Qatar Masters: Super-Giri leads with 5.0/5

by Sagar Shah
11/30/2014 – Looks like he is doing a Caruana: top Dutch GM Anish Giri has won his five games in the strongest Open of all time, crushing a 2620 GM in round four in just 18 moves, and then beating the number three seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, rated 2757, in the next round with the black pieces. His performance: 3431. We have a big illustrated report with lots of exiting chess to play through and enjoy.

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The Qatar Masters Open 2014 is being held from November 25 to December 5 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Doha, Qatar. There are 92 grandmasters participating, or 60% of the 154 total players. 56 GMs are rated over 2600, and an incredible 14 over 2700. Let those numbers sink in for a moment! This tournament truly is a convention of brilliant chess minds.

Anish Giri leads Qatar Masters with 5.0/5

Highlights from rounds three to five, annotated by IM Sagar Shah

The tournament hall in Doha, at the start of round four

Suffered a painful defeat: Indian top GM Pentala Harikrishna in round three

[Event "Qatar Masters Open "] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2014.11.28"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Oleksienko, Mikhailo"] [Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E68"] [WhiteElo "2620"] [BlackElo "2725"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/1pp2p2/p2p4/4n3/2P3P1/1P5P/P2K4/6N1 w - - 0 40"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2014.11.26"] {Harikrishna is considered to be a very strong endgame player. But in the current position he is in a very difficult position. The main problem? White has an outside passed pawn on the h-file. According to Botvinnik knight endgames are like pawn endgames: whatever rules hold true in the pawn endings, are also true for knight endings. By that logic this position should be winning for White. But it is one thing to have a theoretically winning ending and quite another to actually convert it.} 40. Ke3 Kg7 41. Nf3 Nc6 (41... Nxf3 42. Kxf3 {As previosuly mentioned this pawn ending is just winning for White.} Kg6 43. h4 c6 44. Ke4 f6 45. Kf4 a5 46. h5+ Kg7 47. g5 fxg5+ 48. Kxg5 $18) 42. Nd4 Ne5 (42... Nb4 43. a3 $16) 43. Ke4 Kf6 44. Nf5 Nd7 45. h4 Nc5+ 46. Ke3 (46. Kd5 Nd3 {gives the knight some activity.}) 46... a5 47. Nd4 {threatening Nb5.} c6 48. Nf5 {Now the d6 pawn is weak.} Ke5 49. h5 Ne6 50. Nh4 Kf6 51. Nf3 Nf8 52. Nd2 Ke5 (52... Kg5 53. Ne4+ Kxg4 54. Nxd6 Kxh5 55. Nxb7 $1 $18 {[%csl Ra5]} ) 53. h6 b6 {Later on, when the knight takes on d6 from e4, the b7 pawn will not hang. But this falls prey to another problem, and that is the c6 pawn becoming weak.} (53... Kf6 54. Ne4+ Kg6 55. Nxd6 $16) 54. Nf3+ Kf6 55. Nd4 Kg5 56. Nxc6 $1 {The right moment to stat concrete actions.} (56. Nf5 f6) 56... Kxh6 57. Nd8 Kg6 58. Nb7 f5 (58... Kg5 59. Nxd6 $18) 59. gxf5+ Kxf5 60. Nxd6+ { White's positional advantage of the outside passed pawn has translated into a material advantage of an extra pawn now. This endgame is relatively easier to win because in addition to material advantage the black pawns are quite weak and White can attack them easily.} Ke5 61. Nc8 Nd7 62. Kd3 Nc5+ 63. Kd2 (63. Kc3 {was possible.}) 63... Nd7 64. Kc3 Kf6 65. b4 $1 {Such moves are quite risky, as you are ruining the integrity of your structure. But in this position it is a strong move because concretely the b6 pawn will fall if Black will take on b4.} Ke5 (65... axb4+ 66. Kxb4 Ke5 67. Kb5 Kd4 68. Nxb6 Nxb6 69. Kxb6 Kxc4 70. a4 $18) 66. b5 {Fixing the b6 weakness. Look how the knight has to remain on d7 and the black king has absolutely no way to enter the queenside.} Ke4 67. c5 $1 {The decisive breakthrough.} Nxc5 (67... bxc5 68. Kc4 $18 (68. b6 Kd5 $11)) 68. Nxb6 Nb7 69. Kc4 Ke5 70. Nc8 Ke6 71. b6 Kd7 72. Na7 { [%cal Ga7c8,Ga7c6,Gb6c7] Once again making a barrier for the black king.} a4 73. Kd5 Nd6 74. Nc6 Nb7 75. Ne5+ Kc8 76. Kc6 Nd8+ 77. Kb5 Ne6 (77... Kb7 78. a3 {followed by Nc4 and picking up the a4 pawn.}) 78. Ka6 Nc5+ 79. Ka7 Nb7 80. Nc4 Nd8 81. Na5 {A wonderful display of endgame technique by Oleksienko.} 1-0

