Reports Nov 2, 2014 | 8:01 AMby Colin McGourty

Jobava – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In Tashkent Baadur Jobava (seated) has taken over Fabiano Caruana's role as the man to watch | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

Having two back-to-back 11-round tournaments has tested the endurance of players, journalists and fans alike, but Baadur Jobava’s maverick play has been the saving grace of the Tashkent Grand Prix. In this report we focus on the Georgian’s play in rounds 8-10, featuring the Good – beating Boris Gelfand to take the lead (Jan Gustafsson annotates that game), the Bad – relinquishing that lead by losing to Dmitry Andreikin and the Ugly – a post-game press conference gone wrong with Anish Giri, featuring the immortal line, “I’m not the guy who you can ironic!” 

Round 8: The Good

A quick glance at the Round 8 results is all you need to identify the game of the day (click a result to replay the game with computer analysis):

Gelfand, Boris27480 - 1Jobava, Baadur2717
Andreikin, Dmitry2722½ - ½Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2757
Giri, Anish2768½ - ½Jakovenko, Dmitry2747
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar2764½ - ½Karjakin, Sergey2767
Nakamura, Hikaru2764½ - ½Radjabov, Teimour2726
Caruana, Fabiano2844½ - ½Kasimdzhanov, Rustam2706

Not only was it Jobava’s third win in Tashkent, it was also his third win with the black pieces – and took him into shared first place with Andreikin.

The Tashkent Grand Prix has proven to be a tournament too far for Boris Gelfand | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

German GM Jan Gustafsson annotates the encounter, explaining the opening nuances and also what The Raid 2 has to do with it all 

Poor Boris Gelfand! After finishing shared first in Baku, Tashkent has not treated him kindly so far. Playing two Grand Prix stages within five days is of course a murderous pace. He surely would have preferred not to play both, but with another Grand Prix originally scheduled in Tehran (tough to attend for the Israeli), he did not really have a choice. If he wants to stay in the race for the highest title, that is. And Gelfand has always made it clear that is his priority, not his FIDE rating. 

Baadur Jobava has less to complain about. He joined the cycle at the last minute when Tehran was replaced by Tbilisi and he got the Georgian spot. Some doubts were uttered over whether his creative and risky style would do well unprepared against the world's best - 5/8 strongly suggests "yup".

1. d4 Gelfand is one of the last true d4-only guys, together with Kramnik and Aronian. He compensates by knowing his territory extremely well.

1... e6 The French?

2. c4 No thank you. How do you feel about a Queen's Gambit?

2. ♘f3 c5 3. e4! curiously led to a Sicilian in Timman-Jobava a couple of days earlier.

2... b6 Nah, I have an oddball reputation to lose! Jobava has used this line before, so it's not a complete surprise.

3. e4 Grabbing the centre is the critical test and therefore very much in Boris' style. Less principled natures have also dabbled with the subtle

3. a3 here, intending to stop Bb4 before going Nc3.

3... ♗b7 4. ♗d3 Staying on main street.

4. ♘c3 ♗b4 5. f3 f5 is supposed to be fine for Black these days.

4... ♗b4+

4... f5 is the concrete attempt and has been the focus of the few theoretical discussions this subline has seen. Gelfand allowing it and Jobava avoiding it confirms the current verdict - "White is ok" after 5. exf5! As I was curious why Black can't feast on g2, I clicked around a bit. It does look dangerous!

a) 5... ♗xg2 6. ♕h5+ g6 7. fxg6 ♗g7 8. gxh7+ ♔f8 9. ♘e2 ♘f6 10. ♕h4 ♗xh1 11. ♗g5! ♘c6 (11... c5 12. ♘d2 ♘c6 13. O-O-O ♗g2 14. ♖g1 ♘b4 15. ♗b1 ♗c6 16. ♗h6 ♗xh6 17. ♕xh6+ ♔e8 18. ♕g7 ) 12. ♘d2 d5 (12... b5 13. cxb5 ♘b4 14. ♗g6 ; 12... ♔f7 13. O-O-O ♘b4 14. ♗b1 ♗b7 15. ♖g1 ♘xa2+ 16. ♗xa2 ♖xh7 17. ♕f4 ) 13. ♘f4 ♘xd4 14. ♘g6+ ♔e8 15. ♘xh8 ♗xh8 16. ♕xd4

b) 5... ♗b4+ 6. ♔f1 ♘f6 is another line that is fun to check. Last time I did, 7. c5 seemed promising

