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    Entries in Teimour Radjabov (13)

    Saturday
    Jan262019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 12: Carlsen Wins Again, Leads Giri By Half a Point Going Into Their Last-Round Showdown

    Last year Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri tied for first in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, and in this year's edition they are once again the only contenders for first. Last year, Carlsen defeated Giri in a playoff; this year, a playoff is impossible, as Carlsen enters the round half a point ahead of his rival and they face off in the last round. (I suppose one could consider it a de facto playoff: an Armageddon game with a classical time control. If Carlsen wins or draws, he wins the tournament; if Giri wins, then he does.)

    They entered the round tied for first after Giri got a colossal gift from Sam Shankland, who resigned in a completely drawn position. In this round Giri got a second gift, as Teimour Radjabov offered a draw (which was of course accepted by Giri) in a won position. Not a dead or obviously won position, but a winning one all the same. Even with all the freebies Giri is enjoying, Carlsen still enters the last round as the sole leader after grinding out a victory against Jan-Krzysztof Duda. No freebies, just hard work: he obtained an advantage in the early middlegame and never let go. Duda didn't make it easy for him, but he was still forced to surrender after 71 moves.

    Ian Nepomniachtchi entered the round only half a point behind the leaders, but now he's a point and a half behind after getting clobbered by Shankland. Perhaps trying to hard to get a complicated and untheoretical position Nepo played an experimental line, a Pirc with ...e6. The combination of ...g6, ...Bg7, ...Nf6 and ...e6 generally don't go very well together (to oversimplify a bit: if you want to play a Pirc, avoid ...e6; if you want a Hippo, don't play ...Nf6), and they went dreadfully wrong in this game. Shankland played natural, healthy, aggressive chess, and won convincingly.

    Ding Liren and Viswanathan Anand could have remained a point behind Carlsen, had either defeated the other. That still would have left them mathematically eliminated from the race for first, after Carlsen's win, but at least they'd be a bit closer. It was a very good game, with Ding playing 1.e4 - an unusual first move for him - and having some deep preparation. Anand defended well, and 28...Rd6 was a beautiful idea that led to an ending where White's had no way to use his material advantage.

    Finally, Vladimir Kramnik made it two consecutive wins by defeating Vladimir Fedoseev in a queen and rook ending, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov bled some rating points by drawing with Jorden Van Foreest. Kramnik is now "only" -18.7 for the touranment, while Mamedyarov is a ghastly -26 on the live rating list. And Santosh Vidit Gujrathi was winning against Richard Rapport, but after he missed the right way to prosecute his attack the game finished in a draw.

    The tournament site is here, the games (with light comments, though not about photons) are here, and these the pairings for the final round, tomorrow:

    • Giri (8) - Carlsen (8.5)
    • Nepomniachtchi (7) - Radjabov (6)
    • Kramnik (4.5) - Shankland (5.5)
    • Mamedyarov (4.5) - Fedoseev (4.5)
    • Rapport (5.5) - Van Foreest (4.5)
    • Anand (7) - Vidit (6.5)
    • Duda (5) - Ding (7)

    In the Challengers Tournament, the sole leader is Vladislav Kovalev, who came into the event as the second seed. He has 9/12, good for a half-point lead over 16-year-old Andrey Esipenko and Maksim Chigaev. Unfortunately for Chigaev and Esipenko, they're both playing Black against strong opponents (Gledura and Bareev, respectively) while Kovalev has White against bottom seed and co-cellar dweller Stefan Kuipers. One never knows for sure, but the odds of Kovalev's getting clear first and securing qualification to next year's top group look awfully good.

    Sunday
    Jan202019

    2019 Wijk aan Zee, Round 7: Five Leaders

    It's getting bunchy at the top of the 2019 Tata Steel Chess Tournament, as Viswanthan Anand's win over a plummeting Vladimir Kramnik made him the fifth player in the event with a +2 score as the tournament passed the halfway point. Anand was doing fine with Black, with a roughly equal position where he had an extra pawn and Kramnik had the bishop pair. Had Kramnik played 36.c4, insuring that he could regain the sacrificed pawn at will, he'd have enjoyed a small edge with slight winning chances and almost no risk. Perhaps Kramnik felt he was maintaining more position the way he played it, but that proved all to the good for Anand. He kept his extra pawn, got active, and went on to win in the second time control.

