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):
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.
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... 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.
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
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)
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:
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.
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... ♘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.
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.
Its misery emphasises how glorious the g4-knight is, since h3 - chasing that guy away - is no longer legal.
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.
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
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... ♗a6 wasn't terrible either.
26... ♖e7 Did I mention that knight on h3 is a sorry sight?
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:
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.
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.
Spanish IM David Martinez takes a look at that game:
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:
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... ♕xf4! White's weaknesses are exposed for all to see.
14. ♘f3 Recognising the problem and switching into reverse gear.
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.
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?!
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.
Giri – Jobava saw Anish Giri miss clear winning chances after Jobava lived to regret rejecting a draw by repetition:
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.
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.
So after an emotional day's action the standings with one round to go are as follows:
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.
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