Caruana Takes Clear Lead In Shamkir

Caruana Takes Clear Lead In Shamkir

Shamkir continued to provide plenty of action in round three as, like last round, three further games were decisive. The only repeat winner was Fabiano Caruana whose second victory in a row lifted him to clear first place and a live rating of 2811. He now sits in third place only 1.1 points behind Vladimir Kramnik.

All photos courtesy of the official site.

Not only did Caruana deliver victory, he was also the first to do so. His opponent, Hou Yifan, ventured the Open Ruy Lopez for the first time. While the opening was exciting for fans, it was a tough play against the always well-prepared Caruana.

With the move 23.e6!, Caruana initiated an attack on the light squares that forced resignation on move 35.

Hou's preparation got her in some serious trouble today.

Sergey Karjakin came out strong today against Pentala Harikrishna and seemed to have an axe to grind after his loss to Giri. Another point of contention may have been that Harikrishna's victory yesterday had lifted him above Karjakin on the live rating list.

It wasn't long before Karjakin struck with 13.Bxh6! in response to the curious 12...h6? The piece sacrifice must have been missed or miscalculated by Harikrishna who was fortunate not to be mated.

He escaped to and endgame, but it was not an appealing one. Karjakin held rook and three pawns against two minor pieces.

Despite a lengthy and determined resistance and some imprecision from Karjakin, Harikrishna was always struggling and resignation came on move 62.

Harikrishna demonstrated the unforgiving nature of chess as his one bad move outweighed sixty-one good ones.

The final decisive game was Shahriyar Mamedyarov over Pavel Eljanov. For Mamedyarov this was a strong recovery after yesterday's defeat. For Eljanov, this was his second loss in a row and pushed him back to last place and -2.

The game was a fascinating positional seesaw in which there was a determined struggle regarding piece activity and doubled pawns. Ultimately, Mamedarov won out in the endgame thanks to the strong and very instructive 41.f5! and his resulting passed h-pawn.

Mamedyarov leans back to have a good ponder before innovating in the opening.

The drawn games between Teimour Radjabov and Anish Giri and Eltaj Safarli and Rauf Mamedov won't win any awards for combativeness.

Despite the brevity of the games and the indecisive outcome, it is probably not fair to say that the Safarli and Mamedov were seeking a draw. Mamedov seemed to have equalized convincingly in the King's Indian Defense. The repetition Safarli played was probably important to keep the balance, and neither player seemed to have a good way to avoid it.

We'll save the reader any particular comments on Radjabov's game against Giri. The only real danger after move 20 was that one of the players might fall asleep and lose on time.

Shhhh... Don't wake him!

Current Standings After Round Three

Seed Player Rating Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Performance
1 Fabiano Caruana 2804 2.5 ½ 1 1 3003
2 Anish Giri 2790 2 ½ 1 ½ 2845
3 Pentala Harikrishna 2763 1.5 ½ 0 1 2777
4 Rauf Mamedov 2655 1.5 ½ ½ ½ 2726
5 Sergey Karjakin 2779 1.5 0 1 ½ 2767
6 Teimour Radjabov 2726 1.5 ½ ½ ½ 2702
7 Eltaj Safarli 2664 1.5 ½ ½ ½ 2694
8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2748 1.5 0 ½ 1 2769
9 Hou Yifan 2663 1 0 ½ ½ 2606
10 Pavel Eljanov 2765 0.5 0 ½ 0 2465

Round four is May 29 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 http://shamkirchess.az/. All games can be seen via live relay in Chess.com's live events arena (www.chess.com/live).

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