FIDE GP in Palma: Tomashevsky beats Radjabov

by Albert Silver
11/23/2017 – Round six of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma was a bit of confirmation of how the tournament had gone thus far. Levon Aronian built a big advantage against Svidler, but after a mistake settled for a draw, and is still sole leader. The next notable result was Teimour Radjabov’s loss to Tomashevsky after declining a draw earlier. Read on in this illustrated report. | Photo: Valerij Belobeev

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Round six

Levon Aronian has been the star of the tournament so far, enjoying a second-wind in his career the likes of which have his colleagues in a deep state of envy. Not only has he won a slew of major tournaments, including the recent World Cup, but his actual play and preparation have been peerless, yielding him scalps of every top player in the world, including the World Champion.


Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Aronian Levon ½ - ½ 3 Svidler Peter
Harikrishna P. 3 ½ - ½ 3 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
Nakamura Hikaru 3 ½ - ½ 3 Ding Liren
Giri Anish ½ - ½ 3 Jakovenko Dmitry
Tomashevsky Evgeny 1 - 0 Radjabov Teimour
Riazantsev Alexander 0 - 1 Rapport Richard
Li Chao B 2 ½ - ½ 2 Eljanov Pavel
Hammer Jon Ludvig ½ - ½ 2 Vallejo Pons Francisco
Gelfand Boris 0 - 1 2 Inarkiev Ernesto

Levon Aronian nearly pulled it off against Peter Svidler | Photo: Valerij Belobeev

In round six, he faced Peter Svidler with white, and as he had notched wins in all his previous whites, it made sense to expect a repeat performance here. In fact, it came very close as he once again showed top preparation and built a significant edge against the many-times Russian champion.

Levon Aronian ½-½ Peter Svidler

[Event "FIDE Grand Prix Palma 2017"] [Site "Palma de Mallorca ESP"] [Date "2017.11.22"] [Round "6"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E80"] [WhiteElo "2801"] [BlackElo "2763"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 c5 4. d5 Bg7 5. e4 d6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Nge2 exd5 8. cxd5 a6 9. a4 Nbd7 10. Ng3 Nh5 11. Nxh5 gxh5 12. Bd3 $146 {Black's counter play pretty much revolves around a ...b5 or ...f5 breakthrough, and since White's light-squared bishop is the definition of a bad bishop, on d3 it prepares to exchage itself in the event of ...f5.} ({Previously known was} 12. Be2 Bd4 13. Bf4 Rg8 14. g3 Ne5 15. Qd2 Bh3 16. Bxe5 dxe5 {1/2-1/2 (40) Vitiugov,N (2721) -Grischuk,A (2752) Novosibirsk 2016}) 12... O-O 13. O-O f5 14. exf5 Ne5 15. Bc2 Bxf5 16. Bxf5 Rxf5 17. Ne4 c4 18. Qc2 Qb6+ $2 ({The logical} 18... b5 {was the principled continuation.}) 19. Kh1 $16 Rff8 20. Ng5 $2 {A mistake that throws away White's advantage, After the game, Aronian admitted he was disappointed to have played this, and that before the mistake he had been playing quickly and well, and here had spent 25 minutes to unleash this howler.} (20. Bg5 $16 { was the correct continuation as pointed out by Aronian and the engines.}) 20... Nd3 $11 21. Ne6 Rae8 22. Nxg7 Nf2+ 23. Kg1 Nd3+ 24. Kh1 Nf2+ 1/2-1/2

An ambitious setup against the Benoni

The topic of this 60 minute video clip is the major idea of the 8.h3 0-0 9.Bd3 line. It has not won much love among defenders of the Benoni - White players are coming dangerously close to realising the dream of squeezing the opponent.


The most dramatic result was that by Evgeny Tomashevsky and Teimour Radjabov. Tomashevsky had not been the most ambitious player in Palma de Mallorca thus far, showing a slight aversion to confrontations or long fights. However, Teimour Radjabov, who had been hot and cold (mostly hot with black and his King’s Indian) had been having an uneven event. Declining the offer to face Radjabov’s King’s Indian (understandably), Tomashevsky veered the helm to 1.e4 waters and a Classical Pirc was the result. It was a balanced game until move 20 or so, when a repetition was visible on the board. The Azeri player declined, preferring to fight on, but was not rewarded for his tenacity and went under.

Evgeny Tomashevsky 1-0 Teimour Radjabov (annotations by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

Play the Pirc like a Grandmaster Vol. 2: Attacking lines

The resulting positions are usually dynamic or double-edged and offer fairly balanced chances. The better tactician may win, but do not be dissappointed if the game ends in a spectacular and logical draw!


Naturally, Radjabov’s willingness to fight on was admirable, but his loss could not come at a worse time. He most likely needs at least +2 to make the Candidates, and after his loss now is at -1. That means that three wins are needed, and even then it may need a prayer too.

