Shamkir Round six: peace returns

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/1/2016 – It seems that the rest day fueled the fire for some interesting games, but somehow or another none of them finished in decisive results. Caruana was by the far the one with the best winning chances, as he had Safarli against the ropes right from the opening. Yifan also had an edge against Harikrishna but let him go. At the end of the day, we saw five draws.

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Third Shamkir Tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov

The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, is being held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the May 26 to June 4, 2016, in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament features ten world-class players: Fabiano Caruana (2795), Anish Giri (2790), Sergey Karjakin (2779), Pavel Eljanov (2750), Pentala Harikrishna (2763), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2726), Eltaj Safarli (2664), Hou Yifan (2663) and Rauf Mamedov (2650). The time control is 120/40 moves + 60/20 moves + 15 minutes + 30 seconds/move at 61st move.

All games start at 3 p.m. local time = 1 p.m. in Europe (CEST), one hour earlier in Britain, and 2 p.m. in Moscow. You can find the starting time at your location here. Today's pairings:

Round 6 – June 1, 2016
Anish Giri
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Hou Yifan
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Shak Mamedyarov
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Fabiano Caruana

Watch it live on Playchess!

Round Six

Most of the players came with high fighting spirit after the rest day. However, the matches were simply too even and we saw five draws today, a small break from the bloody rounds that we have been seeing in days past.

Giri, Anish ½-½ Eljanov, Pavel
Giri might have tried a bit too hard to win today. He chose an offbeat opening and the sacrificed a pawn to create an interesting position in which White's pair of bishops and superior development definitely gave him compensation. However a very timely return of the pawn by Eljanov turned the tables around, as the black knights and rooks swarmed the position. Still, things were far from clear, and Eljanov preferred to simplify into a drawn endgame then to look for more complications in the queenless middlegame.

Eljanov at least stopped the bleeding for now

Giri was in the mood for a win, but Eljanov showed him things are not that easy

Hou Yifan ½-½ Harikrishna, Pentala
Black was always a tiny bit worse in this Petroff position, in which White soon took great and powerful control over the only open file. Had Yifan found the move 22. Qe3, Black would have been under some pressure. It's possible that White was afraid of 22...Qa4 and some counterattack on the pawns, but White's own h4-h5 ideas would be very powerful against the weak king.

Harikrishna held on, though not that comfortably

Considering the positions that she's had, Yifan must be a bit disappointed with her 2.0/6

Mamedov, Rauf ½-½ Karjakin, Sergey
Karjakin keeps showing amazing preparation, this time in the black side of a Sicilian Najdorf. In this variation, which is clearly in vogue, Karjakin had apparently analysed a very deep variation which led, by force, to a drawn endgame. It even takes the computer some time to realize that Karjakin's moves are the best, but once it realizes what Black's intentions are it agrees that the game is simply drawn.

What are you supposed to do when your opponent prepares every single move? There is no doubt that
Mamedov came out to fight with an Open Sicilian, but Karjakin was simply too well prepped.

Radjabov, Teimour ½-½ Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar
This game went exactly as expected.

One of the most exciting players of the tournament. Usually.

Safarli, Eltaj ½-½ Caruana, Fabiano
Caruana went to the game hungry for a victory. To say that he was very close to achieving it might be an exaggeration, but he was definitely better throughout the game.