5. ♗d2

5. ♔f1 might look silly, but keeping pieces on the board with a space advantage actually makes a lot of sense and was chosen by none other than Wesley So, the latest Top 10 entrant. 5... ♗e7 6. ♘c3 d6 7. ♘f3 ♘f6 8. g3 O-O 9. ♔g2 ♘bd7 10. ♕e2 c5 11. d5+/= So,W (2744)-Jobava, B (2713), Bergamo 2014, 1-0 (37)

5. ♘c3 f5 is not the way to go.

5... ♗xd2+ 6. ♘xd2 Don't like that move! Not sure that verdict will hold up in court, but us d4 guys like our knight on c3, controlling both e4 and d5... On d2 it just feels wrong.

6. ♕xd2 f5 leads to some simplifications and could be the reason Gelfand preferred the knight move. I would still take White after e.g. (6... d6 7. ♘c3 ♘d7 8. f4 ♕h4+ 9. g3 ♕e7 10. ♘f3 1-0 Wojtaszek,R (2724)-David,A (2579)/Saint Quentin 2014/CB22_2014 (39)) 7. ♘c3 fxe4 (7... ♘f6 8. f3 ♘c6 9. exf5 ♘xd4 10. ♕e3 c5 11. ♘ge2 ♘xe2 12. ♕xe2 O-O 13. fxe6 ♖e8 14. O-O-O ♖xe6 15. ♕d2 ) 8. ♗xe4 ♗xe4 9. ♘xe4 ♘f6 10. ♘c3 with a small but comfy edge.

6... d6 Jobava isn't interested in a full-contact battle just yet. More often than not, Black chooses to break some more rules here by bringing his queen out early:

6... ♕f6 7. ♘gf3 ♘c6 8. e5 ♕f4 9. g3 ♕h6 10. O-O f6 with a complex fight ahead.

7. f4 Not the 4-pawn attack we usually see. More humble development such as

7. ♘gf3 ♘e7 8. O-O O-O 9. ♕e2 ♘d7 gives Black quite a decent version of the famed Hippopotamus setup. With one pair of minor pieces gone (remember 5. Kf1!?) and the knight on d2 looking a bit awkward, that can't be too bad. The computer is as concerned about the d2-knight as we are and gives 10. ♖ad1 e5 11. ♘b1 as best play.

7... ♘d7

7... e5 does not strike me as a good idea, since the structure after 8. fxe5 dxe5 9. d5 looks pleasant for White. Black has no pawn breaks likely to make an impact.

8. ♕g4 This move makes me feel the same way Raid 2 did. I just can't decide if I like it or not. Sure, it's direct and wastes no time on development, but was it really worth activating that many enemy forces just for the sake of a confrontation? Then again, one has to create and accept some weaknesses to get to the kingpin. After the quiet

8. ♘gf3 ♘e7 9. O-O O-O Black is ok once again, with a convenient choice between c5, d5, e5 and f5 as future pawn breaks.

8... ♘gf6 9. ♕xg7 ♖g8 10. ♕h6 ♖xg2 With the g-pawns gone, the situation has heated up considerably. Both sides will castle queenside, and if White manages to consolidate his space advantage and snatch the g-file he'll be in control. However, at the moment Black is quite active.

11. ♘gf3 ♕e7 12. ♕h3 Kicking out the intruder before its colleague can support it after 0-0-0 and Rdg8.

12... ♖g7 13. O-O-O ♘g4!

