3 Winners, 1 Blunder In Sharjah Grand Prix

3 Winners, 1 Blunder In Sharjah Grand Prix

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

The Sharjah Grand Prix today saw a blunder in the "very rare" category. Alexander Riazantsev's mistake was huge, and he could resign immediately against Dmitry Jakovenko. In the fifth round, Michael Adams and Alexander Grischuk scored good wins.

This may start to sound like a broken record, but yet again this round saw very quick draws on the top boards. The Sharjah Grand Prix was already suffering from (Twitter) attention from the start, and this won't help much.

But the World Chess Federation is listening. In today's interview with Geoffrey Borg, the CEO of FIDE stated that they're indeed considering to bring back an anti-draw rule.

The first draw was seen on board two, between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian. This game saw one of the mainlines of the Marshall Gambit in the Ruy Lopez.

Aronian is known to be the world's biggest expert there, and MVL is one of the few top GMs who still goes for main lines here, and against the Berlin.

MVL and Aronian played 22 moves of Marshall theory today.

"There never was much and to top it all off I was not exactly sure what my analysis was saying," said Vachier-Lagrave. "A draw was never really in doubt; that's the problem of going for this main line."

Aronian: "The Marshall is a very tough opening to play because you have to know and feel many positions. The thing is people don't go for the ones Marshall players are most afraid of!"

Marshall specialist Aronian, sporting new glasses in Sharjah.

And the Armenian number one is not planning to say goodbye to the Marshall soon. "If I had more time I guess I would play all kinds of openings like Ivanchuk. I try to mainly concentrate on my white color and with black play a solid opening."

And then, not much later the same happened on board one. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura drew their game as well, a Queen's Gambit Declined with 5.Bf4 that followed Yu Yangyi-Nakamura, Gibraltar 2017 for 15 moves.

Mamedyarov's preparation wasn't successful because out of the opening it was Black who was better. Nakamura came into the press room as he was curious how big his advantage was according to the engines, but the American concluded that it was never very serious.

An easy day at the office for Nakamura.

Dmitry Jakovenko then scored the first victory for Russia in the tournament. He profited from a huge blunder by his compatriot Alexander Riazantsev. "I had calculated it in advance," said Jakovenko. "19.Rd1 is a very logical move, but I saw that it doesn't work."

The winner of this game said he got his "revenge" for losing the final game of the Russian Championship to Riazantsev last year.

That was a howler of a move by Riazantsev.

The games Tomashevsky-Rapport, Salem-Hou, Vallejo-Li, and Ding-Nepomniachtchi ended in draws, but the round saw two more decisive results.

"I felt like I was schooled. I never had any counterplay," said Jon Ludvig Hammer on his loss to Michael Adams. The Englishman bounced back nicely from his loss to Mamedyarov the other day, and scored a smooth, positional win—our game of the day.

After four draws, Hammer couldn't hold for the fifth time.

At the end of the day Alexander Grischuk added another score for his country, which was his first victory in the tournament. The Russian player ground down Pavel Eljanov in a rook endgame.

"The endgame could be equal, but at the very least it's dangerous for Black, strategically. White has a positional advantage, so if Black cannot make a draw quickly Black will suffer a lot, and that's what happened," said the winner.

Pairings for round 6:

Bo. No. Fed Name Rtg Pts. vs Pts. Fed Name Rtg No.
1 7 Adams Michael 2751 3 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 1
2 12 Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 3 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2766 4
3 3 Nakamura Hikaru 2785 3 3 Grischuk Alexander 2742 9
4 2 Aronian Levon 2785 Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 13
5 17 Hou Yifan 2651 Ding Liren 2760 5
6 8 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 Li Chao 2720 10
7 14 Rapport Richard 2692 2 2 Riazantsev Alexander 2671 15
8 6 Eljanov Pavel 2759 2 Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 11
9 18 Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 2 Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 16

Aronian, Mamedyarov and Salem exchanging some smiles at the start of the round.

This new Grand Prix series consists of four legs. The other three tournaments will be in Moscow (in May this year), Geneva (in July) and in Palma de Mallorca (in November).

A total of 24 players are competing, with each tournament having 18 participants. The two best performing players will qualify for next year's Candidates' Tournament.

Games from TWIC.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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