Moscow Grand Prix R02: Chinese lead

by Alejandro Ramirez
5/14/2017 – The draw virus is still latent in Moscow, but at least the number of decisive games doubled from yesterday! Nepomniachtchi came back with a vengeance after his loss yesterday to defeat Hammer with the black pieces. Ding Liren played an exemplary game against Ernesto Inarkiev and ties with Hou Yifan at the lead. We have analysis of those games, and of course, the short draws...

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The time control in the GP tournaments is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The Grand Prix returns to the Telegraph Building in central Moscow, which previously hosted the 2016 Candidates Tournament won by Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

The tournament, a nine round Swiss contest, is the second of four Grand Prix in 2017 and follow’s the Sharjah Grand Prix in February which was won by Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a three way tie.

The Moscow Grand Prix is sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, PhosAgro and EG Capital Partners.

Each round starts at 2PM (GMT +3).

Round 2 on 2017/05/13 at 14:00

Bo. Name FED Rtg
Pts.
Result
Pts.
Name FED Rtg
1 Hou Yifan CHN 2652
1
½ - ½
½
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795
2 Nakamura Hikaru USA 2786
½
½ - ½
½
Radjabov Teimour AZE 2710
3 Adams Michael ENG 2747
½
½ - ½
½
Giri Anish NED 2785
4 Ding Liren CHN 2773
½
1 - 0
½
Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2727
5 Gelfand Boris ISR 2724
½
½ - ½
½
Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2772
6 Svidler Peter RUS 2755
½
½ - ½
½
Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2633
7 Grischuk Alexander RUS 2750
½
½ - ½
½
Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696
8 Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2710
½
½ - ½
½
Harikrishna P. IND 2750
9 Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2621
½
0 - 1
0
Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2751

All photos by Max Avdeev

Let's start with the bad:

Sutovsky, ACP President, maybe has hit the nail on the head: A virus is going around and it follows the players around the Grand Prix series. This is, at least for me, more comforting than so many players simply lacking fighting spirit.

Grischuk and Tomashevsky agreed to draw in 12 moves for no discernible reason. Svidler offered a draw on move 16 with White against a lower rated opponent, Salem Saleh, presumably because he felt his position was already slightly worse. He might've been right, but Salem didn't give declining the offer a second thought. Nakamura put no pressure at all on Radjabov who sealed their draw on move 18.

Salem starts with two quick draws in Moscow, arguably better than starting with two losses as he did in Sharjah.
Arguably because at least the losses were learning experiences...

Even Gelfand, a great chess fighter, seems to have been infected:

Gelfand didn't torture his opponent with the two bishops

[Event "Moscow Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2017.05.13"] [Round "2.5"] [White "Gelfand, Boris"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2772"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2r4/p1k2ppp/2p2n2/2b2p2/2B5/4P3/PP1B1PPP/R2R2K1 b - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2017.05.12"] [EventType "tourn"] {[#]} 17... Nd5 18. Ba5+ Bb6 {There is no doubt that White is better. He has the pair of bishops and a safer king. Yeah, there is no immediate win or anything, but why not play on?} 19. Bxd5 (19. Be1 {and Black will have to suffer for a while to make his draw.}) 19... Rxd5 20. Rxd5 cxd5 21. Bc3 g5 { Black has really survived the worse and the endgame is probably equal.} 22. Rd1 1/2-1/2

Of course, not every game was boring. Hou Yifan playing against MVL on the top board was only marginally more exciting, though. MVL might have come under just a bit of pressure out of the opening, but once he solved his problems he forced liquidation into a drawn endgame.

Yifan tried to put some pressure, but MVL equalized almost immediately.
It is unclear who made the first move, unfortunately.

Adams and Giri played an exciting game, in which Giri's pawn sacrifice to open up his light squared bishop gave him a good position. The battle was tense and it culminated in an unusual perpetual check.

