Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, the two leaders of the Grand Prix in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, drew their games in Round 6 on Friday, which was enough to keep them in the lead. But the group chasing them grew as Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia won.

There are now five players – Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Jakovenko, who are also Russian, Hikaru Nakamura of the United States, and Michael Adams of England – who each have 3.5 points and are half a point behind the leaders.

The Sharjah Grand Prix is the first in a series of four tournaments that will be held throughout the year. The other locations are Moscow, Geneva and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The series includes 24 of the world’s best players, 18 in each tournament, who are competing for one of two slots in the Candidates tournament next year to select a challenger for the World Championship.

Each Grand Prix has a prize fund of 130,000 euros, with 20,000 for first place. The series is being organized by Agon, the company that holds the commercial rights to the World Championship cycle, under the auspices of the World Chess Federation, also known as FIDE, which is the game’s governing body.

Nepomniachtchi’s victory, his first of the tournament, was over Li Chao b of China. It was a short, brutal game. Nepomniachtchi had White and opened with 1. e4 and Li chose the Petroff Defense. The Petroff has a justified reputation for producing a lot of draws, but when something goes wrong, it can unravel quickly. The players followed known ideas until move 12, when Nepomniachtchi played a new move that seemed to help Li as it drove his queen to a square where she wanted to go. But Nepomniachtchi was clearly well prepared as he continued to move quickly and, three moves later, he sacrificed a bishop, ripping open Li’s kingside defense. Li, clearly caught off-guard, responded well at first, but he quickly went wrong. Nepomniachtchi’s attack proceeded fast and furious, not even slowed when Li managed to exchange queens. Facing mate, Li resigned after only 29 moves.

There was one other decisive game on the day: A victory by Richard Rapport of Hungary over Alexander Riazantsev of Russia. It was Rapport’s second win of the tournament and, coupled with two losses, brought him back to even score at three points. For Riazantsev, it was his second consecutive loss, coming one round after he lost in just 19 moves to Jakovenko. This time, he lasted 78 moves, most of it in a long endgame where he was always on the defensive. That is almost a worse way to lose – to have expended all that time and energy and still come up short.

Though it ended in a draw, there was a remarkable game on Friday between Nakamura and Grischuk. It was a wild game arising out of the Sicilian Defense in which neither king was able to castle and spent the entire game exposed and constantly on the run. At one point, Nakamura, who had White, had exchanged both his rooks for three pieces. Grischuk then sacrificed one of his rooks for one of Nakamura’s pieces, but Nakamura then sacrificed one of his pieces so that his king could find shelter. That proved to be a smart decision as he was able to begin to push his kingside pawns, supported by his remaining bishop, which had taken up a commanding post on e5. Grischuk was definitely in trouble, but Nakamura misplayed the position, giving up a pawn in the evidently mistaken belief that his other pawns could then move forward more easily. In the end, neither player could escape a possible perpetual check and the game was drawn.

See also:

  • Official website
  • All the games with computer analysis on chess24

Article source

Oct 01, 2016

FIDE World Youth U14, U16, U18 Championships 2016

Carlos Oliveira Dias from Portugal is the chief arbiter at the FIDE World Youth U14, U16, U18 Championships 2016. Despite of the busy schedule and loads of work to be done during the rounds of the tournament he was kind enough to grant the official media team of the event an interview regarding the championships and his impressions about Khanty-Mansiysk. Enjoy!
The Chief Arbiter Carlos Dias (POR)


– Carlos, you are the chief arbiter at the FIDE World Youth U14, U16, U18 tournament. What are your overall impressions from the arbiter’s point of view?

– I am very happy about my team on these World Youth Championships. All arbiters are really good and professional. I am also satisfied with the work of the organizing committee. The playing hall is super. Till now everything is running smooth. No problems at all.

– Tell us about other arbiters of the tournament.

– Well, I am from Portugal, two arbiters are from the Great Britain. They are Lara Barnes and Alex McFarlane. We have two arbiters from Armenia, two from Belarus, one from Japan, one from Australia and the rest are from Russia. It’s quite good lot of arbiters. They are doing their job properly.

– What can you say about the quality of games during the tournament?

– We are having quite a good lot of participants here. Their level is very high and I hope in the end of the tournament we’ll have maybe three, four or five new titles. We’ll see.

