Reports May 16, 2015 | 8:13 PMby Colin McGourty

Khanty GP, Round 3: Caruana takes command

Fabiano Caruana overwhelmed Evgeny Tomashevsky to inflict the first defeat in three Grand Prix events on the series leader. Jan Gustafsson takes a look at that game, which restored Fabiano’s place as world no. 2. The day’s only other win was for Peter Svidler, who pounced on a middlegame error by Dmitry Jakovenko and followed up with flawless technique. Excitement was limited elsewhere, though Jobava-Gelfand was a blockbuster.

Fabiano Caruana moved back above Vishy Anand with a live rating of 2805.2. He has a great chance of qualifying for the Candidates Tournament on rating, but he's also on course to seize one of the qualifying places from the Grand Prix | photo: Kirill Merkurev, official website 

Khanty-Mansiysk GP Round 3 (click a result to replay the game with computer analysis)

Jobava Baadur2699½ – ½Gelfand Boris2744
Grischuk Alexander2780½ – ½Vachier-Lagrave Maxime2754
Caruana Fabiano28031 – 0Tomashevsky Evgeny2749
Jakovenko Dmitry27380 – 1Svidler Peter2734
Karjakin Sergey2753½ – ½Dominguez Perez Leinier2734
Nakamura Hikaru2799½ – ½Giri Anish2776

You can’t say it’s been uneventful for Evgeny Tomashevsky in Khanty-Mansiysk. First a win from a lost position, then a draw from a won position, and now, finally, a logical defeat after Fabiano Caruana unleashed some opening preparation reminiscent of his Sinquefield Cup triumph last year.

Jan Gustafsson has the details:

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Peter Svidler didn't declare an amnesty for his opponent as he'd done the day before against Caruana | photo: Kirill Merkurev, official website

The other win was much less spectacular, as you might expect when the opening was the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6). Peter Svidler joked that he had to spend 20 minutes on move 5 as after 4…dxc6 he was hit by the “theoretical novelty” 5.0-0. He then went on to explain why he was thinking after a move played literally thousands of times before:

Rustam Kasimdzhanov played this against me in Baku and I got a very bad position [after 15 minutes back then he played 5…Qd6], so I actually looked at this opening afterwards. I spent about a week analysing the line I really wanted to play against this and kind of refuted it… and then I gave up, so once again I had nothing to play here!

Svidler settled on 5…Qf6, but the game wasn’t really about the opening. Dmitry Jakovenko was on top until he failed to deal with Svidler’s errant rook correctly:

In this position Black can’t currently take the pawn on e4 due to the Nd4! trick, pinning the rook to the queen and threatening a fork on c6, but Jakovenko blundered that after 21.c3? c5! there was suddenly no good way to stop the loss of the pawn. He suggested afterwards that he should instead have played 21.f5! Ne5 22.Nxe5 fxe5 23.Nc1!, which gets the computer’s stamp of approval.

In the game Black was well on top, though Svidler still felt it was a forced draw until 29.h3?! missed the chance to get counterplay with 29.Re7. In the game Svidler considered it to be an easy win after he managed to play 42…c6 and 44…Rd5, since no pawn endings would be drawn and he simply needed to gradually advance his forces.

50…f5+! was a nice move to seal the deal, since the temporary pawn sac allowed the black rook to make it to the second rank.

Dmitry Jakovenko has now had three decisive games in a row, but they haven’t gone the way he would have liked after he opened with a win in the first round.

Watch the post-game press conference:

There were two 30-move draws (remember that’s the number of moves required to offer a draw under the Sofia Rules in operation), but only one of them was a non-event. 

Anish Giri found the game as thrilling as most chess fans | photo: Kirill Merkurev, official website

Nakamura–Giri had the kind of Italian Game opening that hasn’t been so popular for the last century or two…

But Giri knew exactly what he was doing and rapidly forced a completely drawn position. Nakamura explained what he was aiming for:

I’d looked at this line for someone else, who’s obviously much weaker, at the US Championship, so I thought maybe I would try it. It’s an idea. I thought maybe it’s not so easy to find the right moves over the board, but Anish played very correctly.

