April 28, 2014 17:40

Caruana Clear Second in Shamkir, Two Rounds To Go

With a quick draw against Sergey Karjakin it's still Magnus Carlsen who is the sole leader at the Shamkir Chess tournament in Azerbaijan. Fabiano Caruana moved to clear second place with a win against Teimour Radjabov. On a bad day for Azeri chess, Hikaru Nakamura recovered with a win as Black against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Pavel Eljanov will most probably win the B group; he is a point clear after beating Gadir Guseinov in a model game, while Etienne Bacrot lost his second game in a row, to Alexander Motylev. 

All photos © Ahmed Mukhtar

Before discussing round 8, first here's a video interview with Fakhriyar Jabbarov of Synergy Group, the main sponsor of the tournament. Mr Jabbarov is the Director of the Organizing Committee. He explains what his company is doing, where the tournament “suddenly” came from and more:

The eighth round started with a rather tame encounter between the two top players born in 1990. It was the eighth consecutive draw for Sergey Karjakin, who admitted at the press conference that by now he can be called the “king of draws”!


Carlsen did not manage to get anything out of the opening - a Queen's Indian with the not so popular 5.Nbd2 - and then miscalculated something. He intended 16.Nd4, but then spotted 16...Rxd4! and 17...Nd2 which leads to an equal position.

After the game Carlsen felt that he should have gone for it anyway, because he was a bit uncomfortable about his position. “It's me who has to work to coordinate my pieces.”

More generally, Carlsen said about the game: “Obviously I am not 100% satisfied but it was a normal game. I was trying to play for a win with no risk, but it turns out there was no risk for him! After all the adventures that happened in my other games, I think it's OK to play one normal game.”

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Just like in the first half of the tournament Hikaru Nakamura bounced back from his loss against Carlsen with a win against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. “I played what I suspect is a dubious opening, but it's interesting,” he said.

It was a Slav with a fianchetto on g2 for White, where Black's set-up was a bit provocative. White got a chance to grab the center, develop his queen's bishop with tempo and castle queenside, and it was clear he had the better chances. But then he allowed ...b7-b6, and Black was getting counter play.

Nakamura saw the exchange sac 24.Rxe6 coming. “I think Black should be better but I am not sure.” When Mamedyarov committed two inaccuracies, Black was definitely better and won deservedly. “Probably a good game overall,” said Nakamura.

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If Fabiano Caruana and Teimour Radjabov had drawn their game, all results in rounds 6, 7 and 8 would have been completely mirrored from the first half. Instead, Caruana won as Radjabov overestimated his chances, and played a bit too aggressively.

The Azeri GM is still doing well with his King's Indian, and the position was rather unclear when Caruana went for a forced line that involved an Exchange sacrifice. Later Radjabov gave back the material and it was still more or less balanced, until he allowed the white c-pawn move to c7. If he hadn't been in time trouble he would certainly have noticed that that was decisive.

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The B group has been more or less decided already. Etienne Bacrot, who has had problems in the past with final rounds, lost two his second game in a row while co-leader Pavel Eljanov easily won against Gadir Guseinov. It was another very instructive game by the Ukrainian GM, who is a point clear with one round to go:

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Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Pairings & results

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Carlsen 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov 0-1 Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Caruana ½-½ Nakamura
Karjakin ½-½ Radjabov   Radjabov ½-½ Karjakin
Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 AZST
Mamedyarov ½-½ Radjabov   Radjabov ½-½ Mamedyarov
Caruana ½-½ Karjakin   Karjakin ½-½ Caruana
Carlsen 1-0 Nakamura   Nakamura 0-1 Carlsen
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Nakamura 1-0 Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov 0-1 Nakamura
Karjakin ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Karjakin
Radjabov ½-½ Caruana   Caruana 1-0 Radjabov
Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST
Karjakin ½-½ Mamedyarov   Caruana - Mamedyarov
Radjabov ½-½ Nakamura   Radjabov - Carlsen
Caruana 1-0 Carlsen   Karjakin - Nakamura
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 10 30.04.14 13:00 AZST
Mamedyarov 1-0 Caruana   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Carlsen 0-1 Radjabov   Nakamura - Radjabov
Nakamura ½-½ Karjakin   Carlsen - Caruana

Shamkir Chess 2014 | A | Round 8 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2881 2852 phpfCo1l0.png 0 ½½ 0 11 11 5.0/8  
2 Caruana,Fabiano 2783 2813 1 phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½1 ½½ 0 4.5/8  
3 Karjakin,Sergey 2772 2785 ½½ ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½½ ½ ½ 4.0/8 16.75
4 Radjabov,Teimour 2713 2785 1 ½0 ½½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½½ 4.0/8 15.75
5 Nakamura,Hikaru 2772 2791 00 ½½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 11 4.0/8 13.50
6 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2760 2646 00 1 ½ ½½ 00 phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/8  

Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Pairings & results

Round 1 20.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST
Wojtaszek ½-½ Durarbayli   Durarbayli 0-1 Bacrot
Eljanov ½-½ Mamedov   Guseinov ½-½ Wang Hao
Motylev ½-½ Abasov   Abasov ½-½ Safarli
Safarli ½-½ Guseinov   Mamedov 0-1 Motylev
Wang Hao ½-½ Bacrot   Wojtaszek 0-1 Eljanov
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST
Eljanov ½-½ Durarbayli   Durarbayli 0-1 Guseinov
Motylev 0-1 Wojtaszek   Abasov ½-½ Bacrot
Safarli ½-½ Mamedov   Mamedov 1-0 Wang Hao
Wang Hao ½-½ Abasov   Wojtaszek 1-0 Safarli
Bacrot 1-0 Guseinov   Eljanov ½-½ Motylev
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 6 26.04.14 15:00 AZST
Motylev ½-½ Durarbayli   Durarbayli ½-½ Abasov
Safarli 0-1 Eljanov   Mamedov ½-½ Guseinov
Wang Hao ½-½ Wojtaszek   Wojtaszek ½-½ Bacrot
Bacrot 1-0 Mamedov   Eljanov 0-1 Wang Hao
Guseinov 0-1 Abasov   Motylev 1-0 Safarli
Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 CET   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Safarli ½-½ Durarbayli   Durarbayli 1-0 Mamedov
Wang Hao 1-0 Motylev   Wojtaszek ½-½ Abasov
Bacrot 0-1 Eljanov   Eljanov 1-0 Guseinov
Guseinov ½-½ Wojtaszek   Motylev 1-0 Bacrot
Abasov ½-½ Mamedov   Safarli ½-½ Wang Hao
Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST        
Wang Hao - Durarbayli        
Bacrot - Safarli        
Guseinov - Motylev        
Abasov - Eljanov        
Mamedov - Wojtaszek        

Shamkir Chess 2014 | B | Round 8 Standings

Name Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Eljanov,Pavel 2732 2809 phpfCo1l0.png 0 1 1 ½ 1   ½ ½ 1 5.5/8  
2 Wang Hao 2734 2708 1 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1 ½ ½   0 ½ 4.5/8 19.50
3 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2716 2700 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 ½ ½ ½   1 4.5/8 17.00
4 Bacrot,Etienne 2722 2700 0 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0 1 ½ 1 1   4.5/8 16.75
5 Motylev,Alexander 2685 2708 ½ 0 0 1 phpfCo1l0.png   ½ ½ 1 1 4.5/8 16.25
6 Guseinov,Gadir 2621 2665 0 ½ ½ 0   phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 ½ ½ 4.0/8  
7 Abasov,Nijat 2516 2628   ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 3.5/8 13.50
8 Durarbayli,Vasif 2584 2618 ½   ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 3.5/8 13.25
9 Mamedov,Rauf 2660 2568 ½ 1   0 0 ½ ½ 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 3.0/8  
10 Safarli,Eltaj 2656 2520 0 ½ 0   0 ½ ½ ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 2.5/8  

The rounds start at 12:00 Amsterdam, 6am New York and 3am Los Angeles time. The official website is www.shamkirchess.az. Chess.com offers daily live commentary at www.chess.com/tv. Games via TWICphpfCo1l0.png


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Roberto's picture

@Peter Doggers, the "Shamkir Chess tournament" link at the report is incorrect.

choufleur's picture

The rss link http://www.chessvibes.com/feed/rss2/ is broken as well, since a fews days.

Peter Doggers's picture

Link fixed. RSS should be http://www.chessvibes.com/?q=feed/rss2/ for the moment.

saturnz's picture

so Carlsen wont be breaking 2900 this time

Martin Matthiesen's picture

No, it has been theoretically impossible since he lost in round 5.

Anonymous's picture

Feast your eyes as magnus will avenge his losses against radjabov and caruana in their last two encounters of this tournament. i'm not siding against carlsen, its just that carlsen does like to revenge against the players who beat him by beating back. cheers

Anonymous's picture

Highly Doubtful. Radjabov will not lose with White unless he is interested in ruining his tournament and Caruana does not fear Magnus at all. Zero concern. No psychological games. No leaked comments from Magnus' team. No comments to the press or legions of Carlsen slurpers applying pressure on twitter and various comments sections. Just chess. Caruana is better than Magnus. I truly believe that, rating, notwithstanding.