– Is it more difficult to deal with children that with grown-up players?

– Actually, the difference between tournaments for children and for grown-ups is not so big. The rules are the same for everybody. But you have to be careful, because young players make some mistakes that grown-up people don’t make. But it’s more or less. Of course, we have some difference in their emotionality as well, as they are still children. But at this age it is not very big.

– Sometimes kids are very much interested in receiving some hints and advices from their coaches. What is done on this tournament to prevent them from doing this? What anti-cheating measures are used here?

– We are not taking a lot of measures about that, but we are careful about anti-cheating, of course. We are trying to avoid the contact between players and their coaches. And so far, so good. No problems. It is not like in the Olympiad. We have less rules of anti-cheating. But we are controlling the situation, of course. All electronic devices in the playing hall are prohibited. Once or twice we even went to the toilets just to check one or two players but it was ok, we didn’t find anything. In all big events like World Youth Championships and the Grand-prix we have a big gap between places for coaches and players. This is done to prevent hints from the audience. We are doing this to protect the players, nothing else.

– What is your opinion about the dress-code for players?

– I don’t think this is needed for players. At least not in this kind of events. For the players dress-code if needed only in Grand-prix, World Cups and World Championships. Besides, they are kids and almost all of the time they want to show their own clothes from their home countries. And this is ok. But as for arbiters, of course, we have our dress-code.

– Is it your first visit to Khanty-Mansiysk? What have you heard about this place before coming here and what are your impressions about the city?

– Yes, it is my first visit. Before going here I looked in the Internet trying to learn more about the city, but I was very surprised when I came here. I find this city very lovely. It is small like my city Leiria in Portugal with about 100 000 inhabitants. People of Khanty-Mansiysk are also very nice and friendly. I have visited the Ugra Chess Academy and I liked it. I didn’t see anything like this before. I enjoy this visit very much.

– What about the organization of this tournament?

– Super! Really super! Everything is prepared well – the playing hall, the accreditation desk, the personnel that is ready to help the delegations with any issue. Everything’s going really good till now and I hope till the end as well.

– How many year are you working as an arbiter?

– I’ve started my career as an arbiter 33 years ago. I am an international arbiter since 1997, almost 20 years now. I got my “A” category 5 years ago. I am also FIDE lecturer and I am a member of the Arbiters’ Commission of the International Federation of Chess.

– Your work involves a lot of travelling all over the world. Is it difficult to have such a lifestyle?

– Yes, I travel quite a lot. Sometimes it is difficult because I miss my family. But it’s ok. They are looking forward to seeing me back from Khanty-Mansiysk with presents from Russia. I got shoes for my wife, some toys for my kids and a lighter for my father. I hope they’ll like it.

– What will be your next tournament?

– My next tournament will be in Portugal in November and I hope to be in Qatar in the end of the year for World Rapid and Blitz Championships. We’ll see.


Dec 06, 2020

Belt and Road 2020 World Chess Women Summit

The Belt and Road 2020 World Chess Women Summit has started, a two-day women’s event (15+5 games) held on alongside the Danzhou tournament. Hou Yifan is playing!

Women’s # 1 Hou Yifan made a winning return to the virtual board in a 2-day rapid tournament Belt and Road 2020 World Chess Women Summit. This rapid chess (15+5) round-robin event took place on and brought together ten female players including three GMs from the women’s top-10.

Hou Yifan started with a bang scoring four victories in a row right out of the gate. Women’s #1 was in control throughout the tournament distance and despite losing two games to her compatriot Lei Tingjie and Nana Dzagnidze finished clear first a full point ahead of Sarasadat Khademalsharieh and Tan Zhongyi who tied for second.

The games are available on


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May 18, 2016

Andreikin: “I mainly work on chess alone”

Dmitry Andreikin won the Hasselbacken Open last weekend with an unbeaten 7.5/9, but the 26-year-old Russian remains an enigma. Born in 1990, like Magnus Carlsen and so many other top players, and gifted enough to become World Junior Champion, Russian Champion and a World Cup runner-up, he’s gone long periods playing barely a game. In a recent interview he talked about his chess career so far, what he needs to change and how he sees chess in general.

Dmitry Andreikin was the top seed in the 9-round Hasselbacken Open in Stockholm, and he lived up to that status with six wins and three draws.

