Tashkent GP 2014 – Round 6

An exciting round in Tashkent, things are heating up and the players are stepping up their efforts.

I am a bit sad watching Gelfand ruin his positions. Today it seems the forgetful Frenchman (Vachier) struck again – he went for a line that is known to be refuted since the time of the Patriarch himself. Gelfand got a big advantage but several sub-optimal decisions saw it go down the drain. I’m convinced he would have won this game easily had it been played in Baku.

Jobava and Jakovenko played a lively Nimzo-Indian that after a series of exchanges in the centre simplified to a drawn endgame.

Giri and Radjabov went into yet another Berlin. There seems to be a tendency of late for the white players to go into the endgame a bit more than avoiding it with 4 d3. It’s particularly attractive for players who like to prepare really deep and go for long lines. Giri is such a player while Radjabov is such a player only occasionally. Giri had a chance when he caught Radjabov with a second-choice engine move, but he missed it immediately.

Mamedyarov got Kasimdzhanov off the beaten track quite quickly but that was all he achieved – black had a very good position in the opening. Things got messy in the centre and a lot of calculation was required, plus black’s king was more vulnerable than white’s, making it easier to play with white in spite of the computer’s evaluations. The most important thing was that the mess was entirely in accordance with Mamedyarov style – no surprise that he managed to come out victorious.

Nakamura still has to learn how to play for a draw. The way he did it today against Caruana was just awful – choosing a lame line in the Nimzo followed by passive play landed him in trouble. He was lucky Caruana misjudged the transposition to the heavy-piece endgame.

When Andreikin choses the Trompowsky (or the Torre) that’s a sign that he’s playing for a win. Karjakin must have been prepared against both and yet he spent masses of time in the opening. As early as move 4 the position started to resemble a Sicilian and a sharp battle ensued. White’s safer king (like in the Mamedyarov game) was again the decisive factor, plus Karjakin’s horrid time management, which made it even easier for Andreikin. Perhaps Karjakin was over-optimistic and too eager to get back after yesterday’s loss (in view of his decision not to force a repetition on move 11)? Karjakin’s play struck me as impractical, both clock-wise and position-wise, as he didn’t seem resolute enough when deciding what to do with his king. This win propelled Andreikin to shared first while Karjakin is now on -1. If I said yesterday that Karjakin is very dangerous after a loss, then he’s even more dangerous after a double-loss!

Tomorrow’s round brings the duel of the winners from Baku – Caruana and Gelfand, with both of them lingering in the lower part of the standings. There is still time to improve the situation, but with Gelfand’s stamina being a glaring problem, I think only one player can hope to move forward.

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