Shamkir Round 6: Anish Giri a winner

by Johannes Fischer
4/25/2018 – Round 6 of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir brought interesting games, but only one win. Anish Giri benefited from a tactical blackout by David Navara, to net his first full point of the tournament. The four remaining games ended in a draw, two without much excitement, but two after an interesting run. | Photos: Shamkir Chess

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Quiet after the rest day

Tuesday was the official rest day in Shamkir, coming after round five, but today's sixth round was still a fairly quiet afternoon of chess. To wit: the World Championship 2016 replay:

S. Karjakin ½-½ M. Carlsen

The game between Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen was not very exciting. In the Marshall Gambit, both followed the predecessor game Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Carlsen (Paris 2017) for quite a while until Carlsen broke new ground with the new 20...h6.


20...Rxe1 21.Rxe1 and f6 was Carlsen's approach last year in Paris, but his latest innovation in Shamkir was harmless: By the 30th move, the game ended with a draw.

With five draws and a lone win, Magnus is not yet in best form | Photo:

A. Giri 1-0 D. Navara

Anish Giri benefited from a tactical mistake by David Navara and garnered his first victory. In a sharp variation of the Caro-Kann defense, Navara made an unusual mistake:


Navara apparently suffered from a proverbial blackout, which he attributes to overpreparing and being low on energy. He played 23...Bc2 and with the intermediate move 24.b6! White immediately exploited Navara's mistake. The point is after Qc8, the a4-e8 diagonal is now open such that after taking twice on c2, Black's Nd4 fork idea fails to Qa4+ and Navara is just down a piece.

Instead of the fatal bishop move, 23...Na5 would have kept the position in balance. In the game, after 24.b6 there followed 24...Bxd1 25.bxc7 Kd7 26.Bxd1 Kxc7 27.Bd6 + Kd7 28.Rb1 and Black gave up.

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V. Topalov - R. Mamedov

An interesting exchange of blows occurred between Veselin Topalov and Rauf Mamedov. At first, the excitement was provided Topalov, who brought in the Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian and came up with an exchange sacrifice novelty on move 22.


White played 22.Rxe4!? With this exchange sacrifice Topalov wanted to seize the initiative, but only a few moves later Mamedov countered with the thematic pawn sacrifice 26...b4:


Mamedov secured sufficient counterplay, and the players soon reached a balanced endgame with opposite-coloured bishops, which ended in draw on the 41st move.

Rauf Mamedov just shy of his 30th birthday | Photo:

T. Radjabov - R. Wojtaszek

Teimour Radjabov and Radoslaw Wojtaszek delivered a spirited tactical battle in the Najdorf Sicilian. Radjabov invited his opponent to a theoretical duel with 6.Bg5 and after 6...e6 7.f4 Radjabov took up the gauntlet with 7...Qb6!?


Radjabov has an excellent tournament record from this position, and soon was two pawns down but plenty of compensation.


But before White could make any concrete threats, Black returned material: he sacrificed an exchange with 22...Ne4, which quickly led to another tactical skirmish after 23.Ned7 Bxd7 24.Nxd7 Qg5, which eventually fizzled out to a perpetual check draw.

Teimour Radjabov continues his drawing streak | Photo:

Ding Liren ½-½ S. Mamedyarov

In the Candidates Tournament in Berlin, Ding Liren won only one game — against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. But at their meeting in Shamkir, Ding had no chances. In a Queen's Gambit with 5.Bg5 a balanced endgame appeared soon after the opening, and the players began repeating on move 34. 

Ding Liren is also looking for his first win | Photo:

Standings after six rounds


All games of round six


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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