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    Entries in Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 (12)

    Friday
    Feb272015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Final Round: Tomashevsky Wins the Tournament and Everyone Drew Their Games

    Evgeny Tomashevsky had already clinched clear first with a round to go, and since everyone drew today (in at least half of the cases, quickly and bloodlessly) he finished the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi with his 1.5 point lead intact. Congratulations to Tomashevsky, who has offered yet another tantalizing hint that he may yet be on his way into the upper elite. Here are the final standings:

    • 1. Evgeny Tomashevsky 8 (of 11)
    • 2. Dmitry Jakovenko 6.5
    • 3. Teimour Radjabov 6
    • 4-7. Leinier Dominguez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 5.5
    • 8-10. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Baadur Jobava 5
    • 11. Peter Svidler 4.5
    • 12. Dmitry Andreikin 4

    Let us now take stock of the overall standings in the Grand Prix. With one event to go (in Khanty-Mansiysk) Tomashevsky leads with 252 points, of which 170 came from his clear first place in Tbilisi. Mamedyarov is in second with 235 points, and if the Grand Prix series were over today they'd both qualify for the Candidates. Unfortunately for Mamedyarov, he has already played in his three events (there are four Grand Prix tournaments overall, and the participants choose which three they will attend), so it's extremely unlikely that his lead will hold up.

    In fact, it's impossible unless Fabiano Caruana doesn't play in Khanty-Mansiysk or gets forfeited. Caruana is only five points behind Mamedyarov, and even clear last nets a player 10 Grand Prix points. Behind Caruana's 230 points and still in the running - i.e., playing in Khanty-Mansiysk - are Hikaru Nakamura (207 points), Dmitry Jakovenko and Boris Gelfand (170 points each), and maybe Sergey Karjakin (157 points). That final Grand Prix event is scheduled for May 13-27, and then we'll know who three of the eight Candidates for 2016 (the first is Viswanathan Anand, by virtue of his having been a finalist in the last World Championship).

    Thursday
    Feb262015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 10: Tomashevsky Clinches First After a Scare

    All six games were drawn in the penultimate round of the Grand Prix tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, and since Evgeny Tomashevsky entered - and thus, exited - the round with a 1.5 point lead it means he has clinched clear first with a round to spare. This draw, against Dmitry Andreikin, did not come easily at all. It was a very complicated game (as the Noteboom Variation usually is) and Tomashevsky was often worse and occasionally in serious trouble. Fortunately for him, the position was as difficult for White (Andreikin) to handle as for Black, and Andreikin headed for the safety of a perpetual check shortly after the first time control.

    While the other five games were also drawn, it doesn't mean that they were peaceful affairs amongst the also-rans. Three of the games remained mostly balanced throughout, but there were two games where one player or the other, and sometimes both (but not simultaneously!) enjoyed a winning advantage. Rustam Kasimdzhanov was beating Baadur Jobava, and then he was losing to him - even in the final position where the game was drawn. Leinier Dominguez was winning against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov for a long time, but immediately after the time control he let the advantage slip away.

    First place is settled, but the other places are not, and since the Grand Prix series is cumulative and there are points available to those not taking first place, tomorrow's action is important. No matter what happens, though, it looks like Tomashevsky will be leading the Grand Prix series going into the final event, scheduled for mid-May in Khanty-Mansiysk.

    * My guesses about the colors in the previous post was thus mistaken.

    Wednesday
    Feb252015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 9: Tomashevsky Wins Again; Leads by 1.5 with Two Rounds To Go

    Evgeny Tomashevsky is turning in quite the performance at the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Today he crushed Rustam Kasimdzhanov on the white side of a King's Indian with 5.h3, bringing his total score to a fantastic 7/9, good for a 2968 TPR and almost certain tournament victory. Dmitry Jakovenko is a point and a half behind and Teimour Radjabov is two points back so he hasn't clinched yet, but he's on the verge.

