April 20, 2014 18:24

Carlsen Grabs Early Lead in Shamkir | Update: VIDEO

In Sunday's first round, Magnus Carlsen immediately took the lead in the A group of the Shamkir Chess 2014 tournament. The world champion won a smooth game against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a Cambridge-Springs where two inaccurate moves by Black were nicely punished. Teimour Radjabov returned to his old weapon, the French, and drew with Sergey Karjakin. Hikaru Nakamura overpressed against Fabiano Caruana in a Hedgehog, but survived as Caruana missed a (not so easy) win. In the B group all games ended peacefully.

In the first round of what is his first tournament in two months, Magnus Carlsen didn't show any rustiness. With a smooth victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov the world champion immediately took the lead in the Shamkir Chess tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov as both Karjakin-Radjabov and Nakamura-Caruana were drawn.

Update - here's our video report of the first round:

Unsurprisingly it was the Carlsen-Mamedyarov game that attracted most attention from the media. About fifteen photographers and cameramen tried to find a good spot, thereby blocking the view of some of the official cameras for a few minutes.

Carlsen started by moving his queen's pawn, and Mamedyarov had prepared the Cambridge-Springs variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. Interestingly, after ten moves a position was on the board which Carlsen had played against Boris Gelfand, last year at the Candidates’ Tournament, but then he was Black!

“Frankly I hadn't really looked at the line since. I was trying to figure out what the best plan is for White,” he said.

He could have expected the opening though, since Mamedyarov played it before and the position after 13 moves was played twice by Alexei Dreev, who is the second of Mamedyarov in Shamkir. However, the two need to have a word about what happened today, because a few moves out of theory Black was already in a very difficult position.

The typical pawn break 17…c5 didn't work well, and then 21…Ng6 also helped White. It was because of these moves that GM Simen Agdestein called Mamedyarov's play “naive” today.

PGN string

Speaking of Norwegians, it's good to note that the country has really caught the “chess fever”. Just like with the Zurich tournament in February, this event is being broadcast live on Norwegian TV every day!


The other Azeri grandmaster, Teimour Radjabov, faced Sergey Karjakin in what was his first classical game since the European Team Championship in November. “I didn't play for a long time but that doesn't mean that I didn't train,” Radjabov said.

As Black he returned to his favorite opening when he was a teenager: the French Defense. “Somehow I found it quite funny to try it for the first time in ten years.”

Karjakin somewhat surprised him by playing the Tarrasch, whereas Radjabov was more prepared for 3.Nc3. White got a pleasant advantage out of the opening, and then found the interesting plan of trading queens and incarcerating Black's bishop.

And so today both Azeri GMs were playing with a “silent bishop”, but for Radjabov the defensive task was much easier. However, then he took some unnecessary risks with a pawn sac on 38, much to the surprise of Karjakin. The Russian grandmaster might have missed a more accurate continuation on move 40.

PGN string

At the press conference one of the journalists remarked that Radjabov had lost some weight. The Azeri's explanation: “I was always into sport, but I used to eat more after it. Now I eat less.”

The third game, between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, started as an English but soon became a Hedgehog that could have started as a Sicilian as well. However, White's piece set-up was a bit different and the American liked it for White, but then he found it hard to find a good plan for the middlegame.

For a dozen or so moves the game resembled a trench warfare where nobody dared to shoot the first bullet. Around move thirty the players repeated moves, but Nakamura decided to play on, thinking he was still a bit better. His opinion soon changed, though. “Right around here I started losing my mind for no reason.”

Black got a beautiful knight on c5 and could also improve his pieces, and Nakamura was right when he said at the press conference that he should have been lost somewhere. The engines found a win with 54…Bh5+, but the lines are quite complicated and Caruana was down to three and a half minutes. Just after the second time control he gave up his winning attempts.

PGN string

In the B group all games in this first round were drawn. The top game of the round was Wang Hao vs Bacrot, who played a 6.h3 King's Indian.

