Moscow GP: 'Hari' Beats 'Nepo' In Dramatic Game

Moscow GP: 'Hari' Beats 'Nepo' In Dramatic Game

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

Pentala Harikrishna was the only winner at the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow today. The Indian grandmaster was first losing, but eventually defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi in what was one of the most dramatic games of the tournament.

Hari went from losing to winning as his king went from f8 to c2. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

It was another round with many draws, but at least the games were rather good today. Let's just go down the boards and start with board one where Anish Giri, who had just won his first game the other day, was still in a winning mood.

His ...f5-f4 in the opening (a Closed Catalan/Bogo-Indian) surprised Ding Liren. Instead of simply developing his queen's knight, the Chinese GM went for a dangerous adventure with his queen. It was quite surprising that the weakness of the h1-a8 diagonal wasn't giving White more problems.

"I had a lot of interesting variations," said Giri. "There were some difficulties [for my opponent] but I couldn't quite find it."

The Dutch GM, who spent an hour on his 18th and 19th move together, was disappointed. "I must have missed something; he ran into my preparation and normally I should have crushed him."


Good preparation got Giri a promising position, but not more. | Photo Maria Emelianova.

Peter Svidler had the strange experience that also his second Azerbaijani opponent mixed up moves in the opening. Once again the grandmaster from St. Petersburg failed to profit.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vaguely remembered that castling wasn't good on move nine, but he played too fast. Svidler was actually commenting live on the game MVL vs Giri from the Paris Grand Chess Tour last year, so he knew how good it was for White.

Svidler basically got a free exchange. He said that during the game he was thinking: "This is no good. If I don't win this people will laugh. OK, you can start laughing now."


Just before the round, left-right: Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Teimour Radjabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Peter Svidler. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Radjabov vs Gelfand was drawn in less than an hour, but Evgeny Tomashevsky and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played for no less than 101 moves and more than six hours. 

It was MVL who got some chances in the middlegame, and the advantage turned into an exchange when Tomashevsky played inaccurately before the time control. The endgame might well have been won for Black.

Vachier-Lagrave: "I was playing accurately until karma sort of came back to bite me because of previous games, where I escaped or played fairly uninteresting chess."


MVL before the game, not aware yet that he'll be playing for more than six hours, with karma biting him! | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The game of the day was clearly Ian Nepiomniachtchi and Pentala Harikrishna, which had everything: a knight sacrifice on e6, two white pawns on d6 and e6 in the middlegame, a steel king running from f8 all the way to c2, and eventually a loser turning into a winner.

"It's nice to take your king to c1," said Harikrishna. "That compensates for the energy spent."


The draw on the last board was rather exciting as well. Ernesto Inarkiev's plan of pushing ...f5 early on in this Giuoco Piano got the board one fire, and then Salem Saleh joined the party with 15.Nh4. "Beautiful but probably bad," Salem said. Even so, he couldn't resist playing it!

Inarkiev's reaction was excellent, but at the critical moment the Russian player failed to find the correct intermediate move.


Round 8 in action. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Moscow Grand Prix | Round 8 Standings

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

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

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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