Looking good: Anish Giri just before his minature in round four

The following notes were provided by our reporter in Doha, IM Akshat Chandra (above), who is also playing in the event. After the game Anish showed Akshat the game, and his remarks are quoted in the analysis.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.29"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Oleksienko, Mikhailo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2776"] [BlackElo "2620"] [Annotator "Chandra,Akshat"] [PlyCount "35"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:45:11"] [BlackClock "0:30:23"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 {The Advanced Caro Kann is full of sharp and complicated variations. If one player is ill prepared, he can be swiftly punished. The current game is a good example of that.} Bf5 (3... c5 {is the other move.}) 4. h4 $5 {This move has been becoming quite popular lately. White's immediate idea is to expand on the kingside with g4 and harass Black's f5 bishop.} c5 {A rare move. Anish said that he was somewhat suprised by this move, and was already out of theory. He vaguely remembered a rapid game between Vachier Lagrave, and Grischuk, thought in that game Black played 4... h6.} (4... h5 {is the main line, stopping White's idea of g4.}) (4... e6 $4 5. g4 $18 {Oops, the bishop is trapped.}) (4... h6 {in my opinion, is the best way for Black to react.} 5. g4 Bd7 6. h5 c5 {1-0 (36) Vachier Lagrave,M (2710) -Grischuk,A (2752) Beijing 2011}) 5. dxc5 Nc6 6. Bb5 Qc7 {Until this point everything has been played in a number of games before, the most popular being Morozevich vs Bareev. That game witnessed Nc3. Anish deviates with Ne2.} (6... Qa5+ {has also been tried, and the position becomes a bit complex after} 7. Nc3 O-O-O {but practice has shown that White is much better off after} 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. Qd4 $16 {White will hold on his c5 pawn with b4, and it is not easy for Black to develop his pieces smoothly.}) 7. Ne2 $146 {A novelty, which Giri said he played because he wanted to suprise his opponent as well. Indeed it worked, and his opponent began to consume a lot of time. He played his next move after 15 minutes of thinking.} (7. Bf4 {was played in a couple of games, after which Black played} O-O-O {although White seems to be still much better after} (7... e6 {was a move which Anish said Black can't play due to} 8. g4 { which seemingly traps the Bishop. But Black has the resource} Qa5+ 9. Nc3 Qb4 { [%cal Rb4g4] after which White is forced to play} 10. gxf5 Qxf4 {and it doesn't really seem like White has any advantage here.}) 8. Bxc6 Qxc6 9. Nf3 Qxc5 10. Nd4 $16) 7... Qxe5 {Anish: "It was quite obvious to me that Qxe5 shouldn't be good."} ({After} 7... e6 {Anish said he was thinking about} 8. b4) 8. Bf4 $1 {White immediately develops his Bishop, ignoring the b2 pawn. Black may be able to fend off White's initiative after this move, but over the board it's not easy to find the correct defense.} (8. Nbc3 e6 9. Bf4 {was the main alternative.}) 8... Qxb2 (8... Qf6 9. Qxd5 $16) 9. Nbc3 Nf6 (9... Qxc2 { doesn't work} 10. Qxc2 Bxc2 11. Nd4 {[%csl Rc2,Rc6] and Black loses a piece.}) (9... e6 10. Ba4 {Anish}) (9... Bxc2 $1 {was the computer defense, Anish told me.} 10. Qxd5 {This is more in the spirit of the Evergreen Game in which White sacrifices both his rooks.} (10. Qc1 {Sagar Shah} Qxc1+ 11. Rxc1 Bf5 {might be a possibility.}) 10... Qxa1+ 11. Kd2 Rd8 {is relatively the best move but White keeps an edge after} (11... Be4 $5 12. Qxe4 Qb2+ 13. Ke1 $18) (11... Qxh1 {Sagar Shah} 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Qxc6+ Kd8 14. Bc7+ Kc8 15. Bb6+ Kb8 16. Qc7# { is a quick rout.}) 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. Qxd8+ Kxd8 14. Rxa1 $14 {and even though White is a pawn down, Anish liked his position due to his active and well placed pieces.}) 10. O-O {White's initiatve just flows like a waterfall now thanks to his superior development. Black might be already lost here.} Qb4 ( 10... e6 11. Ba4 Bxc5 12. Rb1 Qa3 13. Rb3 {Anish}) 11. Rb1 {Giving up another pawn to develop with a tempo.} Qxc5 12. Ba4 $1 {Now b7 and Rb5 are two threats which Black cannot reasonably parry.} e5 {Desperation already.} (12... e6 13. Rxb7) (12... O-O-O 13. Rb5 Qa3 (13... Qc4 14. Bb3) 14. Qb1 Rd7 15. Rb3 Qc5 16. Bxc6 Qxc6 17. Nd4 Qc4 18. Ncb5 $18 {Anish}) (12... b6 13. Rb5 $18) 13. Bxe5 Ng4 (13... O-O-O 14. Bxc6 {[%cal Rc3b5,Re2d4,Rd1d4] Anish}) 14. Bg3 O-O-O 15. Bxc6 Qxc6 (15... bxc6 16. Rb8+ Kd7 17. Rb7+ Ke8 18. Re1 {[%csl Re8][%cal Re1e8] Anish}) 16. Nb5 Bc5 17. Ned4 Qf6 18. Qf3 {Material is soon going to be lost for Black, and before that happened, Oleksienko decided to throw in the towel. A very nice win by Anish, who showed the importance of development in this game. He now leads the tournament with a score of four points out of four games.} (18. Qf3 Bd7 19. Qc3 b6 20. Qxc5+ bxc5 21. Nxa7# {would be an elegant and picturesque finish to a striking game by White. Amazing how just playing simple but forceful moves, keeping up the pressure and intiative, can be such a potent force. With this win, Anish moved to 4.0/4, and was set to play GM Mamedyarov as Black in Round 5. Spoiler: He won that game as well.}) 1-0

