Steve Giddins reports on some unexpectedly lively games, a small upset and a welcome return to form at the Geneva Grand Prix
Naturally, being proved wrong is not something of which I like to make a habit, but on the other hand, being a pessimist who always expects the worst does have the useful advantage that when one does turn out to be wrong, it comes as a pleasant surprise. The tedium of the first two stages of FIDE’s 2017 Grand Prix left me with few hopes of much excitement from stage three, but ever since penning my downbeat report on stage two in the June issue of CHESS, things have been on the up. My cynical suggestion that the third leg, scheduled for Geneva from 6th-15th July, might suffer the traditional 11th-hour switch to Khanty-Mansiysk did not bear fruit and, almost as if the players had read my report and were determined to prove me wrong, the Geneva leg took off right from the start and maintained the interest throughout. The biggest story of the event, however, was the re-emergence of Teimour Radjabov as a force in world chess. Ever since imploding at the London Candidates in 2013, the Azeri GM’s career has been in free fall and he has become almost a forgotten man in top-class events. However, still only 30 years of age, he started Geneva with two good wins in the first two rounds and never relinquished the lead. In round one, he downed the usually rock-solid Anish Giri with the black pieces and then won a fine game in round two against the Ukrainian number one.