Three Winners in Tashkent; Vachier-Lagrave Still on Top

Three Winners in Tashkent; Vachier-Lagrave Still on Top

Oct 23, 2014, 9:13 AM |
12 | Chess Event Coverage

On Thursday, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave drew with Teimour Radjabov but continues to lead the Tashkent Grand Prix after three rounds of play.

Sergey Karjakin (vs Dmitry Jakovenko), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (vs Boris Gelfand) and Baadur Jobava (vs Rustam Kasimdzhanov) won their first games today.

Whereas Kasimdzhanov did OK in the previous Grand Prix (he was undefeated and on plus one after round nine, but lost his last two games), his start in Tashkent hasn't been great. The Uzbek GM is playing on home soil, but with a draw and two consecutive losses it might have been more comfortable to be somewhere else.

Today the former FIDE world champion (he emerged as the winner of 2004 knockout world championship in Tripoli) went down against Baadur Jobava, who again avoided the main lines — although the Georgian GM hasn't played really off-beat stuff either, lately.

His interpretation of the French Fort Knox, with a fianchetto of the king's bishop, is borrowed from another creative player: the Swedish GM Tiger Hillarp Persson. GM Dejan Bojkov explains this, and other important moments, below:

Kasimdzhanov's 1.e4 about to be answered by Jobava's 1...e6. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

Karjakin's previous Grand Prix was “OK” too (plus one), and with two draws in Tashkent he's been somewhat in the background, but today the Muscovite moved to shared second place with a good win over Jakovenko, one of the other two Russian players.

In what looked like a King's Indian Attack, Karjakin's plan of d4, Nb3 and Nc3 was more inspired by the Fianchetto Grünfeld, and it worked out well for White. Jakovenko, who said he hadn't looked at this setup, got a worse ending, which he could have defended better perhaps, but he started missing tactics around move 30 --  and then it was over quickly.

A friendly draw between two Russians? No way. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

At the end of the day, there was one more winner: Mamedyarov defeated Gelfand — a game that was not decided over the board, but by the clock, as the Azeri GM admitted. Black was absolutely fine out of the opening in a Benoni with an extra tempo.

Although White kept the initiative, it was always a draw, even after Mamedyarov sacrificed the exchange, until Gelfand miscalculated in timetrouble.

Mamedyarov-Gelfand, the longest game of the round. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

The leader of the pack was involved in a heavy theoretical game with Radjabov. “MVL” was again faithful to his Najdorf, and the players bashed out 27(!) moves of theory in about 15 minutes.

It's always interesting to see what top GMs have to say about a “main line,” because it should say something about the Najdorf in general, right?

Well, the verdict, like in so many openings, is that Black reaches a slightly worse ending that is holdable, but shouldn't be underestimated.

Vachier-Lagrave: “These endings are a bit unpleasant to defend. (...) When I checked this at home I underestimated maybe the problems because I thought it's a quick, easy draw. I play just ...h6 and exchange pawns. In the end I have to be precise to avoid tricks.”

Alexei Barsov, Nastja Karlovich, Teimour Radjabov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

Nakamura managed to surprise Giri a few times in the opening, but still the Dutch GM thought he had equalized when he found the plan with ...e5 and ...f6. However, when the maneuver Nf3-e1-d3 was tried at the press conference, the players started to realize that White does have an advantage in the ending.

He did too in the game (“I tried to regroup the knights but somehow there was no ideal way of placing them” — Giri) but it just wasn't enough. In the end, the players moved on until stalemate.

“What Nimzo variation will I play today...?” | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

Caruana and Andreikin also split the point in a Berlin Ending where Caruana deviated from his game with Nakamura at the Sinquefield Cup.

All minor pieces soon left the board but in the double rook ending White couldn't really achieve anything.

