Caruana, Gelfand Start With Wins in Baku

Caruana, Gelfand Start With Wins in Baku

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand are the co-leaders at the Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan after the first round. Caruana beat Sergey Karjakin, who blundered in timetrouble, while Gelfand crushed Dmitry Andreikin in just 23 moves.

The other games ended in draws.

Does Magnus Carlsen need to start worrying now? Well, maybe not yet, although it's suddenly not that unrealistic anymore that he will be defending his world title in November in Sochi as the world's number two!

It's of course way too early to be speaking about this scenario, but still: Fabiano Caruana decreased the gap with Carlsen from 19 to 15.1 in the live ratings with his win over Sergey Karjakin today, and we know what the Italian is capable of!

It must be said that with today's win, Caruana had Caïssa on his side — in a strange way. On move 21, Karjakin stayed in a room behind the podium room for a while, where players can eat and drink and see the games on a screen.

However, there must have been some issues with the transmission of the games because when he came back, he noticed that Caruana had moved already 15 minutes earlier!

Karjakin-Caruana deserved a bigger audience. | Photo © Maria Emelianova courtesy of FIDE.

Later in the game, this became quite important, because Karjakin got into serious timetrouble (he needed to make 10 moves in two minutes).

In this tournament, the players don't always have an increment: the time control is the classical 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game with 30 seconds increment per move from move 61 onwards.

It was a funny coincidence that the last game for the players was their last-round battle at the European Club Cup in Bilbao.

“I had about ten days of rest since my last tournament. I feel ready to play,” said Caruana.

The other winner was Boris Gelfand, who revealed at the press conference that he is working on several books. That's wonderful news coming from  a great player, who absolutely crushed Andreikin today.

It's unlikely that this 5...c5 move in the Queen's Indian will be played again at top level. Gelfand said, and proved in the game, that it's just dubious. At some point there were several ways for White to get an advantage, but the Israeli GM mostly went for healthy moves.

A crushing win for Boris Gelfand after picking lot number 4. | Photo © Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of FIDE.

Shakhiyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov were the first to finish their game and, unsurprisingly, the game ended in a draw. There's not much to say about it except that theory was followed for 23 moves, and the players shook hands at the earliest possible moment according to the regulations (here in PDF): after move 30.

A friendly draw between the two local heros. | Photo © Maria Emelianova courtesy of FIDE.

Radjabov: “I'm happy to play in front of our audience, our friends. It's a pleasure.” 

Mamedyarov said about the difference with six years ago, when Baku also hosted a Grand Prix: “Not much changed. I even still have the same Elo. I might have gained 15 to 20 kilos!”

The second draw of the day was Hikaru Nakamura vs Peter Svidler.

Shortly before the game the American GM decided to play 1.e4 instead of 1.d4 after watching Svidler's Chess24 video series on the Grünfeld for two hours!

However, Svidler explained that he has recently been working on another video series which deals with 6.d3 in the Ruy Lopez, so that decision didn't really help Nakamura. Svidler soon equalized, was even slightly better but not much.

At the press conference, Svidler was clear about his goal. “I think you will get twelve similar answers. The obvious goal is doing well in the series and qualify.”

Nakamura agreed, but at the same time didn't want to think about that yet: “I don't think I played a good game of chess in about thirty games, so first I hope to play some good games.”

Nakamura: not happy with his recent play. | Photo © Maria Emelianova courtesy of FIDE.

There were two more draws. Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexander Grischuk got a very theoretical line of the Grünfeld's Russian System and after some exchanges the position was quite drawish on move 32.

The final position in Dominguez-Kasimdzhanov, however, was full of life. The Cuban said that he was happy that he could finish the game in a very complicated position where he didn't have enough time on the clock to calculate everything. The computer does think it's absolutely equal.

Dominguez vs Kasimdzhanov all of a sudden ended in a draw. | Photo © Maria Emelianova courtesy of FIDE.

2014 Grand Prix, Baku | Schedule & Pairings

Round 1 15:00 AZST 02.10.14   Round 2 15:00 AZST 03.10.14
Dominguez ½-½ Kasimdzhanov   Kasimdzhanov - Radjabov
Tomashevsky ½-½ Grischuk   Svidler - Mamedyarov
Karjakin 0-1 Caruana   Andreikin - Nakamura
Gelfand 1-0 Andreikin   Caruana - Gelfand
Nakamura ½-½ Svidler   Grischuk - Karjakin
Mamedyarov ½-½ Radjabov   Dominguez - Tomashevsky
Round 3 15:00 AZST 04.10.14   Round 4 15:00 AZST 05.10.14
Tomashevsky - Kasimdzhanov   Kasimdzhanov - Svidler
Karjakin - Dominguez   Andreikin - Radjabov
Gelfand - Grischuk   Caruana - Mamedyarov
Nakamura - Caruana   Grischuk - Nakamura
Mamedyarov  - Andreikin   Dominguez - Gelfand
Radjabov - Svidler   Tomashevsky - Karjakin
Round 5 15:00 AZST 07.10.14   Round 6 15:00 AZST 08.10.14
Karjakin - Kasimdzhanov   Kasimdzhanov - Andreikin
Gelfand - Tomashevsky   Caruana - Svidler
Nakamura - Dominguez   Grischuk - Radjabov
Mamedyarov - Grischuk   Dominguez - Mamedyarov
Radjabov - Caruana   Tomashevsky - Nakamura
Svidler - Andreikin   Karjakin - Gelfand
Round 7 15:00 AZST 09.10.14   Round 8 15:00 AZST 10.10.14
Gelfand - Kasimdzhanov   Kasimdzhanov - Caruana
Nakamura - Karjakin   Grischuk - Andreikin
Mamedyarov - Tomashevsky   Dominguez - Svidler
Radjabov - Dominguez   Tomashevsky - Radjabov
Svidler - Grischuk   Karjakin - Mamedyarov
Andreikin - Caruana   Gelfand - Nakamura
Round 9 15:00 AZST 12.10.14   Round 10 15:00 AZST 13.10.14
Nakamura - Kasimdzhanov   Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk
Mamedyarov - Gelfand   Dominguez - Caruana
Radjabov - Karjakin   Tomashevsky - Andreikin
Svidler - Tomashevsky   Karjakin - Svidler
Andreikin - Dominguez   Gelfand - Radjabov
Caruana - Grischuk   Nakamura - Mamedyarov
Round 11 13:00 AZST 14.10.14        
Mamedyarov - Kasimdzhanov        
Radjabov - Nakamura        
Svidler - Gelfand        
Andreikin - Karjakin        
Caruana - Tomashevsky        
Grischuk - Dominguez        

The total prize fund is €120,000. The games start each day at 15:00 local time which is 12:00 in Amsterdam, 11:00 in London, 06:00 in New York, 03:00 in Los Angeles and 20:00 in Sydney. The last round starts two hours earlier. The tournament website will prodive live commentary by GMs Emil Sutovsky and GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko. The winner and second placed player in the overall final standings of the Grand Prix will qualify for the Candidates’ Tournament to be held in the last quarter of 2015 or the first half of 2016. | Games via TWIC

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