By beating his compatriot Ernesto Inarkiev, Alexander Grischuk has taken sole lead again today, since Gashimov and Wang Yue both drew their games, against Cheparinov and Bacrot respectively. It was a round with some quick draws and some big mistakes, both as a result of tiredness. Luckily for the players the second rest day is tomorrow!
After about 2,5 hours the first game of the day finished: Cheparinov-Gashimov. Without preparation, Gashimov had come up with a very interesting novelty (8...f5) in an important line of the Nimzo-Indian – quite an amazing achievement already! ("I just wanted to play something new" - VG). White got a small advantage, but it wasn't very much. With some accurate manoeuvres (17…Bxd5!, 19…Nd7!, 22…Qe7!) Black reached a very solid position and was ready to attack White's weak pawn on c3, but 23.Bc6! was very strong. "Then I had nothing to play for," Gashimov said. White didn't have anything either, so what to do then, at the Grand Prix? "At the end we had to go for that stupid threefold repetition," was Cheparinov's clear answer.
"A Sicilian Dragon that was played until there were two kings left on the board", now doesn't that sound exciting? Unfortunately Karjakin-Carlsen was in fact the second game of the round that ended in a draw, after the position had become quite dry quite soon. The last thirty or so moves were played quickly by the players to reach the draw (and the rest day) as soon as possible. A tired Karjakin, who had suffered for five hours yesterday, explained: "Before the round I was in a fighting mood, but behind the board I couldn't calculate one single variation so I decided to exchange everything and go for a draw. The rook ending was slightly unpleasant and Black could have tried 38...Rd1 instead of 38...Kb6." Carlsen had missed this move has he "wasn't thinking that much anymore".
Adams beat Svidler with surprising ease – the Russian played an interesting new idea in the Sicilian Najdorf but then quickly made a mistake afterwards. "I was quite happy with 15...Qb8 [which seems to be a novelty - PD] as the rooks belong on the c-file. In this position White has two plans with his b3 knight: either to c1 followed by Nd3 or Na2-b4-d6, or to f1 followed by Ne3 or Ng3. My 16...Rc4 was wrong: I thought it would win a tempo for me in the first plan, but instead I lost a tempo in the second plan! Then I was just one tempo short in every line." Adams agreed with Svidler that Black has a good position after 16...Rc6: "It's hard to do anything with White." After that, according to Shipov, instead of 19...b6 Black should have tried 19…Rc4!? 20.Ne3 Rd4! 21.Ncd5 Bd8! with the idea to sacrifice the exchange for the e4 pawn. After Black's exchange sacrifice White was virtually winning already, but according to Adams 33...Qg5 would have been tougher than 33...Qf6.
Navara-Mamedyarov was a lucky win for the Azeri Grandmaster. The way he sat down for the press conference, without a smile and looking down, showed compassion for his opponent. "I completely missed 12.Bf4 and there White is slightly better. My plan with ...g5 and ...h5 was very risky and after 25.Nf2 White has a big advantage, maybe winning. I was lucky." It's interesting to compare this with Shipov's impression of the game: he considered Black's play aggressive and interesting, and felt Navara was defending all the time. The Czech himself felt, like Mamedyarov, he was better: "Unfortunately again I spoilt a good position. The immediate 20.Rb1 might be better but later I just missed 30…Bh4 and some more moves. Perhaps I could have played 35.Qb5." [There actually Black can answer 35...a4! and the pawn can't be taken. - PD] "But Shakhriyar just played stronger in the end."
Another local GM who couldn't complain today was Radjabov, who beat Kamsky after the American blundered on move 30. "I think Black should be OK there," Kamsky said, and Rajabov agreed – he considered 30...Qb3 very strong and was planning to force a draw there. He also suggested 20...b5!? instead of 20...dxc5 but still considered the position almost equal after 27.Qxc6. "Black can also play 29...Rc3 followed by 30...h5 and 31...Nh5 which should be OK." In the opening, Sergey Shipov didn't like 19...Ne5 so much but perhaps that was a matter of taste.
In Grischuk-Inarkiev Black played the opening very originally, combining ...a6 and ...Rb8 with ...e5 and ...Bf5, and it wasn't bad at all. Still, Grischuk got a slightly better ending and then gradually and skillfully outplayed his young rival. Inarkiev: "I was trying to complicate the game and then decided not to spend too much time, but this meant I wasn't thinking deeply enough and made some dubious moves." Grischuk, who complimented Inarkiev for his enterprising opening play, didn't like 17...Be6 and also criticised the phase afterwards, because "the ending with opposite-coloured bishops is very difficult and practically speaking almost completely lost." Inarkiev thought 17...Nd4 wasn't possible but according to Grischuk it was. At the press conference the players exchanged the following moves by head: 18.Bxd4 exd4 19.Nd5 Rd7 20.Nxd4 Bxd4 21.Rxd4 c6 22.e4 Bg4 23.f3 Be6 24.Rdd1 cxd5 25.cxd5 Rbd8! (this Inarkiev hadn't seen) "followed by ...Bxd5 and it's probably drawn" – Grischuk. Impressive calculation by the tournament leader! In the end, instead of 38...e5? according to Shipov 38...Kg7 was the last chance.
A very long and tough fight was Bacrot-Wang Yue, eventually drawn after 72 moves. In a sideline of the Petroff White got some pressure, and the Chinese GM decided to give an exchange for a pawn, and better structure. It looked strong, but both players had missed the reply 18.Qe2! (instead of 18.Qg3) which after 18…c6 19.Rb1 Bd6 20.Bf4 gives White a much better version than in the game - a probably winning advantage according to Bacrot's second Naiditsch. "But he's always very optimistic about my game," Bacrot said. Another mistake was 23.Rbd1 where 23.Re2 should have been played. The ending was very complicated. Bacrot went for activity on the kingside: "I felt I had to do something because the Black pawns were coming!" Like his opponent, Wang Yue wasn't sure either who was playing for a win after the time control. He regretted his 40th move and preferred 40…Ne4 afterwards.
The 10th round will be played on Friday, May 2. If you're also "not working" on May 1st, you might want to watch some of the interviews with the players!?