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Final standings after 9 round single round robin tournament

The Vugar Gashimov Memorial, was held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan, from the 17th to the 26th of April, in memory of the great GM Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on the 10th of January 2014. The tournament consists of some of the strongest players in the World: reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen, former World Champions Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, as well as, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Michael Adams, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Rauf Mamedov competed in this prominent event.

While two of my sought top Chess GMs in this present generation, Wesley So from the PH but decided to switch Federation to USA and world champ and top ranked Magnus Carlsen of Norway whom I admired most of the style of games. Following games both of this two young phenom compiled with the games annotated by www.chessbase.com author, writer and Grand Master himself, Alejandro Ramirez.

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Two young phenom GM Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So during their 8th round encounter at Gashimov Memorial in Shamkir 2015, photo from http://www.shamkirchess.az

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Round 1

Wesley So 1-0 Anish Giri

Head-to-head match between Giri and So was 3-0-3 (Win-loss-draw) before the Gashimov tournament. This time Wesley won via 32 moves English opening even after a dissapointing performance in US Chess Championship 2015.

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.17
Round : 1
White : So, Wesley (2788)
Black : Giri, Anish (2790)
Result : 1-0
ECO : A10 – English Opening
Annotator : Alejandro Ramirez

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Payback this time as Wesley beat Giri via 32 moves English Opening skirmish photo courtesy of http://www.shamkirchess.az

1.c4 g6 2.e4!? e5!?   Modern Chess! Already we are mostly out of theory.

3.d4 Nf6   3…d6 might transpose back into a King’s Indian Defense, but we wouldn’t want that would we?

4.dxe5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.e5 Ne4 6.Qxd4 Bb4+ was the game Nakamura-Svidler from a 2013 Grand Prix. It was also Svidler-Carlsen from 2014, but that was a blitz.

4…Nxe4 5.Bd3 Bb4+ 6.Kf1!  6.Nd2   was a completely wacko game between Kortschnoj-Timman back in 1976!

6…Nc5 7.Nf3    The opening can hardly be called a success for Black. White cannot castle, but besides that everything is going well. His development will be faster than Black’s. Giri also has to worry about his dark squares on the kingside.

7…Ne6  covering g5.

8.a3 Be7 9.Nc3 d6 10.exd6 Bxd6 11.b4  11.Bh6 was also possible, So prefers the fianchetto and the queenside expansion.

11…Bf8!? It’s hard to guess that this bishop mas already moved three times. It will move a fourth to g7, definitely its best square.

12.Qe2 Bg7 13.Bg5 Bf6 a fifth time?!

14.Bxf6 only to be traded. This leaves Giri in a position with basically no development. It is not surprising that So’s attack will be very strong.

14…Qxf6 15.Qd2 0-0 16.Re1 Qd8 17.Rd1! a5 18.h4!  White’s simply crashing through. Without Black’s pieces being active it is clear that the king will find it difficult to survive.

18…axb4 19.axb4 Nd7 20.h5+- Nf6 21.c5  21.Qc1? Would have been a beautiful shot. The point is that after Nxh5 (21…Qe7 22.Nd5 Nxd5 23.cxd5 Ng7 24.hxg6 fxg6 25.Re1 Qf6 (25…Qf7 26.Rxh7! Kxh7 27.Ng5++-)  26.Qh6 (Black’s position simply falls apart.) 22.Bxg6+- )

21…b6 21…Nxh5 22.Rxh5 gxh5 23.Qh6 is about as ugly as it gets.

22.hxg6 fxg6 23.Qe3 Qe7 24.Bc4 bxc5 25.b5!  There is no need to retake the pawn. White simply pushes his own pawn in order to prevent counterplay.

25…Rb8 26.Re1 Rb6 27.Na4  Material losses are now inevitable.

27…Rd6 28.Nxc5 Ng4 29.Qe4 Nxf2  29…Nf6 30.Qh4 is of no help, the simply threat of Ng5 cannot be parried.

30.Kxf2 Rd2+ 31.Kg3! 31.Kf1?? Qxc5 32.Bxe6+ Kh8 33.Qh4 h5! and despite being down a pawn this position is far from easy. Black has a subtle point: 34.Bxc8 Rxf3+? 35.gxf3 Qxb5+ 36.Kg1 Qb6+ 37.Kf1 Qb5+ with a draw. Grandmasters are very tricky!