One of the most interesting games today

Next we have the two decisive games. Nepomniachtchi used a Pirc Defense to play for the win against Jon Ludvig Hammer, trying to recover from yesterday's loss. He did so very successfully, and he simply proved that he was the better player. Hammer lacked ideas from the opening and once Black stabilized his position, he went on the offensive and won easily.

Another interesting game was the duel between Ding Liren and Ernesto Inarkiev, all of which spawned from a curious opening idea:

Ding Liren played a fine game today to tie Yifan for the lead

[Event "Moscow Grand Prix 2017"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2017.05.13"] [Round "2.4"] [White "Ding, Liren"] [Black "Inarkiev, Ernesto"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A20"] [WhiteElo "2773"] [BlackElo "2727"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "173"] [EventDate "2017.05.12"] [EventType "tourn"] 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. Nf3 (4. d4 {is the main line by quite a margin, but not the only move} Bb4+ {is one of the many lines black has tried recently. }) 4... e4 5. Nd4 d5 6. d3 $5 {almost inexistent} (6. cxd5 Qxd5 (6... cxd5 7. d3 {is already dubious for Black's structure.}) 7. Nc2 Qh5 $1 {with complex play, like Sviderl-Wang Hao from last year.}) 6... exd3 7. cxd5 $5 Bb4+ 8. Nc3 c5 9. Nb3 c4 10. Nd2 {Certainly an unusual position. The White knight has already played fouro times to land on d2, while Black has pushed his pawns forward! It's still hard to asses the position.} O-O 11. O-O (11. Nxc4 { is the computer brave move.}) 11... Bxc3 12. bxc3 Bg4 13. f3 dxe2 {after this Black is worse, but I haven't found a clear improvement on his previous play. Either the line is bad or he has to go for the crazy 13...Nxd5.} (13... Nxd5 $5 14. fxg4 Nxc3 15. Qe1 Nxe2+ 16. Kh1 Nc6 {is quite weird to evaluate. Even if Black allows Ba3 x f8 the position with so many passed pawns is not entirely clear.} (16... c3 $5)) 14. Qxe2 Bf5 15. Nxc4 Qxd5 16. Rd1 Qb5 17. a4 Qa6 { Computers already evaluate this as much better for White. The reason is the pair of bishops and the superior development that White has.} 18. Bf1 (18. Ba3 $1 Re8 19. Qf1 {is a similar idea than the game but with better execution}) 18... Be6 19. Nd6 Qxe2 20. Bxe2 b6 21. Nb5 Bb3 22. Rd6 Nbd7 23. a5 Rfc8 24. Kf2 h6 {Black is simply getting tortured in this position.} 25. Be3 Ne5 26. Bd4 Nc4 27. Rxf6 $1 {A beautiful combination.} gxf6 28. Bxc4 Bxc4 (28... Rxc4 29. axb6 {is winning for White without question}) 29. Nd6 bxa5 (29... Rc6 30. Nxc4 Rxc4 31. axb6 {is again simply unholdable.}) 30. Nxc8 Rxc8 31. Rxa5 {The opposite colored bishop endgame is very unpleasant for Black. With perfect play it's probably a draw, but that's almost impossible to do in these circumstances} Re8 32. g4 a6 33. Rc5 Bd3 34. Bxf6 Re6 35. Bd4 Kf8 36. h4 Ke8 37. Rc8+ Kd7 38. Rf8 Ke7 39. Bc5+ Kf6 40. Rh8 Kg7 41. Bd4+ f6 42. Rd8 Bc4 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Ra7 Bd3 45. Kg3 Rc6 46. h5 Bc2 47. f4 Bd1 48. Kh4 Rd6 49. Ra8+ Kf7 50. Rh8 Kg7 51. Rc8 Kf7 52. Rc7+ Kg8 53. Rc5 $6 (53. f5 {would have allowed a quick Be3-xh6 and there is nothing Black can do about it.}) 53... Kf7 54. g5 fxg5+ 55. fxg5 hxg5+ 56. Kxg5 Bc2 57. Rc7+ Ke6 58. h6 Rd5+ 59. Kg4 Rd7 {Black has hope again} 60. Rc6+ Rd6 61. Rc7 Rd7 62. Rc5 Rd5 63. Rc8 a5 64. Re8+ Kd7 $2 (64... Kf7 { keeping the king close to the kingside for now was a better alternative.} 65. Ra8 Bd1+ 66. Kg3 Rg5+ 67. Kf2 Rh5 {and Black doesn't lose his a-pawn.}) 65. Ra8 a4 (65... Bd1+ 66. Kf4 Bc2 67. h7 $18) 66. h7 Bxh7 67. Ra7+ Kc6 68. Rxh7 { Black's a-pawn is not enough. The rest is easy.} Ra5 69. Rh6+ Kd7 70. Kf4 a3 71. Rh1 a2 72. Ra1 Kc6 73. Ke4 Kb5 74. Kd3 Ra8 75. Kc2 Kc4 76. Kb2 Rb8+ 77. Kxa2 Kd3 78. Rh1 Kc2 79. Ka3 Kd3 80. Rh5 Rb1 81. Ka4 Rb8 82. Rb5 Ra8+ 83. Kb4 Rc8 84. Rb7 Rc4+ 85. Kb5 Rc8 86. Bg7 Rd8 87. c4 1-0

