Gelfand and Caruana share first place in Baku Grand Prix Print
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 06:24

Boris Gelfand and Fabiano Caruana finished joint winners of the Grand Prix in Baku after drawing their respective games in the final round.

Their nearest followers didn't win either, and the only decisive match was Alexander Grischuk's victory against Leinier Dominguez.

Results are here, the final crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.


Radjabov - Nakamura 1/2-1/2

Radjabov lined-up fianchetto variation against the King's Indian defence and it was not a surprise that Nakamura responded with his favourite Panno variation, which was also on Bobby Fischer's repertoire.
Nakamura excels in these pawn structures with the knight anchored on d4. White found nothing better than to kill the tension in the center, but this procedure greatly simplified the position.
With many pieces traded and queenside cleared of pawns, the players have agreed to draw after the obligatory 30 moves of play.


Svidler - Gelfand 1/2-1/2

A flashback to the previous decade when the English Attack in Sicilian Naidorf was all rage in tournament arenas.
Gelfand knew exactly what he was doing and Svidler never got anything going. The key defensive move 22...Qa7 forced white to exchange the queens. Draw was signed on move 31.


Mamedyarov - Kasimdzhanov 1/2-1/2

The game was short but extremely important theoretical duel in the Queen's Gambit Accepted. Black held on the captured c4-pawn even at the cost of giving up the exchange.
Black had a quick development in exchange for material. It was very interesting to observe how both players ignored the doomed e4-pawn for several moves. Black took it only when it meant an attack on Qd2.
White decided to return the extra material in order to disrupt the coordination of opponent's pieces.
Massive exchanges followed and an equal rook endgame was reached. Draw signed on move 31.


Andreikin - Karjakin 1/2-1/2

The duel between two Russian players started as Queen's Indian defence, but after several exchanges it reached a Hedgehog structure.
White forced exchange of the queens hoping to take advantage of the open d-file. But black was cautious to cover all possible entry points.
Seeing that there is no way through, white offered draw on move 33.


Caruana - Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2

Tomashevsky repeated the line he previously used against Svidler, and once again captured the a4-pawn.
White maneuvered his knight to occupy the important f5-square, but it turned out that black can easily expel the intruders.
White then tried to break through the center, but an excellent reply in 27...g5 pushed him back.
Realizing that things could go downhill, white offered a draw and black accepted. Tomashevsky finished the event undefeated.


Grischuk - Dominguez 1-0

After changing the hotels Grishuk has been playing in excellent shape throughout the second half of the tournament.
On the contrary, Dominguez collapsed near the end and signed four consecutive losses.
Their game saw Naidorf Sicilian with the Fischer variation 6.h3, which soon transposed to the position that resembled Scheveningen Keres Attack.
Instead of trying for the central break, black opted to trade the queens and remain solid. White maneuvered his knight to provoke g6 and set the stage for a break on the h-file.
Black missed the chance to grab the central e4-pawn, but in this sequence he would be required to calculate in advance many computer-like moves.
Instead the game continuation 27...gxh5 allowed white to dangerously threaten the opponent's king. Another pair of mistakes took the black game beyond salvation.


Round 10: Caruana and Gelfand lead again, one round to go

Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand moved into joint lead after defeating Leinier Dominguez and Teimour Radjabov, respectively, in the penultimate round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku.
After nine consecutive drawn Evgeny Tomashevsky played a first decisive game, winning against his compatriot Dmitry Andreikin.
Alexander Grischuk reiterated his return into good shape by crushing Rustam Kasimdzhanov with black.
The games Nakamura-Mamedyarov and Karjakin-Svidler were both drawn by perpetual check.

Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.

Reminder - In case of a tie Grand Prix points and money prizes are split equally. Tie-break counts only for cups and medals, criteria are:

- Tie Break1: Direct Encounter (The results of the players in the same point group)
- Tie Break2: The greater number of victories
- Tie Break3: Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break variable

Artur Rasizade, Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, visited the playing venue and observed the games.

Azerbaijan Prime Minister


Nakamura - Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2

The Slav Exchange line is back in fashion, after the effort of many top rated Grandmasters, including Nakamura.
After the regular development of the pieces, black succeeded in anchoring the knight on c4. The doubled g-pawn was pushed as a battering ram against white castle.
White king was left on the open field but black couldn't find anything better than the perpetual check.


Dominguez - Caruana 0-1

The players arrived to this round haunted by the poor form in recent games. Dominguez had two consecutive losses, while Caruana lost in two of last three rounds.
A supposedly quiet English Opening didn't prevent Caruana from seeking an initiative at the early stage of the game.
Black traded his bishops, expanded in the center and broke white's queenside structure.
Opening the f-file proved to be a risky affair for white who suddenly fell under tremendous attack.
Caruana thereafter needed only a couple of energetic moves to force his opponent into resignation.


Karjakin - Svidler 1/2-1/2

The Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall quickly turned into wild affair when white's 16.Ne3 allowed black to complicate the matters with 17...Nxg2.
Black sacrificed a piece for two pawns and strong attack. But even the top chess engines disagreed whether black has a decisive touch.
Svidler could not see through the forest of complicated variations and eventually took a draw by perpetual check.