PGN string

Eljanov and Mamedov played a Budapest Gambit, which is enjoying a new wave of popularity these days. If anyone could win in this game it was Black:

PGN string

In general it was a good start for the Azeri GMs, because Durarbayli and Abasov managed to hold their games as Black against Wojtaszek and Motylev respectively. Tomorrow is the second round, again starting 12:00 Amsterdam, 6am New York and 3am Los Angeles time.

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 - Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Caruana   Caruana - Nakamura
Karjakin ½½- Radjabov   Radjabov - Karjakin
Round 2 21.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 7 27.04.14 15:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Radjabov   Radjabov - Mamedyarov
Caruana - Karjakin   Karjakin - Caruana
Carlsen - Nakamura   Nakamura - Carlsen
Round 3 22.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 8 28.04.14 15:00 AZST
Nakamura - Mamedyarov   Mamedyarov - Nakamura
Karjakin - Carlsen   Carlsen - Karjakin
Radjabov - Caruana   Caruana - Radjabov
Round 4 23.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 9 29.04.14 15:00 AZST
Karjakin - Mamedyarov   Caruana - Mamedyarov
Radjabov - Nakamura   Radjabov - Carlsen
Caruana - Carlsen   Karjakin - Nakamura
Round 5 24.04.14 15:00 AZST   Round 10 30.04.14 13:00 AZST
Mamedyarov - Caruana   Mamedyarov - Karjakin
Carlsen - Radjabov   Nakamura - Radjabov
Nakamura - Karjakin   Carlsen - Caruana

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


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

Shame on Carlsen, playing weak players like Mamedyarov. The organizers could have invited Aronian, who would have truly tested Carlsen, but they just keep coming up with lame excuses like "occupied territory" and the like. Players like Volokitin and Svidler, who have plus scores against Carlsen, are never invited to these events. Disgraceful.

Wu Hu's picture

You are not really bright, are you :) Goes well with arrogance...Mamedyarov is of course a great player, you are a nobody. Players who have good score vs Carlsen achieved that when Carlsen was young, and if they meet now over the board they would get crushed.

AngeloPardi's picture

The first comment might be ironical. It might be.

Chris's picture

Mame is a strong player candidate for WC

The Golden Knight's picture

New world record in live rating for Magnus!

The Golden Knight's picture

Hehe....2885,7 that should be ;)

Webbimio's picture

They could also have invited the great Capablanca or Fischer, even better tests (especially after 1 year of preparation), but they just keep coming up with lame excuses like "they are dead" and the like.

kcmclvr's picture

What a nice reply!!!

Webbimio's picture

(Was answering the first post)

Mountebank's picture

After the incredible blunder of 1...d5, the game ceased to have any interest for TR and S3. How could a 2760 player make a move like that? Pure luck yet again for MC.

Snja's picture

Mamedyarov is a great player, but what Carlsen did today is amazing, proven by the sequences of the engines between moves 20 and 30 https://arena.chessdom.com/#/stream_tournaments/show/102 , it is staggering how he exploited the minimal advantage...

Thomas Richter's picture

"Mamedyarov is a great player"- well, maybe not today: Putting his bishop out of play and conceding the d-file were things he did to himself, not something Carlsen achieved with 'amazing' moves.

Sequences of engine moves (with the assessment gradually increasing in favor of white) do not 'prove' anything in particular, it could mean two things: 1) Horizon effects, e.g. the engine used at chess24.com assesses the position after 22.-Re6?! as +0.58 (first line 23.h5 Ne7 24.Rd8+), and the white advantage increases to +0.76 after 23.h5 and +1.17 after 23.-Ne7 - so far both played the best moves, now Carlsen misses 24.Rd8+ finishing the game much earlier. 2) inaccuracies by black [Peter Doggers mentions two in the express report, "More Later").

Let's have a look at moves 21-30, how/why was Carlsen 'amazing'? 21.Be3 (the bishop had to move somewhere, and e3 seems logical - attacking c5 in case black tries to break free with -b5) 21.-Ng6?! (conceding the d-file) 22.Qd3 (thank you for the d-file) 22.-Re6?! 23.h5 (logical after the earlier 20.h4) 23.-Ne7 24.Rd6?! (the rook had to move, and this isn't the best field - 24.Rd8+!) 24.-Bb4 25.Rc1 (on his way to the d-file - OK the pawn on a2 is now unprotected but black can hardly take it) 25.-Re8 26.Rxe6 (creating a pawn weakness and light-squared weaknesses around the king) 26.-fxe6 27.Nh4 (exchanging the black knight makes sense if you are de facto a piece up) 27.-Qc6 28.a3 (putting the bishop even further out of play) 28.-Ba5 29.Rd1 (occupying the open file) 29.-Qc7 30.Ng6 (plan continued).