Two more decisive games were signed in round six: Gelfand’s loss to Inarkiev, and Riazantsev’s loss to Rapport. It has not been a good event for the great Israeli player, and this game was no exception. On the other hand. The game between Riazantsev and Richard Rapport was exactly what one expected of them: a bare-knuckled brawl that swung both ways before finally favoring Rapport for good.

Riazantsev was unable to keep pace with Rapport when all hell broke loose on the board | Photo: Valerij Belobeev

Alexander Riazantsev 0-1 Richard Rapport (annotations by GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

What Grandmasters Don't See Vol. 1: Protected Squares

Many times when a top player blunders, it is routinely described by the esoteric term „chess blindness.“ In the series What Grandmasters Don‘t See, chess trainer and world-class commentator Maurice Ashley strips away the myth, and for the first time explains why the root of these mistakes is more often based on the psychology of human learning.
In Volume 1 of the series, Ashley coins a new term Protected Squares, and shows how many errors occur on squares that seem invulnerable because they are clearly guarded by pawns.


Anish Giri and Dmitri Jakovenko played a strange draw, which went for 36 moves yet left all 16 pawns still on the board | Photo: Valerij Belobeev

Levon Aronian leads the event with 4.0/6, but no fewer than nine players stand at 3½/6. There are three rounds to go, and nothing is even remotely decided. The final curve before the sprint to the end lies ahead, and bloody chess is on the menu. Heads will roll, count on it.

Standings after six rounds

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Aronian Levon 4,0
2 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 3,5
  Nakamura Hikaru 3,5
  Ding Liren 3,5
  Svidler Peter 3,5
  Harikrishna P. 3,5
  Jakovenko Dmitry 3,5
  Tomashevsky Evgeny 3,5
  Rapport Richard 3,5
10 Giri Anish 3,0
  Inarkiev Ernesto 3,0
12 Li Chao B 2,5
  Radjabov Teimour 2,5
  Eljanov Pavel 2,5
  Vallejo Pons Francisco 2,5
  Riazantsev Alexander 2,5
17 Hammer Jon Ludvig 2,0
18 Gelfand Boris 1,5

All Round 6 games



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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pölönc pölönc 1/1/2018 09:50
@macauley: Please read the latest report of Yermolinsky about the word rapid and blitz world championship. It is a very good example of the below-mentioned writing style.

For example in the notes of Harikrishna-Aronian. It is not obvious at all that Aronian blundered with 52.-h3. Why is this move with two question marks? Because Stockfish said it is a losing move? Congratulations on that.

And then this gem: "My message to Vladimir and his esteemed coach, Alexander "El Khalif" Khalifman, is to set aside a few (hundred) hours to devote to endgame studies." In my opinion, this writing style is not worthy of CB standards. Does he really think that Khalifman or Fedoseev needs his training suggestions? Come on..

Also in this report: why 26.-dxc4 is called a "cheap tactic" in the game of Rizanteev-Rapport?
I could have collected much more examples, but I think it is enough for now.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 11/24/2017 04:51
Very useful post, weerogue! It's win or go home now for MVL in the last round, that's for sure!
macauley macauley 11/23/2017 04:48
@pölönc - Can you give an example or two?
pölönc pölönc 11/23/2017 11:08
Is it only me who feel that the reports and analyses have become too critical and disrespectful for the players recently in CB?
weerogue weerogue 11/23/2017 10:15
Minimum winning 'outs' for MVL: 1) 4-way tie for 1st; 2) 2-way tie for 2nd.
1) Needs to catch leader and hope no more than 2 others do the same
2) Needs to separate himself from all but one of current peloton

In both cases, you'd imagine going 2/3 (+1) in the last 3 rounds for 5.5/9 (+2) overall is pretty much required.
Furthermore, in the last three GPs, an overall score of +1 would never have been enough to get the GP pts he needs and a score of +2 would always have been enough.
Given that, it seems he must go at least +1 in the last 3 rounds to have a chance and, if he does, he'll be unlucky if he doesn't then qualify for the Candidates.

Radjabov has a lot more 'outs' (8-way tie for 1st, 5-way tie for 2nd, 2-way tie for 3rd), but given that 5/9 has never been enough for the pts he needs in any of the previous GPs, he basically needs to go 3/3 now as the article suggests.
weerogue weerogue 11/23/2017 09:14
One observation is that Radjabov's loss is specifically Mamedyarov's gain, which is an interesting interplay between the two countrymen. Radjabov's maximum available score of 5.5/9 (+2) and even that being based on going an unlikely 3/3 in the last 3 rounds, makes his qualification for the Candidates less and less likely and, in turn, Mamedyarov's more and more...