And Giri explained why the fiendish plan had failed:

There are three reasons why I know this line. One reason is that I saw some article by, I think, Smerdon, and usually his articles are funny, so I read them. This one probably was not funny, but at least I learned something. Another reason is that I had this line once in an online blitz game and the third reason is that a friend of mine, Erwin l’Ami, recently recorded a video series on all these sidelines of the Italian and whatever – all these gambits. So I was up-to-date even in lines like this.

Watch the full press conference:

Karjakin – Dominguez was the kind of game that seemed as though it could certainly have gone on longer, though both players had burned up a lot of time solving their opening issues. The Cuban player has been well-prepared in Khanty-Mansiysk, and played what Karjakin described as an “almost new setup”. Sergey was happy to find 15.c4!

I was very proud when I played 15.c4! I thought it’s very interesting, but after 15…Ne7! I think it was nothing.

Dominguez also said he was very proud of his response. In the final position the computer is a fan of Black’s position, but it seems neither player felt it offered much.

The most intriguing moment of the post-game press conference was when Karjakin explained he turned down the chance to play in the Russian League, since it would mean three tournaments in a row, but if he had played it would have been for favourites Siberia (alongside Kramnik and Aronian). He wouldn’t have played for his 2014 team Malakhit, since he says they still haven’t paid him for his role in winning the 2014 title!

It looked as though the guests of honour were trying to calm Jobava down before the game, but luckily it was in vain! | photo: Kirill Merkurev, official website

Jobava-Gelfand gave Caruana-Tomashevsky a good run for its money as the most exciting game of the round. Baadur sprung a 6th move novelty:

It was very much a “modern-chess” novelty, i.e. one which was by no means the strongest move objectively in the position:

This 6.Qa3 novelty was prepared specially for the Grand Prix. This doesn’t mean it’s a strong novelty, but it’s a psychological advantage… Boris played the most principled line. All engines say that it’s much worse for White, but in my understanding it’s not easy for Black to play.  After 14.Bc4 Black needs to be very careful not to get mated!

Gelfand has experience defusing e.g. Anand’s opening bombs at the board, though, and he took the rule of thumb about responding to a flank attack with a counterstrike in the centre to heart when he played:

17…Nxe5! There’s no increment in Khanty-Mansiysk until move 61, so time trouble is real, and Jobava was the latest player to panic when he suddenly realised he had 30 seconds for 4 moves. He admitted, “I did everything to lose this game”, but Boris didn’t play on with a bishop against a knight at the very end, admitting he’d been shell-shocked by what had gone before.

That leaves only Grischuk’s draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, which never really caught fire. They played a rare line of the Sicilian, which Maxime noted he’d seen in New in Chess and decided, “why not?” It seemed as though the game would end in a quick draw until the Frenchman played moves Grischuk described as “strange” and felt were very dangerous. 

The draw did follow, though, with Grischuk hitting the table and exclaiming “hockey!” in the post-game press conference, though not before he’d wryly remarked, “they say that the most interesting position is the starting position!”

That seems like a good note on which to end this report. Svidler and Caruana have now joined Dominguez in the lead, with the toppling of Grand Prix leader Tomashevsky potentially crucial for the Candidates Tournament qualification battle to come:

1Caruana Fabiano2803ITA23,50
2Dominguez Perez Leinier2734CUB22,75
Svidler Peter2734RUS22,75
4Grischuk Alexander2780RUS2,50
5Karjakin Sergey2753RUS2,25
6Vachier-Lagrave Maxime2754FRA2,00
Nakamura Hikaru2799USA2,00
Gelfand Boris2744ISR2,00
9Tomashevsky Evgeny2749RUS1,75
10Jobava Baadur2699GEO11,50
Giri Anish2776NED11,50
12Jakovenko Dmitry2738RUS11,00

The clash of the wounded Russians, Tomashevsky - Jakovenko, may be one of the highlights of Sunday’s Round 4, while Vachier-Lagrave – Caruana is another big encounter. Watch all the games live here on chess24! Alternatively you can watch on our free mobile apps:


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