Gelfand - Radjabov 1-0

In the Catalan Opening white employed a relatively rare plan of 13.Rd1 combined with the development of knight to d2. The idea was to clamp down on the c5-square.
Black didn't react accordingly and soon landed into big trouble. He tried to shake off white pressure by sacrificing a pawn, but to no avail, and soon even his knight got trapped.
Radjabov resigned on move 28.


Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk 0-1

Black employed an interesting transposition from the Semi-Slav Traingle into Stonewall Dutch with a knight on h6. This concept was examined in the theoretical works of GM Sherbakov.
Both players castled long but somehow black was more concrete in getting his kingside action going.
White simply couldn't find the right plan and after the strong 24...g3 black seized the initiative.
Kasimdzhanov tried to reduce the pressure by giving up an exchange, but Grischuk returned the favour for decisive break on the second rank. White resigned on 33rd move.


Tomashevsky - Andreikin 1-0

Andreikin defended with the Slav and Tomashevsky attempted to play the dangerous Krause Attack 6.Ne5.
Black responded with 6...Na6, favourite sideline of Torre, Miles and Kramnik.
White didn't mind losing a tempo to provoke the weakening 15...g5. Later he won the poor pawn and continued to harass the black king. Shortly before the time control black fell under heavy attack and lost three pawns. On move 41 he realised the position was hopeless and congratulated his compatriot.


Round 9: Six players lead after day full of excitement!

After the entertaining round 9 of FIDE Grand Prix in Baku and losses by Caruana and Gelfand, the tournament is wide open with only two games to go!
The round abounded with the decisive results despite two relatively quick draws in Radjabov-Karjakin and Svidler-Tomashevsky.
Next, Nakamura won a piece from Kasimdzhanov, while Mamedyarov defeated Gelfand.
More action followed when Caruana erred and allowed Grischuk to unleash the combined power of the queen and the knight.
Dominguez assumed the advantage after Andreikin's ungrounded piece sacrifice, but then the Cuban lost the thread and the game.
Two rounds before the end as many as six players are sharing the lead: Caruana, Nakamura, Karjakin, Gelfand, Radjabov and Svidler.

Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.


Nakamura - Kasimdzhanov 1-0

Black attempted to play the Berlin Ruy Lopez but white avoided the famous queenless middlegame and preferred the structure similar to the Exchange Variation.
White succeeded in pushing d4 and black gave up the bishops' pair in order to trade the queens.
Black looked solid until Nakamura set a small trap with 22.Bg3 into which his opponent fell head in. With white trapping a piece on the back-rank, black immediately gave up.


Mamedyarov - Gelfand 1-0

White's restrained opening setup with 4.e3 was probably devised against Gelfand's favourite Gruenfeld Indian defence. The play soon transposed to the Benoni, where black appeared to have an extra tempo.
The light-squared bishops were exchanged and it looked like black will equalise with ease.
But after a couple of aimless moves by Gelfand white got some action going against the d6-pawn.
Black lost that pawn and was faced with new and stronger threats. Gelfand gave up on move 37.
Azerbaijan chess fans are absolutely delighted with Mamedyarov's first victory.


Svidler - Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2

Playing the white side of the Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall, Svidler was not cautious enough and his 12.c3 allowed a strong reply in 12...c4.
Black snatched the pawn on a4, but instead of trying to fight for an advantage, he repeated the moves in the early stage of the game.
This was ninth consecutive draw for Tomashevsky.

BakuGP-round9-26 1

Radjabov - Karjakin 1/2-1/2

The players explored the topical line of the English Opening where white has better pawn structure but black pieces are sufficiently active.
18.Rc2 practically invited black to liquidate the tension down to opposite-coloured bishops endgame. Draw signed on 30th move.


Caruana - Grischuk 0-1

Caruana repeated 3.f3 line against Gruenfeld Indian defence that brought him success earlier in the clash with Svidler.
But Grischuk was not intimidated, having prepared a highly original line that made his opponent think from the early stage of the game.
Black even sacrificed a pawn for the kind of counterplay that resembled Sveshnikov Sicilian or Benko Gambit.
At some point Caruana refused moves repetition and allowed black knight into play.
This double-edged act quickly turned against white when he erred which 32.Kg1. The knight started doing wonders and white position simply collapsed.
Grischuk duly converted the advantage on move 52.


Andreikin - Dominguez 1-0

Dominguez was ready to meet the Trompovsky Attack and acquired good position with black.
In order to reverse the negative trend Andreikin tried to unbalance the position with a knight sacrifice. Black was not impressed and slowly increased the advantage.
However, one careless move with a queen (32...Qd3) allowed white to get back in the game. That was only the first of several mistakes by black who ended up in worse ending being a pawn down.
Andreikin took the chance and finally delivered full point after 56 moves of play.


Round 8: Svidler defeats Dominguez, no changes on top

Peter Svidler defeated Leinier Dominguez while the other five games were drawn in the 8th round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku.

Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand remain tied on the top with 5 points each and Svidler moved ahead to the shared third place.

Saturday 11th October is the second rest day.

Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.


Kasimdzhanov - Caruana 1/2-1/2

Caruana defended with the Gruenfeld Indian and Kasimdzhanov countered with the Russian system. In a sharp but deeply explored a6-line the pieces were quickly going off in a forced variation.
In the resulting endgame white held a passed pawn within the queenside majority but this asset was firmly blocked by the black knight. White couldn't find anything better than repetition of moves.


