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    Entries in Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix (12)

    Wednesday
    May272015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, The End: Caruana, Nakamura and Jakovenko Tie For First, and the First Two Are Now Candidates

    Five of the six games were drawn today, with only Peter Svidler managing a win (against Baadur Jobava). As a result, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Dmitry Jakovenko tied for first in the Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix tournament. More importantly, Caruana and Nakamura finished 1-2 in the overall Grand Prix standings, and thereby qualified for next year's Candidates' event.

    (Viswanathan Anand had already qualified by virtue of his loss in the last world championship match, while the other five candidates have yet to be determined. Two will qualify from the World Cup [starting September 10], two will qualify by rating, and one will qualify on whatever basis the organizers see fit. Hopefully it will go to the person who was closest overall to qualifying in one of the other ways, but there's a non-trivial chance that it will go to the strongest available representative of the host country.)

    As for the final round action, two games were crucial: Anish Giri vs. Caruana and Nakamura vs. Jakovenko. Caruana had a small disadvantage in the middlegame, but it disappeared when Giri went for the ebullient plan of g4-g5. Caruana was soon better, and it was only the sufficiency of taking a draw that prevented him from making Giri suffer for several hours. Meanwhile, Jakovenko needed a win to take sole first and to qualify for the Candidates' rather than his opponent. He managed to get a very small advantage, but it never became anything tangible. Whatever small chances he had departed with the last set of rooks, as 26...Rxf2 led to a queen ending where both sides' pawns started disappearing in a hurry. With the draw Jakovenko concluded an outstanding result, but it wasn't quite good enough.

    Tuesday
    May262015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 10: Four Players Still Fighting For Two Candidates' Slots

    After drawing their game - a real game, too - Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura are still heavy favorites to go 1-2 in the overall Grand Prix standings and thereby qualify for next year's Candidates' event. Caruana probably would have sewed up his qualification had he won, and he was better, but even now his odds are allegedly 92.6%. Not bad, and Nakamura supposedly has an 87.6% chance to qualify.

    So who might upset the apple cart? The prime candidate (no pun intended) is Dmitry Jakovenko, whose victory over Sergey Karjakin put him into a tie for first. Jakovenko will have Black against Nakamura in the last round, and he has two ways to get in. The simplest is by beating Nakamura, but if he draws and Caruana loses he has a 2/3 chance of making it. All Caruana needs is a draw (with Black) against Anish Giri to qualify, and Nakamura will qualify with a draw unless Caruana beats Giri, Boris Gelfand beats Karjakin, Leinier Dominguez beats Alexander Grischuk and Evgeny Tomashevsky beats Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. If all that happens, Tomashevsky will qualify.

    So that's what we have to look forward to. The only other thing I'll mention about round 10 is that Baadur Jobava beat Leinier Dominguez, which was a big blow to the Cuban as he had been tied for first and still had his own hopes of qualifying for the Candidates'. The other games were drawn, and here are the full last round pairings, with player scores in parentheses:

    • Karjakin (5) - Gelfand (5.5)
    • Nakamura (6) - Jakovenko (6)
    • Giri (5) - Caruana (6)
    • Dominguez (5.5) - Grischuk (5)
    • Svidler (4.5) - Jobava (4)
    • Tomashevsky (4.5) - Vachier-Lagrave (3)

    Tournament site here.

    Monday
    May252015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 9: Draws at the Top

    There were no changes for the top six players (by place, not rating) in round 9 of the Grand Prix finale in Khanty-Mansiysk. There almost were, but it didn't happen.

    The most amazing save happened in the game between Dmitry Jakovenko and Boris Gelfand. Gelfand was very well-prepared with Black in a Najdorf Sicilian, rattled out his first 23 moves, and had he played 24...Qd7 it would have repeated the position and the game would have ended two moves later. That was the move he prepared, but suddenly he got a brainstorm. He thought for half an hour and played 24...Nd7, incredibly overlooking Jakovenko's very next move! (This is Gelfand's own admission.) Just like that he was lost (and out half an hour to boot), and while he put up a good fight he remained completely lost (excepting a couple of brief, missed semi-reprieves when he could have been just much worse) for the next 23 moves. The last trick was 48...g4, when Jakovenko would win fairly easily with 49.Ke3 or 49.Kg3. Instead, he took the pawn, which was a blunder. He was cognizant of stalemating motifs but thought he could simply refrain from capturing Black's knight. He had missed 50...Nd5+, when not taking allows a perpetual (unless he wants to lose his queen), while taking (the path chosen in the game) allows the stalemate or a repetition. Jakovenko was understandably unhappy, but errare humanum est!

