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Moscow GP: Mamedyarov & Ding Liren lead, Hari unimpressive

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 16/05/2017

Four rounds of play in the second leg of the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix series have come to close and China's Ding Liren and Azerbaijan's Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are leading with 3.0/4. The Azeri star became the 13th player in history to touch the 2800 mark. Pentala Harikrishna is meanwhile struggling and has failed to impress. Illustrated report with grandmaster analysis.

Moscow GP 01-04: Ding Liren leads, Hari unimpressive

Photos by AGON; Game Analyses by GM Alejandro Ramirez


The time control in the GP tournaments is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one.


The Grand Prix returns to the Telegraph Building in central Moscow, which previously hosted the 2016 Candidates Tournament won by Sergey Karjakin of Russia.


The tournament, a nine round Swiss contest, is the second of four Grand Prix in 2017 and follows the Sharjah Grand Prix in February which was won by Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a three way tie.


The Moscow Grand Prix is sponsored by Kaspersky Lab, PhosAgro and EG Capital Partners.


 After four rounds of play, India's Pentala Harikrishna (2750) stands at 1.5/4. He began the campaign sedately with two draws but...

...plunged to a painful loss against Peter Svidler (2755) in the third round. In the fourth round, he drew with Ernesto Inarkiev (2727). [Check all games below]

 Azeri star Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2772) became the 13th player in history to breach the 2800 mark and is not rated 2801 in the live rating list.

It was China's Hou Yifan (2652) who had taken the early lead by defeating Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi (2751) in the first round.
[Event "Moscow Grand Prix 2017"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2017.05.12"]
[Round "1.7"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Black "Hou, Yifan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D35"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2652"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "120"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Rb1 {
Not only does this develop the rook, but it prevents, after cxd4 cxd4, a check
on b4.} (7. Nf3 {is definitely the main line, which transposes to many Kramnik
games. The Russian has employed this very successfully in the recent past.})
7... Be7 8. Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bxd7+ Nxd7 $5 (9... Qxd7 {had been seen earlier this
year} 10. d5 exd5 11. exd5 O-O {was one of the many draws in the Sharjah Grand
Prix, Aronian-Vallejo Pons.}) 10. Rxb7 {It's the only way to 'punish' black's
set-up, but of course it has a drawback} cxd4 (10... Nb6 11. Nf3 Qc8 12. Rxe7+
Kxe7 13. Ba3 {simply does not work for Black, as the two pawns provided more
than enough compensation for the exchange.}) 11. cxd4 Nb6 {Black's threat is
simple: Qc8 traps the rook. White doesnt really have much in the way of doing
something with the extra tempo to thwart Black's threat.} 12. Qd2 (12. Qc2 Bb4+
13. Kf1 Rc8 {leads to another problem: Black is better developed and White's
center is close to falling apart.} 14. Qb2 O-O {And Black's compensation for
the pawn is enough for a winning advantage.}) (12. Bd2 {100% computer move} Qc8
13. Rxe7+ Kxe7 14. Bb4+ Ke8 15. Ne2 Qc4 $1 {but even here the silicon brains
give the edge to Black.}) 12... Qc8 (12... Bf6 $1 {but Black's move in the
game is also good.}) 13. Rxe7+ Kxe7 14. Nf3 (14. Ba3+ Ke8 {has the unfortunate
side effect of running into Nc4 next move, so White doesn't have time to
develop.}) (14. Qg5+ Kf8 {leads nowhere for White.}) 14... f6 15. O-O Kf7 16.
e5 f5 {The question here is if White has enough time to organize an attack
against Black's king. Without the initiative, Black's extra exchange (even
though it is for a pawn) would easily steamroll over the opponent's pieces.}
17. g4 {only move, White must attack.} Rd8 (17... fxg4 $2 18. Ng5+ Kg8 19. Qf4
{gives White a sizeable initiative}) 18. Qg5 {it is natural to put the queen
on the kingside, but it's hard to come up with concrete threats.} (18. gxf5
exf5 19. e6+ Kxe6 (19... Kg8 20. Re1 {and White's passed pawn might give
chances, but Black is still much better after} Re8 $1 21. d5 (21. e7 Nd5 22.
Ba3 Qd7 $17) 21... Qc4 {is an important double attack.}) 20. Ng5+ Kf6 $13 {
might be too much for Black, the king is easily attacked.}) 18... Kg8 19. Qh5
Rf8 20. Ba3 Qc6 $1 {A beautiful idea!} (20... Rf7 21. Ng5 g6 22. Qh6 Rg7 $17 {
is awkward but also a good way to continue for Yifan.}) 21. Ng5 (21. Bxf8 Rxf8
$1 {This is more or less Black's point. White doesn't have a good way of
defending the knight on f3.} 22. Ng5 (22. g5 g6 23. Qh3 Qc3 {is horrible for
White.}) (22. Nh4 f4 $1 {and again the knight looks ridiculous on h4.}) 22...
h6 {an the knight is already trapped:} 23. Nh3 Qf3 $19) 21... h6 22. Rc1 Qd7
23. Bxf8 Rxf8 24. Nh3 Qxd4 {Material is even, but now White's king, a-pawn,
e-pawn and knight are all in bad shape. The position is already a technical
win and the Chinese super star converts without problems.} 25. gxf5 Qxe5 26.
Qg6 Rf6 27. Qg4 Rxf5 28. Qg3 Qd4 29. Re1 Rf6 30. Qg2 Nd5 31. Kh1 Qd3 32. Rg1
Qf3 33. Rb1 Qf5 34. Rg1 Rf7 35. Re1 Rf6 36. Rg1 Qf3 37. Rb1 Qh5 38. Rg1 Rf7 39.
Re1 Qf5 40. Qg3 Rc7 {With time control reached Black stops shuffling around.}
41. Ng1 Nf4 42. Rd1 Kh7 43. Qf3 Rc2 44. a3 e5 45. Re1 Qg6 46. h3 Nd3 47. Rf1
Rc3 48. Qg4 Qxg4 49. hxg4 Rxa3 50. Nf3 Ra4 51. g5 h5 52. Kg2 Rg4+ 53. Kh2 a5
54. Ra1 a4 55. Ra2 e4 56. Nd4 Rxg5 57. Rxa4 Nxf2 58. Ra7 Ng4+ 59. Kh3 Re5 60.
Nc6 Rd5 0-1

