Eljanov, Mamedyarov Winners In Shamkir; Caruana Misses Win

Eljanov, Mamedyarov Winners In Shamkir; Caruana Misses Win

| 30 | Chess Players

Fabiano Caruana kept his lead at the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan after missing a (not so easy) win (35.Qf7) and drawing his game with Anish Giri in round seven. Pavel Eljanov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov were the winners today.

In what could be seen as the key game of the tournament, Fabiano Caruana missed an opportunity to increase his lead to a full point against Anish Giri. However, it was the kind of win that you cannot really regret since the computer's evaluation, starting from +2 and slowly going up to +4, was based on extremely deep lines with a lot of specific queen moves along the board.

The game started as an Open Ruy Lopez, which is seeing a new wave of popularity these days. Caruana's choice was 9.Qe2 and 10.Rd1, the setup invented by the great Estonian chess player and opening theoretician Paul Keres.

Giri had deeply analyzed this and on move 20 he deviated from a game Kosteniuk-A.Muzychuk from 2013. By force, an endgame with only heavy pieces was reached, and on move 28 Black could have gone for a drawn rook endgame.

An Open Ruy Lopez in Caruana-Giri. | Photo Shamkir Chess.

However, Giri underestimated Caruana's 29th move and the game went on. Both players felt that Black defended accurately, and they agreed to a draw soon after, only to discover after the game the spike in the computer evaluation after 35.Qf7. 

“I should probably have spent more time on this,” said Caruana. “It's quite shocking,” said Giri. “But I'm a very good defender so people just trust me! Actually it's surprising that both of us didn't see this.” All this was about Kg1-h2, a hidden move that “fits the strategic nature of the position” (Giri).

Caruana and Giri checking the lines after 35.Qf7, with Ljubojevic. | Photo Shamkir Chess.

The round saw two decisive games that were not highly relevant for the standings — by now the tournament really has become a two-horse race.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov moved to shared third place with a win against Eltaj Safarli, the first decisive result in games between local players. White went for a fresh line in the Nimzo-Indian, which involved a kingside fianchetto with an early a2-a3. Safarli was caught off-guard, reacted badly and was fighting for his life for the rest of the afternoon. There was a moment where he could have drawn in a study-like way (Mamedyarov's play was a bit sloppy) but he failed to see it.

Mamedyarov joins Karjakin: plus one. | Photo Shamkir Chess.

Pavel Eljanov scored his first win of the tournament. In doing so he got away from last place in the leaderboard while pushing his opponent right there. 

In a London System — all the rage these days — Hou Yifan came up with the interesting 8...a5 of which the point became clear much later when she could put her light-squared bishop on the f1-a6 diagonal. She was really close to fully equalizing when she allowed her knight to be trapped.

Eljanov and Hou switched places in the standings. | Photo Shamkir Chess.

Teimour Radjabov returned to an old love: the French Defense. It was in this opening that, at the age of 15, he defeated Garry Kasparov (Linares 2003).

In a 6...Qa5 Winawer Sergey Karjakin chose a positional setup with an early h2-h4-h5 followed by a kingside fianchetto, and Radjabov pushed c5-c4 to make things really static. “That's the annoying point about the line, and why not many players play it: you have to stand, and you have to stand really well,” Radjabov said about Black's strategy. In this game it worked fine!

Radjabov: “You have to stand, and you have to stand really well.” | Photo Shamkir Chess.

Like last year, Rauf Mamedov is doing pretty well in this tournament. In this round he drew Pentala Harikrishna as Black, and it was clear that the Azerbaijani was the one who had winning chances.

In a Rossolimo Sicilian Hari got outplayed in the middlegame and the best he could get was an endgame with double rooks and opposite-colored bishops, a pawn down. A clear win for Black was not found in the post-mortem but it was close.

Another good game by Rauf Mamedov.| Photo Shamkir Chess.

Shamkir Chess 2016 | Standings After Round 7

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Caruana,Fabiano 2804 2943 chesspawn.png ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 5.5/7
2 Giri,Anish 2790 2895 ½ chesspawn.png 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 5.0/7
3 Karjakin,Sergey 2779 2779 0 chesspawn.png ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 4.0/7 11.75
4 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2748 2766 ½ chesspawn.png 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/7 11.00
5 Harikrishna,P 2763 2744 ½ 0 0 1 chesspawn.png ½ 1 ½ 3.5/7
6 Mamedov,Rauf 2655 2703 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ chesspawn.png ½ ½ 3.0/7 11.00
7 Radjabov,Teimour 2726 2680 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ chesspawn.png ½ ½ 3.0/7 10.25
8 Safarli,Eltaj 2664 2634 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ chesspawn.png ½ ½ 2.5/7 8.00
9 Eljanov,Pavel 2765 2643 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ chesspawn.png 1 2.5/7 7.75
10 Hou,Yifan 2663 2591 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 chesspawn.png 2.0/7

Round eight is June 3 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 ( chesspawn.png

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