Grand Prix: Karjakin Beats Tomashevsky, MVL Blunders vs Jakovenko

Grand Prix: Karjakin Beats Tomashevsky, MVL Blunders vs Jakovenko

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Sergey Karjakin moved to shared second place at the Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk after beating GM Evgeny Tomashevsky in 99 moves. A big blunder from GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave cost him the game against GM Dmitry Jakovenko.

Photo Kirill Merkurev.

In what started as another quiet round, with several draws appearing on the board way before the time control, most of the fireworks could be seen in variations shown at the press conferences.

One of those tactics actually came on the board and decided the game between GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and GM Dmitry JakovenkoIn an Anti-Grünfeld, the Russian pushed his h-pawn as early as move seven. GM Matlakov had played it against him last year, and Jakovenko decided to try it out as White this time.

MVL responded with healthy moves, but right after the queens were traded, in an equal position, he suddenly blundered. White won a very healthy pawn, and for someone like Jakovenko the position was a technical win.

“It took me five or ten seconds to realize what I had done when I took this bishop. What I did was just unbelievable,” said Vachier-Lagrave.

The Frenchman could have lost even quicker if he had taken back with the f-pawn on g6, something he suggested in the analysis. He and Jakovenko missed a devilish combination there, included in the game viewer:


On a rainy day in Khanty-Mansiysk, MVL arrives with wet hair at the playing hall. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

At the end of the day (literally — after seven hours!) the game with the most quiet opening phase, GM Sergey Karjakin vs GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, was decided in Karjakin's favor. 

A Réti saw lots of maneuvering and the queens were traded on move 37. Both sides had two rooks and seven pawns, with two bishops for White versus two knights for Black. It took another 32 moves before the first pawn break was played by Karjakin, when all other games had already finished.

That was also the moment when his advantage increased, and Tomashvesky felt forced to sacrifice a pawn. With every pawn duo that was traded next, White's bishops became stronger. After seven hours Tomashevsky missed a tactic and collapsed.

He said: “If Sergey manages to see such variations after seven hours of play, he deserves to win!”


Karjakin and Tomashevsky after finishing their seven-hour game. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

This result was good news for GM Hikaru Nakamura, whose main rival in the Grand Prix is Tomashevsky right now. The American GM is half a point ahead after drawing his game with GM Peter Svidler.

Here the fireworks started on move five when Nakamura played h2-h4 against the Grünfeld. Expecting some preparation, after 5...c6 6.Bg5 Svidler did not play his own recommendation from his Chess24 video series, but maybe he should have.

Nakamura was clearly in the driver's seat after putting his knight in e4 on move 14, a move he was “very happy” with.

Frankly, my first thought was, you know, I'm going be in a Matsukevich short games collection,” said Svidler.

Svidler facing 5.h4. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

It wasn't that bad for Black, as Svidler soon realized. When Nakamura missed a chance on move 24 and then played inaccurately on move 28, White's compensation for the pawn was poor. And then...suddenly the players shook hands.

Svidler explained: “Here Hikaru remembered whom he played. I used to be legendary for accepting draw offers in any kind of positions. Before today I thought I was on the mend, but apparently not.

“The memory of what my position looked like after move 13 was still very fresh in my mind somehow, and I thought OK, considering where I was this is not a bad result.

“I understand people are not supposed to think like that but today, for more reasons than one, today has been a bit of a difficult day for me starting even before the game and I thought OK, I got away with something completely ridiculous and maybe I should just consider myself a bit lucky in that respect.”


A chat in between the game and the press conference. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The quickest draw was played between GM Alexander Grischuk and GM Boris Gelfand. The Russian moved his king's pawn, and this means that you need to prepare against both the Sveshnikov and the Najdorf these days.

Gelfand's 2...d6 meant the latter, but Grischuk went for the 4.Qxd4 Sicilian instead. His homework, in a sideline of a sideline, wasn't impressive though. 

“Idiotism is growing,” was the first Grischuk said at the press conference, and Gelfand laughed out loud. “7...Ne5 is the only move I analyzed but when Boris played it I realized I had no idea what I'm supposed to do.”

After an entertaining analysis, where Grischuk showed lots of nice traps (all included in the game viewer), he concluded: “So I think it's more or less a forced draw after 8.h3, as ridiculous as it sounds.”



Grischuk: “Idiotism is growing.” | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The tournament leader is still the tournament leader. GM Fabiano Caruana drew his white game with GM Baadur Jobava, who repeated his 5...f6 and 6...fxe5 in the Advance Caro-Kann, which he also played in the second round.

MVL wasn't impressed, and maybe Caruana wasn't either. He had prepared it “only briefly,” because he didn't expect his opponent to repeat it!

Caruana had assessed the position after move 16 as better for White, but said: “I think I misplayed this position.” Jobava could liquidate to rook ending that wasn't difficult to hold.


Jobava scores two draws with a new idea in the Caro-Kann Advance. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

At the press conference the players were asked if they think the Grand Prix tournaments need a dress code. In the current regulations there is a header 10. Interviews, functions and mode of dressing but that seems a mistake because no rule about clothing is included.

Caruana said: “It depends what kind of dress code. I think there probably is...a lot of the players don't follow it but I think there's something. I guess there should be.”

Jobava: “I remember in Tashkent, my first Grand Prix, when I heard that there is a dress code I bought a suit and was wearing it every day. But when I saw that guys were in jeans and shirts, I thought why?

“Then I changed to normal, because sometimes in a suit it's not so comfortable to play because when it's dangerous and you're in a bad position you get wet and it's unpleasant.”

Dress code or no dress code? | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

GM Anish Giri and GM Leinier Dominguez played a Bogo-Indian, like they had done in the last round of the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Instead of 6...d6, the Cuban GM this time played the more popular 6...d5.

In this variation 9.h4 seems to be the all the rage, the move Giri used when beating Arkadij Naiditsch in a nice game in Wijk aan Zee 2014. However, “theory moves on,” as Giri said, and he played an older line instead.

After some waiting moves from both sides the Dutch GM played a more concrete sequence of moves, but he had misevaluated the resulting middlegame. Yes, Black had an isolated queen's pawn, but his bishop on b6 was a killer. In the ending Dominguez failed to keep his small advantage. 

Giri vs Dominguez. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

2015 Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix | Round 5 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Caruana,F 2803 2881 3.5/5  
2 Svidler,P 2734 2845 3.0/5 8.25
3 Dominguez,L 2734 2844 3.0/5 8.00
4 Karjakin,S 2753 2828 3.0/5 7.25
5 Nakamura,H 2799 2749 2.5/5 6.75
6 Grischuk,A 2780 2736 2.5/5 5.50
7 Gelfand,B 2744 2761 2.5/5 5.25
8 Jakovenko,D 2738 2749 2.5/5 4.50
9 Giri,A 2776 2684 2.0/5 5.50
10 Jobava,B 2699 2696 2.0/5 5.00
11 Tomashevsky,E 2749 2685 2.0/5 4.50
12 Vachier-Lagrave,M 2754 2606 1.5/5  


The tournament is a round robin of 11 rounds, played May 14 to 26 with rest days on the 18th and 23rd. The venue is the Ugra Chess Center in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

You can watch this tournament every day on with commentary by GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Viorel Iordachescu.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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