Tashkent GP 2014 – Round 2

I’m glad for Jobava. He didn’t chicken out and played one of his pet lines against Caruana, the Reversed Philidor. True to his style he was lost by move 9, but that meant nothing – he found resources and saved the game. It’s refreshing to see new faces and new approaches and openings in these elite events and Jobava provides all of them. Caruana did miss a clear-cut win later in the game, but Jobava didn’t deserve to lose.

Gelfand had the edge in the QID Karjakin chose and the position was similar to Karjakin’s last round game in Baku against Andreikin – the only difference in the pawn structure was black’s pawn on c5 instead of b6. Karjakin is used to holding firm under pressure and he did it again pretty professionally.

Jakovenko’s approach reminds me of Tomashevsky’s in Baku – play as solidly as possible. Yesterday a Berlin, today a safe endgame against Radjabov. On move 20 he deviated from a recent game Radjabov played at the ECC in Bilbao, but that was enough only for an academic plus. And academic pluses at this level mean only one thing – a draw. It is psychologically comforting to draw a game where you had been pressing from start to finish and there was no risk to lose, but that kind of play rarely brings good results – the best one can hope is Tomashevsky’s +1. Somehow I doubt it Jakovenko will repeat that.

Andreikin and Nakamura played a long theoretical line that ends in a perpetual. Good preparation by Andreikin who obviously wanted to make a draw today.

I was shocked by Mamedyarov’s preparation today. This was the third time he played this line in the Slav in the last few weeks and every time he was on the losing side of the opening duel: first he got nothing with white against Andreikin in round 3 in Baku, then he switched sides and used it as black and was worse in the opening and almost losing later on against Karjakin in round 8, while today he tried it again with black against Giri and again was strategically busted by force! This is an obvious lack of opening work and he should consider himself lucky not to lose.

The only winner today was the Frenchman with the complicated name. He won against the player with the longest name. In case you’re still wondering which game I still haven’t mentioned, it’s Vachier Lagrave-Kasimdzhanov. In an innocuous 4 d3 Spanish black was OK, as usual, but was a bit careless on move 9 and this immediately gave white some initiative. It’s strange that even in such a calm position one move is enough to make your life complicated. Chess is a game of precision!

After only 2 rounds there is a clear leader – the complicated Frenchman won both his games. As I expect this tournament to be as close as the previous one, it’s still early to say anything about the future winners, but what I like so far is Jobava’s presence and the flair he brings to every round.

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