FIDE GP: Eljanov back in the lead

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FIDE GP: Eljanov back in the leadAfter nine rounds Pavel Eljanov is back in the lead in Astrakhan. The Ukrainian GM drew just three games, and he's the only one who collected 5.5 points so far.

The 6th FIDE Grand Prix takes place May 10-24 in Astrakhan, Russia. Akopian (2694), Alekseev (2700), Gashimov (2734), Gelfand (2741), Eljanov (2751), Inarkiev (2669), Ivanchuk (2741), Jakovenko (2725), Leko (2735), Mamedyarov (2763), Ponomariov (2733), Rajabov (2740), Svidler (2735) and Wang Yue (2752) play. More details can be found in our first report.

Round 6

Tournament leader Pavel Eljanov lost his first game, with White against Evgeny Alekseev. In a Queen's Indian the Russian seemed better prepared and not only did he keep improving his position, but also his advantage on the clock. Around move 27 Eljanov had 9 minutes left for 13 moves against Alekseev’s 26 minutes. White soon lost a pawn and eventually the game.

This allowed Ernesto Inarkiev to grab sole lead, by beating Boris Gelfand with the black pieces. After 19 moves of Semi-Slav theory Black equalized comfortably and then got the upper hand. After 26…b4 White had to give up two pieces for the rook and then Inarkiev never let go.


Jakovenko and Ponomariov played a sharp game in a line of the Exchange Grünfeld that has been topical since Giri-Sutovsky, Corus 2010. In a difficult position Ponomariov blundered with 21…Qc6? missing 22.Bxb5! immediately winning an important pawn. Although he then put up a lot of resistance, the Ukrainian couldn't prevent a loss.

This round saw yet another decisive game: Akopian-Wang Yue 0-1. In the main line of the Petroff, the Chinese GM showed once again that it's well possible to play for a win with Black too.

Rounds 7

Inarkiev's lead was short-lived, as he lost the next game to Eljanov. They went for the topical 6...Qb6 line of the Advance Caro-Kann, where 11.Kd2 was new. Inarkiev's 13.g4!? was quite inventive but Eljanov's solid answer left White with a worse position. He had to give a pawn and for an Eljanov in good form this is enough to win.

Alekseev continued with another win to move into joint second place. The Russian defeated Akopian in a (very) Closed Ruy Lopez: the 12.d5 line of the Chigorin Defence. With 23.bxc4! he opened the queenside when Black decided to go all or nothing on the kingside, but it was nothing.

Rounds 8

This round saw the all Ukrainian derby Eljanov-Ponomariov. In a Catalan/Bogo Indian hybrid, White was the first to seize the initiative, and gained the control over the c-file in a queenless middlegame. However, Black's nice prophylactic ideas Kf8-e8 and Rb8 before breaking open the queenside proved strong. The initiative went over to Black, and he clinched the full point after another mistake on move 43 by Eljanov in the rook ending.

After two wins, Alekseev was defeated in this eight round, by Mamedyarov. In the same opening as in Eljanov-Ponomariov, Mamedyarov tried an interesting new set-up that involved leaving his queen's knight on b1 until move 25! It looks like 18...Ng4 was wrong.

The game of the round, and in fact of the tournament thus far, was Akopian-Inarkiev. Watch what happened:

Akopian-Inarkiev Position after 14.b3

It looked like White was crushed like a patzer when Inarkiev played the obvious 14...Nxd5, but then it became clear what Akopian had in mind: 15.Nxf7!. Inarkiev responded well and gave up his queen to get a dynamically equal position. At some point Akopian avoided a move repetition and he was rewarded with the full point after 104 moves, when he won a Q vs R ending.

Rounds 9

Eljanov did it again. His last five (!) games ended in '0-1', and being Black himself, he regained the sole lead on top of the leaderboard. And he did it in nice, Capablanca style, slowly outplaying Radjabov with the black pieces in a Ragozin ending.


The only other decisive game was the second win in a row for Mamedyarov, also with the black pieces. The Azeri defeated Inarkiev, who went for the rare 3.c4 in the Sicilian and continued somewhat passively. Mamedyarov showed his usual aggressive style and occupied the center with many pawns, which at some point cost White a piece.

Report based on the tournament website

Photo courtesy of FIDE, more here

Games rounds 6-9

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Round 9 Standings

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Schedule & results

Today is the second and last rest day of the tournament. With four rounds to go, Wang Yue and Radjabov will have to do better to reach the second and last spot in the Candidates. Gashimov and Jakovenko seem to have better chances right now, but the calculations remain complicated. We'll repeat here what we mentioned before, and what Thomas pointed out. It makes most sense to look at two best results of the players who still have a chance to finish second:

Radjabov 303.3 Wang Yue 273.3 Gashimov 263.3 Ivanchuk 245.0 Jakovenko 243.3 Leko 240.0

The idea is that the third (worst) result doesn't matter if they do better in Astrakhan. It follows that the maximum number of points any player can get is [number above] + 180 for clear first. The players' chances are as follows: - Radjabov can obviously defend his qualifying spot. - Wang Yue is through if he finishes clear first (Radjabov can tie if he's clear second, but has the inferior fourth result which is the tiebreaker). - If Gashimov finishes clear first, Radjabov can stay ahead of him (but then Gashimov should get the wildcard, or would it go to Mamedyarov who is currently higher-rated?) - If Ivanchuk is clear first, Radjabov needs to be at least clear third to stay ahead of Chucky. Noone else could catch him. This is because Ivanchuk's score is "most improvable" - he had one really bad result in Nalchik (12th-14th) which will be deleted.


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