'Giri Perfection' Continues At Shamkir Chess
Five more draws in Shamkir. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

'Giri Perfection' Continues At Shamkir Chess

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

In the second round of the Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir, Azerbaijan all games ended in draws once again. Anish Giri, who joked about a beautiful crosstable on Twitter, escaped vs Veselin Topalov after tricking himself.

Anish Giri knows all too well that his reputation of making many draws isn't completely gone yet. His 14 draws at the Candidates' Tournament in Moscow happened more than two years ago, but his colleagues keep on throwing jokes at him, if only because he likes to chip in himself regularly. 

Today, after five more draws, the Dutchman saw the crosstable on the wall, and took a photo of what's arguably the ultimate perfection:

While it was mostly Giri himself who spoiled some very promising positions back in 2016, today it was his opponent Veselin Topalov who let a technically winning position peter out to a draw. This was after Giri had found a brilliant trick, missed by Topalov, which turned out to be an incorrect combination!

"It looks so brilliant, I thought it must work," Giri said of his 30...a4.

The Bulgarian was suddenly a clear exchange up, and should have won the game. "I couldn't see the mate. I thought it was a perpetual somehow," he said.


Topalov vs Giri Shamkir

A narrow escape for Giri today. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Magnus Carlsen was held to a draw by David Navara, and rather convincingly. The Czech GM wasn't happy with his position out of the opening, but after that he played a truly excellent game and didn't allow the world champion any serious chances for an advantage.

"For me the preparation went wrong, as usual," Navara started his press conference. He pointed out that he had only played Sicilians at the recent European Individual, but returning to his Caro-Kann didn't serve him much better. "I reached the same result; of the opening I mean," he said. 

David Navara Shamkir

Navara was modest as ever at the post-mortem. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

At some point Carlsen got a 2-vs-1 pawn majority on the queenside, and his plan seemed clear: queen a pawn there! Navara said that this middlegame position reminded him of the classic Karpov-Stein, from the 39th Soviet championship in Leningrad in 1972—a year before Stein suddenly passed away, at the height of his career, age 38.

Leonid Stein

Leonid Stein, you could say the Vugar Gashimov of the seventies, here at a tournament in Amsterdam in 1969. | Photo: Bert Verhoeff, Dutch National Archives.

"I realized I had to do something," said Navara. He went for the pawn break ...f6, and remained tactically alert throughout the game. The players left the stage having played until bare kings.

Carlsen vs Navara Shamkir

A good game from both sides. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

That included most of today's action, to be honest. The opening phase in Radek Wojtaszek vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov does deserve a mention, because it gave us some insight in how these super-grandmasters prepare for their games.

In this Open Catalan, Mamedyarov said he played 5...Nc6 for the first time. Was his opponent surprised? Of course not. In fact, he came with a prepared idea!

Radek Wojtaszek Shamkir

Radek Wojtaszek. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

And then, when Mamedyarov replied with the "human" castles kingside, Wojtaszek lamented that he hadn't looked at this enough. He did share some of his preparation at the post-mortem, which is kind of rare. He probably argued that his colleagues can easily find the same analysis, now that his 9.Ne5 has been tested.

Wojtaszek vs Mamedyarov Shamkir

An enjoyable post-mortem in Wojtaszek-Mamedyarov. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Karjakin-Ding and Radjabov-Mamedov were not very exciting and can be found in the PGN file.

Shamkir Chess runs from April 19-28, with a rest day on April 24. The games start at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, and 4 a.m. Pacific. The prize fund is €100,000 ($123,689) with a first prize of €30,000 ($37,107).

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