31…Rxf3+  31…Qxc5 32.Nxd2+-

32.gxf3 Black doesn’t have a lot of checks and he is down a huge amount of material. 1–0

Viswanathan Anand 1/2-1/2 Magnus Carlsen

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.17
Round : 1
White : Anand, Viswanathan (2791)
Black : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
ECO : C89 – Ruy Lopez, Marshall
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d3 Bd6 13. Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Bg6 15. Bxd5 cxd5 16. Bf4 d4 17. cxd4 Bb4 18. Nc3 Qxd4 19. Be5 Qd7 20. Nd5 f6 21. Nxb4 fxe5 22. Qd5+ Qxd5 23. Nxd5 Bxd3 24. Rxe5 Rfe8 25. Rxe8+ Rxe8 26. Ne3 Rc8 27. a3 a5 28. h4 Bg6 29. Rd1 b4 30. axb4 axb4 31. g4 b3 32. h5 Bf7 33. Kg2 Kf8 34. Kg3 Ra8 35. Rd2 h6 36. Nf5 Be6 37. Nd4 Bf7 38. f3 Rc8 39. Kf4 Rc1 40. Nf5 Kg8 41. Rd8+ Kh7 42. Rd7 Kg8 43. Rd8+ Kh7 44. Rd7 Kg8 45. Nd6 Be6 46. Re7 Bd5 47. Kf5 Rc6 48. Ke5 Bxf3 49. Nf5 g5 50. Rg7+ Kh8 51. Rg6 Kh7 52. Rg7+ Kh8 53. Rg6 Kh7 1/2-1/2

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Round 2

Vladimir Kramnik 1/2-1/2 Wesley So

Wesley So holds on Kramnik to a draw!

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.18
Round : 2
White : Kramnik, Vladimir (2783)
Black : So, Wesley (2788)
ECO : A00 – Uncommon Opening
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. d4 Nf6 5. O-O O-O 6. Nbd2 Ne4 7. Nxe4 dxe4 8. Ng5 Qxd4 9. Qxd4 Bxd4 10. Rd1 Nc6 11. Bxe4 Bg7 12. c3 Ne5 13. f4 Nc4 14. Bd5 Nd6 15. Be3 h6 16. Nf3 e6 17. Bb3 b6 18. a4 Bb7 19. Ne5 Rfd8 20. a5 h5 21. Bc2 Bf6 22. b3 c5 23. axb6 axb6 24. Rxa8 Bxa8 25. b4 Nb5 26. Nd7 Bxc3 27. Nxb6 Bd4 28. Bxd4 cxd4 29. Nxa8 Rxa8 30. Bd3 Nc3 31. Rd2 Kf8 32. b5 Ke7 33. Rb2 Kd7 34. b6 Rb8 35. Rb4 Nd5 36. Rxd4 Ke7 37. Be4 Nxb6 38. Rb4 Nd7 39. Rxb8 Nxb8 40. Kf2 Nd7 1/2-1/2

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.18
Round : 2
White : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
Black : Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar(2756)
ECO : D11 – QGD, Slav
Result: 1-0

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 g6  The Schlechter system of the Slav. This is considered a much more appropiate response to 4. e3 than 4. Nc3, as now the bishop cannot go to f4.

5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be2 0-0 7. 0-0 b6 8. a4 a5 9. cxd5 cxd5  9…Nxd5 Was Wang Yue’s choice against Anand in 2010, but I feel taking with the c-pawn is more logical.

10. b3 Ne4?!   The beginning of Black’s real problems. This trade is normally quite desirable on e4, as Black obtains a good square on d5 for his other knight and retains solid chances. However here, specifically, he is unable to do anything like that because of his slow development.

11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Nd2 Bb7 13. Ba3 f5 14. Rc1 Kh8 15. Nc4  Black would like to play the move Nb8-d5, but the knight doesn’t stretch so far.

15…Nd7 16. d5  Precisely the problem. The pawn push creates issues for Black as the space created behind it activates White’s pieces.

16…Rc8 17. d6 e6 18. b4!  Opening up even more space.

18…axb4 19. Bxb4 Bd5 20. a5! bxa5 21. Bxa5 Qe8 22. Qa4  It’s very clear that Black is passive. He doesn’t have an active plan and simply hopes that his blockade on d7 will hold.

22…Bc6 23. Qb4 Rb8 24. Nb6!  Why not? The pin looks uncomfortable but Black cannot take advantage of it, more importantly this trades off that d7 knight.

24…Ne5?!  24…Nxb6 25. Bxb6 Qd7 26. Rc2±

25. Qc5 Ba8?  The losing move, technically, but this was already a very difficult position. (25…Rf7 26. Rfd1±)

26. Bc3 Nd7 (26…Qc6 27. Qxe5+-)

27. Bxg7+ Kxg7 28. Nxd7 Qxd7 29. Qe5+  Black’s position very obviously collapses after the rook incursion to c7. 1–0

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Round 3

Wesley So 1-0 Michael Adams

Wesley’on the verge, leading the pack with 2.5 points on beating Adams instructively.

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.19
Round : 3
White : So, Wesley (2788)
Black : Adams, Michael (2746)
ECO : D35 – Queens Gambit Declined
Result: 1-0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5  This move-order is a relatively rare guest at the top level, but it is still very solid.

5…c6 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. Bd3 Nbd7 9. f3  It’s very rare to start with this move, but it cleverly avoids the Nh5 ideas. Here the bishop would simply retreat to f2. The minus side is that White has committed to playing the f3-e4 type plans.

