31 May 2016

Showing no Signs of Surprise

Round four of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

Having defeated Rauf Mamedov with black pieces, Fabiano Caruana has further tightened his grip on the lead. Although the home player surprised his opponent in the Italian game, Rauf admitted that it was not part of his home preparation, but was rather a counter-intuitive decision during the game. Complex type of struggle followed White's tactical operation on the kingside that involved trading two pieces for a rook and two pawns. 

Mamedov – Caruana 

13. Nxf7 – there's no cowardice in his decision. 

13…Rxf7 14. Bxf7+ Kxf7 15. f4 g4 16. f5 Nxg3 17. hxg3 Ng8 18. Qxg4 Qg5 etc. 

According to Caruana, Black is certainly not worse and, perhaps, even stands better already. White should not have traded queens, because in the arising endgame Black's material advantage, coupled with the US Champion's mastery, tipped the scales into the latter's favor. 

The move 30. Re7+? was condemned by the American grandmaster as a key error, because it resulted in White's losing the exchange: 30…Kf8 31. R1e2 Bd8 32. R7e6 Bd7 33. R6e3 Nd5 34. Re4 Nc3 etc. 

The Azeri grandmaster failed to keep his position together and acknowledged defeat on move 52. 

Pentala Harikrishna's game against Anish Giri has petered out into yet another disaster. The Dutch GM, who was likely aflame with desire to take revenge for the Stavanger loss, was methodically putting his opponent up against problems in the improved Tarrasch Defence. Even though Anish evaluated its position as being better for him, it was not good enough for a quick victory that happened in the game. The beginning of the premature finale was marked by Harikrishna's blunder: 

Giri - Harikrishna 

24…Qxd4? 25. exf7+ Kxf7 26. Qc7 Re8 27. Bg6+ Black resigns. 

The first draw of the round was fixed in the Azerbaijani derby Radjabov – Safarli. The grandmasters opened the game into a sharp line of the Grunfeld Defense. Then the game evolved into a forced line, which ended up in a drawish rook ending. 

The exciting game between Sergey Karjakin and Pavel Eljanov ended in a draw as well. The opponents opened their game into the Queen's Gambit in which White opted for the most principled continuation, resulting in his pawn advancing as far as d7. In his turn, Black would not defend passively and started an offensive by launching with his h-pawn forward. On move 28 Sergey played somewhat imprecisely, and Pavel could have reacted with the exchange sacrifice to afford White definite winning chances. However, being pressed for time, the Ukrainian grandmaster refrained from taking this option. Being in time trouble, Eljanov managed to find a way to force simplifications via mass trade of material. Immediately following the end of time control, the opponents agreed to a draw in the endgame that featured White's rook and four pawns versus Black's rook, bishop and pawn.
The most stubborn encounter happened between Hou Yifan and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who challenged each other in the 6. g3 Najdorf. The events were developing in a logical error-free manner from both sides. In a heavy-piece ending with queen and a pair of rook on the board, the World Champion managed to put Shakhriyar up against problems. The Azeri grandmaster admitted that at certain moment he started evaluating his position as worse. However, the precise play allowed Black to achieved equality, and the opponents agreed to a draw on move 56. 

At a press conference Shakhriyar, while responding to a question if he was a superstitious person, produced his mascot for everyone to see: a piece of the paper with five letters written on it, and added that only he is aware of the meaning behind it. However, there is yet one person for whom its meaning is not a mystery - Vugar Gashimov. 

Round five pairings are as follows: 

Eltaj Safarli - Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana - Teimour Radjabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Rauf Mamedov, Sergey Karjakin - Hou Yifan, and Pentala Harikrishna - Pavel Eljanov. 

I want to conclude this review by telling the readers that Shamkir is also good for its roses. We thank organizers for giving us this wonderful opportunity to visit the greenhouse where they grow roses of different species, originally imported from Holland. 

Since 2012 LLC "Azaqro" (a subsidiary of "Synergy Group") has started growing roses in the Shamkir region on a 1 hectare territory. The greenhouse is equipped with modern equipment capable of covering all stages of the production cycle. Roses are planted in soil-free conditions, into special mineral substrates. Such processes as watering, heating, ventilation, climate control, cooling and other processes are fully automated. 

The beautiful roses, which you can see in the pictures below, are mainly transported for sale to Baku and Georgia.