Gelfand - Nakamura 1/2-1/2

Nakamura employed his trusted Dutch Leningrad defence. The early 12...b5 thrust allowed white a tactics with 14.Ne5, but he didn't follow through with the most complicated 15.Bb7.
Instead, the game move 15.Nd3 offered some prospects for a positional pressure. However, following the central break with 18.e4 and the long forced line the position simplified into a rook endgame. Black comfortably held the draw.
At the press conference Gelfand agreed that 15.Bb7 might have been a better try. He had hoped that the game continuation would grant him positional advantage but Nakamura found a great defending resource in 17...Rb8.


Karjakin - Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2

In the Meran Slav defence white achieved a minimal opening advantage after black was left with an isolated d5-pawn.
But in compensation all black pieces were actively placed and it was not easy to make progress.
With smart exchanges and patient positional build-up white got himself in position to increase the advantage.
However, with the terrible time trouble looming Karjakin decided to repeat the moves and take a draw. In the final position he was still better.


Tomashevsky - Radjabov 1/2-1/2

Evgeny Tomashevsky attempted to find an improvement for white over the game Parligras-Radjabov from the recent Chess Olympiad in Tromso.
He came up with 13.Neg5, hoping to, in his own words, "end the series of draws".
15.Nxf7 sacrifice and particularly the neat 19.c6 made white look good, but Radjabov's defence was marvelous and he forced the transition to opposite-coloured bishops ending that was immediately drawn.


Dominguez - Svidler 0-1

Dominguez's slow-paced Ruy Lopez with the two-step d4 inspired Svidler to come up with the new plan based on quick exchange on d4 and Bg4 pin.
White run into an early trouble after over-extending his pawn structure. The only hope to untangle was to give up a pawn and head for the double rook endgame.
It took some time to come up with the right plan, but Svidler masterfully converted the advantage into full point.


Grischuk - Andreikin 1/2-1/2

It was a regular Berlin Ruy Lopez where the queens are traded early on, followed by long maneuvering from both sides.
An endgame with rooks and opposite-coloured bishops was reached. Black gave up a pawn in order to simplify the structure.
White was trying to find a way to increase the advantage but the black pieces were well placed to cover the weaknesses and hold the advance of the passed f-pawn.
Grischuk finally conceded a draw on move 77.


Round 7: Caruana stopped, Gelfand joins in the lead

Fabiano Caruana's impressive run has been put to a halt in round 7 of the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku when he was defeated by the tail-ender Dmitry Andreikin. This was Caruana's first loss since the Chess Olympiad in Tromso.
Boris Gelfand joined the Italian on the shared first place with 4,5 points each after a draw against Rustam Kasimdzhanov.
Sergey Karjakin scored against Hikaru Nakamura, while the games Svidler - Grischuk, Mamedyarov - Tomashevsky and Radjabov - Dominguez were drawn.

Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.


Svidler - Grischuk 1/2-1/2

In the Moscow Sicilian white retreated his bishop to d3, in a maneuver that became popular recently. Grischuk already faced this plan, in a blitz game last month against Karjakin, and was obviously well prepared.
11.e5 was novelty, but it allowed black to double white's f-pawns and anchor the knight on dominant central square.
White relied on a quick action against the black king, but black pieces were placed well and Svidler decided to take the perpetual check before it was too late.
After the game Gelfand approached Svidler and jokingly advised "you should develop all your pieces before embarking on such action".
Grischuk said he is currently reading "And Quiet Flows the Don", the 4-volume masterpiece of the Russian literature by Mikhail Sholokhov, adding that it is a very difficult book.


Mamedyarov - Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2

Against the Slav defence, Mamedyarov answered in "Catalan fashion", with 4.g3. He is not a stranger to this development, having already played it against Nakamura in Gashimov Memorial earlier this year.
Tomashevsky deviated from that game, seeking an early clarification in the center with 6...dxc4.
With the compromised pawn structures on the kingside, both players decided to castle long.
White tried to expand in the center and his three pawns were imposing, but at the same time fragile without the base support.
Black was in position to get something going with 30...Qb4, but he wanted to be safe and repeated the moves for a draw.


Radjabov - Dominguez 1/2-1/2

Another game with the topical 3.f3 against the Gruenfeld Indian defence. Dominguez challenged white's advantage in the center, while Radjabov responded by opening up the h-file.
Naturally, white castled long and tried to advance the passed d-pawn. Black was occupied with the opening of the powerful bishop's diagonal.
After the inferior 22.Nd5, black was able to transfer his rook to a4 and place the white king into danger. Radjabov then reacted properly and Dominguez could not find the decisive blow, instead settling for a draw with perpetual check.
Later at the press conference both players said that it was fun to play this game, with many exciting lines to be considered.


Nakamura - Karjakin 0-1

Nakamura, always enterprising in the opening, started the game with Veresov Attack. Karjakin, in his turn, played a novelty as early as on move 5...c4.
With the opposite castles on the board, black got better from the opening by snatching the stranded pawn on c5.
Nakamura tried to mount an attack against the enemy king, but to no avail, and black succeeded in trading the queens to reach better ending.
Karjakin's technique was impeccable and he delivered full point around the second time control.


Gelfand - Kasimdzhanov 1/2-1/2

It was a Queen's Gambit Declined where Gelfand performed his trademarked positional squeeze. White was always just slightly better and it was not easy for black to come up with counterplay.
Finally, Kasimdzhanov lost patience and traded down to the rook ending where white was still the more active side.
But black defended tenaciously and finally pulled a miraculous save to reach a theoretical draw in the rook vs pawn endgame.