Mountebank's picture

If Caruana were better, he would surely beat high rated players more often than Magnus does; but, unfortunately, he doesn't. Hard to figure out what you really mean by 'better'.

Caruana is an amazingly strong and 'reliable' player, who seldom oversteps the position the way Magnus does. This risk taking has given Magnus the rating points - along with the odd losses.

I agree that Caruana will be challenging Magnus for years to come, and if he can let go of his more 'scientific' approach and trust in himself a bit more, he might well come out on top in the end.

Anonymous's picture

Caruana is still very young ... I find him better every year, way better ... I agree on the " scientific " approach ... A little bit of soul would suit him very well

Red Bull Team's picture

"Caruana is better than Magnus. I truly believe that, rating, notwithstanding."

Just wondering, is your passport Italian?

Anonymous's picture

Red Bull tastes like horse manure mixed with an electric shock. You are ruining Nakamura's chess even more than he would by himself and that is difficult to do.

Chris's picture

'carlsen does like to revenge against the players who beat him by beating back.'

Anonymous's picture

Caruana has potential to become WCh

pioneer's picture

Whenever Carlsen plays Caruana, white wins. I fully expect Carlsen to continue this trend in the last round.

Glad to see Naka come back with a win today.

Thomas Richter's picture

If you actually look at their statistics, empirical chances for a white win are roughly/almost 50% - their overall score is +3=5-3, including a win with black by Caruana (Tal Memorial 2013).

As to other comments: Caruana has already beaten Carlsen, Aronian, Anand, Kramnik, Topalov and Karjakin - Carlsen has a clear rating edge partly because Caruana is less consistent, partly because Caruana started from a lower level. Not saying that Caruana is better, but the gap is smaller than the ratings suggest - i.e. smaller than the gap between Caruana and someone with Elo 2680.

IdesofMarch's picture

I agree. Also Caruana wears super specs which is a great "weapon" for Caruana! Without it he would be as blind as a bat. HIs collueagues call him the Buddy Holly of chess!

Anonymous's picture

"Carlsen has a clear rating edge partly because Caruana is less consistent, partly because Caruana started from a lower level. "

Care to elaborate? What is this lower level excuse that he started from exactly?

Thomas Richter's picture

Quite simple: Even if Caruana and Carlsen had equivalent results from now on, it will take a long time for Caruana to catch him on the Elo list - unless Carlsen declines to meet him halfway.

Anonymous's picture

Well, that doesn't make any sense. You're saying that the reason why he has a lower rating now is because of what would happen in the future if Caruana started to play as consistently well as Carlsen. Causation doesn't work from the future to the past.

Anonymous's picture

So Thomas Richter is now invoking tachyons to explain how Carlsen's rating advantage doesn't real constitute proof of his superiority? Now I've heard it all! ;)

Anonymous's picture

Some people are delusional and some are obsessive, but it is rare to find someone who is delusional about his obsessions.

Jorge's picture


Equivalent results from Caruana and Carlsen from now on will result in Caruana winning more elo points than Carlsen (or Caruana losing less elo points than Carlsen), because that´s how the elo works when you have a lower rating.

Anonymous's picture

Good for Nakamura to bounce back for the second time after his Red Bull induced hallucinations nearly a pawn up yesterday around move 31. Maybe he smartened up and replaced it with orange juice inside the can. The stuff is horrible for concentration when the crash begins. It is, however nice to see chess players getting Multinational coroprate sponsorships though. Maybe this will lead to more sponsorships for chess in general. It is an experiment but hopefully it works well enough to catch on. Why doesn't magnus have bigger sponsors? He could get IBM or Apple to supply him with supercomputers and cutting edge analysis along with large sums of money.

Anonymous's picture

No free point for Carlsen = limp effort

IdesofMarch's picture

Yeah! That cripple!

Vitecasse's picture

Fuck! Great game of Caruana!

Anonymous's picture

Tsss.... that naka can only win when his opponent gives him the game.

Greco's picture

Hahahaha every time the haters pick someone and praise him with some false hope that he will somehow instantly dethrone MC. Kramnik, Nakamura, Anand, and now Caruana. And the search will continue......by the time such a champion finally appears it wont make such an impact though....it will be like the boy that cried wolf!!

Roberto's picture

Altought i am a fan of Carlsen i think Caruana is a great chess player and I believe he can give Carlsen concrete trouble.

But in my opinion Carlsen wins anyway,

May be Caruana really needs to introduce a more intuitive approach, i dont know.

