Happy Easter to all my fellow Christians, and for that matter to everyone else reading this as well. For those who might be interested, this traditional Easter reflection on The Crucified God blog may be of interest, and the prior posts on the Lenten season leading up through Holy Week and the Crucifixion are worth reading as well.
Not wasting any time, world champion Magnus Carlsen was the first player to finish in round 1 (along with his opponent, of course), and the only one to come away with a victory. He is thus the early leader of the Vugar Gashimov Memorial, and in the process pushed his all-time rating record to a new high of 2885.7.
Carlsen’s win came at Shakhriyar Mamedyarov’s expense, on the white side of a Cambridge Springs. It isn’t clear whether he “officially” managed an opening advantage – in other words, whether the engines viewed the position as more than three-tenths of a pawn better for White – but what he did manage was a position where Black’s coordination wasn’t so smooth. Mamedyarov’s dark-squared bishop in particular was a distant spectator from early on, and Black was effectively a piece down when Carlsen’s attack started to break through. Mamedyarov flailed a while with 38…Rxf2+, but White had many ways to win and Carlsen wrapped up the point.
That should not be taken for granted, as Fabiano Caruana was also winning his game, but failed to convert. On the white side of an ersatz Hedgehog, Hikaru Nakamura drove the action through the first time control but eventually overpressed. Once Caruana got in 41…a5 Nakamura needed to be precise to hold the balance, and didn’t manage to do so. The culprit was the long-winded maneuver from moves 45-48, aimed at maneuvering his knight to c6. By the time he played 48.Nd4 it was too late; 49.Nc6 would drop the a-pawn after 49…Qa1+. So Nakamura correctly played 49.Nb3, and after 49…Nxb3 50.Rxb3 (50.Qxb3 may have been better) 50…Qa1+ 51.Kf2 f5! 52.Re3 fxe4 53.Bxe4 Qe5 54.Kf3 Caruana had his chance. Here 54…Bh5+ would have won; instead, he played 54…Bxf3+? and Nakamura was able to survive despite his vulnerable king.
In the third game Sergey Karjakin had a slight edge against Teimour Radjabov for a long time in a Tarrasch French, but thanks to the latter’s good defense the game never got out of control.
Here are the round 2 pairings:
- Mamedyarov – Radjabov
- Caruana – Karjakin
- Sauron – Frodo Carlsen – Nakamura
The Vugar Gashimov Memorial starts tomorrow, and the pairings for the A-group look like this:
- Magnus Carlsen – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
- Hikaru Nakamura – Fabiano Caruana
- Sergey Karjakin – Teimour Radjabov
Play starts at 3 p.m. local time in Baku/Noon CET/6 a.m. ET, and on chess24 Peter Svidler will be giving live commentary.
Category: Blogs , US Chess - USCF
The #1 US player Hikaru Nakamura has a new sponsor: Redbull. I think working with Red Bull might give chess more exposure; it’s a first step in changing the image.”