FIDE Grand Prix - Geneva: Will all-star cast lead to masterpiece?

by Alex Yermolinsky
7/7/2017 – The 2017 FIDE World Chess Grand Prix series continues with the third tournament, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland from 5-16th July. The tournament is being held in Hotel Le Richemond, set on the banks of Lake Geneva, by the famous Jet d’Eau, and brings many intriguing names such as Levon Aronian, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and many more, but does that ensure a thrilling tournament? Round one brought several good wins, such as Teimour Radjabov over Anish Giri. Report with GM analysis.

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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 one

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

It has been three days since Leuven. I trust you all are well rested and eager to follow more top level chess. This summer's schedule accommodates your wishes, as the third leg of the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix started today. Let's see what we have.

Levon Aronian draws his pairing number | Photo: FIDE

As the top seed, with 2808 FIDE, Levon Aronian did the honors of drawing the color and thus determining the pairings. Note that he is not the only 2800 player in the event as there is also Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who has done incredibly well so far, winning one, and runner-up in the second.

Grand Prix points in bold indicate a tournament win.

FIDE Grand Prix standings

 
Player
Feb 2017 Elo
Sharjah
Moscow
Geneva
Palma
Total
1
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE) (P)
2766
140
140
 
 
280
2
Ding Liren (CHN) (P)
2760
70
170
 
 
240
3
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (FRA) (P)
2796
140
71
 
 
211
3
Alexander Grischuk (RUS) (P)
2742
140
71
 
 
211
5
Hikaru Nakamura (USA) (P)
2785
70
71
 
 
141
6
Hou Yifan (CHN) (P)
2651
7
71
 
 
78
7
Michael Adams (ENG) (P)
2751
70
3
 
 
73
7
Ian Nepomniachtchi (RUS) (P)
2749
70
3
 
 
73
9
Anish Giri (NED) (P)
2769
 
71
 
 
71
9
Peter Svidler (RUS) (P)
2748
 
71
 
 
71
9
Teimour Radjabov (AZE) (P)
2710
 
71
 
 
71
12
Dmitry Jakovenko (RUS) (P)
2709
70
 
 
 
70
13
Francisco Vallejo Pons (ESP)
2709
25
7
 
 
32
14
Pavel Eljanov (UKR) (P)
2759
25
 
 
 
25
14
Li Chao (CHN) (P)
2720
25
 
 
 
25
14
Richard Rapport (HUN) (P)
2692
25
 
 
 
25
17
Evgeny Tomashevsky (RUS)
2711
3
20
 
 
23
18
Pentala Harikrishna (IND) (P)
2758
 
20
 
 
20
18
Boris Gelfand (ISR) (P)
2720
 
20
 
 
20
20
Jon Ludvig Hammer (NOR) (P)
2628
3
7
 
 
10
21
Levon Aronian (ARM) (P)
2785
7
 
 
 
7
22
Salem Saleh (UAE)
2656
3
3
 
 
6
23
Ernesto Inarkiev (RUS) (P)
2723
 
1
 
 
1
23
Alexander Riazantsev (RUS) (P)
2671
1
 
 
 
1

Obviously, we are keeping tabs on the players indicated by a (P). Of those, with all due respect, I will discount the ones with only a theoretical chance, such as Hou Yifan, Miachael Adams, and Ian Nepomniachtchi. They're playing their third and last event in Geneva, and should any of them win it — 170 GP points are awarded — the total haul would still be short of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's and just a few points ahead of Ding Liren's. Sorry guys, your ship has already sailed.

Looking at the results of previous tournaments, I'd hazard a guess that a “normal” +1 result is worth about 70 points. Both Shak and Ding are more than good enough to expect at least that from their remaining appearance, therefore bringing their total to about 310 points. Of course, either of them can bomb out, but it's unlikely. At least their competition cannot count on that.

So, assuming they don't, it leaves the rest with the goal of 310+ points total, which means having to win tournaments. Clearly, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk and Hikaru Nakamura are quite capable of doing that. That said, Hikaru's qualification isn't guaranteed even in that case, but with the total of 311 he will have a chance.

