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

Nov 30, 2020

Carlsen vs. So final on Skilling Open

Wesley So spoilt two completely winning positions in a row against Hikaru Nakamura but still held on to draw all four games on Day 2 of their semi-final and reach the final of the $100,000 Skilling Open. His opponent will be World Champion Magnus Carlsen, who admitted “frankly I’m not playing that great” after another tough day at the office against Ian Nepomniachtchi. After several near misses the day before, the Russian finally won Saturday’s first game, but Magnus hit back in the next game and reached yet another online final.

Wesley So: “A very confusing day”

After the quarterfinals in which three of the four Day 1 losers came back to win, you might have considered Hikaru Nakamura the favourite to make a comeback against Wesley So. Few people in world chess are better at protecting a lead than Wesley, however, so if you just heard that there were four draws on Day 2 of the semi-finals you might assume he’d managed to drain all the life out of the positions and ease his way into the final. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Hikaru made his intentions clear in the first game of the day, when instead of playing his usual solid Berlin Defence against 1.e4 he went for a Ruy Lopez with 3…a6 and 4…g6, an opening he seems never to have tried before in a top-level game. It soon backfired, however, since Wesley was close to winning in 15 moves and could have put the finishing touches to the game on move 31.

Before that we also have a full program of events starting with a Q&A session with 8-time Russian Champion Peter Svidler at 14:00 CET.

See also:

  • Champions Chess Tour website
  • All the Skilling Open games: Prelims | Knockout
  • The King’s Gambit: Magnus Carlsen launches $1.5 million Champions Chess Tour
  • What’s new in the Champions Chess Tour?
  • Nakamura and Firouzja complete Skilling Open lineup
  • Introducing the new Skilling Open commentary teams
  • Skilling Open 1: Giri leads mouse-slipping Carlsen
  • Skilling Open 2: Giri still leads after Karjakin beats Carlsen
  • Skilling Open 3: Firouzja heartbreak as Carlsen wins prelims
  • Skilling Open QF1: Naka, Giri, Nepo and So in danger
  • Skilling Open QF2: Day of the Comebacks
  • Skilling Open SF1: Carlsen and So seize the lead
Aug 21, 2017

Magnus Carlsen to keep world No1 spot

The Norwegian’s second place at the Sinquefield Cup, combined with failures from Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, was enough to keep him clear at the top Magnus Carlsen fought off two challenges to his world No1 ranking at last week’s Sinquefield Cup but gone are the halcyon years when the Norwegian, now 26, outclassed his rivals with rating leads of 50 points or more.

At one stage in the elite tournament in St Louis Carlsen’s edge had diminished to under 10 points, a slim margin which could have disappeared in a single game, but his second-place finish, coupled with failures by his US rivals Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, meant the world champion slightly increased his advantage over the player who is now No2.

That player is France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who like Carlsen was born in 1990, the vintage year for grandmasters. Vachier-Lagrave scored an unbeaten 6/9 and edged out Carlsen by half a point. Their individual game, level for a long time then briefly winning for Carlsen until he blundered it away, was in effect the tournament decider.

Vachier-Lagrave has a different style from Carlsen’s mastery of the gradual squeeze. The Parisian’s favourite opening is the combative Najdorf Sicilian 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6, which was a speciality of the legends Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov in their heydays. Vachier-Lagrave will take on the Najdorf with either colour, and won an impressive strategic game as White in the final round at St Louis where his knight dominated Black’s dark-squared bishop.

The elite grandmaster action now moves on to the 128-player World Cup knock-out, where games start at Tbilisi in Georgia on 3 September.

A loss to a much lower rated opponent in an early World Cup round would immediately endanger Carlsen’s rating. Could it happen? The seeding system puts No1 against No128 in round one, so the world champion meets the little-known Oluwafemi Balogun of Nigeria. Then it gets harder: Carlsen will probably face the Russian veteran Alexey Dreev, France’s Etienne Bacrot or China’s Bu Xiangzhi and seven-times Russian champion Peter Svidler before a likely quarter-final against Vachier-Lagrave, world No1 against world No2 on the live ratings.

Though Carlsen won quickly with the black pieces against the out-of-form US champion at St Louis, he had some anxious early moments due to his inaccurate 12…Nc5?! (Rb8!). The turning point was when 19 b3! would have been good for White instead of the miscalculation 19 Bf4? When Carlsen replied Rxb2! he already foresaw that the seemingly fearsome pin and double attack on his d7 knight by 23 Qxd6 failed to Qe2! which left So’s position disorganised. Black won a pawn by 27…Bxa2 and when a second pawn followed a few moves later So resigned rather than face a lost ending.

Wesley So v Magnus Carlsen

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4 Bb4+ 5 c3 Be7 6 Nxc6 bxc6 7 Bd3 d6 8 O-O Nf6 9 Re1 O-O 10 Nd2 Re8 11 Nf3 Nd7 12 Bf4 Nc5?! 13 Bc2 Bg4 14 h3 Bh5 15 Be3 Nd7 16 Ba4 c5 17 g4 Bg6 18 e5 Rb8 19 Bf4? Rxb2! 20 exd6 Bxd6 21 Rxe8+ Qxe8 22 Bxd6 cxd6 23 Qxd6 Qe2! 24 Qg3 Nf8 25 Re1 Rb1 26 Rxb1 Bxb1 27 Bc6 Bxa2 28 Qd6 Qc4 29 Ne5 Qxc3 0-1 3508 1 g5! f5 (if fxg5 2 hxg5 and White advances his Q-side pawns to create a king entry at b5 or c5 ) 2 exf5 gxf5 3 h5! Kxd5 4 g6! hxg6 5 h6! and queens.

article source

Jan 03, 2019

World Rapid Championship: Dubov & Ju Wenjun take gold

22-year-old Russian Grandmaster Daniil Dubov is the 2018 World Rapid Champion after beating Korobov and Wang Hao with Black on the final day to finish in clear first on 11/15. He takes the $60,000 first prize, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (silver), Hikaru Nakamura (bronze), Vladislav Artemiev and Magnus Carlsen earned $36,250 each after ending the day half a point behind the leader. China’s Ju Wenjun retained her Women’s World Rapid Championship title, picked up $40,000 and can still claim the triple crown if she can also win the World Blitz Championship.

See also:

  • Official website
  • All the World Rapid Championship games with computer analysis: Open | Women
  • All the World Blitz Championship games with computer analysis: Open | Women
  • World Rapid 1: Magnus suffers as Firouzja shines
  • World Rapid 2: Seven leaders as Magnus lurks