With an Eye to the Candidates
Dmitry Kryakvin analyzing the closing three round games of the second FIDE Grand Prix leg in Moscow
The finish of the second FIDE Grand Prix leg in Moscow has brought little joy to the national chess school and vice versa to that of the Heavenly Empire. I have not felt like taking up the pen for quite a while even. I remember the chess world actively discussing Igor Kovalenko's reading the Orwell "1984" when an acquaintance of mine asked: what would be the most terrible fear for me as part of the ultimate test devised by the mighty O'Brien for the story heroes. My fear of height immediately sprang to mind, coupled with an unwillingness to give coverage to a Candidates Tournament with Western or Chinese grandmasters only...
Not the best week for those flying the tricolor flag
It is somewhat early to resign to despair, however. We still have Sergey Karjakin with his bulletproof ticket and Vladimir Kramnik with his current rating adding to a certain optimism, although we were looking forward to getting a lot more from the ultimate rounds of the Grand Prix leg. Indeed, real opportunities were there with Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk! This is not to mention Evgeny Tomashevsky, who, despite being happy with his nine draws, had his fair share of opportunities to score.
Harikrishna – Tomashevsky (Round 7)
The number of Pentala's saves in this event is incredible! This is nothing short of fantastic and I seem to recall nothing of the kind even when searching my memory for achievements of such main chess magical illusionists of ours as Boris Savchenko and Pavel Ponkratov. Besides, Harikrishna went on to add to his success by grinding down Ian Nepomniachtchi out of a hopeless position...
White is down a pawn, "but" his king is pinned and fired at from all directions. Nevertheless, winning the game takes some sophistication. At any rate, a tricky 30...g5! 31.Re4 Bc6 32.Re1 Bg2! (not so clear is 32...Nxc4+ 33.Kc3 Rxd3+ 34.Rxd3 Rxd3+ 35.Kxc4 Rd2 36.Bc3 Rxa2 37.Re7, and an opposite-colored bishop ending promises some definite drawing chances) 33.Rg3 Nxc4+ 34.Kc3 Nxb2 35.Kxb2 Rxd3 36.Rxg2 Rd2+, with a technical conversion of extra material, was not discovered by Evgeny.
30…h5?! 31.Bf6 Bxg4?!
Worth trying is 31...Rf8 since the followup simplifications remove quite a number of pawn material from the board to give rise to an ending in which the contest of a long-range bishop of Harikrishna's versus Tomashevsky's knight allowed the former to escape the worst.
32.Rxg4 Rxd3+ 33.Rxd3 Rxd3+ 34.Kxd3 hxg4 35.Be5 c6 36.Bb8 a6 37.Bc7 Nd7 38.Ke4 Kf7 39.Kf4 Kf6 40.a4 Ke6
With the time control over, Black is just up a pawn, although a doubled one, which is nothing that guarantees victory with the White king so active.
41.Kxg4 Ne5+ 42.Kg5
Tomashevsky rejects 42...Nxc4!, 43.Kxg6 Ne5+ 44.Kg5 Kd5 45.f4 (thus, 45.Kf4? loses to 45...Nd7 46.Ke3 Kc4 47.f4 Kb3) 45...Nf3+ 46.Kg4 Ke4 47.f5 Ne5+ 48.Kg5 (it takes a demanding defense in a queen ending arising after 48.Bxe5? Kxe5 49.Kg5 c4 50.f6 c3 51.f7 c2 52.f8Q c1Q+) 48...c4 49.Ba5 Kd3, although White needs an extreme precision to make it to safety.
The game, however, has the Indian grandmaster doing away with the c5-pawn:
43.f4 Kf7 44.Bb6 Ke6 45.Ba7 Kf7 46.f5 gxf5 47.Kxf5 Nb2 48.Bxc5 Nxc4 49.Ke4, and he experienced no major difficulties in his sail towards the heaven of refuge.
The following day Pentala raised in the tournament standings even higher...
Nepomniachtchi - Harikrishna (Round 8)
One of the tournament moves to enjoy! I wish it resulted in a success.
20…fxe6 21.fxe6 Qe5?!
This is a first step in the wrong direction. 22.Bd3 Qe5.
22.Rxf8+ Kxf8 23.Qf1+ Qf6?
