By Andreas Kontokanis from Piraeus, Greece - Shankland Samuel, CC BY-SA 2.0,

7th Sharjah Masters Round 7: Daneshvar and Shankland in Joint Lead

ChessAnalysisChess PersonalitiesOver the boardTournament
Bardiya Daneshvar and Sam Shankland are on 5.5/7 and in the joint lead with two more rounds to go; they are being chased by six players on 5/7, Aravindh, Tabatabaei, Sarana, Murzin, Erigaisi, and Suleymanli.

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After Seven Rounds

17-year-old Bardiya Daneshvar is having a sensational tournament, reaching a tournament performance rating of 2905 after beating Chithambaram Veerappan Aravindh in round 7. Ex-2700 Sam Shankland is also having a great tournament, with a tournament performance rating of 2836 and about 14 rating points gained. Chithambaram Veerappan Aravindh, M. Amin Tabatabaei, Alexey Sarana, Volodar Murzin, Arjun Erigaisi, and Aydin Suleymanli are close behind on 5/7. With two more rounds to go, the top players will be looking to take some risks to seal the win — for those on 5.5/7, at least one more win is needed, while for those on 5/7, potentially getting two wins is required. The leaders, Daneshvar and Shankland, will face each other, while on boards 2 to 4, Sarana will play against Erigaisi, Tabatabaei will be pitted against Suleymanli, and Murzin will face Aravindh.


Aravindh clearly wanted to get out of book as rapidly as possible as he played a double fianchetto setup. The game quickly went into uncharted waters, and Aravindh slowly but surely outplayed Daneshvar, getting his major pieces active and gaining a strong square for his knight on d5. After Daneshvar's well-timed 33...f5 push, though, Aravindh reacted poorly and horribly weakened his kingside with 34. h4??. It was not easy to capitalize on said advantage, though, and when Daneshvar missed one chance on move 35, Aravindh was back in the game. Well, until he blundered again on move 41 with 41. Rxa5??, losing a rook to 41...Qb6+. Aravindh didn't react much, but he seemed distraught.

As trainer and endgame virtuoso Mark Dvoretsky has shown countless times, pawn endgames are hard. Shankland's game against Niemann seemed to be headed toward a draw as both sides played rather calmly, but one wrong pawn move, 32. h4??, threw the game away for Niemann. All five legal king moves on move 32 would have drawn, but, alas, such is the unforgiving nature of chess. Shankland, the world's leading expert on pawns, found the winning sequence of moves and accurately converted.

In the battle of juniors, Aydin Suleymanli played a very strong positional game against Javokhir Sindarov. After getting a strong pawn on d5, Suleymanli's space advantage afforded him many luxuries, such as the ability to sacrifice the exchange, which Sindarov rejected. Still, Suleymanli's pawn made a run for it and with simple defense against Sindarov's last-ditch attempt at counterplay, Suleymanli won in 39 moves.

On board 7, Volodar Murzin beat Venkatesh Pranav. On board 8, Mahammad Muradli defeated his compatriot, Teimour Radjabov, while on board 9, Marc'Andria Maurizzi drew with Vladislav Artemiev. On board 10, Ivan Zemlyanskii, one of the world's strongest FMs, won against Vladimir Fedoseev.

You can follow the remaining games here:

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