Gashimov Memorial: Karjakin, Rapport Lead Before Blitz
Richard Rapport, co-leader at the Gashimov Memorial. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

Gashimov Memorial: Karjakin, Rapport Lead Before Blitz

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Richard Rapport are tied for first place after four days of rapid chess at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in Baku, Azerbaijan. GM Viswanathan Anand is currently in last place, but there are 14 rounds of blitz to play.

How to watch?
You can follow the games of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial here.
Gashimov Memorial 2021 live chess

The rapid stage of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial is over. Both Karjakin and Rapport won five of their seven mini-matches, lost one outright in the other two games, and another one by losing the armageddon.

Rapport is again playing rather exciting chess, which has something to do with the fact that he refuses to follow opening trends. Let's look at his openings a bit deeper.

As Black, Rapport scored 3.5/5 with the French, using somewhat offbeat Winawer lines. As White, he played fairly normally against the two Sicilians and one Caro-Kann he faced. However, all five times that his opponents played 1...e5, he went 2.Nf3 but then followed up with a King's Indian setup rather than a Spanish or Ruy Lopez (or Scotch, for that matter), also scoring 3.5/5 there. 

Here's his win vs. GM Fabiano Caruana where he used that line: 

Rapport-Caruana Gashimov Memorial 2021
Rapport with a King's Indian setup vs. Caruana. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

Perhaps Rapport's most attractive game so far is his win as White against GM Rauf Mamedov, a fairly normal Rauzer that saw some nice sacrificial play from the Hungarian GM:

Rapport-Mamedov, Gashimov Memorial 2021
Rapport-Mamedov. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

Karjakin needed a few rounds to warm up but has been showing some great fighting chess so far. The following game was a wonderful battle with the 20-year-old local talent GM Vugar Asadli, who has been putting up a decent fight against the super GMs (and even won his match with Anand).

Karjakin Asadli Gashimov Memorial 2021
Karjakin playing Asadli as Black. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

As said, it hasn't been Anand's tournament so far. Here's that game with Asadli that, so far, has determined who is in last place:

Vugar Asadli chess
Vugar Asadli. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

The tournament continues on Wednesday with seven rounds of blitz, followed by seven more rounds on Thursday. 

Standings after rapid

# Fed Name Rapid 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts
1 Richard Rapport 2750 3 1 0 3 3 3 3 16
2 Sergey Karjakin 2757 0 2 3 3 2 3 3 16
3 Fabiano Caruana 2770 2 1 0 3 2 3 3 14
4 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2727 3 0 3 2 3 2 1 14
5 Rauf Mamedov 2690 0 0 0 1 3 3 2 9
6 David Navara 2706 0 1 1 0 0 3 3 8
7 Vugar Asadli 2309 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 4
8 Viswanathan Anand 2748 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 3

All games rapid

Gashimov Memorial chess 2021
The playing hall in Fairmont Hotel Baku. Photo: Gashimov Chess.

The Gashimov Memorial started with two-game rapid matches (Dec. 18-21) where the winner gets three points and the loser zero. In case of a tie, an armageddon game decides, and the winner gets two points and the loser one. Then, a double round-robin of blitz follows (Dec. 22-23) where the time control is five minutes plus a three-second increment, and the points system is back to normal.

Previous report:

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