This is an error, although finding the sequence 23...Kg8! 24.Qf7+ Kh8 25.Qxe7 Qxe2 26.Qf8+ Kh7 27.Rf1 Qe3+! 28.Kh1 Qe4!, intending to refute 29.e7? by Bh3, with a sort of positional draw on the board, defies a human player.
24...Ng6 25.Bg4 changes nothing since the white passers are extremely strong. Now Ian is absolutely justified in not falling into temptation of taking the opponent's knight, but rather connecting his bishop to the attack.
It is easy to assume the winning path to be somewhere near. Indeed, the easiest way to the coveted goal is 26.d7! Bxd7 (26...Bb7 27.Qd3 Ke7 28.Rf1) 27.exd7 Ne5 28.Qe2 with decisive threats.
26...Bxe6 27.Bxe6 Rd8 28.g3?
Now winning the game requires some study-like moves, which is depriving the black queen of an important c3-square. 28.c5! bxc5 29.Qc4 Nf4 (29...Rxd6 30.Rf1) 30.Rf1 g5 31.g3 Rxd6 32.Bg4, – although Black has some pawns for the missing knight, but the bishop's voice should have its decisive say nonetheless.
28...Rxd6 29.Qe2 Qc3! 30.Kh1?
A draw is fixed by 30.Qf2+ Qf6; however, White's decision is easy to understand… Harikrishna, having so surprisingly emerged up a pawn, takes his king into a dodgy dive towards the queenside.
30...Rd2 31.Rf1+ Ke7 32.Qe4 Ne5 33.Bh3
33…Kd6! 34.Qf5 Kc5!, and celebrated victory shortly this so efficient a manoeuvre.
Peter Svidler could break away from the massive group sharing "+1" for as long as two rounds, but it never came about.
Svidler - Mamedyarov (Round 8)
White is up an exchange, and the sluggish rook's elegant pirouette 19.Rg2!, mentioned by the commentators, does away with any sort of compensation: 19...Nf4 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.f3 or 19…b4 20.c4.
19.Kf1?! Nf4! 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Re1 Re8 22.b4 Bb6, and Black's pressure against е4 forces White to give back his extra material: 23.f3 Bxg1 24.Kxg1, – the elusive Shakhriyar ended up surviving the ordeal to retain the overall lead in the event series.
Nakamura – Svidler (Round 9)
Black has at last pulled out a "splinter" from h6 and has every reason to count for success. At this moment Hikaru made a strong move and offered a draw, in the best of his traditions. It goes without saying that Nakamura was aware of the hopelessness of his situation, but why not try your luck with only a minute on the opponent's clock? And it worked out nicely for him indeed.
As Peter Veniaminovich explained later, his mistake was to start calculating lines directed towards infiltrating through the b3-square: 35...Qb6 36.Qd2 Qb3 37.Qc1 (the rook ending is difficult for White after 37.Qc3+? Qxc3 38.bxc3 Kf6 39.Rf4+ Ke7 40.Re4+ Kd7), and it is not clear how Black is supposed to improve further. However, it was necessary to just dump the rook on h1 without any prior calculation to start massaging the soft spots in White's setup after the time control move.
The Russian misadventures were topped by Alexander Grischuk's having gradually outplayed Giri only to fail to convert his extra pawn advantage.
Giri – Grischuk (Round 9)
This is yet another instance of a weaker side featuring a bishop versus a knight and a few pawns on the board, but the correct 36...g5! would have left the game outcome up in the air as Black is about to create his passer on the kingside. However, a more modest pawn advance allowed Anish to get the enemy's pawn majority under control.
36... g6?! 37.Bf4! Nf5 38.Bd2 Nd6
After 38...Kc6 39.Ke4 White should be saved by his active king.
39.c5! Nb7 40.Be3 bxc5 41.dxc5 Kc6
White needs to take care of the a5-pawn, which is in the way of his knight's coming into play. He needs to deflect the bishop, but it leads to further reduction of armed forces.
42.Kc4 Nd8 43.Bd2 Nb7 44.Be3 g5 45.Bxg5 Nxc5 46.Bd2 Nxa4 47.Bxa5 Nb6+
Even though Grischuk fights to the last bullet, the times of miracles witnessed in the Fisher's game against Mark Yevgenyevich have long since gone...
