Superbet Chess Classic: Mamedyarov Strikes With Wonderful Combination
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic: Mamedyarov Strikes With Wonderful Combination

| 33 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov caught the leaders GM Alexander Grischuk and GM Wesley So in the fifth round of the Superbet Chess Classic. Mamedyarov was the only winner of the day as he defeated GM Constantin Lupulescu with a wonderful combination.

Thursday is a rest day and four more rounds remain. Of the three leaders, GM Garry Kasparov picked So as the slight favorite to win the tournament but with a rather tight leaderboard, anything can happen. Or, as GM Alexander Grischuk put it: "Leader is a joke with plus one; it's like in basketball, at half-time you lead by one point."

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The games of the Superbet Chess Classic can be found here on our live events platform.

Round six pairings Superbet
Round six pairings (Friday): Mamedyarov vs. Aronian, So vs. Giri, Grischuk vs. Lupulescu, Vachier-Lagrave vs. Caruana, Deac vs. Radjabov.

"Today I wanted to play an interesting game," said Mamedyarov, who explained that he took some risk by playing something rather unusual for him: the setup with ...Be7 and ...Bf6. "I played it one time in my life, this line, and I lost it."

His ambition had started early in the day. Mamedyarov: "I wake up and I have a good mood. I need to take some risk. I want to play some good, interesting chess."

I wake up and I have a good mood. I need to take some risk.
—Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Lupulescu's response was not the most accurate, and Mamedyarov got what he wanted: an OK position and, more importantly, an imbalanced position. After lots of maneuvering and getting closer to the time control, Lupulescu made some inaccuracies and allowed the strong pawn push 33...e5! that was antipositional but tactically working.

Here the only move is 34.Nh4 when Mamedyarov was intending 34...Nce7 with better chances for Black. Instead, the Romanian GM erred with 34.fxe5? Rg6! 35.Nh4 Rxg3, and then he must have realized that 36.Nxf5 is met by the beautiful 36...Rf3!! and White can resign.

As always, GM Dejan Bojkov provides a more elaborate explanation:

Lupulescu Mamedyarov Superbet 2021
Lupulescu vs. Mamedyarov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The other four games ended in draws, with two of them having some content. For instance, GM Levon Aronian played an interesting, long-term pawn sacrifice against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The latter decided to quickly return it (unlike GM Salem Saleh, who hung on to the pawn but eventually lost to GM Michael Adams at the 2017 Sharjah Grand Prix).

Into the endgame, Aronian kept a tiny edge as his position was a bit more pleasant to play. Eventually, he won a pawn but it wasn't enough to win the game as MVL showed with accurate defense.

Aronian Vachier-Lagrave Superbet chess
Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave after the game. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

GM Fabiano Caruana surprised GM Anish Giri somewhat in the opening by entering the Berlin territory but without swapping the queens: he chose 8.Qe2 instead. The move is quite rare at the top level but was, for instance, played by a 15-year-old GM Bobby Fischer.

Douglas Griffin, whom everyone interested in chess history should follow on Twitter because he's been sharing so many wonderful historic photographs, actually found a picture of that game, Fischer-Neikirkh, Portoroz 1958.

"It's supposed to be not a very accurate move because Black trades the knight which is a bit awkward on f5, but I thought, it's a fresh position," said Caruana. "There are many ways how Black can play this, but it's very likely that people haven't checked it so thoroughly."

Caruana was happy with his position out of the opening, but Giri was just too solid this time and found some very nice moves with his queen to hold the balance.

Caruana Giri Superbet Chess
Caruana got more out of the opening than Fischer, but the result was the same: a draw. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

The draw in GM Teimour Radjabov vs. Grischuk lasted longer than Radjabov's earlier games but provided little new information to opening theory. In fact, it's possible that the players had most of this game already in their notes.

When interviewed afterward, it was telling that Grischuk preferred to speak more about the game he had won the other day. Asked whether Russian coaches teach their pupils to repeat moves to win time on the clock, Grischuk gave an interesting reply:

"Not really, but, how to say... monkey sees, monkey do. You see it from your accomplished colleagues, and you also do it."

Teimour Radjabov Superbet Chess Classic
Radjabov drew all his five games but so did Aronian. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

A bit similar was GM Bogdan-Daniel Deac vs. GM Wesley So, who also played a lot of Queen's Gambit theory (the Vienna, this time) and basically went straight into a dead-drawn rook endgame that was known.

Afterward, So apologized for this quick draw saying, "No one likes a quick draw." He noted that his opening was perhaps not the best choice for this particular round, but he had prepared it for Grischuk the other day and wanted to benefit from that while his memory was still fresh.

Deac So Superbet chess
Deac vs. So. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Grand Chess Tour.

Superbet Chess Classic 2021 | Round 5 Standings

# Fed Player Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Wesley So 2770 2825 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 8
2 Alexander Grischuk 2776 2808 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.0/5 7.75
3 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2770 2789 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.0/5 7.5
4 Teimour Radjabov 2765 2781 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 6.25
5 Bogdan-Daniel Deac 2627 2771 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 6
6 Levon Aronian 2781 2758 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5 5.75
7 Fabiano Caruana  2820 2751 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 2.5/5 5.5
8 Anish Giri 2780 2660 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2.0/5 5
9 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2760 2651 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.0/5 5
10 Constantin Lupulescu 2656 2711 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 2.0/5 4.25

All games

The Superbet Chess Classic takes place June 5-14, 2021 in Bucharest, Romania. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment per move, starting from move one. It is the first leg of the Grand Chess Tour and has a $325,000 prize fund.

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