Hou's brilliant start was marred by this loss to her compatriot and the highest rated Chinese ever, Ding Liren (2773). 
[Event "FIDE Moscow Grand Prix 2017"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2017.05.14"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Hou, Yifan"]
[Black "Ding, Liren"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2652"]
[BlackElo "2773"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "102"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. a4 d6 7. c3 a5 8. Bg5 h6
9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Kg7 {This idea of Kg7 is rather tricky. One of the main
points is that the knight on f6 will be defended in certain variations.} 11.
Re1 g4 12. Bh4 $5 {White sacrifices a piece, but Black is under no obligation
to take it.} Ne7 $1 (12... gxf3 13. Qxf3 Be6 {and the pressure on f6 is
annoying and will last quite some time. White can usually bail out with Qg3-f3
if he wants to, to force Kh7-g7.}) 13. Bxf6+ {Dragging the king to the center
looks logical, but perhaps it is not best} (13. d4 Ng6 (13... Bb6 14. dxe5 {
obviously doesn't work now}) 14. Nxe5 $1 (14. dxc5 gxf3 $17) 14... Nxh4 15.
Nxf7 {is just a huge mess}) 13... Kxf6 14. d4 $6 Bb6 15. Nh4 Kg7 {The weird
part of this position is that Black is simply better. The pair of bishops, the
pressure on d4, the awkward knight on h4. It's just difficult for White to
hold everything in an appropiate way. Hou Yifan decides it is time to shed
some material to gain compensation.} 16. Na3 exd4 17. cxd4 Nc6 18. Nf5+ $5 Bxf5
19. exf5 h5 20. Nc2 Qf6 {The double attack was obvious, but White is hoping to
create counterpressure.} 21. Re4 Qxf5 22. Bd3 Qg5 {White is fighting back,
trying to create an initiative with active pieces to compensate for the pawn.}
23. g3 f5 24. Rf4 Rae8 25. h4 gxh3 26. Qf3 d5 27. Rd1 $2 (27. Rh4 $1 Kh6 $5 {
and the game is still far from over}) 27... Re4 $1 {A typical but obvious
sacrifice. White must accept the exchange sac but the resulting endgame is
very unpleasant.} 28. Bxe4 fxe4 29. Qe3 Rxf4 30. Qxf4 Qxf4 31. gxf4 Ne7 $6 (
31... Kf6 $1 32. Kh2 Nb4 $1 33. Nxb4 axb4 {with Kf5 coming and that is simply
too many pawns.}) 32. Kh2 Ng6 33. f5 Nf4 34. f3 $6 {this gives Black another
passed pawn} (34. b4 axb4 35. Nxb4 c6 36. Nc2 {at least attempts to bring the
rook back into the game}) 34... c6 35. fxe4 dxe4 36. Re1 Bc7 37. Rg1+ Kf7 38.
Rf1 Kf6 {Now it is really over. Black's pieces dominate and there are too many
passed pawns for White to handle.} 39. Kg3 Kxf5 40. Ne3+ Kg5 41. Nc4 h4+ 42.
Kf2 Nd3+ 43. Ke2 Bf4 44. Nxa5 h2 45. Nxb7 Nc1+ 46. Kf2 e3+ 47. Kg2 e2 48. Re1
Bd2 49. Rh1 Nb3 50. Kxh2 e1=Q 51. Rxe1 Bxe1 0-1


