Carlsen & So Winners In Third Round Gashimov Memorial

Carlsen & So Winners In Third Round Gashimov Memorial

| 65 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Wesley So are the leaders after three rounds at the Shamkir Chess tournament. Carlsen beat GM Fabiano Caruana in a Stonewall Dutch; So won against GM Michael Adams in an Exchange Queen's Gambit.

After two sunny days the weather changed considerably in Shamkir. Some dark clouds appeared, and even caused a bit of rain. The players won't have noticed much of that inside the playing hall, where Carlsen and So won their games. Here's our video report of round three:

GM Magnus Carlsen might have been a tiny bit surpised about GM Fabiano Caruana's first move 1.d4. The Italian GM had almost exclusively played 1.e4 in the ten previous white games against the Norwegian, including the one he won last year in Shamkir.

Carlsen went for the Stonewall Dutch, which he had also played against Anand in Baden-Baden this year. Caruana deviated from that game on move eight, didn't get much and then the game was equal, no, very equal, for a long time.

Everyone expected the game to end in draw, including the World Champion himself: “I think it was all pretty much heading to a draw. (...) I don't know. I was very surprised by the way things happened.”

Caruana: “I was thinking the position was a draw no matter what I do. Somehow I just drifted. Probably every move I made was a mistake. I started to see ghosts. It's a bit hard to explain why I was so worried in this endgame. It's a fairly elementary draw.”

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

An unexpected win for Carlsen

Caruana lost only 4.2 Elo points, but for the first time in many months he is not the world number two in the live ratings anymore. In fact he dropped to fourth place, behind GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Veselin Topalov, and now Carlsen is the only player with a 2800+ rating!

“I think my form here is better than in my last tournament, the U.S. Championship,” said GM Wesley So after beating GM Michael Adams. “Any player can have good form or bad form, and at the end of the day it's very important.”

Adams has been lacking form during the first three rounds. “After move twenty I just played horribly. Missing 27.Bh4 is just ridiculous,” he said about today's game. He was forced to weaken the light squares close to his king, which made the position rather unpleasant.

Asked what he needs to do to improve his game, Adams said: “I just have to play a bit better I guess. But it's tricky if you're making tactical errors . Serious tactical errors, that is.”

The way So finished this game confirmed his own statement: the man is in form!

Mickey Adams is struggling to find his form...
...whereas So is doing more than alright.

GM Viswanathan Anand vs GM Anish Giri was a fascinating game. The young Dutchman had almost never played the Caro-Kann before, but of course he knew all the recent theory. He played like Sam Shankland in his game with Nakamura two weeks back.

Still, White was better and could have kept an edge with the simple 17.Nxf5 Rxf5 18.Rxf4. Instead, Anand decided to sacrifice an exchange, which he later called “a bit speculative.”

A few moves later he weakened his kingside with g2-g3, perhaps unnecessarily. This move “shocked” Giri who thought he was better there but at the press conference he admitted: “I really overestimated my position.”

In what was a terribly complicated middlegame, both players missed a chance: Giri for clear equality, and Anand for an advantage. The Indian GM thought he was winning, but missed Giri's tactical counterplay after which a draw was the correct result.

A fascinating draw between Anand and Giri.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave had a remarkable start, so much that Giri frowned when he checked MVL's scoresheet. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 the Azerbaijani GM went for the provocative 3.Bg5!?, hoping for 3...Ne4 and anything can happen.

However, the French player decided to stick to his repertoire, played 3...Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 and the game was back into Grünfeld theory. As it turned out, MVL had prepared everything until move 15, when Black was very close to equality.

Vachier-Lagrave still doing well with the Grünfeld.

With almost a hundred Elo points less than all other players, every draw GM Rauf Mamedov makes is a fine result for the Azerbaijani. Who can blame him for playing the solid but boring 5.Re1 line of the Berlin?

One might wonder why GM Vladimir Kramnik played it as Black, because the positions are so symmetrical... Well, at the Qatar Open he had beaten a lower rated player from the same opening, and also against Mamedov he got an advantage but this time it wasn't enough.

Mamedov can be satisfied with his score.

One reporter apparently got the pairings mixed up, and asked both Carlsen and Kramnik about their big clash “tomorrow.” Carlsen responded: “I don't really look much forward in the tournament. (...) It's always fun to prepare for him.”

During Carlsen's press conference, Kramnik was sitting in the audience and pointed out that their game is not tomorrow. Carlsen: “Even better then!”

When Kramnik was then asked the same question in his own press conference, he replied: “I'm really getting scared because I thought I'm playing Anand tomorrow but it seems I'm also playing Carlsen at the same time, that might be a bit too much!”


Shamkir Chess 2015 | Schedule & Results

Round 1 17.04.15 15:00 AZST   Round 2 18.04.15 15:00 AZST
Kramnik 1-0 Adams   Adams ½-½ Caruana
So 1-0 Giri   Carlsen 1-0 Mamedyarov
Mamedov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Anand
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Giri ½-½ Mamedov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Caruana   Kramnik ½-½ So
Round 3 19.04.15 15:00 AZST   Round 4 20.04.15 15:00 AZST
So 1-0 Adams   Adams - Carlsen
Mamedov ½-½ Kramnik   Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana
Anand ½-½ Giri   Giri - Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave   Kramnik - Anand
Caruana 0-1 Carlsen   So - Mamedov
Round 5 21.04.15 15:00 CET   Round 6 23.04.15 15:00 AZST
Mamedov - Adams   Adams - Vachier-Lagrave
Anand - So   Giri - Carlsen
Mamedyarov - Kramnik   Kramnik - Caruana
Caruana - Giri   So - Mamedyarov
Carlsen   Vachier-Lagrave   Mamedov - Anand
Round 7 24.04.15 15:00 CET   Round 8 24.04.15 15:00 AZST
Anand - Adams   Adams - Giri
Mamedyarov - Mamedov   Kramnik - Vachier-Lagrave
Caruana - So   So - Carlsen
Carlsen - Kramnik   Mamedov - Caruana
Vachier-Lagrave - Giri   Anand - Mamedyarov
Round 9 25.04.15 15:00 AZST        
Mamedyarov - Adams        
Caruana - Anand        
Carlsen - Mamedov        
Vachier-Lagrave - So        
Giri - Kramnik        


Shamkir Chess 2015 | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen 2863 3062 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 2.5/3 2.75
2 So 2788 3052 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 2.5/3 2.50
3 Kramnik 2783 2850 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 2.0/3
4 Anand 2791 2806 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.50
5 Mamedov 2658 2779 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
6 Vachier Lagrave 2765 2735 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.5/3 2.00
7 Giri 2790 2626 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/3 1.50
8 Mamedyarov 2756 2690 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 1.25
9 Caruana 2802 2668 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 0.75
10 Adams 2745 2512 0 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/3

The tournament runs April 17-26 with a rest day on April 22. The location is the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Shamkir. The total prize fund is 100,000 Euros.

The rate of play will be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move 61 onwards.

The official English-language commentary, by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko, is available every round on starting at 3 pm local time (12 pm Amsterdam, 11 am London, 6 am New York, 3 am Los Angeles, 8 pm Sydney).


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