    That put him into a tie for first with Magnus Carlsen (who had to suffer a bit with black against Vladimir Fedoseev), Anish Giri (white in a short, sharp draw with Ding Liren), Ding Liren (see the previous clause), and Ian Nepomniachtchi (who had Jan-Krzysztof Duda on the ropes but couldn't put him away). As for Kramnik, he's tied for last place with Jorden Van Foreest, who lost a knight ending to Sam Shankland. That brought Shankland back to 50%, and was his first win after failing to convert winning positions in rounds 1 and 2.

    Teimour Radjabov is only half a point behind the leaders after clubbing Santosh Vidit into a brutal submission. Vidit was already in trouble in the opening after a promising piece sac by Radjabov, and while the game went 36 moves it wouldn't have been out of place for Vidit to resign on move 20.

    Finally, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Richard Rapport drew their game at the time control. Mamedyarov had a meaningful advantage through much of the middlegame, but it slipped away as the time control neared.

    No analysis today, I'm afraid, but the games can be replayed here. Here are the pairings for round 8:

    • Carlsen (4.5) - Rapport (3)
    • Anand (4.5) - Mamedyarov (3)
    • Duda (3) - Kramnik (2)
    • Ding (4.5) - Nepomniachtchi (4.5)
    • Vidit (3.5) - Giri (4.5)
    • Van Foreest (2) - Radjabov (4)
    • Fedoseev (2.5) - Shankland (3.5)

    Friday
    Nov242017

    Palma Grand Prix, Round 8: Radjabov Wins Again

    To his great credit, while everyone else draws and draws - most notably fellow Candidates aspirant Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - Teimour Radjabov has had lots of decisive games in the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix tournament. (The not very helpful tournament website is here; TWIC's page is here.)

    By defeating Boris Gelfand (with Black) in round 8, Radjabov has returned to a +1 score with one round to go, putting him into a massive nine-way tie for second. Levon Aronian is alone in first with 5 points, and Radjabov, MVL, and seven others are half a point behind. They both still have a chance to leapfrog Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk in the overall Grand Prix standings, but both surely need to win in the final round on Saturday for that chance to become a reality.

    Thursday
    Nov232017

    Updates: TCEC Superfinal, Palma Grand Prix

    It's still early in the superfinal of season 10 of the TCEC, but so far it's looking pretty one-sided. After 14 games (of 100), Houdini has won four and lost none, drawing 10. (Okay, technically it's +3 =10, but game 14 is a foregone conclusion in Houdini's favor, and it might finish the second after I upload this post.) Unfortunately, we weren't treated to a Houdini-asmFish match, but regardless, this is an impressive performance so far by Robert Houdart's program.

    As for the Grand Prix tournament in Palma de Mallorca, the leaderboard is even more crowded. Those in first, or in the second-place tie, all drew, maintaining the status quo amongst themselves, while even more players managed to jump into the huge tie for second. Levon Aronian still leads - now with four points out of six (with three rounds to go), and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Ding Liren, Peter Svidler, Pentala Harikrishna, and Dmitry Jakovenko are all still tied for second with three and a half points...and so too are Evgeny Tomashevsky and Richard Rapport.

    Tomashevsky's win was especially noteworthy, as it came at the expense of Teimour Radjabov. Radjabov entered the event hoping to qualify for the Candidates with a sufficiently strong result here, but now he's at -1, tied for 11th place. He hasn't yet been mathematically eliminated from contention, because if, say, he wins his last three games while all the other games are drawn he'd qualify, that isn't a particularly likely scenario. At least he can take comfort knowing that if he doesn't make it, his countryman (and, I think, friend) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is guaranteed to qualify for the Candidates.