Andreikin - Caruana 1-0

Caruana surprised his opponent and the entire internet audience by going for the Scandinavian defence.
White avoided the sharpest lines and preferred a positional build-up. In the transition between the opening and the middlegame something went wrong for black as he allowed his opponent to establish a passed pawn on d6.
Andreikin was inspired and never let the advantage go. He successfully reached an endgame with the extra pawn on the c-file.
Caruana fought valiantly but could not save the difficult position. He finally resigned on move 64.

Fabiano Caruana

Round 6: Fabiano Caruana surges ahead

Fabiano Caruana defeated Peter Svidler in the 6th round of FIDE Grand Prix in Baku to move into sole lead with 4,5 points. Yesterday's co-leader Boris Gelfand was held to a draw by Sergey Karjakin.
In the other decisive games Rustam Kasimdzhanov scored against Dmitry Andreikin, and the local chess fans are thrilled about Teimour Radjabov's first victory, against Alexander Grischuk.
Leinier Dominguez - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Evgeny Tomashevsky - Hikaru Nakamura were drawn.

Results and pairings


Photo gallery

Replay the games


Caruana - Svidler 1-0

The clash between the two experts on Gruenfeld Indian defence saw a topical new line 3.f3 that come to prominence in the recent years.
The centralised black knight provoked white to get his central pawns rolling with 16.g4 and 17.f4. However, already the next move 18.e5 might have been a tad premature as black sacrificed the knight for three pawns and strong counterplay.
A sharp battle ensued, but black made a couple of inaccuracies that allowed the opponent to coordinate the forces and launch a fierce attack. With the trend definitely shifting into white's favour, Svidler resigned on move 33.


Kasimdzhanov - Andreikin 1-0

Andreikin employed the Philidor defence, but something went wrong in the early stages of the game as he was forced to weaken the queenside pawn structure.
After a series of neat positional maneuvers white was rewarded with a combination that won him an exchange and two pawns.
Black went all in trying to make something against the white king, but Kasimdzhanov duly refuted the attack and converted the advantage.


Grischuk - Radjabov 0-1

In the Fianchetto Gruenfeld Indian white had the pair of bishops but black easily equalised in a relatively closed position.
After 22...cxd5 black pawn structure was ultra-solid and it was not clear how either of the players could push for a win.
But Grischuk's hasty 25.f4, which irrevocably weakened the e3-pawn, coupled with the poor time management, definitely shifted the advantage to black side.
After the queens went off, white position was beyond salvation.


Tomashevsky - Nakamura 1/2-1/2

Another day with the Lasker Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, only this time Tomashevsky chose 9.Qc2 over Radjabov's 9.Rc1.
White attempted to slow down black's advance c7-c5, but Nakamura nevertheless pushed the pawn offering a temporary sacrifice.
As it happens so often in this opening, the queenside pawns were cleared off the table and heavy pieces got exchanged on the open files.
The resulting endgame offered no chances to play for a victory, but the players continued the game until moves were repeated around the first time control.


Dominguez - Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2

In the Closed Ruy Lopez black achieved a harmonic development and stood rather well. Doubling the white pawns on f3 on moves 18 or 19 deserved attention.
But Mamedyarov chose a different path and tried to undermine white's center.
On move 28 white avoided the trade of the queens, but probably missed that his Re1 is hanging in some lines. As a consequence, black was able to execute massive exchanges down to the equal rook endgame. Draw agreed on move 38.


Karjakin - Gelfand 1/2-1/2

It was a promising start - the Sicilian Naidorf with Fischer's 6.h3. But black avoided the sharp lines and preferred to force the exchange of the queens.
Gelfand enjoyed a slightly better pawn structure, but white knights dominated the central squares and there was no way through.
Draw was signed after the obligatory 30 moves when both players were already down to the last 5 minutes.


Round 5: All games drawn

Following the rest day, the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku continued with round 5 on Tuesday. In the longest game of the day Hikaru Namakura tried to convert the advantage of two pawns but Leinier Dominguez defended accurately and escaped with a tie.

With all games drawn, Boris Gelfand and Fabiano Caruana continue to lead the standings with 3.5 points each.

Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here.

See also the photo galleries


Mamedyarov - Grischuk 1/2-1/2

In one of the most interesting games of the day Grischuk defended with the Leningrad Dutch that soon turned into a wild affair with pieces hanging left and right.
Mamedyarov took the straightforward path of challenging the black structure with quick e2-e4. Black responded by snatching the c4-pawn.
White did have a strong compensation as black pieces were tied up, but a couple of "only-moves" helped Grischuk to survive the onslaught and trade the pieces down to an equal endgame.
Later Grischuk explained that he had analysed the position almost until the end. He was searching for winning attempts for white, but it turned out that black survives with precise sequence of moves.


Radjabov - Caruana 1/2-1/2

The top rated player of the tournament Fabiano Caruana defended with the Lasker variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined, which was famously featured in the decisive game of the Topalov-Anand World Championship Match in 2012.
In a typical fashion, white piled up his heavy pieces on the c-file to press black's exposed pawn structure.
But black had a simple solution to liquidate all the pawns on one side of the board. After the queens went off, it was obvious that the game will soon be drawn and the scoresheets were signed on move 34.


