Gashimov Memorial 2017: So falls to Mamedyarov

by Albert Silver
4/22/2017 – As the Grenke Chess Classic wraps up, another Super GM tournament has just started to fill the gap: The Gashimov Memorial, the 4th edition of the event in tribute to Vugar Gashimov, taken away at the much too young age of 27. Playing in it are players such as Wesley So, Kramnik, Karjakin, Mamedyarov, Topalov, and more. The first round already brought in the shocker as So lost with white to Mamedyarov. Here is the report with detailed analysis by GM Aleks Lenderman.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


When the news of Vugar Gashimov passing away came about, it was a shock. He had been known to be sick, but no one could expect such a thing. It was a sign of the huge affection he enjoyed from those who knew him that just a few months later, organized at the very last minute, an elite memorial event was held in his honor with many of the top players making room in their schedule to play.

Vugar Gashimov, 1986 - 2014

Now in its 4th edition, the tradition persists, and once more we enjoy a superb tournament that would do him proud. At the top of the list are 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.  


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

The elegant playing hall, large screens and extra comfortable chairs all scream luxury

The opening game between Pentala Harikrishna and Sergey Karjakin was a quiet affair: a Ragozin QGD that never wavered from equality, and ended in a draw.

Michael Adams versus Veselin Topalov was another game that never quite took off. Adams chose the 8.a4 and 9.d3 line against Topalov's invitation to a Marshall, but the two players ended up tied down and drew.

Vladimir Kramnik pressed hard and long against Radoslaw Wojtaszek in a balanced endgame with rook and knihgt plus pawns against rook and knight plus pawns.

He consistently turned down an invitation to win a pawn to enter a rook endgame, realizing it was a dead draw, agreed with by the 7-piece tablebases. Eventually he threw in the towel and they shook hands.

Pavel Eljanov was far more successful and managed to lure his opponent, Teimour Radjabov, into a bad endgame. It was possible the Azeri might hold it, had he been more aggressive about bringing his king to join the fray, instead of delaying its departure from the h8 square, but as it was, White's knight against Black's bad bishop and better king won the day.

Pavel Eljanov vs Teimour Radjabov

[Event "4th Shamkir Chess 2017"] [Site "Shamkir"] [Date "2017.04.21"] [Round "1"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2751"] [BlackElo "2710"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. O-O Nd7 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 Bd6 9. Bg5 $146 (9. Nbd2 Re8 10. Re1 b6 11. Nc4 Bb7 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Ncxe5 Bxe5 14. Nxe5 Rxe5 {1/2-1/2 (31) Brkic,A (2584)-Roiz,M (2605) Baku 2016}) 9... f6 10. Qb3+ Kh8 11. Bh4 b6 12. Nbd2 Ba6 13. Rfe1 Qe7 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Qxe5 16. Bg3 Qe7 17. Bxd6 cxd6 18. Rad1 Bc8 19. Qa4 b5 20. Qa5 Bg4 21. f3 Be6 22. Nf1 d5 23. exd5 Qc5+ 24. Ne3 Bxd5 25. a3 Rfe8 26. Qb4 Qb6 27. Qd4 Qxd4 28. Rxd4 Re7 29. Kf2 Rae8 30. Rdd1 Bb3 31. Nf5 Rxe1 32. Rxe1 Rxe1 33. Kxe1 Be6 34. Nd4 {[#]} Bd5 $2 {This is a serious mistake which compromises Black's position almost irreversibly. The reason is twofold: Black's king is still all the way on h8, so what he needs is to keep White at bay while he puts his king on the Express Train. The problem is that now White has Kd2-c3 and b3-c4 at his disposal, which will gain a vital tempo attacking the bishop, and each tempo Black cannot use to bring his king into play is near fatal.} (34... Bd7 $1 { was the right move.}) 35. Kd2 $1 $16 a6 $2 {They say a mistake rarely comes alone, and we see it here. Not only should Black be rushing his king and therefore playing Kg8, but the last thing he should be doing is placing his pawns on th same color as his bishop unless absolutely unavoidable.} 36. Ke3 Kg8 37. Nf5 $1 {The threat is clear: Kd4-c5-b6. White is now winning.} Kf7 38. Kd4 $1 Be6 39. Ne3 Ke7 40. Kc5 Kd7 41. Kb6 f5 42. f4 {There is no ruch to take on a6 since a6 cannot be defended anyhow. Now White has placed his pawn on a dark square, out of the bishop's reach, blocking the f5 pawn where it hampers the bishop.} g5 43. g3 gxf4 44. gxf4 Kd6 45. Kxa6 Kc7 46. Ka5 1-0

There is no question that the game of the day, also the quickest, took place on board one. Wesley So had been the man with the Midas touch so far, winning it all, and losing nothing, with a streak that extended 67 games long without defeat at the highest level. Round one put an end to that.

