Gashimov Memorial 2017: Mamedyarov beats Eljanov and leads

by Albert Silver
4/24/2017 – Round three saw intriguing matchups, and two decisive results. The first matchup was the classic between Kramnik and Topalov, who always promise a game worth watching for the spectators, but no blood was spilled this time. The big one due to the standings, was between Mamdeyarov and Eljanov. It was an extremely complicated King's Indian that saw both players have winning edges, and the Azeri with the last word. See the game, and read the notes by Aleksander Lenderman!

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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

Certainly a classic matchup: Kramnik against Topalov!

One of the highlights of the day as far as pairings were concerned was the game between the two arch-rivals. Due to their well-known history, there is no love lost between them, which is always good news for the fans. Why? Because it means there will be no easy handshakes and both will seek his chance to make it a miserable day for his opponent across the board.

As it stood, in spite of the rather inauspicious starting indicators: a QGD, and queens off by move 13, for Kramnik that was just the foreplay while he tried to squeeze misery into White's position. Topalov was not to be fooled and in spit of solid attempts to make something of it, Kramnik shook hands on move 35.

Pentala Harikrishna has certainly been appearing more often in elite events thanks to his elevated rating, and this gives him the chance to build up more experience against the best players. Radjabov actually tried to create kingside threats, but the Indian made no mistakes, and did not panic, and the Azeri was forced to split the point.

Michael Adams had a fairly balance position against Sergey Karjakin, but the Russian dropped his guard, completely overlooking a tactical mine the Englishman had planted, and with a quick one-two it was all over.

Sergey Karjakin vs Michael Adams

[Event "4th Shamkir Chess 2017"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2017.04.23"] [Round "3"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Adams, Michael"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2783"] [BlackElo "2761"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 a6 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bf4 {5} Bd6 7. Bg3 O-O 8. e3 Bf5 9. Qb3 Bxg3 10. hxg3 Nc6 11. Be2 $146 ({The pawn is poisoned. After} 11. Qxb7 $2 Qd6 $1 12. Qb3 Rab8 13. Qa3 {White loses material after} Nb4 $1) ( 11. Nh4 Bg4 12. Bd3 Re8 13. O-O Rb8 {1/2-1/2 (32) Anton Guijarro,D (2650) -Adams,M (2751) Caleta 2017}) 11... Qd6 12. O-O Ne7 13. Ne5 h5 14. Rfc1 Ng4 15. Na4 ({Obviously not} 15. Qxb7 $2 Rfb8 {and the queen is trapped.}) 15... b6 16. Qc3 Rfc8 17. Nd3 Bd7 18. b3 Ng6 19. Qb4 Qf6 20. Nc3 Qf5 21. a4 a5 22. Qa3 Nf6 23. Ra2 Qg5 24. Ne1 c5 25. Nf3 Qh6 26. dxc5 Rxc5 27. Nb5 Rac8 28. Rxc5 Rxc5 29. b4 axb4 30. Qxb4 Ne4 31. Bf1 h4 32. gxh4 Bxb5 33. axb5 Nxh4 34. Nxh4 Qxh4 35. Qd4 Rc1 36. Qe5 {Intending Ra8+ Kh7 Qf5+ and mate.} Qd8 37. Qf5 g6 38. Qe5 Qc8 39. g3 $2 {[#] White completely misses Black's threat, and pays the price.} ( 39. Qb2 {and White was okay.}) 39... Rxf1+ $1 {and White resigned because of} 40. Kxf1 Qc4+ {attacking the king and rook, so} 41. Re2 {is forced.} Nd2+ { and if} 42. Ke1 Qc1# 0-1

Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Wesley So had an interesting tussle, but neither seemed inclined to overextend themselves and despite genuine attempts to make more of it, the game ended in a draw

The game of the day was without doubt the very double-edged game between Mamedyarov and Eljanov

Pavel Eljanov vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (annotated by GM Aleksander Lenderman)

