Giri, Carlsen Trying To Catch Topalov At Shamkir Chess
Anish Giri was the only winner in round six. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Giri, Carlsen Trying To Catch Topalov At Shamkir Chess

| 17 | Chess Event Coverage

David Navara blundered heavily today and quickly lost to Anish Giri, who joined Magnus Carlsen in second place in Shamkir. Veselin Topalov continues to lead the Gashimov Memorial after drawing with Rauf Mamedov.

Following the tradition of earlier years, the organizers had two activities scheduled for the rest day. The players visited the nearby chess school, and some of them participated in football, with both a local team and an international team playing.

Navara kids Shamkir

Navara sharing his knowledge to a new generation. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Magnus Carlsen Shamkir 2018 Football

Reportedly, Carlsen scored all goals for the international team. On watching Real Madrid tonight (which starts 10:45 p.m. local time), he said: "It finishes kind of late but I think I'll stay up." | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Khismatullin Shamkir football

Left-right: Peter Heine Nielsen, Magnus Carlsen, Ding Liren, Silvio Danailov, Denis Khismatullin (with trophy) and Veselin Topalov. Carlsen called Khismatullin, the second of Sergey Karjakin in the tournament, the "big hero" of his team: "Everything that came to his path he just destroyed and he ran tirelessly and defended like crazy. He was amazing." | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

The next day, Magnus Carlsen needed little effort to draw his game with Sergey Karjakin. In fact, it was the second rather boring draw as Black for the world champion. With the field so tight together, perhaps this time it makes less sense to play for a win in every game.

Karjakin's choice of allowing the Marshall was a bit timid as well perhaps, since the line is known to be extremely drawish today. On the other hand, what alternative did he have? Another Giuoco Pianissimo?

"Nowadays it's impossible to play just one opening," said Karjakin. "You have to switch sometimes, to try to surprise your opponent. It's hard to get any advantage against a well-prepared opponent. I tried something but it didn't work; what to do?"

Carlsen about the endgame: "White is a little bit better, it's not dead equal. But eventually Black should equalize."

Sergey Karjakin Shamkir

Karjakin faced the eternal problem of top grandmasters these days: how to get an advantage with White? | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

However, this was not the first game to finish. Anish Giri won shortly before, against David Navara, after the Czech grandmaster blundered.

Giri: "I went 23.b5 because I knew David would see 23...Bc2 and I thought he might miss 24.b6. I got seduced."

Navara had the experience every chess player knows: seeing everything clearly at the moment you let go of the piece. "I realized it about two seconds after I made my move," he said.

David Navara Shamkir

Navara: "I think my problem was I was preparing for five hours and I had too little energy to calculate everything at the board." | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

Giri: "Blunders in general are hard to explain. It has something to do with the brain; it's very complicated. It's very normal that you blunder and you immediately see it. It has something to do with concentration. David is usually a great tactician so it's not his best day."

Giri-Navara Shamkir

It's a rare thing that the shortest game is the only decisive one. And even rarer that Giri is involved!? As his compatriot GM Jorden van Foreest tweeted, miracles happen! | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

The game Ding Liren vs Mamedyarov was drawn around the same time; you can find it in the PGN file. The next to draw were Teimour Radjabov and Radoslaw Wojtaszek, but this game was much more interesting—except perhaps for a top-level correspondence player.

This exciting Poisoned Pawn Najdorf, which ended in a draw on move 35, was identical to a correspondence game until move 33. Both players knew that game.

Radek Wojtaszek Shamkir

Wojtaszek did his homework perfectly. | Photo: Shamkir Chess.

So, in a way, the most interesting game was Veselin Topalov vs Rauf Mamedov, if only because Topalov played one of his typical, positional exchange sacrifices. And the opening was exciting too: a 9.Bxf6 Sveshnikov, where nowadays the more positional 9.Nd5 is usually played.

Topalov had probably seen Mamedov's game against Sanan Sjugirov from last month's European championship. Right after his opponent deviated on move 20, Topalov sacked the exchange, side-stepping a correspondence game in fact.

Mamedov played quite well in the remainder, and held the draw. Still coached by Alexander Khalifman, he keeps on holding his own against the elite.

Dejan Bojkov, Game of the Day

Topalov Shamkir

Tournament leader Topalov: "I'm a bit surprised because I've haven't played for a long time. The tournament is difficult but I have been taking my chances, and maybe not all of them!"
He will face his biggest challenge tomorrow: Black vs Carlsen. | Photo:  Shamkir Chess.

2018 Shamkir Chess | Round 6 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Topalov,Veselin 2749 2881 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 4.0/6
2 Giri,Anish 2777 2827 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 9.75
3 Carlsen,Magnus 2843 2814 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/6 9.25
4 Radjabov,Teimour 2748 2765 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9.75
5 Ding,Liren 2778 2769 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9.25
6 Mamedov,Rauf 2704 2767 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 9
7 Karjakin,Sergey 2778 2777 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/6 8.75
8 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2814 2720 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 7.75
9 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2744 2714 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/6 6.75
10 Navara,David 2745 2646 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.0/6

Round 7 pairings:
Mamedyarov-Radjabov, Navara-Ding, Mamedov-Giri, Carlsen-Topalov, Wojtaszek-Karjakin

Round 8 pairings:
Radjabov-Karjakin, Topalov-Wojtaszek, Giri-Carlsen, Ding-Mamedov, Mamedyarov-Navara

Round 9 pairings:
Navara-Radjabov, Mamedov-Mamedyarov, Carlsen-Ding, Wojtaszek-Giri, Karjakin-Topalov

Shamkir Chess runs from April 19-28, with a rest day on April 24. The games start at 3 p.m. local time, which is 1 p.m. Central Europe, noon London, 7 a.m. New York, and 4 a.m. Pacific. The prize fund is €100,000 ($123,689) with a first prize of €30,000 ($37,107).

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