Tashkent GP 2014 – Round 5

Three decisive games after the rest day and I’m again glad for Jobava!

So far he manages to impose his style on his opponents, but these guys learn fast. Today it worked again, though, as Karjakin was put under pressure and succumbed. An uncharacteristic flop by Karjakin, but let’s not forget that he’s at his most dangerous in situations like this one.

Radjabov and Andreikin went deep into Berlin territory and Andreikin’s analyses proved to be precise and he held the draw easily.

Kasimdzhanov and Giri played a Grunfeld where black was fine throughout and the draw was the normal outcome.

Caruana still cannot find his stride in this tournament. He went again for the line in the Slav in which he beat Mamedyarov in Baku, but obviously black was better prepared now and achieved a draw without problems. It’s interesting to observe the players going for the same lines they’d played before against the same opponents (but also against others as well – for example Radjabov played the Berlin Andreikin played against Caruana in round 3). I think the main reason is there was so little time between the tournaments and it wasn’t possible to prepare new surprises, hence the players aim to get a position and play on. Very often this isn’t enough.

Nakamura beat Gelfand in 97 moves. A very instructive game: first he avoided the Najdorf, going for the Carlsen favourite 3 Bb5. Black obtained a perfectly viable position after the opening, but white kept on posing little problems here and there. The pressure piled up and he managed to create some pressure – first psychological and then in the position. Gelfand being the oldest participant and coming directly from Baku didn’t help his issue – Nakamura also played in Baku, but he’s also 20 years younger. In normal circumstances Gelfand wouldn’t have had problems drawing this, but today he failed to do so. The comments to the game show the critical moments and the reasons behind the decisions.

Jakovenko beat Vachier with a novelty that is the second choice of the engine. And it proved fatal for the latter. They followed a game by the Frenchman and then instead of the first choice of the engine, played in the mentioned game, Jakovenko went for the second choice. Objectively black should have drawn rather easily, in practice he lost rather easily. This game is a good example how the elite analyse their openings.

After this round Nakamura emerged as the sole leader with the same +2 that sufficed for shared first in Baku. I doubt it, though, that he will draw the remaining 6 games.

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