Teimour Radjabov retained the lead in the Geneva Grand Prix despite a quick draw against Alexander Riazantsev in the 8th round.
Alexander Grischuk could not catch Radjabov as his game with Shakhryar Mamedyarov was drawn after a lot of excitement. Grischuk held the advantage for the most of the game, but Mamedyarov found a fantastic exchange sacrifice that granted him excellent counterplay.
Pentala Harikrishna dropped from the shared second place after a loss to Li Chao. Black sacrificed a pawn in the Ragozin defence and his compensation was sufficient, but white rejected a draw offer and found a way to bring his forces into play.
Black slipped with 22…Bd5 and white stabilized his advantage. Li Chao pointed that 22…Bc6 was more challenging. It took a long time to convert into victory, but the Chinese never allowed a shadow of doubt.
Levon Aronian went all guns blazing with black pieces against Ian Nepomniachtchi and succeeded in creating just enough of chaos on the chessboard.
White kept his cool and defended with precision, aside from the moment when he allowed 24…Nxg2 25.Kxg2 Qxh3+, but black likely rejected this line due to massive simplification.
In the resulting position white had two pawns for the exchange, but his pieces were perfectly coordinated to support the phalanx and soon black had to admit the defeat. Nepomniachtchi celebrated his birthday in style and is now sharing the second place with Grischuk.
Richard Rapport played a solid opening, which soon resembled the French defence, but it didn’t take long before he started seeking complications.
Michael Adams accepted the challenge and efficiently exposed white’s structural defects. Black collected one pawn and after the time control he won another. White gave up on move 53.
In the longest game of the day Anish Giri demonstrated a brilliant endgame technique to score against Hou Yifan.
Black actually entered the ending being pawn down with pair of bishops as a compensation. But after the wonderful 29…f5, the poor coordination of white pieces was exposed. After a handful of moves it was black who was pawn up.
The resulting position with all rooks on the board was very difficult but Giri provided a lecture that will be quoted in all endgame manuals.
Round 8 standings:
1. GM Radjabov Teimour AZE 2724 – 5,5
2-3. GM Grischuk Alexander RUS 2761 and GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2742 – 5,0
4-9. GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar AZE 2800, GM Giri Anish NED 2775, GM Harikrishna Pentala IND 2737, GM Adams Michael ENG 2736, GM Li Chao B CHN 2735 and GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2654 – 4,5
10-13. GM Svidler Peter RUS 2749, GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2739, GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2728 and GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2703 – 4,0
14-15. GM Aronian Levon ARM 2809 and GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2707 – 3,5
16. GM Hou Yifan CHN 2666 – 2,5
17-18. GM Rapport Richard HUN 2694 and GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2638 2,0
Round 9 pairings:
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2742 – GM Radjabov Teimour 2724
GM Giri Anish 2775 – GM Grischuk Alexander 2761
GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2800 – GM Li Chao B 2735
GM Riazantsev Alexander 2654 – GM Adams Michael 2736
GM Harikrishna Pentala 2737 – GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2703
GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2707 – GM Gelfand Boris 2728
GM Svidler Peter 2749 – GM Hou Yifan 2666
GM Eljanov Pavel 2739 – GM Rapport Richard 2694
GM Aronian Levon 2809 – GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2638