48.Kd4 Kd6 49.Ke4 Ke6 50.Kd4 Kf5 51.Kc5 Kg4 52.Kc6 Kh3 53.Kxc7 Nc4 54.Bc3 Kxh2 55.Kc6 Ne3 56.Bd2 Ng4 57.Kd5 h5 58.Bg5 Draw.
I wonder if the team championship in Khanty-Mansiysk will see Caissa reimbursing for these mishaps? It hurts a lot thinking about it at this very moment.
The Chinese Chess Wonder Woman
It caused quite some surprise when Hou Yifan prefaced the tournament by coming into the open with no lesser claim than qualifying into Carlsen. However, leg two has shaped so much better for Yifan over leg one that it made fans forget the ungainly "Lalith Babu incident". The athletic-looking young people would break down under pressure from the Chinese female player and allow tragic errors to creep into their play.
Hou Yifan – Hammer (Round 7)
The guerrilla cavalry of Black's is in the rear, creating disorder in the enemy's ranks. Thus, 65.e4?? would even lose to 65...f4 66.gxf4 g3; therefore, Yifan made a waiting move 65.Ra3
Now, instead of making a simple draw with 65...Nd2, Hammer believed he was winning anyway!
65…f4?? 66.gxf4 Kf5
What a disaster! The press conference revealed that it was actually the 66...g3 67.Ra5 geometry had escaped Jon Ludvig's attention.
Losing is 67...Ng3 68.e3 Nh5 69.Ra5+ Kf6 70.Rg5 g3 71.Ke4 Kf7 72.Ke5, which means the downfall of the root pawn condemns the entire fortress structure of Black's.
68.Kd3 Nb3 69.Rb1 Nc5+ 70.Ke3 e5 71.Rb5 Nd7 72.fxe5 Nf8
With 72...Nxe5 failing to 73.Kd4, the rest is agony.
73.e6+ Kf6 74.Kf4 Nxe6+ 75.Kxg4 Nd4 76.Rb6+ Kf7 77.e4 Kg7 78.e5 Kf7 79.Rf6+ Kg7 80.Kg5 White resigns.
Also going down to the Amazon warrior was her opponent from the old match held in the Far East, Russia. Ernesto's performance was very confident up to a certain moment so that he achieved an edge, but then the irreparable happened.
Inarkiev – Hoy Yifan (Round 9)
Two minor pieces are superior to a rook and a pawn, and after 26.d4 White defends the e5-knight to follow it by blockading the black queenside pawns and looking in future with optimism.
26.Kh1?? d4! 27.Bc1
What a mishap! The preplanned 27.Nc4 runs into a checkmate from Black: 27…Qg3 28.Ng1 Rae8 29.Rf1 Re2 30.Nxe2 Rxe2 31.Rg1 Bxh3. Alas, the bishop transfer fails due to a1-rook's insecurity.
27...Rxe5 28.Bf4 Qd5! 29.Rb1
29.Bxe5 Qxb3 loses, but otherwise White is simply down an exchange.
29...Qxb3 30.Rxb3 Rd5 31.Ne5 Rxa2 32.Rxb7 Re2 33.g4 Be6 34.Nc4 Rd8 White resigns.
Ernesto is a man of courage, and he promised to make for this Moscow failure in the stages to come. All that is left to do is to wait for the next leg to begin.
The tournament fate was sealed in the encounter of Boris Gelfand and Ding Liren. The Chinese grandmaster's performance was indeed worthy of the top place more than anyone else's, but such an all-or-nothing player as Boris Abramovich was surely determined to give him a big fight. This is what was the Israeli grandmaster's undoing.
Gelfand - Ding Liren (Round 9)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Nf3 0–0 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.a4 a5 9.Qc2 c6 10.Na3 Ne4
The Moscow event has already seen 10...Bd6 11.Ne1 Qe7 12.Nd3 e5 13.cxd5 Nxd5 14.Bxd5 cxd5 15.Nb5 e4 16.Nf4 Nf6 17.Rfc1, as in Gelfand - Tomashevsky, round 4; however, the Chinese is not just striving at equality, but rather resorts to a sharper move, an old idea of Evgeny Bareev's.