9…0-0 10. Qc2 b5 11. Nge2 Nb6 12. a3 a5 13. 0-0 Bd7 14. Nc1 Nc4 15. Re1 Be6 16. Nb3 Nd7 17. Bf2 Rc8 18. Rad1 Qc7 19. h3 Rfd8 20. f4 a4 21. f5!? Ignoring the threat since the bishop on e6 is trapped anyway.

21…axb3 22. Qxb3 Bxf5 23. Bxf5   It’s hard to evaluate the position. White has some obvious structural problems, but he does have the pair of bishops and good activity whereas Black’s pieces are a little awkward.

23…Rb8 24. Qc2 b4 25.axb4 Bxb4 26. Re2 Qa5? This seems to be the real start of Black’s problems. Adams underestimates the weaknesses that will be left after Bh4. 26…Bd6 27. Bh4? (27. Rb1=) 27…g5?

27. Bh4 f6 28. Na4  28. Ne4!?

28…Nf8 29. Bd3 Nb6 30. Nc3 c5 31. dxc5 Bxc5 32. Kh1 Rbc8 33. Bf5 Rc6 34. e4!  With the liquidation of the central pawns the bishops gain tremendous power. Not only that, Black doesn’t have light square bishop to cover his weaknesses.

34…Bb4 35. e5 Be7 36. Qb3 Qc5? 36…Kh8±

37. exf6 Bxf6 38. Ne4  Now Black simply loses.

38…Qc4 39. Nxf6+ gxf6 40. Qg3+ Kf7 41. Rde1  Re7# is kind of annoying.

41…Qb4 42. Re7+   42. Bg4 immediately was also good enough, as were most moves.

42…Qxe7 43. Rxe7+ Kxe7 44. Qg7+ Ke8 45. Bg4 1–0

Fabiano Caruana 0-1 Magnus Carlsen

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.19
Round : 3
White : Caruana, Fabiano(2802)
Black : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
ECO : A90 – Dutch
Result: 0-1

1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 c6 5. Nf3 d5   Well, since the normal Dutch lines didn’t work, the Stonewall is given a go.

6. 0-0 Bd6 7. b3 Qe7  A small details, preventing the immediate Ba3. Here White can still exchange bishops by playing a4 but it is not as useful as Qe7.

8. Bb2 b6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. Nd2 0-0 11. Rc1 a5 12. e3 Na6   This position had been reached many times before, with Qe2 being by far the most common move.

13. Nb1   This move surely can’t be bad, but to me it is slightly baffling. I am not sure where the knight is intended to go. a4?

13…Bxe5 14. dxe5 Ne4 15. Qe2 a4!? 16. Nc3?! 16. Ba3 c5 17. cxd5 exd5 18. f3 Ng5 19. bxa4 with a complex position. It won’t be trivial to win the a4 pawn.

16…axb3 17. axb3 Qb4 18. Nxe4 dxe4 Black’s obviously happy now. He has pressure against b3 and White’s bishops are mediocre. White should still somehow be fine though.

19. Qc2 Nc5 20. Bc3 Qxb3 21. Qxb3 Nxb3 22. Rb1 Nc5 23. Rxb6 Na4 24. Rxb7 Nxc3   White’s bishop on g2 is pretty bad, but he for now has a powerful rook on b7.

25. Re7 25. f3 was the logical choice, opening the diagonal for the bishop. After… 25…Ra2 26. fxe4 fxe4 27. Rxf8+ Kxf8 28. Bh3 the game will probably end in a draw.

25…Rfe8 26. Rxe8+ Rxe8 27. Ra1 Rd8 28. Bf1 c5 29. Ra3?!   Inviting problems. The knight is forced to relocate to a better square.

29…Nb1 30. Ra1?!  30. Ra5 Rd1 31. Ra8+ Kf7 32. Ra7+ Kg6 33. Kg2! Nd2 34. Rd7=

30…Nd2 31. Be2 Nf3+! 32. Bxf3 exf3?   Because of the persistent mating threats and the eventual weakess of the f2 pawn, this is a very unpleasant endgame for White.

33. h3 h5 34. g4  A little desperate, but suffering slowly didn’t seem like fun either. 34. Ra5 Rd1+ 35. Kh2 Rf1 36. Rxc5 Rxf2+ 37. Kg1 Rg2+ 38.Kf1 Rxg3 should be winning for Black.

34…fxg4 35.hxg4 h4!  Passing another pawn that will soon be defended.

36. Kh2 36. g5 Kh7-+

36…Rd2 37. Kh3 g5 38. e4 Rd4  Clearly White is lost. His king still has to worry about checkmates and White can’t attack g5, which is holding Black’s position together.

