Radjabov Wins Geneva FIDE Grand Prix

Radjabov Wins Geneva FIDE Grand Prix

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

With draws on the top six boards in the final round, Teimour Radjabov managed to keep his lead and became the sole winner of the FIDE Grand Prix in Geneva, Switzerland. Radjabov won €20,000 ($22,936) for what was his first classical tournament victory in almost a decade.

Radjabov with a gold medal and a Dupont pen. | Photo: Valera Belobeev for WorldChess.

Radjabov drew against Nepomniachtchi, one of the two players trailing him by half a point. The other one was Grischuk, who lost his chance for shared first as Giri was just too solid. Svidler and Aronian outplayed Hou Yifan and Salem respectively.

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 9 Results

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

"Almost certain" was perhaps too strong for describing
Teimour Radjabov's chances to win this event, after the penultimate round. That was, however, based on both his good form in Geneva and his solid opening repertoire. And indeed, his draw with Ian Nepomniachtchi was both good and solid, with the tournament winner even declining a draw at some point.

"I was happy about the opening, that I got this solid position that you can play around for ages," said Radjabov. He wasn't happy that he lost the bishop pair, but after he could plant a knight on f4, he started to play for a win.


Radjabov, just after drawing his game with Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Valera Belobeev for WorldChess.

Radjabov, who is back in the world's top 20 in the live ratings, said about his tournament in general: "Besides my games against Grischuk and today, in general I was able to pull myself together, so I think that's why things went pretty much my way."

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic spoke with the players after the game.

This meant that Alexander Grischuk could still catch Radjabov, but for this he needed to beat another very solid player as Black: Anish Giri. The Dutchman felt he was outplaying his opponent (Black's bishop on h7 was completely out of the game), but as soon as 29...d4 came he needed to be careful. Luckily for him, the endgame was more or less a draw by force.

"I had to try to win today because with a draw I had very little chances to qualify," said Grischuk. "I was quite happy with what was going on. Maybe my position was worse but at least White's position was extended, and it might become over-extended at some point."

Grischuk, whose Grand Prix is over now, said that, as an exception, he felt he was playing well in this series. "I'm upset that I'm probably not going to qualify."

WGM Anna Burtasova spoke with the players after the game. Don't miss the last part of the interview, where Grischuk openly wonders how bad it is if he would help the opponents of his rivals of the GP during the last leg. 😂

Before his game with Hou Yifan, Peter Svidler was helped by his second Maxim Matlakov. The two spoke on Skype, and Matlakov had noticed that the Chinese lady recently joined the trend of playing the Semi-Tarrasch. "Look at my game from Minsk against Shimanov," was his advice, and Svidler did.

"I obviously couldn't remember anything but the fact that I kind of knew the basic ideas and could play fast in the opening when she already had to start thinking after 11.d5 was obviously a huge advantage for me."

Pushing Delroy the d-pawn was the central theme, similar to many Grünfeld positions so Svidler knew what he was doing. "I had so many bad experiences on the other side of these things."

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic spoke with Peter Svidler after the game.

Levon Aronian used an old line of Mark Taimanov to combat Saleh Salem's King's Indian: the modest 9.Bd2 in the Mar del Plata variation. "I got a good position out of the opening," Aronian said. "I thought the old Taimanov line is still good."

His approach for the rest of the game was modest as well. "I probably have much better moves but decided to make sure there's nothing to calculate in the game because I've been blundering in so many games. I wanted to keep it simple and then my opponent blundered, so the plan worked out."

Asked why he's performing much worse in these GP tournaments than in other major events, Aronian replied: "I think I'm not taking it too seriously. I should work on it."

WGM Anna Burtasova spoke with Levon Aronian after the game.

