The third annual Shamkir Chess supertournament, dedicated to the memory of Vugar Gashimov, was held at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Shamkir, Azerbaijan between May 26 and June 4, 2016. The tournament was a ten-player round robin; rounds 1 to 8 started at 15:00 local time (11:00 UTC), while round 9 started at 14:00 local time. The only rest day was on May 31, between rounds 5 and 6.
Although World Champion Magnus Carlsen, winner of the first two Gashimov Memorials, did not return in 2016, the tournament still had a very strong line-up. Five of the players (Caruana, Giri, Karjakin, Eljanov and Harikrishna) were ranked in the world's top 13, with Caruana at #2 and Giri at #4; Karjakin was the World Championship challenger. Women's World Champion Hou Yifan and top Azeri grandmasters Mamedyarov, Radjabov, Safarli and Mamedov completed the list of players. The time control was 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting on move 61. Draw agreements were not allowed before move 41.
The tie-break criteria were: 1. number of wins; 2. head-to-head score; 3. Sonneborn-Berger. In case of a two-player tie for first place, a playoff match would decide the winner.
All five games in the first round were drawn, although Safarli-Eljanov was a wild rollercoaster game in which both sides missed winning lines after Black sacrificed a piece. The second round saw three decisive games; Caruana found a winning zugzwang as Black in a queen and rook endgame against Eljanov, while Harikrishna won against Mamedyarov in 33 moves as White and Giri, also with White, defeated Karjakin in 68 moves after a complicated endgame.
Caruana moved into sole lead after round 3, winning against Hou Yifan as White. Karjakin had excellent winning chances after an early oversight by Harikrishna; he eventually converted his advantage on move 62. Mamedyarov, with an endgame win over Eljanov, also rebounded from his second-round loss.
Caruana scored his third consecutive win in the fourth round, defeating Mamedov as Black; meanwhile, Giri scored the tournament's shortest win in his game against Harikrishna, sacrificing a pawn and a piece and forcing the Indian's resignation on move 27. The fifth round saw four decisive games, with both Caruana (as White against Radjabov) and Giri (as Black against Safarli) winning again; Eljanov's shaky play also continued, as he lost a sharp game against Harikrishna. Karjakin moved into sole third place with an endgame win against Hou, while Mamedyarov-Mamedov was the only drawn game of the round. Before the rest day Caruana was in the lead with +4, with Giri on +3 and Karjakin on +1.
The sixth round didn't change the standings, as all five games were drawn; Caruana won a pawn against Safarli with aggressive play as Black, but drifted into time trouble and failed to convert his advantage. In the seventh round Eljanov scored his first win, as White against Hou Yifan; Mamedyarov also won with White, defeating Safarli after mutual inaccuracies in the only game between two Azeri players to not be drawn. Mamedyarov continued his move in round 8, defeating tournament leader Caruana as Black in a Sveshnikov Sicilian; it was the only decisive game of the round. With one round to play, Caruana and Giri shared the lead with +3, with Mamedyarov on +2 and Karjakin on +1; in the last round, Caruana had Black against Karjakin, while Mamedyarov played Giri with White.
Round 9 saw three decisive games, all won by Azeri players. Safarli, as Black, scored his only win in the tournament after Harikrishna blundered a clear advantage into a loss; Mamedov, also with Black, defeated Hou Yifan for his lone full point. Of the two key games, Karjakin-Caruana was a quick draw, while Mamedyarov won a pawn against Giri and eventually converted his advantage in a rook endgame. Mamedyarov's 3/3 finish had propelled him into a tie for first place; a playoff match was needed to determine the champion.
(Ratings as per the May 2016 FIDE standard rating list.)
Mamedyarov 2748 * 1 1 = = 0 1 = 1 = 6.0
Caruana 2804 0 * = = 1 = = 1 1 1 6.0
Giri 2790 0 = * 1 = 1 1 = = = 5.5
Karjakin 2779 = = 0 * = 1 = = = 1 5.0
Mamedov 2655 = 0 = = * = = = = 1 4.5
Harikrishna 2763 1 = 0 0 = * 0 = 1 = 4.0
Safarli 2664 0 = 0 = = 1 * = = = 4.0
Radjabov 2726 = 0 = = = = = * = = 4.0
Eljanov 2765 0 0 = = = 0 = = * 1 3.5
Hou Yifan 2663 = 0 = 0 0 = = = 0 * 2.5
The format for the Gashimov Memorial (Rapid Tiebreaks) (2016) between Caruana and Mamedyarov was: two games with a time control of 10 minutes per player with a 3-second increment from move 1; if the players were still tied, two games at 5 minutes per player with a 3-second increment from move 1; if the players were still tied, an Armageddon game (6 minutes for White and 5 minutes for Black, with Black having draw odds) to decide the winner.
In the first playoff game Mamedyarov had White; he drifted into a clearly worse position in the middlegame, but in time trouble Caruana failed to convert. In game two Caruana had White; again, he got a clear advantage out of the early middlegame but only drew. The third game was a double-edged fight, eventually won by Mamedyarov as Black in a rook endgame. With a draw in the fourth and final playoff game, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov won the 2016 Gashimov Memorial.
Prizes: 15,000 EUR (~17,000 USD) for the winner; 12,000 EUR for the runner-up; 73,000 EUR in total.
Mamedyarov = = 1 = 2.5
Caruana = = 0 = 1.5
Tie-break games: Gashimov Memorial (Rapid Tiebreaks) (2016)
Official site: http://www.shamkirchess.az/
Previous edition: Gashimov Memorial (2015). Next edition: Gashimov Memorial (2017).