A black shirt to look for a black victory, but it did not come

[Event "Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016"] [Site "Shamkir AZE"] [Date "2016.06.01"] [Round "6"] [White "Safarli, E."] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2804"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Ba6 5. Qc2 Bb7 6. Nc3 c5 7. e4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bc5 9. Nb3 Nc6 10. Bg5 a6 {An old move, and judging by its results not a very good one. Perhaps Caruana was simply trying to strafe away from the known path. } (10... h6 11. Bh4 Nd4 12. Nxd4 Bxd4 {has been seen in many grandmaster games} ) 11. Rd1 (11. O-O-O $5 {was played by every White player here, including Kasparov against Van der Wiel back in 1988.}) 11... Qc7 12. Be2 (12. Nxc5 bxc5 {gives up the d4 square and I'm not as thrilled about it as the computer is.}) 12... Be7 13. Bh4 (13. Qd3 $1 {Reminds me of a strong Sicilian motif - trasnfering the queen to g3 to reach a superior endgame.}) 13... Ne5 14. Bg3 h5 $5 {Going for it!} 15. O-O g5 {Black's plan is actually quite justified. There are no good breakthroughs in the center and White has to deal with the incoming pawn storm somehow.} 16. Nd4 (16. f4 $2 h4 $1 17. fxe5 hxg3 18. exf6 Bc5+ {is too dangerous for White.}) (16. c5 $5 bxc5 17. Na5 {initiates some kind of weird counterplay}) 16... h4 17. Bxe5 Qxe5 18. Nf3 Bxe4 19. Nxe5 Bxc2 20. Rd2 {Black emerges up a pawn from the opening. Safarli now has to suffer considerably.} Bf5 (20... Bb3 {seemed cleaner, forcing White to simply the game a little more in order to double on the d-file.}) 21. Rfd1 Ra7 22. Na4 Rc7 (22... d6 23. Rxd6 $5 (23. Nc6 Rc7 24. Nxe7 Kxe7 25. Nxb6 Ne4 $17)) 23. Nxb6 d6 24. Nf3 Ne4 25. Rd3 Rb7 {Even though Safarli has recovered his pawn, he still faces serious difficulties. Black's bishops are about to become very powerful.} 26. Na4 Nc5 $1 27. Nxc5 dxc5 28. R3d2 Bf6 29. b4 $1 {A good practical decision. White gives up the pawn on b4 in order to start pushing his c-pawn.} g4 (29... cxb4 30. axb4 Rxb4 31. c5 O-O $1 32. Bxa6 Ra8 {leaves Black with the much better game, but still a lot of work to be done and great drawing chances due to all the pawns for Black being on the same side of the board.}) 30. Ne1 cxb4 31. axb4 Rxb4 32. c5 O-O 33. Bxa6 {This is similar to the previous variation, except g4 seems more weakening than it is useful.} Be4 34. Be2 Bc3 35. Rd6 Bd5 36. Rb6 Re4 37. Kf1 Be5 38. h3 Bc7 39. Rb2 f5 40. Nd3 Rb8 {With time control reached the smoke has cleared a bit. White is basically out of danger.} 41. Rxb8+ Bxb8 42. Rb1 Bh2 43. Nb4 (43. Nb4 Rxe2 $5 {was a cool but futile attempt. } 44. Nxd5 (44. Kxe2 Bxg2 45. hxg4 fxg4 {is a bit scary with the h-pawn rolling down.}) 44... Rc2 45. Ne3 Rxc5 46. hxg4 {with a draw being the most likely outcome.}) 1/2-1/2

Safarli found himself against the ropes quickly, but he held on fiercely

Round Six Games

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Standings

Schedule and results

Round 1 – May 26, 2016
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Anish Giri
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Hou Yifan
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Fabiano Caruana
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Shak Mamedyarov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Round 3 – May 28, 2016
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Anish Giri
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Rauf Mamedov
Fabiano Caruana
1-0
Hou Yifan
Shak Mamedyarov
1-0
Pavel Eljanov
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 5 – May 30, 2016
Eltaj Safarli
0-1
Anish Giri
Fabiano Caruana
1-0
Teimour Radjabov
Shak Mamedyarov
½-½
Rauf Mamedov
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Hou Yifan
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Pavel Eljanov
Round 6 – June 1, 2016
Anish Giri
½-½
Pavel Eljanov
Hou Yifan
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Shak Mamedyarov
Eltaj Safarli
½-½
Fabiano Caruana
Round 8 – June 3, 2016
Anish Giri
-
Hou Yifan
Rauf Mamedov
-
Pavel Eljanov
Teimour Radjabov
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Eltaj Safarli
-
Sergey Karjakin
Fabiano Caruana
-
Shak Mamedyarov
 
Round 2 – May 27, 2016
Anish Giri
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Shak Mamedyarov
Pavel Eljanov
0-1
Fabiano Caruana
Hou Yifan
½-½
Eltaj Safarli
Rauf Mamedov
½-½
Teimour Radjabov
Round 4 – May 29, 2016
Anish Giri
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Pavel Eljanov
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Hou Yifan
½-½
Shak Mamedyarov
Rauf Mamedov
0-1
Fabiano Caruana
Teimour Radjabov
½-½
Eltaj Safarli
May 31, 2016
Free day
Round 7 – June 2, 2016
Fabiano Caruana
-
Anish Giri
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Eltaj Safarli
Sergey Karjakin
-
Teimour Radjabov
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Rauf Mamedov
Pavel Eljanov
-
Hou Yifan
Round 9 – June 4, 2016
Shak Mamedyarov
-
Anish Giri
Sergey Karjakin
-
Fabiano Caruana
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Eltaj Safarli
Pavel Eljanov
-
Teimour Radjabov
Hou Yifan
-
Rauf Mamedov

Live commentary on Playchess

Date Round English German
01.6.2016 Round 6 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff
02.6.2016 Round 7 Simon Williams Klaus Bischoff
03.6.2016 Round 8 Yasser Seirawan Klaus Bischoff
04.6.2016 Round 9 Daniel King Klaus Bischoff

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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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x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk x_ileon@yahoo.co.uk 6/2/2016 05:54
Agreed with the 3 commenters above... Draw fixin is simply a disgrace!
deepestgreen deepestgreen 6/2/2016 03:35
yes, the toothless draws spoil the tournament. they are just taking up space in the cross table.
malfa malfa 6/2/2016 02:05
You are completely right, jackie: the chess clock in Azerbaijan seems stuck to the official time of Curacao 1962! :-P
jackie jackie 6/2/2016 01:45
One cannot help but feel that the insta-draws among the locals are disrespectful of their departed colleague.
And unhelpful in terms of sponsorship too, it must be said.
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