    As for Vachier-Lagrave, the good news is that he's in second; the bad news that it's a tie for second-ninth. If the tournament ended now, he'd be out of luck. He had Black in round 6, so at least he'll (probably) get the white pieces twice in the last three rounds. If he does qualify, it will come at Alexander Grischuk's expense, which would make for a double misfortune for him. Not only would he not qualify this way, but he's missing out at the chance to get in by the wildcard: the organizers already gave the spot to his fellow Russian Vladimir Kramnik.

    Thursday
    Nov162017

    Palma Grand Prix, Round 1: Three Winners, Including MVL. UPDATED

    Teimour Radjabov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the two players who are in the running for the Candidates, given a sufficiently successful performance in this, the final leg of the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix, drew and won (respectively) in round 1. Radjabov drew with Alexander Riazantsev in just 12 moves - with White - which is hardly an auspicious start. Possible reply: He offered the draw because he was worse, not because he was unambitious. Rejoinder: It's true that he was a little worse (but only a tiny bit - "equal" is more accurate than "Black is slightly better"), but that just shifts the mystery around a little. He chose the opening - Jobava's/Prie's London/Veresov hybrid - he introduced the first new move of the game, 8.Ne5, and nothing after that was earth-shattering from either player. Anyway, it's early; no doubt he'll push more as the event goes on.

    Vachier-Lagrave played more ambitiously, defeating Boris Gelfand on the white side of an Accelerated Dragon. Gelfand sacrificed a pawn on move 8, and never got it back. Or rather, he did on move 30, but it was a different and entirely meaningless pawn he managed to pocket. Meanwhile, the extra pawn MVL collected and kept was on its way to promotion, and Gelfand resigned just four moves later. It was an impressive start to the tournament for Vachier-Lagrave.

    The day's other two winners were Anish Giri, who won a very nice ending against Richard Rapport, and Ernesto Inarkiev, who obtained a fantastic position out of the opening against Li Chao and easily converted his advantage.

    Could someone remind me in the comments why no outside entities are covering the event live? I thought Agon/World Chess lost their lawsuit when they tried to frighten others off from covering the last Candidates and the World Championship. At least they lost in the U.S., and I don't recall their winning anywhere else. Did everyone capitulate just to avoid legal fees from nuisance lawsuits?

    UPDATE: Ah, here's the reason, courtesy of one of the many affected parties. FIDE will blacklist people who follow the law in a way they don't like for a period of up to ten years. Charming. They lost in court, in the court of public opinion, and in the realm of argumentation, so they'll simply use their monopoly powers to thuggishly cow parties into submission. There really needs to be change at FIDE (not solely because of this; this is reason 12,754), or a viable rival not fronted by a slash-and-burn personality like Kasparov. (In an assisting role, maybe, but definitely not its head.)

    Tuesday
    Jul182017

    Geneva Finishes; Radjabov Wins

    When we last left off after round 7 of 9, Teimour Radjabov led the Grand Prix event in Geneva with 5/7; Pentala Harikrishna and Alexander Grischuk were half a point behind. Two rounds later, the tournament is over and Radjabov held on to his victory with a pair of draws against Alexander Riazantsev in round 8 (in just 12 moves), and more significantly against Ian Nepomniachtchi in the last round.

    Nepo had defeated Levon Aronian in round 8 when the latter went a bit too sac-crazy, and moved into the tie for second with Grischuk. (Harikrishna lost to Li Chao to fall out of the tie for second and out of contention for first.) With a win over Radjabov, Nepomniachtchi would take clear first (Grischuk drew with Anish Giri), but despite having the white pieces it was only his opponent who enjoyed winning chances before the game was drawn.

    Apart from the games already mentioned, most of the wins in the last two rounds took place on lower boards. In round 8, Giri and Michael Adams defeated Hou Yifan and Richard Rapport, respectively, in both cases with the black pieces. In round 9 Hou Yifan lost again, and so did Saleh Salem, to Peter Svidler and Aronian, respectively; in this cases the wins came with the white pieces.

