FIDE Grand Prix - Geneva: Salem and Rapport steal the spotlight

by Albert Silver
7/10/2017 – Round four was a quiet round in terms of the leaderboard, since few attempts to really rock the boat were made. Radjabov continues to lead with 3.0/4 by half a point over a group of six players, but it wasn’t all dull as several did come to the board with a will to make a fight of it. The most interesting of these was no doubt the spectacular game between Saleh Salem and Richard Rapport, analyzed in the report by GM Alexandr Fier.

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The Grand Prix is being organized by Agon Limited, the commercial partner of the World Chess Federation, the game’s governing body. Agon has the exclusive commercial rights to organize the cycle of the World Championship.

Each Grand Prix has a prize fund of 130,000 euros, and the Geneva Grand Prix is supported by EG Capital Advisors, Kaspersky Lab and S.T. Dupont.

Twenty-four of the world’s best players are competing in the Grand Prix, with 18 of them participating in each of the tournaments. They will play a nine round swiss open played at 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 tournament runs from June 6-15, with a rest day on June 11 after round five. Each round starts at 2 pm local time (8 am New York time).

Round four

Bo.
No.
 
Name
Rtg
Pts.
Result
Pts.
 
Name
Rtg
No.
1
12
GM
Radjabov Teimour
2724
½ - ½
2
GM
Harikrishna Pentala
2737
8
2
4
GM
Grischuk Alexander
2761
2
½ - ½
2
GM
Aronian Levon
2809
1
3
2
GM
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar
2800
2
½ - ½
2
GM
Eljanov Pavel
2739
7
4
5
GM
Svidler Peter
2749
1 - 0
2
GM
Adams Michael
2736
9
5
11
GM
Gelfand Boris
2728
½ - ½
GM
Giri Anish
2775
3
6
10
GM
Li Chao B
2735
½ - ½
GM
Jakovenko Dmitry
2703
14
7
6
GM
Nepomniachtchi Ian
2742
1
1 - 0
1
GM
Hou Yifan
2666
16
8
17
GM
Riazantsev Alexander
2654
1
½ - ½
1
GM
Inarkiev Ernesto
2707
13
9
18
GM
Salem A.R. Saleh
2638
½
1 - 0
½
GM
Rapport Richard
2694
15

Photos by World Chess

The very top games between Teimour Radjabov and Pentala Harikrishna, or Alexander Grischuk against Levon Aronian, barely got out of the opening before their fates were decided. This isn’t to say that the players went for an ultra short game, but the situation after really left little doubt as to the result that would come.

Radjabov is checked for electronic devices, extra pawns, or anything that might give him an unfair advantage

Enjoying some friendly banter before the hostilities

If any game were to be described as having an impact on the leaderboard, it would have to be Peter Svidler’s win over Michael Adams. Adams, playing black, went astray fairly quickly out of the gate in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. He got stuck with an isolani without the benefits some such positions offer in compensation, and the pawn went down. Svidler worked this into a winning endgame in which he was not only up a pawn but enjoyed the bishop pair versus knight and bishop as well. With his win, Svidler moved into the pack with 2.5/4, making him a clearer contender for one of the top spots.

An important win for Peter Svidler, who now moves into the group just behind the leader

This corridor just before the playing area is littered with art-deco chairs and tables, all with chessboards for the use

Passersby and the players themsleves have made ample use of them

S.T. Dupont is one of the main sponsors and their luxurt products can be seen on display throughout the venue. Their pens were used by Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen during the World Championship match in New York.

Ian Nepomniachtchi overcame Hou Yifan in a sideline of the Berlin, with no queens exchanged, after a small bluff in which he left a pawn on b2 hanging. Hou chose not to take, but in fact this was a mistake as it represented her best chance. Upon first glance it might have seemed the knight could not escape, but a small precise line would let it out and give her the pawn. Instead, things went downhill thereafter, and the Russian built up a massive attack that he took to fruition. For Nepomniachtchi it was a welcome return to 50%, but for Hou it had to be frustrating after having had two very promising positions in earlier games yield nothing, to find herself on a negative score instead.