Not too successful a provocation, giving Black some tempi to promote this plans. The model game saw 11.Be3 f5 12.Ne1 g5 13.f3 Nd6 14.Nd3 Qe8 15.c5 Nf7, as in Hertneck - Bareev, 2002, and the Canadian team board one ended up in his beloved stone wall formation.
11...g5 12.Be3 f5
This audacious guy wearing a suit and sneakers needs no asking twice!
13.Rad1 Bf6 14.Nb1 Qe7 15.Nc3 b6 16.Ne5?!
It was worth waiting with 16.b3 since White is nor prepared for the open play yet, objectively speaking.
16...Nxe5 17.dxe5 Bxe5 18.Bxb6 Qb4!
Gelfand must have counted on 18...Ra6?! 19.Bd4 Bxd4 20.Rxd4 or 18...Bxc3?! 19.bxc3 Ba6 20.Bxe4, although a pawn sacrifice looks tempting for Black: 18...Nxc3 19.bxc3 Ba6 20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Bxa5 Rfc8.
Ding Liren's answer is very good in terms of putting White up against an unpleasant choice to make.
19.Nxe4 fxe4 20.cxd5?
A piece sacrifice is an error since White gets no compensation for it. However, was it for the sake of a hopeless fight for a draw after 20.Be3 Qxb2 21.Qxb2 Bxb2 22.Bxg5 Ba6 that the 2012 world vice-champion had shown up for the game?
20...Qxb6 21.Qxe4 Qxb2
Although not bad is 21...Qc7 22.dxe6 Rb8, the tournament winner grabs whatever comes his way.
22.dxc6 Bc7 23.Rd7
A gesture of despair. After 23.Bh3 Qf6 or 23.Qe3 Qe5 Black is simply up a bishop.
23...Bxd7 24.cxd7 Qf6 25.Bh3 Rab8
Black's task is no more challenging with the queens on the board: 26.Bxe6+ Kg7 27.e3 Rb2.
26...Qxe6 27.Bxe6+ Kg7 28.Rc1 Kf6 29.Bg4 Bd8 30.Rc6+ Kg7 31.Bh5 Rb2 32.Rc8 Rd2 33.Be8 Bb6 34.Rb8 Rf6
A trivial 34...Rxd7 is rejected in favor of delivering a checkmate.
35.e3 g4 White resigns.
Do not jump at any conclusions regarding your style
Ding Liren's performance throughout the tournament was very good indeed, although in round 8 he ran into a powerful home prep by the Dutch grandmaster and had certain worries to live through.
Ding Liren - Giri (Round 8)
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Qc2 c6 9.Rd1 b6 10.b3 a5 11.Bc3 Ne4
This year's Poikovsky saw Jakovenko employ 11...Bb7 12.Nbd2 Qc7 13.Rac1 c5 14.Bb2 dxc4 15.Nxc4 b5 against Inarkiev, but Anish choses a more concrete approach.
12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.Bxe4 f5
14.Bg2 Nf7 15.Nd2 Ba6 has occurred in the tournament practice and brought no special problems for Black. Ding takes a pawn out of principle, even though his king is going to be anything but pleased with this decision several moves afterwards.
14...exd5 15.dxe5 f4! 16.cxd5 cxd5 17.Bd4
17.Nd2 Bf5 gives decent compensation to Black.
18.Nc3 Rc8 assures an easy play for the attacking side; therefore, the Chinese uses his queen as a leverage. How much risk is involved in this decision anyway? Well, let the opponent calculate the complex lines involved! Viktor Lvovich would have likely addressed the issue in a similar way. Despite Ding's good-heartedness, his over-the-board decisions are rather reminiscent of Viktor Korchnoi.
Greed will doom its owner after 19.Bxb6 Qc8 20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Re1 Ra6 22.Nc3 f3, to be checkmated shortly after.
White is in for a grim endgame after 20.Qxc8 Raxc8 21.Nc3 (21.Rxe2? Rc1+ 22.Kg2 f3+) 21...Bf3.
This is a substantial deviation from the correct 21.Nd2 Ba6 22.Rac1 Qg4 with any outcome still possible. Now Giri builds up a powerful battery along the big diagonal, putting his opponent up against a challenging dilemma.