Geneva Grand Prix | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Radjabov, Teimour 2724 2872 6.0/9
2-3 Grischuk, Alexander 2761 2825 5.5/9 24.25
2-3 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2742 2812 5.5/9 22.50
4-10 Harikrishna, Pentala 2737 2779 5.0/9 25.25
4-10 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2800 2775 5.0/9 24.50
4-10 Li Chao 2735 2783 5.0/9 24.00
4-10 Svidler, Peter 2749 2765 5.0/9 20.25
4-10 Riazantsev, Alexander 2654 2751 5.0/9 19.75
4-10 Adams, Michael 2736 2749 5.0/9 19.25
4-10 Giri, Anish 2775 2752 5.0/9 19.00
11-14 Gelfand, Boris 2728 2735 4.5/9 20.50
11-14 Aronian, Levon 2809 2730 4.5/9 19.75
11-14 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2703 2741 4.5/9 19.25
11-14 Eljanov, Pavel 2739 2721 4.5/9 16.00
15 Inarkiev, Ernesto 2707 2671 4.0/9
16-17 Rapport, Richard 2694 2540 2.5/9 9.50
16-17 Hou Yifan 2666 2549 2.5/9 8.75
18 Salem, Saleh 2638 2508 2.0/9

With his victory in Gevena, Radjabov won his first big tournament in almost a decade. The last time he came first in a classical tournament was in December 2008, when he scored 8/13 and tied for first place with Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Grischuk at the Elista Grand Prix. Before that, he shared first in Wijk aan Zee in 2007 together with Veselin Topalov and Levon Aronian, scoring 8.5/13.

Radjabov's last sole victory in classical chess is probably Dos Hermanas 2005 (!) where he scored 5.5/9, finishing ahead of Alexey Dreev, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Alexander Rustemov and Ruben Felgaer. Interestingly, one other Geneva participant played in that tournament: Pentala Harikrishna, who scored 4.5/9.


Teimour Radjabov, today in Geneva. | Photo: Valera Belobeev for WorldChess.

In the last decade the Azerbaijani had quite a few second places in super tournaments and other success, and he got his rating all the way up to 2793 in November 2012. However, it seems that with his last place in the 2013 Candidates's Tournament, he lost some of his motivation.

Radjabov also changed his opening repertoire. Whereas he used to play e.g. the Sicilian Dragon, his openings are more focused on safety now. Hopefully his victory in Geneva will bring back some of the old fire—the fire with which he managed to beat Garry Kasparov at the age of 15, in Linares in 2003.

The Geneva Grand Prix took place July 6-15 in the Hotel Le Richemond in Geneva. The prize fund was €130,000 / $148,520. The time control was 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.

Below you'll find the current overall Grand Prix standings. All players play three of the four tournaments; the bold names are the six players who have finished their Grand Prix as they played all legs so far.

FIDE Grand Prix 2017 | Standings After Three Legs*

Rk. Fed Name Sharjah Moscow Geneva Palma Total
1 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 140 140 60 x 340
2 Grischuk, Alexander 140 71,4 125 x 336,4
3 Radjabov, Teimour x 71,4 170 ? 241,4
4 Ding Liren 70 170 x ? 240
5 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 140 71,4 x ? 211,4
6 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 70 3 125 x 198
7 Nakamura, Hikaru 70 71,4 x ? 141,4
8 Adams, Michael 70 3 60 x 133
9 Giri, Anish x 71,4 60 ? 131,4
10 Svidler, Peter x 71,4 60 ? 131,4
11 Li Chao 25 x 60 ? 85
12 Jakovenko, Dmitry 70 x 11 ? 81
13 Hou Yifan 7 71,4 2,5 x 80,9
14 Harikrishna, Pentala x 20 60 ? 80
15 Riazantsev, Alexander 1 x 60 ? 61
16 Eljanov, Pavel 25 x 11 ? 36
17 Vallejo, Pons Francisco 25 7 x ? 32
18 Gelfand,Boris x 20 11 ? 31
19 Rapport, Richard 25 x 2,5 ? 27,5
20 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 3 20 x ? 23
21 Aronian, Levon 7 x 11 ? 18
22 Hammer, Jon Ludvig 3 7 x ? 10
23 Salem, Saleh 3 3 1 x 7
24 Inarkiev, Ernesto x 1 4 ? 5

*These standings were calculated by and are yet to be confirmed by FIDE.

The fourth and last leg is scheduled to take place 16-25 November in Palma de Mallorca. The top two finishers of the overall Grand Prix will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament.

Currently Mamedyarov is leading, and Grischuk is second. Sole victory in Palma will earn 170 points, which means that, besides the current two leaders, only Radjabov, Ding Liren and MVL still have a chance to qualify via the GP.

However, almost everyone will be playing the World Cup in September in Tbilisi, where two more spots are for grabs. For the two players who will be qualifying by rating, you can check this Google Doc by Martin Bennedik throughout 2017. If nothing will work, there's always the organizer's wild card for one more player.

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