Caruana Survives Worse Position, Beats Kramnik In Shamkir

Caruana Survives Worse Position, Beats Kramnik In Shamkir

| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Fabiano Caruana was worse out of the opening but eventually beat GM Vladimir Kramnik in round six of the Shamkir Chess tournament. All other games ended in draws; Giri-Carlsen in just over an hour.

This report on the sixth round cannot begin otherwise than with football. Like last year, an indoor football tournament was held on the rest day at the nearby “Olympic” sports center. Four teams, one with a number of top chess grandmasters, participated.

The group of courageous GMs who played consisted of GM Magnus Carlsen, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, GM Rauf Mamedov and one more Azerbaijani player who you might remember from last year's B group: GM Nijat Abasov. Henrik Carlsen acted as the coach. VIDEO:

Many of the organizers put on their shorts and shirts as well, including Vugar Gashimov's brother Sarkhan. Notably absent was chief arbiter Faik Gasanov — it seems that Magnus put an end to his football career!

Or, as Carlsen himself put it, when asked about his rest day: “We had a football tournament and that was fun, although it was maybe less dramatic than last year.” He was referring to the accident where Gasanov hit the floor quite hard.

There were no accidents this year — luckily..although it would have been nice, on what would have been the 60th birthday of Tony Miles, to have someone playing his sixth-round game lying on a massage bed, as the late English GM did in Tilburg 1985!

Photo Rob Bogaerts, Wikipedia.

Speaking of birthdays: one of the special guests at this tournament, WGM Elisabeta Polihroniade, reached the age of 80 years today.

The seven-time Romanian champion and international arbiter is famous in her country for running a chess radio program for over a decade. Today's top GMs know her well because she's involved in the annual Kings Tournament in Bazna/Medias.

At the start of the round Polihroniade was given a bouquet of roses and performed the ceremonial first move on the board of GM Magnus Carlsen and GM Anish Giri. VIDEO:

With Giri still holding his small plus score  (+1 =6 -0 in classical games), Carlsen calling him a “coward” and Giri calling the world champion “one of his clients,” the two gentlemen had created a nice background for themselves. The game, however, was a huge disappointment.

Carlsen didn't go for anything fancy like the Stonewall, but chose the very solid Ragozin instead. Giri's approach was solid as well, and by move 20 Carlsen had equalized completely. The second half of the game was played completely on auto-pilot until the regulations allowed the players to shake hands.

Carlsen playing 6...Qxf6 in a Ragozin.

“I think Anish really likes his plus score against me. He's entitled to that,” smiled Carlsen at the press conference (and Giri smiled along). “It's a very safe line for White. Black is always aiming to equalize there so I think it's normal.”

Giri: “Basically in the very beginning of the opening, you know, already after the move Bg5, you commit yourself to play for a very small plus. There were some games where Black recaptures the pawn on c5 right away which used to be the main line.

“OK, Magnus allowed the slight weakening of the structure. Probably it's not really anything.”

One of the local journalists asked what Magnus would do if he was offered a job as a footballer at his favorite club Real Madrid. The reply from the world champion: “If I was given such an offer as a football player I would ask them to examine their brains.”

Giri quickly added: “I think it's also dangerous for the career of Real Madrid, not only the career of Magnus!”

Unfortunately the press conference between Carlsen and Giri was also very brief.

Something similar happened in GM Rauf Mamedov vs GM Viswanathan Anand. The Azerbaijani player chose a solid system against the Caro-Kann, some pieces were traded, everything was equal and a draw was agreed. Was it going to be one of those days?

“It's a very solid line,” said Anand. “It's very difficult to get something exciting here. It's not huge for White but it's very persistent.” The ex-world champion said he was happy to get in ...a5-a4, threatening ...Ra5 swapping one pair of rooks. After that it's equal.

A calm Caro-Kann between Mamedov and Anand.

The two had never played a classical game before. They did meet at the board in a rapid match between Azerbaijan and the rest of the world in 2009, when Anand had also played the Caro-Kann. 

I thought it would be nice to surprise him a little bit though I also noticed that this was not a very brilliant surprise if I played exactly this against him last time,” he said. “It's nice to be a little bit unpredictable but it didn't really work out in terms of what I wanted to get.”

The game between GM Wesley So and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov started very promising. The two played the Slav with 6.Ne5, which was seen several times in the Alekhine-Bogoljubow 1929, Euwe-Alekhine 1935 and 1937 world championship matches.

However, the modern approach 11...g5 was introduced by former world #2 Alexander Morozevich in his game with Garry Kasparov, Wijk aan Zee 2000.

The game followed theory for quite a while, but at least one player wasn't really aware of that. Mamedyarov said: “We played yesterday till the morning blitz, I forgot the preparations for the game. I just played chess. No time for preparation. We played till 4am blitz.”

When asked about the rest of the tournament, So reflected: “I think every game will be hard. I'll have two Blacks against Fabiano and Maxime. Of course they will be pushing hard.

