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Grischuk Survives Epic Battle vs Nakamura

Grischuk Survives Epic Battle vs Nakamura

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Richard Rapport were the two winners in round six of the Sharjah Grand Prix, where Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov continue to lead. Hikaru Nakamura came very close to beating Alexander Grischuk.

On Thursday there was no chess. The Sharjah Chess Club had come up with an extensive program starting from 10 a.m. that included a visit to several museums, a lunch, a visit to Dubai and a boat trip in the evening.

The turn-up was rather disappointing; only Mickey Adams and his partner showed up in the morning. It is known, however, that chess players don't like to wake up early.

It must be said that some players did join the afternoon program in Dubai (where the famous Dubai Mall was most popular), but a clear majority decided to just stay in the hotel.

A group photo taken on the rest day. | Photo: Sharjah Chess Club.

Despite having enjoyed the rest day, Dmitry Jakovenko and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov agreed to a draw after 13 meaningless moves (which still took them 45 minutes).

"It was very bad preparation. I completely forgot to rehearse this line," said Jakovenko. "Two years ago I won a very nice game against Karjakin in this line. But I couldn't remember everything, so I just played it safe."

Mamedyarov simply said that "a draw with Black is good" and that "it's time to rest." Somehow this response doesn't feel very satisfying.

The final position in Jakovenko-Mamedyarov.

Li Chao played the Petroff for the third time, and that made it rather easy for Ian Nepomniachtchi to prepare, as he said himself. The Russian player, perhaps helped by his second Vladimir Potkin who is here in Sharjah, found an excellent idea against Li's sideline 11...Bf5.

"After 14.Nh4! Black is already in serious trouble," said Nepomniachtchi. And so we got to see something that is quite rare these days at top level: someone winning almost straight from preparation.

"I forgot my preparation. (...) I forgot everything," said Li.



Good preparation led to a spectacular win for "Nepo."

Hou Yifan vs Ding Lire, Eljanov-Tomashevsky, Aronian-Vallejo and Michael Adams vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave ended in draws. In the latter, MVL was the one who had some slight chances.

Jon Ludvig Hammer also drew his game with Salem Saleh, and had good reason to be disappointed:

"I think I was winning and I spent all my time trying to figure out how, but I couldn't find it."

Salem wasn't sure either, and maybe there was never a clear win actually, but 46.Rb6 definitely needs to be analysed.



Was Hammer ever winning somewhere?

The next draw, between Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk, was epic—if it weren't for the two decisive games, this would have been the game of the day (and maybe it still was).

The American player went for the extremely theoretical 6.Be3 Ng4 Najdorf line, and correctly judged that his opponent might not remember all the details from an earlier, very sharp game: Karjakin-Grischuk (!), Moscow 2010.

"The theory hasn't changed, but I have changed, that's the problem!" said Grischuk. "At that time you could wake me up in the middle of the night and I would tell all the lines...not the case now."

At some point, more than 10 moves before the time control, Nakamura had 100 minutes on the clock, 100 times more than Grischuk's time! No wonder that many players kept on checking out this board, as you can see in the top image.

Grischuk did what he's famous for: getting into time trouble and then playing rather strongly with little time on the clock.

The Russian player defended well for a while. Moving the king to g8 might have been wrong, said Nakamura, who then missed the narrow path to victory despite having seen it.

He explained it as follows: "I forgot, at the time, that he doesn't have a perpetual because when he comes around and tries to check... [Gives the winning variation.] I simply forgot this at the time."

The round ended with a win for Richard Rapport. The Hungarian player defeated Alexander Riazantsev in a fine game that was decided in a rook endgame.

A good win for Richard Rapport today.

Pairings for round 7:

Bo. No. Fed Name Rtg Pts. vs Pts. Fed Name Rtg No.
1 1 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 4 Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 12
2 4 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2766 4 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 8
3 9 Grischuk Alexander 2742 Adams Michael 2751 7
4 5 Ding Liren 2760 3 Nakamura Hikaru 2785 3
5 14 Rapport Richard 2692 3 3 Aronian Levon 2785 2
6 13 Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 3 3 Hou Yifan 2651 17
7 10 Li Chao 2720 Eljanov Pavel 2759 6
8 11 Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 2 Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 18
9 16 Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 2 2 Riazantsev Alexander 2671 15

Some girls playing chess in the central hall of the the club...

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.


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