Facing defeat: Mikhailo Oleksienko glares at Anish Giri after playing 17...Qf6

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "4.13"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Mista, Aleksander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2616"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "br1r2k1/q3bpp1/4p2p/nppP4/N3B3/4P1P1/P3QP1P/B1RR2K1 w - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:17:10"] [BlackClock "0:03:31"] {Kramnik had been struggling at the start of the tournament with two draws, but he came back confidently winning both the third and fourth round. This fourth round win in particular is very interesting. When facing weaker opponents, Kramnik has shown a liking for double fianchetto setups. He figures out that in these relatively quiet and non-theoretical positions he can outfox his opponents. Look how he tactically bludgeons his way through the Mista's defenses.} 24. Qg4 $1 {[%cal Gg4g7,Ga1g7] Creating a mating threat on g7.} Bf8 25. Nxc5 $1 {Of course the c5 knight cannot be taken because of mate on g7. But Black has prepared a pawn fork with f5.} f5 26. Qg6 $1 fxe4 $2 (26... Bxc5 {was forced and after} 27. Rxc5 fxe4 28. Be5 $1 {A not at all easy move to see. } (28. Qxe6+ Qf7 $11) 28... Qf7 29. Qxf7+ Kxf7 30. Bxb8 Rxb8 31. Rc7+ Kf6 32. dxe6 $14 {Though White is better here, he is nowhere close to winning.}) 27. Nxe4 $1 {The immediate threat is the deadly Nf6+ and Black doesn't have a good way to deal with it.} Ba3 28. Nf6+ Kf8 29. dxe6 $1 {Nd7 is now a huge threat.} Qb7 (29... Bxc1 30. Nd7+ $1 $18) 30. e4 gxf6 31. Qxf6+ Ke8 (31... Kg8 32. Qh8#) 32. Qg6+ Kf8 33. Qxh6+ Ke8 34. Qh5+ {And Black resigned.} (34. Qh5+ Kf8 35. Qh8+ Ke7 36. Qg7+ Ke8 37. Qg8+ Bf8 38. Qg6+ Ke7 39. Qf7# {Would have been a nice mate. This game shows how strong Kramnik really is and we can expect such scintillating sacrifices from him as the tournament progresses.}) 1-0

