Anything Can Happen After 7th Round Grand Prix

Anything Can Happen After 7th Round Grand Prix

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

The qualification race for the 2016 Candidates Tournament is wide open after round seven of the Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk. GM Anish Giri's win over GM Evgeny Tomashevsky especially shook up things.

Photo Kirill Merkurev.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, who beat GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, is now more likely to finish second in the overall standings than Tomashevsky. GM Leinier Dominguez won a good game against GM Peter Svidler today.

GM Fabiano Caruana, who drew with GM Boris Gelfand, kept his half-point lead. With four rounds to go, he is still the favorite to win in Khanty-Mansiysk, and with it the overall Grand Prix.

Grischuk and Karjakin arrive for round seven. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

One game ended in a very quick draw, but luckily the other five games in the seventh round were all very interesting. Some people scored their first wins, while others are in bad shape.

Dmitry Jakovenko vs Alexander Grischuklasted lasted exactly one hour. There's not much to else to say than: in a fianchetto Grünfeld with ...c6 and ...d5 Jakovenko went for a known move repetition. 

At the press conference he explained: “For some reason I thought Alexander quit playing this line and I didn't check my notes.” 

Grischuk: “In this position Black will just be worse if he doesn't go for a draw. 

“In the beginning of the game of course you can play different lines. Let's say if you are ready to really risk much you can always have 10 percent chance to win but at the cost of having 70 percent of chance to lose. I was not in such a mood today.

Jakovenko plans to continue playing solid chess: “Chess is such a sport that when you just take risk, it will lead you to loss. That's why I won't risk without any chance to win. If I have the opportunity to fight I will, if not I won't.”

Jakovenko and Grischuk were done after an hour. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The next game didn't last long either, but it wasn't a draw. Poor GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave lost his fourth straight game, to GM Hikaru Nakamura.

The French GM started with three losses at a GM tournament in 2003 and also lost three straight at the European Team Championship in 2011 in Porto Carras. Four had never happened to him.

Nakamura “just wanted to play a game” and went 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4. It became some kind of Queen's Indian after MVL played 2...b6!?, and a couple of moves later Black was more or less OK. Things started to go wrong when he neglected the development of his queen's knight.

Nakamura got a chance to open the position before his opponent has finished his development, and with a small tactic he also got a positional advantage. Add to that a tactical oversight from Vachier-Lagrave, and it was over in 27 moves.

Nakamura said about his tournament: “I think for the most part I played quite well. I've played most of the strong players, well, the leaders, with the exception of Fabiano. I haven't been able to win any games until now but still, I've played well. I have chances. Four more rounds, we'll see what happens.”

Nakamura scores his first win whereas MVL loses his fourth straight. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The next result was a draw between GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Baadur Jobava. And yes, the latter again played an offbeat opening, although this time something he had done before, so Karjakin was prepared for it to some extent: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6!? 4.e5 Nge7 5. Nf3 and now 5...Bd7!?

At first sight this looks somewhat clumsy, doesn't it? Jobava's reasoning was as follows: last year he was worse against GM Ivan Saric after 5... Nf5 6.h4! and so he thought it was a “useful waiting move” in a position where Black wants to castle queenside.

Jobava plays a “useful waiting move” as early as move five. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

In the rest of the game it was also Jobava who entertained the public with first a pawn sacrifice, then an exchange sacrifice and then another pawn sacrifice. It was all correct, and because Karjakin kept on playing strong moves as well, the game remained dynamically equal.

An enjoyable game to go through at the press conference. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

As mentioned before, GM Boris Gelfand played nine draws in his previous tournament, the World Teams in Armenia. Despite fighting games in just about every round, the Israeli has also drawn all his games in Khanty-Mansiysk so far!

Today he held his own against the tournament leader, GM Fabiano Caruana. In another fianchetto Grünfeld with ...c6 and ...d5, Caruana took on d5 and Gelfand played the variation with 8...Bf5.

