Abdusattorov wins Gashimov Memorial with five rounds to spare

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/24/2022 – Nodirbek Abdusattorov dominated the field at the Gashimov Memorial in Baku. The 18-year-old from Tashkent was the top scorer in the rapid and finished the blitz in third place. Since none of the players who had ended the rapid near the top of the standings performed strongly in the blitz, Abdusattorov managed to clinch first place with five rounds to spare! | Pictured: The players visited the grave of Vugar Gashimov on Wednesday.

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Dominating

It has been a great year for Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Besides winning the world rapid title on 28 December 2022, the youngster led the Uzbek team to a historic victory at the Chess Olympiad in Chennai. Now that he is only days away from attempting to defend his world title in Almaty, he achieved a remarkable victory in Baku, as he won the rapid and blitz event in honour of Vugar Gashimov with five rounds to spare.

Abdusattorov came from finishing tied for fifth (rapid) and eighth (blitz) at the 10-player Tata Steel India event. In a tournament that kicked off two weeks later with the exact same format and most of the participants rated 2700 or above, the Uzbek showed his mettle by scoring an undefeated 14/18 in the rapid and an 11½/18 in the blitz.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov finished in shared second place with 20½/36 points. Both Azerbaijani grandmasters won their final-round games — remarkably, Mamedov beat Richard Rapport, who was in sole second place before that encounter. 

Starting Monday, Abdusattorov and seven other Gashimov Memorial’s participants will begin their run at the World Rapid and Blitz Tournament — i.e. all participants except for Wang Hao and Abdulla Gadimbayli. Most likely, having participated at the event in Baku will serve them well, as they will arrive in Kazakhstan’s largest city warmed up after having played an over-the-board tournament with a similar format.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

In round 9 of the blitz, Abdusattorov defeated Gukesh with the black pieces. The clash of talented youngsters was a repeat of their dramatic round-10 encounter in Chennai (when an unexpected blunder by Gukesh gave Abdusattorov a crucial victory). The Uzbek prevailed once again with the black pieces in Baku.

 

Black is threatening to trap his opponent’s dark-squared bishop with ...h5-h4 and ...f7-f6, which prompted Gukesh to play 13.h3, allowing 13...Nxg3 14.fxg3, permanently damaging White’s pawn structure.

In the diagrammed position, the engines give 13.Qb3 h4 14.Be5 f6 15.Bd3 with an equal position due to the weakness of the black king.

After the text, on the other hand, Gukesh decided to leave his king in the centre — 14...Qe7 15.Kd2 Qd6 16.Qb3 0-0-0 17.Nxg5 

 

Following 17...Qxg3, with an inevitable queen infiltration via f2, White was faced with the difficult task of defending his position while having close to zero chances of getting counterplay. 

By move 27, Black was completely winning.

 

Abdusattorov here missed 27...Re2, all but forcing resignation. But this was a blitz game, and his 27...b6 spoiled nothing. Gukesh threw in the towel a move later.

The 16-year-old from Chennai got to beat the eventual winner of the event in the final round, when he outplayed Abdusattorov in a sharp middlegame with queens and rooks on the board.


Final standings - Rapid (win = 2 pts; draw = 1 pt)

No  Name FED Rapid Blitz Total
1 Nodirbek Abdusattorov UZB 14 11½ 25½
2 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov AZE 8 12½ 20½
3 Rauf Mamedov AZE 12 20½
4 Richard Rapport ROM 8 12 20
5 Francisco Vallejo ESP 12 19½
6 Wang Hao CHN 10 9 19
7 Sam Shankland USA 6 11 17
8 Dommaraju Gukesh IND 7 8 15
9 Abdulla Gadimbayli AZE 7 5 12
10 Aydin Suleymanli AZE 6 5 11

All games - Rapid

 
 

All games - Blitz

 
 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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