21...Ba6! 22.e6 Rd8 23.Qe4 Bb7 24.Qxf4 Qc6
Is it a checkmate after all? No way, the Chinese grandmaster is as slippery as an eel.
25.Bxg7+! Kxg7 26.Qf7+ Kh8 27.Ne4 Qe8 28.Ng5, and the opponents suddenly agreed to a draw, although 29…Bxg5 29.Qxb7 Rab8 30.Qc7 Qe7 or 30.Qe4 Qg6 would have allowed Black to hope for more. It is a pity because the contest of three pawns versus a bishop promised to be anything but boring; however, the overall spirit of the competition prevailed over the players. Despite all this, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov noted at the press conference that the Moscow leg had had fewer bloodless draws nonetheless, and that he was looking forward to seeing as much uncompromising over-the-board hostilities in Geneva as possible.
However, with one round before the events described above, Anish had had an exciting duel against Salem Saleh, in the light of which it would be somewhat premature to tag him as a king of draws! A prince of draws, at best.
Giri – Salem (Round 7)
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nd2 e6 5.Nb3 c5
Peter Leko's influence, as one of the pillars of the current team of the Arab grandmaster-millionaire, is unmistakable. It is he who has introduced his trainee to the reinforced concrete Caro-Kann. 5...Nd7 6.Nf3, followed by 6…Ne7, 6...c5, 6...Qc7 or 6...a6, has been a frequent guest here, but Black decides to make use of Alexey Dreev's recipe.
6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nxc5 Qa5+ 8.c3 Qxc5 9.Be3 Qc7 10.f4 Ne7
Black's statistics in this position is not impressive with the White's bishop pair and a comfortable development of his pieces, but the line's father would invariably end up in good positions.
11.Be2 0–0 12.Nf3 Nbc6 13.0–0
Salem must have forgotten or otherwise messed up the move order - 13...Be4! 14.Nd2 Bg6 15.Nb3 Na5, as in Rublevsky - Dreev, 2012. Now Giri slows down the opponent's knights to get a stable plus as a result.
14...Nc4 15.b3 would be all for nothing.
15.Rc1 Rac8 16.b3! Nac6 17.Qd2 Rfd8 18.b4 Be4 19.a4 Nf5 20.g4 Nfe7 21.Ng5 Bg6 22.Bc5 Rd7 23.Nf3 Na5?
With each breath coming more difficult for Black, Dreev's maneuver is ten moves late and does not work: 23...Be4 24.Ng5 (24.Nd4 Nxd4 25.cxd4 Qd8 would not be as precise) 24...Bg6, and White can start with 25.Qe3!? – the position's nature has not changed at all.
The game continuation was followed by Giri's going into the bayonet charge, at which point it was hard to imagine the battle taking that long to finish!
24.Nd4 Nc4 25.Bxc4 dxc4 26.Bxe7 Rxe7 27.f5 exf5 28.gxf5 Bh5 29.Qg5 g6
Winning nicely is 30.f6! Qxe5 31.Nf5! Re6 32.Rce1 Be2 (or 32...Qxe1 33.Qh6) 33.Rf2, and there is no way out for Black.
30.e6?! f6!? 31.Qxf6 Rg7 32.Rc2 Bg4 33.Qh4?!
Not that the winning path lies across rough terrain, calculating as far as 33.Re1! Bxf5 34.e7 Qd7 (34...Re8 35.Nxf5 gxf5+ 36.Rg2 Rxg2+ 37.Kxg2 Qc6+ 38.Qxc6 bxc6 39.Kf3 Kf7 40.Kf4 is less of a challenge for White) 35.Nxf5 gxf5+ 36.Rg2 Rxg2+ 37.Kxg2 Qd2+ 38.Kf1 Qf4+ 39.Ke2 Qxh2+ 40.Kd1 Re8 with a crushing blow 41.Qd4, is far from easy even for the engine.
Saleh Salem has got a wonderful opportunity to escape in one piece (given the depth of the drain that his position has only recently been down to), but the way back was nevertheless associated with negotiating certain pitfalls.
