After 67 consecutive classical games without a loss, GM Wesley So’s streak ended today in the opening round of Shamkir Chess 2017, colloquially known as the Vugar Gashimov Memorial. The streak dated back to last summer and ended when he blundered right on the time control.
All photos courtesy official site.
Playing Black, the top Azeri grandmaster GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov defended his home turf nicely. He rebuffed So’s rare opening choice — the Scotch, which had only been employed a handful of times for the new U.S. champion, although it had been used by So in 2015 to defeat Grenke winner GM Levon Aronian.
The move 8…a5 isn’t seen often, although it did sparkle for a top Norwegian GM so Mamedyarov tried out “Hammertime” himself:
The win comes on the heels of Mamedyarov also defeating So in the PRO Chess League, which didn’t interrupt “the streak” since the 67 games only referred to classical chess. Today of course did end the impressive run.
GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov didn’t play great in the first two editions of his country’s flagship event, but the last year has gone quite well.
The Azeris had a zero-sum day, however. GM Pavel Eljanov picked up the only other win of the round, as his knight defeated GM Teimor Radjabov’s bishop despite pawns on both sides in the ending.
GM Pavel Eljanov (left) showed that there’s teeth even in elementary endings against GM Teimour Radjabov.
You can blame the sameness of bishop color and pawn square color for that as Eljanov had no trouble sliding in on the dark squares.
Eljanov has already equalled the number of wins he had last year. In 2016, he finished second to last, only defeating the last-place finisher. Of course, since that event he had a number of successes, including team silver at the Baku Chess Olympiad and winning the Chess.com Isle of Man International.
The other three games ended without anyone making serious headway. Draws were reached in GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek–GM Vladimir Kramnik, GM Veselin Topalov–GM Michael Adams, and GM Sergey Karjakin–GM Pentala Harikrishna.
The tournament is a nine-round round-robin with the time control 40/120, 20/60, SD/15+30 seconds increment beginning move 61. Games will be played every day from April 21-April 30 with the exception of April 26, the lone rest day.