    Fabiano Caruana also missed a winning chance today, albeit one which was far less ripe for the taking than Jakovenko's. Caruana played brilliantly in a drawn bishop ending against Sergey Karjakin and somehow managed to convert it into a queen ending that was a tablebase win. Tablebases are wonderful tools, but (thankfully) most players lack access to their outputs during a tournament. Maybe Caruana could have pushed Karjakin harder than he did, but it isn't really appropriate to blame him for failing to win that ending.

    Caruana remains in first (half a point of the other three players just mentioned) and tied with Hikaru Nakamura and Leinier Dominguez. Nakamura had White against Alexander Grischuk and did not miss any wins. Grischuk held relatively comfortably with Black in a Gruenfeld, and they called it a day after just 31 moves. Dominguez's game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was also short - a draw by repetition in just 28 moves - but it was a bit mysterious as Dominguez seemed to have the advantage. Dominguez was apparently more concerned about his pawn deficit than about Black's pinned knights, and decided to call it a day.

    Those were the draws du jour; there were also two victories. The long-suffering Evgeny Tomashevsky finally avoided a long and heart-breaking game, managing to defeat Peter Svidler on the black side of an Anti-Marshall. Svidler should have played his 23rd and 24th moves in the reverse order (i.e. 23.d4 Nd3 24.Bxc4), with equal chances; his version left him in a difficult spot and Tomashevsky never let him escape (though he did miss an easier win with 39...Rbb2). The other victory was a miniature, with Anish Giri beating Baadur Jobava in just 25 moves. (I didn't see the press conference, so someone will have to tell me if there were any fireworks off the board.)

    Here are the pairings for round 10:

    • Gelfand (5) - Tomashevsky (4)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (2.5) - Svidler (4)
    • Jobava (3) - Dominguez (5.5)
    • Grischuk (4.5) - Giri (4.5)
    • Caruana (5.5) - Nakamura (5.5)
    • Jakovenko (5) - Karjakin (5)

    Will there be a real game between Caruana and Nakamura, or will they try to coast in to qualification?

    Friday
    May222015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 8: Three Lead

    As the rounds go on the players get more tired, and as they get more tired the blunders start to accumulate. There were four decisive games in Khanty-Mansiysk today, and in at least three of them the errors were more unforced than forced.

    Fabiano Caruana started the round in clear first and had White against Dmitry Jakovenko, and things were proceeding smoothly. Jakovenko sacrificed a pawn to make things messy, but it really looked like a two-result game: either Caruana would grind out a victory, or Black would draw either by having enough counterplay to keep White from doing what he wanted or by reaching a drawn opposite-colored bishop ending. After a while it looked more like the latter than the former, but a Black win was out of the question until Caruana's 36.Qb3??, overlooking or underestimating 36...c4. (The problem is that 37.dxc4 Qa5 wins a piece.) Black went from being a pawn down to a monster pawn up, and when White decided to avoid the queen ending with 41.Rf2? Black was on his way to delivering mate.

    Fortunately for Caruana, he's still in a first place tie. (Jakovenko, surprisingly, is just a half a point behind.) With a win either Leinier Dominguez or Sergey Karjakin could have leapfrogged into first, but neither did. Dominguez was worse forever against Evgeny Tomashevsky, but defended pretty much perfectly and drew in 101 moves. He is thus tied for first. As for Karjakin, he lost to Alexander Grischuk, and in one move. He had come under some pressure near the end of the time control, but after Grischuk's 39.Qe8+ the position would be about equal after 39...Kh6. Instead, Karjakin played 39...Nf7??, still with several minutes on the clock, and resigned after 40.Qg8.

    The third member of the leading triumvirate is Hikaru Nakamura. His opponent was Baadur Jobava, so you know it must have been an exciting game. Jobava flung his kingside pawns in the opening, but something went wrong and Nakamura was soon better - much better. He was well on his way to a pretty straightforward victory until he played 44...exf5; either 44...gxf5 or especially 44...dxe4 gxf5 would have made his life much simpler. The point is that Nakamura wound up with a group of pawns around his king that constituted a sort of do-it-yourself mating net, and while there were other improvements available to Nakamura later on Jobava had loads of counterplay based on Black's terrible king.

