Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has been a beast in Shamkir, and enjoyed a half-point lead going into yesterday's rest day. His win over Pavel Eljanov in round 3 was huge, as Eljanov had led with 2/2. In fact Mamedyarov was a bit lucky, as Eljanov enjoyed a winning position after the first time control, and would have been on the way to victory with 44.e7. The position was very tricky though, and White's error allowed Black to equalize. The game remained complicated and equal for another ten moves or so, until Eljanov's 54.Qe4, which was the beginning of his slide into a lost position. (56.Rd5 was the fatal error.)
In round 4 there was only one decisive game, which was Vladimir Kramnik's wild victory over Pentala Harikrishna. Kramnik's 24.Rd5 followed by 25.Rxe5 randomized the position, and although his rook sac wasn't completely sound such an evaluation is a bit too academic. A computer would have eaten Kramnik's lunch, but in the realm of flesh and blood it's much more difficult to work through all the craziness as time ticks away. In the lead-up to the time control, Harikrishna lost his way (the sensible-looking 36...Kf8 was a serious error; apparently only 36...Qb3 maintained equal chances), and Kramnik won.
Not only did this help Kramnik's tournament standing, bringing him into a four-way tie for second (with Eljanov, Michael Adams, and Veselin Topalov), it also vaulted him ahead of Wesley So into second place in the live rating list. In round 5, So fixed that, very impressively outplaying Kramnik himself. It was play like this that got So into second place on the rating list in the first place, and the win put him back there.
Topalov also lost - was demolished, in fact - by Sergey Karjakin in an impressive attacking game. Only Eljanov and Adams remain within half a point of Mamedyarov, but with four rounds left almost anything is still possible. Here are the pairings for round 6, which starts in a few hours.
- Kramnik (2.5) - Mamedyarov (3.5)
- Adams (3) - Harikrishna (1.5)
- Wojtaszek (2) - Radjabov (2)
- Topalov (2.5) - Eljanov (3)
- So (2.5) - Karjakin (2.5)
The games mentioned above can be replayed here, but sans annotations (unfortunately).