Dmitry knew he needed a win with Black in the final round, and he had no complaints whatsoever when his opponent, Borki Predojevic, went for the super-sharp 1.e4 g6 2.h4!?.

The tournament had lots more to offer, of course, with at least the following worth checking out:


Adhiban’s last two games – an early knight sacrifice on f2 vs. Goganov that seemed to win on the spot but turned into a titanic struggle,  and some great preparation leading to a spectacular crush of Mikhalevski in the final round

  • 11-year-old Nihal Sarin from India beating experienced GM Eduardas Rozentalis with some brilliant calculation in a Sicilian
  • 15-year-old US hope Sam Sevian winning a real fire-on-board encounter against Alexei Shirov himself

Now, though, let’s switch to Dmitry Andreikin. The Russian star was interviewed by Konstantin Bazarov, the editor of Shakhmatny Bul’var (Chess Boulevard), a site supporting an initiative to hold outdoor chess events in Moscow. The long interview took place after the start of the Candidates Tournament in Moscow, and we’ve translated large sections of it below:

Dmitry, you were successful in many junior tournaments. For example, in 2001 you won the Russian Junior Championship. Was it easy to become Russian Champion when you weren’t yet 14 and, it would seem, childhood wasn’t yet over and you could still play and fool around?

In 2001 I was 11, and I won the Russian Under 14 Championship. I remember the tournament taking place in Smolensk. In itself it wasn’t a great achievement, but it was very pleasant since literally a couple of weeks earlier I’d failed at the Russian Under 12 Championship in Oryol. You might say I rehabilitated myself in an older age group. Now, of course, all that looks childish, but at the time it seemed important. It was precisely then, perhaps, that I fooled around too much, because for a long time I couldn’t make any progress. Junior medals of all kinds continued to flow into my collection, but my strength of play and rating barely increased. In general, I ended up winning my first Under 10 World Championship in 1999, and ten years later I ended my junior appearances with victory in the World Under 20 Championship. Symbolically, as they say, coming full circle…

Is there any threshold you crossed after moving into adult chess? Did anything change in your life? Perhaps you changed your opening repertoire, your tournament schedule or so on.

I think in terms of quality my transition to adult chess took place after I moved to Saratov in 2007. Enrolling in SSSEU (Saratov State Socio-Economic University), I started to play for the university team in the Russian Team Championship. We had two men’s teams: the main one and the reserves, but both played in the Premier League. I could play on the last boards of the main team, but I preferred to play on the first board of the weaker group. The tournament was a round robin, and thanks to my high board number I managed to play against Shirov, Morozevich, Karpov, Ivanchuk, Rublevsky and some other strong grandmasters. Against that line-up I scored 50% – I was satisfied both with the result and the experience. Well, and a huge role in my choosing to become a professional chess player was played by winning the World Junior Championship. I immediately got invitations to a few strong round-robins and life became livelier. I’d like to use this opportunity to express my thanks to Alexey Vetrov – our chess tutor in those years. The university created excellent conditions for chess players, which undoubtedly had a positive influence on my chess development. Now, unfortunately, the university management has changed and the interest in chess has gone. I can’t say that I’ve really changed my style or opening repertoire in recent years. Perhaps I’ve begun to take a more responsible attitude towards my tournament appearances.

Dmitry, after the Candidates Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2014 you entered the Top 30. Is that your greatest achievement or did you ever manage to get higher on the rating list? How do you need to improve to become an elite chess player?

I think I’m now 21st on the rating list, but I’ve been a bit higher. In any case, that shows a certain strength and mastery, but nothing to be proud of and not what I want. Of course I’m impressed by the dramatic rise of Ding Liren, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So and other young players who are striving towards 2800. The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m not systematic enough when studying chess, and that I also lack self-discipline. But it’s very easy to talk about that – it all comes down to action and results…

Can you tell us how you prepare for tournaments?

I mainly work on chess alone – at home with the computer. I hold training sessions in Ryazan only before important events. The last time I got together with some guys was before the World Cup in 2015. We worked extremely well and prepared a few new ideas. In the very first game I surprised the Chinese grandmaster Jianchao Zhou by going for the most complex Najdorf variation, which I’d never played before. Thanks to opening preparation I managed to beat an awkward opponent, who until that point I had a 0-2 score against. In the 3rd round, thanks to a fresh idea with the move 6.Qe2 in the Scotch, I managed to beat Vladimir Kramnik.