Alexander Grischuk is still very much in contention for one of the two qualifying spots, though he needs a great result, if not an outright win. Ernesto Inarkiev is a long shot, though theoretically possible. | Photo: FIDE

The next three contenders are Anish Giri, Peter Svidler, Teimour Radjabov and Dmitry Jakovenko. Points-wise they didn't do so badly in their only appearance so far, but there's a lot of work to do. Neither one of those is known for winning tournaments outright, at least not lately; but Giri's recent play in Norway and Leuven gave his supporters hope.

Anish Giri - Teimour Radjabov

[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.06"] [Round "1"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2724"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 Nh5 8. Bd3 Nxf4 9. exf4 c6 ({The usual move order is} 9... b6 10. b4 a5 11. a3 c6 12. O-O Ba6 13. Re1 Bf6 14. Ne5 Bxe5 15. fxe5 Bxd3 16. Qxd3 Ra7 {Eljanov-Kramnik and Nakamura-Kramnik, both from 2016.}) 10. Qc2 h6 ({Some years ago then young Anish Giri won a nice game against Khuseinkhodzhaev, White Nights 2007:} 10... g6 11. O-O (11. h4 $5 b6 12. h5 {is interesting, and may be the real reason why Black avoids g7-g6.}) 11... b6 12. b4 a5 13. a3 Ba6 $6 (13... Qc7 $142) 14. Bxa6 Rxa6 15. b5 $1 cxb5 16. c6 b4 ({The real purpose of White's 10th is revealed after} 16... Nb8 17. Nxb5 {and the c6-pawn is protected.}) 17. axb4 Nf6 18. b5 Ra7 19. Ne5 Bd6 20. Na4 {with a powerful grip on the position.}) 11. O-O Qc7 $1 {As expected, Radjabov plays the best move order.} 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. fxe5 Bd7 $5 ({With the knight gone from d7, the standard idea} 13... b6 14. b4 a5 {doesn't work on account of} 15. Na4 $1) 14. a3 b6 15. b4 bxc5 16. bxc5 f6 17. f4 Rab8 18. g3 Qa5 19. Ne2 Be8 {[#]} 20. Bg6 $6 {Anish had a plan of hitting the e6-pawn, but it didn't work out too well.} ({As seen from the following line,} 20. Kg2 Bh5 21. Ng1 fxe5 22. fxe5 Rxf1 23. Rxf1 Qxa3 {White's a3-pawn is in danger.}) ({Anish had to prevent the opening of the f-file, and the only way to do that was} 20. exf6 $1 Bxf6 21. g4 Bd8 22. Kg2 $14) 20... Bxg6 21. Qxg6 Qd2 $1 {As it often happens, White's overextended position is vulnerable to counterplay once the opponent's pieces get around the pawn chain. } 22. Rf2 Qe3 23. Qg4 Kh7 ({Radjabov missed a chance to decide the game in his favor with} 23... Rb2 $1 24. Qxe6+ Rf7 25. Qc8+ Bf8 26. Re1 fxe5 27. dxe5 Kh7 { followed by Bxc5.}) 24. Qxe6 Rbe8 25. a4 $2 {I sense time trouble, otherwise White's concern over the a-pawn is misplaced.} (25. Qxc6 fxe5 26. Qxd5 exd4 { is annoying, but perhaps White can hold:} 27. Rd1 Rd8 28. Qe5) 25... fxe5 26. Qxe5 Qd3 $1 {[#] Two pawns up, but Ne2 is a huge liability, and the white king is weak.} 27. Qh5 Bf6 28. Raf1 g6 29. Qg4 h5 30. Qd7+ Re7 31. Qd6 Kg7 $1 32. Nc1 Qf5 33. Rd1 (33. Nb3 Re3 34. Rf3 Rxf3 35. Rxf3 Re8 $19) 33... Rfe8 $19 34. Qxc6 Re1+ 35. Rf1 Bxd4+ $1 36. Rxd4 Rxf1+ 37. Kxf1 Qh3+ 38. Kf2 Qxh2+ 39. Kf1 Qh1+ 40. Kf2 Re1 {Nice finish.} 0-1

A serious blow to Anish's chances, and a great start for Teimour.