    A key moment came on move 67, when Jobava played 67.Ke7. Given his intention to play Nxg6 next, he should have played 67.Kd5 instead, when the same continuation as in the game would lead to a draw: 67.Kd5 Kg8 68.Nxg6 Rxg6 69.Rxh5 Rg4 70.Ke6! g6 71.Rh1! Kg7 72.Ke5! Ra4 73.Rh2 etc., and when Black plays ...g5 White plays Kf5, and then it's trivial. In the 67.Ke7(?) version, the sac failed, as there was no way to get the king back or to create a sort of mutual standoff where Black must let the king back in order to make progress. Maybe White could have held if he hadn't played 68.Nxg6 - I'll leave that to you guys to work out.

    The final winner of the day was Boris Gelfand, whose win over Peter Svidler was his first win of the tournament - and despite that he's just half a point out of first. This was one of those games where the evaluation moved in waves: equal at the start of the game, then White (Gelfand) was much better (maybe winning), then Black got back to equal, then White was better again, then equal, then White was better...and the third time, Svidler couldn't get back on the wave and he - or rather, his position - went under.

    The last game of the day was an uneventful draw between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri. For Vachier-Lagrave, it was enough to break a four-game losing streak, while Giri was probably tired from yesterday's marathon with Tomashevsky and reasonably happy to get an easy draw with Black going into the rest day. When the players resume battle on Sunday, these will be the pairings:

    • Jakovenko (4.5) - Gelfand (4.5)
    • Karjakin (4.5) - Caruana (5)
    • Nakamura (5) - Grischuk (4)
    • Giri (3.5) - Jobava (3)
    • Dominguez (5) - Vachier-Lagrave (2)
    • Svidler (4) - Tomashevsky (3)

    Friday
    May222015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 7: Caruana Still Leads; Dominguez & Karjakin Half a Point Back

    As the Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansyisk starts heading down the home stretch, it's looking like Fabiano Caruana is pretty nearly guaranteed a spot in the next Candidates' event. Meanwhile, it looks increasingly unlikely that Evgeny Tomashevsky will gain the other spot from the Grand Prix, as a fresh loss has put him at -2 and in 11th place - next to last.

    Starting from the top of the table, Caruana had the white pieces against Boris Gelfand, and Gelfand showed that even when he isn't winning a lot of games (so far, he has drawn them all) he can always be counted on for strong preparation and resilient play. Gelfand was never in the slightest trouble and drew comfortably.

    Sergey Karjakin started the round half a point behind Caruana, and ended it the same way. He had White against Baadur Jobava, which might have seemed a good opportunity to catch up. Jobava played another of his slightly eccentric lines - the Hecht-Reefschlager line of the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6!?/?!) and a complicated and non-traditional middlegame ensued. Karjakin was probably a bit better most of the way, but couldn't maintain it and the game was agreed drawn in a messy position where anything could have happened. It was a pity that they stopped the game where they did, but fortunately such truncated games have been a rarity in super-GM tournaments the past few years.

    Peter Svidler was also tied for second, half a point back, but he was defeated by Leinier Dominguez who leapfrogged him into second place. Dominguez simply played a very good game and was the deserved winner. If we want to blame one move in particular, we can make 25...Nh5 the culprit; the gutys 25...g5 might have been what Svidler needed to keep soul and body together.

    Hikaru Nakamura closed to within a point of Caruana with his first win of the tournament, a rather easy victory against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who is in a kind of free fall at the moment. MVL lost rather badly, getting in trouble early and then blundering with 25...Rd4??, missing the simple 26.Qc3 Bc8 27.Rce1. This strengthens Nakamura's chances of qualifying for the Candidates', while for Vachier-Lagrave it was his fourth loss in a row.

    The day's other winner was Anish Giri, who put a serious dent in Tomashevsky's dwindling hopes for a Candidates' berth. Around move 25 or so Giri thought that Black should have opted for a setup with ...f5 and ...Bf6, when he would stand quite well. Tomashevsky waited too long, and once Giri got in 32.f4 it was all going to be suffering for Black. It took a while, but Giri reeled in the full point in the second time control.