“You played this against Karpov, right?” asked Caruana at the press conference. Gelfand's answer was an instant classic: “Yes, against Karpov, in ’91. You were not born yet, yeah?”

After lots of normal moves, Gelfand's 20...Nc5 was “shocking,” as Caruana put it. Suddenly White had many options, and White's 21.e6!? was perhaps not the best (it was basically a forced draw) but the players couldn't find a clear advantage.

Gelfand: “Yes, against Karpov, in ’91. You were not born yet, yeah?” | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The last two games were both won by White. First it was GM Leinier Dominguez who scored the full point against GM Peter Svidler in what was an excellent game by the Cuban. The winner of the Thessaloniki Grand Prix in 2013 moved to shared second place in the standings.

Here's his win, annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov:

A fine win for Dominguez in a Ruy Lopez. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

GM Anish Giri managed to score his first win. The young Dutchman played an excellent game, while it must be said that GM Evgeny Tomashevsky is clearly struggling with his form.

He won the previous GP, but now he's in 11th place! At the press conference the Russian GM lamented: “The problem is not the opening, the problem is I'm not playing well in this event. It's not the first time that I cannot explain my decisions.”

Giri had prepared well against a variation of the Ruy Lopez that Tomashevsky always plays. Also in this game Black was doing absolutely fine, but then he started to misplay it.

38.g4 was practically very strong, at a moment when Tomashevsky had only one minute to make three moves. “OK, in the last moves of time trouble I thought I should open some extra files for extra tricks,” said Giri.

Giri scores his first win, with Tomashevsy not doing great. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

Below you can find the current standings with GP points added, as if this were the final standings. This way we can make a virtual final standings for the overall Grand Prix, and it's easy to notice that Nakamura is now ahead of Tomashevsky. 

2015 Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix | Round 7 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB GP points
1 Caruana,F 2803 2901 5.0/7 170
2 Dominguez,L 2734 2865 4.5/7 17.50 125
3 Karjakin,S 2753 2851 4.5/7 13.25 125
4 Svidler,P 2734 2818 4.0/7 14.75 85
5 Nakamura,H 2799 2799 4.0/7 12.50 85
6 Gelfand,B 2744 2763 3.5/7 12.00 65
7 Jakovenko,D 2738 2746 3.5/7 8.75 65
8 Giri,A 2776 2701 3.0/7 10.75 40
9 Jobava,B 2699 2710 3.0/7 10.50 40
10 Grischuk,A 2780 2696 3.0/7 9.00 40
11 Tomashevsky,E 2749 2662 2.5/7 20
12 Vachier Lagrave,M 2754 2534 1.5/7 10


2014-2015 Grand Prix | Virtual Final Standings

Rank Name Rtg Baku Tashkent Tbilisi Kh-Ma Total Virtual
1 Fabiano Caruana 2811 155 75 170 230 400
2 Hikaru Nakamura 2776 82 125 85 207 292
3 Sergey Karjakin 2760 82 75 125 157 282
4 Evgeny Tomashevsky 2716 82 170 20 252 272
5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2759 35 125 75 235 235
6 Boris Gelfand 2747 155 15 65 170 235
7 Dmitry Jakovenko 2733 30 140 65 170 235
8 Teimour Radjabov 2731 50 50 110 210 210
9 Leinier Dominguez 2726 10 75 125 85 210
10 Dmitry Andreikin 2737 20 170 10 200 200
11 Peter Svidler 2739 82 20 85 102 187
12 Alexander Grischuk 2810 82 40 40 122 162
13 Anish Giri 2797 40 75 40 115 155
14 Baadur Jobava 2696 75 40 40 115 155
15 Rustam Kasimdzhanov 2706 35 15 75 125 125
16 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2775 75 40 10 115 125

The tournament is a round robin of 11 rounds, played May 14 to 26 with rest days on the 18th and 23rd. The venue is the Ugra Chess Center in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

You can watch this tournament every day on with commentary by GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Viorel Iordachescu.

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