Down the list again. For Eljanov, Li Chao, Rapport, Harikrishna, Gelfand, Aronian, Inarkiev and Riazantsev, their first tournament didn't go well. Scoring less than 70 points from any individual event leaves them with “must wins” in the remaining two. Tough, but Levon is Levon, so I can't write him off until he's mathematically eliminated.

Levon Aronian had to sweat quite a bit, but in the end he saved the half-point against Li Chao. Note that Li Chao was a top scorer for the Chinese team in Khanty-Mansiysk at the World Team Championship. | Photo: FIDE

Aronian was in a spot of trouble today, and should consider himself lucky to be able to split the point.

Levon Aronian - Li Chao

[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.06"] [Round "1"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Li, Chao b"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2809"] [BlackElo "2735"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. d5 d6 6. e4 Bg7 7. Nge2 exd5 8. cxd5 Nbd7 9. Ng3 h5 10. Be2 Nh7 11. Be3 h4 12. Nf1 O-O 13. Qd2 Re8 (13... a6 14. a4 f5 15. exf5 gxf5 16. Bh6 Re8 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Ne3 Qf6 19. g4 {favored White in Vidit-Bai, 2017.}) 14. Bh6 Bd4 $1 {Li Chao does well by keeping his best minor piece on the board.} 15. Ne3 $5 {[#]} a6 $1 {Great timing.} ({Aronian was inviting} 15... g5 16. Nf5 Ne5 17. Ng7 Re7 18. Nh5 f6 19. Nb5 $1 {with great complication that might turn out to be favorable for White.}) 16. Nc2 ({ Now, as the b5-square is covered,} 16. a4 g5 17. Nf5 Ne5 18. Ng7 Re7 19. Nh5 f6 {looks for for Black, who plans to answer} 20. f4 {with} Ng4 $1) 16... Be5 17. Bf4 (17. a4 g5 $1 {again traps the white bishop.}) 17... b5 {Black has achived this all-important advance.} 18. O-O Bxf4 19. Qxf4 Ne5 20. Qh6 g5 {[#]} 21. g3 ({The logical} 21. f4 {is a double-edged proposition. Black will be happy to sac the h4-pawn,} gxf4 22. Rxf4 Qg5 23. Qxg5+ Nxg5 24. Rxh4 {to keep full control over the critical e5-square, along with clear Q-side prospects.}) 21... hxg3 22. hxg3 Qf6 23. Qh2 Ng6 24. Ne3 Bd7 25. Kg2 Kg7 26. Rh1 Rh8 27. Qg1 Qe5 28. Qf2 Nf6 29. Raf1 Nh5 30. Rfg1 {[#]White is 100% on the defensive, and Li Chao decided to strike while the iron was hot.} Nhf4+ $5 ({Something has to be sad in favor of} 30... Rae8 {as there isn't much White can with his position.}) 31. gxf4 Bh3+ 32. Rxh3 Nxf4+ 33. Kf1 Nxh3 34. Qg3 Nxg1 35. Qxe5+ dxe5 36. Kxg1 c4 37. Nf5+ Kf6 38. d6 Ke6 39. a4 {[#]In the endgame two rooks usually worth more than three minor pieces, and here Black also has an extra pawn.} Kd7 ({ He needed to stay cool:} 39... Rhb8 $1 {is only a temporary inconvenience.} 40. axb5 $2 (40. Kf2 Kd7 41. Ke3 Kc6 {liberating the rook from its defensive duty.} ) 40... axb5 41. Nxb5 Ra1+ 42. Kf2 Rc1 $1 {this one is very easy to miss. Black keeps his c-pawn alive and because of that he can bury the white bishop.} 43. Na3 Rxb2 $19) 40. axb5 axb5 41. Nxb5 Ra2 (41... Ra4 42. Nc3 Rb4 43. Nd5 Rxb2 44. Bxc4) 42. Bxc4 Rxb2 43. Nc7 Rhh2 44. Bb5+ Kd8 45. Ne3 {Somewhat surprisingly the players agreed to a draw here. Despite his inaccuracy on move 39, Li could have still gone on.} 1/2-1/2

World Championship qualifications aside, there are always going to be some interesting games. Below is the one I like the most. I find the endgame instructive.