Back to winning ways after two draws at the start: former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "4.17"] [White "Moiseenko, Alexander"] [Black "Ipatov, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D94"] [WhiteElo "2701"] [BlackElo "2608"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r1qrnk1/5pbp/p4np1/1p1p4/3Pp3/PPN1P1QP/1B3PP1/1RR2BK1 w - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:04:50"] [BlackClock "0:03:45"] {The position is interesting and unbalanced. White has the two bishops but Black has the space in the center. What should White play here? The answer is found if you look at your opponent's position and find the huge weakness. When you look closely, you will find that c6 is the square where your knight wants to be.} 19. Na2 $3 {A very nice backward move by Moiseenko rerouting his knight from a2-b4-c6.} Ne6 (19... a5 $2 20. Qc7 $1 (20. b4 {fixing the weakness on b5 is also interesting.}) 20... Qxc7 21. Rxc7 $16) 20. Nb4 Rb6 { Once again, Moiseenko sees how he can best maximize his pieces and finds the optimum plan of doubling rooks on the open c-file.} 21. Rc2 $1 Qd7 22. Rbc1 Bf8 23. Nc6 {This is what good positional play is all about. You keep improving your pieces and your position gets better and better.} Bd6 24. Ne5 Qe7 25. b4 Nd7 26. Qg4 f6 $6 (26... Rb7 27. Nc6 Qf8 {Black is alright}) 27. Nc6 Qf7 28. Qd1 h5 29. Na7 Rb7 30. Rc6 Bc7 (30... Rxa7 31. Rxd6 $16) 31. Rxa6 Ra8 32. Rxe6 $1 {The nice exchange sacrifice seals the deal.} Qxe6 33. Nxb5 (33. Rc6 $16 { was stronger.}) 33... Bb8 34. Qc2 f5 $2 {Thoroughly depressed, Ipatov blunders a rook.} (34... Kf7 $14 {was much better.}) 35. Qc8+ {A fine display of positional play by Moiseenko.} 1-0

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "4.30"] [White "Christiansen, Johan-Sebastian"] [Black "L'ami, Erwin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A05"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2618"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r1rk1/3n1p1p/2R1p1p1/p2n4/Pp2N3/6P1/1P2PPBP/3R2K1 w - - 0 25"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:03:34"] [BlackClock "0:13:42"] {Right from the opening itself, White has outplayed his GM opponent. He could have well finished off the game a few moves ago, but some inaccuracies led to the current position. White is still much better, but now goes horribly wrong in the next two moves.} 25. Nc5 $6 (25. Nd6 Ne5 26. Ra6 Nc7 27. Rxa5 Nc4 28. Rc5 Nxb2 29. Rd2 $16 {White keeps his advantage.}) 25... Ne5 26. Rxe6 $2 {A suicidal move. Maybe White thought that it was compulsory for Black to take back on e6. Turns out that he has a nice intermezzo.} (26. Ra6 {was better and White has a small edge.}) 26... Ne3 $1 {A nice discovered attack. Erwin L'Ami will not miss chances like these!} (26... fxe6 27. Nxe6 $16) 27. Bd5 (27. Rxd8 Rxd8 28. Rxe5 (28. fxe3 fxe6) 28... Rd1+ 29. Bf1 Rxf1# {is the nice little point of playing the knight to e3.}) 27... fxe6 28. Bxe6+ Kg7 29. Rxd8 Rxd8 30. fxe3 Rd2 $19 {The rest was easy.} 0-1

