Caruana On A Rampage, Giri Keeps Winning Too

Caruana On A Rampage, Giri Keeps Winning Too

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

Fabiano Caruana is blasting through the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan. On Monday he beat another Azerbaijani grandmaster: Teimour Radjabov. Anish Giri kept the pace as he won his third game, against Eltaj Safarli. A spectacular fourth round saw two more winners: Sergey Karjakin and Pentala Harikrishna.

We've seen him doing it before, and even better. Nobody has forgotten yet about Fabiano Caruana's winning streak at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, and now, two years later, he again starts a tournament with a huge score. After five rounds, and going into the rest day, the U.S. number one is on 4.5/5 and a 3096 performance rating.

Today he won a very nice game against Teimour Radjabov in a Rossolimo Sicilian with opposite castling. He nicely stopped his opponent's attack (17.b4!) and then started sacrificing pawns to break through on the kingside. Simply a crushing game that reminds of Garry Kasparov in his best days.

Caruana finds a nice end to a well played game| Photo courtesy of Shamkir Chess.

The fans were treated with three more decisive games today. By now Anish Giri will have forgotten his draws in Moscow and his not so great tournament in Norway because he's simply playing well in Shamkir. And he won three games already!

Today the Dutchman outplayed Eltaj Safarli from the black side of a 3.Bb5+ Sicilian. His 3...Nd7 was already an indication of playing for a win, and putting the queen on the slightly awkward d7 square even more. 

At first Safarli did well, and his 21.d4 was creative, but there was no reason to trade queens and in the endgame it was a walk-over.

Another good win for Anish Giri| Photo courtesy of Shamkir Chess.

Being on 50 percent wasn't great for Sergey Karjakin, and today he did something about it. The Muscovite defeated Hou Yifan in an ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops that had appeared from an Open Ruy Lopez. Perhaps she was inspired by Mariya Muzychuk, her opponent in the last women's world title match, who had prepared exactly this against her.

Karjakin chose a line that's more than a century old, and in which he played many games before. Only on move 22 he played a new and slightly risky move. Like Safarli, Hou probably shouldn't have traded queens.

Sergey Karjakin is back on track and certainly still in contention as well. | Photo courtesy of Shamkir Chess.

Pentala Harikrishna is back to 50 percent after winning his game with Pavel Eljanov. The latter is now in last place, with two draws and three losses.

With 1...e5 on Eljanov's repertoire this game was in danger of reaching a Berlin ending, but the Indian avoided it by playing the Spanish Four Knights. The opening enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the early 1990s when John Nunn wrote a book about it, but never became mainstream at this level.

Hari played an interesting idea that involved an early f2-f4, and then simply directed all his pieces to the kingside. A pawn sac was necessary to continue the attack, but it looks like Eljanov defended well - up to move 26. He must have missed something because giving up the queen wasn't necessary.

These are tough times for Pavel Eljanov. | Photo courtesy of Shamkir Chess.

Again the shortest game of the round was a draw between two local players: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov. This game, a Semi-Slav, was extremely theoretical with only 1/6 part of the moves being new. Shortly after deviating from a game Ponomariov-Shirov from five years ago the players shook hands.

After the fourth round Caruana said that he is planning to join the football on the rest day because last year he started winning games after it. That's not a promising thought for his rivals!

Shamkir Chess 2016 | Standings After Round 5

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2804 3096 ½ 1 1 1 1 4.5/5
2 Giri,Anish 2790 2958 1 1 ½ ½ 1 4.0/5
3 Karjakin,Sergey 2779 2816 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5
4 Harikrishna,P 2763 2777 ½ 0 0 1 1 2.5/5 5.75
5 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2748 2725 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 4.25
6 Mamedov,Rauf 2655 2675 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 5.25
7 Radjabov,Teimour 2726 2645 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 4.75
8 Safarli,Eltaj 2664 2650 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/5 3.25
9 Hou,Yifan 2663 2598 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1.5/5
10 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2511 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1.0/5

Round six is June 1st at 3 p.m. local time, 4 a.m. Pacific, 7 a.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. GMT. The official website with full coverage is All games can be seen via live relay in's live events arena ( 

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