    Finally, there was a third draw on the day, a 21-move brevity (17 moves plus the repetition) between Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Grischuk. Hopefully they'll provide more excitement tomorrow, when the pairings are as follows:

    • Gelfand (3.5) - Svidler (4)
    • Tomashevsky (2.5) - Dominguez (4.5)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1.5) - Giri (3)
    • Jobava (3) - Nakamura (4)
    • Grischuk (3) - Karjakin (4.5)
    • Caruana (5) - Jakovenko (3.5)

    Thursday
    May212015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 6: The Leaders All Win

    Coming into round 6 Fabiano Caruana led the Grand Prix tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk by half a point over Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler, and at the end of the round it's the same story as all three won. (Leinier Dominguez was also tied for second, and should have finished the day in the tie as well.)

    Caruana won a very difficult opposite-colored bishop ending against Alexander Grischuk that saw both players make some mistakes. The evaluation shifted back and forth from betting-to-winning for Caruana back down to a draw, and two moves before the end Grischuk still could have saved the game with perfect play.

    Karjakin's win was both easier, cleaner and shorter, as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave continued his downward trajectory with his third loss in a row. White (MVL) was in reasonable shape when he came up with the idea of 21.Rc1 followed by 22.b4, but this didn't restrict anything Karjakin had in mind on the queenside. Black was soon better everywhere and then material ahead, and the game ended before the players reached the first time control.

    As for Svidler, he was the sole winner with White on the day, defeating Anish Giri's Ragozin in a long game. After a long siege of Black's isolated d-pawn, it dropped off, and many moves later White's passed d-pawn was the hero that won the day. Svidler did allow much of his advantage to slip at various moments, and on move 65 Black probably would have held with 65...Ra7. (One final chance may have come on move 69: ...Ra4 followed by ...Rd4.) Errare humanum est, and Svidler won in 83 moves.

    In the draw department, Boris Gelfand was fortunate - at least on two different stretches - to survive his game with Leinier Dominguez. Evgeny Tomashevsky had the better position for most of his short game with Hikaru Nakamura, but it never reached decisive levels. Finally, Baadur Jobava and Dmitry Jakovenko played an interesting game that saw both players have the advantage at different times, with Jakovenko probably holding the more serious and prolonged chances.

    Round 7 comes tomorrow (Thursday), with these pairings:

    • Caruana (4.5) - Gelfand (3)
    • Jakovenko (3) - Grischuk (2.5)
    • Karjakin (4) - Jobava (2.5)
    • Nakamura (3) - Vachier-Lagrave (1.5)
    • Giri (2) - Tomashevsky (2.5)
    • Dominguez (3.5) - Svidler (4)

    Tuesday
    May192015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 5: Karjakin & Jakovenko Win; Caruana Still Leads

    After five of 11 rounds at the Grand Prix tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, Fabiano Caruana continues to lead with a +2 score. On paper he had a good chance to move to +3 with the white pieces against the tournament's lowest-rated player, Baadur Jobava, but on the board he didn't come particularly close. Jobava played provocatively in an Advance Caro-Kann, but when Caruana didn't manage to achieve anything more than to go for a meaningless extra pawn in a rook ending the game finished in a draw.

    The shortest draw of the round was between Alexander Grischuk and Boris Gelfand. Grischuk remarked after the game that after his 8.h3 the game was basically a draw, and it seems that this was at most a slight exaggeration. (Few of us would have drawn the game, so we can say that there is some exaggeration in his remark.) Gelfand's idea with 17...a6 18.Qb6 d5 was a nice way of getting the job done, and the game finished in a draw by repetition ten moves later.

    Hikaru Nakamura vs. Peter Svidler was also a short draw in terms of moves - just 31 of them - but this was a roller coaster ride. Nakamura had a serious advantage out of the opening, and it seems that Svidler may have been in some trouble after 24.Qd2 rather than 24.Rh4. After that inaccuracy, Svidler was okay and by the end was even better, though it wasn't clear to him how to make progress. So, a draw.

    The final draw of the day was between Anish Giri and Leinier Dominguez. Giri eschewed the super-sharp system with h4 against Dominguez's Bogo-Indian, and wound up with a worse position for his troubles. Dominguez was better throughout, just not better enough to turn it into a win.