Anyone can disagree with me, but then try to refute what I wrote rather than calling me a Carlsen hater ... .

igor's picture

True, not amazing at all as TO would easily have played these logical moves himself :-)

igor's picture

... former TO = TR now

Frits Fritschy's picture

Extremely lazy comment.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I'm not very much impressed with the Houdini variation form the official site after 24 Rd8+. It lets black exchange his dead bishop on a3, wins a piece, but gives black lots of counterplay. What Carlsen played looks much better to a human like me and your subsequent comments don't prove the opposite.

RG13's picture

Houdini 'knows' that the counterplay probably wont work against an engine.

Frits Fritschy's picture

As I said, I don't trust the engine evaluation at all here. What Carlsen did, looks excellent to me, although he didn't have exert himself. Let the engine run a little longer and probably it will come up with variations that undermine earlier conclusions.
Sometimes simple human logic will do.

Anonymous's picture

It's so predictable that it isn't even funny anymore - every time Carlsen wins a game one can expect these endless rants reeking of bitterness :)

observer's picture

Incredible, isn't it? It really is like Pavlov's dog. Any sort of praise for Carlsen and here he is.

Anonymous's picture

I don't think you're a Carlsen hater, but you do seem to have gone through an awful lot of trouble to disprove that Carlsen's play was "amazing", as if it mattered much what amateurs on a chess forum call it. Maybe you should cut yourself some slack and just let some things go :)

Anonymous's picture

I wouldn't say you're a Carlsen hater, but it seems you went through an awful lot of trouble to disprove that his play was "amazing", as if it mattered very much what amateurs on a chess forum call it.

Leo's picture

(... says Leo.)

Frits Fritschy's picture

Well, Leo, one amateur is amazed by Carlsen's play and another is less impressed.Let's try to find some not too subjective evidence to prove or disprove anybody's point.

Thomas Richter's picture

My impression is that some amateurs are 'automatically' and 'routinely' impressed by anything Carlsen ever does because he is Carlsen. If someone else had beaten Mamedyarov in similar fashion, it might be considered a normal game where black played badly by super-GM standards.

Leo's picture

Agreed; some are "routinely" amazed by what he does, others just as routinely unimpressed. Does it really matter to the extent that we need to come up with "proof" either way, though? (And if your answer is "yes", how come you don't seem that eager to make an effort disproving claims that Carlsen wins are "lucky", "cheap" etc.? Perhaps semantics are not as important then?)

Frits Fritschy's picture

Well, I made clear I didn't agree with the comment that 24 Rd8+ was a better move. By the way, you're the only one using the words 'lucky' and 'cheap' here.

Leo's picture

Frits, I was rather directing my comment at Thomas. I just found it odd that he would go through all that trouble to argue against someone praising Carlsen's play, whether that praise was unjustified or not.
"By the way, you're the only one using the words 'lucky' and 'cheap' here." Now, what on earth is that supposed to mean? Clearly, I wasn't saying that you or anyone else used those words in this case; only that some often do, and that I haven't seen Thomas rushing to disprove *that* kind of routine comment.

Anonymous's picture

Yes, but that is a part of fanboyism and players having fanboys means more attention, press, events and interesting in general. It's good for the game T.O. Instead of relieving yourself in out punch bowl, perhaps you could let your freak flag fly and join in the fun!

Anonymous's picture

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

Anonymous's picture

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

observer's picture

He he, good stuff, keep it up.
You may have to keep going a while, however. It can take 10-20 times or more for it to sink in with asperger's people than normal people. People like Thomas just don't 'get' it.

Anonymous's picture

You're right. Posters on the spectrum are easy to spot, and Richter is one of them.

