Round 9: Six players lead after day full of excitement!
After the entertaining round 9 of FIDE Grand Prix in Baku and losses by Caruana and Gelfand, the tournament is wide open with only two games to go!
The round abounded with the decisive results despite two relatively quick draws in Radjabov-Karjakin and Svidler-Tomashevsky.
Next, Nakamura won a piece from Kasimdzhanov, while Mamedyarov defeated Gelfand.
More action followed when Caruana erred and allowed Grischuk to unleash the combined power of the queen and the knight.
Dominguez assumed the advantage after Andreikin's ungrounded piece sacrifice, but then the Cuban lost the thread and the game.
Two rounds before the end as many as six players are sharing the lead: Caruana, Nakamura, Karjakin, Gelfand, Radjabov and Svidler.
Results and pairings are here, crosstable is here. Visit also the photo gallery and replay the games.
Reminder - In case of a tie Grand Prix points and money prizes are split equally. Tie-break counts only for cups and medals, criteria are:
- Tie Break1: Direct Encounter (The results of the players in the same point group)
- Tie Break2: The greater number of victories
- Tie Break3: Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break variable
Nakamura - Kasimdzhanov 1-0
Black attempted to play the Berlin Ruy Lopez but white avoided the famous queenless middlegame and preferred the structure similar to the Exchange Variation.
White succeeded in pushing d4 and black gave up the bishops' pair in order to trade the queens.
Black looked solid until Nakamura set a small trap with 22.Bg3 into which his opponent fell head in. With white trapping a piece on the back-rank, black immediately gave up.
Mamedyarov - Gelfand 1-0
White's restrained opening setup with 4.e3 was probably devised against Gelfand's favourite Gruenfeld Indian defence. The play soon transposed to the Benoni, where black appeared to have an extra tempo.
The light-squared bishops were exchanged and it looked like black will equalise with ease.
But after a couple of aimless moves by Gelfand white got some action going against the d6-pawn.
Black lost that pawn and was faced with new and stronger threats. Gelfand gave up on move 37.
Azerbaijan chess fans are absolutely delighted with Mamedyarov's first victory.
Svidler - Tomashevsky 1/2-1/2
Playing the white side of the Ruy Lopez Anti-Marshall, Svidler was not cautious enough and his 12.c3 allowed a strong reply in 12...c4.
Black snatched the pawn on a4, but instead of trying to fight for an advantage, he repeated the moves in the early stage of the game.
This was ninth consecutive draw for Tomashevsky.
Radjabov - Karjakin 1/2-1/2
The players explored the topical line of the English Opening where white has better pawn structure but black pieces are sufficiently active.
18.Rc2 practically invited black to liquidate the tension down to opposite-coloured bishops endgame. Draw signed on 30th move.
Caruana - Grischuk 0-1
Caruana repeated 3.f3 line against Gruenfeld Indian defence that brought him success earlier in the clash with Svidler.
But Grischuk was not intimidated, having prepared a highly original line that made his opponent think from the early stage of the game.
Black even sacrificed a pawn for the kind of counterplay that resembled Sveshnikov Sicilian or Benko Gambit.
At some point Caruana refused moves repetition and allowed black knight into play.
This double-edged act quickly turned against white when he erred which 32.Kg1. The knight started doing wonders and white position simply collapsed.
Grischuk duly converted the advantage on move 52.
Andreikin - Dominguez 1-0
Dominguez was ready to meet the Trompovsky Attack and acquired good position with black.
In order to reverse the negative trend Andreikin tried to unbalance the position with a knight sacrifice. Black was not impressed and slowly increased the advantage.
However, one careless move with a queen (32...Qd3) allowed white to get back in the game. That was only the first of several mistakes by black who ended up in worse ending being a pawn down.
Andreikin took the chance and finally delivered full point after 56 moves of play.