Shankland Out as Semis Kick Off at FIDE Grand Prix Leg 2

GM Sam Shankland was on pins and needles, helplessly watching the evaluation bar swing back and forth. (Not that he needs an evaluation bar, mind you. But it helps with the lede.)

After a tepid draw with GM Alexander Grischuk in the final round of Pool A action, Shankland was forced to wait for the result of the game between GM Dmitry Andreikin and Etienne Bacrot to know his fate. He would proceed to the FIDE Grand Prix 2 Semi-Finals with a Bacrot win, and to tiebreaks with Andreikin in the case of a draw.

But in one of the wilder games of this Grand Prix, Andreikin came back to defeat Bacrot in a tactical slugfest.

[pgn][Event "FIDE Grand Prix 2 Pool A"] [Site "Belgrade SRB"] [Date "2022.03.07"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Andreikin, Dmitry"] [Black "Bacrot, Etienne"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D27"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2642"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2022.03.01"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O a6 7. Nbd2 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bc5 9. N4b3 Be7 10. Be2 b5 11. a4 bxa4 12. Rxa4 O-O 13. Nc4 Bd7 14. Ra1 Nc6 15. Nbd2 Nd5 16. Nf3 Ncb4 17. Bd2 Qb8 18. Nce5 Bb5 19. Bxb5 Qxb5 20. Nd4 Qb7 21. Qb3 Qc7 22. Ndf3 Rfb8 23. Rfc1 Qd6 24. e4 Nc6 $5 {[#] This is a deceptively quiet position; as play proceeds, we see how difficult the tactics are, especially with a ticking clock.} (24... Nf6 $14) 25. Qxb8+ $1 (25. Rxc6 Rxb3 26. Rxd6 Bxd6 27. exd5 Bxe5 28. Nxe5 Rxb2 29. Nf3 (29. Bc3 Rc2) 29... exd5 $13) 25... Nxb8 (25... Rxb8 $2 {loses to} 26. Rxc6 ({or} 26. Nxc6) 26... Qd8 27. Rcxa6) 26. Rc8+ Bf8 (26... Bd8 $2 27. exd5 Qxd5 28. Ra5 $1 {(trying to remove the bishop's guard)} Qd6 29. Ra4 $1 {with the idea of Ra4-d4}) 27. exd5 exd5 $2 ({Better is} 27... Qxd5 {as now if White tries to get the rook to the d-file with} 28. Ra4 {there is} Nd7 $1 29. Rxa8 Nxe5) ({The computer gives} 27... f6 {and after} 28. Nc6 Nxc6 29. Rxa8 Qxd5 {it's anyone's game}) 28. Rac1 (28. Re1 $1 {(trying to get the rook to the back-rank!)}) 28... f6 29. Nc6 (29. Nd3 {followed by Rc1-e1 is the same idea as on the previous move}) 29... a5 ({ Here Black had to try} 29... Nxc6 30. Rxa8 Qd7 $1 {with the idea of ...Qd7-b7. If} 31. Rxa6 Ne5 32. Nxe5 fxe5 {it's not clear whether the two rooks or the queen are favored. I suspect it's the rooks, though, given Black's slightly worse king safety.}) 30. Rd8 ({The computer gives} 30. Ncd4 $1 {with the idea of Rc8-e8 and Rc1-c8. Very hard to see for flesh and blood, although it is certainly thematic with what we've looked at above.}) 30... Qc7 31. Nfd4 Qb7 ({ There's still} 31... Nxc6 $1 32. Rxa8 Qb7 $1) 32. Nxa5 Qxb2 33. Ndb3 $6 Kf7 34. Bf4 Bb4 35. Rc7+ $2 {Chasing the king out of the kill zone.} ({Relatively best is} 35. Rxd5) 35... Kg6 36. Rg8 Bxa5 $1 37. Nxa5 (37. Rcxg7+ Kf5 $1) 37... Rxa5 ({The cold-blooded} 37... Kf5 $1 {nearly wins on the spot.}) 38. g4 {White threatens mate in one. How can Black stop it?} Nd7 (38... f5 $3 {and the queen guards g7!}) 39. Rxd7 Qb1+ $2 {Now there's no way back. The white king dances to safety, and without checks, mate is unavoidable.} (39... f5 {still draws after pitching the knight for nothing!}) 40. Kg2 Qe4+ 41. Kg3 Ra3+ 42. Kh4 1-0 [/pgn]

Never a man to mince words, Shankland admitted his frustration Monday on Twitter.

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He then followed up today with this:

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Shankland finished second in Pool A with five draws and one win against GM Alexander Grischuk, who suffered a difficult event for obvious reasons.