39. Ra8+ Kf7 40. Ra3 Rxc4 41. Rxf3+ Ke7 42. Re3 Rd4 43.f3 c4  The pawn is too far for the king on h3.

44. Ra3 Rd3 45. Ra7+ Kd8 46. Kg2 c3 47. Ra4 c2 48. Rc4 Rd2+ 49. Kh3 Kd7 50. Rc5 Rf2 51.f4  51. Rc4 Rxf3+ 52. Kg2 Rg3+ 53. Kf2 Rxg4-+

51…Rf3+ 52. Kh2 Rxf4 0–1

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Round 4

Wesley So 1-0 Rauf Mamedov

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.20
Round : 4
White : So, Wesley (2788)
Black : Mamedov, Rauf (2658)
ECO : B32 – Sicilian, Maroczy
Result: 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 d6   The Maroczy isn’t seen at the top level very often. Mainly because most of the time Black ends up suffering for no real reason.

7.f3 Not the most common move order, but it makes sense. It avoids some of the quick Nxd4 ideas.

7…Bg7 8. Be3 0-0 9. Be2 Nh5!?  A typical idea in these structures, though not in this specific move. f4 is a little lose and changing pieces is almost always good.

10. g3 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Be6 12. f4  I have the feeling taking on d4 would have given better practical chances, but the computer disagrees with me.

12…Nf6 13. 0-0 Rc8 14. b3  White has a nice space advantage everywhere.

14…Qa5 15. f5 Bd7 16. a3 e6 17. b4 Qd8 18. fxg6! 18. fxe6 Bxe6! does not have the same effect.

18…fxg6 18…hxg6 19. e5 dxe5 20. Bxe5±  and there are problems with the knight on f6 lacking defense.

19. e5!  19. Bxa7 seems to be possible, but it hands the initiative over to Black after Bc6 and even though it shouldn’t compensate a full pawn, it is, from a practical point of view, better to keep material even and a strong position.

19…dxe5 20. Bxe5 Bc6 21. b5 Ne4 22. Qxd8! Rcxd8 22…Rfxd8 was a better choice. The endgame looks bad, but it might be holdable. 23. bxc6 Nxc3 24. cxb7 Nxe2+ 25. Kg2 Rb8 26. Bxb8 Rxb8 27. Rad1±

23. Rxf8+ Rxf8 24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Rc1 Nxc3 26. Rxc3 Bd7  Material is even, but Black’s position is horrible. White’s pawns on the queenside are fast and Black’s e-pawn is more of a weakness than anything.

27. c5 Rc8 28. a4 Kf6 29. Kf2 Ke5 30. Ke3 Be8 31. Bf3± Rc7 32. Kd3 g5 33. Kc4 h5 34. a5 g4 35. b6! axb6 36. axb6 Rd7 37. Re3+ Kf6 38. c6  The Bishop has been attacked for a few moves, but Black has no time to take it. White’s pawns simply march forward.

38…bxc6 39. Bxc6 Rd8 40. Bxe8 Rxe8 41. b7 41. b7 Rb8 42. Rb3 Ke7 43. Kc5 Kd7 44. Kb6  is very obviously lost. 1–0

Michael Adams 1/2-1/2 Magnus Carlsen

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.20
Round : 4
White : Adams, Michael (2745)
Black : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
ECO : C76 – Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz defence, Fianchetto Variation
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. c3 a6 5. Ba4 d6 6. d4 Bd7 7. O-O Bg7 8. d5 Nce7 9. Bxd7+ Qxd7 10. c4 h6 11. Nc3 f5 12. exf5 gxf5 13. Nh4 Nf6 14. f4 e4 15. Be3 O-O 16. Ne2 c6 17. dxc6 bxc6 18. Bd4 c5 19. Bc3 Qe6 20. Rc1 Rf7 21. Ng3 Kh7 22. Qe2 Rg8 23. Rfd1 Ne8 24. Nh5 Bxc3 25. bxc3 Rg4 26. g3 Rxh4 27. gxh4 Ng6 28. Kh1 Nxh4 29. Rg1 Nf3 30. Rg3 Re7 31. Rd1 Qf7 32. Rh3 Re6 33. Rb1 Rg6 34. Rg3 Re6 35. Rh3 Re7 36. Rd1 Re6 37. Rb1 Re7 38. Rd1 Re6 1/2-1/2

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Round 5

Viswanatan Anand 1-0 Wesley So

First encounter between the two. Anand seems more confident and prepared than Wesley with their encounter. As Anand did a Knight sacrifice to dismantle Wesley’s defense and successfully wins.

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.21
Round : 5
White : Anand, Viswanathan (2791)
Black : So, Wesley (2788)
ECO : C78 – Ruy Lopez, Breyer
Result: 1-0

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Their first encounter, happened to be in Shamkir Chess 2015, photo courtesy http://www.shamkirchess.az

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. Nc3 d6 9. a3 Nb8  This Breyer idea is common in most Spanish positions. Even though the knight here is not going to defend e5, it will be very useful on c5.

