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    Entries in Alexander Grischuk (61)

    Thursday
    May302019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 4, Day 3: Nepomniachtchi Wins Playoff and the Event

    Congratulations to Ian Nepomniachtchi, who survived a lot of bad positions in the event and finally wound up winning it, defeating Alexander Grischuk in the final. After draws in their classical games, it was time for a rapid playoff yesterday/today (Wednesday). Grischuk had White in game 1, and while he somehow managed to achieve a slight advantage against the Petroff with the ultra-dynamic 3.d3 (/sarc), Nepo was able to defend fairly comfortably. 26...a5! was the clincher, assuring himself of sufficient play to draw.

    In game 2 the players contested an Italian Game, and although Grischuk equalized he made a fundamentally wrong choice on move 16 (and again on move 18). Had he parted with the bishop, I think he would maintained objective equality and a position that was fairly easy to handle. He instead kept the bishop and wound up with an offside knight that cost him the game. That initial decision was not fatal - further errors were required - but it was objectively mistaken and sowed the seeds of the subsequent loss.

    Official site here, games (with my notes) here; what follows are the Grand Prix points each of the players earned. Note, importantly, that players who won their matches in the classical portion, without needing rapid playoffs, gained an extra point for each such match victory. That's why two players who left in the same round can have differing Grand Prix point totals.

    1. Nepomniachtchi 9
    2. Grischuk 7
    3. Wojtaszek 5
    4. Nakamura 3
    5-7. Svidler, Wei Yi, Dubov 2
    8. So 1
    9-16. Giri, Mamedyarov, Aronian, Radjabov, Karjakin, Vitiugov, Duda, Jakovenko 0

    Tuesday
    May282019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 4, Day 2: Another Draw; Playoffs Tomorrow

    It was a short draw in a 5.Re1 Berlin, but there was some content. Ian Nepomniachtchi had White, and he was well-prepared for Alexander Grischuk's use of a recent Vladimir Kramnik idea. Nepo obtained an edge, but bit by bit it slipped away. Grischuk even started thinking about playing for the win himself, but short on time and not seeing a way to make meaningful progress decided to call it a day.

    Tiebreaks tomorrow; meanwhile, here's today's game, with light notes.

    Monday
    May272019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 4, Day 1

    The final match between Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi is underway, and game 1 is in the books as a draw. Nepomniachtchi played a (seemingly) risky line of the Gruenfeld, but as he was better prepared he was the one trying to push for an advantage from early on, despite playing with the black pieces. Grischuk played well, first securing the queenside and then the kingside, and the players agreed to a draw just before the time control. (The game, with my brief notes, is here.) The second classical game takes place tomorrow/today (Tuesday), and if it's another draw the rapid (and, if necessary, blitz) playoffs will be Wednesday.

    Friday
    May242019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 3, Day 2: Grischuk Advances; Nepomniachtchi-Wojtaszek Goes to Tiebreaks

    One semi-final is finished, while the other proceeds to tiebreaks tomorrow. The game between Radoslaw Wojtaszek and Ian Nepomniachtchi was a 22-move dud, deferring the real battle to the rapid (and potentially blitz) games tomorrow. Alexander Grischuk, by contrast, played for keeps against Hikaru Nakamura, and won a very impressive game to advance to the final. The games are here, with notes based on, but not limited to, those given by Grischuk himself in post-game interviews.

    Thursday
    May232019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 3, Day 1: Two Draws

    Both games were drawn, but they were not perfunctory exercises in make-believe on the way to the blitz tiebreaks. They had genuine content.

    With Black in a Giuoco Piano against Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk found a nice pawn sac in the opening that gave him excellent play with the bishop pair. At some point late in the game Grischuk obtained an advantage that was bordering on something serious, but it never quite consolidated into something tangible, and they called it a day shortly before the time control.

