Carlsen Grabs Early Lead in Shamkir | Update: VIDEO

Carlsen Grabs Early Lead in Shamkir | Update: VIDEO

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

In Sunday's first round, Magnus Carlsen immediately took the lead in the A group of the Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament. The world champion won a smooth game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a Cambridge-Springs where two inaccurate moves by Black were nicely punished. Teimour Radjabov returned to his old weapon, the French, and drew with Sergey Karjakin. Hikaru Nakamura overpressed against Fabiano Caruana in a Hedgehog, but survived as Caruana missed a (not so easy) win. In the B group all games ended peacefully.

In the first round of what is his first tournament in two months, Magnus Carlsen didn't show any rustiness. With a smooth victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov the world champion immediately took the lead in the Shamkir Chess tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov as both Karjakin-Radjabov and Nakamura-Caruana were drawn.

Update - here's our video report of the first round:

Unsurprisingly it was the Carlsen-Mamedyarov game that attracted most attention from the media. About fifteen photographers and cameramen tried to find a good spot, thereby blocking the view of some of the official cameras for a few minutes.

Carlsen started by moving his queen's pawn, and Mamedyarov had prepared the Cambridge-Springs variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. Interestingly, after ten moves a position was on the board which Carlsen had played against Boris Gelfand, last year at the Candidates’ Tournament, but then he was Black!

“Frankly I hadn't really looked at the line since. I was trying to figure out what the best plan is for White,” he said.

He could have expected the opening though, since Mamedyarov played it before and the position after 13 moves was played twice by Alexei Dreev, who is the second of Mamedyarov in Shamkir. However, the two need to have a word about what happened today, because a few moves out of theory Black was already in a very difficult position.

The typical pawn break 17…c5 didn't work well, and then 21…Ng6 also helped White. It was because of these moves that GM Simen Agdestein called Mamedyarov's play “naive” today.

Speaking of Norwegians, it's good to note that the country has really caught the “chess fever”. Just like with the Zurich tournament in February, this event is being broadcast live on Norwegian TV every day!

The other Azeri grandmaster, Teimour Radjabov, faced Sergey Karjakin in what was his first classical game since the European Team Championship in November. “I didn't play for a long time but that doesn't mean that I didn't train,” Radjabov said.

As Black he returned to his favorite opening when he was a teenager: the French Defense. “Somehow I found it quite funny to try it for the first time in ten years.”

Karjakin somewhat surprised him by playing the Tarrasch, whereas Radjabov was more prepared for 3.Nc3. White got a pleasant advantage out of the opening, and then found the interesting plan of trading queens and incarcerating Black's bishop.

And so today both Azeri GMs were playing with a “silent bishop”, but for Radjabov the defensive task was much easier. However, then he took some unnecessary risks with a pawn sac on 38, much to the surprise of Karjakin. The Russian grandmaster might have missed a more accurate continuation on move 40.

At the press conference one of the journalists remarked that Radjabov had lost some weight. The Azeri's explanation: “I was always into sport, but I used to eat more after it. Now I eat less.”

The third game, between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, started as an English but soon became a Hedgehog that could have started as a Sicilian as well. However, White's piece set-up was a bit different and the American liked it for White, but then he found it hard to find a good plan for the middlegame.

For a dozen or so moves the game resembled a trench warfare where nobody dared to shoot the first bullet. Around move thirty the players repeated moves, but Nakamura decided to play on, thinking he was still a bit better. His opinion soon changed, though. “Right around here I started losing my mind for no reason.”

Black got a beautiful knight on c5 and could also improve his pieces, and Nakamura was right when he said at the press conference that he should have been lost somewhere. The engines found a win with 54…Bh5+, but the lines are quite complicated and Caruana was down to three and a half minutes. Just after the second time control he gave up his winning attempts.

In the B group all games in this first round were drawn. The top game of the round was Wang Hao vs Bacrot, who played a 6.h3 King's Indian.

Eljanov and Mamedov played a Budapest Gambit, which is enjoying a new wave of popularity these days. If anyone could win in this game it was Black:

In general it was a good start for the Azeri GMs, because Durarbayli and Abasov managed to hold their games as Black against Wojtaszek and Motylev respectively. Tomorrow is the second round, again starting 12:00 Amsterdam, 6am New York and 3am Los Angeles time.

Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Pairings & results

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Carlsen 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Karjakin ½½- Radjabov   Radjabov - Karjakin
Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Radjabov   Radjabov - Mamedyarov
Caruana - Karjakin   Karjakin - Caruana
Carlsen - Nakamura   Nakamura - Carlsen
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Nakamura - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Nakamura
Karjakin - Carlsen   Carlsen - Karjakin
Radjabov - Caruana   Caruana - Radjabov
Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST
Karjakin - Mamedyarov   Caruana - Mamedyarov
Radjabov - Nakamura   Radjabov - Carlsen
Caruana - Carlsen   Karjakin - Nakamura
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 10 30.04.14 13:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Carlsen - Radjabov   Nakamura - Radjabov
Nakamura - Karjakin   Carlsen - Caruana

Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Pairings & results

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST
Wojtaszek ½-½ Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Bacrot
Eljanov ½-½ Mamedov   Huseinov - Wang Hao
Motylev ½-½ Abasov   Abasov - Safarli
Safarli ½-½ Huseinov   Mamedov - Motylev
Wang Hao ½-½ Bacrot   Wojtaszek - Eljanov
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST
Eljanov - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Huseinov
Motylev - Wojtaszek   Abasov - Bacrot
Safarli - Mamedov   Mamedov - Wang Hao
Wang Hao - Abasov   Wojtaszek - Safarli
Bacrot - Huseinov   Eljanov - Motylev
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Motylev - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Abasov
Safarli - Eljanov   Mamedov - Huseinov
Wang Hao - Wojtaszek   Wojtaszek - Bacrot
Bacrot - Mamedov   Eljanov - Wang Hao
Huseinov   Abasov   Motylev - Safarli
Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Safarli - Durarbayli   Durarbayli - Mamedov
Wang Hao - Motylev   Wojtaszek - Abasov
Bacrot - Eljanov   Eljanov - Huseinov
Huseinov - Wojtaszek   Motylev - Bacrot
Abasov - Mamedov   Safarli - Wang Hao
Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST        
Wang Hao - Durarbayli        
Bacrot - Safarli        
Huseinov - Motylev        
Abasov - Eljanov        
Mamedov - Wojtaszek        
More from PeterDoggers
Maghsoodloo Ends Praggnanandhaa's 47-Game Unbeaten Streak

Maghsoodloo Ends Praggnanandhaa's 47-Game Unbeaten Streak

Abdusattorov Enters Live Top 10 After Win In Prague Masters Opening Round

Abdusattorov Enters Live Top 10 After Win In Prague Masters Opening Round