[Event "Moscow Grand Prix 2017"]
[Site "Moscow RUS"]
[Date "2017.05.13"]
[Round "2.4"]
[White "Ding, Liren"]
[Black "Inarkiev, Ernesto"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A20"]
[WhiteElo "2773"]
[BlackElo "2727"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "173"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. Nf3 (4. d4 {is the main line by quite a margin,
but not the only move} Bb4+ {is one of the many lines black has tried recently.
}) 4... e4 5. Nd4 d5 6. d3 $5 {almost inexistent} (6. cxd5 Qxd5 (6... cxd5 7.
d3 {is already dubious for Black's structure.}) 7. Nc2 Qh5 $1 {with complex
play, like Sviderl-Wang Hao from last year.}) 6... exd3 7. cxd5 $5 Bb4+ 8. Nc3
c5 9. Nb3 c4 10. Nd2 {Certainly an unusual position. The White knight has
already played fouro times to land on d2, while Black has pushed his pawns
forward! It's still hard to asses the position.} O-O 11. O-O (11. Nxc4 {
is the computer brave move.}) 11... Bxc3 12. bxc3 Bg4 13. f3 dxe2 {after this
Black is worse, but I haven't found a clear improvement on his previous play.
Either the line is bad or he has to go for the crazy 13...Nxd5.} (13... Nxd5 $5
14. fxg4 Nxc3 15. Qe1 Nxe2+ 16. Kh1 Nc6 {is quite weird to evaluate. Even if
Black allows Ba3 x f8 the position with so many passed pawns is not entirely
clear.} (16... c3 $5)) 14. Qxe2 Bf5 15. Nxc4 Qxd5 16. Rd1 Qb5 17. a4 Qa6 {
Computers already evaluate this as much better for White. The reason is the
pair of bishops and the superior development that White has.} 18. Bf1 (18. Ba3
$1 Re8 19. Qf1 {is a similar idea than the game but with better execution})
18... Be6 19. Nd6 Qxe2 20. Bxe2 b6 21. Nb5 Bb3 22. Rd6 Nbd7 23. a5 Rfc8 24. Kf2
h6 {Black is simply getting tortured in this position.} 25. Be3 Ne5 26. Bd4 Nc4
27. Rxf6 $1 {A beautiful combination.} gxf6 28. Bxc4 Bxc4 (28... Rxc4 29. axb6
{is winning for White without question}) 29. Nd6 bxa5 (29... Rc6 30. Nxc4 Rxc4
31. axb6 {is again simply unholdable.}) 30. Nxc8 Rxc8 31. Rxa5 {The opposite
colored bishop endgame is very unpleasant for Black. With perfect play it's
probably a draw, but that's almost impossible to do in these circumstances} Re8
32. g4 a6 33. Rc5 Bd3 34. Bxf6 Re6 35. Bd4 Kf8 36. h4 Ke8 37. Rc8+ Kd7 38. Rf8
Ke7 39. Bc5+ Kf6 40. Rh8 Kg7 41. Bd4+ f6 42. Rd8 Bc4 43. Rd7+ Kg8 44. Ra7 Bd3
45. Kg3 Rc6 46. h5 Bc2 47. f4 Bd1 48. Kh4 Rd6 49. Ra8+ Kf7 50. Rh8 Kg7 51. Rc8
Kf7 52. Rc7+ Kg8 53. Rc5 $6 (53. f5 {would have allowed a quick Be3-xh6 and
there is nothing Black can do about it.}) 53... Kf7 54. g5 fxg5+ 55. fxg5 hxg5+
56. Kxg5 Bc2 57. Rc7+ Ke6 58. h6 Rd5+ 59. Kg4 Rd7 {Black has hope again} 60.
Rc6+ Rd6 61. Rc7 Rd7 62. Rc5 Rd5 63. Rc8 a5 64. Re8+ Kd7 $2 (64... Kf7 {
keeping the king close to the kingside for now was a better alternative.} 65.
Ra8 Bd1+ 66. Kg3 Rg5+ 67. Kf2 Rh5 {and Black doesn't lose his a-pawn.}) 65. Ra8
a4 (65... Bd1+ 66. Kf4 Bc2 67. h7 $18) 66. h7 Bxh7 67. Ra7+ Kc6 68. Rxh7 {
Black's a-pawn is not enough. The rest is easy.} Ra5 69. Rh6+ Kd7 70. Kf4 a3
71. Rh1 a2 72. Ra1 Kc6 73. Ke4 Kb5 74. Kd3 Ra8 75. Kc2 Kc4 76. Kb2 Rb8+ 77.
Kxa2 Kd3 78. Rh1 Kc2 79. Ka3 Kd3 80. Rh5 Rb1 81. Ka4 Rb8 82. Rb5 Ra8+ 83. Kb4
Rc8 84. Rb7 Rc4+ 85. Kb5 Rc8 86. Bg7 Rd8 87. c4 1-0


