28 April 2017

Per Aspera

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

On day four your correspondent finally got around to taking a walk of the city sights. Thanks to one of the tournament organizers Odjat Asadullayev, Shamkir was seen from many different and dissimilar angles. 

Architecture and planning of the modern city, inhabited and raised by the Germans at the onset of the 19th century, has more in common with the West than the East. Shamkir is a surprisingly clean and green city with the modern buildings not disagreeing in style with its historical predecessors, while the problem of traffic jams is absolutely unheard of. 

However, with seeing is believing, you you can get a feel of its streets, buildings, a Lutheran church, a mosque and parks by going over the attached picture gallery. 

As for the tournament, there has occurred a dramatic turn events. 

Pavel Eljanov has had all chances to score his third victory in a row. Indeed, he managed to outplay Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, having won a pawn and created his own dangerous passer. The Azeri grandmaster lashed out in a critical moment, which could have been refuted by one the most complex ways. 

Eljanov – Mamedyarov 

Black has just played 43…Rf5?! 

44. e7! was an immediate winner, as was noted by Shakhriyar at the press conference. An exemplary followup is as follows: 44…Rxd5 45. e8Q Rf5 46. Qxc8, and White’s material edge should tell. 

Pavel missed this line and opted for 44. Re5?! As turned out later, the Ukrainian grandmaster overlooked 44…Qh3! 

When in a position with non-standard material balance Black got down to exploiting perpetual check ideas, a draw seemed close by. At this moment, however, Shakhriyar's sixth feeling likely came into play and he decided against forcing a draw. When Pavel started playing imprecisely, Black seized initiative. White’s fatal blunder happened on move 61, which Mamedyarov capitalized upon without delay. 

A king’s escape to e4 was followed by Black’s swift victory after 61…Bb7! White’s passers would help him out in no line. 

Michael Adams defeated Sergey Karjakin with the black pieces. The Englishman got a full-fledged middlegame play and managed to put Sergey up against such problems that took him a lot of time to find his way through. Making his move 39 on a hanging flag, Sergey committed a blunder that failed him once and for all. 
Karjakin – Adams 

39. g3? Rxf1+ White resigned in view of 40.Rxf1 Qc4+ 41.Re2 Nd2+ 42.Ke1 Qc1#. 

A perpetual on move 28 ended the game of Teimour Radjabov and Pentala Harikrishna. Both demonstrated deep home preparation in deftly following one of the Ragozin Defense lines that petered out into a sharp position with a lot of calculation. 

A lot of fireworks was seen in the game between Wesley So and Radoslaw Wojtaszek. In the Queen's Pawn Opening White left his king uncastled and launched a pawn storm on the queenside, which Wojtaszek met by opening up the center to take advantage of the exposed white monarch. A flexible Wesley So, in his turn, delayed the queenside actions in favor of undermining the far advanced black pawns on the opposite side of the board, and soon enough both kings started feeling the heat of the day. However, the trade of queens brought to nothing the attacking potential of both sides, and after move 40 the game ended in a draw in a pawn ending. 

Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik clashed in the rare line of the Queen's Gambit. The battle followed in the footsteps of the Sochi 2015 game Wojtaszek - Kramnik. With queens off the board quite early in the game, the opponents maneuvered across the entire board. In general, the game never left the realms of dynamic equality and quite logically ended in a draw by repetition. 

As we remember from our previous review, there were at least two participants who were looking forward to relieving post-game tension by watching the evening match Real Madrid vs Barcelona. 

Thus, having defeated Pavel Eljanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov became the sole leader with 2.5 points. Trailing half a point behind are Michael Adams, Veselin Topalov and Pavel Eljanov. 

Round four pairings are as follows: 

V. Kramnik - P. Harikrishna, S. Mamedyarov - T. Radjabov, M. Adams - P. Eljanov, R. Wojtaszek - S. Karjakin, V. Topalov - W. So.