Erwin l'Ami at the start of his seesaw round four game -- with his wife Alina watching

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "4.35"] [White "Mchedlishvili, Mikheil"] [Black "Libiszewski, Fabien"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E98"] [WhiteElo "2622"] [BlackElo "2522"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5bk1/2r5/3p1nn1/1B1Pp2p/P3Pp2/5P1q/5QNP/R5BK b - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:04:13"] [BlackClock "0:06:20"] {White is just winning in this position. He has a strong passed a-pawn and Black cannot really create any meaningful threats on the kingside. But the problem with these King's Indian Defense positions is that there is always some kind of counterplay brewing, and here too Black manages to trick his opponent and not just any opponent – a 2600+ one!} 39... Ng4 $5 {A bad move but interestinf nonetheless.} (39... h4 {With the idea of Nh5-g3 is met with} 40. Bf1 $1 Nh5 41. Nxf4 Ng3+ 42. Qxg3 $1 $18) 40. fxg4 hxg4 41. Be8 (41. a5 g3 42. Qf3 {was simpler.}) 41... g3 42. Qf3 Kg7 43. a5 {White correctly starts his queenside play. According to the computer White has a huge advantage, but we humans are still scared when our opponent's rook gets to the seventh rank!} Rc2 44. Bxg6 (44. a6 {Why not!} Rf2 45. Qxf2 (45. Bd7 $1 Qxd7 46. Bxf2 $18 {is the computer way to win!}) 45... gxf2 46. Bxf2 Qc3 47. Rg1 $18 {was the human way to win.}) 44... Kxg6 45. a6 Rf2 46. Qxf2 {White is forced to give up his queen.} gxf2 47. a7 $2 {Now it all peters out!} (47. Bxf2 Qc3 48. Rg1 {The pawn will remain safe on a7 and Black will sooner or later lose.} Qd2 49. a7 Qa2 50. Nh4+ Kf6 51. Kg2 Be7 52. Nf3 $18 {[%cal Gg1c1,Gc1c8,Ga7a8]}) 47... fxg1=Q+ 48. Kxg1 (48. Rxg1 Qa3 $19) 48... f3 49. Ra2 fxg2 50. Rxg2+ Kh5 51. a8=Q Qe3+ 52. Rf2 Qe1+ 53. Kg2 Qxe4+ 54. Kf1 Qh1+ 55. Ke2 Qe4+ {I chose this example to show that even though the computer shows as much as a +5 advantage for White it was not easy to play that position. Hence, computer evaluations must not be blindly followed. We are humans and so are our opponents, and we are bound to make mistakes.} 1/2-1/2