    There is still some drama though, as (I think) Tomashevsky will have Black against Radjabov tomorrow and White against Dmitry Andreikin in the last round. Radjabov has White and ought to be motivated, as it's his last chance to fight for first, while Andreikin is a dangerous opponent who won the last Grand Prix tournament and also defeated Tomashevsky in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Cup, even if he's currently in last place in this tournament.

    The day's only other decisive game saw the ever-volatile Baadur Jobava lose a long game to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

    Monday
    Feb232015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 8: Tomashevsky Wins Again

    The Tbilisi Grand Prix has been Evgeny Tomashevsky's tournament, and today he got to win an endgame that few players will even see in their lifetimes. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave got in trouble early against Tomashevsky, and tried to buy his way out with a long series of exchanges. First, he sacrificed a knight for two pawns, which he followed up by giving up a bishop and knight for a rook and a pawn which was then followed by a sham sac of a bishop for a pawn to gain a knight. In case you didn't manage to keep all that straight, the resulting material imbalance found MVL with an extra rook and four pawns against two bishops and a knight. (The players also had queens and one additional pawn each.) The queens and Black's remaining pawn were soon traded, after which Black was able to help himself to the rest of White's pawns. The final result: an ending with two bishops and a knight against MVL's lone rook. This is a theoretical win for the minor pieces; the only concern is to force mate or collect the rook before the 50-move rule kicks in. Tomashevsky handled the problem admirably, and 24 moves into the ending Vachier-Lagrave faced either mate in (at most) two moves or the immediate loss of his rook for a bishop, so he resigned.

    That gives Tomashevsky six points and a full-point lead over Dmitry Jakovenko, his closest competitor. Jakovenko drew his game, as did all the other players in the closest scoring groups to the leader. Only one other game was decisive, and that was Baadur Jobava's victory over Peter Svidler. Svidler was fine in and after the opening, but apparently overestimated the strength of his queenside attacking play with b4-b5. Jobava coolly neutralized White's attacking ambitions and took over thanks to his superior centralization, winning quickly.

    Tomorrow is a rest day, and round 9 (of 11) will be on Wednesday.

    Sunday
    Feb222015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 7: Jakovenko Closes on Tomashevsky

    Evgeny Tomashevsky continues to lead the Tbilisi Grand Prix after his third straight draw, and Dmitry Jakovenko has cut the lead to half a point. Tomashevsky had the white pieces against Peter Svidler and perhaps tried to catch the Gruenfeld specialist by surprise with a sideline. Perhaps he did, as Svidler used about an hour from move 13 to move 16, but it wasn't enough for an advantage. Svidler worked everything out, and soon Tomashevsky headed for a draw by repetition.

    Meanwhile, Jakovenko was building an advantage against Anish Giri's Dutch. Jakovenko's line is conceptually interesting, taking on a weak queenside structure in return for activity and the chance to swap off the right pieces. White was better throughout, though his advantage only grew decisive in the second time control.

    Giri had already joined Hikaru Nakamura as a charter member of the ex-2800s club before this game, but this solidified his membership. Another new member is Alexander Grischuk, whose loss to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is a bit hard to explain. Grischuk seemed to be doing just fine, but 17.Ra5 was a serious error that was soon compounded by 19.Bf4. As a result of these errors Black was up two pawns with a monster passer on d3, and while work remained to be done there was little doubt about the result from then on.

    The third victor of the day was Baadur Jobava, who outplayed Leinier Dominguez in one of the former's pet lines, the reversed Philidor.

    Four rounds remain. Behind Tomashevsky (5 points) and Jakovenko (4.5) there's Teimour Radjabov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov (4 points apiece), followed by Giri, Mamedyarov and Dominguez with 3.5.

