GM Baadur Jobava

Baadur Jobava at the 2017 World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Full name
Baadur Jobava
Born
Nov 26, 1983 (age 37)‎
Place of birth
Gali, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Federation
Georgia
Profiles

Rating

Bio

Baadur Jobava is a Georgian grandmaster. He has won many tournaments, including the Dubai Open, Aeroflot Open, Tbilisi Cup, Bronstein Memorial, and Abu Dhabi Masters. His peak rating was 2734 in September 2012 when he was the number-19 player in the world.

Jobava has been the Georgian Champion three times and has two Olympiad gold medals for individual performances. He is the former European Rapid champion and tied for first place at the 2017 European Individual Championship.


Style

Jobava has an imaginative universal style of chess, somewhat reminiscent of GM Bent Larsen. He is particularly strong with aggressive wing attacks and excels in closed positions, and almost always seems to have an abundant supply of optimism. He is a fan of offbeat openings, as he plays 1.b3 quite often as well as the unusual 2.Nc3/3.Bf4 in the London system hybrid that some call the Jobava-Grischuk attack. Jobava has a proclivity for pushing rook pawns, a trait common among many hypermodern-style players.

We see Jobava's unique style (and opening choice) in the following game versus GM Shakrhiyar Mamedyarov. The "Jobava-Grischuk" attack gives Jobava an advantage out of the opening by basically pushing his kingside pawns in a closed position. His position looks promising after 17.g5:

A few moves later, Jobava's h-pawn finds its way to h7, and after 23.Nf4 his attack is crushing. With 26.Rh6 we gain a glimpse at Jobava's imagination, and after Mamedyarov accepts this pseudo-rook sacrifice, Jobava follows with the royal fork by 27.Nf7+. Mamedyarov resigns on move 34 with a mate in five on the board. A nice attacking example from Jobava that displays a lot of his positive qualities.

Early Career To Grandmaster

Jobava learned to play chess at the age of four from his father and started making serious progress in his adolescence. He scored 6.5/10 at the 1997 World U-14 Championships. In 1998 he scored 4/9 in the Petrov Memorial.

In 1999 Jobava won the qualifying rounds for the national team trials. He scored 7/9 at the Junior Olympiad playing first board for Georgia, which finished in second place. Jobava earned his international master title in 2000 and scored 5/7 at the 2000 Olympiad. He earned his grandmaster title in the following year at the age of 17. 

Baadur Jobava
Jobava in 2015. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Georgian Champion

Jobava won the 2003 Dubai Open with a score of 7/9 ahead of a large field of strong players and grandmasters, including GMs Mamedyarov, Evgeny Sveshnikov, and Rauf Mamedov. Jobava also won his first Georgian Championship in 2003. In 2004 he won the gold medal for individual performance at the Olympiad with an 8.5/10 score.

Jobava scored a nice victory in the mainline Slav defense over GM Alexander Grischuk at the 2004 Olympiad. After following theory for some time, Grischuk erred with 18...gxh4 and Jobava started pressing on the kingside with the half-open h-file and active pieces. Later 23.Ng7 was an amazing shot. Jobava played like a machine for the remaining three moves before Grischuk's resignation.

A 15-year-old GM Magnus Carlsen decided to play this same line against Jobava in 2005, but the result was the same. Jobava and Carlsen followed the Jobava-Grischuk game above until 14...Be6, and then Carlsen sacrificed the exchange with 16...Nxc4. The position is sharp after 19...Bg6+, as Jobava's king looks a little uncomfortable, and Carlsen's pieces are active.

Jobava returns the exchange with 22.Rxc2 and then finds a brilliant shot with 25.Nb5, which tears apart Carlsen's queenside (leaving nowhere safe for Carlsen's king to hide). The game transitions to a heavy-piece endgame where Jobava has the initiative and winning chances due to Carlsen's precarious king position. Under immense pressure, Carlsen missteps with 35...Rb6, and Jobava effectively ends the game with 36.Rf4. 

Baadur Jobava
Jobava at the 2017 Aeroflot Blitz Tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Jobava won the 2006 Aeroflot Open with a 6.5/9 score on tiebreaks ahead of GMs Mamedyarov, Pavel Eljanov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Dimitry Jakovenko, and Alexandra Kosteniuk who were in a strong 93-player field (including 88 grandmasters). In 2007 he won his second Georgian championship.