RG13's picture

I don't think he needs to change his approach. If he can just win the candidates and stay solid in a match against Carlsen he will have chances. You don't have to be the higher rated player to win the world title. Péter Lékó almost did it, Boris Gelfand almost did it; Fabio Caruana CAN do it.

shall's picture

so according to TR, caruana doesnt have high rating as carlsen because he is less consistent

consistency is what makes magnus a better player...

how is this TR guy not banned from this website, how do you guys tolerate him

Thomas Richter's picture

Consistency is what makes Carlsen a better player "on average" but doesn't necessarily mean that his chess understanding is superior to Caruana's - else Caruana couldn't compete with him in direct games and some tournaments.

Different standards seem to apply to Nakamura who is wildly inconsistent. But somehow his best results are considered/claimed to be normal results, his intermittent rating highs are "where he belongs", while everything else (roughly half of his tournament results) are aberrations or accidents.

Anonymous's picture

He is right about consistency being what separates carlsen from the field. The key to solving him appears to be not giving him anything to operate on. The only players he beat in this event were Mamedyarov and Nakamura who are both coffeehouse type players who like to take risks and involve smoke and mirrors in their games. Nakamura is clearly playing better than Mamedyarov in this event and is probably technically better and a more tenacious defender but still, game to game but they are the same basic type of trickster. Carlsen scores well against these flighty type players but when he faces dry positional players who do not need to always be calculating or doing something risky then he is starved of chances and is just a mere mortal. Give carlsen nothing and he will come back to earth. I think Nakamura has found something with the f3-Nimzo lines he has been playing even if he isn't finishing the job. No one is getting better positions with white vs Carlsen out of the opening. Other, better players should adopt this strategy. Sergey's QID seems to work well vs Carlsen on the black side. Players might want to look into that as well as d3 berlin lines and the L'Hermet lines that Fabiano has been playing. I feel like Carlsen is being solved slowly but surely.

Alcoholics anonymous's picture

"The only players he beat in this event were Mamedyarov and Nakamura who are both coffeehouse type players who like to take risks and involve smoke and mirrors in their games."

So how did the "coffehouse" player Nakamura get plus scores against Kramnik, Anand and Caruana? Moreover, how come Mamedyarov manage to finish on an even score in this year's Candidates?

"Carlsen scores well against these flighty type players but when he faces dry positional players who do not need to always be calculating or doing something risky then he is starved of chances and is just a mere mortal. Give carlsen nothing and he will come back to earth."

Let's consider just one solid positional player: Gelfand. In his last six classical games against Carlsen, he has scored one draw and zero wins. Any questions?

Anonymous's picture

Gelfand is a positional player like Aronian is...not a true positional player...

Huy's picture

Nonsense! Just like if Kortchnoi had played the French instead of the Pirc in game 32 against Karpov in '78, he would have become world champion? Riiiiiiight.

Still chess not let lend itself to simple mechanistic recipes.

Anonymous's picture

Why is the German always critisising nakamura. Always whingeing about invites and acting as though he doesn't belong. Is he not in the top ten for almost every rating list for 3-4 years now despite playing a number of lower tier events every year exposing himself to a bad streak against lesser competition and risking points? Is he not an entertaining player who has notched wins against every recent world champ but Carlsen? Is he not one of the worlds best blitz and rapid players ? Is he not on an even score against the field in this event? Did he not finish top half of the field in the GP series and 4th round world cup? Should his invites go to draw machine players like Leko or other currently weaker players who are unable to score against 2750+ opponents What is your obsession TO?

pioneer's picture

Well said. Thomas has had a grudge against Naka for years...4 years ago he said that Naka would never be taken among the chess elite; he's been backtracking ever since Naka won Wijk aan Zee and has been a fixture in the top 10.

Also, Richter is a HUGE Kramnik fan, so the fact that Naka (and Carlsen) have owned Vladdy drives him crazy.

Anonymous's picture

"Richter is a HUGE Kramnik fan, so the fact that Naka (and Carlsen) have owned Vladdy drives him crazy"

Hehe, remember when Naka was only +1 against Kramnik and he kept posting that it didn't really count since Kramnik probably would win the next game? Now he still keeps posting that Kramnik is likely to win the next game so +2 is a bit misleading :)

observer's picture

The rating system is responsive enough that if Caruana was always getting the same level of results that Carlsen does, he would soon close in on his rating. So far he hasn't, so he doesn't.
See for example how many times Ivanchuk's rating has fairly quickly bounced back from a disastrous bomb-out.
Or how quickly Aronian's rating was climbing towards Carlsen's before the Candidates.
Or take Kasparov's rating in 1981 - well below Karpov's. But from then on Kasparov started getting results as good as Karpov's and it was not long before he caught him.
Again Thomas is just coming up with some false BS argument to try and denigrate Carlsen.