    Saturday
    Feb212015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 6: Radjabov, Svidler Win; Tomashevsky Still Leads by a Point

    The relative standings at the top are almost identical to what they were coming into the 6th round of the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Evgeny Tomashevsky still leads by a point (now with 4.5 points) ahead of five other players. Coming into the round one member of the quintet was Alexander Grischuk, but he has been replaced by Teimour Radjabov, who defeated him speedily in a Najdorf Poisoned Pawn. The other four players are the same: Leinier Dominguez, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Anish Giri and Dmitry Jakovenko.

    Radjabov reintroduced the e5 line into top-level chess about a decade ago, when he crushed Viswanathan Anand with it in a blitz game. Since then there has been an explosion of theory on the variation, but it isn't clear that today's game will open a new chapter. Radjabov's 16.Be2 was a rare move, and in the two previous games to see this Black was doing okay. 16...Nxg3 was played in a comparatively low-level OTB game (the computer claims this is equal) and 16...Qa1+ occurred in a high-level correspondence game, albeit back in 2009. The computer likes the latter move, and Black won both games. If this line has a future, it will be with 16...Qa1+ but not Grischuk's 16...Nc5. White was clearly better after that move, and further errors by Grischuk on moves 18 and 20 sealed his speedy demise. Black resigned on move 24, faced with massive material losses or mate.

    The day's other winner was Peter Svidler, who defeated Dmitry Andreikin with White in a 4.d3 Berlin. Svidler saddled his opponent with a weak queenside structure, and even though Andreikin was probably okay the position wasn't very comfortable to play. Eventually he dropped a pawn on the queenside, and got caught in a catch-22. His king needed to rush to the queenside to deal with the a-pawn, but when it turned into a rook ending it was one that would have been drawn if his king were on the kingside. Cut off on the d-file, it was lost and he soon resigned.

    Round 7 is tomorrow, and Svidler will have Black against Tomashevsky then.

    Friday
    Feb202015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 5: Tomashevsky Still the Sole Leader

    Evgeny Tomashevsky continues to lead in Tbilisi, and by a full point, but he looked a bit shaky today. Anish Giri was clearly pushing Tomashevsky for a long time, despite playing with the black pieces, and if he had won they'd have been tied for first with 3.5 points apiece. Tomashevsky had to defend for a long time, but he was up to the job and held. Giri thus remains tied for second, and has joined Hikaru Nakamura as the latest member of the prestigious (but undesirable) ex-2800s club.

    Another player in the five-way tie for second is Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who is having an excellent tournament with three wins in his last four games. (Recall that he was much better if not winning against Alexander Grischuk in round 1 before going astray and losing. Had he won that game and everything else gone the same way, he'd have been tied for first at this point.) Today he won quickly against Peter Svidler, who was under pressure but still alive until he played 23...Rf7. It was a logical move, but too passive - he needed to play 23...Rc4 instead, keeping the rook active and annoying White's pieces. After the game move, White had a free hand and ransacked Black's position.

    Leinier Dominguez is also tied for second after a long win against Dmitry Andreikin. Andreikin attempt at a kingside attack was rebuffed, and after 29 moves he was down a piece and simply lost. That he hung on as long as he did was a testimony to his resilience as a defender (not to any bad sportsmanship), and Dominguez had to play very well to convert his extra material into a full point.

    Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Grischuk are also in the tie for second after their game, a very short draw by repetition in a Modern Benoni.

    Turning to players who are further back, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Teimour Radjabov drew what looked like a very correct Poisoned Pawn Winawer, while Baadur Jobava defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a game that was anything but correct. First Mamedyarov was (much) better with Black in one of Jobava's 1.b3/2.Bb2/3.Nc3 oddities, and later the evaluation went up and down like the mercury in a thermometer going from the oven to the freezer and back again. Finally, it looked like they were headed for a draw by perpetual check, but Mamedyarov uncorked 26...Kf7??, which loses the queen or walks into mate in two. Mamedyarov clearly didn't see the latter, as he made the next move and only then resigned before the mate appeared on the board.

