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Round 1: Caruana and Gelfand first winners in Grand Prix in Baku


The FIDE Grand Prix in Baku started on Thursday, 1st of October, with two decisive games and four draws. Two local heroes Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teymour Radjabov drew rather quickly and went to celebrate the 20th anniversary since their first ever game between each other has been played. Fabiano Caruana defeated Sergey Karjakin, who blundered material in the time trouble. Boris Gelfand quickly obtained a clear advantage after unsuccessful opening play from Dmitry Andreikin and eventually won the game. Leinier Dominguez missed a great chance to get decisive material advantage against Rustam Kasimdzhanov and after few more moves the game ended up in draw. Russian players Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexander Grischuk drew a Gruenfeld that was always more or less balanced.  Peter Svidler split a point with Hikaru Nakamura.


Mamedyarov 1/2-1/2 Radjabov

As it was revealed during the press conference the first game between little Teymur and Shakhriyah has been played 20 years ago in the national youth championship. None of them could have imagined that after so many years they would be both representing their country on the highest level.

The opening choice already showed not the most aggressive mood of Shakhriyar. The only moment White could have continued the fight was after 14. Nce2. Nevertheless, the force line shows very good compensation for Black sacrificed material. The move in the game led to the massive exchanges and the game eventually finished in a draw as well the game played 20 years ago.


Nakamura 1/2-1/2 Svidler

According to Nakamura, he spent few hours before the game watching Svidler's videos on Gruenfeld Defence but at the last moment he decided to go for 1.e4. Ruy Lopez with early d3 appeared on the board and it turned out Peter was aware of this line and got comfortable position with Black. Both players agreed on being not the most precise choice which leaded to quite unpleasant position for White. Hikaru felt the right moment to switch into defensive mode and managed to equalize. However, more pressure could have been put by Peter Svidler after 27...Nb6.

Karjakin 0-1 Caruana

In the opening stage players were competing in attempts to surprise each other. It's not often you can see 1.Nf3 from Sergey Karjakin as well as Queen's Gambit Declined is not the first choice of Caruana. In Carlsbad structure Sergey managed to add marginal edge by playing unusual 12.Ne2 which Caruana declared to be a novelty. Till some point the game developed logically. White passed an interesting attempt to play 22.h4 forcing Black to go for 22...g4 23.Be4 de 24.Nd2 minimizing Black's counter play and preparing a minority attack on the King's side. Despite exciting transformations the game had been balanced until 35. a4. Around move 30 Karjakin failed into an unusual trap. He went to the player's room and was monitoring the game from the TV screen. Because of technical problem with live transmission Sergey Karjakin thought his opponent was still thinking on his move and so he missed 10 priceless minutes which cost him dearly in the time trouble.

Gelfand 1-0 Andreikin

Andreikin went for a fashionable line of Queens Indian possibly basing his preparation on the game Gelfand-Gashimov. It turned out that Boris has something up his sleeve as he had closely analyzed this position 2 years ago. The opening battle finished in favor of Gelfand, who sacrificed a pawn but got a very dangerous initiative. Boris was doing practical and logical moves increasing the pressure and tried to play “without burning the bridges”. Perhaps, Black could have put tougher resistance but it 's hard to believe it would have changed the outcome of the game.


Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2 Grischuk

According to Grischuk, both of the players were definitely analyzing this variation in Gruenfeld and the following endgame at home. “ I was trying to remember all variations, that's why I spent so much time during the game”, said Alexander. After 17. Qd3 Black has to be precise to equalize and after spending some time Grischuk managed to remember the right way.


Dominguez 1/2-1/2 Kasimdzhanov

Leinier decided to avoid theoretical lines in order to postpone a fight for the middle game stage. But as both players pointed out, surprisingly it took them too long to go into the middle game and as a result both of them had 1 hour in total after 12 moves. After 17...Qa6 it seemed Black has got initiative but Dominguez managed to create counter play. In the time trouble Leiner was granted a sudden chance after Rustam's careless 25...Rc8 but Cuban player passed by a relatively easy tactical trick 26.Ne7, which would win the game on a spot. Leiner realized his mistake right after his move and no wonder that the players decided not to tempt fate and agreed for a draw few moves later.
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