Thomas has been refuted so many times that you would think that even for an Aspergers Syndrome person it would start to sink in. But no, nothing. It is hard to believe that Thomas is really this stupid. So I am starting to think he must be being paid to post all this drivel here. Maybe by Kramnik or Ilyumzhinov or Putin? There can hardly be any other explanation left.

Thomas Richter's picture

"Thomas has been refuted so many times" - at the very least, not this time:

When Caruana tied for first (before blitz tiebreak) with Carlsen at Bilbao 2012, he gained 16.6 points, Carlsen gained 4.6 points. A difference of 12 points, eight such events would be required to close an Elo gap of 100 points - about 1 to 1.5 years without a setback.

Similarly, Aronian gained 27 points from December 2013 until March 2014 - that's three months, at a constant pace it would take about a year to close a gap of 100 points. This assumes that he plays a supertournament every single month, which in practice isn't the case: not enough such events and the need for periods of rest.

Anonymous's picture

So, Caruana will never catch up with Carlsen, even if they always perform equally from now on?! How unfair! How is that even possible?

discedfromreality's picture

I have an advice for Nakamura. !!Just stay clear from tournaments with Carlsen in it!! If we take away the 0/10 score in their encounters, Magnus would be at 2880-50=2830 and Hikaru would come second on the list with 2770+50=2820~. Now we finally understand why he considers himself the greatest threat to the #1 position... Take care Carlsen, when Nakamura is no longer there, your rating with quickly erode, while his's will steeply climb!

observer's picture

Surely you SHOULD have to perform consistently at the level of the top guy for a year or a year and a half before you can be considered his equal. Just a couple of tournaments is not sufficient proof.

At the end of 1982, it was not considered that Kasparov was yet really quite at Karpov's strength. At the end of 1983, it certainly was.

observer's picture

Oh, and by the way, Aronian did not have 100 points to catch Carlsen, but only 70. But you slyly and dishonestly stick this 100 figure in there to try and give your argument credibility.

Thomas Richter's picture

I stick this 100 figure in there because the discussion was initially about Caruana. Anyway, these all are rough estimations - and if Caruana (or anyone else) will reach Carlsen's level of results in four out of five tournaments, he will be very close, still it will take even longer to be 'officially' equal to him.

A marathon runner can have four good races, and one where he has to drop out with an injury or cannot cope with extreme conditions (too hot, too cold, too windy, lots of rain, ...) - then what is his normal level? This is a bit analogous to being ill or having personal worries during a chess tournament, but anyone can also have isolated bad events for no apparent reason.

Of course others can insist that Carlsen is, and will always be far better than Caruana - while players with Elo 2680 are as good as Caruana (supporting this point with limited and outdated head-to-head scores).

Anonymous's picture

"others can insist that Carlsen is, and will always be far better than Caruana - while players with Elo 2680 are as good as Caruana (supporting this point with limited and outdated head-to-head scores)"

The problem isn't that anyone claims that Carlsen always will be far better than Caruana, or that this is supported with outdated scores, the problem is that you claimed that five mentioned players never would be able to have even scores against Caruana, and it then turned out that they taken together had a plus against him.

Your claim that these people questioning your statement mean that the mentioned players are as strong as Caruana is another false claim. No one stated that, obviously.

observer's picture

No, Thomas. The discussion was initially about Caruana. You then switched the discussion to Aronian and there again specifically mentioned 100 points. 100 is a lot different from 70, not just a "rough estimation". You then used this 100 point figure to try to justify your claim that it would take "forever" for Aronian to catch Carlsen. Very dishonest arguing.

If you are claiming that Carlsen is only at Caruana's level, then why wouldn't Carlsen EQUALLY have a race where he has to drop out/ a bad isolated event?
Once again your argument is specious.

Admit it. You don't like the rating system because it shows Carlsen to be the best player. You therefore try to discredit the rating system.

Anonymous's picture

delusional... obsessive...

Anonymous's picture

"Consistency is what makes Carlsen a better player "on average" but doesn't necessarily mean that his chess understanding is superior to Caruana's"

It's been said many times that Kramnik's chess understanding is superior to Carlsen's, while Carlsen gets better results for non chess related reasons (which Kramnik himself said). I think it's the same thing with Carlsen vs Caruana though - Carlsen gets the much better results because he has the much better chess understanding. In the long GP cycle Caruana finished behind Topalov and Mamedyarov, anyone see Carlsen doing that?


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