Svidler - Andreikin 1/2-1/2

After solving the problem with his laptop on the rest day, Peter Svidler faced a new challenge when Dmitry Andreikin opened with the French defence, which was a surprise for white.
Svidler never really posed any threats to his opponent, and after the exchange of the queens, it became clear that today Andreikin is having an easy ride.
Black castled long, doubled white's f-pawns and achieved certain activity. Before landing into inferior position, white decided to trade everything down to opposite-coloured bishops ending. Draw agreed on move 31.


Karjakin - Kasimdzhanov 1/2-1/2

Kasimdzhanov has been Karjakin's trainer for quite some time already and it was not easy for the young Russian to produce opening surprise. Eventually he went for Korchnoi's favourite 6.a3 in the English Opening.
Black responded with action in center and promptly conceded the bishops' pair in order to make a symmetrical pawn structure. 12...Ne4 marked the start of a nice maneuver which cleared the central files to black's favor.
Being in danger of simply ending up worse, white had to carefully navigate the waters around the anchored knight on d4.
Kasimdzhanov could not find a way to increase the advantage and finally retreated the knight to allow exchange of the queens. Draw was agreed after the obligatory 30th move.


Gelfand - Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2

This game saw a small bidding war in the opening - black angled for the Noteboom Semi-Slav, which white prevented by offering Meran Slav, until the pawn structure was finally shaped into Dutch Stonewall.
The small benefit for black was that with the pawn on e3 white dark-coloured bishop remained inside the pawn-chain.
After the regular developing moves, black pushed c6-c5 to challenge white's center. A couple of moves later he was the first to release the tension with dxc4.
White pressed on the backward e6-pawn and was able to win it, but black picked up solid counterplay in the process.
The resulting rook endgame was completely even and the players shook hands on move 31.


Nakamura - Dominguez 1/2-1/2

In response to Nakamura's English Opening the Cuban Grandmaster picked the reversed Botvinnik setup, but then immediately surprised the commentators with the slightly unusual 8...d5.
White answered with principled 12.b4 and was able to exert some pressure on the black position.
Black sacrificed a pawn in an attempt to clear the entire queenside, but then he realised that the planned 23...Ra1 is simply refuted with 24.Rxg7+.
23...Ra4 still looked to sufficient to win back the pawn, but Dominguez played 23...Bd4 instead. Nakamura replied with the strong 24.g4 which opened another battle-front to white's benefit.
Nakamura won the second pawn, but the timely 31...Re5 allowed black to create sufficient counterplay. Nakamura still tried to play for a win, but finally had to concede a draw before the second time control.


Round 4: Caruana joins Gelfand on top

In the only decisive game of the 4th round of FIDE Grand Prix in Baku, Italian star Fabiano Caruana defeated the local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov to catch the former world championship challenger Boris Gelfand on the shared first place.
The remaining five games were drawn. Gelfand and Caruana are on the top of the crosstable with 3 points each. Full standings here.


Caruana - Mamedyarov 1-0

The game started as a relatively quiet Slav Defence, but Mamedyarov didn't wait long to disturb the balance with the enterprising 8...g5.
GM Avrukh dubbed the move as "inferior" in his repertoire book, and it appears rightly so.
Black still had an option to stay solid and try to improve the pieces, but instead he started a premature attack with 14...g4. A cute maneuver Nc3-e2-f4 by white underlined the poor placement of the black pieces.
Mamedyarov went all in with an exchange sacrifice that gave him only temporary counterplay, but this was easily refuted by Caruana who sealed the victory on move 34.


Grischuk - Nakamura 1/2-1/2

Alexander Grischuk answered the King's Indian defence with Gligoric variation 8.Be3 and proceeded with the move "recommended by his friend" - 15.Rc1.
He was unhappy with the outcome of the opening as he ended in terribly passive position with the bishop locked away on h2.
Nakamura tried to increase the pressure but was unable to find anything concrete. Grischuk held the fort and finally achieved a draw after the time control.


Dominguez - Gelfand 1/2-1/2

Gelfand employed the trusted Sveshnikov Sicilian defence, which served him well in the World Championship against Anand in 2012.
Dominguez responded with a rare line that includes long castle - an unusual image in this opening.
Black didn't have any problems whatsoever and was able to push the thematic d5-break. His pieces sprang to activity and he quickly generated pressure against the white king.
Dominguez had to allow perpetual check before his position deteriorated further.


Tomashevsky - Karjakin 1/2-1/2

The two Russian players explored the topical Closed Catalan system where white quickly advances with the a-pawn.
Tomashevsky however spent a lot of time in the opening trying to remember the exact lines, and when the opportunity presented itself he missed the better continuation 21.Bd6.
After the game move 21.Rxa7 there were massive exchanges before the draw was signed on move 31.


Andreikin - Radjabov 1/2-1/2

The game started as King's Indian defence, then Radjabov offered transposition to Benoni, and the pawn structure finally reached the shape of the Accelerated Dragon.
By being allowed to push c4-c5 and open up the central files white achieved a small advantage.
White charged with his e-pawn to weaken the opponent's king shield, but Radjabov defended accurately and was able to trade off most of the pieces.
Andreikin probed the black's setup from all sides but just couldn't break through. After the time control white offered queens' exchange and a draw.