13... O-O-O is routine play, when White would be just in time for 14. ♖hg1 ♖dg8 15. ♖g5! with a good grip on the position.

14. ♕g3? An indicator of Gelfand's bad form. The idea is good - pin the knight by exploiting the fact the rook is undefended - but the execution is bad. He must have missed Black's next, after which Jobava grabs the initiative and never lets go.

14. ♕g2! was the way to do it. Not only can the queen go to e2 from here, creating harmony in the White camp, but more importantly, Nh5 will not come with an attack on the lady! 14... ♘df6 15. h3! ♘e5 A cute trick to avoid losing material, but in this version, only White can be better. 16. ♕xg7 ♘xd3+ 17. ♔b1 ♘f2 18. e5 ♘h5 19. ♕h6

14... ♘df6! All of a sudden defending against Nh5 and Nxf4 is far from easy.

15. ♘g5 The knight agrees to move to the rim to parry the threat. There were no tempting alternatives.

15... h6 16. ♘h3 O-O-O Here is some video footage of how the white horse feels about being on h3:

Its misery emphasises how glorious the g4-knight is, since h3 - chasing that guy away - is no longer legal.

17. ♖de1 ♘h5 Clearing h4 for her majesty.

18. ♕f3 ♕h4 The black pieces have occupied menacing places. It's easy to play as well: go Rdg8, maybe spend a move on Kb8 to secure the king, break open the center with f5. Use the tactics that will pop up because of the superior black pieces.

19. ♖e2

19. ♔b1 ♘xh2 or

19. ♕f1 ♘xf4 20. ♘xf4 ♘f2 show some of the tricks that were already in the position. And no, I also don't think a human would consider 19...Nxf4.

19... ♔b8

19... f5 20. d5 ♘gf6 looked promising as well, but Baadur rightly saw no need to hurry. It's very hard to improve the white position anyway, so why not make some useful moves first?

20. ♗c2 f5 The time is now! He didn't even go Rdg8 - that rook could come in handy on f8 or even e8 as well, so there's no reason to commit to a square yet.

21. ♕f1

21. d5 looks like the logical move, blocking out the bishop and not giving more ground. It doesn't quite work either though this is the prettiest line: 21... fxe4! 22. ♗xe4 ♘gf6 23. dxe6 ♘xe4 24. ♘xe4 ♖e8 25. f5 ♖g4 26. ♖he1 ♖xe4 27. ♖xe4 ♕xe1+ 28. ♖xe1 ♗xf3

21... ♘hf6 Human, sound and strong enough, like Captain America. The paradoxical

21... d5 deserves a mention. Black forces his bishop on b7 into the action - by blocking it! There's no defence. 22. cxd5 (22. exf5 exf5 ) 22... ♗a6 (22... exd5 ) 23. dxe6 ♗xe2 24. ♕xe2 ♕xh3

22. ♘f3 If only there was a black pawn on h5...

22... ♕h5 23. exf5 exf5 24. d5 It doesn't even look that bad, does it? f5 weak, e6 weak, Nd4 looming... Nah, it is very bad. The knight on h3 and rook on h1 are out of play, while the black army is very mobile. Jobava uses an instructive technique now: if you have more pieces in play, exchange some defenders, so the balance of power will become more obvious.

24... ♖e8!

24... ♗a6 wasn't terrible either.

25. ♖xe8+ ♕xe8 26. ♕d3

26. ♗xf5 ♘e3 27. ♕d3 ♘xf5 28. ♕xf5 ♕e3+

26... ♖e7 Did I mention that knight on h3 is a sorry sight?