    In the second game, Ian Nepomniachtchi went for the 6.Bd3 sideline against Radoslaw Wojtaszek's Najdorf, and was pressing for an edge throughout. As far as I can tell, both players performed very well. Maybe 16...Bf8 is a little more accurate, and perhaps White could pressed a little with a move other than 26.h3 at the end. Najdorf players should have a look at this line: it's not a barn-burner, but it isn't completely toothless, either.

    Tomorrow they do it again with colors reversed; in the meantime, here are today's games, with my notes.

    Thursday
    May232019

    Moscow Grand Prix, Round 2, Day 3: Down to the Final Four

    It was tiebreak time in the quarterfinals of the Moscow Grand Prix, and all three tiebreakers were settled after a pair of rapid games. The smoothest winner was Hikaru Nakamura, who ground out a win with Black against Daniil Dubov in the first game and coasted to a draw in the rematch, having enjoyed a large, even winning advantage almost from start to finish.

    The next match was between Wesley So and Alexander Grischuk. Grischuk achieved an easy draw with Black in the Sveshnikov - and could have played for more at the end - and then ground out a win in the endgame in his white game. He will play Nakamura in the semi-finals.

    That leaves the tiebreaker between Wei Yi and Ian Nepomniachtchi, to see who would face Radoslaw Wojtaszek (who won in the classical portion of the match). Wei Yi had some winning chances in game 1, as his extra piece was more valuable than Black's three scattered pawns. He couldn't find a way to convert his advantage, and in the rematch he lost badly. Within four moves after Nepo improved on an earlier game played against Wei in that same line, unforced errors left him with a completely lost position.

    The tiebreak games, with my annotations, are here. The semi-finals will be played tomorrow/today at the usual time; the only guaranteed rest day comes before the final match.

    Thursday
    Apr042019

    Gashimov Memorial, Round 5: Carlsen Leads Entering the Rest Day

    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:

    • Topalov (2) - Mamedyarov (2)
    • Ding (2.5) - Carlsen (3.5)
    • Giri (1.5) - Navara (2.5)
    • Karjakin (3) - Anand (3)
    • Grischuk (2.5) - Radjabov (2.5)

    Tuesday
    Sep182018

    Grischuk-Duda Underway **UPDATED**

    The first quarterfinal match of Chess.com's 2018 Speed Chess Championship is underway, pitting Alexander Grischuk and Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The 5'+1" portion is finished and has Grischuk taking a 5-4 lead (after all decisive games) heading into the 3'+1" portion. You can find the live stream on Chess.com or at Twitch.tv/chess. Happy viewing!

    **UPDATE** The match was incredible, coming down to the very end. If you don't care who won, watch the whole thing; if you do and will be upset if your guy lost, I give the final result in the comments.

    Monday
    Aug202018

    Sinquefield Cup, Round 3: Four More Draws, and Grischuk Beats Nakamura

    Today's draws were meatier than their predecessor, even if they were identical in quantity. The game of the round was, like yesterday's, a marathon, with Alexander Grischuk squeezing out a win over Hikaru Nakamura - with Black - in 89 moves. The game saw a trendy line of the trendy Italian, one in which White allows a quick ...d5 and tries to punish Black by wrecking his queenside structure at the cost of the two bishops. On this occasion it was the bishops that proved more valuable, even if it took a very long time to prove it.

    With the win Grischuk has made it a four-way tie atop the leaderboard, as he, Magnus Carlsen, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Levon Aronian share the lead at +1. Oddly, the three players with minus scores (Nakamura, Wesley So, and Sergey Karjakin) are three of the four overall leaders of the Grand Chess Tour. They still have plenty of time to right the ship, but if they don't their qualification to London may not be secure.