Under that sweet-looking demeanor and smile is a highly motivated competitor

The game of the day was without question the great battle between Saleh Salem and Richard Rapport. Both players had suffered very poor starts, and were eager to put that behind them and make a go for it. As both are also very imaginative and dynamic players, it was no surprise the game was as interesting as it was. Enjoy it with the detailed analysis by GM Alexandr Fier.

Saleh Salem - Richard Rapport (annotated by GM Alexandr Fier)

[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.09"] [Round "4"] [White "Salem, A R Saleh"] [Black "Rapport, Richard"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B28"] [WhiteElo "2638"] [BlackElo "2694"] [Annotator "Alexandr Fier"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] [TimeControl "40/6000+30:20/3000+30:900+30"] {This was a game that I was betting would be interesting. Both players are sharp and creative.} 1. e4 {70} c5 {20} 2. Nf3 {55} a6 {8 Probably a small surprise, but it didn't take Salem long to answer.} 3. c4 {36} Nc6 {209} 4. d4 {20 } cxd4 {5} 5. Nxd4 {2} e5 {7} 6. Nf5 {240 The quickest route to d5. In a normal Sveshnikov the knight would to via b5-a3-c2-e3-d5. This way White wins two tempi. However, since White is already commited with c4, Black's position is playable.} d6 {21} 7. Nc3 {55} g6 {28} 8. Ne3 {44} Bh6 {23 An exotic move, but logical. In this kind of position Black typically plays Be7-g5 trying to exchange this bishop for a strong White piece.} (8... Bg7 {is the most played move and White can answer with different setups. In a recent game he went for:} 9. Bd3 Nf6 10. Ned5 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 {Reaching a Kalashnikov type of position. This may be slightly improved for White, but I don't think there is a big difference.} O-O 12. Be3 Be6 13. Qd2 Rc8 14. O-O Ne7 $6 (14... f5 15. f3 Bxd5 16. cxd5 Nd4 {would be the normal answer and it's better than the game's continuation.}) 15. Rac1 Bxd5 16. cxd5 $16 { 1-0 (57) Bracker,F (2427)-Sousa,H (2174) Fornebu 2016}) 9. g3 {652 A very natural novelty. The bishop on g2 is not in the way of White's pieces and also protects the e4-pawn, so the c3-knight can jump to d5 at some point. It is a novelty in this exact position, since 8...Bh6 is not the main move, but it's a reasonable plan in a basic position with this structure.} (9. Bd3 {again is possible and played.} Be6 10. O-O Nge7 11. b3 O-O 12. Bb2 Rb8 13. Qe1 {exotic.} (13. Ncd5 b5 14. Kh1 {would probably be my choice.}) 13... Nd4 14. Ne2 Nec6 15. Nxd4 Nxd4 16. Rd1 b5 {with a complex middlegame, as seen in ½-½ (43) Sanchez Enriquez,O (2374)-Bogner,S (2603) Barcelona 2014}) 9... Nf6 {178} 10. Bg2 {63} O-O {177} 11. O-O {372} b5 $5 {1066 It's not really a sacrifice, since White can't take the pawn without suffering serious consequences. Without the inclusion of 11... Rb8, Black's position has more flexibility and Salem is right in trying to create immediate counterplay.} 12. f4 $1 {694 A nice move, the position gets chaotic just one move after both players manage to castle!