I have critizised Keymer for playing the Najdorf a lot in the past. It would be funny if he had read it, but I don’t know of course.
Anyways, he chose to play his old opening, the Paulsen, against Piorun today. Yes, this was the correct decision for him. In the actual game he should be able to equalize without much trouble after Piorun’s novelty on move 10. It will most likely transpose a position from the the Kalashnikov where black has spend two tempi on e7-e5. At least that is how Kasparov played it against Deep Junior.
So how is Christiansen doing today? He has white against Pono, who chose a line where no forced draws exist, the good old b6-Winawer. Even though white is objectively better in the position after Bf8, I consider his position to be lost. It’s also quite funny how he reacted to it. He played f4 and Qd1, a sequence of moves that was played before by an unrated amateur. So both players are on their own at move 7, one is a former World Champion, the other is a Drawmeister who is out of book. Where can I place a bet?
By the way, this posting was made during the live game at 15:14. Once the round is finished I will add the games below.
Ok, it is 17:38 now, and of course I was wrong:
The Drawmeister got his beloved repetition. Congratulations!
Keymer lost with the Paulsen in a model game and we will never find out how he would have fared with the Najdorf instead.
Bad day in the office for me as the armchair-general as well!
Update (22.10.19): While I remembered correctly that Keymer has played the Paulsen in the past, he never played it with 5…Bc5. This means that this was not an attempt to roll back his Sicilian to the “last working state”, but instead some specific preparation. It feels to me that because of that I am somewhat off the hook with my prediction. He didn’t have previous experience with this line.
Sometimes your opponent plays so bad that you cannot avoid scoring the full point. White gets busted right out of the opening.
The other featured game is a clash between the upcoming german elite. Huschenbeth outplays his opponent, but throws it away in time trouble. Keymer returns the compliment on the 41st move. I am not sure who should thank whom in this game, but I know for sure that Huschenbeth is the better player. It’s not even close.
Shirov asked Grischuk to show him the refutation of the Classical French Gambit. Instead Grischuk came up with a weird novelty and won after a couple of strange decisions by Shirov. A very important for the repertoire recommendation nevertheless, because this line does allow white a certain freedom to go for “playable” positions after all.
On a sidenote: Keymer managed to hold with black in a crazy version of the QGA, while Christiansen managed to lose a position with a clear static advantage like an amateur. It is hard to believe, but he is a grandmaster with Elo 2558. There is something wrong.
I decided to ignore the rest of the field and just follow Keymer and Christiansen for now. Let’s see how they were doing in round 8.
Not much to say about it. I simply don’t see the super talent. He makes 11 moves, 5 of them bad, to end up in a losing position. If that isn’t a sign that he cannot handle the Najdorf, then what is?
Christiansen had more luck against his NN-opponent. She played a harmless sideline, blundered, but Christiansen couldn’t convert. Once again his weakness became obvious: He simply can’t play chess. Given that fact, he is doing amazingly well.
Ok, there was one more disaster to talk about: Karjakin forgot his prep, ended up in a losing position and won convincingly.
Let’s start with Keymer. He played a tricky moveorder against the Semi-Slav and got a slightly better endgame that Motylev managed to hold easily. I would call this an average performance, which was neither impressive nor bad.
Our other protagonist went through a roller-coaster against the next german No.1 Huschenbeth. He got an advantage out of the opening, couldn’t come up with a plan and got gradually outplayed by Hushenbeth who just miraculously failed to finish him off.
Christiansen is an interesting player with very good preparation. He just has one weakness: He can’t play chess. Unfortunately he can’t push all-in and hand over the position to the engines.
The following game not only shows what can go wrong when Drawmeisters have to play actual chess, it’s also a nice example for something called “Negative Restabbilder”, which I translate into “negative artefacts”. When our hero grabs the pawn on f4 his rook on f8 is protected by the king and the e4-square is protected by the pawn on d5. Four moves later everything had changed. Was it really that trivial? Nope, he probably just missed 28. Qf5 in the end of that long variation starting with 22…Bxe6. Calculating a move too short is another common mistake, especially if that move comes with check. That’s why he deserves to be blamed.
So how did boy wonder Keymer fare? Not much better, I am afraid. He drifted into a somewhat passive position, gave a pawn for activity and resigned after the checks fizzled out.
The following game shows the difference between Keymer and other young talents like Firouzja. Not only is he missing a fairly logical improvement of his pawn-structure, he is simply not relentless and offers a draw in a position where he could play on. Carlsen would have played on, Nakamura would have played on, and yes, Firouzja would have played on too. The whole idea of the Semi-Trash is to reach an ending where you got a mobile queenside majority. This is what makes this poor man’s version of the Grünfeld so attractive. Now don’t get me wrong. Drawing Eljanov is a good result, but not if you let him off the hook like that. In order to be world class you need to beat world class players that are not somehow related to your trainer or simply go crazy over the board.
To be fair, if the tournament strategy was to gain rating points by drawing stronger opponents and beating the weaker ones, the mission was accomplished. Still, you cannot miss out on chances like that. Even if it all comes down to R+N vs. R, you have to play out such a freeroll. By the way, Keymer had 8 minutes left to make the time control, Eljanov had 2. That alone is a reason to play on.
Caruana: Do you want to lose?
Shirov: Sure, why not?
Caruana: Ok, let’s play the Najdorf.
Shirov: Cool, that’s where I got some new ideas.
Caruana: I bet you do…
This wasn’t the conversation before the game, but it could have been. I am kidding of course. Shirov probably wanted to prove that he can still slug it out with the big boys. What follows is the worst piece of preparation in modern history. Shirovs comes up with a super-refined moveorder, Caruana makes all the standard moves and look what happened. To his credit, Shirov almost managed to turn it around, but ultimately threw it away again.
On a sidenote: Upcoming norwegian Drawmeister Christiansen managed to catch Leko in a forced draw. Very promising!
Here is what happens when you take risks and miss your chances:
Note: Keymer plays a pure strategy. Against g6 it’s always g3.
The following game shows that nowadays being a top player is all about winning with white. With black it’s simply impossible to beat a Drawmeister, at least in forced variations like the Sveshnikov, the Bg5-Najdorf or the Marshall Attack. Actually I am quite puzzled that Carlsen didn’t go for his usual strategy of playing second rate openings where he gives his opponent something like + 0.30 for free in order to get him out of book. On the other hand, the path of freedom in the opening (and everything else for that matter) becomes narrower every day. Maybe Carlsen was hoping for 7. Nd5.
Playing the Sveshnikov is basically a draw offer these days.
Play it safe!