Gashimov Memorial 2017: Kramnik sacs his rook

by Albert Silver
4/25/2017 – With a description such as “sacrificed the rook for some pawns and initiative”, a few players come to mind in the field at such as the current leader Mamedyarov, or Topalov, but Kramnik, in spite of his enormous ability, is not your usual choice. Yet in round four, in a dubious position against Harikrishna, the Russian took preemptive measures and turned the game on its head with a spectacular rook sacrifice. Illustrated report with enlightening analysis by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

Magic of Chess Tactics 2 Magic of Chess Tactics 2

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Now in its 4th edition, the Gashimov Memorial brings an attractive lineup of top players such as Wesley So, winner of pretty much anything he entered in the last many months, then Vladimir Kramnik who has been sitting pretty with his 2811 Elo since the London Classic, Sergey Karjakin, and of course last year’s winner, local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.  

Vugar Gashimov (1986 - 2014)


Wesley So 2822
Vladimir Kramnik 2811
Sergey Karjakin 2783
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2772
Michael Adams 2761
Pentala Harikrishna 2758
Pavel Eljanov 2751
Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2745
Veselin Topalov 2741
Teimour Radjabov 2710

Whether just experiencing a slow start, or still smarting from his loss to Mamedyarov in the opening round, Wesley So has yet to win a game. In spite of playing 60 odd moves against Veselin Topalov, it was a dead draw very early.

Michael Adams and Pavel Eljanov played a battle of archipelagos, after an Italian game left White with three pawn islands to Black's four. Black managed to get a pawn, but his exposed king left him open to White threats and a repetition was the result.

Teimour Radjabov played an uneventful draw against compatriot and leader Mamedyarov. Ever since that Elo avalanche he suffered, he has not been the same.

Pentala Harikrishna was in a state of shock ashe found his beautiful dominating position turn into absolute chaos after Vladimir Kramnik sacrificed his rook to mix it up. Had it been Shirov on the other side of the board, he would have been looking for such moves well in advance, but from Vlad? He never saw it coming. Brutal.

Vladimir Kramnik vs Pentala Harikrishna (annotated by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

Vladimir Kramnik analyzes some moves from the game with Ljubomir Ljubojevic, himself once world no. 3

Standings after four rounds

(click for high-res)

Photos from official site


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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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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