enough to win the tournament. Mamedyarov started the second day of the blitz section with a loss against David Navara, then he defeated Vugar Asadli and Sergey Karjakin before signing three draws in a row, against Rauf Mamedov, Vishy Anand and Richard Rapport. In the last round, he lost to Fabiano Caruana — 3½ points on the second day were too few to maintain the lead in the tournament.

Fabiano Caruana, on the other hand, had a great day. The American grandmaster remained undefeated on Thursday and collected victories over Asadli, Navara, Anand and finally Mamedyarov. Caruana was on the losing side against the Azerbaijani, but benefited from a blunder by his opponent at the end of the game.

Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2767) - Caruana, Fabiano (2792)
7th Gashimov Memorial-Blitz 2021, 23.12.2021 [as]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.dxc5!? [The main variation emerges after 6.g3 Nf6]

6...d4 7.Na4 Bxc5 8.a3 Black avoids a theoretical discussion with this unusual move. [After 8.Nxc5 Qa5+ 9.Bd2 Qxc5 10.Rc1 White has achieved good results.]


8...Be7 9.e3 Bg4 10.exd4 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Nxd4 12.Qd1 Qa5+ 13.Nc3 Rd8 14.Be3 Nf5 [14...Bf6=]

15.Bb5+ Kf8


The position is equal.

16.Qf3 Nxe3 17.fxe3 Nf6 18.0–0 [The b7-pawn could have been captured with 18.Qxb7]

18...Qb6 19.Kh1 h5 20.e4 Qe6 21.e5 Ng4?! [21...Qxe5 was objectively fine, but dangerous in a blitz game 22.Rae1 Qc7 23.Ne4]


22.Rae1 g6 23.Re4 White is now more active.

23...Kg7 24.Bc4 Qf5 25.Qe2 Qg5 26.Ref4 [26.Nd5!?, centralizing the knight and creating additional tactical possibilities, was also strong.]


26...Kh6 27.h3 Qh4 28.Ne4 With a superior position for White.

28...Rhf8 29.Bxf7 Kg7 30.Be6? Lets the fish off the hook. [More control offered 30.Qc4!?; 30.Nf6!? Rxf7 31.Nxh5+]


30...Rxf4 31.Rxf4 Kh8? [‘Normal’ was 31...Rf8 and after 32.Rxf8 Bxf8 33.Bxg4 hxg4 Black is fine.]

32.Bxg4 hxg4 33.Rxg4 Qh6 34.Qf2 Now the game should be won by White.

34...Qh5 35.Nf6?? Throws the game away. [35.Qg3 was an easy way to win.]


35...Rd1+ [The idea was 35...Qxe5 36.Rh4+ Kg7 37.Rh7+ and mate.]

36.Kh2 Qxe5+ With check!


37.g3 Bxf6 Winning a piece.

38.Rxg6 Bg7 39.h4 Qe4 0–1

Caruana scored 5½ points on the second day. In total, Caruana collected 10 points in the blitz section, and thus distanced himself from the rest of the field, leaving second-placed Mamedyarov 1½ points behind.

Richard Rapport took third place in the blitz tournament with 8 points.

Final standings - Blitz


In the combined scores of rapid and blitz, Caruana and Rapport tied in first place, which meant an Armageddon game would decide the overall winner of the event. The American star won the tiebreaker and was declared the champion.


Final standings

No  Name FED Rapid Blitz Total
1 Fabiano Caruana (2770) USA 14 10 24
2 Richard Rapport (2750) HUN 16 8 24
3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2727) AZE 14 8.5 22.5
4 Rauf Mamedov (2690) AZE 9 6.5 15.5
5 Viswanathan Anand (2748) IND 3 6 9
6 David Navara (2706) CZE 8 6 14
7 Vugar Asadli (2309) AZE 4 6 10
8 Sergey Karjakin (2757) RUS 16 5 21

All games - Blitz



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register