“I will have White against Magnus but it really doesn't matter your color because he's the world champion and he's playing really well. I just have to give my best in the last three rounds because I couldn't change my loss in the previous round anyway.”

The first time GM Michael Adams and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played was in a simul (!) in the year 2000. The last time was a year ago in the 4NCL, when Adams lost as White in a Najdorf with 6.Bd3 Ng4. That might have inspired him to attempt another kind of English Attack: 1.c4!

MVL went for a symmetrical line with ...Nh6!?, Adams pushed his h-pawn and soon after the Frenchman put his knight back to g8. “Is this normal?” was the obvious question asked as the press conference.

I was happy with 9...Ng8,” said Vachier-Lagrave. “Then suddenly I solved all my problems, at least I thought most of my problems.”

Vachier-Lagrave's Ng8-h6-g8 was reminiscent of So's Nb8-c6-b8-c6.

Eventually Adams won a pawn, but the opposite-colored bishops didn't help him. “Some stages I was making a bit of progress but at some stage, around the time control, we seemed to just come to a bit of an impasse. It seemed impossible to keep any major pieces on in a sensible way.”

MVL: “There was no moment in the game, even in the early beginning where I was even thinking about getting some chances so a draw is OK today.”

Fortunately it wasn't one of those days — we've saved the best for last. GM Vladimir Kramnik vs GM Fabiano Caruana was a great battle.

Around move 23 Caruana felt that his position was “very unpleasant” while Kramnik felt he was “already close to winning.” All that was needed was the e3-e4 break at the right moment. When Kramnik went for it, it turned out to be the wrong moment.

“Today I was a bit lucky,” said Caruana. “If Vladimir was in his best form I think he would have tortured me from this position for a long time.”

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

The man of the round: Fabiano Caruana.

Shamkir Chess 2015 | Schedule & Results

Round 1 17.04.15 15:00 AZST   Round 2 18.04.15 15:00 AZST
Kramnik 1-0 Adams   Adams ½-½ Caruana
So 1-0 Giri   Carlsen 1-0 Mamedyarov
Mamedov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Anand
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Giri ½-½ Mamedov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Caruana   Kramnik ½-½ So
Round 3 19.04.15 15:00 AZST   Round 4 20.04.15 15:00 AZST
So 1-0 Adams   Adams ½-½ Carlsen
Mamedov ½-½ Kramnik   Vachier-Lagrave ½-½ Caruana
Anand ½-½ Giri   Giri ½-½ Mamedyarov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave   Kramnik ½-½ Anand
Caruana 0-1 Carlsen   So 1-0 Mamedov
Round 5 21.04.15 15:00 CET   Round 6 23.04.15 15:00 AZST
Mamedov ½-½ Adams   Adams ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave
Anand 1-0 So   Giri ½-½ Carlsen
Mamedyarov 1-0 Kramnik   Kramnik 0-1 Caruana
Caruana ½-½ Giri   So ½-½ Mamedyarov
Carlsen 1-0 Vachier-Lagrave   Mamedov ½-½ Anand
Round 7 24.04.15 15:00 CET   Round 8 24.04.15 15:00 AZST
Anand - Adams   Adams - Giri
Mamedyarov - Mamedov   Kramnik - Vachier-Lagrave
Caruana - So   So - Carlsen
Carlsen - Kramnik   Mamedov - Caruana
Vachier-Lagrave - Giri   Anand - Mamedyarov
Round 9 25.04.15 15:00 AZST        
Mamedyarov - Adams        
Caruana - Anand        
Carlsen - Mamedov        
Vachier-Lagrave - So        
Giri - Kramnik        


Shamkir Chess 2015 | Round 6 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,M 2863 2965 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/6
2 So,W 2788 2874 phpfCo1l0.png 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 4.0/6
3 Anand,V 2791 2832 ½ 1 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.5/6
4 Mamedyarov,S 2756 2798 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/6 8.50
5 Caruana,F 2802 2784 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ 3.0/6 7.50
6 Giri,A 2790 2718 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 8.25
7 Kramnik,V 2783 2699 ½ ½ 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 2.5/6 7.00
8 Vachier Lagrave,M 2765 2711 0 ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.00
9 Mamedov,Rau 2658 2718 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.5/6 6.50
10 Adams,Mi 2745 2657 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/6

The tournament runs until April 26. The location is the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Shamkir. The total prize fund is 100,000 Euros.

The rate of play will be 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes to finish the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move 61 onwards.

The official English-language commentary, by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko, is available every round on starting at 3 pm local time (12 pm Amsterdam, 11 am London, 6 am New York, 3 am Los Angeles, 8 pm Sydney).


More from PeterDoggers
Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi Repeats Levitov Chess Week Victory

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race

Nepomniachtchi, Svidler Lead As Levitov Chess Week Becomes Two-horse Race