Gashimov Memorial, Round 5: Carlsen Leads Entering the Rest Day
Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 11:30PM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2019 Gashimov Memorial, Alexander Grischuk, David Navara, Viswanathan Anand

There were three decisive games in round 5 of the 2019 Vugar Gashimov Memorial, but none affected the race for first. (Or so it seems at the moment. It may turn out by the end of the tournament that one of those three games played a critical role in that race.)

The leader entering the round, and exiting it too, was Magnus Carlsen. He achieved a slight edge with White in a somewhat offbeat Tarrasch, but Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was able to hold. He even gained the upper hand himself, momentarily, but in the end it was a well-played draw by both players.

Had Sergey Karjakin won with Black against Teimour Radjabov, he would have caught Carlsen in first. This was never in the cards, though, and Radjabov had a semi-serious pull before it drifted towards a drawish (and ultimately drawn) ending.

Ding Liren also had the opportunity to catch Carlsen, but he was even less successful in his try to defeat David Navara with the black pieces. They contested a very sharp line of the Semi-Slav, and while Ding's position in the opening and early middlegame was fine, he soon got in trouble in an with two minor pieces against a rook and pawn (plus two more pawns for each side). That material balance is generally in favor of the side with the minor pieces, but this time the rook was the better piece. Finally, Ding got his knight stranded and had to resign when he was about to lose it for a mere pawn.

While Ding fell out of second place, Viswanathan Anand joined Karjakin there, half a point behind Carlsen. His victim was Anish Giri, who came out of the opening in good shape (with Black) before being outplayed step by step by the former world champion.

Finally, Alexander Grischuk defeated Veselin Topalov in a long game. Topalov had to suffer a long time with a queen and two knights against Grischuk's queen and two bishops. Breaking through wasn't easy, but neither was defending, and Topalov eventually broke.

The games, with my comments, are here. Friday is a rest day, and on Saturday round 6 will be played, with these pairings:

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