} (12. cxb5 axb5 13. Nxb5 Ba6 {is the point of Black's play, and even if White doesn't give up the exchange, the position is fine.} 14. Qb3 (14. Nxd6 Bxf1 15. Bxf1 Nd4 {is not enough for the exchange.}) 14... Rb8 15. a4 Nd4 {with a pleasant position.}) 12... exf4 {748 Opening the position is dangerous, White's pieces are better placed than Black's.} (12... Bg7 {is a strange suggestion. If the idea had been to play Bg7, then why not just go there at once? But it is playable anyway and quite interesting.} 13. f5 Nd4 14. Ned5 Nxd5 15. Nxd5 gxf5 16. Qh5 f4 17. gxf4 bxc4 18. fxe5 dxe5 {with a different complex middlegame. Both players have problems to resolve, but I think I would be more comfortable with White.}) 13. gxf4 {218 } Bb7 {65} 14. e5 $1 {1133} (14. cxb5 {is also possible, but not in the spirit of the position.} axb5 15. Nxb5 Ba6 16. e5 Bxb5 17. exf6 Re8 (17... Bxf1 { is tempting, but the bishop is more important than the rook for the moment.} 18. Kxf1 Qxf6 (18... Rc8 19. Ng4 $18) 19. Bxc6 {with a clear advantage.}) 18. Rf2 Ra4 19. Ng4 Bf8 20. Be3 Nb4 {with the usual chaos, with chances for both sides. }) 14... dxe5 {607} 15. fxe5 {22} Nd7 {239} (15... Qb6 {is probably the way to handle the position} 16. exf6 Bxe3+ 17. Bxe3 Qxe3+ 18. Rf2 {since Black's queen will have to leave the diagonal after 19.Nd5, the king is better placed on g1.} (18. Kh1 Rad8 19. Nd5 Qg5 {looks ok for Black according to the computer.}) 18... Rad8 19. Nd5 Qg5 (19... Qc5 20. Qd2 {looks dangerous.}) 20. Qc1 Qh4 21. Qf4 Qxf4 22. Rxf4 {and Black still has problems to solve.}) 16. Ng4 {257} Bxc1 {73} (16... Bg7 {could be playable, but Black can't keep the bishop} 17. Nh6+ Bxh6 18. Bxh6 Ndxe5 19. Bxf8 Qxf8 20. cxb5 axb5 21. Ne4 {with an initiative.}) 17. Rxc1 {63} Ncxe5 {79 Rapport sacrifices a piece to create some counterplay, but it's not enough.} (17... Qb6+ {now it's too late for it} 18. c5 $1 Qxc5+ 19. Kh1 Ndxe5 20. Nd5 Qa7 21. Ndf6+ $1 (21. Rxc6 {is less clear, and too materialistic} Nxg4 (21... Nxc6 22. Ndf6+ Kh8 23. Qd2 $18) 22. Qxg4 Bxc6 23. Nf6+ Kg7 24. Bxc6 Rad8 25. Qh3 h6 26. Nd7 Rxd7 (26... Rfe8 27. Qc3+) 27. Qxd7 Qxd7 28. Bxd7 Rd8 { and White will have to work for a long time to win this endgame.}) 21... Kh8 (21... Kg7 22. Qd2 Nxg4 23. Nxg4 {wins}) 22. Rc3 {Black's pieces are just too far to defend the king} Rg8 23. Rh3 Rg7 24. Qd6 $1 {the most precise} Nxg4 25. Nxh7 Rxh7 26. Rxh7+ Kxh7 27. Rxf7+ Kh8 28. Qxg6 Nf2+ 29. Rxf2 Qxf2 30. Qh6+ Kg8 31. Bd5+ $18) 18. Nxe5 {123} Bxg2 {382} 19. Nxd7 {123} Bxf1 {27} 20. Kxf1 {59} Qh4 {430} (20... Qg5 {keeping an eye on the c1-rook, but White will give one of the knights anyway} 21. Nxf8 Rd8 22. Nd7 Rxd7 23. Qxd7 Qxc1+ 24. Qd1 (24. Ke2 Qxb2+ 25. Qd2 {is also possible}) 24... Qf4+ (24... Qxb2 25. Qd8+ Kg7 26. Qd4+ Kg8 27. c5) 25. Kg2 bxc4 {and White doesn't have a majority on the queenside, but still has good chances to convert the point.}) (20... Re8 21. Qd4 Re6 22. Ne4 Rxe4 23. Qxe4 {is the point: the rook on a8 is hanging.}) 21. Nxf8 {71} Qxh2 {76 The counterplay and the checks are enough to get one of the knights back, no more than it.