Of course after such training sessions you feel much more confident at a tournament. This year a few training events are planned for members of the Russian team.

Is it tough to get into the Russian team, and what criteria are the main ones for establishing the team line-up?

I’d say at this moment in time for players of my level to get into the team depends on the willingness or unwillingness of higher-rated compatriots to take part in this or that team event. So the most reliable approach is to improve my play and increase my rating. We don’t have any prescribed system for determining the team, so the final line-up is chosen by the coaching team. If all the responsibility for the outcome falls on the head coach then I think that’s normal.

Dmitry, could you name the chess players who are your seconds before important events?

I’d rather not show my cards in advance.

Can you recall your most memorable wins against top-level chess players. You’ve met the likes of Anand, Aronian and Kramnik more than once…

Of course every scalp of a top player is pleasant in itself. In sporting terms my most important wins came against Topalov and Aronian in the 2014 Candidates Tournament. I started badly and, with 2 points out of 6, I met Topalov. That win allowed me to end the first round on a high and boosted my optimism.Beating Aronian in the penultimate round was a little unusual for me. Normally I simply aim to play according to the position, but here, taking a look at the standings, I saw that a draw gave me almost nothing, while a win could improve my tournament position by 3-4 places, and I told myself: “I’m going to go and win in the style of Kasparov”. And, strangely enough, I managed.

As a result I shared 3rd place. That outcome was aided by Vishy Anand. A year earlier, in the 2013 Tal Memorial, I’d played our game very well, but at some point I let the advantage slip and got a theoretically drawn endgame with an extra pawn. In principle it was possible to keep playing it for quite a long time, but out of respect for my opponent I agreed to a draw, and after the game I regretted that a bit. A year later – at the much more important Candidates Tournament – in the first round of games Anand didn’t look for winning chances in a pleasant ending, while in the second game he actually took a draw in quite a complex but still won position.

You might say that the ex-World Champion repaid me in kind. Of course each victory over Vladimir Kramnik is memorable for me – it’s just a pity that the only game I’ve lost to him was precisely in the final of the World Cup…

World Champion Magnus Carlsen once described you as potentially his most dangerous opponent. What’s the score in your direct encounters with Carlsen? Can you list the strong and weak points in the Norwegian’s play?

It’s hard to comment on his words – if that was said at all then it was a very long time ago. In “classical” we’ve got an even score, though at a “conscious” age we’ve only played one game – in the 2013 Tal Memorial mentioned above. Back then the game ended in a draw without any particular adventures. In blitz there was more of a struggle, though, with me losing our last game in the 2015 World Championship in crushing style. Of course Magnus is now chess player no. 1 by a large margin. I’m not going to be original: the guy has all the necessary qualities to be an ideal sportsman/chess player. People who have more experience playing Carlsen and know him better can talk about his weak sides.

In February 2016 you won a rapid tournament in Serpukhov and in September 2015 you came second in the Moscow Blitz Championship. Can we say that your best results recently have been in events with faster time controls?

I think my strength should be indicated by tournaments of a higher rank. I can recall the 2012 World Blitz Championship in Kazakhstan, where all the best played, including Magnus. I put up a real fight for a medal and beat Carlsen 1.5-0.5, but a few painful defeats at the end knocked me down to 5th place.

My blitz rating back then was 2877, which even by current standards would be 3rd on the rating list. Now, it seems to me, I play significantly worse in rapid time controls than 3-4 years ago. I don’t know what’s behind that – probably age. In “classical” I feel as though I’m slowly but surely improving. To sum up, at the moment I play mediocre chess at any time control.

Dmitry, the Candidates Tournament has started in Moscow and many experts have had trouble naming favourites. Who, in your view, will be the first among equals and earn the right to play a match against Carlsen? Who will you personally root for?

I like each of the Candidates in some way. It really is a very balanced and interesting tournament. For the fight for first place there are, in my view, a few people who, for one reason or another, have better chances. By that I mean anyone taking part can score, say, +2, in the tournament, but when it comes to qualifying for a World Championship match I think Caruana has the best chances, since, perhaps, he has fewer awkward opponents at the tournament than the rest, plus he has the chess strength. You can say the same about Nakamura, but the crushing score in his head-to-head encounters with Carlsen may affect him at a subconscious level. Of course that’s my subjective opinion – time will tell. In any case, I’ll follow the tournament closely and root for beautiful play.