Kasimdzhanov - Svidler 1/2-1/2

The Uzbek Grandmaster revived the Ruy Lopez Exchange variation in the latest attempt to achieve an advantage with 1.e4.
The knight 4-step dance and the open a-file, combined with the central break, bore some fruit to white. Kasimdzhanov won a pawn and strongly pressed on the back rank.
In his turn, Svidler found a nice maneuver to shake off the white rook and slowly improve the pieces. White's advantage started decreasing as black gained counterplay.
With no winning plan in sight, white conceded a draw with moves repetition.

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Boris Gelfand leads after the 3rd round

Boris Gelfand outplayed Alexander Grischuk, who eventually lost on time in what should be already drawish position. After this game Israeli player solely leads in the tournament with 2,5 out of 3. In yet another decisive game of the round 3 Sergey Karjakin defeated Leinier Dominguez. Evgeny Tomashevsky didn't manage to break through Kasimdzhanov's defence, Fabiano Caruana missed good winning chances against Hikaru Nakamura. Two local heroes Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov drew with Russian players Dmitry Andreikin and Peter Svidler respectively.

Gelfand 1-0 Grischuk

Boris Gelfand managed to get an advantage after Grischuk played dubious plan with Na6. Nevertheless, It always looked like Black is about to equalize the position but Israeli player was finding different resources and putting some pressure on his opponent. It seemed Grischuk could not really avoid the following rook endgame with a pawn down, which basically had to be drawish. It's hard to say where exactly Grischuk went wrong but at certain point the position of White became clearly winning. Both players agreed on move 52.Rf3 being the easiest way to convert White's advantage. The move in the game (Rh5) was also strong but later on Grischuk got a chance after 57.Re8. After the last move in the game 60...Kg6 the worst for Black could have been over but for the first time in his life Alexander Grischuk, one of the best blitz players in the world and former World Champion in blitz, lost on time.

Karjakin 1-0 Dominguez

Karjakin's not really ambitious play in the opening didn't leave him any hope for the edge. “I used to play like this when I was already not that young”, commented GM Genna Sosonko on Karjakin's play at the early stage of the game. However, Russian player kept on making natural and logical moves and all of a sudden got very comfortable position with space advantage. According to Dominguez, he felt quite optimistic about his position after exchanging the queens but at the same time he could not explain the surprisingly low level of his play in the endgame. It looks like quite an easy game for Karjakin, who didn't do anything extraordinary but still defeated such a strong player as Dominguez.

Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2 Andreikin

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is normally very dangerous with White, went for not the most ambitions line with 7.a3 this time and Black managed to solve opening problems quite easily. Perhaps, it would have been better for White to go for symmetrical position by playing 10.dхc5 because after 10.d5 if any of the sides could play for a win it was Black. Dmitry Andreikin could have put more pressure on his opponent in the endgame Bishop and Rook versus Knight and Rook but passed by some chances in the time trouble.

Nakamura 1/2 –1/2 Caruana

The same QGD line with Carlsbad structure which was played in the previous round between Svidler and Mamedyarov appeared in this game as well. Nakamura went for Botvinnik's move h4, which was used in the world championship match against Petrossian. It looked like Nakamura lost his track in the middle game and as he pointed out at the press conference he had to make long castling on 16th move.

American player continued to push forward, even though he had already got the feeling that his position is worse. He could have had regretted this if Caruana would find the right tactics 33...Nh3 and 34...b5. By playing 36...Ng2 Fabiano missed his last chance to play for a win. The way to keep his advantage was not so trivial but players found it at the press conference after the game. Eventually Nakamura saved the game. baku-round3-11

Radjabov 1/2-1/2 Svidler

It's hard to say what exactly Radjabov meant by playing this harmless line with White. There was no even slight hint to get any advantage and after Queens exchange the position became absolutely drawish.

Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2 Kasimdzhanov

Gruenfeld Defence with quite fashionable line with Bd2-Bc3 happened in the game. After massive exchanges and transformations players ended up in the endgame with rooks and queens. It was a very similar scenario to what Tomashevsky had at the previous day in the game against Dominguez. He was a defending side yesterday but today it was his turn to play the position without any risk. It turned out to be tough to break through because of good defence of Rustam Kasimdzhanov and the game finished in a draw.

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Round 2: Four players take early lead in Baku

Hikaru Nakamura, Peter Svidler, Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand are on shared first place after the second round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Baku. Hikaru Nakamura outplayed Dmitry Andreikin, who suffers a second consecutive loss. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov fell into the trap in the time trouble and lost against Peter Svidler. Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand continued theoretical discussion in a Najdorf and right before the first time control the game ended up in perpetual check. Rustam Kasimdzhanov tried to break though Radjabov's Berlin Defence but was held to a draw by Teimour.

It was also a round of missed opportunities as Alexander Grischuk and Leinier Dominguez managed to get winning positions but in both cases their opponents Sergey Karjakin and Evegeny Tomashevsky escaped with draws.