Andreikin reaching for his h-pawn on move 10. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

2014 Grand Prix, Tashkent | Round 3 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 3083 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1 2.5/3
2 Nakamura,H 2764 2856 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 3.25
3 Andreikin,D 2722 2911 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 2.0/3 3.00
4 Karjakin,S 2767 2860 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 2.0/3 2.25
5 Radjabov,T 2726 2757 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.5/3 2.75
6 Giri,A 2768 2759 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.5/3 2.25
7 Mamedyarov,S 2764 2746 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1.5/3 1.75
8 Jobava,B 2717 2771 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/3 1.00
9 Caruana,F 2844 2612 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/3 1.75
10 Gelfand,B 2748 2646 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/3 1.75
11 Jakovenko,D 2747 2613 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/3 1.00
12 Kasimdzhanov,R 2706 2461 0 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/3


2014 Grand Prix, Baku | All Results

Round 1 15:00 UZT 21.10.14   Round 2 15:00 UZT 22.10.14
Giri ½-½ Gelfand   Gelfand ½-½ Karjakin
Mamedyarov 0-1 Andreikin   Jakovenko ½-½ Radjabov
Nakamura 1-0 Jobava   Vachier-Lagrave 1-0 Kasimdzhanov
Caruana 0-1 Vachier-Lagrave   Jobava ½-½ Caruana
Kasimdzhanov ½-½ Jakovenko   Andreikin ½-½ Nakamura
Radjabov ½-½ Karjakin   Giri ½-½ Mamedyarov
Round 3 15:00 UZT 23.10.14   Round 4 15:00 UZT 24.10.14
Mamedyarov 1-0 Gelfand   Gelfand - Jakovenko
Nakamura ½-½ Giri   Vachier-Lagrave - Karjakin
Caruana ½-½ Andreikin   Jobava - Radjabov
Kasimdzhanov 0-1 Jobava   Andreikin - Kasimdzhanov
Radjabov ½-½ Vachier-Lagrave   Giri - Caruana
Karjakin 1-0 Jakovenko   Mamedyarov - Nakamura
Round 5 15:00 UZT 26.10.14   Round 6 15:00 UZT 27.10.14
Nakamura - Gelfand   Gelfand - Vachier-Lagrave
Caruana - Mamedyarov   Jobava - Jakovenko
Kasimdzhanov - Giri   Andreikin - Karjakin
Radjabov - Andreikin   Giri - Radjabov
Karjakin - Jobava   Mamedyarov - Kasimdzhanov
Jakovenko - Vachier-Lagrave   Nakamura - Caruana
Round 7 15:00 UZT 28.10.14   Round 8 15:00 UZT 29.10.14
Caruana - Gelfand   Gelfand - Jobava
Kasimdzhanov - Nakamura   Andreikin - Vachier-Lagrave
Radjabov - Mamedyarov   Giri - Jakovenko
Karjakin - Giri   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Jakovenko - Andreikin   Nakamura - Radjabov
Vachier-Lagrave - Jobava   Caruana - Kasimdzhanov
Round 9 15:00 UZT 31.10.14   Round 10 15:00 UZT 01.11.14
Kasimdzhanov - Gelfand   Gelfand - Andreikin
Radjabov - Caruana   Giri - Jobava
Karjakin - Nakamura   Mamedyarov - Vachier-Lagrave
Jakovenko - Mamedyarov   Nakamura - Jakovenko
Vachier-Lagrave - Giri   Caruana - Karjakin
Jobava - Andreikin   Kasimdzhanov - Radjabov
Round 11 11:00 UZT 02.11.14        
Radjabov - Gelfand        
Karjakin - Kasimdzhanov        
Jakovenko - Caruana        
Vachier-Lagrave - Nakamura        
Jobava - Mamedyarov        
Andreikin - Giri        

The total prize fund is €120,000. The games start each day at 14:00 local time which is 11:00 in Amsterdam, 10:00 in London, 05:00 in New York, 02:00 in Los Angeles and 19:00 in Sydney. The last round starts three hours earlier. The winner and second placed player in the overall final standings of the Grand Prix will qualify for the Candidates’ Tournament to be held in the last quarter of 2015 or the first half of 2016. | Games via TWIC phpfCo1l0.png

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