10. Ng5!?  Putting pressure on f7 even seems silly. White might be trying to provoke h6 weakening g6. So was in no mood to oblige, but one does wonder how that could be a bad move. 10. a4 was Caruana-So from Wijk Aan Zee this year. 10…b4 11. Nd5 Nxd5 12. Bxd5 c6=

10… Nc6  The knight strangely goes back to c6 – the idea is that now Nd4 is possible since the knight went to g5. (10… h6 11. Nf3 (11. f4!? {is another matter entirely, and probably Anand’s idea.}) 11… Nbd7=)

11. Ba2 Nd4 12. Ne2  Exchanging the intruder.

12…Nxe2+ 13. Qxe2 h6  Initiating the fight! This move is very commital, even though it doesn’t appear to be so. White cannot retreat and hope for any kind of advantage, so Anand goes all in.

14. f4!? hxg5  14… exf4 is very interesting. I wonder what it is that Anand was planning on doing here… The players did not mention it during the press conference.
         15. Nxf7 (15. Bxf4 hxg5 16. Bxg5-+) (15. Nh3?)
             15… Rxf7 16. Bxf7+ Kxf7 17. Bxf4
  doesn’t seem sufficient.

15. fxg5 Ng4  15… c6 16. gxf6 Bxf6 17. Be3   is very pleasant for White.

16. g6  White must have enough for the piece, but there are very important details.

16…Bg5!? (16… d5!? 17. Bxd5! Bc5+ 18. Kh1 Qh4 19. g3 Qh3 20. gxf7+! This move is incredibly important. Kh8 21. Bxa8 and White wins, as the move Nxh2 is not possible: Qxh2 and the queen is pinned! ( 16… Nh6!?)

17. h3!   Very precise. (17. Bxf7+ Rxf7 18. gxf7+ Kf8 {is very, very unclear.})

17… Bxc1 18. Raxc1 Nh6 19. Qh5! Putting up even more pressure. Black is up a piece but cannot defend comfortably.

19…Be6  (19… Kh8 20. Rxf7 Rxf7 21. gxf7 {is losing as Rf1 next is unstoppable, followed by simply g4-g5.})

20. Bxe6 fxe6 21. g4 c6?!  Anand thought this was a mistake during the press conference.
       (21… Rf4! 22. g5 Qf8 {is not as clear as the game continuation.})
          (21… Qe7 22. g5 Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Rf8 24. gxh6 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1 Qf8+ 26. Ke2 gxh6 27. Qg4 {is similar to the game.})

22. Rxf8+ Qxf8 23. Rf1 Qe7 24. g5 Rf8 25. gxh6 Rxf1+ 26. Kxf1 Qf8+ 27. Ke2!  Very important. The king is safest in this position as Black cannot organize his checks properly.

27…gxh6  White is obviously better in this position. Black cannot avoid Qg4, h4-h5, creating a protected passed pawn on g6. The only issue is how is White going to break through after that.

28. Qg4 Qf6 29. h4 d5  It’s hard to suggest a way to hold the position together, and it would take quite a bit of analysis to determine if Black can somehow hold.

30. h5 d4 31. b4!  This position, however, is quite clear. White will penetrate on the queenside slowly. The pawn structure is such that there are no perpetuals, queen trades are impossible. Anand wraps up with great technique.

31…Kg7 32. Qf3 Qe7 33. Kd1 Kg8 34. Qf2 Kg7 35. c3 dxc3 36. Kc2 Qc7 37. Qc5 Kg8 38. Qe3 a5 39. Qh3 axb4 40. Qxe6+ Kf8 41. axb4 Qa7 42. Kxc3 Qa3+ 43. Kc2 Qa4+ 44. Qb3 Qa7 45. d4 1-0

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.21
Round : 5
White : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
Black : Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime (2765)
ECO : A00 – Uncommon Opening
Result: 1-0
Annotator : Ramirez Alvarez, Alejandro

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. Bg2 Bb7 4. Na3 a6 5. c4 b4 6. Nc2 e6 7. d4  This position has, surprisingly, been seen a few times. For example 7…c5 was Lenderman-Abudmalik from last year.

7…a5 8. O-O Be7 9. d5 Na6 10. Nfd4 Nc5 11. Re1 O-O 12. e4  It’s hard to understand what Black really wanted from this opening. White now has a strong center, more space and no real weaknesses. The strong knight on c5 does not compensate fully for the b7 bishop.

12…e5 13. Nf5 d6 14. Bg5  White’s pressure on the kingside is very obvious. Black is simply trying to be solid.

14…Nxd5?!  But well, there goes that idea, bring on the fireworks!  14… Bc8 15. Nxe7+ Qxe7 16. f3  is unpleasant, but nothing more than that.

15. Bh6! gxh6 16. Qg4+ Bg5 17. cxd5   Black “won” a pawn, but it is double and weak and there is the threat of h4. He must give it back immediately.

17…Kh8  (17… h5 18. Qxh5 Bc8±)

18. h4 Bf6 19. Nce3 (19. Nxh6   was also strong.)

19… Bc8 20. Qf3 Bg7 21. Bh3 Rg8 22. Bg4!  I like this maneuver very much. The bishop inches closer to a useful square. The “strong” knight on c5 is not part of the defense! It doesn’t have the choice of going back either as it must keep the c-file closed.