[pgn][Event "FIDE Grand Prix 2 Pool A"] [Site "Belgrade SRB"] [Date "2022.03.02"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Shankland, Sam"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E32"] [WhiteElo "2708"] [BlackElo "2764"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2022.03.01"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 d5 7. Nf3 b6 8. Bg5 dxc4 9. Qxc4 c5 $5 {Almost unknown.} 10. dxc5 bxc5 11. Nd2 ({Black has good compensation after} 11. Qxc5 Nbd7 12. Qd4 Ba6 (12... Bb7) (12... h6)) 11... Ba6 12. Qc2 ({Now} 12. Qxc5 $2 Nbd7 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Qc3 Qxc3 15. bxc3 Rfc8 {gives Black full compensation.}) 12... h6 13. Bh4 Nbd7 14. e3 Bxf1 15. Rxf1 $5 ({It's no easier to castle after} 15. Nxf1 Qa5+ 16. Nd2 Qa6) 15... c4 16. Ke2 {A very human move, but a slow one. Black now begins to cause trouble.} (16. Nxc4 Rc8 17. b3 a5 18. a4 Qc7 19. Bg3 Qb7 $13) 16... Qb8 17. Bg3 Qb7 18. f3 Rfc8 (18... Rac8 $142 $5 {[%cal Gd7c5,Gf6d5] saving the d-file for the other rook}) 19. Rfc1 Nc5 20. Qxc4 Nce4 21. Qb3 Qa6+ 22. Nc4 Rc6 $2 {There's no reason to temporarily give this piece, but we can excuse Grischuk for being distracted.} (22... Nxg3+ 23. hxg3 Rc7 24. Rc2 Rac8 25. Rac1 Nd7 $11) 23. fxe4 Rac8 24. Qd3 $1 Rxc4 25. Rxc4 Qxc4 (25... Rxc4 $2 26. Rc1 $18) 26. Qxc4 Rxc4 27. Kd3 Rc8 28. Rd1 (28. b4 $5 Rd8+ 29. Kc4 Nxe4 30. Kb5) 28... Rd8+ 29. Ke2 Rxd1 30. Kxd1 Nxe4 {Bishop versus knight with a queenside majority... this would be hard to defend under any circumstances.} 31. Kc2 Kf8 32. Kd3 Nxg3 33. hxg3 Ke7 34. Kc4 h5 35. Kc5 Kd7 36. b4 g5 37. b5 h4 38. gxh4 gxh4 39. a4 1-0 [/pgn]

Andreikin will meet GM Anish Giri in the semi-finals. Giri took Pool B by a full point, with wins over Vitiugov and Tabatabaei. In the other semi-final, GM Richard Rapport emerged from Pool C and will face GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from Pool D.

With two seats in the Candidates up for grabs in this Grand Prix cycle, every qualification point counts. Here’s how things stand heading into the Leg 2 semi-finals.

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With almost 70% of games drawn, it’s clear that this format — four individual pools feeding into knockout playoffs — rewards caution. Still, there was no small number of fighting games in Belgrade, with veteran GM Alexey Shirov winning one of the most interesting of them.

[pgn][Event "FIDE Grand Prix 2 Pool C"] [Site "Belgrade SRB"] [Date "2022.03.06"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Shirov, Alexei"] [Black "Fedoseev, Vladimir3"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B33"] [WhiteElo "2704"] [BlackElo "2704"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2022.03.01"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Ne7 9. c4 Nf5 10. Bd3 g6 11. O-O a6 12. Nc3 Bg7 13. Bxf5 $5 {An engine darling, but rarely played in this position where no less than 12 moves have been tried according to the database.} Bxf5 14. Be3 O-O 15. Qb3 $5 {One assumes that Shirov is still in preparation here, but this is a roll of the dice. Black gets a lot of kingside activity now.} Bd3 16. Rfc1 e4 17. c5 f5 18. cxd6 f4 19. Bb6 Qg5 $2 {A logical move, but now those d-pawns wreak havok and the white king remains safe!} ({The 'obvious'} 19... Qxd6 {is met with} 20. Bc7 Qxc7 21. Nxe4 Qxc1+ 22. Rxc1 Bxe4 {with an interesting material imbalance. Probably White is not worse, but I'd definitely rather have the bishops and the rooks!}) (19... Qd7 $5) 20. d7 $1 f3 (20... Kh8 21. d6 f3 22. g3 { transposes}) 21. d6+ Kh8 22. g3 Qf5 (22... e3 {goes for broke:} 23. Bxe3 Qf5 24. Kh1 Qxd7 (24... Qh3 25. Rg1) 25. Nd5 $1 Be2 26. Bh6 $1 {and White will win} (26. Rc7 $2 Qh3 27. Rg1 Bf1)) ({If} 22... Qh5 {(or 22. ... Qg4)} 23. Nd5 Qh3 24. Ne3 {stops all the tricks on g2}) 23. Nd5 Qh3 24. Ne3 Qxd7 25. Rc7 Qxd6 26. Rac1 Rg8 27. Ba5 Bb5 28. Rxb7 Rac8 29. Rc2 $2 {Almost a stumble at the finish line.} (29. Rxc8 $1 Rxc8 30. Bc3 $1) 29... Rxc2 30. Qxc2 Rd8 (30... Qc6 $1 { holds everything together}) 31. Qb3 ({Cleaner is} 31. Bxd8 Qxd8 32. h4) 31... Rc8 $2 (31... Rd7 {struggles on}) 32. Bc3 $1 1-0 [/pgn]

The semi-finals of the second leg of the 2022 FIDE Grand Prix begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific. Both the semi-finals and finals are two-game mini-matches, followed by rapid tiebreaks if needed.

The third and final leg of the Grand Prix begin March 21 in Berlin. No less than five Americans — Aronian, Dominguez, Nakamura, Shankland, and So — will be in action, all hoping for that golden ticket to the 2022 Candidates.

Quick links:

Official World Chess website event coverage event coverage
Lichess group stage coverage
Lichess knockout coverage


Fabulous easy to understand coverage.Thank you. ..make no mistake there will be many more rodeos for the incredible Shankland who is grandmaster guest number one on lists all over the world.He knows how work the road and to behave in
the world class gentlemanly manner on the road , America's working class hero. Kindly note courteous congratulations. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

For readers worldwide collecting at a rapidly mushrooming rate the all time classic sparky but truly true heartless Hartmannisms please kindly add "chasing the king out ot the kill zone " to yourvery own list for future plagirism.. Man, school recess is over when you read this page.You have to sit up straight, behave and pay attention to teacher. All sorts of voodoo things be happening in tiny notes.Get Tarjan in there also. He will take you .believe me another world. He knew all the greats, played them all and beat a monster world champion even in the twilight of Tarjan's career. plus GRANDMASTER TARJAN I.E".Gentleman Jim"is a disgustingly world class operation all the way down the line.
. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

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