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    Entries in Teimour Radjabov (4)

    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

    Wednesday
    Jan012014

    Something New In An Elementary Rook Ending?

    I didn't cover the Mind Sports event in Beijing much for the blog, but I did follow it to some degree on my own. One game really caught my eye, and I will share it with you in a moment. The game was an unlikely candidate as an attention-getting: a rapid game that reached a drawn rook and pawn vs. rook endagme after 64 moves and that ended, appropriately enough, in a draw 68 moves later. The defender was never lost, and the drawing methods used have long been known to endgame theory.

    What caught my eye was something "mathematical" or "philosophical": it seemed to me at one point that Teimour Radjabov, who had the extra pawn, had managed with a brilliant idea to eliminate the independent significance of one drawing method by showing that he could force the defender (Wang Yue) to switch to a different drawing method, one which is a bit more complicated in practice. Specifically, it seemed for a while that Radjabov had shown that the strong side could force the defender to go from the Karstedt Maneuver to the Last Rank Defense. That doesn't change the objective evaluation of the ending, but such a reduction would be of real theoretical significance.

    Upon closer examination, it turns out not to be the case. No doubt tired and short of time, Wang Yue may have gotten befuddled and tricked into a Last Rank Defense, while I, well-rested and in the leisure of my study, was temporarily tricked as well. After patient examination, I realized that this was not the case, and Wang Yue could have returned to the Karstedt after all. Still, Radjabov's concept was truly ingenious, and a very nice practical idea we should all incorporate into our endgame repertoires.

    Curious? Have a look here. There are four fragments there. The first three demonstrate basic defensive ideas in rook and pawn vs. rook endings, going from easiest (Philidor's Method) to slightly less easy (the Karstedt Maneuver) to more difficult (the Last Rank Defense). After laying the basic theoretical groundwork we turn to the Radjabov-Wang Yue game, with an emphasis on the point where the former's great practical idea forces Black out of the cookbook Karstedt and makes him find his bearings.

    Saturday
    Mar162013

    Candidates Tournament, Round 2: Aronian, Radjabov Win

    Happily, it didn't take too long to get some decisive wins in the 2013 Candidates. Levon Aronian and Teimour Radjabov both won with the white pieces to seize the early lead with 1.5/2.

    The first win of the tournament belongs to Aronian, who won a very nice game against Boris Gelfand. Gelfand chose a line against the English that has long had a reputation of being rather unpleasant, and so it was on this occasion as well. Gelfand suffered for a long time, but thought he was finally escaping when he played 25...Rc8. This was instead the losing move, and Aronian finished brilliantly - 30.g4!! was an especially fine idea. After bumpy starts in the 2007 World Championship and the last Candidates' event, it will be very interesting to see how he does when coming out to an early lead.

    Radjabov's win over Vassily Ivanchuk was mostly convincing and even one-sided, but could have been ruined if Ivanchuk had a little more time at the end. Ivanchuk's handling of the Leningrad Dutch wasn't terribly convincing - 12...Rf7 in particular looked pretty dubious, and likewise his failure a bit later to play ...Bf8. After 17.Ng5! Black was pretty close to lost, and after 21.Bxe5! it was objectively resignable.

    It turned out, however, that Ivanchuk started playing better at this point, and in mutual time trouble Radjabov started playing a bit worse. 29.Qxa7 was a somewhat risky decision, and then 33.Rxb6 was a blunder that went unpunished. Ivanchuk was in horrific time trouble; in fact, after 33...Bxb6 34.Qxb6 he lost on time making his next move. It would have taken him some time on the clock and a bit of imagination as well, but it looks like 33...g4!! (it seems g4 is the brilliant move of the day, for either side!) would have saved the game. This incredible possibility aside, the game was very one-sided, and not an auspicious beginning for Ivanchuk by any stretch.

    The game that would have been the headline had either player won it was Magnus Carlsen vs. Vladimir Kramnik. Carlsen played a sideline in the Symmetrical English that resulted in a slight lead in development, but with a few accurate moves Kramnik neutralized the pressure and the game resulted in a very quick draw.

    Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler also produced a draw in what is so far the only game in the tournament to begin with 1.e4. The game was always around equality in an Anti-Marshall, with perhaps first Grischuk and then Svidler enjoying a micro-edge. The game made it to the end of first time control, and was agreed drawn.

    The games, with my notes, can be replayed here.

    Standings After Round 2:

    1-2. Aronian, Radjabov 1.5
    3-6. Carlsen, Kramnik, Grischuk, Svidler 1
    7-8. Ivanchuk, Gelfand .5

    Round 3 Pairings:

    • Gelfand - Carlsen
    • Ivanchuk - Aronian
    • Svidler - Radjabov
    • Kramnik - Grischuk

    Thursday
    Jul052012

    A Radjabov Interview

    Tal Memorial co-runner-up Teimour Radjabov, interviewed here. (HT: hylen)