The top encounter in round five was the clash between Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A22"] [WhiteElo "2757"] [BlackElo "2776"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "42"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:53:29"] [BlackClock "0:39:24"] {A mouth-watering clash between the top and third seeds of the event. Let's have a look at what happened in the game.} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. g3 Bb4 4. Bg2 O-O 5. e4 {White often makes this move when Black plays his bishop to b4. This Botvinnik structure might not be so good if Black could put his bishop on c5. But here to do that Black will have to lose a precious tempo. Is it worthwhile? } Bxc3 $5 {Apparently it is not! Giri gives up his bishop for the knight and intends to blast the white center with c6 followed by d5. But I must mention that once Magnus as Black did waste a tempo in a similar structure against Kramnik by playing his bishop back with Bc5.} 6. bxc3 Re8 {A quiet propylactic move so that the rook may not be disturbed by the bishop from a3.} (6... c6 7. Ba3 Re8 8. Bd6 Re6 9. c5 Ne8 {also looks totally fine for Black.}) 7. d3 c6 8. Ne2 d5 {Black uses his slight lead in development to blast open the position.} 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. exd5 {Mamedyarov on the other hand is happy to open the position because he has the two bishops.} Nxd5 11. Rb1 Nc6 12. O-O Bg4 $1 {An irritating little pin by Giri. The threat is of course to take the pawn on c3. White is forced to make the ugly looking f3 move and shut out his bishop.} 13. f3 (13. Rxb7 $2 Nxc3 $19) 13... Bf5 (13... Be6 14. Rxb7 Nb6 {traps the rook.} 15. f4 Qc8 16. Rxb6 axb6 $15) 14. Rxb7 Nb6 15. f4 e4 (15... Qc8 16. fxe5 $1 { and the drawback of keeping the bishop on f5 becomes apparent. It is hanging right now.}) 16. Qb3 $6 (16. dxe4 Bxe4 17. Qb3 Qf6 $15 {Black's position is preferable as the white king looks a little vulnerable. But this was the best.} ) 16... Be6 17. Qb5 $6 (17. Qd1 {was the best, but after} Bc8 18. Rxb6 axb6 $17 {Black is better.}) 17... exd3 $1 {The pawn on d3 is a real monster now!} 18. Rxb6 (18. Qxc6 dxe2 19. Re1 Qd1 20. Kf2 Rad8 $19 {Black is winning.}) (18. Bxc6 Bc4 $1 (18... dxe2 19. Qxe2 $14) 19. Qh5 g6 20. Qc5 dxe2 21. Re1 Rc8 $19) 18... dxe2 19. Re1 Bc4 $1 {Deflecting the queen from the defence of the b6 rook.} ( 19... Qxb6+ $6 20. Qxb6 axb6 21. Bxc6 Bc4 22. Bxe8 Rxe8 $15 {Black is better, but White should hold this one.}) (19... Nd4 $1 {was also very strong.} 20. cxd4 Qxd4+ 21. Kh1 axb6 22. Bxa8 Rxa8 $19) 20. Qxc6 (20. Bxc6 Bxb5 21. Rxb5 { might be relatively better, but Black is still in the driver's seat after} Qd3 $19) 20... Qd1 $1 21. Kf2 Rad8 $1 {Mamedyarov resigned immediately and Giri registered yet another victory to his name. Makes it five out of five! He is having a phenomenal run.} (21... Rad8 {The threat is to take on e1 followed by Rd1+ so White's only defence is to play} 22. Qxe8+ Rxe8 23. Rb2 Qd6 24. Be3 {White can prolong this game for a while but it is clear that with a pawn on e2 and also with extra material, Anish will not have great difficulties converting this one.} g5 $1 $19) 0-1

Anish at work, with the black pieces, on the way to demolishing...

... the number three seed, Azeri GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Video impressions of round five by Vijay Kumar

We have one more game for you. It was played by the 15-year-old talent, whom we discovered during the Chennai World Championship last year. In January 2014 we sought fundung for his travel to tournaments (and raised the required sum in a few days).

Aravindh Chithambaram is having a good tournament, with two solid draws against strong GMs Sargissian and Rakhmanov. This is what he did to a 2600+ opponent in round five, with the black pieces.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2014.11.30"] [Round "5.35"] [White "Mista, Aleksander"] [Black "Aravindh, Chithambaram"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A20"] [WhiteElo "2616"] [BlackElo "2485"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2014.11.26"] 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nb6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 Re8 $5 {This little rook move has become quite fashionable after a lot of top players have tried it in the past. The main idea is to tuck in the bishop to the f8 square and then plonk the knight to d4. After the exchange on d4, the rook will find itself on the very useful e8 square.} 10. Rb1 (10. b5 Nd4 11. Nxe5 Bf6 12. Nf3 Nxe2+ $19) 10... Bf8 11. d3 {There are two approaches for Black in this position. One is to go directly Nd4. The other one is to play a5, force b5 and then play Nd4. Aravindh goes for the latter, although the former has scored better.} a5 12. b5 Nd4 13. Nd2 {White would like to push the knight away with e3 now.} a4 14. e3 Ne6 15. Nf3 (15. Nc4 {is what I played once with white, but I think Black can get a very comfortable position with} Nxc4 16. dxc4 Qxd1 17. Rxd1 Nc5 $15) 15... Nc5 16. d4 (16. Nxe5 Rxe5 17. d4 Re8 18. dxc5 Qxd1 19. Rxd1 Bxc5 $11 {is nothing much for White.}) 16... exd4 17. Nxd4 Qf6 18. Qc2 Qg6 $5 19. e4 (19. Qxg6 hxg6 {and because the knight on c5 stands so well, White cannot hope for any edge.}) 19... Bg4 {Aravindh deviates from the previous two games. I do not think this move was prepared by him, but it is not at all bad. It is just expecting White to make some pawn move on the kingside thereby weakening his position to some extent.} 20. f3 (20. h3 {was definitely better.}) 20... Rad8 $5 (20... Be6 $5 { fighting for the b3 square.} 21. Nxe6 (21. f4 Bb3 $1 $17) 21... Qxe6 $15 { [%cal Gc5b3]}) 21. Nce2 Bc8 22. Bb2 f6 $1 {[%csl Re4][%cal Gg6f7,Rb2f6] Blunting the bishop on the long diagonal, restraining the e4 pawn and making way for the queen to go to f7. What more can you ask from one little pawn move! } 23. Ba1 Qf7 24. Rfc1 Ne6 {The a3 pawn is attacked.} 25. Nxe6 (25. Bb2 { defending the a3 pawn was relatively the best, but Black has a serious advantage after} Bc5 $17) 25... Bxe6 {With the bishop coming to b3, control of the d-file, white pawn weakness on a3, passive bishop on g2, White's position is as good as lost. And now Mista brought the game to a quick end.} 26. Qxc7 $2 Rd1+ $1 {typical deflection.} 27. Kf2 (27. Rxd1 Qxc7 $19) 27... Qxc7 28. Rxc7 Rxb1 {Black is a rook up! Next few moves were made out of inertia, I guess.} 29. Bd4 Nc4 30. Nf4 Nxa3 31. Nxe6 Nxb5 {A very smooth win for the 15-year-old GM elect.} 0-1

