Vachier-Lagrave Moves to 2/2 in Tashkent; Did Caruana Miss a Win?

Vachier-Lagrave Moves to 2/2 in Tashkent; Did Caruana Miss a Win?

| 33 | Chess Event Coverage

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave leads the pack at the Tashkent Grand Prix after beating local hero Rustam Kasimdzhanov on Wednesday.

All other games ended in draws, but Fabiano Caruana came especially close to a win against Baadur Jobava, who made an early mistake in a Reversed Philidor.

It is unlikely that Maxime Vachier-Lagrave threw a little birtday party in the Hilton in Tashkent last night, but he might have celebrated by ordering some extra room service. In any case, the next day he scored another smooth win to reach 2.0/2 — and no one else can say that.

It looks like Rustam Kasimdzhanov made an early, positional error and suffered for the rest of the afternoon. Taking on b5 improved White's pawn structure and he was better for the remainder. In the final position Black is totally paralyzed.

GM Dejan Bojkov analyses what was the only decisive game of the round:

An early mistake cost Kasimdzhanov dearly. | Photo Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of FIDE.

Speaking of early mistakes: Baadur Jobava wasn't a 100 percent fresh either at the start of the round. The Georgian GM played 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Be2!?, a kind of Reversed Philidor with which he has the amazing score of 4.5/5 (although it's hard to credit that modest bishop move). 

His 7.Qa4 stopped ...a5-a4 and prepared 8.b4, which was fine, but White should immediately continue with b4-b5. What happens when White casually castles there can be seen in the game: ruthless punishment by Fabiano Caruana, who immediately picked up the white queen.

However, to everyone's surprise, the Italian GM didn't win that game! Somehow Jobava reached a fortress, then allowed too many chances for his opponent, but still escaped:

Caruana still hasn't found back his Sinquefield Cup top form. | Photo Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of FIDE.

And to continue the theme of somewhat remarkable games, there's the encounter Andreikin-Nakamura. At first sight it's quite an interesting battle in an Archangelsk Ruy Lopez that involves an early Ra1-a7 and then a spectacular Ra7xf7 sacrifice, when White gives a perpetual check.

However, as it turns out, everything from start to finish had been played before —in the game Anand-Shirov, Belgrade Investbank 1997. So what happened?

Nakamura told via Skype: “We both knew the game. He basically said he wasn't really prepared and just played 1.e4 because Svidler does that too. He wasn't sure what to expect, and I wasn't prepared for the line either, but I knew it too.”

Andreikin & Nakamura after the game — unfortunately the press conferences are not streamed online. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

With lot number one, Anish Giri got to play two whites in a row, but also in the second he failed to score more than a draw. Today he got closer than in his game with Gelfand, though.

Like in his Univé match with Alexei Shirov, Giri's opening preparation is looking good. Although Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had played the same line the day before as White, the Azeri GM was the first to take a big think after the pseudo-sacrifice 10.Nxd5. His reaction wasn't great, and he got into a bad ending.

It was a textbook IQP ending which is discussed in detail by Mikhail Shereshevsky in his classic Endgame Strategy, for example the games Flohr-Pirc, Podebrady 1936 and Averbakh-Matanovic, Belgrade 1961.

However, in textbooks the weaker side always makes more mistakes, and then we see how White can win. Mamedyarov didn't make those mistakes and held it to a draw, helped by his opponent who lost a tempo somewhere:

Giri and Mamedyarov: a textbook ending. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

Boris Gelfand played a good game against Sergey Karjakin, where he managed to get an advantage out of the opening with the sideline 5.Qb3!? in the Queen's Indian. But like in Giri-Mamedyarov, White's advantage wasn't enough to get real winning chances.

Gelfand couldn't break through Karjakin's defense. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

If Andreikin-Nakamura showed how much these 2700 GMs actually know when not well prepared, Jakovenko-Radjabov showed even more of that theoretical knowledge among the top GMs.

These players reached an ending BR vs BR with six pawns each, where White's 22nd move was the novelty! The verdict is still the same after the game: Black is slightly worse but can hold it.

Jakovenko and Radjabov drew a theoretical ending. | Photo Yulia Monakova courtesy of FIDE.

2014 Grand Prix, Tashkent | Round 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Vachier Lagrave,M 2757 3575 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2.0/2
2 Nakamura,H 2764 2910 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/2 1.25
3 Andreikin,D 2722 2954 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 1.5/2 1.25
4 Karjakin,S 2767 2737 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
5 Gelfand,B 2748 2767 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.00
6 Radjabov,T 2726 2757 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.00
7 Giri,A 2768 2756 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 0.75
8 Jakovenko,D 2747 2716 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 0.75
9 Mamedyarov,S 2764 2555 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.50
10 Kasimdzhanov,R 2706 2562 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.50
11 Caruana,F 2844 2547 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 0.5/2 0.25
12 Jobava,B 2717 2614 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.25


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 - Gelfand   Gelfand - Jakovenko
Nakamura - Giri   Vachier-Lagrave - Karjakin
Caruana - Andreikin   Jobava - Radjabov
Kasimdzhanov - Jobava   Andreikin - Kasimdzhanov
Radjabov - Vachier-Lagrave   Giri - Caruana
Karjakin - 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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