Alexander Grischuk was subjected to a lot of flak for drawing his first round game against Salem AR Saleh in a mere 11 moves. Grischuk admitted that he was feeling unwell during the game.

However, the virus seemed to have infected many players in the arena as a big number of short draws were observed:


 Boris Gelfand is his usual self, enjoying his time with the pieces on the board...

...and off it too.

Ian Nepomniachtchi (2751) is clearly struggling in the tournament. After his loss to Hou in the first round, he took another beating at the hands of...

 ...Salem AR Saleh (2633).
[Event "FIDE Moscow Grand Prix 2017"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "2017.05.14"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Black "Salem, A R Saleh"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2751"]
[BlackElo "2633"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1p2r1k1/2p3n1/5Q2/1PPb1P1q/5R2/7N/5B1K b - - 0 45"]
[PlyCount "21"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
45... Rf7 {Clearly it is Black with the initiative, but there is nothing clear
yet.} 46. Qe6 $2 (46. Qe4 Rxf4 (46... Bb6 {trying to keep some pressure. White
should hold, however.}) 47. Rxf4 Qxf4 {would be just a draw, but Salem could
have tried}) 46... Ne5 $1 {Nice! This tempo is crucial as White has no good
way of protecting his rook} 47. Rh3 (47. fxe5 Rxf3 {is just an easy win for
black, up material with the attack}) 47... Qxf4 {White is getting mated, and
he doesn't even have a check} 48. Qe8 Qe4+ 49. Nf3 Rxf3 50. Qh8+ Kf7 51. Rh7+ {
White hopes for a perpetual, but Salem calculates accurately that his king
escapes with lethal consequences for the opponent} Ke6 52. Qc8+ Kf6 53. Qf8+
Kg5 54. Qh6+ Kf5 55. Qf8+ Kg4 0-1

 Anish Giri (2785) is fresh from his win at Reykjavik but is still to win a game. 

The inauguration ceremony with FIDE 'President' Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the background. 

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