27. ♖f1

27. ♕xf5 ♖e3 (27... ♖e2 28. ♕d3 ♖e3 29. ♕f1 ♗a6 is strong too.) 28. ♖f1 ♗a6 29. b3 ♕h8! One way to Rome, I've always been a fan of Qh8 or Qh1. Never been a fan of Nh3. The only scenario where I like that move is when it's followed by Qg1+ and Nf2#. 30. ♘hg1 ♗c8 31. ♕g6 ♘xd5 32. cxd5 ♕a1+ 33. ♗b1 ♗a6 34. ♖d1 ♔b7 35. ♘d4 ♖c3+ 36. ♘c2 ♘e3 37. ♔d2 ♕b2 38. ♖e1 ♘f1+ 39. ♖xf1 ♗xf1 40. ♘e2 ♗xe2 41. ♔xe2 ♕xb1 and wins. Ok, I might have gone a little nuts with the space bar. Back to the game:

27... ♘e3 28. ♖f2 ♗a6 The very last piece switches to full capacity. The end is near.

29. ♗b3

29. b3 ♘fxd5 wouldn't help.

29... ♘exd5 30. ♕xf5 ♗xc4! and Gelfand had seen enough. Ever since 14. Qg3?, this game has been one-way traffic - not something you can expect very often when Boris Gelfand plays with the white pieces.

31. ♗xc4

31. ♖d2 ♗xb3 32. axb3 ♖e1+ 33. ♘xe1 ♕xe1+ 34. ♖d1 ♕xd1+ 35. ♔xd1 ♘e3+

31. ♕c2 ♗xb3 32. axb3 and any active move wins.

31... ♖e1+ 32. ♘xe1 ♕xe1+ 33. ♔c2 ♘e3+ was not worth playing out


In other news:

The other Baku Grand Prix winner, Fabiano Caruana, hasn’t sunk quite as badly as Gelfand – partly because he scored his only win against Gelfand in Round 7… – but his struggles continued. In Round 8 he had to work hard to draw an ending a pawn down against Rustam Kasimdzhanov, which was as close as we came to decisive action in the remaining games. 

Round 9: The Bad

Kasimdzhanov, Rustam2706½ - ½Gelfand, Boris2748
Radjabov, Teimour2726½ - ½Caruana, Fabiano2844
Karjakin, Sergey2767½ - ½Nakamura, Hikaru2764
Jakovenko, Dmitry27470 - 1Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar2764
Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2757½ - ½Giri, Anish2768
Jobava, Baadur27170 - 1Andreikin, Dmitry2722

After Andreikin finished second last in Baku few would have predicted he'd find himself top with a round to go in Tashkent | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

So was Jobava set to do a Denmark and win an event he’d only found out he was taking part in a week before it began? It seemed a real possibility, at least until he came up against perhaps the coolest man in world chess – Dmitry Andreikin. The Russian, who hadn’t played at all since the Candidates Tournament in April, seems to be enjoying his return to action in the Grand Prix system, and took the sole lead after one of Jobava’s pet opening lines ran into serious turbulence.

Spanish IM David Martinez  takes a look at that game:

1. d4 d5 2. ♘c3 ♗f5 3. ♗f4 If you had to name this variation after a player you'd surely pick Jobava, since the Georgian player has employed this idea on various occasions, with mixed success.

3... e6 4. e3 ♗d6 Andreikin takes a classical approach.

5. g4 No quiet positions here!

5... ♗g6 6. ♘f3 Inviting his opponent to spoil White's pawn structure - but beware! If there's no follow-up the f4-pawn will become an important weapon, since it reinforces the e5-square and will always be threatening to advance to f5.

6... ♘d7 7. ♗d3 ♗xd3 8. ♕xd3 ♗xf4 9. exf4 h5! A key move that by breaking up the white structure diminishes the danger posed on the kingside. Jobava now has various options, and took fifteen minutes before taking up the challenge:

10. gxh5 White gives up on his pawn structure in exchange for preserving an initiative on the kingside, where it's clear his opponent's king has nowhere to hide. Other options would have given Black a very comfortable game:

10. g5 ♘e7 11. O-O-O g6 would have left the kingside closed in such a way that Black could castle safe in the knowledge he was running no risks, while the c5-break would be on the cards.

