Baku GP 2014 – Round 11

The players who were in the lead for most of the time emerged victorious in the first of the Grand Prix tournament series. The oldest and the youngest, Gelfand and Caruana showed different play, but their victory is equally deserved. Gelfand played very interesting and intensive chess and apart from his loss to Mamedyarov all his games were of high quality. The quality of Caruana’s play was not up to the standard he got us accustomed to during the last few months, but it’s a sign of an exceptional player when he can win tournaments with far-from-perfect play. Only Carlsen is capable of the same and this is just a confirmation for me that Caruana is now in a league of his own when compared to the others who follow him on the rating list.

Svidler decided to test Gelfand in the Najdorf, but that’s not a wise idea. Svidler quickly convinced himself that Gelfand knew what he was doing and the game was drawn, rather comfortably for black I’d say, if it wasn’t for the accidental chance on move 25. But with precise play black is OK even there.

Caruana played for win against Tomashevsky – he repeated the Anti-Marshall line that Svidler used against Tomashevsky in round 9 and deviated on move 12 with 12 Nf1, instead of Svidler’s 12 c3. But black replied with a rare move 12…ba4 and an interesting struggle ensued. On move 31 Caruana decided to risk it and this was the chance Tomashevsky was waiting for. Or at least that’s what I thought – he was finally in a position when he could play for a win without risking too much – a common occurence when your opponent tries too hard to win. A win would have given him shared 1st place and a career breakthrough one can only dream of! And yet, instead of going for it, he accepted the draw offer by Caruana on move 34. To me this is pure lack of self-confidence and perhaps a question of character – Tomashevsky decided to be happy with little instead of risking it and going for the great. In life chances should be taken, not spurned, because when they’re spurned, that comes back to haunt us. But this is only my opinion.

Grischuk won his third game in a row, an amazing feat after lingering on -2 for most of the tournament. He beat Dominguez, who in turn lost his 4th game in a row! A cruel punishment for the Cuban for missing wins in the first two rounds. Grischuk said that he started to play well in the tournament (the last 4 games) the moment he changed the hotel – the absence of windows in the first hotel made him claustrophobic (and pregnant! – his words) and he wasn’t feeling well. I wonder whether the absence of Windows on his laptop would have bothered him more. This brought Grischuk on +1 and shared 3rd, but more importantly it kept him in contention in the series. The game was a Najdorf with 6 h3 and black was doing fine until he totally spoiled it in mutual time trouble. A nervy affair where the nerves of the player who won his last 2 games were in better shape than the nerves of the player who lost his last 3.

Radjabov drew with Nakamura in a Fianchetto KID where on move 15 he deviated from a game of Mamedyarov. It didn’t bring him anything and the position simplified quickly enough.

Andreikin got Karjakin under some pressure when the latter voluntarily played passively and allowed a transposition to an unpleasant endgame. White could have played better, but we know by now that Karjakin cannot be beaten, so the result most probably would have been the same.

Mamedyarov and Kasimdzhanov played a topical line in the QGA, a line I played in May this year against the Spanish GM and Europe’s vice-champion Anton Guijarro.

The heroes have no time for rest though – in 5 days the second tournament of the Grand Prix series starts in Tashkent and it will be very tough for the players who played in Baku. This is a period of non-stop elite chess, as the Tashkent GP will be followed by the World Championship match. Great chess to look forward to!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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  • Oct 16,2014 at 11:42 am

    That's a good one! 🙂

  • Anonymous
    Oct 15,2014 at 7:38 pm

    You mean check out Pune for future pensioners?

  • Oct 15,2014 at 3:31 am

    The heroes? Good joke,pensioners rather than heroes ! Kalemegdan is place for them, not chess ring,really disrespectful and shameless performance.If you looking for some hope better check out Pune 🙂

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