Grischuk 1/2-1/2 Karjakin

Alexander Grischuk chose a very rare line with 5.Nd2 and made his opponent Sergey Karjakin to play without any preparation from the early stage. Nevertheless Karjakin managed to get comfortable position out of the opening. The game was roughly balanced until both players got into the time trouble and things started to sharpen up. After 31. Rf5 it became clear that Black's King is in danger. Grischuk passed by the chance to win on a spot after extravagant tactical blow Bf8! However, the move in the text was good enough to secure an advantage for White. By playing 35.Nb5 Grischuk could have brought the last piece into the attack but in the time trouble he thought the move 35.Nf6 was also good enough. Right after the time trouble it turned out that Black had enough resources to save the game.

Svidler 1-0 Mamedyarov

Black was fine after the opening but then White had a slight advantage, which according to Svidler, probably was still not enough to begin with. There was a period when White was much better but Peter made a couple of inaccurate moves which lead to an equal position. Draw seemed to be the most logical result at this point but as Peter Svidler put it during his visit to commentary room “perhaps Shakhriyar could not readjust himself to a new landscape of the game”. After 31.Bd6, apparently missed by Mamedyarov, Black's position collapsed.

Caruana 1/2-1/2 Gelfand

Theoretical dispute in Najdorf, started in January 2014 in Wijk an Zee between same players, continued today but this time Caruana chose 13.Na5 instead of 13.0-0, which brought him success in the previous game. Boris Gelfand was ready for a new line thanks to his second Alexander Huzman, who showed him exchange sacrifice before the game. After that the position became unbalanced and complex and both side had to take responsible decisions on every move. According to Boris, he missed White's move 31.c5 and simply panicked after that. Even though 32...Re8 was not the best choice but it allowed Black to finish the game with the spectacular perpetual check after Caruana's reply 33.h4. After 33.Kh1 Black would have to face serious trouble.

Kasimdzhanov 1/2-1/2 Radjabov

Berlin Defence is a newly added opening in Radjabov's repertoire. Both sides were showing usual plans until the certain point. Absolutely amazing 20.Nd8, demonstrated by Rustam, is not a move one sees every day! “It's a very pleasant move to make but I would be happier if this move would bring the victory”, pointed out former World Champion at the press conference. Even though Teimour was surprised to see Nd8, he found the precise way to equalize the position and made a confident draw in the rook endgame.

Dominguez 1/2-1/2 Tomashevsky

The longest game of the second round which lasted more than 7 hours and finished on move 100. Black managed to equalize in the opening but despite weaknesses in pawns structure Black's position remained also solid in the endgame. According to Evgeny, he could have made his life easier today by playing more precisely in the critical moment but after few mistakes had to defend a very unpleasant position instead. Cuban player missed a few good chances to win and the game eventually finished in a draw.

Andreikin 0-1 Nakamura

Dmitry Andeikin didn't choose the most principle lines against a Dutch Defence but went for quite rare plan with c3 and Qb3. 20 Nf3 was dubious decision after which the tables started to turn in Black's favor. Hikaru concentrated his pieces on the King's side and all of a sudden Black's position became very active. White's position fell apart after crucial mistake 31. Nf4.

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Round 1: Caruana and Gelfand first winners in Grand Prix in Baku

The FIDE Grand Prix in Baku started on Thursday, 1st of October, with two decisive games and four draws. Two local heroes Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teymour Radjabov drew rather quickly and went to celebrate the 20th anniversary since their first ever game between each other has been played. Fabiano Caruana defeated Sergey Karjakin, who blundered material in the time trouble. Boris Gelfand quickly obtained a clear advantage after unsuccessful opening play from Dmitry Andreikin and eventually won the game. Leinier Dominguez missed a great chance to get decisive material advantage against Rustam Kasimdzhanov and after few more moves the game ended up in draw. Russian players Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexander Grischuk drew a Gruenfeld that was always more or less balanced. Peter Svidler split a point with Hikaru Nakamura.

Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2 Radjabov

As it was revealed during the press conference the first game between little Teymur and Shakhriyah has been played 20 years ago in the national youth championship. None of them could have imagined that after so many years they would be both representing their country on the highest level. The opening choice already showed not the most aggressive mood of Shakhriyar. The only moment White could have continued the fight was after 14. Nce2. Nevertheless, the force line shows very good compensation for Black sacrificed material. The move in the game led to the massive exchanges and the game eventually finished in a draw as well the game played 20 years ago.

Nakamura 1/2-1/2 Svidler

According to Nakamura, he spent few hours before the game watching Svidler's videos on Gruenfeld Defence but at the last moment he decided to go for 1.e4. Ruy Lopez with early d3 appeared on the board and it turned out Peter was aware of this line and got comfortable position with Black. Both players agreed on being not the most precise choice which leaded to quite unpleasant position for White. Hikaru felt the right moment to switch into defensive mode and managed to equalize. However, more pressure could have been put by Peter Svidler after 27...Nb6.

Karjakin 0-1 Caruana

In the opening stage players were competing in attempts to surprise each other. It's not often you can see 1.Nf3 from Sergey Karjakin as well as Queen's Gambit Declined is not the first choice of Caruana. In Carlsbad structure Sergey managed to add marginal edge by playing unusual 12.Ne2 which Caruana declared to be a novelty. Till some point the game developed logically. White passed an interesting attempt to play 22.h4 forcing Black to go for 22...g4 23.Be4 de 24.Nd2 minimizing Black's counter play and preparing a minority attack on the King's side. Despite exciting transformations the game had been balanced until 35. a4. Around move 30 Karjakin failed into an unusual trap. He went to the player's room and was monitoring the game from the TV screen. Because of technical problem with live transmission Sergey Karjakin thought his opponent was still thinking on his move and so he missed 10 priceless minutes which cost him dearly in the time trouble.