[Event "Gashimov Memorial"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.04.23"] [Round "3"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E68"] [Annotator "Aleksandr Lenderman"] [PlyCount "132"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] {Welcome everyone! This is GM Aleksandr Lenderman with the analysis of the Game of the Day of round three at the Gashimov Memorial. And what a sharp battle it was! Eljanov-Mamedyarov is one of the most epic games I've seen in recent times, with huge swings in evaluations at critical moments. That's completely understandable when the position is as complicated this one was. Without further ado, let's go through it.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O O-O 5. d4 d6 $5 {Black opts for the dynamic double-edged King's Indian defence.} (5... d5 {is more solid of course, leading most likely to Symmetrical Grunfeld positions.}) 6. c4 Nbd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. e4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Re8 10. b3 {Eljanov spent 4 minutes here roughly, probably since he already had a game from this position where he also played 10.b3 against Svidler. However, ultimately he decided to test Mamedyarov's preparation, which shows how much faith he had in his own analysis in this line.} a6 $5 {Mamedyarov deviates first. Actually Mamedyarov had already had this position with black against Vladimir Kramnik in a rapid event in Geneva.} (10... Nc5 {was Svidler's choice. } 11. f3 c6 12. Be3 d5 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Bxc5 dxc4 15. Qc2 Be6 16. f4 Ng4 17. e5 $6 (17. Rad1 $1 {is the computer's preference and likely Eljanov's prepared improvement.} Qb8 18. bxc4 Bf8 19. Bd4 c5 20. Bf2 Bxc4 21. Rfe1 $14 {White is slightly better since after e5, he will have control of the d5 square and active pieces, while Black's f8 bishop will be restricted.}) 17... Bf8 $132 { And from this double edged position the game ended in a draw in a few moves.1/ 2 (25) Eljanov,P (2719)-Svidler,P (2732) Germany 2014}) 11. Be3 Rb8 12. a4 $5 $146 {Now Eljanov, after some thought, deviates from Kramnik's choice. The point of course is prophylaxy against c5 followed by b5 counterplay. Also this is a novelty according to my database.} (12. Qd2 {was Kramnik's choice.} c5 13. Nde2 b5 14. Qxd6 Ng4 $44 {Black has good compensation here for the pawn, and after a long battle, Black won in 67 moves, 0-1 Kramnik,V (2803)-Mamedyarov,S (2753) Geneva 2013}) 12... a5 {Played after roughly a 20-minute think, which meant Mamedyarov was out of his preparation at this point. a5 is a logical move though, since now that White played a4, Black has full control of the c5 square outpost. Possibly it was a little bit more accurate though to start with Nc5.} (12... Nc5 13. f3 a5 14. Ndb5 Nfd7 {And here Black has time to stabilize his position. His next idea is b6 followed by Bb7. Also starting with b6 instead of Nd7 deserved attention.} (14... b6 15. Qc2 c6 16. Nd4 Bb7 $132)) 13. Ndb5 b6 14. Qc2 Nc5 15. Rad1 $1 $14 {Just in time White gets Rad1 in, which not only gets his rook in the game, but also prevents the move c6, which would free up Black a little bit. Also the reason why the rook from the a-file goes to d1, is because on a1, b1, or c1 it has no prospects, while the rook on f1 might be potentially good on e1, protecting the center, or f1, helping with a kingside attack.} Bb7 16. f3 Qe7 17. Rfe1 Rbd8 18. Bf2 $6 (18. Nd5 {Might've been a little bit stronger to not let Black's king away plus it places White's knight on a strong active square.} Nxd5 19. cxd5 c6 20. dxc6 Bxc6 21. Bf1 $14 {The point now is...} d5 22. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 23. Qxc5 bxc5 24. Nc7 $1 Re5 25. Nxd5 Bxd5 26. Bc4 $1 {And White wins a pawn.}) 18... c6 19. Nd4 Qc7 {Maybe it was better to keep the queen on e7, to keep White's kingside expansion at bay.} (19... Nfd7 $5) 20. g4 Nfd7 21. Bh4 Bf6 22. Bg3 Na6 23. Na2 Ndc5 24. f4 Qe7 25. g5 Bg7 26. h4 f6 $1 {Beating White to the punch. Otherwise White will play f5 sooner or later and really squeeze Black.} 27. gxf6 Bxf6 28. h5 Qg7 $1 {The game is getting sharp now and both players were starting to get low on time so some inaccuracies are about to appear.} 29. Bf2 Nc7 {Getting the knight back into where all the action is.} 30. hxg6 hxg6 31. Nc3 N7e6 ( 31... Rd7 $5 {With idea of Rf7 was an interesting way to build harmony for Black.}) 32. Nce2 Nxd4 {A little bit accommodating.} (32... Nf8 $5 {Trying to keep White's knights from duplicating each other was also an idea.}) 33. Nxd4 Rd7 34. Nf3 $1 Bc8 35. e5 $1 {White starts playing very powerful chess.} dxe5 36. fxe5 (36. Nxe5 $5 {was also interesting but complicated.