    Wednesday
    Feb182015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 4: Tomashevsky Wins Again

    Evgeny Tomashevsky continues to impress in the Tbilisi Grand Prix, and after only four rounds he leads by a full point. Today's win came with the black pieces against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, so it isn't as if he's beating weak players. (Not that there are any weak players in the Grand Prix.)

    There was only one other winner on the day, and it was Alexander Grischuk. Grischuk bounced back from yesterday and reconsolidated his spot as the world's #2, defeating a struggling Baadur Jobava. Jobava's bad form from Wijk aan Zee (a -7 score) appears to be continuing, and he already has three losses here as well.

    Tomashevsky has 3.5, Grischuk, Anish Giri and Dmitry Jakovenko have 2.5, and tomorrow all of the players get a day off.

    Games here.

    Tuesday
    Feb172015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 3: Tomashevsky Beats Grischuk, And Leads

    Evgeny Tomashevsky is a very strong Russian grandmaster, but as there is no shortage of elite players from that country he has generally gone unnoticed in the West, except perhaps during the 2013 World Cup when he made it to the semi-finals, defeating Alejandro Ramirez, Wesley So, Levon Aronian, Alexander Morozevich and Gata Kamsky before losing (a match he could have won) to Dmitry Andreikin. Today he reminded the chess world of what he could do, dispatching co-leader and world #2 Alexander Grischuk pretty convincingly with White in a King's Indian. He now leads alone with 2.5/3, but with plenty of chess yet to be played. (It's an 11-round tournament.)

    There were two other decisive results. One featured the aforementioned Andreikin, who lost with White to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. The other was an instructive game for amateurs, a speedy loss by Baadur Jobava to Dmitry Jakovenko. (Incidentally, both Mamedyarov and Jakovenko are tied for second with 2/3, along with Anish Giri.) In an isolated d-pawn (IQP) position Jobava tried to whip up a quick attack with h4-h5. That's a common idea in IQP middlegames where Black has a pawn on g6, or is likely to put one there in the near future, but when the pawn is on g7 and is staying there, and White doesn't have a queen and bishop battery on the b1-h7 diagonal it's very rare. Some of us might be rather frightened by such an attacking idea, especially when it comes from a player of Jobava's stature, and that's what makes Jakovenko's play so instructive. He reacted very healthily, putting his pieces where they belonged, making appropriately active moves, and taking material as appropriate without fearing any ghosts.

    I've annotated that game, and included the other games as well (without notes) here. For more on the tournament, here's its webpage.

    Monday
    Feb162015

    Tbilisi Grand Prix, Round 2: Five Draws and a Kasimdzhanov Win

    Rustam Kasimdzhanov had a significant advantage against Alexander Grischuk in round 1 before slipping and losing in time trouble, but in round 2 of the Tbilisi Grand Prix today he maintained his advantage and won against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

    The other five games were drawn, though not always smoothly. For instance, Alexander Grischuk won a pawn against Dmitry Andreikin and had good winning chances. Maybe Andreikin could have held even against perfect play, but Grischuk didn't find the best plan and let Andreikin off relatively easily.

    If you believe your engines, Anish Giri was winning against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but I wonder if the whole thing, from start to finish, was worked out to a draw by MVL with the assistance of his computer.

    Leinier Dominguez was surely winning against Peter Svidler, and with a bigger advantage than Giri had against Svidler when the latter resigned in their round 1 game. Svidler has been known on occasion to resign somewhat prematurely, but unfortunately for Dominguez this was not one of those days. Svidler defended like a lion for hours, and it paid off.

    Finally, the Teimour Radjabov - Baadur Jobava and Dmitry Jakovenko - Evgeny Tomashevsky games were both drawn without anyone getting into serious trouble, though this should not be understood as a claim that the games were "soft". They weren't.

    After two rounds Grischuk, Tomashevsky and Giri lead with 1.5/2, Vachier-Lagrave, Svidler and Jobava are tied for last with half a point, and the other six players are in between. Games (no notes) are here.