22…Qf6 23. Bh5 Bxf5 24. Nxf5 c6   counterplay, but not really. Black’s pieces on the kingside are a mess.

25. dxc6 Rac8 26. Qd1 Rxc6 27. Qd5  It is typical that the side with a space advantage can easily swing his pieces from one side of the board to another without a hitch. The side with the space disadvantage is just stuck.

27…Rgc8 28. Rad1 Bf8 29. Qxf7 Qxf7 30. Bxf7  White isn’t up material, but his pieces are much better and heh as pressure everywhere on the board.

30…Na4 31. Re2 Rc1 32. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 33. Kg2 Nc5 34. b3 Rc3 35. Kh3 Nd7 36. Be6 Nc5 37. Bd5 Nd7 38. Ne3 Nf6 39. Be6 Rc5 40. Nc4 Kg7 41. f3 Ne8 42. Rd2 Nc7 43. Bg4 a4
         (43… d5 44. Nb6! d4 45. Nd7 Rc3
               (45… Rb5 46. f4+-) 46. Nxe5 is horrible, so MVL tries desperate measures.)

44. Nxd6 Bxd6 45. Rxd6 a3  counterplay against the a2 pawn, maybe?

46. Bd7!  Extremely precise!

46…Rc2 47. Bc6! Rxa2  (47… Na6 48. Bd5 Nc5 (48… Nc7 49. Bc4+- Look at the domination over that knight. For example: Ne8 50. Rd7+ Kf8 51. Rf7+ Kg8 52. Rb7+ Kf8 53. Rxb4 Rxa2 54. Kg4+-) 49. Rc6 does not help Black at all.

48. Rd7+ Kf6 49. Rxc7 Rc2 50. Rxh7  The bishop is still tactically defended. Black could win it for a pawn, but it’s not a pawn he wants to lose.

50…Kg6  (50… Rxc6 51. Rxh6+ Kg7 52. Rxc6) ( 50… a2 51. Ra7 Rxc6 52. Rxa2 and White is just up two pawns. 52…Rc3 53. Kg4 Rxb3 54. Ra6+ Kg7 55. Rb6 with an elementary win for a 2800.

51. Rc7 Kf6 52. h5 Rc1 53. Rh7 a2 54. Bd5  now MVL doesn’t even get the bishop. What a game! ( 54. Bd5 a1=Q 55. Rf7+ Kg5 56. Rf5#) 1-0

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Round 6

Wesley So 1/2-1/2 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.23
Round : 6
White : So, Wesley (2788)
Black : Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2756)
ECO : D17 – QGD, Slav
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Qc7 8. g3 e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Nfd7 11. Bg2 g5 12. Ne3 gxf4 13. Nxf5 O-O-O 14. Qc2 Nc5 15. O-O fxg3 16. hxg3 a5 17. Rfd1 h5 18. Rxd8+ Qxd8 19. Rd1 Qf6 20. Bh3 Kb8 21. Qd2 Be7 22. Qe3 Ng6 23. Rd4 Ne6 24. Ne4 Qe5 25. Rd7 Rd8 26. Qd3 Rxd7 27. Qxd7 Qxe4 28. Nxe7 Nxe7 29. Qxe7 Qxe2 30. Qxf7 Qd1+ 31. Bf1 Nd4 32. Qf8+ Kc7 33. Qe7+ Kc8 34. Qf8+ Kc7 35. Qe7+ Kc8 36. Qe8+ Kc7 37. Qe7+ 1/2-1/2

Anish Giri 1/2-1/2 Magnus Carlsen

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.23
Round : 6
White : Giri, Anish (2790)
Black : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
ECO : D38 – QGD, Ragozin Variation
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 O-O 8. Rc1 dxc4 9. Bxc4 c5 10. dxc5 Nd7 11. c6 Ne5 12. Nxe5 Qxe5 13. O-O bxc6 14. Qe2 Rd8 15. Rfd1 Bb7 16. Rxd8+ Rxd8 17. Rd1 Rxd1+ 18. Qxd1 Qc7 19. h3 Bxc3 20. bxc3 c5 21. Qa4 Qc6 22. Qxc6 Bxc6 23. Bd3 e5 24. f4 f6 25. Kf2 Kf7 26. h4 Ke6 27. g3 g5 28. hxg5 hxg5 29. fxg5 fxg5 30. Ke1 Bd5 31. a3 e4 32. Be2 Ke5 33. Kd2 Be6 34. Ke1 Kd6 35. Kd2 Ke5 36. Ke1 Kd6 37. Kd2 Ke5 1/2-1/2

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Round 7

Fabiano Caruana 1-0 Wesley So

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.24
Round : 7
White : Caruana, Fabiano (2802)
Black : So, Wesley (2788)
ECO : E21 – Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
Result: 1-0

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. e3  It’s always pleasant to see a Rubinstein Variation.

5…Ne4 6. Qc2 Bb7 7. Bd3 f5 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 O-O 10. c5!? 10. Nd2 has been played hundreds of times, and is considered to be the main line.

