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Radjabov Sacrifices His Way To 2/2 In Geneva

Radjabov Sacrifices His Way To 2/2 In Geneva

Teimour Radjabov is the sole leader after two rounds at the FIDE Grand Prix in Geneva, Switzerland. In time trouble he finished off a nice, positional game against Pavel Eljanov with a sacrificial combination.

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk made the first move for Teimour Radjabov. | Photo: World Chess.

For the chess fans it's not easy to follow the tournament live. The good news is that, so far, there have been exciting games, and half of them ended decisively.

Radjabov is on 2/2 after beating Eljanov, and Giri is back to 50 percent after bouncing back vs Salem, the only player who started with two losses. 

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 2 Results

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

"I feel wonderful," said Teimour Radjabov after his win over Pavel Eljanov. He was also still shaking from the time trouble he was in. The game looks like a smooth victory from start to finish, but the winner did not distribute his time very well, and so it was a bit of a gamble at the end.

At some point Radjabov made a move with just one second left on the clock. "It made me nervous." He felt that getting so low on time was completely unnecessary from a position where he was better. "It was bizarre to do such things."

Radjabov's treatment of the Queen's Indian wasn't super dangerous ("it's harmless if Black finds a few exact moves there") but he got an edge when Eljanov made some small errors. White's beautifully centralised knight on d5 dominated the rest of the game. Because of the time trouble, Radjabov felt he was "lucky" to have the winning combination.


FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic interviews Teimour Radjabov after the game.

Levon Aronian won the last two classical tournaments he played in but was less successful in the Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour in Leuven. His energetic black win vs Dmitry Jakovenko made a good impression, so he might be playing for the top places again in Geneva.

"It's easier for me to play because I have nowhere to go," Aronian said, knowing all too well that his bad first GP in Sharjah almost certainly ruined his chances to finishing first or second.

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A good win for Aronian in round two. | Photo: World Chess.

"I thought what Dmitry did was a bit passive but it was very solid," he said about the opening vs Jakovenko. "I thought that 18.Qf1 was interesting; he was controlling the game. But I thought that he was on the receiving side."

Aronian pointed out that in order to beat such a solid player as Jakovenko, you have to risk. "I took some risk, although I don't think it was very dangerous for me. At least I was the one having fun!"

WGM Anna Burtasova interviews GM Levon Aronian after the game.

There was another black win in the Giuoco Piano, with Anish Giri outplaying Salem Saleh in the most popular of openings these days. After the game the two spent a long time analysing. "Without pairings you have nothing to do!" said Giri.

The Dutch GM felt that both players played badly. "In our defense, the position is very complicated."

In these structures with ...h6 and ...g5 Black always needs to be careful with his king. Giri: "For an engine it's not very important but one active move on the kingside can lead to a heart attack."

Salem got low on time and started defending, where Giri would have been more afraid of some counterplay on the kingside. "In the endgame his pawns are collapsing."

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic interviews Anish Giri after the game.

Giri also pointed out the different dynamics with Swiss pairings (like in these Grand Prixs) compared to round robins. Because, for most players it's better to play someone who is in the same score group, especially if you're doing badly.

"The only problem is of course at some point you get some happy Shakhriyar who is on plus one, plus two, and he's gonna start making all the draws and his opponents are also happy. You're gonna see the same thing like you saw in the first two [GPs], that Shakhriyar is sitting there with plus two making all the draws in the most disgusting way possible. And he's on plus one now. He's playing well. But of course, once he reaches plus two he will start his thing."

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Salem vs Giri. | Photo: World Chess.

Giri certainly didn't mean to be disrespectful when he used the word "disgusting." His tone was rather cheerful, and he was merely pointing out one of the issues of the Grand Prix structure which makes the fight for the place less interesting than at other events.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov reached that very welcome early plus one score easily, as Ernesto Inarkiev blundered a queen trap right after the opening. You could say that the opening phase hadn't even finished yet.

Alexander Grischuk also moved to plus one as he managed to defeat Richard Rapport in a long maneuvering game. The Russian player chose that strategy with his choice of 12.d5, which closes the position immediately in the Chigorin Ruy Lopez. Normally White tends to wait until Black puts his bishop on b7 before pushing that pawn.

Pushing f2-f4 is one of White's main ideas in this structure, and here it resulted in a Benoni-type of the center where Black's pieces were on the wrong squares. Rapport tried to solve his problems with a positional pawn sacrifice, but he didn't get his desired blockade on the e5-square and then was nicely beaten by Grischuk. An excellent game for aspiring white players trying to play the white side of the Ruy Lopez.

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In the battle of the white shirts, the player with the white pieces won. | Photo: World Chess.

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 2 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Name Rtg Perf Pts.
1 12 Radjabov, Teimour 2724 3557 2
2-6 1 Aronian, Levon 2809 2909 1,5
2-6 2 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2800 2908 1,5
2-6 4 Grischuk, Alexander 2761 2891 1,5
2-6 8 Harikrishna, Pentala 2737 2885 1,5
2-6 9 Adams, Michael 2736 2878 1,5
7-12 3 Giri, Anish 2775 2681 1
7-12 5 Svidler, Peter 2749 2719 1
7-12 6 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2742 2711 1
7-12 7 Eljanov, Pavel 2739 2695 1
7-12 10 Li Chao 2735 2779 1
7-12 11 Gelfand, Boris 2728 2771 1
13-17 13 Inarkiev, Ernesto 2707 2590 0,5
13-17 14 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2703 2589 0,5
13-17 15 Rapport, Richard 2694 2561 0,5
13-17 16 Hou Yifan 2666 2506 0,5
13-17 17 Riazantsev, Alexander 2654 2511 0,5
18 18 Salem, Saleh 2638 1956 0

Round three pairings: Aronian-Radjabov, Harikrishna-Mamedyarov, Adams-Grischuk, Giri-Li Chao, Svidler-Gelfand, Eljanov-Nepomniachtchi, Inarkiev-Hou Yifan, Rapport-Jakovenko and Riazantsev-Salem.

The Geneva Grand Prix takes place 6-15 July 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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