Shamkir: Carlsen Back in the Saddle, Beats Mamedyarov | Update: VIDEO
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After two consecutive losses Magnus Carsen is back in the saddle in Shamkir. In round 6 of the Shamkir Chess tournament the World Champion defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who blundered an important pawn in an already slightly worse position. The games Caruana-Nakamura and Radjabov-Karjakin ended in draws. In the B group Etienne Bacrot increased his lead to a point; the Frenchman drew with Radek Wojtaszek while his closest rival Pavel Eljanov lost to Wang Hao.
After the rest day (more about that later) the Shamkir Chess tournament resumed on Saturday. Round 6 was the shortest round so far in the A group. All games finished within the fourth hour, in a period of about twenty minutes, and so Magnus Carlsen and Shakhryar Mamedyarov had to wait for Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura to finish their press conference, and right after, it was Sergey Karjakin and Teimour Radjabov's turn.
Caruana-Nakamura was a correct but nonetheless interesting draw. Black played the Open Ruy Lopez, like he had done three times last summer, and a long, theoretical line came on the board.
Caruana played it as Black against Shirov four years back, and he remembered that the move 18.Bg5!? was worth a try. Nakamura swapped bishops and then the critical position was reached. With 20.e6 Caruana entered a long and forcing variation that led to a drawn ending with some fun tactics at the end.
Curious about what the computer would think of the game, Nakamura said: “The question is if White has something better than what Fabiano played. If not, then it was a logical draw.”
Just about when Caruana and Nakamura started talking to the press, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was collapsing in just a few moves from a complicated but probably more or less equal position against Magnus Carlsen. It was a pity, because the Azeri grandmaster had started the game with an early pawn sacrifice and the fight had become really interesting.
“I was basically out of book on move 5. Any preparation I did was for nothing. That's fine. It's more interesting when we play chess and not everything is decided by preparation,” said Carlsen. He felt he was doing well from the opening, but later he wasn't sure who was better. “It worked out very nicely for me when I got in e5 and Nf8 and coordinated my pieces.”
About blundering the e4 pawn, Mamedyarov told a long and funny story. It was about an earlier game in which he had blundered as well, and afterward players and journalists immediately started asking him why he didn't play a relatively simple winning move. “When even the guard at the parking lot asked me this, I knew I had missed an easy win.”
In a way Mamedyarov was a good opponent in this round for Carlsen, who really needed to turn the tides after his two losses. He said: “It's a difficult game; he plays very aggressively, he challenges you with White. That's also a challenge for me. I knew that I would probably get some possibilities to have some fun in this game and that's what happened.”
One of the journalists couldn't help but ask another question about football, but this time it was one that Carlsen was happy to answer: the chances of Azerbaijan and Norway, who will face each other twice in the qualification for Euro 2016. Carlsen: “Before the World Cup in 1998 Norway was a very good team and we beat Azerbaijan in Baku in the decisive match. Now it's a little bit different I think. The teams are more evenly matched. The Azerbaijan team has gotten stronger and the Norwegian team is not what it used to be.”
Radjabov-Karjakin was not bad either, if only because it included a type of rook ending that occurs quite often in practical play: that of three pawns on the kingside, and one passer on the queenside. The rule of thumb is that if the defender gets his rook behind the passed pawn he has good drawing chances, but it also depends on the pawn configuration on the kingside. The annotations, based on the players' comments, are quite instructive!
In the B group Etienne Bacrot dropped half a point (he successfully defended an ending a pawn down against Radek Wojtaszek), but nonetheless increased his lead to a point. The reason was Pavel Eljanov's loss to Wang Hao, who used some nice tactics:
Eltaj Safarli defended well for a long time against Alexander Motylev, but it went wrong in the end:
On a personal note, I can only say that the organizers are doing a great job in this first edition. A splendid playing hall and press room, a great team of helpful and friendly people, everything very professional. The tournament is of the same level as the Alekhine Memorial last year and the Anand-Gelfand match in terms of organisation.
A good example is how they dealt with the rest day, on which there were several events. In the morning Karjakin, Mamedyarov and Radjabov gave a simul to children, and after that Karjakin, with his girlfriend, joined an excursion to a green house farm where Dutch roses are grown.
Many others gathered for a football tournament in the local sports complex. Four teams were formed, with players, officials, sponsors and journalists participating. The final, between a team of Synergy Group and a team of players, ended in 2-2. The chess players decided the match in their favor in the penalty series!
Magnus Carlsen is a pretty good football player too and scored both goals in the match, and also his penalty. (Besides that, he also bumped into Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov, who was still complaining about pain in his shoulder the next day! Ouch!)
On Saturday some chess players were asked why they didn't play. Caruana: “After the previous day, when I lost a game, I really didn't feel like it.” Nakamura: “I don't play football, I follow it. I play tennis and hockey but I'm not gonna touch soccer, it's just not my sport.” Karjakin: “I like to watch football very much. I also like snooker very much, but I'm not a great player; I don't like so much to play, I like to watch. As for Magnus, maybe it was very important for him to win in some game, it doesn't matter if it's football or chess.”
But this wasn't everything. In the evening there was a concert outside, in the back garden of the hotel, and a splendid dinner was served there as well. The singer was Sabina Babayeva who represented Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 (where she finished fourth). Later a pretty good DJ took over, and several chess players could be spotted on the dance floor.
Below are some photos from the rest day by the official photographer of the tournament, Ahmed Mukhtar.
Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Pairings & results
|Round 1||20.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 6||26.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 2||21.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 7||27.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 3||22.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 8||28.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 4||23.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 9||29.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 5||24.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 10||30.04.14||13:00 AZST|
Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Round 6 Standings
Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Pairings & results
|Round 1||20.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 2||21.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 3||22.04.14||15:00 AZST||Round 4||23.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 5||24.04.14||15:00 CET||Round 6||26.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 7||27.04.14||15:00 CET||Round 8||28.04.14||15:00 AZST|
|Round 9||29.04.14||15:00 AZST|
Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Round 6 Standings
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