In what was the shortest round in FIDE Grand Prix in Tashkent so far, five out of six games finished in a draw but the only decisive game Gelfand-Jobava has changed the situation in the tournament. Baadur Jobava joined Dmitry Andreikin and Hikaru Nakamura at the top. All other games finished in a draw. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov are only half a point behind the leaders and the last three rounds will be decisive for the final results of the tournament. The ninth round will start at 2 pm local time on 31st of October.
Caruana 1/2 – 1/2 Kasimdzhanov
A very quiet line of Queen’s Gambit Accepted, where White exchanged Queens at very early stage of the game after 7.dc5. Normally White has good chances to get some advantage in this line, but today it was not the case, and Rustam achieved very pleasant position. Perhaps, Fabiano should not enter tactical complications after 21.Nc6, which looks as inaccuracy. Resulting endgame with Rooks and opposite-coloured Bishops was already better for Black. With an extra pawn former world champion pressed for a win, but Caruana hold a draw.
Giri 1/2–1/2 Jakovenko
Both players followed steps of the game Bacrot-Nisipeanu, 2013, until move 22. In that game White played 22.Rd7, and only then Anish deviated with 22.Qd3. This move basically did not change anything, though. Right after the opening Black went for unbalanced posistion after exchanging his Queen for Rook, Bishop, and pawn in an attempt to build a fortress. Dmitry Jakovenko successfully did so and it’s very difficult to indicate any serious improvement of White’s play in this endgame.
Nakamura 1/2–1/2 Radjabov
Radjabov surprised Hikaru with his opening choice ( Ragozin variation of Queen’ Gambit ), and White avoided principle continuations. Queens left the board very quickly, and Teimour did not experience any problem whatsoever. Another quiet draw of this peaceful round.
Andreikin 1/2-1/2 Vachier-Lagrave
Andreikin tried a new idea 12.Bc4!? ( 12. Be2 was tried in a blitz game between Eljanov and Aronian) in Maxime’s favorite Grunfeld defence. French player could not remember his home preparation but confidentally sacrificed a pawn by playing 14…c5! Black got a pair of Bishops and activity as a compenstation for a small material deficit, and probably Dmitry felt it would be too risky for him to avoid a repetion of moves.
Mamedyarov 1/2 – 1/2 Karjakin
An impressive example of Karjakin’s home preparation! Increasingly popular 4.f3 line of Nimzo-Indian defence with extremely sharp and messy position arised from the opening. Sergey was following his homework and played quickly, trying to put some extra pressure on his opponent. At some point White had Rook and a very strong pawn pair d-e for two Knights. Even though Black’s position looked terribly dangerous, but powerful Sergey’s defensive moves 25…cd5! 26…Na6! and especially 35…Nf4!! let Shahriyar no choice but to force a draw.
Gelfand 0-1 Jobava.
The only decisive game of the round eight. As usually, Baadur deviated from main theory by choosing 1…e6 and 2…b6 and Boris played an opening very agressively! It seems 8.Qg4 gave Black good conter play. 14.Qg3?! is a serious inaccuracy (14.Qg2! was better). With a tactical trick 14…Ndf6! Black created a strong pressure on the Kingside, forcing White Knight to h3, where it was completely misplaced. Baadur continued to play energetically, posing one problem after another, and in time-trouble White’s position collpased…Great game from Baadur Jobava, who caught up with Andreikin and Nakamura on the top.