Have you already got a tournament schedule until the end of the year? Are you playing for any teams?

Spring promises to be pretty full this year. A couple of Scandinavian Opens – tournaments in Reykjavik and Stockholm, stages of the Russian Cup rapid chess tournament in Suzdal and Cheboksary. At some point between them there should be a training camp in Moscow. Perhaps I’ll dare to go to Kosovo for theEuropean Championship in May. Overall, there are plenty of tournaments if I’ve got the urge to play. For a few years now I’ve been playing for the Macedonian club Alkaloid – both in the national league and at the European Club Cup.

Dmitry, will chess ever become a popular sport, and what do chess players, organisers, officials and sponsors need to do for that?

I think chess is currently quite a popular sport, particularly for an internet audience, but nevertheless it will never reach the level of football, hockey or basketball. In my view there are two main reasons: firstly, chess isn’t a spectator sport and unfortunately it’s hard to do anything about that. The faster time control won’t help – watching rapid hand movements in any kind of combat sport will still be more interesting. The second point is the complexity of the rules of play. In many sports an interested fan can quickly feel a pseudo-expert. I can use myself as an example: I really love to put on an intelligent face when talking about football tactics, transfers, substitutions and so on. That false understanding attracts people, of course. In order to grasp even a little about chess you need to spend much more time and energy. What should be done to popularise chess? I don’t know – it’s a question for professionals. A lot of very active work is in fact going on in that area nowadays.

Does a chess intellect help out in other areas of life? I know you recently renovated your flat, and that’s a lot of hassle. Did you end up mentally calculating where you need to stick, or remove or hammer or paint something? 

In my view chess is a very specific game – it forces you to think with your head and keep your mind in good shape, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with either general intelligence or mathematics. A coaching friend from the Saratov Chess Academy recently ran a competition to find the best use of chess thinking in some specific life situation. At first I replied that I’d think about it for a few days and respond, but then I realised I don’t think about life in chess terms. In life everything is more complex than on the 64 squares. The organiser of the competition later wrote that very few people were able to recall some situation from their life. As for the repairs, we were very lucky with the man in charge, and my wife took care of the design. My job was reduced to a minimum: paying for all that beauty, but that’s another story.

In a recent interview with Chess Boulevard Sergey Karjakin rated Crimea becoming part of Russia positively. Do you follow politics, and in particular what’s going on in Syria and Ukraine?

I never took a particular interest in politics, but now the times are such that it’s hard to entirely avoid it. It’s clear that bad things are happening all around the world, but nevertheless I’m more worried by what’s taking place in Russia. If you compare the economic situation in our country before Crimea joined and now, I think the assessment is obvious…

Is a family the main support in life for many professional sportsmen? Why, by modern standards, did you decide to end your bachelor life and become a model family man and father?

Thanks for the kind words, though I’m a very long way away from being a model family man and father. I’ll use the words of a song: “I promise to become purer and better”. As for the relatively early marriage – it was love’s doing. Moreover, getting married at 21 perhaps isn’t all that early. In any case, it’s important to marry for a long time, ideally forever, while age doesn’t matter. Of course the constant support of family and friends is very important for a sportsman. It’s always pleasant to return from tough events to your family nest and those you love.

Have you felt any negative consequences from the crisis in Russia? Perhaps you could give a couple of tips to young people who now don’t feel confident in the future?

I don’t like to complain about life, but of course the crisis has had a negative impact on the existence of ordinary Russians, without exception. For example, we did renovations in 2014-15, and it cost us a few times more than if we’d done them a few years earlier. We had to wait several months for particular kinds of imported building materials. Again for me, as a car fanatic, it’s terrible at times to look at the updated price lists. It’s become exactly twice as expensive to go on holiday abroad – for obvious reasons. For us chess players it’s not all so clear-cut, because after all part of our earnings is in foreign currency, but for those in the public sector it’s become much tougher. I can’t give any advice on that topic. Firstly, I’m too weak in financial matters, but secondly, I think that being absolutely confident in the future is a very naïve undertaking. I can only wish youngsters that they can do what they really enjoy.