In 2008 he shared first place at the President's Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan. Jobava continued his successful play by winning the 2009 Tbilisi Cup and then the bronze medal at the 2009 European Individual Championship. The next year he won the silver medal at the 2010 European Individual Championship. Jobava defeated Carlsen in the 2010 Olympiad, employing an unusual line in the Samisch Nimzo-Indian Defense with 6.e4?!

The queens were exchanged early, and the game was back and forth with Carlsen winning a pawn and eliminating Jobava's bishop pair and reducing his piece activity on the kingside. Carlsen made the first large misstep with 27...c5, and it seemed likely that he either underestimated or missed Jobava's 29.Rxh7+ shot. After massive liquidations, Jobava was up two connected passed pawns and brought home the full point. How often do you see Carlsen being outplayed in an endgame?

European Rapid Champion

In 2011 Jobava tied for first alongside GM Hrant Melkumyan in the Lake Sevan tournament (winning on tiebreak) and then convincingly won the Edoardo Crespi Trophy with an 8.5/9 score (two points ahead of the field). One week after his dominating performance at the Edoardo Crespi event, Jobava won the 2011 European Rapid Championship ahead of the 729-player field with an 11/13 score. This impressive achievement is still one of the finest of his career, as he finished ahead of an incredibly large and powerful field, including GMs Alexei Shirov, Judit Polgar, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, and Etienne Bacrot.

Baadur Jobava
Jobava at the 2016 World Rapid Championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In 2012 Jobava scored 7.5/11 at the European Individual Championship and shared first in the Dubai Open (alongside GMs Ni Hua, Mikhel Mchedlishvili, Normunds Miezes, and Sandipan Chanda) ahead of a 160-player field. Jobava also won his third Georgian championship with a 10/11 score, and in September 2012 he achieved his peak rating of 2734 when he was ranked number-19 in the world.

In January 2014 Jobava tied for second place (alongside the legendary GM Jan Timman) at the Tata Steel Group B tournament, behind the winner GM Ivan Saric but ahead of GMs Anna Muzychuk, Dimitri Reinderman, Yu Yangyi, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, and seven other strong masters. In February 2014 he won the Bronstein Memorial on tiebreaks with a 7/9 score ahead of a strong, 78-player field that included GMs Daniil Dubov, Alexander Khalifman, Gabriel Sargissian, Ilya Smirin, and Vladimir Akopian.

Baadur Jobava
Jobava (left) playing Wesley So at the 2017 World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Jobava finished in second place behind GM Wesley So at the 2014 ACP Golden Classic in Italy and then won the 2014 Memorial Tseshkovskogo. He scored 8/14 in the 2014 World Rapid Championship and tied for 15th place. He tied fourth at FIDE Grand Prix Tashkent 2014 alongside GMs Vachier-Lagrave, Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, but behind the winner Dmitry Andreikin and the second and third place winners, Mamedyarov and GM Hikaru Nakamura.

In 2015 he finished in clear first place in the HZ Chess Tournament, scoring 8/9 points. He also won the bronze medal at the 2016 European Individual Championship and then a gold medal for his board-one performance for Georgia at the 2016 Baku Olympiad.

Jobava finished in third place (alongside GM Vladislav Artemiev) at the 2016 Eurasian Blitz Chess Cup, half a point behind the winners, GMs Nepomniachtchi and Farrukh Amonatov. He finished ahead of many strong players, including GMs Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Ruslan Ponomariov, Boris Gelfand, Mamedyarov, Grischuk, Francisco Vallejo Pons, and Hou Yifan.

Baadur Jobava
Jobava at the 2017 World Cup. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In 2017 Jobava tied for first place at the European Individual Championship (getting the silver medal on tiebreaks) and won the 2017 Xtracon Chess Open. Jobava played for the Tbilisi Gentlemen during 2017-2019 in the PRO Chess League and put up strong and consistent results. Still a strong grandmaster, Jobava won the 2019 Abu Dhabi Masters tournament with an 8/9 score. He topped the 150-player field that included many GMs, including the rising star GM Parham Maghsoodloo.

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