    That leaves the day's two wins. The first was Dmitry Jakovenko's win over tailender Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and was mostly due to a single move: 16...Bxh6, blundering a pawn to the simple zwischenzug 17.Nxe5. Before that White was only slightly better, and after it he was just winning. Vachier-Lagrave put up a game fight, and then at the end committed another blunder and resigned after White's reply. The problem with MVL's 39...Kf5? is that after 40.Ra5! White threatens not only 41.Rxc6 but also 41.b5, and either would be fatal. Black could try 40...Rc2, but that's immediately and obviously handled by 41.Rc5.

    The other win was a monster game going 99 moves and taking seven hours. Sergey Karjakin didn't have much of an advantage against Evgeny Tomashevsky - maybe nothing, really - but he did have the two bishops. After seemingly endless maneuvering Karjakin played the super-delayed King's Gambit: 70.e4 followed by 71.f4. This didn't win on the spot, but it was very dangerous for Black, whose forces weren't ideally coordinated at that moment for the position to open up. Tomashevsky was also somewhat short of time, and Karjakin was winning a few moves later. It was an impressive game, and a reminder of the wisdom behind the adage "the future belongs to the bishops".

    Jakovenko's win brought him back to 50% while Karjakin's win put him in the tie for second at +1, half a point behind Caruana. Tomashevsky has dropped to -1, and he'll need to start picking up the extra half-points rather than giving them away if he hopes to qualify for the Candidates. He can start tomorrow, when the pairings for round 6 are as follows:

    • Gelfand (2.5) - Dominguez (3)
    • Svidler (3) - Giri (2)
    • Tomashevsy (2) - Nakamura (2.5)
    • Vachier-Lagrave (1.5) - Karjakin (3)
    • Jobava (2) - Jakovenko (2.5)
    • Grischuk (2.5) - Caruana (3.5)

    Monday
    May182015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 4: Caruana Wins Again

    Most of the games in round 4 of the Grand Prix tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk looked like the players wanted to get an early start on Monday's rest day. Two games were drawn in just 23 moves and a third finished at move 30. The draw between Boris Gelfand and Anish Giri was a bit more competitive, as Gelfand had to make a few accurate defensive moves to hold the balance, but it too appeared headed for a draw from early on.

    The remaining two games were more eventful. Fabiano Caruana came under some pressure with Black in a Ragozin against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but it doesn't look like he was ever in real trouble. MVL, however, got into trouble - fatal trouble - by overextending. The first steps in the wrong direction began with his idea of 21.Qb3 followed by 22.f5, and then 24.Kg2 was a further misstep. White's space advantage looked impressive, but he couldn't quite consolidate it. After 28...d4 Caruana was winning, and while he might have had a minor improvement here or there he never let Vachier-Lagrave back into the game. Caruana is thus the solo leader with 3/4.

    Leinier Dominguez and Peter Svidler are half a point behind, and if Evgeny Tomashevsky could have finished off a winning position against Dmitry Jakovenko he'd have joined them with 2.5/4. Tomashevsky thought for more than 20 minutes on his 41st move, but his decision seems to have let the (probable) win slip away. Instead of 41.a5, which let Black get enough counterplay to hold after 41...Ra2, he should have tried the more patient 41.Qc2. It wasn't as big a missed chance as the one he had against Alexander Grischuk in round 2, but it's still a second extra half-point lost. If Tomashevsky misses qualifying for the Candidates by half a point at the end of the tournament, that will surely be a difficult pill for him to swallow.

    As noted above, Monday is a rest day. Tuesday's round 5 pairings are as follows:

    • Grischuk - Gelfand
    • Caruana - Jobava
    • Jakovenko - Vachier-Lagrave
    • Karjakin - Tomashevsky
    • Nakamura - Svidler
    • Giri - Dominguez

    Saturday
    May162015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 3: Caruana, Svidler Win; They Lead With Dominguez

    There haven't been many wins so far in the Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, so when they do it's not surprising that the leaderboard is immediately affected. Evgeny Tomashevsky led after the first two rounds (and should have led with a 2-0 score), but today he came a-cropper against Fabiano Caruana. The American (aaah, it feels good writing that) had him under pressure from the opening, and when Tomashevsky played 25...Qc8? the tactical problems with Black's position left him lost or at least on death's door. The last critical moment came on move 30, when Tomashevsky needed to play 30...Qg4 intending ...Qb4 with a trade of queens. After 30...Bb4 31.e6 the passed pawn proved more than Black could cope with, and Tomashevsky resigned just after the time control.

