Two Chinese Leaders After Moscow GP Round 2
Ding Liren defeated Ernesto Inarkiev to join his compatriot Hou Yifan in the lead at the FIDE Grand Prix in Moscow. First-round loser Ian Nepomniachtchi today defeated Jon Ludvig Hammer.
Ding Liren is on "plus one" now, like Hou Yifan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.
On an even quieter day in the Central Telegraph building, with not only few spectators but also hardly any VIP guests attending, Hou Yifan held her own against almost 150 Elo points higher rated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. She had claimed "board one" as the only winner of the first round, and faced the top rated opponent in the score group below her.
MVL said he didn't benefit much from the fact that he had the same opening against Levon Aronian 1.5 years ago. "I didn't remember exactly my preparation but I think I solved my problems. I tried a little bit to see how it would end but as it turned out it was very solid for White."
After a toddler yesterday, a group of middle-aged ladies joined Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on stage today for the first move. However, it was a mystery to most, including official photographer Max Avdeev and official commentator GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko, who they were. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Alas, this was one of several relatively short draws. The "draw fever" seems to have travelled from the UAE to Russia, where the common medicine (an anti-draw rule) is not in effect either. Nakamura-Radjabov was 18 moves, Gelfand-Mamedyarov 22, Svidler-Salem 16 and Grischuk-Tomashevsky only 12.
Mamedyarov, Giri, Gelfand, and Salem following the remaining games. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Of the players who split the point today, Paco Vallejo came the closest to a win. His 11.b3 started very interesting complications in the Catalan and eventually the Spaniard ended up with two extra pawns. The opposite-colored bishops helped Pentala Harikrishna in his defence, but with rooks on the board White must have been winning somewhere, according to the players.
Vallejo sitting in the relax area and watching the games on screens. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
Michael Adams went for the 3.Bb5 Sicilian against Anish Giri, but soon he was on his own in the opening. "For some reason I completely forgot about this line," said the Englisman, who then had to improvise. "Somehow I managed to survive basically."
Especially giving up the h4-pawn was a remarkable decision from White, but it worked out well. Giri: "At some point I realised that my plan has a big hole in it, which is me, myself not mating him."
Two sharp-dressed men in a once again nicely designed Agon venue. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
The Pirc is a well-known choice for players who need a win, or simply wanna fight. From the way Jon Ludvig Hammer handled the opening today, one can only conclude that he must have been surprised by his opponent Ian Nepomniachtchi's choice of 1...d6. The Russian only used it five times in his career in classical games, and has now an undefeated score of 4.5/6 with it.
As early as move six Hammer played a dubious pawn push. The early 5...b5 (some Pirc experts tend to wait with this move until White has shown his cards) can be either met by 6.f3, with an English Attack kind of setup, or 6.Bd3, to make Nc3-e2 possible after b5-b4. White continues with Nf3 and castle kingside, and e.g. Michael Adams won a couple of nice games there in his career.
Hammer's subsequent play was inventive, but the Norwegian couldn't prevent the "Pirc bishop" on g7 becoming a monster. Black had all the time in the world to build up his attack.
The players chatting about their game afterward. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
At the end of the day Ding Liren managed to grind down Ernesto Inarkiev in an endgame, to catch Hou Yifan in the lead. Opening wise this was the most interesting game of the day, but also after the queens left the board there was still much going on. From that point Inarkiev was already defending, though.
Eventually the players got the same endgame as in Vallejo-Hari, but whereas that one was probably winning somewhere but ended in a draw, this game might have been a draw but ended decisively.
The start of the second round in Moscow. | Photo Maria Emelianova.
2017 Moscow Grand Prix | Round 2 Standings
|14||14||GM||Vallejo Pons Francisco||2710||1||1,5|
|16||17||GM||Salem A.R. Saleh||2633||1||3,3|
|18||18||GM||Hammer Jon Ludvig||2621||0,5||-1,5|
Tomorrow's pairings are Hou-Ding, MVL-Gelfand, Tomashevsky-Nakamura, Giri-Vallejo, Mamedyarov-Adams, Harikrishna-Svidler, Nepomniachtchi-Salem, Radjabov-Grischuk, and Inarkiev-Hammer.
The tournament, a 9-round Swiss with a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($142,000), runs until May 21, with a rest day on May 17. After Moscow there will be two more Grand Prixs: in July in Geneva, and in November in Palma de Mallorca. The top two overall finishers will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament.
Games from TWIC.