The other super long game of the day featured another opposite colored bishop endgame with rooks. Spain's Vallejo Pons was on the offensive, while India's Harikrishna was again fighting for his life. Again, Hari was able to pull it off, as the Spaniard was unable to find the correct winning plan after a grueling battle.

As a curious side note, Harikrishna has played seven (!) times more moves than Grischuk has after only two rounds of chess (23 by Grischuk and 174 by Harikrishna).

Vallejo missed a big chance today to play his first decisive game
in the Grand Prix series (he scored nine draws in Sharjah)

Grischuk was interviewed yesterday about his game, and he admitted to being under the weather (due to bad weather!) and the reason for his draw. Presumably, it is the same reason today:

Naturally, since this is a Swiss tournament, the two leaders will face each other on board one. Yifan will repeat White in a crucial round three for both players.

Round two games

Standings after two rounds

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. rtg+/-
1 Ding Liren CHN 2773 1,5 3,5
  Hou Yifan CHN 2652 1,5 8,3
3 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795 1,0 -2,6
  Nakamura Hikaru USA 2786 1,0 -1,8
  Giri Anish NED 2785 1,0 -1,3
  Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2772 1,0 -1,6
  Svidler Peter RUS 2755 1,0 -2,5
  Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2751 1,0 -3,2
  Grischuk Alexander RUS 2750 1,0 -2,4
  Harikrishna P. IND 2750 1,0 -2,3
  Adams Michael ENG 2747 1,0 1,2
  Gelfand Boris ISR 2724 1,0 1,5
  Radjabov Teimour AZE 2710 1,0 1,9
  Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2710 1,0 1,5
  Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696 1,0 1,6
  Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2633 1,0 3,3
17 Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2727 0,5 -3,6
  Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2621 0,5 -1,5

Round Three Pairings

Bo. Name FED Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name FED Rtg
1 Hou Yifan CHN 2652   Ding Liren CHN 2773
2 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2795 1   1 Gelfand Boris ISR 2724
3 Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696 1   1 Nakamura Hikaru USA 2786
4 Giri Anish NED 2785 1   1 Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2710
5 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2772 1   1 Adams Michael ENG 2747
6 Harikrishna P. IND 2750 1   1 Svidler Peter RUS 2755
7 Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2751 1   1 Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2633
8 Radjabov Teimour AZE 2710 1   1 Grischuk Alexander RUS 2750
9 Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2727 ½   ½ Hammer Jon Ludvig NOR 2621

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.

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