    The day's other winner was Peter Svidler, who won a nice rook ending against Dmitry Jakovenko. Jakovenko was a co-leader after round 1, but with two consecutive defeats he's now tied for last. The game turned in Svidler's favor on moves 21 and 22 when Jakovenko didn't bring his knight back to c3 (which in turn implies that he shouldn't have removed it from that square on move 20). It's not clear to me what Jakovenko overlooked, and the end result was that he went from being a little better to down a pawn for nothing.

    The other four games were drawn. Baadur Jobava and Boris Gelfand had a very complicated game that may have favored Gelfand most of the way, but it was never easy. Alexander Grischuk had some advantage all the way against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but doesn't seem to have missed any real winning opportunities. Leinier Dominguez had Black against Sergey Karjakin, but despite that was better pretty much throughout. Indeed, it's not clear why he took a draw at the end, as a well-timed ...g5 would give him persistent pressure against White's e-pawn. (The bishop goes to g7 and a knight to g6 in case White takes en passant.) Finally Hikaru Nakamura vs. Anish Giri was a dud, but a very instructive dud. In a very well-known position of the old main line Giuoco Piano, Nakamura tried the rare 7.Nbd2 (rather than the dull and equal 7.Bd2 or the interesting but more or less bad 7.Nc3), sacrificing first the e-pawn and then the d-pawn with 11.d6. Had Black tried to hold on to the material White would have enjoyed fine compensation, but Giri followed Emanuel Lasker's ancient advice about replying to gambits: take the pawns, and then return them. Giri did so, and the game could have been agreed drawn after 17 moves (at the latest) were it not for the Sofia rules. They duly played a further 13 moves and called it a day.

    Caruana, Svidler and Dominguez lead with 2/3; Giri, Jakovenko and Jobava are in last with 1/3, and everyone else has 1.5 points going into tomorrow's round 4. The pairings are:

    • Gelfand - Giri
    • Dominguez - Nakamura
    • Svidler - Karjakin
    • Tomashevsky - Jakovenko
    • Vachier-Lagrave - Caruana
    • Jobava - Grischuk

    Friday
    May152015

    Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix, Round 2: Dominguez Wins; Many Squander Chances

    In practice, chess is a competition first and an art second, but it doesn't mean that players and fans don't prefer to see wins where the game is a well-integrated whole. A good opening idea gets the eventual winner of to a good start, followed by powerful and logical play in the middlegame and endgame (if necessary). Whether the win is strategic in nature, a display of attacking genius, or a demonstration of tactical wizardry, that sense of unity and consistency is needed for a fully satisfying game. Anything less is like an incomplete story, and in most of today's games at the Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix the stories were missing intelligible endings.

    The sorriest finish of the lot today was seen in the game between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexander Grischuk. With the exception of a brief hiccup in the middlegame, Tomashevsky totally outplayed Grischuk and had an overwhelmingly winning position. (We're talking +5, +10, even +30.) It was almost impossible not to win it, even in time trouble, but sadly Tomashevsky found a way to let Grischuk live. The easiest way to win was 39.Qxd6, after which nothing short of the police placing Tomashevsky under arrest could have saved Black. There were further chances even after that, but a secular miracle happened and Grischuk drew.

    This, as I said, was only the most egregious example. Peter Svidler had a very large advantage against Fabiano Caruana before letting him off the hook, Sergey Karjakin had a significant advantage against Anish Giri and was still better at the end when they called it a day, Hikaru Nakamura was pressing throughout against Boris Gelfand (though maybe never winning), and in the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Baadur Jobava it was first MVL and then Jobava who enjoyed serious winning chances.

    The one exception was the game between Leinier Dominguez and Dmitry Jakovenko. Dominguez played strong, imaginative chess and won a very nice game. Not a perfect game, but a very good one - especially from move 25 on. (Only his 35th move could be improved upon, and to censure that move would be cavilling of the highest (or lowest) order.

    With the win Dominguez knocked Jakovenko out of a tie for first with Tomashevsky and took his place; Jobava and Giri are in last, and everyone else is on 50% going into round 3. Here are the pairings for that round:

    • Jobava - Gelfand
    • Grischuk - Vachier-Lagrave
    • Caruana - Tomashevsky
    • Jakovenko - Svidler
    • Karjakin - Dominguez
    • Nakamura - Giri