10… Rf6  Black isn’t kidding around; he weill try to checkmate White with his rook and bishop and queen. His queenside development will be stalled, but for now that is ok. White might develop them for him, if for example he takes on b6.

11. Ne1! using the fact that the knight on e4 doesn’t have many retreat options with the rook on f6.

11…bxc5 11… Rh6 12. g3! keeps the queen away. White won in both Leko-Andreikin and Georgiev, V-Eljanov.

12. Rb1 Qc8 13. f3 Ng5 14. Be2 cxd4 15. cxd4 White’s down a pawn, but Black’s develompent is awkward. His bishop on b7 is exposed, the g5 knight will have to retreat, the f6 rook doesn’t do much but be a potential target. However White does still need to do something concrete.

15…Nc6 16. Nd3 Ba6 17. Bb2 Ne7 18. d5 Rh6 19. dxe6 Nxe6 20. Nf4 Nxf4 21. exf4 Bxe2 22. Qxe2 How the game has changed. White has a powerful bishop and still has the better coordination. Black has two passed pawns, but hey are not going to be a factor yet.

22…Re6 23. Qd3 Ng6 23… Rb8 looked stronger. The knight will be useful on e7.

24. g3 Rb8 25. Qxf5 Reb6 26. Bd4 Rxb1 27. Rxb1 Rxb1+ 28. Qxb1 With material equality in the endgame it is time to take stock once agian. White is clearly better: his bishop dominates the open board and coordinates much better than the queen and knight.

28…c5 29. Qb3+ c4 29… Kh8 30. Qc3+-

30. Qb5 With little effort White has already blockaded the pawns. Now they are ripe for the taking.

30…Ne7 31. Qg5!? 31. Bc5 Nd5 32. Qxc4 Qc6 33. Qd4±

31… Qf8 32. Bc5 Kf7 33. Qe5 Qe8 34. Kf2 Black is paralyzed.

34…Nc6 losing a pawn, but what else to do?

35. Qh5+ g6 36. Qxh7+ Ke6 37. Qg7 Qf7 38. Qxf7+ Kxf7 39. Ke3 White has too many pawns on the kingside.

39…Ke6 40. g4 d6 41. Ba3 d5 42. Bb2 Nb4 43. a4 Nc2+ 44. Kd2 Nb4 45. h4 Nd3 46. Bd4 a6 46… Nxf4 47. Bxa7 leaves Black with too many passed pawns to deal with.

47. h5 gxh5 48. f5+ Kd6 49. gxh5+- Ne5 50. Ke3 Nf7 51. Bg7 1-0

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Vladimir Kramnik

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.24
Round : 7
White : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
Black : Kramnik, Vladimir (2783)
ECO : C65 – Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defence
Result: 1-0
Annotator : Ramirez Alvarez, Alejandro

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. h3 Ne7 8. d4 Bb6 9. Bd3 d5 10. Nbd2 dxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Bxe4 exd4 13. Qc2 13. cxd4 Bf5?! 14. Bxb7 Rb8 15. Ba6 Be4 was better for White in Duda-Vallejo Pons, but of course Black doesn’t have to give up that pawn on b7.

13… h6 14. a4!? White is in no hurry to regain his pawn. Taking on c3 looks very dangerous.}

14…c6 14… dxc3 15. Rd1! Qe8 16. Qxc3 with the idea of a5-a6, with an initiative. Perhaps with best play Black can survive without issues, but it looks scary to not be able to develop.

15. Rd1 Nd5 16. Nxd4 Symmetrical pawn structure, but White’s slight lead in development gives him a nice and dangerous edge. Black needs just a couple of tempi to catch up to White’s position, but it’s a valuable couple of tempi.

16…Re8 17. a5! What a move! White sacrifices a pawn simply to discoordinate the Black pieces. 17. Nf3 Qe7 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Rxd5 Be6

17… Bxa5 18. Nf3 the point is that now c4 is a hard move  to parry.

18…b5 18… Qc7 19. Bxd5 cxd5 20. Qa4 is a nasty double attack.

19. Nd4 returning to d4 and regaining the pawn. The rules of chess say Kramnik can’t put his pawn from b5 on b7, with a repetition.}

19…Bc7?! A tactical mistake. 19… Bb7!

20. Nxc6 Qd6 21. g3 Bb7 22. Bf4 Qxc6 23. Bxd5 Black is in very serious problems

23…Re1+ 23… Qb6 24. Bxb7 Qxb7 25. Rd7 Rec8 25… Rac8 26. Qf5 Rf8 27. Be3 isn’t much better ,with the dual threat of Bc5 and Rxa7. 26. Qf5 leaves Black helpless against Qf7.

24. Kh2! A very important move. 24. Rxe1 Qxd5 leaves White nothing better than 25. Qe4 Qxe4 26. Rxe4 Bxe4 27. Bxc7==

24… Qxd5 25. Rxd5 Rxa1 26. Rd1! Rxd1 27. Qxd1 Rd8 28. Qe2 White’s queen here will dominate the bishop and rook. There are too many targets, and White just needs a couple of moves to safeguard his king against the combined action of Black’s pieces.