Hou Yifan and Pavel Eljanov played an instructive endgame | Photo: FIDE

Pavel Eljanov - Hou Yifan

[Event "FIDE Geneva Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Geneva"] [Date "2017.07.06"] [Round "1"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C54"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2666"] [Annotator "Alex Yermolinsky"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. h3 d6 7. c3 Ne7 8. Nbd2 Ng6 9. Re1 Bb6 10. Bb3 c6 11. Bc2 Re8 12. d4 Bc7 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Nc4 Be6 15. Qe2 h6 16. Qf1 Nh7 17. Ne3 Nf4 18. Nf5 Bxf5 19. exf5 Nf6 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. Rad1 Qc8 22. Qc4 Rxe1+ 23. Rxe1 Qf8 24. Bb3 Re8 25. Rxe8 Qxe8 26. Qb4 b5 27. Qd4 Bb8 28. a4 Qe7 29. Qd3 a6 30. Kf1 Qd7 31. Qxd7 Nxd7 32. Nd4 Ne5 33. axb5 axb5 34. Bc2 Ba7 35. b4 {[#]} f3 $6 ({Hou had chances of building a fortress after} 35... Bxd4 36. cxd4 Nd7 37. Be4 Nb8 38. Ke2 Kf8 39. Kf3 Ke7 40. h4 $1 ({ not the greedy and mindless pawn snacking} 40. Kxf4 {as Black then has} Kd6 { followed by Na6}) 40... Kd6 41. Kg4 Nd7 (41... Na6 42. Kh5 $1) 42. Kxf4 Nf6 43. g4 Nd7 {It's going to be very hard for White to break it down.}) 36. g4 Bxd4 37. cxd4 Nc4 $2 (37... Nd7 $142 38. Be4 Nb8 39. Bxf3 Kf8) 38. Ke1 Nb6 39. Be4 Nd5 40. Bxd5 $1 cxd5 41. Kd2 Kf8 42. Ke3 Ke7 43. Kxf3 {The ending is a forced win for White.} Kd7 {Hou was hoping to barricade all possible approaches for the white king.} ({Yet, she would have failed even in case of the most stubborn defense,} 43... g5 44. fxg6 fxg6 45. Kf4 $1 Ke6 (45... Kf6 46. g5+ hxg5+ 47. Kg4) 46. h4 Kd6 (46... Kf6 47. g5+ hxg5+ 48. hxg5+ Ke6 49. Kg4 Kd6 50. f4 Ke6 51. f5+ gxf5+ 52. Kf4) 47. h5 $1 (47. g5 $2 h5 $11) 47... gxh5 48. g5 $3 (48. gxh5 Ke6 $11) 48... hxg5+ 49. Kxg5 Ke6 50. f4 $18) 44. Kg3 $1 { Pavel knows what he's doing: the king ahead of the pawns is the way to play pawn endgames.} (44. h4 Kd6 45. Kf4 f6 46. g5 h5 $1) 44... Ke7 45. Kh4 $1 g6 46. g5 $1 h5 47. f4 Kf8 48. fxg6 fxg6 49. f5 1-0

Pentala Harikrishna signed one of the wins of the day as he defeated Alexander Riazantsev | Photo: FIDE

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Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 7/7/2017 01:04
Interesting annotations by GM Yermolinsky, as always. Thanks, GM Yermolinsky.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 7/7/2017 09:30
@ ChessBase : I really appreciate that you put much more frequently the time controls of the events in your articles. As I like to know the time control, I did the research myself, previously, but it isn't always very easy to find the time control (in particular for smaller tournaments)...
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