33...Bxf5 34.Rg2 Re8 35.Re1 a5 36.bxa5
Perhaps, 36.Nxf5 gxf5 37.e7 was worth giving a try.
36...Qxa5 37.Nxf5 Qxf5 38.Qxc4 Rge7 39.Rf2
Black suffers a shipwreck only a few meters from the shore. 39...Qg5+ 40.Kh1 Rd8 gives Black access to the d5-square to trade queens and transpose into an easily drawn rook ending. Now, however, the control move has Anish invading with the rook to give the arising rook ending a completely different nature...
40.Rf7! Qb6+ 41.Kg2 Qc6+
41...Qd6 42.Rxe7 Rxe7 43.a5 is no better than that.
42.Qxc6 bxc6 43.Rxe7 Rxe7 44.Kf3 Kf8
White has two strong passers, but given Black's opportunity to advance pawns on the kingside, care should be taken.
45.a5 Ra7 46.Re5 Ke7 47.Ke4 Rb7
As is usual for the rook endings, passive tactics is doomed to failure: 47...Ra8 48.Kd4 Ra6 (48...h6 49.Kc4 g5 50.Kb4 Ra7 51.Re3) 49.Kc4 Ra8 50.Kb4 Ra6 51.Re3 Ra7 52.c4 Ra8 53.Rh3. Although Salem places the rook behind the white pawns, this is not sufficient.
The Dutchman from St. Petersburg sidesteps the trap 48.a6 Ra7 49.Ra5 Kxe6 50.Kd4 Kd6 51.Kc4 Kc7 52.Kc5 g5 with no clear way to achieve further progress.
48...Rb1 49.Kc2 Ra1 50.Kb2 Ra4 51.Kb3 Ra1 52.Kb2 Ra4 53.Kb3 Ra1 54.c4 h6 55.Kb4 g5 56.Re3!
The rook is ready to displace her counterpart from the a-file; therefore, 56...g4 57.Ra3 c5+ 58.Ka4 is no good for Black.
56…c5+ 57.Kb5 g4 58.h3
Also winning is 58.a6 h5 59.Kb6, but Giri's approach is the most interesting one.
58...gxh3 59.Rxh3 Kxe6 60.Rxh6+ Kd7
A textbook victory would be: 61.Kb6 Rb1+ 62.Kxc5 Kc7 63.Rh7+ Kb8 64.Kc6 Ra1 65.c5, and this position with a- and c-pawns is winning since the attack from the long side does not work for Black - 65…Rg1 (65...Rxa5 66.Kb6) 66.Rh8+ Ka7 67.Rd8 Rc1 68.Kd6 Kb7 69.a6+! Kxa6 70.c6, and White converts by resorting to a well-known "bridge" technique.
Anish does not take another pawn, threatening to trade rooks instead.
61...Kc7 62.Rh8 Kd6
No comment is required for 62...Ra2 63.a7! Rxa7 64.Rh7+ Kb8 65.Rxa7 Kxa7 66.Kxc5 Kb7 67.Kd6, but the king escape ends up in its cutting off.
63.a7 Rxa7 64.Rh6+ Ke5 65.Kxc5 Ra8 66.Kb6, and Black resigns because he is not in time with his frontal attack.
Final tournament standings: 1st. Ding Liren - 6; 2nd. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - 5,5; 3-9. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, Teimour Radjabov, Hou Yifan - 5; 10-12. Pentala Harikrishna, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Tomashevsky - 4,5; 13-14. Francisco Vallejo Pons, Jon Ludwig Hammer - 4; 15-17. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Michael Adams, Saleh Salem - 3,5; 17th. Ernesto Inarkiev with 2.5 points.
Participants' standings in the Grand Prix series is as follows: 1. S. Mamedyarov - 280, 2. Ding Liren - 240, 3-4. M. Vachier-Lagrave, A. Grischuk - with 211, 5. H. Nakamura - 141 points.
Among those who have participated in one tournament only, the highest score is with Dmitry Jakovenko – 70 points. With 71 points awarded for leg two are Peter Svidler, Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren. The struggle continues, although the first four players' chances seem more realistic. Meanwhile, all Shakhriyar needs to do is just not fail his third attempt.
This said, let us take a short break from the qualification cycle. We are in for an individual European and World Team Championships!