Pioneer's picture

Carlsen did what he always does...play multiple great/best moves in a row and pounce on any inaccuracy. To call that anything less than amazing is ridiculous...especially since he's more than 70 points higher than #2 in the world and more than 100 points higher than the WCC challenger.

WCC2013's picture

Right because carlsen didn't play amazing moves that put such pressure on Shakh he became desperate enough to play an objectively bad move.

And yes for the record, you are a carlsen hater. :)

Huy's picture

"Putting his bishop out of play and conceding the d-file were things he did to himself, not something Carlsen achieved with 'amazing' moves."

Strictly speaking, this you can't know.

kcmclvr's picture

@Thomas Richter, frankly you're wasting your talent! It's no big deal calling readers who know little about Chess to refute your conclusions. I honestly believe that things look simple or easily explainable once a game is played and Computer analysis not withstanding. What it really matter is how a player thinks and acts at any given moment. The ifs and buts of it is relevant only when the analysis is live. However, I do not consider you as a Carlsen hater. I wish you should aim to become a Carlsen beater by further nurturing your confident analysis rather than calling viewers to refute. At our level your challenge and refutation of it by another of your type simply makes no point considering the high level modern Chess is being played by the top 15 to 20 players of the world.

Frits Fritschy's picture

The computer evauations are a bigger surprise to me than Carlsen's play. Why doesn't Houdini give a big question mark after 17... c5? After that, black is more or less a piece down. Of course, I'm writing this with hindsight, but if I would have to mark the point of the game that tilted the balance, it was there. The 'minimal advantage' might in this case be just a very bad computer evaluation.

Thomas Richter's picture

You may be right that the engine line with Rd8+ is unconvincing, or at least complicated and risky from a human perspective, and Carlsen's move is safer keeping control. As to 17.-c5?!, maybe the black position is still holdable thereafter (for engines!) if he doesn't also surrender the d-file.

During the opening, I also had to think of the best (or at least highest-level) live commentary I ever witnessed in Wijk aan Zee, quite a few years ago by Timman and Sokolov. They considered the Cambridge-Springs variation suspicious because black gets 'silly' pieces on the queenside - in the best case they are exchanged and it's a draw, else black has to suffer (or something along these lines, don't remember details).

'Repairing' the line might include a timely prophylactic 14.-Rfe8, as played by Carlsen against Gelfand and by Mamedyarov's second Dreev. Then black is better prepared for the -c5 break, maybe in other situations he can also go for -e5 - did Mamedyarov simply forget about this move (14.-Tac8 wasn't really needed at this stage!?) ? Not that I know anything about a line I don't play with either color myself.

Webbimio's picture

Actually I couldn't hear nothing from the press conference of the game Carlsen-Mamedyarov. Can someone help?

Lattas's picture

I can't understand why they still use the old system, where two persons must play same colours two first round. Why can't they use my perfect system? In first round it's so easy that 1-number who can be divided with 2, but not the smallest or biggest number. When 6 players, it must be 1-4 in first round! Watch here: http://home.online.no/~larasten/terminlister.html

Tarjei's picture

Lattas, in your system player number 1 has white in rounds 3 and 4. That's a worse alternative.

Anonymous's picture

Agree with Thomas, no one should praise Carlsen for this game, he did nothing and deserves nothing.

Anonymous's picture

Nakamura deserved to lose today like Carlsen deserved to lose to him in Zurich. And they say there is no luck in chess. Caruana is the future. He will be the one to end Carlsen's reign of terror.

xxx's picture

Why is Radjabov playing in group A and Wang Hao in group B?

LennartMeier's picture

Because it is not just any tournament, but a memorial tournament for Gashimov, so it has to be taken into account that Radjabov is from Azerbaijan and knew Gashimov quite well.
In addition, one might remember how strong Radjabov was just two years ago. He might come back to form at some point.

S3's picture

Carlsen steals points from low rated players and hides against big dogs

Leko's picture

Let Carlsen gain some more confidence in these kindergarden events and one day he will be ready to face the likes of Houdini and Ivanov

S3's picture

Another Carlsen fanboy!

Leko's picture

Omg! Where? Catch and capture!


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