28…Bb6 29. Be3 Bxe3 30. Qxe3 Rd1 31. g4 Bc6 31… Rh1+ 32. Kg3 Rg1+ 33. Kf4 isn’t really that scary. The king chills on f4.

32. Qc5 Bd7 33. Qxa7 Rd2 34. Kg3 Rd3+ 35. Kf4 Kh7 36. Qb7 Rd2 37. Ke3 Rd6 38. f4 g6 39. Qb8 Rd5 40. Ke4 Be6 41. Qb7 Rc5 42. Kd4 Rc4+ 43. Ke5 b4 44. cxb4 Rc2 45. Kf6 Rxb2 46. Qb8 The king is an aggressive piece!

46…Rf2 47. f5 gxf5 48. Qg3! Rf1 49. g5 Black cannot escape checkmate. 1-0

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Round 8

Wesley So 1/2-1/2 Magnus Carlsen

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.25
Round : 8
White : So, Wesley (2788)
Black : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
ECO : A29 – English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Bb4 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. cxd5 Nd4 9. Nxd4 exd4 10. Qa4 a5 11. e3 b5 12. Qc2 Bb7 13. b3 Qg5 14. a3 Bf8 15. Bb2 Bxd5 16. e4 Bb7 17. Bxd4 c5 18. Be3 Qg6 19. d3 a4 20. Rab1 axb3 21. Rxb3 b4 22. axb4 cxb4 23. Bd2 Bc6 24. Rb2 Ba4 25. Qc4 Rec8 26. Qd4 Bc5 27. Qd5 b3 28. d4 Bb6 29. Be3 h6 30. e5 Bc6 31. Qxb3 Bxg2 32. Kxg2 Bxd4 33. Bxd4 Qe4+ 34. Qf3 Qxd4 35. Rb5 Qc3 36. Rd1 Qxf3+ 37. Kxf3 Rc7 38. Rbd5 Raa7 39. Kg4 Ra2 40. R1d2 Rxd2 41. Rxd2 1/2-1/2

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Round 9

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 1/2-1/2 Wesley So

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.26
Round : 9
White : Vachier Lagrave – Maxime (2765)
Black : So, Wesley (2788)
ECO : B12 – Caro-Kann Defense
Result: 1/2-1/2

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 c5 6. Be3 Qb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Ne7 12. Nc5 Qc7 13. g4 Bg6 14. f4 Nc6 15. O-O Nxd4 16. cxd4 Bxc5 17. Rc1 O-O 18. Rxc5 Qd7 19. Qb3 Be4 20. Rfc1 Rac8 21. Qb5 Rxc5 22. Qxc5 f6 23. Qd6 Qxd6 24. exd6 Rd8 25. b4 a6 26. b5 Rxd6 27. Rc8+ Kf7 28. Rc7+ Kf8 29. Rxb7 axb5 30. Bxb5 Rd8 31. a4 Ra8 32. Rc7 Bf3 33. h3 Ra5 34. Rc1 h5 35. gxh5 Bxh5 36. Kf2 Ra8 37. Rc6 Bd1 38. Rc3 Bh5 39. Rc6 Bd1 40. Rc3 Bh5 41. Ke3 Be8 42. Kd3 Ke7 43. Kc2 e5 44. fxe5 fxe5 45. dxe5 Bxb5 46. axb5 Ke6 47. h4 Kxe5 48. b6 Kd6 49. Kd3 Rb8 50. Rb3 Kc6 51. Kd4 Kb7 52. Kxd5 Rh8 53. Rb4 Rh5+ 54. Ke6 g5 55. hxg5 Rxg5 1/2-1/2

Magnus Carlsen 1-0 Rauf Mamedov

Event : Vugar Gashimov Mem 2015
Site  : Shamkir AZE
Date  : 2015.04.24
Round : 9
White : Carlsen, Magnus (2863)
Black : Mamedov, Rauf (2658)
ECO : A15 – English
Result: 1-0

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 a6 5. d4 Bf5 6. Be2 h6 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 e6 9. O-O Bb4 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Rfd1 Ba5 12. a4 Nbd7 13. b4 Bxb4 14. Nxd5 exd5 15. Bxb4 Re8 16. a5 dxc4 17. Qxc4 Nd5 18. h3 Qc7 19. Be1 N7f6 20. Ne5 Ne4 21. Rac1 Qe7 22. Qd3 Nd6 23. Qa3 f6 24. Nd3 Rad8 25. Bb4 Nxb4 26. Qxb4 Ne4 27. Nc5 Nxc5 28. dxc5 Rxd1+ 29. Rxd1 Qf7 30. Qg4 f5 31. Qb4 Re4 32. Qb6 Qe7 33. Qb3+ Kh7 34. Rd6 Qe5 35. Qf7 1-0

Sources:
www.shamkirchess.az
en.chessbase.com
chessgames.com
chess24.com

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