10. f5 hxg4 11. fxe6 gxf3 12. exd7+ ♕xd7 would also favour Black, since his structure is somewhat better.

10... ♖xh5 11. ♖g1 ♕f6 12. ♘e5 Jobava is close to passing the point of no return, while with

12. ♖g5 he could have prepared f5, getting rid of his doubled pawns.

12... c6 Preventing a white piece from coming to b5.

13. ♘a4? A serious mistake that accelerates the end, although the position was already difficult for White.

13. ♘e2 ♘xe5! 14. fxe5 ♕h6 and White's h-pawn will fall.

13... ♕xf4! White's weaknesses are exposed for all to see.

14. ♘f3 Recognising the problem and switching into reverse gear.

14. ♖xg7 ♘xe5! 15. ♖xg8+ ♔e7 16. ♕a3+ ♔f6 17. ♖xa8 ♘f3+ wins.

14. ♘xd7 ♖xh2 Ganging up on f2. The white position doesn't give the slightest cause for optimism.

14... e5 Andreikin shows no mercy and avoids more solid moves like g6 in order to go straight for the jugular.

15. ♖xg7 O-O-O The material is now level but the discoordination among the white forces is obvious. Among other things Black is threatening to open the e-file and play Re8, so Jobava tries to bail out.

16. ♕e3 ♕f6 17. ♖g3 exd4 With simple but precise play Andreikin ensures himself a winning ending.

18. ♕xd4

18. ♘xd4 is impossible due to 18... ♖e5 and the only queen that will be left on the board will be Black's.

18... ♕xd4 19. ♘xd4 ♖xh2 20. ♘f3 ♖h1+ 21. ♖g1 ♖xg1+ 22. ♘xg1 With a healthy extra pawn the rest is simple.

22... d4 23. b3 ♘gf6 24. ♘f3 c5 25. ♘b2 ♔c7 26. a4 ♖e8+ 27. ♔f1 ♘e4 28. ♘d3 b6 29. a5 ♔b7 30. b4 ♘c3 31. axb6 axb6 32. bxc5 bxc5 33. ♘d2 ♖e2 34. ♘b3 ♔b6 35. ♖a8 ♖xc2 36. ♘dxc5 ♘xc5 37. ♘xd4 ♖c1+ 38. ♔g2 ♘d5 39. ♖f8 ♘e6


In other news:

The other big story of the day was a third win of the event for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. There was more than a touch of fortune about it, since Dmitry Jakovenko was on top until he went astray in time trouble, starting with 26.c5?!

Jakovenko - Mamedyarov after 26.c5

It does look tempting, but this was one of those chess tragedies of a single tempo. After 26…Qxa2 27.Qxa2?! Bxa2 28.Rd6 Bc4! 29.Rb1?! a4! the black a-pawn was winning the race and the game.

That took Mamedyarov, who qualified for the Candidates Tournament from the previous Grand Prix series, up into second place. It was also, perhaps, poetic justice, since Mamedyarov had lost a won rook ending to Dmitry Andreikin in the very first game of the Tashkent Grand Prix – a game which, since Andreikin is now leading, could have changed everything.  

Round 10: The Ugly

Gelfand, Boris2748½ - ½Andreikin, Dmitry2722
Giri, Anish2768½ - ½Jobava, Baadur2717
Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar2764½ - ½Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2757
Nakamura, Hikaru2764½ - ½Jakovenko, Dmitry2747
Caruana, Fabiano2844½ - ½Karjakin, Sergey2767
Kasimdzhanov, Rustam2706½ - ½Radjabov, Teimour2726

The hand gestures said all you need to know about the press conference between "Shak" and "MVL" | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

Six draws might have qualified for “ugly” by themselves, but on this occasion there was no lack of action. Sergey Karjakin had Fabiano Caruana on the ropes, but failed to find a tricky way to prevent a repetition and had to settle for a draw – a result that did neither player much good in the Grand Prix standings. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had serious chances to defeat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and join Andreikin in the lead, but ultimately two extra connected passed pawns weren’t enough to win. That game was notable for a good-spirited disagreement over the evaluation of the position in the post-game press conference. Which brings us to the last game to finish…

