Gashimov Memorial: Rapport and Karjakin win rapid section

by André Schulz
12/22/2021 – The rapid tournament at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial ended with an exciting and close finish. In the sixth and penultimate round tournament leader Richard Rapport lost against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, which allowed Fabiano Caruana to catch up. But in the final round Caruana also lost against Mamedyarov while Rapport and Karjakin won their matches. In the end, Rapport and Karjakin shared first place with 16 points each. | Photos: Tournament page

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Before the last day and the two final rounds of the Rapid Tournament Rapport was sole first, followed by Caruana and Karjakin.

The Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan, Mariana Vasileva, opens the round

In the first five rounds, the Hungarian only lost against Caruana (after an Armageddon tiebreak), but he won all his other mini-matches without tiebreak.

However, the sixth round brought another defeat for Rapport. He lost the first match game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and could not bounce back in game two.

Karjakin somewhat surprisingly lost his round six match against Vugar Asadli, while Caruana won smoothly against Anand to gain another three points.

But Rapport bounced back in the final round by winning clearly against David Navara. 

Rapport, Richard (2763) - Navara, David (2697) 
7th Gashimov Memorial - Rapid 2021 (7.1)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3 Nf6 4.d3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 The white setup is known from the Philidor Defence with reversed colours.

6...Bd6 7.0–0 0–0 8.Nc3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bg4 10.h3 Bh5 11.Rb1 Rb8 12.g4 Bg6 13.Ng5 Be7 14.Ne4 f5 15.gxf5 Bxf5 16.Be3 Qd7 17.Qh5 g6 18.Qf3 In a previous game, an online blitz game , White here played 18.Qh6 but after 18...Nd8 19.Bd2 Ne6 20.Ng3 Nf4 21.Bxf4 exf4 22.Qxf4 Bxd3 23.Qd2 Bf5 Black was better, Safarli,E (2681)-Mikhalevski,V (2581) INT 2019, ½–½ (45)

18...Be6 19.Qg3 Bxa2 20.Rb5 Be6 21.Nc5 The knight is so strong that Black has to give up the bishop pair.

21...Bxc5 22.Rxc5 Qd6 23.Rb1 With the threat of Rxb7.



24.h4 Advancing the h-pawn increases the pressure. Obviously, it is White who is in the driver's seat. 24.Rxb7 Rxb7 25.Rxc6 Qd7 was possible, but not as strong as 24.h4 since the Be6 is protected.

24...Ne7 Black gives a pawn to activate his pieces. Otherwise he will remain completely passive. 24...Nd4 is not much better: 25.cxd4 exd4 26.Bxd4 Qxd4 27.Rxc7+–

25.Qxe5 Nf5 26.Bf4 Bf7? This costs Black an exchange. Better was 26...Qxe5 27.Bxe5 Nxh4 28.Bh1 though White has the better endgame. He is a pawn down but the bishops are powerful.

27.Qxe8+ Rxe8 28.Bxd6 cxd6 29.Ra5 Nxh4 30.Rxb7 Re1+ 31.Kh2 Re2 32.Raxa7 Rxf2 33.Rxf7 Rxf7 34.Bd5 Nf3+ 35.Kg3 1–0

Meanwhile, Caruana lost his crucial match against Mamedyarov while Karjakin got a "triple" against Rauf Mamedyov.

Thus, Rapport and Karjakin shared first with 16 points each in the end. Caruana and Mamedyarov shared third and fourth place with 14 points each.


No  Name FED PTS
1 Richard Rapport (2750) HUN 16
2 Sergey Karjakin (2757) RUS 16
3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2727) AZE 14
4 Fabiano Caruana (2770) USA 14
5 Rauf Mamedov (2690) AZE 9
6 David Navara (2706) CZE 8
7 Vugar Asadli (2309) AZE 4
8 Viswanathan Anand (2748) IND 3




Tournament page...

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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