Baku GP 2014 – Round 10

Another exciting round today with 4 decisive games. And I think it’s fair that the players who led the tournament for the most part are leading again before the last round – the youngest and the oldest participant of the tournament, Caruana and Gelfand.

Gelfand won unexpectedly easily against Radjabov. Radjabov decided to play solid and went for the QGD instead of the KID or Grunfeld and Gelfand in turn chose the Catalan. It cannot get more solid than that! They followed the 2nd game of the Candidates match Kramnik-Radjabov in 2011 and it was Radjabov who deviated from that game, but it wasn’t a good idea. Radjabov really spoiled his tournament with this careless loss.

Caruana also won rather easily against the despondent Dominguez. The Cuban went for 1 c4 instead of his usual 1 e4 and Caruana, after some thought on move 1 (!) went for the symmetrical 1…c5, followed up with a line I analysed extensively some years ago.

Grischuk won his second black game in a row against Kasimdzhanov. He played a bit extravagantly in the opening, especially the move 5…Nh6 in this position (also a novelty – the idea is to play …f5 and cover the pawn on f5 so as to be able to take on d5 with the e-pawn).

5…Nh6, covering f5 in advance before putting a pawn there

And then it was interesting to observe how after the normal moves that led to a compex middlegame the players started doing two different things: Kasimdzhanov just sat and did nothing, while Grischuk showed great energy and incisiveness with his kingside advance. Kasimdzhanov was pretty disappointed with his play and it’s strange to see him lose two games in a row in such bleak fashion – yesterday with a 2-move blunder and today with insipid play. And good news for Grischuk, coming back to 50% and increasing his chances of a successful Grand Prix series.

Tomashevsky won his first game against Andreikin. His extremely solid play finally bore fruit as Andreiking “jumped” too much – the game was dynamically balanced in the middlegame, but Andreikin’s weaker king proved decisive just because it is easier to play with a safer king in time-trouble. Andreikin’s last chance was on move 31 when he could have simplified to a rook endgame a pawn down, with good drawing chances.

Nakamura and Mamedyarov played an Exchange Slav where black got to sacrifice the pawn on b7 in return for kingside counterplay. Black could have continued instead of giving the perpetual, but probably both players feel that this is not their tournament and try to finish it with as little damage as possible.

Karjakin was lost but didn’t lose to Svidler. Svidler’s problem was that he had too many tempting options and eventually he couldn’t calculate his way through them.

This missed win was also a missed opportunity to join the leaders before the last round. But the modern-day Lasker, as I like to call Karjakin, is a difficult man to beat and I wouldn’t be surprised if he maximises his chances by beating Andreikin tomorrow with black and ending up shared 1st (and probably winning on tie-breaks).

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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