Mamedyarov Breaks 2800, Catches Ding In Moscow

Mamedyarov Breaks 2800, Catches Ding In Moscow

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

With yet another win, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov not only caught Ding Liren in first place at the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow; the Azerbaijani also became the 13th player in history to break 2800 in the live ratings.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, now 2801.1 in the live ratings! | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Mamedyarov's recent run is truly impressive. Starting from April 21, Azerbaijan's number-one player won 29.1 Elo points: nine at the Gashimov Memorial, 13.9 at the Russian Team Championship (where he scored 4/4) and 6.2 so far in Moscow. In this period he only lost one game, to Radek Wojtaszek in round eight in Shamkir.

Mamedyarov's live rating is beautiful, but he'll probably focus on the tournament situation, and the overall GP standings. Still, his biggest fans are probably thinking if he continues this way, even the 11.1-point gap towards world number-two Wesley So is not completely impossible to overcome.


It must be said that today Mamedyarov was helped by his opponent somewhat. Salem Saleh is in good shape in Moscow, and for most of the game he was on par with his opponent's tactical vision. 

In this fascinating game, White was still very close to a draw in the queen endgame but after six hours of play, more than once Salem failed to find a more tenacious defense.


Salem trying to figure out what's going on in the queen endgame. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.


Both the winner and the loser were enjoying their digital post-mortem today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The game of the day was Paco Vallejo vs Teimour Radjabov, a Rossolimo Sicilian with opposite castling where Vallejo seemed to be going all-in. As Dejan Bojkov suggests, perhaps the Spanish GM was sick of the string of 12 draws that he managed to achieve so far in this Grand Prix series?

Well, what we got was a crazy game. 

"It was one of the most complicated games I've played recently," said Radjabov.



Radjabov, about to promote to a knight: "One of the most complicated games I've played recently." | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Alexander Grischuk played his fourth draw but this time it was a real game. He had Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on the ropes, but blew the win on the 40th move, as he thought himself.

"I was much better quickly and then I think I was winning. My move 40 is a huge mistake. If I play 40.d6 instead of 40.Re8+ I think White should win. I spent half an hour on my move 41 and I didn't see real chances," Grischuk said. 

"Somehow I didn't realize what went wrong," said MVL. "I thought I was doing fine and suddenly I just realized his pieces were just on very good squares. There was not much I could do."

The French GM thought Grischuk had more than one opportunity to win today: "Somehow I escaped but it's just a miracle."


"Why didn't I simply push that pawn...?" | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Grischuk, who is still under the weather, saw a reason to be satisfied: "Let's say the game by itself is probably quite disappointing but given that yesterday I could barely breathe, just to be able to live, and to compete on equal terms with one of the best players in the world is already very optimistic for me."

For the second day in a row, Michael Adams was very critical of his own play. The English grandmaster went for a 6.g3 Najdorf with Ian Nepomniachtchi, which was a topical line for both players. The Russian GM had suffered in this variation against Anish Giri in Wijk aan Zee earlier this year. "I had to prepare something," he said. 

The main problem for Adams was that he couldn't find a good plan in the early middlegame. "With this 24.h4, 25.Bf3 and 26.Bg2 I was losing the thread of the game completely," he said. "I should play Nb2 at some moment. I just have to play a bit better in the remaining games. That's it."


Adams resigns his game vs Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Nepomniachtchi, who makes a 40-minute walk from his home to the venue each day, still hasn't drawn a game yet. "Every second game I'm disgusted with my play. Tomorrow it's important not to lose with White. When you're losing twice in a row as White, it's suspicious."

Hikaru Nakamura played his fourth draw of the tournament against Hou Yifan. The American player tried the King's Indian Attack, which was on the repertoire of a young Bobby Fischer as well.

It's not typical of this opening, but somehow most of the play occurred on the queenside this time, and it seemed that Hou played accurately and was doing all right throughout the game.


Nakamura seemed rather disappointed with his fourth draw in a row. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Jon Ludvig Hammer has been showing some excellent chess in Moscow so far. Today he was doing very well against Anish Giri, and maybe even winning. 

"I think I had a huge advantage," he said. "Anish tells me that he thought the ending was a draw throughout. I've been told I'm an optimist in chess and in particular about my own chances, so I certainly thought I was winning but I couldn't figure out how. It seemed to me that it's very difficult to defend, but Anish defended it. Well done to him."


Another draw, but another one Hammer can be happy with. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Giri: "I took this gambling to a whole new level when I decided to look what would happen after 19...Qg6. I pushed my luck a little bit too far today I believe, but maybe just not far enough."


Giri and Hammer going through some lines of their game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

And so, after four rounds of play, we can definitely say that the patient called Grand Prix has finally recovered from draw fever. And, interestingly, of the 11 decisive games played so far, nine were won by Black! If you have any theories about this, do share them in the comments.

2017 Moscow Grand Prix | Round 4 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. rtg+/-
1 4 GM Ding Liren 2773 3 6,6
5 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2772 3 6,2
3 6 GM Svidler Peter 2755 2,5 2,7
13 GM Radjabov Teimour 2710 2,5 7,5
5 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2795 2 -4,2
2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2786 2 -4,8
3 GM Giri Anish 2785 2 -4,5
7 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2751 2 -4,9
8 GM Grischuk Alexander 2750 2 -2,4
12 GM Gelfand Boris 2724 2 2,1
15 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2696 2 3,2
16 GM Hou Yifan 2652 2 6,7
17 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2633 2 6,8
18 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig 2621 2 7,1
15 9 GM Harikrishna P. 2750 1,5 -7,5
14 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2710 1,5 -2,5
17 10 GM Adams Michael 2747 1 -8,4
11 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2727 1 -9,7

Tomorrow's pairings are Mamedyarov-Ding, Svidler-Radjabov, MVL-Salem, Giri-Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi-Gelfand, Hou Yifan-Grischuk, Tomashevsky-Hammer, Harikrishna-Adams, and Vallejo-Inarkiev.

The tournament, a nine-round Swiss with a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($142,000), runs until May 21, with a rest day on May 17. After Moscow there will be two more Grands Prix: in July in Geneva, and in November in Palma de Mallorca. The top two overall finishers will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament.

Games from TWIC.

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