All photos by Maria Emelianova and Dmitry Rukhletskiy

Are you enjoying these comments? This is what Jacob Aagaard, author of a number of Fritztrainer DVDs, and editor of the Quality Chess Blog, wrote on Facebook:

Top standings after five rounds

Rk Sd Ti Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 1 GM Giri Anish NED 2776 5.0 3431 13.5 15.5
2 69 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2573 4.5 2982 14.5 16.0
3 12 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2706 4.0 2845 14.0 16.5
4 62 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2586 4.0 2845 14.0 15.0
5 10 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2714 4.0 2837 15.5 17.5
6 13 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2705 4.0 2822 14.0 16.0
7 19 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2673 4.0 2805 12.5 15.0
8 2 GM Kramnik Vladimir RUS 2760 4.0 2789 10.0 12.0
9 45 GM Perunovic Milos SRB 2619 4.0 2783 12.5 14.5
10 31 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2642 4.0 2756 11.5 13.5
11 3 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2757 3.5 2778 13.0 15.5
12 52 GM Van Kampen Robin NED 2612 3.5 2770 14.5 16.0
13 4 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2751 3.5 2751 12.5 15.0
14 44 GM Oleksienko Mikhailo UKR 2620 3.5 2744 14.0 15.5
15 6 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2725 3.5 2744 12.0 14.5
16 8 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2719 3.5 2728 12.5 14.5
17 39 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2627 3.5 2727 12.5 13.0
18 14 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2701 3.5 2725 13.0 15.5
19 70 GM Cornette Matthieu FRA 2566 3.5 2716 13.5 14.5
20 24 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2659 3.5 2713 12.5 13.0
21 5 GM Ding Liren CHN 2730 3.5 2712 11.5 14.0
22 30 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2643 3.5 2709 14.0 16.5
23 16 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2684 3.5 2709 11.5 13.5
24 35 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2632 3.5 2703 12.5 13.5
25 17 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2680 3.5 2697 11.0 13.5
26 28 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2644 3.5 2659 12.0 14.0
27 43 GM Naroditsky Daniel USA 2620 3.5 2655 11.0 12.5
28 27 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2652 3.5 2652 10.5 12.0
29 26 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2657 3.5 2649 11.0 13.5
30 59 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2598 3.5 2649 11.0 12.5
31 46 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2618 3.5 2640 12.0 14.0
32 38 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2628 3.5 2604 11.0 12.0
33 34 GM Romanov Evgeny RUS 2636 3.5 2594 10.0 11.0
34 49 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2616 3.5 2485 10.0 12.0

Standings and results of all 150 players here


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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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