    Full results and games here; overall Grand Prix standings and information here. The upshot is that Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk lead for the top two spots overall, which would mean qualification into next year's Candidates event, but they won't be playing in the last Grand Prix event of the year. That takes place in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Teimour Radjabov, Ding Liren, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will all have their chances to leapfrog their way into qualification.

    Friday
    Jul072017

    Geneva Grand Prix, Round 2: Radjabov Leads

    Another good round at the Geneva Grand Prix, this time with five decisive games out of nine! Teimour Radjabov is the sole leader after defeating Pavel Eljanov on the white side of a Queen's Indian. Other wins: Levon Aronian pulled out a win with Black over Dmitry Jakovenko in a Giuoco Piano, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Ernesto Inarkiev in just 20 moves in a...well, I'm not sure what to call it - an offbeat Queen's Gambit Declined, I guess. Alexander Grischuk ground out a victory in the Spanish torture against Richard Rapport, and Anish Giri bounced back from yesterday's loss by defeating Saleh Salem with Black in another Giuoco.

    TWIC page, with games, here.

    Monday
    Oct122015

    World Rapid Championship: Carlsen Wins Again

    Surprise! Magnus Carlsen won his first two games today, the third day of the World Rapid Championship. - the second a heartbreaker for Vasil Ivanchuk, who was first better and then for a long time drawing before Carlsen somehow pulled it out - and that put him at a huge score of 10/12. From there three draws sufficed to win the tournament by a full point over his closest competitors. There were three of them, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimour Radjabov and Leinier Dominguez, and it was the last-named player who was the unlucky fourth. "Nepo" won the silver on tiebreaks and Radjabov garnered a bronze. Loads of players were another half a point behind, including such greats as Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

    The World Blitz Championship starts tomorrow at the same venue and with most of the same players. It would be fun if Hikaru Nakamura and other top players in the Millionaire Open made the flight to Berlin, but that would really be a bit too crazy. Fun, but crazy.

    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.

    Thursday
    Apr242014

    Gashimov Memorial, Round 5: Radjabov Leads After Both Cars Crash

    It was a great day for the Azeri players at the Vugar Gashimov Memorial: Teimour Radjabov defeated one leader, Magnus Carlsen (who also happens to be the world champion and world #1), while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defeated Fabiano Caruana, the other leader. After five rounds, the first cycle is complete. Radjabov is at +1 and in clear first, Mamedyarov is -1 and alone in the cellar, and Carlsen, Caruana, Nakamura and Karjakin (the latter two drew today) are all on 50%.

    Radjabov is a great King's Indian specialist, and simply did a better job of understanding and assessing the goings-on than his illustrious opponent. Carlsen was unhappy about his 19th move (19.exf5) and confessed that he was wrongly optimistic about his exchange sac. He thought that Radjabov would be without play, but when 28...b5 came it was clear that he was mistaken. Radjabov finished very effectively and was a deserved winner.

    For Caruana it was a different story. Mamedyarov was better forever, but Caruana was holding down the fort pretty successfully. The critical moment came at the start of the third and final time control, when Mamedyarov played 61.e4. Black had a choice, to force the trade of queens with 61...Qg6 or to force matters with 61...Qc3. Caruana thought for half an hour and made the right decision from a computer perspective, but from a human point of view it was at least questionable. The former would have led to further suffering, but the position would have been easier to play, much more manageable. Instead, he played 61...Qc3. This draws if one sees everything - the computer gives it a shiny 0.00 evaluation - but Black must find a lot of only moves. When Caruana missed one of them - 67...Qf3! - it wasn't just some sort of inaccuracy. Black was completely lost, and Mamedyarov successfully converted his advantage.

    Tomorrow is a rest day, and on Saturday the second cycle begins with these pairings:

    • Mamedyarov - Carlsen
    • Caruana - Nakamura
    • Radjabov - Karjakin