    In the draw department: Aronian missed a couple of nice opportunities to preserve a significant edge against Carlsen, who was "too excited" by his win yesterday and slept poorly. Mamedyarov's game with Fabiano Caruana was a great fight in which both players demonstrated very high-level chess. Caruana was pressing, a la Carlsen, and Mamedyarov had to play very accurately to stay alive. He did, and maintains his #2 spot in the world rankings (he nosed ahead of Caruana after round 1 of the tournament). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and So contested the Berlin ending, and So had no trouble neutralizing MVL's novelty and achieving an outwardly easy draw. Likewise, Karjakin achieved nothing against Viswanathan Anand on the white side of another theoretical Ruy Lopez - this time the Open Variation - and Anand found it an easy technical job to split the point. The achievement was as much to Karjakin's "credit" as Anand's, however, as the former was understandably looking to get on the scoreboard after losses in rounds 1 and 2.

    Today's games, with my notes, are here. These are the pairings for round 4, tomorrow:

    • Mamedyarov (2) - Aronian (2)
    • Caruana (1.5) - Nakamura (1)
    • Grischuk (2) - Vachier-Lagrave (1.5)
    • So (1) - Karjakin (.5)
    • Anand (1.5) - Carlsen (2)

    Saturday
    Mar242018

    2018 Candidates, Round 12: The Tournament gets Karjaked

    Yes, it's a bad pun, and yes, I know the "j" in Sergey Karjakin's name is pronounced like a "y". I'm sticking to the dumb pun anyway. Who'd have thought that Karjakin, -2 after four rounds, would lead the tournament eight rounds later? What's that, you say, he's only tied for first? Incorrect. By beating "co-leader" Fabiano Caruana, Karjakin has the better tiebreaks, and given the tournament rules it means he would win the event if it finished right now. (Just as Magnus Carlsen advanced and Vladimir Kramnik didn't when they finished London 2013 with the same number of points.)

    Amazing. Karjakin has won four games in seven rounds, going from worst to first, and for the moment he has the pole position for a second straight title tilt with Magnus Carlsen. With White against Caruana and the latter's Petroff, Karjakin avoided nonsense like 5.Qe2 and went for the main lines, choosing 5.Nc3. After 10.a3 and 11.Nd4 there was a new position on the board, and it seems that he obtained an advantage. The critical idea that probably won him the game, and possibly a second shot at the title, was 17.Bxd5, sacrificing the exchange for a pawn and a nuclear bishop on d5, radiating power in every direction. Caruana didn't manage to cope with this piece, and by the time Karjakin picked up a second pawn for the exchange on move 31 Black's position was hopeless.

    Caruana's loss could have been Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's gain. Like Caruana, he had been undefeated all tournament long and had been in first or just half a point behind for a long time. Had he won with White against Ding Liren, he'd have been in sole first. Even a draw would have been acceptable: he'd have been in a three-way tie for first, and then he'd have been ahead on tiebreaks given his plus score against Karjakin and even record vs. Caruana. If, if, if. Ding didn't lose, and despite drawing all 11 of his games up to this point he didn't split the point either. Instead, he won, and now he's even with Mamedyarov, half a point behind the leaders.

    Ding took a page out of Kramnik's book (why not? Everyone else copies his openings) and played the Semi-Tarrasch. He equalized, and when Mamedyarov pushed to create a kingside attack Ding was able to push his queenside majority, make a second queen, and win.

    So four players lead or are within half a point of the lead. Did I say four? Make it five: we shouldn't forget Alexander Grischuk. If had defeated Levon Aronian he'd have been in the tie for first. He had a big chance on move 23, but rejected it for some reason and Aronian escaped with a draw. Still, Grischuk is within half a point of Karjakin and Caruana, so with two rounds to go more than half of the field still has a great shot at winning the tournament.

    The last game featured two players who are out of the running. Vladimir Kramnik had a winning advantage against Wesley So, but for the umpteenth time in the event left half a point (or more) on the table, and the game finished in a draw.

    The games (with my notes) are here. Sunday is a rest day, and the penultimate round will be played on Monday, with these pairings:

     

    • Mamedyarov (6.5) - Grischuk (6.5)
    • Ding Liren (6.5) - Kramnik (5.5)
    • So (5) - Karjakin (7)
    • Caruana (7) - Aronian (4)