Jobava, Giri and his coach Vladimir Tukmakov before it all kicked off... | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

Giri – Jobava saw Anish Giri miss clear winning chances after Jobava lived to regret rejecting a draw by repetition:

Giri - Jobava after 26.Bc1. The players had been repeating by moving their bishops between c1-a3 and e7-h4, but here Jobava went for 26...Qh3

The press conference which followed perhaps gave us a hint of what Kramnik-Topalov press conferences might look like if the two players ever attended them together. We’ll give a brief account of what happened below, which you can also watch on the live broadcast:

A relieved Jobava opens the press conference by remarking, “I was out of oil after yesterday”, and begins to go through the moves. The fact that Giri then rejects all the opportunities Jobava gives him to express his opinion suggests something is wrong, and sure enough things begin to fall apart when Anastasiya Karlovich asks him whether he agrees with Jobava’s comments on the strength of the black attack in the position given above:

No, I don’t know, I didn’t understand it so well. Let’s say it’s still a long way till I’m getting mated here.

The first flash of anger is visible from Baadur when Anish continues to talk up White’s chances and the Georgian asks, “then why did you repeat moves?” A little later Giri responds:

Ok, I repeat first of all because I don’t see why not to repeat. Secondly because I have less time and thirdly because Baadur didn’t repeat at the end, so I think it was fine.

Jobava really snaps, however, when Giri continues to downplay the white attack (for what it’s worth, computers agree with him):

This (25…Be7) probably proves that Black is not so much attacking after all, and also this move (29…Qe8) proves that probably there is not such a huge attack at the end of the day.

Anastasiya Karlovich, Baadur Jobava and a smiling Anish Giri in the press conference | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

It wasn’t so much the words as the smile he directed at Anastasiya that pushed Baadur over the edge:

If you continue rude I will say a few words with you and it’ll be over this press conference, so speak normally, ok… Not smile like an idiot. I’m not the guy who you can ironic, yeah. Speak normal. Show some respect to your opponent.

Anish Giri begins, “I’m not the one…” before being interrupted by Anastasiya understandably trying to calm the situation down. Although they return to something approaching normality Giri does later come back to what it appears he wanted to say all along, and what perhaps angered him before the press conference began:

Here Baadur started defending very well, because first of all he started to swear and then he started shaking his head… so it was difficult to play against such a resourceful player.

Luckily Jobava appears to have completely missed the reference to his swearing. He asks for clarification in Russian and Giri merely translates his comment on his opponent being resourceful. A puzzled Jobava responds, “I made only moves”. By such margins are wars avoided.

If Jobava beats Mamedyarov he can still finish first, but he'd need a helping hand from Giri... | photo: Yulia Manakova, FIDE

So after an emotional day's action the standings with one round to go are as follows:

1Andreikin, Dmitry27221½1½1½½½ ½½
2Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar27640½ ½½½½1½116
3Nakamura, Hikaru2764½½1 ½½½½½½16
4Jobava, Baadur27170 0½1½½½½11
5Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2757½½ ½½1½0½1½
6Karjakin, Sergey27670½½0½½½11 ½5
7Caruana, Fabiano2844½½½½0½½ ½½15
8Radjabov, Teimour2726½½½½½½½½½½ 5
9Jakovenko, Dmitry2747½0½½10 ½½½½
10Giri, Anish2768 ½½½½0½½½½½
11Kasimdzhanov, Rustam2706½0½00 ½½½½½
12Gelfand, Boris2748½000½½0 ½½½3

We couldn’t ask for much better games on the final day, with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave – Nakamura, Jobava – Mamedyarov and Andreikin – Giri all potentially crucial for the final outcome.

Don't miss the action, which starts one hour earlier than usual, here on chess24!

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