Gashimov Memorial 2015 – Round 4

Today’s round saw So emerge as the sole leader in Shamkir. I already wrote about Mamedov’s vulnerability when playing with black – in Round 2 he was smart to go for the Slav against Giri (instead of his usual KID) and he achieved a great position, but today he was too predictable with his usual Maroczy and went down unceremoniously. I was surprised by this, as I expected him to play something with a better reputation, especially as I think that Khalifman is there to help him (Khalifman is the coach of the Azerbaijan’s national team). The game is a good example of how a player with a higher class wins without too much fuss.

The remaining games were drawn. For the uninitiated the most interesting must have been Kramnik-Anand. I must disappoint them however, by pointing out that this was another non-game between the former World Champions. The game was similar to their game from the London Classic last year – a lot of theory and a draw in many moves. In London they went for the ultra-sharp Botvinnik Slav, here they went for the popular 5 g3 line in the Slav that Kramnik used to beat Giri in Qatar. This was a good chance for Anand to show his preparation, which he duly did, refuting white’s sacrificial play and obtaining a draw without having to think over the board. Impressive preparation and practically a rest day for both (Kramnik undoubtedly knew about all this as well).

Adams managed to hold Carlsen with white. I know how this sounds, but it’s true – immediately after the opening, a Steinitz Deferred Spanish, black was the one trying to play for more. Today Adams was more composed and didn’t blunder so a draw was a fair result. Carlsen said he was satisfied with how things were going, with 3/4 and 3 black games from those 4, he has everything to play for.

Giri and Mamedyarov drew from a quiet Slav while Vachier and Caruana from a quiet Grunfeld. The quiet Grunfeld, a bit of an oxymoron, arose after white went for the somewhat forgotten 5 Na4 in the opening.

Looks like fun at first sight, but after 5…e5 6 de Nc6 7 a3 Ne5 8 e4 Nb6 9. Qd8 Kd8 the quiet Grunfeld arose.

On a sidenote, at the World Team Championships, the Russian teams have not won a match (neither the women nor the men’s team) and the men’s team is dead last with two lost matches. A rare sight of the table indeed.

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