Carlsen Beats Topalov, Leads Shamkir Chess
Magnus Carlsen took over the lead from his opponent today. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Carlsen Beats Topalov, Leads Shamkir Chess

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen defeated tournament leader Veselin Topalov today, and taking the lead at the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir. Ding Liren moved to plus-one after beating a suffering David Navara.

Round seven was crunch time for Magnus Carlsen, who had the white pieces against Veselin Topalov. Half a point ahead of his rival, Topalov obviously was happy with a draw but he also knew that he had lost the last six games to this opponent—rapid and blitz games in Leuven and Paris in 2016 and 2017.

However, the last two decisive, classical games between these players were in fact won by Topalov; both in 2015, at Norway Chess and the Sinquefield Cup. The last one was after he could throw in a remarkably early ...g7-g5 pawn push in a Bb5 Sicilian.

Veselin Topalov Shamkir

Topalov, dressed up for a big game (although he often wears a tie). | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

Today Carlsen played a kind of reversed Bb5 Sicilian where he compromised his pawn structure but got the bishop pair in return. He admitted that he didn't have much.

On move 25 things became concrete, and Topalov decided to give up his queen for rook and bishop where, as Carlsen pointed out, he could have avoided that with 27....Kf8. 

“I was not ready to play it somehow,” said Topalov. 

The commentator Ljubomir Ljubojevic's first instinct was that White was completely winning with the queen, but according to the players Black was actually really close to a draw, especially if he would have gone 38...Rf1. 

Topalov: “After move 40 I started to blunder everything.”

He needed 56 moves, but in the end Carlsen scored his first classical win vs Topalov in six years.

Dejan Bojkov, Game of the Day

Magnus Carlsen Shamkir 2018

The new tournament leader is Magnus Carlsen. | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

David Navara is a special chess player. Who else can lose three games in a row, and recite a self-composed chess poem at the press conference?

The Czech grandmaster, who went down vs Ding Liren today, said he wrote it back in 2008:

"I want to play chess above all,
That is my ascent, that's my fall.
Hard is the journey to the top,
The clock is ticking and won't stop."

David Navara Shamkir

Navara is more of a writer than we knew; he said he has already written "one and a half" books about his own games but that he hasn't had time yet to translate it into English. | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

Today things went wrong very early on, but not like you would expect. He didn't like his position even before trading the dark-squared bishops, and noted that it wasn't his preparation.

“I planned to play a different opening but I was just not concentrated enough and when there were cameras I was thinking [that] I should hide my pen because it was not nice enough, so I hid my pen and made a different move than I prepared.”

He was subsequently outplayed like an amateur against a grandmaster. As always, Ding was rather quiet at the press conference, but what he said was to the point: he had seen everything. 

Navara vs Ding Liren Shamkir

Mixing up preparation didn't exactly help Navara today while Ding played a strong game. | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

Wojtaszek-Karjakin, Mamedov-Giri and Mamedyarov-Radjabov were not too exciting draws, and can be found in the PGN file.


Rauf Mamedov turned 30 today and that didn't go unnoticed! | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

2018 Shamkir Chess | Round 7 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2856 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7
2 Giri,Anish 2777 2809 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 12.75
3 Ding,Liren 2778 2814 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 12.5
4 Topalov,Veselin 2749 2822 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/7 12.5
5 Radjabov,Teimour 2748 2772 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 13
6 Mamedov,Rauf 2704 2769 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 12.25
7 Karjakin,Sergey 2778 2773 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/7 12
8 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2814 2724 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 11.25
9 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2744 2723 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/7 9.75
10 Navara,David 2745 2609 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.0/7

Round 8 pairings:
Radjabov-Karjakin, Topalov-Wojtaszek, Giri-Carlsen, Ding-Mamedov, Mamedyarov-Navara

Round 9 pairings:
Navara-Radjabov, Mamedov-Mamedyarov, Carlsen-Ding, Wojtaszek-Giri, Karjakin-Topalov

Shamkir Chess runs from April 19-28, with a rest day on April 24. The games start at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, and 4 a.m. Pacific. The prize fund is €100,000 ($123,689) with a first prize of €30,000 ($37,107).

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