}) 36... Rxd1 37. Qxd1 Be7 38. Nd4 Bg5 $6 {In huge time pressure and in a complicated position it's understandable that Black makes an inaccuracy, although the move Bg5 looks completely logical.} (38... Qh6 $1 {Would at least make Bxc6 not as appealing for White.} 39. Bxc6 (39. Nxc6 Bg5 {And now Bg5 would be logical. However, after Nxc6, e6 isn't as easy to get in for White. The position is still very complex.}) 39... Qg5+ 40. Bg2 Bb7 41. Nf3 Qf5 $44 {Black has a good initiative here thanks to his very active pieces.}) 39. Bxc6 $1 Rf8 40. Nf3 Qh6 41. Bxc5 $1 {White continues to play very precise chess. Black is in trouble now.} bxc5 42. Qd5+ Kg7 43. e6 $1 Rf5 $6 {[#] Objectively a wrong move, but it created just enough practical trouble for White to confuse matters and by a miracle it worked great for Black. Once again this example shows how sometimes objectively move that aren't the mathematical best work best thanks to the practical value of making it more difficult for the opponent to play.} (43... Be7 {Objectively this was a bit more tenacious though White is still much better here.}) 44. Re5 $4 {And now, just a few moves away from winning, White makes a blunder which tragicly spoils all the great work he's done to reach this position.} (44. e7 $1 {was just simply winning.} Rxd5 45. e8=Q Rd8 (45... Rf5 46. Qxc8 Be3+ 47. Kg2 Qh5 48. Qd7+ Rf7 49. Qe6 $18) 46. Re7+ Bxe7 47. Qxe7+ $18) (44. Qd6 {was also probably winning.}) 44... Qh3 $1 {Probably missed by Eljanov. Suddenly it's anyone's game.Probably he only expected the more forcing moves.} (44... Be3+ $2 45. Kg2) (44... Bf6 $5 {was also giving Black excellent drawing chances.} 45. Rxf5 Qe3+ 46. Kg2 gxf5 47. Bd7 Ba6 48. e7 Qxe7 49. Qxf5 Qe2+ 50. Kg3 Bb7 $11) (44... Rxe5 $2 45. Qxe5+ Bf6 46. Qc7+ $18) 45. Qxc5 Qg3+ 46. Kf1 {[#]} Rxf3+ $1 {Black sees he has at least a draw, and also has a chance to potentially to play for more. Whenever we see a line like that, where a draw is guarnateed and there might be more, there is usually a very good chance there might be an opportunity to play for more, it often pays off to continue. The reason is that the risk is low, since you have a draw at hand, and you also have the opportunity toi hope for more.} (46... Bxe6 {Was also possible.} 47. Rxf5 Bxf5 48. Qa7+ $11) 47. Bxf3 Qxf3+ 48. Qf2 Qd1+ 49. Qe1 Qd3+ 50. Qe2 Qg3 51. Qe4 $6 (51. Rxa5 {is still complicated but looks like it draws. } Be3 {Was probably what Eljanov was afraid of.} 52. Qb2+ $1 Kh7 53. Qf6 $1 { Not an easy geometry to see though. White is probably worse without this idea, but now the queen attacks and defends the key squraes and Black has nothing better than to give a perpetual.}) 51... Qh3+ $6 (51... Bh4 {Should've been played right away.}) 52. Qg2 Qd3+ 53. Qe2 Qg3 $1 (53... Qh3+ $11) 54. Qe4 $6 ( 54. Rxa5 $1) 54... Bh4 $1 {Black correctly realizes he has enough initiative to play for more than a draw.} 55. Qe3 Qh2 $1 56. Rd5 $6 {Potentially putting the rook on a bad square.} (56. Qa7+ {Might be a little bit more tenacious.}) 56... Qh1+ 57. Ke2 Qe1+ 58. Kf3 Qg3+ 59. Ke2 Qe1+ 60. Kd3 $5 {I don't think Eljanov is actually trying to avoid a draw anymore. I just think Eljanov saw some lines he didn't like after Kf3 where Black can play for a win and changed his mind. It's a tough call, since after both moves he's probably losing, but maybe Kd3 offered better practical chances.} (60. Kf3 Bxe6 61. Qe5+ Kf7 62. Qf4+ Bf6 63. Qc7+ Be7 64. Qf4+ Kg8 65. Qb8+ Bf8 $19 {Should also be winning for Black in the long run.}) 60... Qd1+ $1 61. Ke4 $5 {Good practical try in my opinion.} (61. Kc3 Bf6+ $19) (61. Qd2 Qxb3+ 62. Qc3+ Qxc3+ 63. Kxc3 Bxe6 64. Rxa5 (64. Rb5 g5 65. Kd4 g4 66. Ke4 Bd8 $17) 64... Be1+ $19) 61... Bb7 62. Ke5 Bxd5 63. cxd5 (63. Qf4 {Also doesn't help.} Qf3 64. Qxh4 Qf5+ $19) 63... Be7 $1 {Actually the only winning move. That's what I meant by saying Ke4 was a good practical try. Be7 is a very strong move which keeps both White's pawns at bay and White's king activity at bay as well. Now White is just lost.} (63... Bf6+ $4 64. Kd6 $16) (63... Qa1+ $2 64. Kd6 $11) 64. Qa7 Qe2+ 65. Kf4 {[#]} g5+ { Still never too late to blunder with...} (65... Kf6 $4 66. Qd4+) 66. Kg3 Kf6 { And now White is out of chances and about to be attacked by Black's remaining pieces. A great battle, and great comeback by Mamedyarov and great start for him in the tournament. On the flip side, a very big pity for Eljanov who had started with 2/2 and came so close to starting 3/3... but one bad move spoiled it for him.} 0-1

Standings after three rounds

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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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