} (21... Rxf8 22. Rc2 Qxc4+ 23. Re2 {is also better for White.}) 22. Nd7 {900} Qh3+ {1081} (22... Qf4+ {doesn't change much} 23. Kg2 (23. Ke1 {is funny but less precise} Re8+ 24. Ne2 Qg3+ 25. Kd2 Qe3+ 26. Kc2 Qf2 27. Nf6+ Qxf6 28. Kb1 Qf5+ 29. Ka1 {it's not everyday you see a king running from g1 to a1, but here Black can still create a lot of headaches.}) 23... Qg5+ 24. Kf2 Qh4+ 25. Ke3 Qg5+ 26. Kd4 (26. Kd3 Qf5+ 27. Ne4 Qxd7+ 28. Kc3 $16) 26... Rd8 27. Nd5 Rxd7 28. b3 $16) 23. Kf2 {31} Qh2+ {159} 24. Ke3 { 593} Re8+ {463} 25. Kd3 {391} Rd8 {40} 26. Nd5 {246} Rxd7 {68} 27. Kc3 {3} Rd6 {119} 28. b3 {92} (28. Qd4 $5 Qg3+ 29. Kb4 bxc4 30. Rd1 $1 {and a knight check on the next move will decide the game.}) 28... a5 {269 Kind of a bluff, but the alternatives are no better.} (28... h5 29. Qd2 Qe5+ 30. Qd4 $18) 29. Rc2 { 40 The human answer.} (29. cxb5 {would win, but why give a piece?} Qe5+ 30. Kc4 (30. Qd4 Rxd5 31. Qxe5 Rxe5 32. Kc4 {also works.}) 30... Rxd5 31. Qxd5 Qf4+ 32. Kc5 Qxc1+ 33. Kb6 {and the b-pawn is going to decide the game.}) 29... Qg3+ {94} 30. Qd3 {74 White consolidated the position, the king is safe and now it's just matter of time.} Qe1+ {41} 31. Kb2 {22} bxc4 {6} 32. bxc4 {18} Re6 { 68} 33. Qc3 {62} Qf1 {36} 34. Qxa5 {68} Re1 {19} 35. Ka3 {92} h5 {10} 36. Qc3 { 27} Re6 {39} 37. Rb2 {32} Ra6+ {8} 38. Kb4 {3} h4 {15} 39. Kc5 {43} Qg1+ {108} 40. Qe3 {0} Ra5+ {88} (40... Ra5+ 41. Kb6 {and Black is forced to exchange the queens, leaving a hopeless position.}) 1-0

Standings after four rounds

Rk
SNo
 
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
1 12 GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2724 3,0
2 1 GM Aronian Levon ARM 2809 2,5
  2 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2800 2,5
  4 GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2761 2,5
  5 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2749 2,5
  7 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2739 2,5
  8 GM Harikrishna Pentala IND 2737 2,5
8 3 GM Giri Anish NED 2775 2,0
  6 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2742 2,0
  9 GM Adams Michael ENG 2736 2,0
  10 GM Li Chao B CHN 2735 2,0
  11 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2728 2,0
  14 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2703 2,0
14 13 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2707 1,5
  17 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2654 1,5
  18 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2638 1,5
17 16 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2666 1,0
18 15 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2694 0,5

Links

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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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lajosarpad lajosarpad 7/11/2017 11:36
Very nice game, by Saleh! As a side note, Richárd the Lionhearted had a comeback against Hou Yifan
Bojan KG Bojan KG 7/10/2017 10:18
Rapport's downfall continues. Pitty.
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