An instructive Neo-Grünfeld middlegame transition idea ⎸2018 Candidates, Round 13

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs Alexander Grischuk, D78, Neo-Grünfeld Defense, Classical variation, Modern Defense
2018 Chess Candidates Tournament, Round 13, Berlin, Germany, 3/26/18

The Candidates tournament has become a close three-way race for 1st place! Mamedyarov and Grischuk played a decisive game in round 13, which literally decided which one of them would join Caruana and Karjakin in the running for the opportunity to challenge Magnus Carlsen! If they drew, neither would stand a chance (perhaps not even theoretically), but with a win, they both stood great chances!

Mamedyarov played a somewhat strange Neo Grünfeld middlegame in which he declined to play e4, which is the most common idea in the variation. They entered an equal position in which white was slightly better, but definitely not enough to win, and with both sides having dangerous pawns. Grischuk made a decisive mistake due to miscalculation which was probably caused by time trouble. On move 34. he played the losing move and gave Mamedyarov an easy victory. This means that Shakhriyar now stands a chance to win! He is at 7.5, and if Caruana doesn’t win in the last round anything is possible. Stay tuned for round 14! Cheers!

Standings after round 13:
Fabiano Caruana 8/13
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 7.5/13
Sergey Karjakin 7.5/13
Ding Liren 7/13
Alexander Grischuk 6.5/13
Vladimir Kramnik 6/13
Wesley So 5.5/13
Levon Aronian 4/13

*The Grünfeld Defense usually occurs after the moves:
1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 d5, but in this position it was achieved by a different move order (by transposition).

*The Neo Grünfeld Defense (D70-79) is characterized by white waiting to develop his queenside knight with Nc3, and it normally occurs after:
1.d4 Nf6
2.g3 g6
3.c4 d5


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