Carlsen Wins Shamkir Chess After Quick Draw With Ding
Carlsen holding the trophy after the closing ceremony. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Carlsen Wins Shamkir Chess After Quick Draw With Ding

| 92 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen only needed 20 minutes to draw with Ding Liren and clinch his third Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir. When 4...Nd4 5.Nxd4 appeared, in a Rubinstein Four Knights, it was clear that there wouldn't be a real game today.

Carlsen vs Ding Liren Shamkir 2018

A handshake after just 20 minutes of play. | Image: Shamkir Chess.

Carlsen at the press conference, responding to the question what he thought was his best game:

"I don’t think there is any game of mine of this tournament that will enter any best-games collection but I thought the game yesterday against Giri was a nice fight. There were mistakes for sure, but it was difficult. But that’s probably the only game that I’m more or less satisfied with. There were a lot of uneventful draws for me. Normally I would be very concerned about that but at some point in the tournament I stopped caring about that and I only thought about trying to get a few wins with White and maybe not care so much about winning with Black as well."

Magnus Carlsen Shamkir 2018

"I don’t think there is any game of mine of this tournament that will enter any best-games collection." | Image: Shamkir Chess.

It seems that Giri brought up the best in these players, because Ding also chose his fight with the Dutchman as his best:

"I will also mention my game against Anish Giri, although it’s a draw. I think I played very well until I missed the win. I added pressure to him and I had several winning chances, not one but many. Although I missed some, but still my position is much better and I found a nice idea to bring the king to the queenside."

Ding Liren Shamkir

Ding Liren, who hasn't lost in 70 classical games now, is now the new world number five in the live ratings. | Image: Shamkir Chess.

It's the third time Carlsen played in Shamkir, and the third time that he wins. He said he likes the hospitality in Azerbaijan, a country where chess players are treated with respect. He didn't think he's invincible in this tournament (as was jokingly suggested).

"I think all of these tournaments, especially over relatively short distance as nine rounds, it has its turns, it has crucial points and for me a crucial was clearly in the seventh game against Topalov. Up till then he’d been leading the tournament. When you look at the final standings you cannot see that because both of us are far ahead of him but it was by no means obvious that I was going to win that game and if I don’t then I wouldn’t have won the tournament. I’m really happy with the result, but I think the fact that I’ve won here three times in a row is something I’m very proud of but it’s also always a bit coincidental. You cannot always control your own destiny in these tournaments."

Commentator Ljubomir Ljubojevic, who limited himself to chess questions today, mentioned the famous opinion of Mikhail Botvinnik, who claimed that rest is important for top chess players, so much that they shouldn't play tournament after tournament. Carlsen:

"I don’t feel like I’m playing that much at all. I was playing much more when I was 16, 17 years old. It used to be the norm for me to play one classical tournament per month but now it’s every second month or something. In this case it’s just a bit of a coincidence that these tournaments were only a week apart while more normal for me is to have I guess a month at least between tournaments and then there will be a lot of time to rest on your laurels or lick your wounds, if that is what you need to do."

Ding, Carlsen, Ljubojevic Shamkir 2018

Ding, Carlsen and Ljubojevic at the press conference. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Carlsen will be staying a few more days in Shamkir (he lamented about the absence of daily flights, saying: "The only criticism: that it's unbelievably hard to get here!") and plans to explore the local nature. His next tournament will be Norway Chess, in a few weeks from now.

Asked when he will start preparing for Fabiano Caruana, he said: "It’s in the back of my mind, for sure, but that’s the way it will stay for the moment: in the back of my mind, not the front."

Three more games ended in draws without much spectacle: Mamedov-Mamedyarov, Wojtaszek-Giri and Navara-Radjabov. (See PGN file for those.) The latter was the only player to score nine draws.

There was one decisive game though. For the untrained Veselin Topalov, also the oldest participant, the tournament lasted too long perhaps. He lost his third game in a row to Sergey Karjakin, who thus finished in clear third place.

Sergey Karjakin Shamkir

Karjakin, the only player to finish on plus one. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

"Obviously it was a total collapse at the end but OK I kind of deserved it," said Topalov. "There were so many missed possibilities, I don't think I can blame anyone.

"The thing is I don't really miss playing because otherwise I would be training. But I am not training so much. I'm kind of out of rhythm."

Veselin Topalov Shamkir

Topalov: "I don't really miss playing because otherwise I would be training." | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

2018 Shamkir Chess | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2880 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 6.0/9
2 Ding,Liren 2778 2845 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 5.5/9
3 Karjakin,Sergey 2778 2805 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/9
4 Radjabov,Teimour 2748 2770 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/9 20.25
5 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2814 2763 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 4.5/9 19.5
6 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2744 2770 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 4.5/9 19.25
7 Giri,Anish 2777 2767 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4.5/9 18.5
8 Mamedov,Rauf 2704 2736 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/9 17.75
9 Topalov,Veselin 2749 2732 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 4.0/9 16.25
10 Navara,David 2745 2605 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 2.5/9

Carlsen winner's speech Shamkir

Carlsen giving a short speech at the closing. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Shamkir Chess took place April 19-28 in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. The prize fund was €100,000 ($123,689) with a first prize of €30,000 ($37,107).

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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