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Who will earn the right to challenge for the world title?

Astrakhan isn't just one of the strongest tournaments of the year, it will also determine a qualifier for the next candidates tournament.
Radjabov, who was the best placed in the Grand Prix standings before the event, won today and keeps himself in the hunt.
For a selection of annotated games see the notable games section. As for this particular tournament, Eljanov wins yet again and is steaming ahead!

Aronian has already booked his place from the earlier legs of the Grand Prix.

The other players, in order, who are in contention for the remaining qualification place available are Wang Yue, Gashimov, Leko and Jakovenko. If any one of these players wins the tournament then qualification could be theirs.

In the tenth round Gashimov didn't do his own chances any harm by winning and moving to 'plus two'.

After a good start Inarkiev has been suffering of late. In this, his fourth consecutuve defeat, the opening up of the position seemed to suit White's pieces better and Gashimov's threats induced the Russian to sacrifice the exchange for which there wasn't enough compensation.

The main Grand Prix qualification contender, Teimour Radjabov, obtained the bishop pair and this plus his general activity proved to be more important than Akopian's central knight outpost.

Game No.NameRatingResultNameRatingOpening
1Vugar Gashimov27341-0Ernesto Inarkiev2669Spanish Chigorin C97
2Pavel Eljanov27511-0Peter Leko2735Semi-Slav D31
3Shakhriyar Mamedyarov27630.5-0.5Ruslan Ponomariov2733Catalan opening E05
4Wang Yue27520.5-0.5Evgeny Alekseev2700Modern Benoni A62
5Vladimir Akopian26940-1Teimour Radjabov2740Sicilian Defence B32
6Boris Gelfand27410.5-0.5Vassily Ivanchuk2741Grünfeld Defence D85
7Peter Svidler27350.5-0.5Dmitry Jakovenko2725Catalan/Bogoljubov E11
Pavel Eljanov© official site.

Of course Pavel Eljanov is the man in form. Apart from a fine series of wins in the Russian team championships, that has elevated him to his highest ever Elo, he has shown himself able to beat 2700 players with either colour and frequently from unpromising positions.

Here he obtained nothing from the opening, and it was only at the end of the time control that he was able to make a difference. Leko clearly underestimating Eljanov's strong rook manoeuvre.

RankingNameCountryPresent RatingPoints
1stPavel EljanovUkraine27516.5
2ndVugar GashimovAzerbaijan27346
3rd-4thDmitry JakovenkoRussia27255.5
3rd-4thShakhriyar MamedyarovAzerbaijan27635.5
5th-10thEvgeny AlekseevRussia27005
5th-10thBoris GelfandIsrael27415
5th-10thPeter LekoHungary27355
5th-10thRuslan PonomariovUkraine27335
5th-10thTeimour RadjabovAzerbaijan27405
5th-10thWang YueChina27525
11th-12thVassily IvanchukUkraine27414.5
11th-12thPeter SvidlerRussia27354.5
13thErnesto InarkievRussia26694
14thVladimir AkopianArmenia26943.5

With three rounds remaining many things remain possible, but the winner of Astrakhan will almost certainly come from the leading four players now.

As for the final Grand Prix qualifier, my money is on Gashimov!

Vugar Gashimov, second alone © official site.

For further information on this event, I suggest that you go to the official tournament site.


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