Grischuk, Mamedyarov, MVL Share 1st At Sharjah Grand Prix

Grischuk, Mamedyarov, MVL Share 1st At Sharjah Grand Prix

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

In the final round of the Sharjah Grand PrixShakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Hou Yifan (on her birthday!) and caught Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Grischuk. The latter won the first prize on tiebreak.

More fast draws were likely to appear in the final round, but eventually only two games went that way. The all-Russian encounter between Dmitry Jakovenko and Ian Nepomniachtchi on board three was the first to end in a draw.

Soon tournament leaders Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Alexander Grischuk followed suit. With this, they secured shared first place.

MVL: "I started well, but then somehow things didn't fall into place. I didn't manage to create problems to all my opponents. I would have been happier if I could have produced a little more content in my games."

Grischuk: "It's hard to be upset because I sort of produced the maximum result in the last two rounds."

With a boring draw, MVL and Grischuk secured first place.

Paco Vallejo and Evgeny Tomashevsky drew a Nimzo-Indian in 22 moves, and then provided some interesting comments about playing such tournaments.

Vallejo, who ended up as the only player to play nine draws: "It's the first time in my life. In general I have an aggressive style, I think, but here everything went in the other direction somehow."

Vallejo trying to remember his Nimzo preparation.

Tomashevsky: "I played very poor chess. In the competitions of the world championship cycle, preparation plays a big role: opening-wise, psychologically, mentally. All players are trying to play more solid chess and more accurate lines comparing to the usual tournaments. If you are not well prepared in the openings or mentally or energetically, you will have problems."

But then the round saw a big development as Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Hou Yifan. That wasn't the best present for the reigning women's world champion (for just a few more days!), who turned 23 today.

"I think my best game was today. It's her birthday, but what to do!" said Mamedyarov.

In doing so, Mamedyarov caught the leaders in first place. A very aggressive attitude in a Nimzo-Indian was very successful for the Azerbaijani:

A happy Mamedyarov after playing his best game of the tournament.

At the press conference, Mamedyarov repeated that he shouldn't have played for a win in the endgame against Grischuk. And it was funny to hear that despite his 2772 live rating, he still sees room for improvement.

"After the game I was checking my computer. I think after this tournament I think I need to [read] books. Dvoretsky's books, how to play these positions, who is better."

Except perhaps for the last round, Hou Yifan played an excellent tournament (with eight draws). Mamedyarov only had one mishap in the penultimate round, but can be satisfied with that shared first place obviously.

Despite a loss on her birthday, Hou Yifan was smiling too today.

Richard Rapport vs Li Chao started promising, with White pushing both his a- and h-pawns up the board in the opening. That happened to be all over-the-board inspiration.

Rapport: "Brilliant preparation by me. After 2...d5 I was on my own. Kind of ridiculous."

Unfortunately the game ended rather abruptly, like we've seen in other games in this tournament.

Rapport: "In the final position I felt by principle I must be worse somehow. And if I am worse, it's not a bit, it's really worse. If we exchange queens, it's game over, basically."

"We're humans, not robots." Well, except for Rapport's tie today.

Pavel Eljanov played 1.e4, the recent addition to his repertoire, and nicely defeated Salem Saleh. After round seven the Ukrainian lamented that he was lacking form, but against two lower-rated players he was a strong force nonetheless.


Levon Aronian wasn't playing a great tournament, and his final-round loss made it even worse. He went down against Ding Liren in a Catalan, where just before the time control the tactics favored White. "I became careless. I thought that I equalized finally," Aronian said.

The difference between a draw and a loss was quite substantial for the Grand Prix points. Maybe Aronian had this in mind when he said: "The positive thing is that the tournament is finished. The other games I played badly but I'm very ashamed of my play today."

Ding finished a lightly disappointing tournament with an excellent win.

Michael Adams, who had to play with the black pieces for the third day in a row, again managed to defend a long and tough game. Theoretically he and Hikaru Nakamura could have joined the leaders, but now they tied for fourth place. Alexander Riazantsev ended last, after drawing with Jon Ludvig Hammer.

For the overall Grand Prix there is no clear winner, and the official regulations (here in PDF) even state that "no tiebreak system will be utilised for the individual Grand Prix tournaments."

However, at the technical meeting it was decided to have a tiebreak anyway for distributing the medals that were arranged by the local organizers.

Grischuk, therefore, emerged as the winner since he had the best score in the group of three winners (his win vs Mamedyarov decided here).

2017 Sharjah Grand Prix | Final Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 GP points Prize (€)
1 9 Grischuk Alexander 2742 5,5 1,5 2 0 140 15,667
2 1 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 5,5 1 2 1 140 15,667
3 4 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2766 5,5 0,5 3 0 140 15,667
4 5 Ding Liren 2760 5 0 2 1 70 9,000
5 7 Adams Michael 2751 5 0 2 0 70 9,000
6 12 Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 5 0 1 1 70 9,000
7 3 Nakamura Hikaru 2785 5 0 1 0 70 9,000
8 8 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 5 0 1 0 70 9,000
9 14 Rapport Richard 2692 4,5 0 2 1 25 4812,5
10 6 Eljanov Pavel 2759 4,5 0 2 1 25 4812,5
11 10 Li Chao 2720 4,5 0 2 0 25 4812,5
12 13 Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 4,5 0 0 0 25 4812,5
13 2 Aronian Levon 2785 4 0 0 0 7 3625
14 17 Hou Yifan 2651 4 0 0 0 7 3625
15 16 Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 3,5 1 1 0 3 3000
16 18 Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 3,5 1 0 0 3 3000
17 11 Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 3,5 1 0 0 3 3000
18 15 Riazantsev Alexander 2671 3 0 0 0 1 2500

And so one of the least entertaining top tournaments in years has come to an end—from looking at what the experts have posted on social media, the attention vacuum on Twitter and the comments under our reports, this seems to be universally agreed upon.

For example, after the closing ceremony, Eljanov posted on Facebook: "Concerning chess content it was one of the most boring tournaments I ever played with so many quick draws every round. It's a complex topic but it seems that for the sake of attractiveness should be invented some kind of no draw offer rule in every tournament."

This new Grand Prix series consists of four legs. The other three tournaments will be in Moscow (in May this year), Geneva (in July) and in Palma de Mallorca (in November).

A total of 24 players are competing, with each tournament having 18 participants. The two best performing players will qualify for next year's Candidates' Tournament.

Games from TWIC.

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.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

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