Last year, somewhat unexpectedly, Shakriyar Mamedyarov surged in the latter half and won the Gashimov Memorial. It was one of his greatest career wins, and what was more: in front of his home crowd. This year, he opened it up with a big win over man-of-the-moment Wesley So.

Wesley So vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (annotated by GM Aleksander Lenderman)

[Event "Gashimov Memorial"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.04.21"] [Round "1"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C45"] [Annotator "Aleksandr Lenderman"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] {Hello everyone and welcome to the round one Game of the Day at the Gashimov Memorial. Today the choice was relatively straightforward, since the game So-Mamedyarov was the game with by far the most fireworks. So, let's get to it. } 1. e4 e5 {The first interesting choice. Mamediarov is capable of playing almost any first move, but in this game he goes for the most common at the elite level, 1...e5 against 1.e4.} 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 {A slight surprise, since Wesley more commonly chooses the Ruy Lopez or the Italian game these days.} exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8. Nd2 {8.c4 is more common, but probably Mamediarov wasn't surprised by 8.Nd2, since it has also become popular of late, Also, Wesley himself played it in the 2015 Tata Steel against Levon Aronian.} (8. c4 {is more common, after which Black can reply with both 8...Ba6 followed by Nb6, or 8...Nb6 straight away, with both having their pluses and minuses.}) 8... a5 $5 {Not yet a novelty, but already we're in rare terrioty. The most common for Black is 8...g6. Aronian tried 8. Rb8!?} (8... g6 {is also a highly theoretical debate after} 9. c4 (9. Nf3 $5) 9... Nf4 (9... Ba6 $5)) (8... Rb8 {was played by Aronian and it seems like it also got him a decent position. However, I'm sure Wesley analyzed this position quite deeply and had something better prepared in case of Rb8} 9. c4 Nf4 10. Qe3 Ng6 11. f4 f6 (11... d6 {Perhaps that was stronger.}) 12. Qxa7 Rb7 13. Qf2 fxe5 14. f5 Nf4 15. Qf3 (15. a3 $5 Qf7 16. g3 Nh5 17. b4) 15... Qf7 16. g3 Nh5 17. Be2 Nf6 18. g4 d5 19. g5 e4 (19... Ne4 $5) (19... Nd7) 20. Qh3 Ng8 $4 {A strange blunder.} (20... Nd7 21. Bh5 g6 22. Bxg6 hxg6 23. Qxh8 Nc5 24. O-O Bxf5 $44 {was still very complex.}) 21. Bh5 g6 22. fxg6 Bxh3 23. gxf7+ Kd7 24. fxg8=Q Rxg8 25. Rg1 $18 {And White later on converted his extra piece. 1-0 (54) So,W (2762)-Aronian,L (2797) Wijk aan Zee NED 2015}) 9. c4 {Wesley has his first big think here, for around 10 minutes, which indicates he was at least a little bit surprised by the a5 move, or maybe he was just trying to recall his preparation. Wesley goes for the principled approach. It does seem like the only really logical move though, since sooner or later c4 probably has to be played. The interesting thing though, is now White transposes into a lot of lines with 8.c4 rather than 8.Nd2, and it's possible that Mamedyarov tricked Wesley out of his preparation.} Nb6 10. b3 {And now, a big 30-minute think on the b3 move. Probably Wesley saw the dangers of this move, since it was relatively easy to anticipate Black's replies after b3. However, it's possible that Wesley just couldn't find a great alternative to it. Or maybe he evaluated the position down the line as a position with good compensation for a pawn, which certainly has its merits as well.} (10. Qe3) (10. Qe4) (10. g3 {are all adequate solutions but also are slightly less ambitious and give Black easier play.}) 10... a4 11. Bb2 axb3 12. axb3 Rxa1+ 13. Bxa1 Qa3 14. Qd1 {Of course only move. } (14. Bc3 $4 Qc1+) (14. Bd4 $6 Bb4 15. Qd1 c5 16. Be3 Qb2 $15 {And Black has pressure.