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Radjabov Draws In 9 Minutes, Maintains Lead

Radjabov Draws In 9 Minutes, Maintains Lead

The eighth round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Geneva, Switzerland saw four winners, but draws on the top two boards. Teimour Radjabov, who drew his game in just nine minutes, maintained his half-point lead going into the final round.

Aronian watching the games underway in round eight. | Photo: Valera Belobeev for WorldChess.

With one round to go it's almost certain that Radjabov will win this Grand Prix, possibly together with Grischuk. Both drew their games.

Li Chao moved back to plus one with a win over Harikrishna. The same can be said for Giri, who beat Hou Yifan as Black, and Adams, who defeated the luckless Rapport. Aronian is now on minus one after a loss against Nepomniachtchi. 

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 8 Results

Bo. No. Fed Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Fed Name Rtg No.
1 12 Radjabov 2724 5 ½ - ½ 4 Riazantsev 2654 17
2 4 Grischuk 2761 ½ - ½ 4 Mamedyarov 2800 2
3 10 Li Chao  2735 1 - 0 Harikrishna 2737 8
4 6 Nepomniachtchi 2742 4 1 - 0 Aronian 2809 1
5 11 Gelfand 2728 ½ - ½ Eljanov 2739 7
6 14 Jakovenko 2703 ½ - ½ 3 Inarkiev 2707 13
7 16 Hou Yifan 2666 0 - 1 Giri 2775 3
8 15 Rapport 2694 2 0 - 1 Adams 2736 9
9 18 Salem 2638 ½ - ½ Svidler 2749 5

It's the system, stupid.

Enough has been written about the return of the quick draw in chess in this Grand Prix series, so the 12-move draw between Teimour Radjabov and Alexander Riazantsev couldn't have come as a huge surprise. Still, the commentators were probably expressing the feeling of most chess fans with their first, spontaneous reactions.

GM Daniil Dubov: "It's extremely depressing actually."
GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko: "This is a bit unpleasant to see, to be honest."

The game lasted 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Radjabov castled, offered the draw, and Riazantsev accepted. When the clock was stopped, due to the 30-second increment per move, both players had more time than they started with.

Besides this non-game, the penultimate round was actually quite good, with four decisive games and four draws that all lasted at least 39 moves.

Pentala Harikrishna was one of the two players trailing Radjabov by half a point. But instead of catching the leader, the Indian player suffered a loss to Li Chao. The Chinese GM had started with five draws, but after that he has now played three decisive games.

Having lost a seven-hour game the other day, Li Chao "just wanted to play a simply position." He suggested that his opponent might not have remembered all the details in this line of the Ragozin, which leads to an endgame where White is a pawn up, but Black has compensation. The way Hari played it, his compensation slowly disappeared.

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic spoke with Li Chao after the game.

Levon Aronian did well in his previous two classical tournaments, but in Geneva things just won't work. He lost his second game, to Ian Nepomniachtchi, who thus moved to plus two. Aronian's first loss was from the white side of an English Four Knights, and now he went down while playing the black pieces.

Nepomniachtchi, who was celebrating his 27th birthday, said that this opponent had to play for a win as Black considering his chances in the overall Grand Prix. "He chose an ambitious line. Black's initiative was very dangerous, especially after 18.Qc2 Be3."

But at the critical moment (move 24) Aronian had to choose between two paths: a pawn down but the white king chased towards the center, or taking an exchange for two pawns. He chose the latter, but White's pawns and knight were too strong.

Nepomniachtchi: "I think I played well. I managed not to blunder anything critical once again."

WGM Anna Burtasova spoke with Ian Nepomniachtchi after the game.

Hou Yifan vs Anish Giri saw one of the main lines of the Sicilian Scheveningen. Giri chose the setup with ...e6 instead of ...e5, like Garry Kasparov used to do in the 1980s and 1990s.

The queens were traded quite early on, and the endgame was roughly equal but somehow Giri managed to put up some pressure, and eventually he won a pawn. The double rook endgame was still very drawish, but the Chinese lady made things difficult for herself by pushing her h-pawn, where a waiting strategy would have been better.

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Giri's steady hand in the rook endgame (which was already winning here). | Photo: Valera Belobeev for WorldChess.

The last winner of the day not mentioned yet was Michael Adams. The English GM was "nice enough" to make Richard Rapport's tournament even worse. "I had a lot of uneventful games here so I was kind of happy to play Richard because things always happen in his games," said Adams.

Running with the a-pawn so early on was an interesting approach to the King's Indian Attack, one of the more normal lines Rapport plays as White. After he could make the positionally desirable swap 14...axb2, Adams felt he should be OK. Only after Rapport sacrificed a pawn (dubious, according to Adams) Black had the better chances, after which Adams managed to consolidate.

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic spoke with Michael Adams after the game.

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 8 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Perf Pts.
1 12 Radjabov, Teimour 2724 2899 5,5
2-3 4 Grischuk, Alexander 2761 2831 5
2-3 6 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2742 2823 5
4-9 2 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2800 2780 4,5
4-9 3 Giri, Anish 2775 2751 4,5
4-9 8 Harikrishna, Pentala 2737 2788 4,5
4-9 9 Adams, Michael 2736 2761 4,5
4-9 10 Li Chao 2735 2781 4,5
4-9 17 Riazantsev, Alexander 2654 2753 4,5
10-13 5 Svidler, Peter 2749 2735 4
10-13 7 Eljanov, Pavel 2739 2725 4
10-13 11 Gelfand, Boris 2728 2738 4
10-13 14 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2703 2741 4
14-15 1 Aronian, Levon 2809 2698 3,5
14-15 13 Inarkiev, Ernesto 2707 2664 3,5
16 16 Hou Yifan 2666 2573 2,5
17-18 15 Rapport, Richard 2694 2511 2
17-18 18 Salem, Saleh 2638 2525 2

The final round, on Saturday, has these pairings: Nepomniachtchi-Radjabov, Giri-Grischuk, Mamedyarov-Li Chao, Riazantsev-Adams, Harikrishna-Jakovenko, Inarkiev-Gelfand, Svidler-Hou Yifan, Eljanov-Rapport, and Aronian-Salem.

The Geneva Grand Prix takes place July 6-15 in the Hotel Le Richemond in Geneva. The prize fund is €130,000 / $148,520. The time control is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 1.

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