Wins For Jakovenko, Tomashevsky On Khanty-Mansiysk GP's 1st Day

Wins For Jakovenko, Tomashevsky On Khanty-Mansiysk GP's 1st Day

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

The winner of the previous Grand Prix, GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, started with a lucky win today against GM Baadur Jobava in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

He leads together with his compatriot GM Dmitry Jakovenko, who beat GM Anish Giri. The other four games were drawn.

The FIDE Grand Prix used to be played over six tournaments, with every player playing four and only the results of their best three tournaments would count. In the current series there are only four tournaments, every player plays three, and all of them count.

The nice thing about this final Grand Prix tournament is that everyone still has at least a mathematical chance of qualifying for the 2016 Candidates Tournament. Besides, everyone who is not playing cannot qualify anymore. (These and other observations were noted in Chess24's excellent Grand Prixview: What’s at stake in Khanty?)

“This has the potential to become a very exciting tournament,” said GM Peter Svidler after he had played a quick draw with his good friend GM Alexander Grischuk in the first round of the Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix. Svidler added that he was going to “enjoy this intrigue as a spectator.”

Less than two hours into the round, Svidler was already a spectator as he had just scored his “third reasonably comfortable draw” in a line of the Queen's Gambit Accepted. He quickly took up another hobby by voluntarily joining GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko in the commentary booth.

Svidler, who still has to move his pieces with his left hand after breaking his right one about two months ago playing football, didn't want to go into more detail than: The line is nowhere near as safe as it appeared in those three games.”

Svidler and Grischuk start with a quick draw. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

More draws followed. In this tournament it will also be interesting to see what approach the players will be taking. Will they play even more cautiously than normal, or are some going to take more risks instead?

So far GM Boris Gelfand played only one classical tournament this year, but it was very recently: the World Team Championship in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia. There he drew all nine games, and he added another one today against GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

The Frenchman played a 3.Bb5 Sicilian, and after his opponent committed himself to ...Ng8-e7 he went for d2-d4 anyway. The position looked like a Classical Scheveningen with Black's knight on g6 instead of f6.

Gelfand grabbed his chance to play his d-pawn two squares in one go, after which MVL went for a very interesting, tactical sequence. When the dust had cleared, Black was a pawn down but his bishop was fantastic.

A great, dynamic Sicilian fight between Gelfand and Vachier-Lagrave. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

Even though he's played it every now and then, GM Hikaru Nakamura did surprise GM Sergey Karjakin by going for the Sicilian Dragon. In the footsteps of his great Russian predecessor Anatoly Karpov (who beat Miles and Mestel like this in 1982), Karjakin played 9.g4 followed by a quick queen trade.

However, Nakamura was well prepared even there. The American found the important move 22...Rc7! after which he had solved all his problems. Karjakin: “I think you played very correctly in the game.”

Nakamura making Sicilian Dragon fans happy today. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

At the press conference Nakamura was asked about the recently announced Grand Chess Tour. The American GM said: “I think it's gonna be very interesting. Obviously I'll be be playing against pretty much all the other top players in those events so I'm looking forward to it. We'll see what happens.

“As far as the tour itself, I don't really see the point frankly. I know everyone makes a big deal about it're looking at three existing tournaments and, I think, each tournament had something very unique about it prior to this Grand Tour.

“For example, London was only five or six rounds, or seven rounds a few years ago as well. It was a bit shorter but there were always some exciting players, some of the Brits, some young players as well, so that was nice," said Nakamura.

Nakamura on the Grand Chess Tour: “I don't really see the point frankly.” | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

“In St. Louis the conditions were a little bit better than at some of the other tournaments," said Nakamura. "Now you have uniform conditions. When you look at Norway, they had a big first prize, now they have a lower first prize.

“Obviously I think it's gonna be interesting, but I'm not a big fan.

“If there are more tournaments, it could be interesting. Until there's a new tournament in Indonesia or somewhere like that, it's just similar to the Grand Prix basically.” 

GM Leinier Dominguez has always played the Najdorf, but recently he also added the oh-so-solid Berlin Endgame to his repertoire. GM Fabiano Caruana approached it the same way as he did, twice, against GM Magnus Carlsen (a win in Shamkir 2014 and a draw in Baden-Baden 2015).

This involved 9.h3 (nowadays the main line compared to 9.Nc3) then 10.Rd1+ and 11.Nc3. Dominguez’s excellent maneuver ...Ng6-f8-e6 was new in this position and after completing it, exactly half of his moves were made by that knight!

Caruana couldn't find a way to hold an advantage and admitted that, when Black's bishop arrived on the ideal square b7, it was “completely equal.”

Leinier Dominguez now also plays the Berlin. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

At the press conference Caruana commented on the news earlier this week that he has decided to switch federations to the USA: “Well, I always had the option to switch federations since I have two passports, Italian and American.

“In St. Louis last year I had the idea, and a lot of other people also seemed very interested in me joining the USCF. So yeah, it's something I'm very excited about. I'm looking forward to competing in team events for the U.S. and playing for the United States.

“I don't know which will be my last event [under the Italian flag] because I still have a contract with the Italian Chess Federation. For sure next year I'll be playing under the American flag.

“It was great, I played 10 years for Italy, I had a lot of support from the chess federation and from chess fans in Italy. It helped me grow as a player. I went there [when] I was 13 years old and a FM, so... yeah, it's been a long journey.”

Caruana on switching to the USA: “It's something I'm very excited about.” | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

GM Baadur Jobava, “one of the more natural gifted players in the circle” according to Svidler, reached a very promising position out of the opening against GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, the winner of the previous Grand Prix. 

“Everyone is playing this line, including some world champions, so it has some poisonous ideas,” the Georgian GM said about his innocuous 5.e3 and 6.b3 against the Chebanenko Slav. 

“I think I tricked myself in the opening. At some point one has to play ...b6 and ...Bb7. The problem was that I couldn't remember how and when,” said Tomashevsky. White was just comfortably better. Later I was just extremely lucky not just to score the point, but to not lose without a fight at all.”

“As it happens so often, I lost control of the game,” said Jobava. “I continued playing for a win in a position where I had to be careful.”

Tomashevsky and Jobava — no need to explain their body lanaguage. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

At the end of the day GM Dmitry Jakovenko joined Tomashesky by beating GM Anish GiriIn the opening, a Ragozin, Jakovenko played an idea by his second GM Denis Khismatullin and kept a slight edge.

In modern chess you can do just about everything, including opening the position when you have two knights versus two bishops. Still, Giri wasn't sure about his 10...e5 break. “His bishops were still stronger than my knights.”

The Dutch GM, who played a Nepal fundraiser simul on only a few days ago (in case you missed it!), lost a pawn at an early stage. He put up a good fight for a while, but could have been more tenacious in the rook ending perhaps as Jakovenko didn't play 100 percent accurately.

Goran Urosevic, Anish Giri, Dmitry Jakovenko and Anna Burtasova. | Photo Kirill Merkurev.

The tournament is a round robin of 11 rounds, played May 14 to 26 with rest days on the 18th and 23rd. The venue is the Ugra Chess Center in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

You can watch this tournament every day on with commentary by GMs Evgeny Miroshnichenko & Viorel Iordachescu.

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