}) 14... Bb4 15. Bd3 {When White played 10.b3 he probably had to foresee up to 15.Bd3 and see he's at least ok in all the lines. That, as well as comparing to other possibilites on move 10 explain the 30-minute think on that move.} (15. Be2 $2 {isn't effective since then after Qa5, White can't easily break the pin.} Qa5 $17) 15... Qa5 {Mamedyarov is still playing extremely fast which shows he's still in preparation. Though while I'm analyzing with perhaps a weaker engine than Mamedyarov, I'm wondering if it's just my engine being not so strong, or perhaps Mamedyarov slightly confused his preparation, since it seems to me that 15...Qa2 is a serious alternative that might even be stronger.} (15... Qa2 $5 16. Bd4 (16. Ke2 d5 {Now d5 seems very strong for Black.}) 16... O-O 17. Be3 Qa5 {And perhaps now Qa5.}) 16. Ke2 $5 (16. Bd4 $5 {Might be also very interesting, trying to play Qc2.} O-O (16... Bc3 17. Bxc3 Qxc3 18. Qe2 O-O (18... Qa1+ $6 19. Bb1) (18... Qc1+ 19. Qd1 Qc3 $11) 19. O-O Re8 $11 {With comfortable equality.}) 17. Qc2) 16... d6 { Mamedyarov's first big think of the game for around 10 minutes.} 17. Qc2 $1 { A very interesting positional pawn sacrifice, which was the main point of Ke2, and possibly planned all along when 10.b3 was played.} (17. exd6 $2 O-O $40 { is extremely dangerous for White.}) 17... dxe5 18. Bb2 Qc5 $1 {Getting his queen out of the danger zone. This move cost Mamedyarov 40 minutes though.} ( 18... Nd7 19. Ra1 Qc5 20. Bf5 $44) 19. Nf3 Bg4 {This was a critical position, which probably Mamediarov seriously thought about even before 18. Qc5, when he thought for 40 minutes. Here Black has many interesting choices, but possibly Bg4 wasn't objectively the absolute best.} (19... Qe7 {would allow a slightly annoying move,} 20. Be4 Qe6 21. Ng5 Qh6 22. h4 $44 {with good compensation for White since Black is a little bit tied down here.}) (19... g6 $1 {At a high depth the computer really screams for this move, but it seems like a very difficult move to play during the game. Sure, it defends the pawn but it seems meaningless and seems like the e5 pawn is hanging. However Black is doing well in all the lines here.} 20. Nxe5 (20. Bxe5 O-O {is even more dangerous for White.} 21. Bf4 Qe7+ 22. Be3 Nd7 23. Rd1 Ne5 24. Nxe5 Qxe5 25. h3 Bc5 $15) (20. h4 Bg4 {But now that the h7 pawn is protected, the Bg4 move is strong.} 21. h5 $1 Rf8 $1 22. Kf1 Nd7 {And even though White has compensation, it looks like Black is to be preferred slightly.}) 20... O-O {It's a tricky position but Black seems better here.} 21. Be4 (21. Nf3 Re8+ 22. Kf1 Bg4 $36) 21... Re8 22. Rd1 f6 23. Bxg6 Rxe5+ 24. Kf1 Rg5 25. Bxh7+ Kf7 $17) (19... h6 $6 {isn't nearly as effective as g6.} 20. Nxe5 O-O 21. Rd1 Re8 22. Bh7+ Kf8 23. Qe4 Nd5 24. Kf1 $11 {With a mess, which is likely going to end in a pereptual check.}) 20. Bxh7 Nd7 (20... Qe7 21. Be4 (21. Bf5 $6 {Doesn't work so well anymore for White.} Bxf3+ 22. Kxf3 g6) 21... Qe6 22. h3 Bxf3+ 23. Kxf3 g6 24. g4 $11 {With dynamic equality.}) 21. Bf5 Bxf3+ $1 {The only move not to be clearly worse.} (21... Bxf5 $6 22. Qxf5 g6 23. Qg4 {lets White keep a very important knight on f3 which is very annoying for Black to deal with.} Qe7 24. Rd1 Bd6 25. b4 $1 Bxb4 (25... c5 26. bxc5 Nxc5 27. Qc8+ Qd8 28. Qxd8+ Kxd8 29. Nxe5 Re8 30. Kf3 $16) 26. Nxe5 $1 $18) 22. Kxf3 $5 (22. gxf3 g6 (22... Nf6 { Would be quite good for Black.})) 22... g6 23. Bxd7+ (23. Ra1 $5 Rh4 $1 24. Kg3 Rd4 $3 25. Bxd4 Qxd4 26. Ra8+ Ke7 27. Bxd7 Qf4+ 28. Kh3 Qh6+ 29. Kg3 Qf4+ { Would not be forced but would be a very interestling sample line leading to perpetual check.