Gelfand 1-0 Andreikin

Andreikin went for a fashionable line of Queens Indian possibly basing his preparation on the game Gelfand-Gashimov. It turned out that Boris has something up his sleeve as he had closely analyzed this position 2 years ago. The opening battle finished in favor of Gelfand, who sacrificed a pawn but got a very dangerous initiative. Boris was doing practical and logical moves increasing the pressure and tried to play “without burning the bridges”. Perhaps, Black could have put tougher resistance but it 's hard to believe it would have changed the outcome of the game.

Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2 Grischuk

According to Grischuk, both of the players were definitely analyzing this variation in Gruenfeld and the following endgame at home. “ I was trying to remember all variations, that's why I spent so much time during the game”, said Alexander. After 17. Qd3 Black has to be precise to equalize and after spending some time Grischuk managed to remember the right way.

Dominguez 1/2-1/2 Kasimdzhanov

Leinier decided to avoid theoretical lines in order to postpone a fight for the middle game stage. But as both players pointed out, surprisingly it took them too long to go into the middle game and as a result both of them had 1 hour in total after 12 moves. After 17...Qa6 it seemed Black has got initiative but Dominguez managed to create counter play. In the time trouble Leiner was granted a sudden chance after Rustam's careless 25...Rc8 but Cuban player passed by a relatively easy tactical trick 26.Ne7, which would win the game on a spot. Leiner realized his mistake right after his move and no wonder that the players decided not to tempt fate and agreed for a draw few moves later.

SNo.   Name Rtg Res.   Name Rtg SNo.
1 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier 2751 0.5-0.5 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2706 12
2 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2701 0.5-0.5 GM Grischuk Alexander 2797 11
3 GM Karjakin Sergey 2767 0-1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2844 10
4 GM Gelfand Boris 2748 1-0 GM Andreikin Dmitry 2722 9
5 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2764 0.5-0.5 GM Svidler Peter 2732 8
6 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2764 0.5-0.5 GM Radjabov Teimour 2726 7

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The first stage of Grand Prix Series 2014-2015 started in Baku

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The long-awaited FIDE Grand Prix in Baku was officially opened on Wednesday evening at the Cultural Event Center. The tournament's opening ceremony was attended by chess officials, sponsors, national and international chess media.

From 2nd till 14of October over eleven rounds, the strongest players in the world will compete in the round robin tournament.

The opening ceremony started with a one-minute of silence to honor the memory of one of the leading chess players of Azerbaijan Vugar Hashimov. The ceremony proceeded with a short documentary, showing the development of chess in Azerbaijan.

Speakers at the event included the Minister of Youth and Sports of Azerbaijan Republic Azad Rahimov, President of Azerbaijan Chess Federation Elman Rustamov and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov reminded the guests of the long chess tradition in the Cultural Event Center, where the games will take place. “The building has historical importance as two USSR chess championships (1961 and 1972) were organized here. It was World Champion Boris Spassky who won the championship in 1961 and in 1972 Mikhail Tal became the USSR champion. I hope that one of the participants of the Baku Grand Prix will also become a world champion one day.”

FIDE President stressed the important role of the national leader Heydar Aliyev in the development of chess not only in Azerbaijan, but also in the former USSR. "The national leader Heydar Aliyev made a huge contribution to the development of chess not only in Azerbaijan but also in the USSR. If Heydar Aliyev did not notice and would not have supported small Garik Weinstein, then there would be no World Champion Garry Kasparov. Azerbaijan is the only country from 181, which has the state program for the development of chess. The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev continues to develop this wise game.”

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During the opening ceremony the director of the “Classic Jewelry House Lobortas” Igor Lobortas demonstrated the models of future Big and Small trophies to award the FIDE Grand Prix series 2014-2015 winner. The trophy consists of precious elements and stones of varying size, including silver, gold and diamonds.

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Chief Arbiter Faik Gasanov then proceeded with drawing of lots. He called up the players to come to the table and choose the boxes with souvenirs with numbers inside.

During the drawing of lots the opening ceremony and the pairs of the first round are:

Dominguez - Kasimdzhanov
Tomashevsky - Grischuk
Karjakin - Caruana
Gelfand - Andreikin
Nakamura - Svidler
Mamedyarov - Radjabov

The announcement of the pair between two local heroes Mamedyarov-Radjabov was met with applause by guests of the ceremony.

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Over the next two weeks Baku will be the main chess centre in the world, so please follow the games starting from 3 pm local time.

GM Emil Sutovsky and GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko will be official commentators during the whole event.

The third Grand Prix series 2014-2015 starts with the first stage in Baku (Azerbaijan). Back in 2008 it was also the capital of Azerbaijan which hosted the first ever Grand Prix stage and a great deal has changed since then as FIDE has organized 30 Grand Prix tournaments.
In contrast to the two previous Grand Prix cycles the number of tournaments was decreased from six to four to be held over two years (2014-2015). Each of 16 players of Grand Prix series will play in three tournaments out of four and all his results will be taken into account for the overall final standings of the Grand Prix. The winner and second placed player overall of the Grand Prix Series will qualify for the Candidates Tournament to be held in the last quarter of 2015 or the first half of 2016.

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