Tashkent GP 2014 – Round 1

Two black wins in the first round of the Tashkent Grand Prix is somewhat of a surprising start of the tournament, especially if taking into account that white won only one game. As we saw in Baku, these events are solid affairs and black doesn’t get to win many games.

We can say that Andreikin was lucky to beat Mamedyarov with black after suffering for a long time and entering a double-rook endgame a pawn down. Surely at this level you cannot possibly lose such an endgame a pawn up?! It’s obvious that Mamedyarov went a bit too far in his winning attempts and then when it was time to bail out, he didn’t find the way. A painful loss for Mamedyarov who still seems to be reeling after Baku.

Gelfand showed excellent preparation against Giri in a Benoni (arising after 3 f3 against the Grunfeld) and drew without any problem. It’s important to notice that Giri correctly sensed the moment to play for a draw.

Nakamura beat Jobava rather easily. I am curious to see if Jobava (a great guy by the way) will continue with his unorthodox and sharp style in this tournament. He tried it today and failed. His recent successes have been achieved mostly because of his splendid calculating abilities, but in this company everybody has those abilities! I remember back in 2011 we were spending a lot of time together during the Crespi Memorial in Milan where he won scoring 8.5/9! He was quite open about his training methods and it was very pleasant to chat with him for hours on. I do wish him all the best in these series and I hope he manages to break through to the upper echelons of the elite.

Caruana went for the sharp lines in the Najdorf against Vachier Lagrave. This game reminded me of his game against Topalov in Stavanger this year, or more precisely, of Topalov’s comments after the game: when Caruana complained that he couldn’t remember the moves Topalov calmly replied: “It’s impossible to remember.” This statement is a clear indication of the elite’s opening preparation – way too much computer analysis! And today Caruana repeated the same mistake – he went into a heavily analysed line and forgot his preparation. He ended up in a very unpleasant position and couldn’t hold it.

The other two games, Kasimdzhanov-Jakovenko and Radjabov-Karjakin were drawn without much excitement. The only thing worth noting is Radjabov’s use of Spassky’s pet line from the end of the 70s 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3. A rare guest at this level and with a good reason – black had no problems in the opening.

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