}) 23... Kxd7 24. Qe4 (24. g3 {In retrospect g3 might've been safer, to tuck the king to g2, and not have to worry about it being under attack. I think only White can be better here.}) 24... Re8 25. Ke2 {Still objectively ok, but in my opinion playing a little bit with fire.} (25. g3) 25... Kc8 {Black does the right thing and gets his king into safety. It becomes easier to Black for Black from here on, especially in time pressure, which makes it not a surprise White is the one who tracks in the end since his position in my opinion is now a little bit more difficult to play despite the position being objectively equal.} 26. Rd1 f5 27. Qh4 (27. Qe3 $5) 27... Qe7 28. Qg3 (28. Qxe7 {Of course Qxe7 is safer, after which White doesn't really risk losing, but White continues to play very ambitiously and is taking some risks.}) 28... g5 29. Bc3 Bc5 30. Bd2 $6 {And now with low time, White makes a first objective inaccuracy of the game. The bishop ends up being misplaced on d2, while f4 is a move Black wants to play anyway in many lines.} ({Either} 30. b4 $5 Bxb4 31. Bxb4 Qxb4 32. Qxg5 Qxc4+ 33. Ke1 $11) ({Or} 30. Ra1 $11 { Would still keep the game balanced.}) 30... f4 $1 {Now Black starts to ceize the initiative.} 31. Qh3+ Kb7 $6 {Now Black errs in return.} (31... Kb8 $1 32. b4 Bd4 33. b5 e4 {And now bxc6 comes without check and Black's initiative is quicker.} 34. Qb3 (34. bxc6 $6 e3 $1 35. fxe3 (35. Rb1+ Ka8 {Doesn't really help White.}) 35... Qe4 $3 {And Black has a decisive attack.} 36. Qf3 Qc2 37. Rc1 Qa2 38. e4 Be3 $19) 34... c5 (34... Bb6 $5 35. bxc6 Qe5) 35. b6 c6 36. Qa2 Qf7 {And Black has very strong initiative which means White has nothing better than to go into an unpleasant endgame with...} 37. Qa7+ Qxa7 38. bxa7+ Kxa7 $15 {Where White maybe can draw but has to work for it.}) 32. b4 Bd4 33. Qd3 $6 { In time pressure it's understable that mistakes start coming in bunches, even amongst elite players when the position is so sharp.} (33. b5 $1 {White can create enough counterplay here.} e4 (33... cxb5 34. Rb1 $1 c6 35. cxb5 c5 36. Qf5 {And it's still a mess.} (36. Qh6 Qe6)) 34. bxc6+ Kxc6 35. Qb3 Bb6 36. Qa4+ Kb7 37. Ra1 Qc5 38. Qa6+ Kc6 39. Qa4+ $11) 33... Rd8 (33... Qd7 {Might've been slightly more precise.}) 34. b5 Qe6 (34... cxb5 {Might've objectively worked though it's hard to blame Black for not going for this in time pressure. Variations that arise here are very complex and almost impossible to work out precisely in time pressure.} 35. Rb1 e4 $1 36. Rxb5+ Bb6 37. Qc2 e3 $5 (37... Qe6 38. c5 (38. Kf1 Kc8 39. c5 Qc6 $1 $17) 38... f3+) 38. fxe3 fxe3 39. Be1 Qe8 $1 {And Black still might be slightly better.}) 35. bxc6+ Kxc6 36. f3 Rb8 37. Be1 g4 38. Rd2 gxf3+ 39. Qxf3+ $4 {And now a shocker comes. Just two moves before making time control, Wesley So makes a game losing blunder. It goes to show us that we're all human, and when we're under pressure most of the game and have to work hard, at some point people crack, even the best of the best.} (39. gxf3 $11 {Would still be equal.}) 39... e4 {And White resigned. Not exactly even sure what Wesley missed. Maybe he forgot about the c4 pawn being hanging. Either way, despite the fact that this great battle between two great fighters ended prematurely, I still really enjoyed commentating on this game, since there were a lot of interesting moments starting with the opening stage, and throughout the whole game.} 0-1

Obviously it was a precipitated and disappointing ending, but Wesley So is a fighter, and if one is going to lose in an event, it might as well be in round one, so that one has the most time to catch up and make up for it.

Photos from official site


You can use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register